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Monday, December 4, 2023

Letter to Lena

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By Sulayman Jammeh

Well I have never imagined that I really got a love philosopher as a student in my class. While I was marking series of books in a hot afternoon, I tumbled on a long and a mighty love letter in one of my students’ exercise book. Well, the student was a shy one indeed and rarely uttered a word in class.
I had to pause the marking, and glanced through this powerful letter which seems to be drafted in Queen’s chambers. What actually irritated me was, he got ‘All Wrong’ in the simple exercise I gave them. However, the content of his letter, made me think that he was a professor in English Morphology, or even a theologian.


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Initially, I said to myself ‘no he can’t write this’, but when I closely studied the pattern in which the pen was pushed on both the letter and his book, I concluded that he was the scribbler.
It was an A4 size paper, the borderline was carefully designed, and he finally drew a love sign (heart with an arrow) as his mighty letterhead.
At the top right corner of his letter was his address, which was ‘100% of LOVE, 100% of FEELING, 100% of KISSES’.


The body of his letter was the most interesting part. For the first time I became perplexed and skeptical with my students’ writing. Each sentence might have different interpretations depending on which lenses the reader was reading with.

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He started, thus:
“Dear Lena,
First of all let me abreast you with just a synopsis of the genesis of my prestigious love for you. You see Lena, my love for you is peculiarly and stupendously made between the stratosphere and the ionosphere; it’s an irresistible desire that I desired for you irresistibly. It’s indeed a sacred one, carefully made in the seventh heaven, trust me. My love for you is holistically manufactured in a divine holy tabernacle and continues to rest in the temple of my fragile heart. It’s not my fault sweetheart, since Sir Albert Einstein himself said ‘The laws of gravity cannot be held responsible for people falling in love’. Baby if I remember your melodious name, I feel like committing suicide. LENA to me depicts LOVE, EMPRESS, NATURAL ANGEL. I know you were specially created on Sunday morning 6:00am”.


I paused for a while and imagined the nature and behavior of this very student, who always tells me “No idea” each time I pose a question to him during classes. I thought of how serious looking he is, calm, cool and well collected young lad. I adjusted my humble self on the chair and removed my spectacle and began to pay more heel to the letter. I was trying to remember who the hell Lena herself was, because that name wasn’t in my class.

His second paragraph nearly crippled me. He continued:
“Lena, my heart beats lyrically only to the echoes of your drums. I know you were mad at me when you visited me last week, I want to say I am sorry. Don’t throw away the use because of the abuse, because for inside the abuse resides the use.”
I was getting so confused with the main purpose of the letter, but as I continued the reading I received the shock of my life.

He said: “What I am about to tell you is normal but serious and it should stay between you and I. I want to let you understand that ever since I stepped my feet in this school (St Peters), I have been searching for the flesh of my flesh. But when I met you, my instincts told me that I have indeed not only met the flesh of my flesh but the bones and muscles of my own flesh. I want to seize this chance to confess to you in toto and pour down the holistic content of my heart. Lena, do you know that each time you majestically cat-walk with a special dexterity through the corridors of Grade 12 pentagon, I become a comatose forthwith. Oh yes I do, but when you passed me what kept bouncing after you like a baseball, bounces simultaneously with my heart.”

I paused the reading and said to myself ‘no wonder you are always absent minded in class, how can you pass your exam, when such thought kept circumambulating in your cretiniou skull?’
As I was angrily interpreting the vagabond attitude of my student, I peeped through the window then I saw the so-called student of a boy jogging like Messi toward the staff room. I knew that he remembered that he unintentionally left his ‘Classified’ letter in his book. Then I quickly folded the long letter and gently placed it under the books.


When he pushed the door of the staff room, our eyes met. He was breathing fast, from a distance I could feel the beating of his pulse.
He scratched his octagonal head and said
‘Mr. Jammeh’
‘How are you?’
‘I am fine Jasong and you?’
His eyes were of course magnetically glued on the books placed on the table.
‘Are you done marking our books?’
‘No, I am not done yet. In fact I haven’t started’.

He was trying to play smart games at me, not knowing that a headmaster was once a student, and he didn’t understand that a wise monkey never monkeys with a wise monkey’s monkey. He finally poured out the ‘wasted colanut’ from his month and spoke the ‘word bullet’.
“Actually I wrote a phone number in my book, so I came to collect it to call the number”
I carefully looked at the books on the table and picked his book and handed it to him. Of course the letter was no more in his own book. Immediately I projected his book at him, the way he rushed in grabbing it nearly made me laugh. As a man of smiles, I tried to suppress the smiles from oozing out.
I paid less heels to him while pretending to write the unseen numbers. He fumbled his book up and down; left, right and centre he couldn’t see his ‘Almighty letter’. He turned toward my table again with his book. What I believed could be rolling in his head might be ‘did I really leave my letter in this book? Can I ask Mr Jammeh whether he saw a letter?’.

In his eyes, I saw frustration and desperation. I finally called him.
‘Mr. Lover boy COME, Sit down’.
He slowly sat down and glued his eyes straight in my retina. The cross-examination began. I asked him:
‘Jasong, who is Lena?’
At that moment he seems frozen like an imported chicken leg in a freezer. In that cold morning he started sweating as if his blood was boiling under his skin.

‘Which Lena?’
‘The Lena in your letter’.
He finally took a deep breath, glanced left and right and pushed his head closer to my table.
‘Actually Mr. Jammeh it’s not my OWN letter, someone asked me to copy it for him because I have a beautiful HANDWRITING, that’s all that I did for him.’
I could really smell the truth from his confession, because I knew him as a cool, calm and collected lad, though sometimes lousy.

‘Then WHO is the original owner of the letter?’
‘It’s Master Mboob, the Assistant Headboy who owns the letter.’
At that instance, I began to connect and reason that any student who must have penned the letter, is a bookworm with exceptional peculiar penmanship.

‘Go and call Mboob for me’
As he exited the staff room, I took the letter to complete its content.
He continued, thus:
“Baby your love surgically strikes my heart like an African thunder with electromagnetic induction. Explain I can’t do, how you sailed through the epicenter of my emotions and anchored yourself right at navel of my soul. To tell you the truth, for a Woman In Her Prime like your case, I want to be that BLACK BOY that will take care of your Government Inspector. Don’t worry about my appearance or without a car because Things Fall Apart. But I can be your Macbeth and your Royal Gladiator to rule all your tissues. When we finally get married, I shall take you through The Joys Of Motherhood. I will tell you lot of stories about my Village TENDABA, that is When My Village Was My Village during the regime of Famara Fofana’s Alkaloship.

One thing that doubts me is how the magnitude and the amplitude of your rectitude longitudinally threw me to a different altitude and ultimately made me fall on the lines of latitude 90° of love. Don’t take this as sophistry sweetheart because for I am not a sophist. The best thing I admired in you is your humility.
Baby each day I didn’t see you in school, I got somewhat sick, I couldn’t tell whether it’s Insomnia, malaria or leukaemia; so I just called that sickness of Missing you ‘Lenalaria’.

Every fabric of my DNA is infected, affected, and contagiously contaminated with Lena. You aren’t the only mosquito in my net or the only cockroach in my cupboard but also the only Queen bee in my hive. Don’t try to forsake me, because my life without you is like a dead man with a casket.
Lena, all I ever desired is to have the chance to be the radiant that luminously laminates your life. If I ever exist as an African blue blooded black panther, the new branded king of Wakanda I will fight to be. I promise you my fidelity till eternity because for I am not a casanova.

All these lines I wrote, are just an introduction to my motive of writing to you. To start with, I want register my disappointment in Mr Jammeh for having a crush on you as his student. Well it’s an open secret….”
I paused the reading and started thinking which one of the Mr. Jammehs, the vice principal or the English Teacher?

To be continued

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