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Updated: Apr 18, 2023

The day is bright! I said to myself as I walked to work. I took a deep breath and smelled the sweet fragrance that came with the morning dew. The calmness and beauty of the trees adorned with fresh leaves overwhelmed my heart and brought lovely memories.

It’s a weekend; many people are relaxing, taking time off their busy schedules to have fun with friends and family, with others also tidying up their homes and preparing for the coming week. Here am I at the pharmacy poised to work as always.

As I sat at the counter with my usual sweet countenance, I felt nostalgic. A smile brightened my face as I remembered one incident that occurred when I was in junior high school at All Saints Academy (All Saints Academy is a junior high school located at Asankrangwa, one of the rural towns in the western region of Ghana).

Early that morning, I had tried my best to wake up on time, freshened up and dressed up for school. Mama, as I call my mum, had prepared a delicious meal, rice with vegetable stew for my sisters and me to take to school. A neighbor of ours usually allowed us to sit at the back of his pickup each morning at 6:00am, if only we were able to make it to the bus stop; to take us to school. Sometimes we missed the truck and walked to school. We had missed the truck just like so many other days in the past. We were used to it, we were late and it was already 6:30am. Walking was definitely our only option.

My school was 4.5miles from home. Despite that, it was a great deal of joy to walk with my sisters. We talked, played, and laughed all the way to school. Aw..., how can I forget the small store’s chocolate and candies; it definitely robbed us of our pocket money each day. The gallons of water we carried each day to school ooh..., dear! That was really heavy! At least it’s better to carry clean water than fight over dirty water.

As we approached the school’s gate, a virtual gate with no visible structure but well-structured in the world of our minds, we saw lots of students gathered in front of the administration block. We got curious and got closer to find out what could have pulled such a crowd. To our disappointment, we found ourselves part of latecomers who were waiting to be punished. We could not have escaped! That was the only way to get to our classrooms.

Mr. Attobrah, a strict disciplinarian at my school, was noted for meting out punishment that etched on the hearts of students long after they had left the school. We were scared. For once, I wished I had powers to rewind time, cause everyone to float in the air, and walk majestically to class so I could save my skin from this punishment. My sisters and I waited to know the kind of punishment that was going to be meted out to us. To our surprise, Mr. Attobrah was in no mood to spank us that day. He had a different plan.

Most of the students started murmuring, almost everyone; I mean everyone might have thought about one form of punishment or the other. Some cried the stubborn ones were waiting to be sacked for the day so they could indulge in some bad stuff. I, on the other end, wished everything was over. I wanted to study; Mr. Attobrah was wasting my time. I got anxious as I waited, trying to comfort my sisters the best I could.

After about two hours, Mr. Attobrah came up to us and told us he wanted to teach us a song. "What a relief, I thought"; the moment he uttered the words of the song, everyone started giggling. The stern look on his face caused everyone to keep quiet and follow his lead.

The song goes like this;

We are the latecomers

From All Saints Academy

We are always late to school

We are the latecomers

We had to learn the song. On we sang and sang. Except for the lyrics of the song, the tune of the song was not bad at all. When everyone seems to have mastered the song, Mr. Attobrah instructed us to form a parade; he then instructed us to march in pairs. He told us that we were going to march on the principal streets of the town so that everybody in our town would know that we do not come to school on time.

I was so embarrassed, and so were some popular students in my school. Others were laughing. To me, it wasn’t funny at all; it was disheartening because I wanted to be in the classroom so I could learn. Some pleaded with Mr. Attobrah to forgive us, but it seemed he had made up his mind. Mr. Attobrah did not spank us, but I think he got us exactly where he wanted us to be. We might never forget this day, I thought.

We marched on, singing and being accompanied by the school’s brass band; it was humiliating. We headed towards the main township. People stared at us, others giggled. Most of the students were sad, others were crying, and I believe a lot of us made resolutions never to be late to school again.

After marching for about 20 minutes, some of us agreed to send some delegates to speak on our behalf and plead again with Mr. Attobrah to show us mercy. As luck would have it, He agreed and called us back to school. At that moment, I felt as if a load had been lifted off my shoulders. Mr. Attobrah asked us to promise not to be late to school again. We promised not to be late again, and then most of us hurriedly ran to join our mates in our classrooms.

Just as I entered my classroom, some of my mates ridiculed me. News about our ordeal had undoubtedly traveled throughout the school. My sisters were not spared either. Though my mates laughed at me outwardly, I knew that the value of punctuality had been planted in me that day.

Immediately school closed, I met my sisters, and we walked back home talking about all that happened that day. When we got close to our home, we poured the rest of the water left in our containers on each other as we screamed in excitement, running, and playing. That day, I knew in my spirit that this experience, though unpleasant, was going to shape me into a wonderful woman.

I can still remember the cool water dripping on my face and uniform. The excitement that got me going back to school, no matter the challenges I faced. The lessons learned, and Mr. Attobrah’s punishment. Mm..., time flies, indeed!

Join me and let's sing Mr. Attobrah's song

We are the late comers

From All Saints Academy

We are always late to school

We are the late comers

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