I ended up promising to check on Comfort the next day, equally parting with five thousand Naira which was the only money i had on me that moment before discharging them. They left thereafter, threatening to show up again if i failed keeping my promise while i headed home to rest and plan ahead.
I could have returned to my office since it was too early to go home but i just didn’t have the guts to show up there, instead preferred waiting till the next day when the tension must have died down.
My wife was really worried, when i told her all that happened between Comfort’s parents and I. The way they humiliated me before my students and colleagues, hiding nothing from her.
Wife: “that’s bad. Those guys are mean. They really came well prepared for you.” she said with concern, holding my hands softly.
Me: “i’m afraid, i could lose my job over this. My story is now on everyone’s lips and i won’t be surprised if the school magazine carries the story as well. I’m too ashamed to go back to work. I just don’t know how to face my students and colleagues” i poured out solemnly.
Wife: “don’t worry dear, God will see you through this problem. Moreover you still got my love and support” she said softly, kissing me.
I had two things troubling me that moment. Firstly, how to face my colleagues and students, and secondly, how to face Comfort’s family the next day. I already promised to come see them. A promise i made under duress.
Wife: “My love, concerning Comfort and her family. Please be careful when you drive over to their place. Don’t eat anything there, not even kola nut. Simply put it in your pocket if you can’t reject it. Those folks can poison you. Please” my dear wife begged as if she knew what i was thinking.
Me: “have no fear dearest. I know myself” i promised her.
The next morning finally arrived with a very bright weather. I uneasily dressed up and prepared for work.
Wife: “i know you are scared darling?. Don’t be. Go with this kiss, it’s well” my wife said sweetly with a superb kiss which she left on my lips. I breathed deeply with appreciation.
Me: “thanks my love. Take care of yourself” i answered and left for work.
I barely had gotten to my office when the “Head of Department” sent his secretary to fetch me. I quickly went over to his office and was surprised to see all the lecturers in my department, both senior and Junior already there.
My heart quickly froze with fear because i couldn’t remember the last time i saw everyone of them together in a room, nor appearing so early in the school. The reality of my position quickly dawned on me.
H.O.D: “Mr Caleb thanks for coming. You already know the reason we are all here. You disrupted academic activities yesterday in a very shameful manner. The school disciplinary panel will be sitting in a few days, though i’m yet to get more details about it but i know your case is already with them. However it won’t stop us from taking our own action. Hmmm you have every right to tell us your version of the story before we proceed with whatever we have in mind” the H.O.D addressed me while my colleagues nodded in approval. Every eyes were on me.
My legs slowly shook as sweat drenched my entire body. I just didn’t know where to start or how to present my defence. They all wanted to hear my story. How do i tell them all about my secret affair with Comfort??.
It really wasn’t easy standing before pairs of intelligent eyes to defend myself. I had no choice than to quickly come up with an easy to believe half truth. There wasn’t any way of fully denying getting involved with Comfort, so what i did was to accept responsibility with a little make up story.
I told them my affair with Comfort started way back when i was still a student and that she was a family friend’s daughter, but we kind of broke up when i left the country for my masters degree.
Me: “I returned and got married to another woman, a situation than infuriated Comfort’s parents, who were aware of our relationship. However it never ended like i wanted, because as soon as i started working in this great school, Comfort used the opportunity as a student to revive our relationship. It really wasn’t easy for me and when i finally told her to leave me alone, she accused me of impregnating her, equally telling her parents about it” I lied effortlessly, but unfortunately i was lying to experienced old men and women who easily picked up many flaws in my story.
H.O.D: “you know i don’t think it’s quite a coincident that the girl Comfort, was your family friend, studied in the school that employed you and equally was a student in your department. Your defence is quite unbelievable and poor anyway we don’t have the right to judge you. You have told us your side of the story which will now be our side of the story as well. Your fate will be decided by the disciplinary panel who will forward their decision to the school senate for approval. As for now, simply stay away from my classes. I will assign another lecturer to cover your courses. The last thing i want is for you to head to any class and be insulted. Hope you all agree with me” the H.O.D asked everyone in the room. They all nodded in approval.
I left the H.O.D’s office like a broken man. My dignity and pride lost. I equally was on the verge of losing my job. I just didn’t know what to do.
I was deeply thinking in my office when my father in law walked in with his usual grace. I gasped with delight on seeing him because I wasn’t expecting him at all.
He was the only person that had the kind of influence that could turn things around for me in the school.
Wife’s Dad: “I can’t believe our secret is now public. How did you let things get this bad?” he asked, sitting on an empty chair, facing me. I swallowed hard and shrugged, saying nothing.
Wife’s Dad: “There is nothing i can do about it for now because, a Rev. Father is in charge of the disciplinary panel. The man is a very straight forward person and I can’t influence him to kill the case, and i’m afraid he will do a very clean investigative job before submitting everything to the senate for approval. I’m a member of the senate but once the report gets there, hmmmm you are as good as fired. Anyway we still have a month to set things right” he addressed me with concern while i looked up hopefully at him.
He was the only friend and father i had in the school but then it was still two of us against a whole lot of people interested in casting stones on me.
…. Stay tuned for Episode 22