Sweet revenge can often leave a bitter taste

I had promised myself if it would be a while before I badgered you once more with the sorry tales of my childhood.

I had promised myself if it would be a while before I badgered you once more with the sorry tales of my childhood.

After last week's column about the abject cruelty of my primary school principal who force-fed me castor oil and then denied me time off when I complained of a stomach-ache, I recalled how I got my revenge on the man.

Looking back on it now, years later, I have learned the important lesson that boys will often make mischief just for the sheer fun of defying authority.

Sir sent me to his home in the township to fetch his flask. Before I set off, he warned me never to drop the thing, because it would break.

I duly went to his home where his mother, a graceful, aged granny, poured hot, steaming coffee into the container and made the point again and repeated the warning to make sure I did not drop it, because it would break.

I couldn't understand all this fuss and fear that ametal container could break if dropped. Damn, you needed a tractor to drive over the darn thing to even make a dent in it.

On my way back to school, I walked past a few smooth grass patches. I was eager to prove Sir and his aged mother wrong.

I found a neat patch of grass and dropped the flask gently. See! Nothing happened.

I dropped it a second time, a third and a fourth. Still nothing happened.

By now I was certain the concern about breakage was misplaced. Before I got back to school I hurled it up in the air and let it drop a few times - just for good measure.

I handed the flask, "intact", over to Sir and he thanked me, and called me a good boy.

A few minutes later, when I was back in class, the burly headmaster stormed through the door and, ignoring the teacher, howled at me: "Hey monna, did you drop that flask?"

Of course I hadn't. I had given it to him intact, just as I had received it from his mother.

"Of course, you dropped it. This thing (flask) is finished. Don't lie. You are going to pay for it!"

He stormed out of the classroom and never spoke about the matter to me at all. A few years back, when he was an ailing old man, I bumped into him and reminded him of the incident and confessed.

We had a good laugh about it and I promised to buy him a new flask.

He had the last laugh on me: he died before I could make good on my promise. My "sweet" revenge left a bitter taste in my own mouth.