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The New Girl

"Good morning class"
"Good morning Sir", we chorusly responded to the "four-eyed" middle-aged man whom I later found out as the school proprietor.

He enquired of our health and we simultaneously responded in the affirmative. As if by magic, he noticed my shy-looking face in the last corner of the room and signalled me to come forward. Palpitations took control of my heart similar to the uneasy feeling I had when mum announced I was moving to a different school.

As I sat beside my mum in the 'troski' en route my new school, I had mixed feelings. Is my new school nice?, will I make new friends? I hope I don't sit beside the stubborn boys in class. All these questions were yet to be answered as I imagined how my new headteacher would look like. A man in his mid forties, potbellied, always with a cane, wearing a no-nonsense look and speaking big grammar.

All of a sudden, the vehicle was brought to a halt by the insufferable traffic and the unapologetic liar of a bus conductor assured that we will reach in no time. Sounding like a rehearsal, all the passengers except myself started complaining of the time wasted in traffic. An hour later, we were back on track and we finally alighted at the school entrance.

Entering the school I was met with a totally different view from the mental image I drew prior to my arrival. Three huge buses were parked in front of the administration which was a storey building. A Ghana flag hanged on a long pole in the middle of the neatly swept compound enveloped with a bunch of colourful flowers.

The headteacher we met in the office looked younger, wasn't the big grammar type and had a friendly look. I am sure as death that he was conversant with the saying, "first impression is very important ". After he had gone through my reports and cumulative record from my former school, he agreed to admit me in JSS 2C(now jhs). Mum paid the admission fees including other expenses and I was shown my new class by the school secretary.

I hated the idea of joining them in my former school's uniform but mum convinced me to do so. The beautifully dressed lady led me there, greeted the class and informed them of their new colleague. She then figured out an empty desk in the far left corner and I shyly moved there.

I heard ghostly voices in the class, heads turning to look at the new girl in class since there was no teacher around. I bowed my head to avoid any further glances. It was an unwritten rule for new comers to sit in front of class so I was quite comfortable in my corner. I wasn't moved by the whispers but had to raise my head when the class stood up to greet a spectacled man in unison. After the usual pleasantries were exchanged, he called me to introduce myself formally "I am thirteen years old",I added after I had mentioned my name and former school.

He made them clap for me and as walked back to my 'unlicensed seat' ,I could see disappointment written all over their faces:most especially the boys. Later a few confessed that they presumed I was eleven or twelve judging from my smallish body. Plain as it was to me, I couldn't bring myself to the fact that I looked smaller than my age.

We had an English reading session that morning and when the reader got to a word (bias), he was stuck. The proprietor then took a piece of chalk and wrote it on the black board "BIAS". He then began asking the Newtons in the class who in turn gave out funny answers. I couldn't help but laugh with a handkerchief on my face.

Coincidentally I had read a book (THE BEAUTIFUL CRY) the previous term in my former school and my dad had pronounced it correctly to me but I never used it in my everyday language. Unnerved by the look on some faces, I raised my hand to mention the mystery word on the board. '/ˈbʌɪəs/' ,I uttered out unwaveringly; as if by trance, I received rounds of applause I had never received throughout school.

I began to feel part of the new school and also happy to have won my 'first impression' rule. Just as everything died down and I rested on my desk for few seconds, a huge figure appears and almost scared the hell out of me.

"Get off my desk" he screamed on me amidst brimming with anger. The old me would have left the desk for him but I answered confidently, "the school secretary directed me here and I'm taking no step out of here. He gave me a stern look and left the class boiling with fury.

Literally, I had broken the rules of his game and dared in his den. But I had to accept the wrenching realization that the desk wasn't mine but I wouldn't give it out so easily. As I sat in the empty class alone, I knew I had a story to tell at home after school and the story had just began......

Stella Allou is a registered general nurse from Ghana. She just completed her National Service. She is a poet and some of her poems have been featured in the local newspapers as well as online magazines. This is her first short story.

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