When the bike messenger on his bike was speck-small in our sight, Headmaster said never mind our afternoon lessons.
“Follow me,” he no-nonsense bossed, and all the way along the path, past the goat pen and the shed for the hoes and spades and other what-nots, we were on his heels till we reached the courtyard where is his bar. Inside the bar is Headmaster’s television, and it is how our village knows what business is in the capitol. As soon as those in the field saw us children on the move, they straight away stopped their weeding and shooed the goat inside its pen. Then, quick-quick, they joined with us, and all together we overflowed Headmaster’s bar.
The TV showed non-stop the celebrations in the stadium. Everywhere was so much happiness, all the people singing and stomping inside there. We clapped at the pretty red-green-white-orange-blue-yellow streamers that were a crochet over the army and police as round and round the stadium they did their high-kick marching. The President stood very straight and smooth in his no-roof white car. A hundred times, five hundred, a million times he did his salute and smile, smile and salute, and when his wife next to him sometimes waved, we saw extra shining in his cheeks.
If only we were a village that could show off a band, and fireworks, also horses that lift up their front legs to do a bicycle!
After the television finished, Headmaster told the uncles to light torches for the courtyard. In the half-dark, half-light, we danced and sang and danced. When enough sun woke up, the aunties fed us baked yams and porridge they’d stirred in milk from the goat. We children zipped our lips that a chicken roasted in the ground would have brought a better mouth-water. Between swallows and bites our village said, “But how will the President know we are all-supportive?” “Armbands show you are loyal!” shouted one answer. “A banner shows it more!” shouted another one. “But who will see it except us?” We children were saying we would make a poem for the strongest guard to read to the stadium when Headmaster beer-boomed that the new babies of our village would forth-hence be named President.
All week we back and forward argued. We did not take the goat to fresh grass, and no one yanked weeds from where we will plant the millet soon-soon. Even washing at the river forgot to be organized. Then one night Headmaster had a dream where God said, “And the world will know thou art the most loyal if this one special thing be done.” We shouted at Headmaster to spit forth what is His one special thing, and when he did our village cheered “Amen! Amen!”
Soon the messenger was racing to the capitol on his bicycle. There he fetched a doctor and some nurses, and in no time they were changing our school to a clinic. We students were busy-ant helpers. Carefully we took out the Dettol and bar of green soap from the nurses’ bags, also rolls and rolls of bandages, and put them on our desks. After that the nurse with lipstick showed us her newspaper, and on every page we saw that the President was busy being in charge. Other presidents came to sit on his wide verandah so ours could tell them what was what. Sometimes in the pictures the wife of our President was serving roasted yams and chicken as fat as bush pig. We searched and searched for pictures of the high-kick guards.
When all the needles and knives were ready, the doctor and nurses put on their gloves and our village made a snake around our clinic-not-school. Day after day we were turned into Headmaster’s dream. Soon not one of us had our own faces. Instead the face of the President was growing there. With overflowed excitement, Headmaster sent the messenger to the capitol so he could hurry the President to come and jubilate at our tribute.
It has been a long time now since our messenger rode away. In his place the television told stories of bad things happening in the capitol, and now Headmaster has too much worry to unlock his bar. Many times when we walked past or tried to make the goat give milk, we pictured the President standing in his car and promising to the stadium that the coup by his wife was overcome, also that plentiful guards keep her in a cell. We filled up with that hope because if in the real she is the new leader, she is very ugly.
Lynn Bey has had short stories and flash fiction published in The Literarian (nominated for a Pushcart award), The Binnacle (nominated for a Pushcart award and joint winner of the Eleventh Annual Ultra-Short Competition), Digital Americana, Scribble Magazine, The Brooklyner, Birmingham Arts Journal, and other magazines.