The guard sneered at me, “disk, Mista, wapi disk?”
What disk? …I don’t know whether it was his look, or the tone in his voice, but whatever it was; it broke me into a cold sweat.
Primary School Prefects used to hand out disks called “Monto”, colloquial for monitor, to anyone caught speaking any language other than English in the school compound. If you caught the disk, it was your turn to eavesdrop on conversations in the hope of spiriting the disk away from you. Round it would go until the end of school day when the prefect would trace the disks movement and present the chain of mainly the usual mothertoungers, …oops…I’m sorry, spare me the disk please… to the teacher on duty who would then see them off home with a stroke of the cane. Godspeed to you if you were last with the disk, it was a double whammy!
It was hard to keep to the rules, especially while out in the field playing football and some burly kid from the opposing team sends you tumbling with a tackle that nearly breaks your leg. The refereeing technology was yet to trickle down to the location so it was prudent to take matters into your own hands. Being of a somewhat small stature, I had found it wiser, from previous experiences, to take matters into my own mouth instead; and from a safe distance, I would send a barrage of insults and when it came to those, I had been blessed in abundance. Five seconds into the torrent, my English dexterity would dry up and I would naturally slide into mother tongue, where I would be at home until someone dunked the monto down my pants. My frequent verbal sparring’s landed me at least three strikes every day.
In one of the most desperate acts to win the prefect of the year award, my class prefect carved out two monto’s from a used chalkboard duster, and spent whole days tracking the movement of these disks; which is to say, followed me around. When the other prefects presented one list, he handed out two, mainly comprising of …the usual suspect. This doubled my evening ration and while I limped home, I prayed he would be a dismal failure in life and would spend most of his adult life looking up to me. Sadly, I must inform you that he did, indeed win the prefect of the year award, and went on to score the highest grades ever recorded in the location, up until then that is, and is presently a well-heeled member of the society. Doesn’t life suck!
What is more, decades later, here I am, my poor butt freezing all over again at the mention of a disk. It was the parking disk this time and I didn’t have it. So I parked the car and went back into the supermarket I had been shopping. I found it with the checkout cashier.
Aha! I clearly remembered. She had been speaking vernacular to me.