She wanted to tell me that B is quitting school.
"He has been skipping school for a few weeks already," she said.
"The teacher wants me to go down to sign an undertaking to allow them to cane him."
"Just a few days ago, the teacher actually cut his hair because it was too long."
I had been expecting this.
Since the lunar new year.
B did not do well enough last year to cross over to secondary four.
After some deliberation, I gave him a call.
"Hello," I said.
"Hello," he replied.
"Do you know why am I calling you up?"
"Are you expecting good or bad news? Bad right?"
"I heard that you are planning to leave school."
"Yeah, I want to study privately," he declared.
"If you cannot even spend half a day in school, what makes you think that you will be able to devote any time to studying if you have to work for a whole day?"
"As your brother, you know that I've never forced anything on you. But I want you to know that you will have to take responsiblity for your actions.
And you should know that I will not continue to give you your weekly pocket money, as part of the deal that we made years ago."
"So what are you going to do?"
"I'll go find some work to do. There's a weekend job at the Turf Club..." he mumbled.
"How much is it paying?"
"About eighty dollars for afternoon to night."
"Working with your friends?"
"Yeah. And from next year onwards I'll take my O levels privately."
"I can guarantee you that you will never get over your Os if you decide to quit now;" I was getting reactive.
"The moment you quit school, that's it. The school's the best place to facilitate your studies. Once you're out there will be so many distractions that you'll never be able to find time."
I knew I was trying and I wanted to go on trying.
But I knew that it was useless.
All I can hope for, is that the high price of early independence will hasten his maturity.
That he will get a chance to study again.
"It will not be easy. Remember that this is your decision and you can blame no one," I repeated.
"And remember not to move into anything against the law. Do not ever get your mother, your sister or myself into trouble."
"And remember that I'm always a phone call or an sms away."
And the conversation ended.
I have vaciliated from being a strict brother that spent every sunday coaching and scaring him away.
To one that has given him the freedom to choose, be it right or wrong.
In any case, the decision has been made.
We will just have to make the best of it.
And move on.