The Password-locked Cabinet
All the teachers offered to meet up with us if we had any questions about the subject we wanted to ask. The Chemistry teacher who thought Oxygen was in Group II. The Math teacher who forgot that 10 was not a one digit number and who mixed up x with the multiplication symbol. The English teacher with terrible grammar. The principal who was frequently late for assembly.
I did not believe any of them.
O Levels was in one month. We did not have to come to school anymore. I didn’t. I stayed at home. Since none of them could answer my questions anyway. And even if they did, I don’t believe them. “Did you ask?” Papa said.
It was a strange day. He came home from work early, claiming that it was a public holiday the next day. I had lost track of the days that passed. He frowned and asked if I had stepped out of my room for the past 24 hours.
He picked up my food trash and carried it to the kitchen.
I didn’t want to study. It was meaningless. Math that I would never use. Chemistry that I never understood. English that never communicated anything for me. But I did because I couldn’t ask anyone the questions. And no one could answer me.
“Yes,” I told him. Then I stopped writing with my pen and glanced at the window. “No. I didn’t.”
“Ask,” he said. He had picked up an assessment book that I finished. I did not do any of the questions. I had drawn eyes on one page. Bouncing balls on another. A dolphin out of some figure that was supposed to be deciphered. I finished drawing on all the pages.
Now, I had started on my Chemistry ten-year-series, colouring in the enclosed spaces of the letters in question forty two.
“Study hard,” he said.
He left the room.
I thought that maybe the person who needed to ask the question was not me. It was him. It was the teachers. I had nothing to ask. I had an answer. But no one wanted to know it. So it was stuck in my throat and over time, a question marked formed on top of the fullstop.