Painting Denrele

Denrele is always pitched at the left corner whenever I come into the class to teach. His stare is vague. It is not questioning or expectant like those from the other students. His eyes suggest hope, but it is one tempered by experience. He doesn’t have to sit apart from the other students for one to notice that he is older than all of them, but he does. His large frame and brush-like stubble already say so.

There is a carriage that blatantly betrays a determined spirit. Let me describe it to you. One foot flung forwards, a short gaze at the ground below as if to confirm that it is hard enough, the head swung upwards, a spring-like push by the other foot. Thus I saw Denrele walk into class today. He enters, I enter. He greets first. He calls me ‘sir’ though I clearly am younger than him. He spreads out his books on the table before him. He silently unwraps them and looks at them. He hopes that they would speak to him. SS3* students come here to prepare for their WAEC (final) exams.

“Which subject are you doing today?” I ask

“Use of English” he replies.

*12th graders


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