How to write an apology letter

I wrote this letter to my dad after I (eventually) lost my wrist watch which I temporarily swapped with a senior in high school right before the summer holidays. I stumbled upon the letter some days ago while I was trying to do some home cleaning. I can’t believe I wrote this at the age of 12. Amuse yourself as I give my commentary in brackets. Enjoy:

Dear daddy,

 

I am very sorry about last night. I thought I could lie my way out of this watch business but I couldn’t (the watches didn’t look alike one bit). I really deserve proper punishment but thank you for sparing me (well, he didn’t spare the rod but he took it didn’t go haywire). When I get to Ibadan I promise (that’s broken and so was the watch) to bring back my watch and all my other belongings to Lagos.

 

Daddy, I know the type of son you want me to be (not a clue) and so with God’s grace (and plenty of it), I will do my best to become a respectful, truthful, well-disciplined and hardworking child whom you will always be proud of (I better check with him and see how I’m doing so far).

 

Daddy, you have just celebrated your birthday and so I pray that God will give you long life and prosperity (Amen). I also pray that people in your office will be proud of you and that you continue to give me good advice (like don’t give anyone your watch).

 

Daddy, I have to go now \(my favourite cartoon is on) so I just want to say thank you for all the things that you have done and that one day I shall be just like you.

Love,

Tonwapiri

I is for Invitation

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Invitation /ɪnvɪˈteɪʃ(ə)n/ a written or verbal request inviting someone to go somewhere or to do something  (Google definition). A written or verbal request inviting someone to an event which he (usually a ‘he’) may not necessarily be allowed to partake in … Continue reading

Senior High – 1st year

As the principal of International School Ibadan announced that the JSCE (Junior Secondary School Examination) results would be posted up in front of her office I felt nauseous. I wasn’t sure if it was bad luck to have already gotten trouser measurements done at my local tailor before the exam results were released. What if I didn’t make it through? My trousers would be bloody useless and I’d have to endure another year in I.S.I wearing a pair of A.H.Is (AssHole Irritants).  Girls had no problem because their blue-white striped dress/uniform didn’t have to look any different from junior to senior year. Thankfully I breathed a sigh of relief as I attained 2A’s and 5C in my 8subjects (I’m not mentioning what I got in Yoruba language). I vaguely remember jumping up and down like a deranged rottweiler that had a piece of meat dangled over its head. I proceeded to run into the nearby open field with fellow classmates who also sailed through the exams. We ran like we were being chased by… Rottweilers. I almost failed to take notice of the few guys whom we left behind moping at their inadequate grades and therefore bore long faces (okay, not like Rottweilers…more like Dobermen!)

Of course this next chapter in my school life called for a celebration. I took it upon myself to have a small get-together for my ‘Class of 1993’. Unfortunately I didn’t have an much more than the Naira equivalent of £10 back then which could just barely cater for about 20-30 guests max (I must have been nuts!). I invited 25 schoolmates to my cousin’s crib where I resided, about 60 eventually showed up and filled up almost every part of the house! I soon quickly realised that 48 bottled drinks (2 crates) would not quite cut the ‘3:1 guzzling ratio’ of my invitees. The 2 small coolers of cooked rice and chicken didn’t go round because I didnt plan for the following: Boarder boys and girls sneakings out of their hostels; Geeks/Nerds/Bookworms/Efikos gate crashing; and schoolmates from the set below mine (JSS3) also taking advantage of the fact that I did not have a bouncer to ‘man the door’. So I had geeks playing video games in the TV room, boarder girl escapees changing clothes in my cousin’s bedroom, boarder boys slow-dancing with girls in the living room whilst my Aunt was within the house. There was no DJ but just one raga tape being put on the loop courtesy of all the horny boys hoping to literally tap some ass from a slowdance. The 5kg cake and 2 tubs of ice-cream I had planned for dessert was not going to be able to feed THIS multitude. This wasn’t a get-together…this was a get-together-everybody-who-heard-about-this-party. I mean some of the guests there didnt even know my name or the fact that I was hosting this fiasco. To make matters worse, the girl I had a crush on was busy slowdancing with some guy I didnt even invite, Meanwhile I was busy trying to feed the hungry, entertain the bored, and save my shaky reputation all at the same time. I was glad when it was all over, to say the least. The house  survived with 2 shattered drinking glasses and a broken window lever. I on the other hand remained intact!

In an amazing twist of fate, I was hailed by the majority of my set for making a noble effort at throwing a shindig (which  I’d rather remember as a ‘shit-dig’). The geeks were even more grateful because they knew that they may never gain such easy access into a party again. I somehow became everybody’s pal…the one who didn’t discriminate…the one who didn’t stop the music and shout “ALL BOYS OUT!” and proceeded to reveal a list of boys who were not given the fake invitation cards…no, I wasn’t seen as cruel…I was Mr.Nice guy Subsequent parties got better and better (no thanks to me). I do remember one guy who threw a party but would have sooner thrown himself over a bridge after only 1 girl turned up amidst a house filled with over 15guys…a case of bad advertising? Well, the grub didn’t go to waste.

Ah yes, those grey trousers really were worth the 3 year-wait. I was ‘toasting’ girls a one class year or two below me and feeling pretty cool with my skinny self. I was later appointed by my principal as the school’s Health Prefect, though for the love of God I never found out what a health prefect was nor did I know what my responsibilities were supposed to be. I just made sure the sick bay was hygenic and wasn’t congested or saturated with students who were feigning illness. I was given a badge which I wore proudly like a sheriff. If only I went guns blazing a little less when it came to asking a girl, ‘Will you go out with me?…’

Junior High – 3rd year

I was doing pretty well in school and after I made my transition from JSS2 to JSS3 I said goodbye to those dreaded grey hot pants I sported for 2years – I went all out on baggy ‘Bermuda’ shorts (roomy for the crotch and 2 inches below the knee, yeah baby!). I wasn’t part of the Stingray generation and I ‘misplaced’ my US army bag, although with hindsight I wish I had auctioned it today on eBAY… shame. I was carrying leather (and sometimes plastic) folders which seemed cooler (Cool guys didn’t walk around, like hunchbacks, carrying tons of textbooks). The only problem was that I risked getting punished for not bringing some of those humongous textbooks to class (so on those fateful days I’d wear my baggy shorts with some newspaper padding inside my boxers to reduce the ‘koboko’/cane impact) – the sacrifice of trying to be cool, eh?

Prices of snacks and drinks went up steadily but fortunately, so did my pocket money. I recall those trips to ‘Uncle Tony’s’ kiosk where he sold these dodgy-looking (but surprisingly tasty) hamburgers (mmmm…) and next door to him was the meatpie lady whose pies seemed to be getting smaller but more expensive each year. On days when I wanted to flex/pose/show off/act up/broadcast, I would mosey on down to ‘Mama Nike’ and get some deliciously marinated peppered chicken. The truth was you ended up enjoying the bone more because there was hardly any flesh on it in the first place, yet the cost of 1 piece of her chicken was equivalent to buying about 4 meatpies. So when you asked a girl to join you for lunch you always secretly hoped that she would not opt for the rip-off chicken – otherwise, no lunch for you that week (or you risked being known as a ‘Percher’: Someone who walks around during breaktime trying to get a cut out of people’s meatpies going, ‘Abeg, make I cut?’)

Physically I had changed tremendously. It was not just the bounce in my step (It took months to perfect this without making my butt stick out) but my voice was deeper, I was taller (for an average 13yr old of course), and I was growing unwanted hair in the strangest places…Anyway, that was the least of my problems. I was more concerned about the sour relationship that I had trapped myself in – not with any girl in my school…with my pimples.

Anytime I had started making some progress whilst ‘toasting’/chatting up a fine girl, days later a bloody ripe pimple would spring up on my face and steal the spot-light (no pun intended). If that wasn’t bad enough my pimples, unlike other boys’ pimples, would appear on ridiculously annoying areas – I’ve had one on the centre of my chin, the centre of my forehead (no offence to Indians), by either side of my lips (I said ‘side’ not ‘on’!), etc. The worst-placed pimple was the stubborn one I had bang-in-the-middle of my already broad flat nose – It was like looking at a ripe cherry on a dark chocolate ice-cream sundae…without being the least bit appetizing.

One of my many battles in school was therefore to find an immediate cure for these grotesque skin protrusions. I tried everything: toothpaste, squeezing, pricking, but what worked best for me was Mentholatum/any medicated balm the night before. You’ll know it has worked when the girl you’re chatting with tells you (after staring at your nose throughout your conversation) that you need to wipe ‘something’ off your nose – see! My pimple was working against me as usual.

Other battles I encountered were the Popularity contests. It seemed a big deal to get your name into the school magazine or the yearbook with some cool accolade; ‘Cutest junior boy’ (I wish), Best dressed junior boy (not being sore but I was robbed), etc. I was just known amongst my JSS3 set as the one who talked to the most girls, including girls in the set above me (SS1), thanks to my cousin in that set. I had ‘Haters’ in my set who couldn’t understand how I would sometimes be invited to parties hosted by SS1. Those Haters must have hated me even more when my cousin and I partook in one of the school’s variety shows and danced our way to fame as The Hype Boys (my ‘school fathers’/choreographers/mentors were the Too Hype Boys for obvious reasons). I became a (little) celebrity overnight and it boosted my rep just a little bit 😀

Only one thing stood between me and Senior status – my JSCE exam. To me that meant either repeat wearing Shorts another year or proudly walk in Trousers. .The pressure was now on!

 

..xTx..

Junior High – 2nd year…

I.S.I (International School, Ibadan) was where I first learnt how someone could be under constant pressure…just about every single day of his/her secondary school life. And I’m not talking about pressure to excel above the pass mark (which, then, was about 40% in all subjects)…no, I’m talking about the pressure to be cool, ‘bam’, ‘hard’…if you were linked to any of these accolades back in the day then your ‘rep’ was off to a good start…supposedly.

 

Now the problem I had was that I didn’t fit the bill particularly. I had a small tennis-ball afro which wasn’t cool enough, overly smart shoes which weren’t ‘bam’ enough, and a group of friends I rolled with who were not ‘hard’ enough. As a ‘day’ student (i.e. a student who doesn’t reside in the school’s hostels during the term) I was already screwed because the ‘boarders’ (those students who do reside in the school’s hostels…) were automatically catapulted into ‘hard’ status. I don’t think I’ll ever know why.

 

Maybe it was because you’d see one guy wear a different pair of ‘pumps’, moccasins and Tims for 2 straight weeks – I was baffled! How could one kid have close to 14 pairs of shoes? But I soon learnt that boarders had a sharing culture – they exchanged just about everything. So of course you could seem to have so many clothes, shoes, schoolbags…oh my God…I just remember I had a hideous schoolbag.

 

It was called a ‘U.S army bag’ – Trust me, it didn’t look as cool as it sounded. It was the size and shape of a 14-inch box TV – perfect for those tons of textbooks which I carried but would hardly have to read. Mine was black with all the different colorful badge prints and miniature flag images. It even had an ID number, yet I didn’t feel anything close to being a boy scout. Instead, as I walked around the school grounds with the crushing weight of my backpack I felt like Quasimodo – the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

 

My cousin (the eldest of the three, who was in JSS3 at the time) used to make fun of me – at home and at school. We didn’t quite get on initially but during my stay at his mum’s place I started trying to emulate his style as much as I could. He was like the big brother I never had. He would help guide me through this transition from Pee Wee Herman to ‘Cool’, from Inspector Clousseau to ‘Bam’, and from N-Sync to ‘Hard’. First stop – the barbershop.

 

My cuz and I went to the local barbershop and said hello to the natives. I was corrected abruptly. Hello = Not cool. Hi = cool. What’s up = cool. How far! = Razz but way better than Hello. Anyway, I got into my chair and looked up at the charts to see what was on the menu. Skinned (Oh, HELL no!), Bobby Brown slant (not brave enough), The Punk (hmm, now there’s an idea!) It was a kind of square-cut with a puffed top (View pic: Kadeem Hardison a.k.a \’Dwayne Wayne\’ in teen comedy, \’A Different World\’ ). It was one of those I-love-my-mama-but-she-don’t-tell-ME-what-to-do haircuts. It commanded respect. I loved it. I got my first pair of Reebok pumps too. I even started wearing cologne (with a cologne-drenched handkerchief in my top pocket just for good measure).

 

I was ready to re-enter I.S.I with new a found sense of courage. At break time it was ‘cool’ to be seen having lunch with a (pretty) girl. After managing to save up a decent amount of pocket money I asked a girl to lunch, she agreed, and we took a pleasant stroll to the kiosks to get our soft-drinks and snacks. As I sat on a ledge with her I was excited because I could feel eyes on me…not hers, my peers. They were filled with awe and probably a little jealousy. I savoured this moment. But mid-way through my conversation I felt like either I had coughed up a fur ball or Barry White’s ghost was trying to use me as a medium to convey a message. Perfect! Just as I was trying to break my way into the ‘In-crowd’ my voice decided to break its way into Puberty.    

 

..xTx..

Junior High – 1st year…

I was 11 years old when I started Junior Secondary School at The International school, Ibadan. I felt like a prisoner sent to Alcatraz to do time. As I walked through those gates and saw the boys in their turquoise short sleeve shirts with grey shorts, and the girls in their blue/white striped dresses, I couldn’t help feeling that I was just ordinary. How the hell could I stand out in this crowd? I thought.

I started feeling homesick almost immediately. Saying goodbye to my primary school friends of 6yrs was hard enough. I moved to a different state (from Lagos to Oyo) and left my Mum , Dad and 2 sisters behind in order to stay with my Aunt. Her children (i.e. my cousins) made the whole traumatizing experience bearable for me and so I gained 2 brothers I never had, and yet another (sarcastic but lovable) sister. On holidays I would be ‘deported’ to Lagos to see my family.

My uniform didn’t make my first day experience any easier to get through. The shorts were tight – not as high as hot pants but not as long as regular boxer shorts either (so it was a good thing I was still wearing Y-fronts then). I felt I was walking funny – you would if your shorts were climbing up between your buttocks! Speaking of which, and to make matters even worse, I had er…okay my bum was er…not the ‘average’ size for a boy…it was kinda out there…just a bit – not sexy, not cool. The shirt material felt cheap and caused my skin to itch sometimes. I wasn’t accustomed to applying lotion to my legs so my flaky, chapped chopsticks were glistening white for all students to jeer at that day.

I dared to look at some of the beautiful full-breasted girls in the school – they were all my seniors, damn! I made my way to my class after the school assembly and scrambled with my mates to get the ‘best’ seat. A complete nerd would sit right at the front in the first row. I was a partial nerd so I chose a seat in the second front row. I glanced at the girls in my class: a lot of them were pretty…(pretty flat-chested, that is). I couldn’t get it through my thick afro-head that girls of age 11 were meant to look like that. I was going to get my own big surprise in 2years time though.

I made friends quite quickly with a few of the boys but I was still shy talking to girls – not all of them, just the ones I thought were so breathtaking. It was fun at break time when everyone ran out to the food stalls or playing field. The seniors boys in SS1, SS2 and SS3 did not seem to like to see the junior boys having ‘FUN’. It was an abomination for junior boys to smile in their presence or even let your eyes meet. This was hard because they were everywhere. I had to learn to walk with my eyes just glazed – not really focusing on anyone but still making sure I didnt bump into anyone. In an innocent era when 2 junior boys could walk along, holding hands and sharing a joke, senior boys were quick to descend upon them and exercise capital punishment. I guess they knew something we were still oblivious of. 

Breaktime was an uncomfortable period also because you didn’t want a senior to call you and send you on an errand. For instance, I recall one of my best mates being picked from my clique one afternoon on our way to buy lunch:

Senior: HEY YOU come here….I’m talking to YOU! Come here!

Best mate: Yes sir

Senior: Don’t look at me when I’m talking to you!

Best mate: I’m very sorry, sir.

Senior: Why were you ignoring me when I called you?

Best mate: I wasn’t ignoring you.

Senior: Oh, so you’re saying that I’m lying, right?

Best mate: No I didnt say that I…

Senior: Kneel down there!

As my mate surrended to this 6ft bully, one of my other friends suggested that he’d go to the senior to beg for my mate to be released. This was the dumbest idea I had ever heard because it was a sheep prancing its way to the slaughterhouse. But I felt my best mate’s pain as girls in my class walked past him pointing and giggling. We watched as the unsung hero went to negotiate with the senior. It appeared to be going well. The senior reached into his own pocket and even gave the braveheart some money. He walked back to the rest of us but to my surprise my best mate was still left kneeling down on the sandy ground.

Me: What happened?

Him: The senior said he’ll let him go once I buy his lunch for him.

Me: Okay, lets go buy it then.

Him: But he didnt give me enough money.

Me: How much did he give you?

Him: Five Naira.

Me: and what did he ask you to buy?

Him: 2 meatpies, 2donuts, 1 bottle of Coke, 1 Okin biscuit, 1 pack of Sprint chewing gum…and he said I should bring back his change!

I remember trying to stifle an outburst because that absurd senior wasn’t too far off from where we were standing. I refused when I was asked to contribute towards this greed-feast – my pocket money was limited. Let my best mate continue to kneel down there…we only just met anyway…its not like we’re brothers or something, I thought. But just then a teacher walked past and asked what was going on. In the end my best mate was allowed to go and he sluggishly came back to us looking really pissed.  

The following day when we went to enjoy our breaktime, a familiar bully started beckoning us to come to him. I remember how we looked at each other briefly and quickly scurried off in different directions, running for our dear lives. Those were the fun moments. Life in Junior High inevitably became a game of hide and seek with the seniors. We wore the shorts, they sported the trousers. They abused their power, we were at their mercy – a word which was probably omitted from their childhood and English Language tutorials. This was only my first year and I still had a lot to learn about surviving high school. 

 

..xTx..