By Bunmi Sofola
It’s always a heartening news when your child does well in secondary school but when Fred’s 14-year old daughter scored 95 percent in mathematics, he hit the roof. “Who do you think you are?”, he shrieked at her. “A wiz-kid?”” With that he dragged her virtually screaming and kicking to my place. “I want you to do a bit of aptitude test for her!, he roared, “Let her repeat the feat that scored her so high in her exams,” Fred’s temper has always had a short fuse but this day in question, he was apoplectic!
It was all I could do not to burst out laughing at this indignant Fred who was suspicious of his daughter’s academic prowess. So I conducted a fairly simple test for the now frightened girl, insisting her dad leave us alone and come back for her later. His suspicion was right. The girl knew next to nothing about maths. Did she cheat? “I’ll get to the bottom of this”, Fred vowed, glaring at the girl before ordering her to wait for him in the car. “She’s my first wife’s last daughter”, he explained. “The mum was constantly unfaithful to me, so I sent her away. Unfortunately, my second wife was hostile to her four step-children, so two of them opted to stay with their mother, Rose (the `mathematician’) and her elder sister. When Rose finished primary school, her mother informed me that the school had just started the secondary school wing, so I agreed for her to attend. I’m off to that school now to find out what went wrong”.
A couple of days later, he was back. “There was no real secondary school”, he fumed. “What happened was they have only one classroom where a handful of pupils were placed on JSS I. Before I went with Rose to the school, I sat her down and threatened her and her mother. It was then she confessed that the principal of the school was constantly having sex with her. Luckily, I have a clinic on top of my flat, so I took her there to be tested both for STD and pregnancy. It was a relief to know that she was OK. But like my second wife pointed out, how were we sure the randy old goat hadn’t forced her to abort one or more pregnancies? When I got to the principal’s office, I wanted to beat him up. The proprietress was visibly distraught – begging and crying I shouldn’t make a report of the incident as the police might likely make it a long-drawn affair. She expelled the principal on the spot. That was when I insisted that Rose should come and stay with us in my own house. As a prince in the town, I used my influence to get her a good secondary school very close to the house. That way, we’ll keep a close watch on her …
“That was some five years ago and Rose seemed to be making progress – apart from the usual teenage pranks. When I saw Frank recently though, he looked resigned. “I think I’m a failure as a father”, he sighed. But then, how could that be totally true? The rest of my children are doing well. Rose will always be the black sheep of the family!” Now what? I asked myself quietly, Rose has turned into a thief”. He declared. A thief? “For months now”, continued Fred, “I’d been missing huge sums of money from my briefcase regularly. I always suspected my wife until Rose came in from school one afternoon with her school bag almost bursting at the seams. What could she be hauling around in that school bag? `Put down your bag and open it!’ I yelled at her. When she did, I almost went into shock. She had a change of clothes in the bag, a wig and several other accessories that had nothing to do with her school. I seldom beat my children but that afternoon, I took a belt to her when she refused to tell me what she was up to. It was then she confessed she always went to a hotel’s swimming pool with her mates after school hours. I beat her some more.
“It was later I tried to rationalise my missing money to her. The next time money got missing, it was N20,000 from the N100,000, I brought back home. I was livid. I painstakingly went through her wardrobe and suitcase. I finally found the cash in the pocket of one of her well folded trousers. I took it and said nothing. I told my PA to watch her reaction when she came back from school. He said my daughter was visibly agitated after coming from her room. Yet I said nothing until four days later. Then I called her elder sister and told her what happened. She confessed Rose had an indigent undergraduate who was trying to raise money for his studies. That the lout was trying to build a fish pond and Rose was helping him with the money she was always stealing from me!
“That evening, we all had a family meeting and I got the address of the boy from Rose. By the time we got to the shack he lived in, he’d already bolted. I then went to the palace and arranged for some palace guards to go and fish him out in the early hours.
“They got him at 4.00am. And nearly beat the daylight out of him. When I saw him, he looked pathetic where he was harnessed to a post like a goat. I wanted to beat him some more but was restrained by the guards who told me that he’d been so professionally thrashed, it would take him weeks to recover. How could this miserably looking thing be bedding my daughter and encouraging her to steal so much money from me? The cheek of it! When I asked which university he attended, he said he was still looking for admission. What really puzzled me was how Rose got access to my room. I always carried the keys with me. When she’s been sufficiently punished, I asked her. She said she used to prise the other exit door open enough for her to slither into the room. I’d wedged the said door with a big TV set atop a heavy table and a couple of stools. I asked her to show me. She then heaved the door open as far as it would go, then flatten herself to go through. She came out the same way and pushed the TV back. The next day, I called a carpenter to nail down the door.
“Today’s girls are really something else. Where we men pay through the nose to have affairs, my daughter was not only giving it away for free, she was paying for it with money she stole from me!” It was one of the few times I was actually lost for words.
Teenage years could be terrible ones and a parent has to tread as if on egg shells, when dealing with teenage girls and their raging hormones or they become heir mortal enemies. This much I said to Fred, assuring him he wasn’t a bad father. He couldn’t have done more than he’\d already done. Rose’s teenage years will soon be over and sanity might return to her way of thinking enough for father and daughter to be friends again. In the meantime, Fred had to rid himself of the bad taste Rose’s escapades have left in his mouth.