The New Boy : Aaron Ansah-Agyeman


The New Boy ©Aaron Ansah-Agyeman


Zion Bawa was not happy.

He was filled with anger and bitterness.

He did not like what was going on in school at all, especially in his own classroom.

He was fourteen years old. He lived in a suburb called Beach Road and attended the Beach Road International School. He was in JHS 2.

He lived in a compound house with his parents. There were many other tenants in the house, and Zion hated that fact. He was the seventh child, and his mother had recently given birth to twins.

It was true that two of his elder brothers and his elder sister did not live with them any more, but still, their rooms seemed crowded.

There was a lot of noise in the house all the time. Sometimes the other tenants complained. Bawa particularly did not like the weeping of the new baby boys. They could really work up a racket. He felt so angry whenever the twins woke up during the night and had one of their terrible cries, waking up everybody. His father, a truck driver, was short-tempered. He was always whipping one of them for the least offence. Bawa, thus, did not like being at home at all.

He liked being in school, though.

In school, he was admired. He was extremely fat and tall for his age, and he was a bully. Even the boys in JHS 3 feared him. He got away with everything. When he was late no one would dare put down his name as a latecomer. Anybody who did that risked being beaten by Bawa after school.

He was like a king in school. All the pupils were scared of him. This gave Bawa real pleasure.

He was a clever boy. He always came first in most of the exams.

He hated it when school was on recess. That meant he had to stay at home and go around selling his mother’s fish and tomatoes. That meant he did not get anybody to bully.

When school re-opened for the second term, Bawa had gone to school happily. That, however, was when his unhappiness, anger and bitterness had begun.

There was a new boy in school.

His name was Ato Prempeh.

He was in JHS 2B, Bawa’s class.


Normally Bawa wouldn’t have minded if there was a new boy in class, but Ato Prempeh was different.

He was a slim boy of medium height, but he had very good clothes. He dressed so neatly.

Ato wore all the clothes that Bawa only dreamed of. Ato had the best “kombat” boots, the type Bawa had always wished for. Ato had a collection of beautiful digital wristwatches, the kind of watches Bawa had always wanted. Ato brought the “coolest” backpack bags to school, the type that Zion Bawa had always craved.

Zion had been told that Ato’s father was a wealthy businessman and politician.

There were other reasons why Bawa disliked Ato so strongly.


Zion had realized with dismay that Ato was also very clever. He had gotten all the answers correct in the mathematics test which Mr. Sam, the mathematics teacher, had conducted. Zion realized with horror that if he did not work hard, Ato could pose a real danger to his record of coming first in the coming examinations.

Also, Ato, in just a week of being in school, had become the closest friend of Aba.

To Zion, Aba was the prettiest girl in the school. Zion had always wanted to become her friend but that had not happened. But quite suddenly, Aba and Ato were friends. Zion disliked this intensely.

And then, of course, there was the bike!


Zion knew that his dislike for Ato had more to do with the bicycle than anything else!

It had been bad enough when Ato was brought to school in his mother’s sleek Mercedes Benz. It had simply been the most beautiful car any of the pupils had seen. 

And then Ato had come to school one morning on the most beautiful “mountain” bike anyone had seen. It was a silver-blue bicycle with a double-layered carrier, a melodious bell and gear levers! It was the kind of bicycle Zion had always wished to have.


Zion loved bicycles and had dreamt of the day when he would own a “mountain” bike. It was the most important aim of his life.

Everybody commented on how beautiful Ato’s bicycle was. Ato allowed the other boys – and sometimes some of the girls who could ride –  to go for rides on his bicycle.

Zion would sit and watch them with envy. Ato would ask him to go for a ride too, but Zion always refused. He could not understand why Ato would allow the other students to ride the bicycle. If it had been his, he would have beaten anyone who so much as looked at it, let alone touched it.


There was only one person in the school who was known to be Zion’s friend. His name was Basoah.

Basoah was twelve years old, but he looked far younger because of his slight stature. Basoah did not like Zion particularly, but since most of the boys bullied him when he came to the school, he had attached himself to Zion. This scared the other bullies because each time they bullied Basoah, Zion would retaliate for him.  Zion, on the other hand, didn’t particularly like Basoah. Zion wished he had other friends, but most of the boys – and girls – were scared of him, and so he had no friends. This sometimes made him feel so lonely, and at such times it was good to have Basoah around to chat with.


One day, during break time, Zion and Basoah watched some of the boys riding Ato’s new bicycle. Ato himself was sitting down beside Aba, as usual, watching the girls playing ampe.

Then a strange thing happened. The girls broke off into pairs to challenge each other at ampe. There were seven girls in all, and that meant there was a girl short. Aba had no partner.


“Go and find another girl to be your partner,” the girls shouted.


“I shall be your partner,” Ato said.


“Odododiodioo Constituency,” Basoah screamed with such shocked energy that many people turned to look at him. “That boy should be killed. Did he say he will play ampe? Is he crazy? Whoever heard of a boy playing ampe?”


All the girls were looking at Ato with shock.

Aba giggled and touched his arm. “Are you sure you want to play ampe?”

Ato was laughing uncontrollably.


“Yes, I really want to be your partner,” he said. “Please, let me play.”


The news spread quickly, and curious spectators began to gather. Even the boys playing football rushed to witness what was happening.


“What a sissy!” Basoah cried with disgust. “That boy is a girl.”


Everybody had expected Ato to fumble and to be awkward but, surprisingly, he looked graceful as he partnered Aba to challenge the other girls. The looks of the onlookers changed from contempt to amazement, and then to awe and then to admiration.

Ato was not only graceful in his movements, but he was a skilful player. He and Aba eliminated group after group, and came up winners, all through Ato’s skill.


“This is disgusting,” Basoah cried. “I feel so humiliated. How can a boy be so good at a girl’s game? What a disgrace!”


Zion watched with deep envy as Aba threw her arms around Ato and hugged him, laughing with joy. The other girls could not stop talking about Ato’s skill at ampe. They were awed and impressed by what Ato had done and kept on asking him how he came to be so good at playing ampe.


Ato, the only boy amongst four children, told them that he played ampe with his big sisters at home.

The other boys began to practice ampe, and soon the whole compound was a mixture of claps and laughter.

Zion realized, to his amazement, that instead of Ato attracting disrespect from the other boys, they were rather impressed, and wanted to be friends with Ato.

When school was over, and Zion was going home with Basoah, Ato came to a stop beside Zion.


“Why have you stopped?” Zion asked angrily. “Move on!”


“I wanted to speak with you, Zion,” Ato said softly. “I don’t know why you don’t like me.


I want to be friends with you. I want you to ride my bicycle. I want you to come to my house so that we can study together and play video games. Why can’t you be my friend?”


“Because your father is a thief,” Zion said wickedly, unable to control his envy.


“My father is no thief!” Ato replied softly.


“My father says all politicians are thieves,” Zion growled. “That makes your father a thief.”


“Your father is wrong,” Ato said.


“He’s telling you that your father is a liar, Zion,” Basoah cried.


Zion’s face became red with anger.


“Are you calling my father a liar?” he demanded, and then he pushed Ato hard.


Ato fell with his bicycle, and Basoah laughed.


“Get up if you’re a man!” Zion cried, curling his hands into fists. “I shall break every bone in you.”


“I won’t fight with you,” Ato said calmly as he got to his feet. “I just want to be your friend.”


“Chicken!” Zion said. “You coward! All you know is playing ampe.”


“Beat him up, Zion,” Basoah urged. “He’s a disgrace to boys. Ampe! How?”


Ato sat on his bike without another word and rode off.

Zion and Basoah continued, and after a while, they rounded a bend to witness the most amazing thing.


Ato had been stopped by some bullies from a nearby town known as the “Truck Boys”.


They were ruffians who did not go to school. They stayed in the town doing boring jobs. Their leader was nick-named “Terminator.” He was one of the few boys Zion was afraid of.


Zion had had an unpleasant encounter with Terminator once during the holidays. Terminator had knocked a tray of fish and tomatoes off Zion’s head, and taken some of the fishes away. Zion had tried to take the fish back, but Terminator had been bigger and stronger and had beaten up Zion.


And here was Terminator again.


Zion’s knees wobbled when he saw that Terminator was blocking the path, demanding that Ato give him his bicycle. Ato held tightly onto the bicycle and refused to give it to Terminator, who became angry and pushed Ato hard.

Ato fell and jumped to his feet instantly. He was so fast that Zion could barely see his movements.


With some strange martial arts combinations, Ato grabbed Terminator and sent him crashing to the ground. Terminator stood up with a growl and rushed at Ato.


“Ato shall die,” Basoah whispered with fear.


It was far from the truth.

Again with lightning movements, Ato sent Terminator crashing to the ground.


“Ododiodioo Constituency!” Basoah whispered with awe. “Zion Bawa, if you had tried to fight Ato, he would have disgraced you like a Chinese Pumpkin.”


When Terminator went crashing down for the third time, he looked at Ato with sudden fear and did not bother to attack again. He raised his hands in appeal.


Ato picked up his bicycle and looked at Zion with a smiling face.


“Zion, like I said before, I don’t want to fight with you,” he said calmly. “I just want to be your friend. Please let me be your friend.”


“Hey, Ato Pampam!” Basoah cried with awe. “Who thought you to fight like Bruce Lee? Was that Kung-Kung?”


“Kung-Fu you mean,” Ato said with a little laugh. “No, that was Aikido. One of my uncles is a black belt and he’s been teaching me. You can join us if you like. By the way, my name is Ato Prempeh, not Ato Pampam.”


Ato and Basoah laughed. Zion didn’t laugh. Ato extended a hand of friendship toward Zion.


“What do you say, Zion?” he asked. “Friends?”


“I shall never be your friend,” Zion said very angry and filled with increased envy because he knew Ato could have beaten him.


“Why don’t you want to be my friend?” Ato asked in a puzzled voice. “I can see you like my bicycle, and yet you don’t want to ride it like the other boys. Why do you do that? Why do you dislike me so much?”

Zion did not respond. He turned and walked away. Basoah did not go with him. He had found a new ally and decided to stay with Ato.


“So now he takes Basoah away from me,” Zion whispered to himself. “You have incurred my anger, Ato Prempeh! I’ll pay you back in a grand way, you just mark my words!”


The following day brought a little relief to Zion. This was because Ato stopped coming to school on his beautiful bicycle. His mother did not bring him to school in her car. Ato walked to school just like the other students.


Zion was happy. He hoped that the bicycle had broken down or, better still, that it had been stolen. However, Zion’s happiness did not last.


That Friday, Zion was late. When he got to school all the students and teachers were in the Assembly Hall for Morning Devotion. Zion decided to go and put down his tattered bag in the classroom before going to the Assembly Hall.


He saw a new bicycle in the corridor in front of the classrooms.

It was another “mountain” bike, but this one was bigger and had more gears and levers and features. The curved handlebars with their state-of-the-art range of controls made Zion’s heart beat hard with desire. The bike’s red, black and silver colours made it a fantasy machine.


Zion knew that it belonged to Ato. It was better and far more beautiful than the other one.

He stared with great envy and uncontrollable jealousy. He should have known that Ato’s rich parents could buy their son a new bicycle anytime he demanded it. This bicycle would make Ato more friends. He would be more popular. Aba would even be friendlier with him.


Zion could not have that. It was a bicycle he wanted desperately. He would not let Ato enjoy it.

A bad thought entered Zion’s head, and he put it into action instantly. He looked around to see if anyone was watching. He was alone. No one was watching. Everybody was at the Assembly Hall.


Zion carefully wheeled the bicycle to the JHS 3 classroom and closed the doors. He then began to smash up the beautiful bicycle. He hammered on the tyres with a heavy chair until the rim was all twisted, and most of the spokes came out. He broke off the pedals and knocked off the gear levers. He smashed the lights and reflectors and broke the electronic chiming bell.


When he straightened, he was satisfied with what he had done. Now the bicycle was totally smashed up. It was destroyed beyond repairs. Ato would never be able to ride it again.

Zion peeked out, made sure no one was around, and then bolted from the classroom and out of the school compound. He ran along the path toward home but stopped halfway, and waited behind a huge three for almost an hour.


He then set off for school again.

He was a little scared someone had seen what he had done. He would be dismissed from school, and his father would kill him.

The compound, when he got there, was buzzing with excited activity as he had expected.

Classes were not going on. The whole student body was gathering around, and the teachers looked serious and angry. Zion got to his class and saw that all the students were outside, talking excitedly. He saw Ato standing with Mr. Sam and some of the teachers. He noticed that Ato looked really shattered.


“What’s going on here?” Zion asked innocently.


“A terrible thing happened, ” cried one of the girls. “Some wicked persons have destroyed Ato’s new bicycle, smashing it into tiny pieces!”


Zion’s heart started beating with a mixture of fear and satisfaction. What he had done was terrible, but at least he had deprived Ato of that beautiful bicycle.


Basoah was suddenly standing beside Zion, and there was a funny look on his face.


“Why are you looking at me like that?” Zion asked angrily.


“You did it!” Basoah whispered furiously. “Odododiodioo Constituency, Zion, why should you do such a stinking-.”


Zion gave Basoah a hard knock on the head. He tried to be tough, but his face was filled with fear.


“If you say such lies about me, I shall kill you!” Zion said angrily.


“You don’t fool me, Zion,” Basoah said after he had retreated to a safe distance.

Just as Zion opened his mouth to speak, Mrs Baffour, the Head Mistress, emerged from the JHS 3 classroom, followed by some of the teachers. They were all looking really distressed.


Mrs Baffour looked at Ato with pity.


“We’re sorry for what has happened, Ato,” she said sadly. “We are calling the police.


They shall surely find out who did this.”


At the mention of police, Zion began to sweat. He was so frightened of the police.


Things were getting out of hand.


“It is okay, Mrs. Baffour,” Ato said sadly. “I don’t know who could have done such a terrible thing, but don’t call the police. I forgive whoever did it!”


“Your father shall be angry about this,” Mr. Sam cried. “We need to find the one who did it so that he is punished. Let’s call the police. Whoever did this to your new bicycle should be caught and dealt with.”


“It is alright!” Ato continued. “I am just sorry this happened. Actually, it was not my bicycle, and that is why it hurts me so badly.”


“Not your bicycle?” Mrs Baffour asked in a puzzled voice. “I was told you brought it to school. If it is not yours, whose is it?”


Ato looked at Zion’s guilt-stricken face.


“Well,” Ato began hesitantly. “I wanted Zion to be my friend so much, but he didn’t want to. I kept thinking of how I could make him become my friend so that he would stop hating me. Basoah told me that Zion’s greatest wish is to own a mountain bicycle.


As a result, I told my parents that I would walk to school and not use my bicycle until they bought a bicycle for Zion. I parked my bicycle at home.”


“That is why you have been walking to school nowadays!” Mr. Sam said.


“Are you saying this new bicycle was for…” the Head Mistress’ voice trailed off with shock.


“Yes, Madam, it was for Zion Bawa,” Ato replied, and Zion gave a moan of despair.


“I convinced my parents to buy a good bicycle for Zion so that we could become friends. My father finally brought the bicycle last night. I brought it to school today so that I would present it to Zion Bawa, but he was late this morning, and I left it here on the corridor.”


All eyes turned to Zion, and everybody was surprised to see that Zion was crying hard. No one had ever seen Zion cry. Even when he was given severe whipping, which was often, he never cried.


He walked slowly toward Ato and knelt at Ato’s feet.

“Are you telling me your parents bought the bicycle for me? Are you telling me I could have ridden it to town after school?”


“I brought it to you, Zion,” Ato said sadly. “I would have brought mine to school on Monday, and then we would have ridden to school and back home every day. Such a pity someone has destroyed the bicycle.”


Zion began to scream.

If only he had known He had thought he was destroying Ato’s new bicycle, but it had been for him! His long-cherished dream could have come true. Why hadn’t he waited? Why had he been so full of jealousy and wickedness?


He had thought he was destroying Ato’s property…but he had ended up destroying his own dreams. That beautiful bicycle could have been his.

No one understood why Zion was crying so bitterly until, in a trembling voice, he confessed that he had destroyed the new bicycle.


The teachers and students were filled with shock. They shook their heads at how wicked Zion had been, and how foolish it had turned out.


“You were blinded with jealousy, and you ended up destroying your own bicycle.”


“I am so sorry, Ato,” Zion cried. “Please forgive me.”


“It is alright,” Ato said. “Let us live together as friends. You have destroyed the bicycle I intended as a gift for you, but you can always ride my bicycle.”


From that day, Ato and Zion Bawa became good friends.


Zion had learnt a great lesson at a great cost, and since then he always took care of other peoples’ things.


Have you ever heard of the saying ‘Do unto others what you will want others to do unto you’? What a way for Zion to find out the meaning of this saying. His terrible plan backfired on him…and he learnt the hard way that it was very bad to be jealous of others.

Let this be a lesson to us all!



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