“Good morning, class. Hey! Please keep quiet. Please, be extra good today. I’m feeling so, so sick right now. I think I have a very bad cold. Can’t you hear my voice? I can’t shout. My head is paining me, and when you make noise, it makes it worse. I had to rest all morning, and I couldn’t teach 4B this morning, but since we didn’t have time for your classwork yesterday, we have to do it today. Please. If you’re quiet, I’ll tell you a story. It’s a true story of something that happened to me. Please, keep quiet and listen.
“Do you remember how I had to leave early on Friday to go to the immigration office? I had to go drop off my passport so they can fix my visa so I can stay. Do you remember when I got a phone call on Monday during class and had to leave? Let me tell you what happened.
“The lady there wanted to talk to me. She asked me why I was here in Ghana, and I told her, but she said I’ve been here too long, and I have to leave. She said I could only stay until 30th June.”
Cries of protest went up throughout the classroom.
“Shh! Keep quiet! I’m not finished with the story yet! If you make noise I won’t be able to tell you! Okay, that’s better. Well, I told her my plane ticket is for 27th July, and that I needed to finish teaching you English until the end of the term. She didn’t care. I begged and pleaded with her, ‘Please! Please! Please!’ but she didn’t care. She said she was sacking me from Ghana. She would only let me stay until 30th June, and if I stayed longer, they might put me in jail or something.
“Oh, you don’t know how upset I was! I was crying! But still, she said, ‘No.’ When I walked to the trotro, I was crying the whole time. I don’t want to leave yet!”
Their faces were grave as most of them listened silently. A few looked like they were about to be sick. Akyena pretended to cry.
“Shh! The story isn’t finished yet! I was so upset that I cried on the trotro and I stopped by Shoprite to eat some ice cream so I would feel better, and I sat crying eating ice cream...” Some of the class thought this was really funny, and laughed out loud. Most were too anxious to know the final outcome to laugh, and quickly shushed the offenders.
“I called my friend Fred, and told him what happened, and he said he’d call his friend who worked there. They thought it might be possible for me to go and come to Togo or Côte d’Ivoire, but we weren’t sure. So I didn’t know if I could stay until 27th July or if I’d have to leave early on 30th June.”
“Oh! Miss Kate!” I heard.
“But then, this morning, when I was in the house, resting because I’m sick, I got a phone call from Fred. He said he had just talked to Evelyn, his friend at the office, and she said they’re still working on it, but they don’t know yet.”
The little faces looking up at me were grave and serious, particularly those belonging to my favorite students. I smiled.
“Then, about 30 minutes later, when I was still at the house in my bed, resting, Fred called me back... and he said... ‘Congratulations! They’re extending your visitor’s permit.’ That means I can stay!”
A great cheer of victory went up, and several students got out of their chairs and danced around happily. I felt very loved. I didn’t tell them that they had given me another three-month extension. If I had told them that, they would have wanted me to stay longer, until September 7th, but I’m definitely set on touching down at LAX on July 28th. I’m lucky to be friends with Fred, who is friends with Evelyn, who took my case to a senior consular to get the job done. Very lucky. I’m also very happy that I don’t have to leave early!
“Miss Kate! Question. How long will you stay in Ghana? Forever?” Ohemaa asked hopefully.
“No, sweetie, only until 27th July, and I’m so lucky I can stay that long! They wanted to sack me out at the end of June! But now, I can stay until 27th July. I’m so happy! But I’m still sick. So please, keep quiet. Kwabena, sit down! Priest, stop drumming! Shh.... okay. Once everyone is quiet, we can begin our classwork. Thank you. Who remembers what we learned yesterday about prepositions?”