Nelly’s first period was Mathematics, and she was three minutes late. Luckily, the dark, big, and bald Mr Hugh was not yet in his class, so she was safe from the scold, which would have been similar to the one that had occurred a week prior, where she was only four minutes late.

“Just because you’re an A+ student doesn’t mean you can arrive here at any given time of your choice, Ms Mapula,” Mr Hugh had said when she walked in.

Nelly had also added fuel to the fire by disturbing his lesson. “Sorry Mr Hugh I was …” she had said, trying to explain.

“Ah!” Mr Hugh had responded, raising his hand to his mean face. “I don’t wanna hear it. Sit down!” he had barked, and that was one of many humiliating moments that Nelly would have to endure in front of her classmates, how cool.

Mr Hugh’s distinctive steps approaching the door alerted everyone to head to their seats, and they scurried, but Nelly was already seated at her front desk. It was a spot that she hated to sit in, but she had no choice but to sit there because Mr Hugh forced her to. Anyway, it seemed appropriate because she had sight problems, hence the glasses, and she needed to be near the chalkboard. She just hated the fact that everyone was behind her, and everyone was looking at her.

“Good morning!” Mr Hugh said, marching in, and dust rose from his table as he threw his books on it.

The learners greeted Mr Hugh back, and the day’s lesson soon commenced. The part where Mr Hugh would ask questions was one sided because only one hand went up, and it was Nelly Mapula’s.

“Put your hand down,” Mr Hugh said after she had already answered four of his questions, then he clapped his hands once. “I want someone else to answer this, come on!”

Everyone was dead. A sigh came from the back, while others hung their faces on their hands. Mr Hugh stood there frozen, and then he brushed his face twice and made a sharp exhalation. It was like he was teaching corpses. Only one of them seemed to be alive, and ironic enough, she was in a ghost colour, which made her stand out.

Nelly eventually gave the correct answer, and she stood up to write the formula on the board. As she got up from her chair, small giggling sounds emerged from the back. She wondered what they were laughing at, but then she felt something on her buttocks. She touched it, it felt sticky, and the giggles suddenly erupted into laughter.

“Who put this here?” Mr Hugh asked.

Someone had put chewing gum on Nelly’s seat. She knew who that someone was, and that someone was part of the girl crew that sat at the back. She was not only part of the crew, but she was their leader as well. Her name was Kamohelo.

The laughter was getting loud, especially as Nelly and Mr Hugh tried removing the gum from her backside. In a split second, without thinking or anything, Nelly stormed out of the classroom, causing her glasses to bump up and down on her nose, slightly blocking her eyes. They were on the verge of falling off when she bumped into Mrs Hadebe, who was carrying a stack of question papers, and the collision caused the two of them to fall.

“Ohh!” the class erupted, and then they rushed to the windows and the door as if a teacher was not present.

There were faces poking out, and question papers were laying on the concrete ground. Still on her knees, Nelly managed to pick up her glasses, put them back on, and run away, leaving the clucking Mrs Hadebe on the ground. The chewing gum’s mark on her backside as she quickly ran evoked more laughter from her classmates.

“Okay, okay, that’s enough now, back to your seats. Go!” Mr Hugh said, pushing the ones outside back into class and helping Mrs Hadebe to her feet. He then called out one learner to help them pick up the papers.


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