Click here in case you missed part 1. https://nangomemoirs.com/2020/07/02/dehorned-a-rebel-without-a-cause/
He was buried in his book – the Desire of Ages, seat inclined in front of the table that was awash with the holy Bible, newspaper and other spiritual magazines. He had pitched his table at his usual spot, under the cool shade of the jacaranda tree next to the cluster of banana trees his vision swathing across the vast green compound.
He was alone; a very rare scene in our compound at such a time of the day since you all can recall how men of the cloth and aspirers of New Jerusalem loved flocking our compound as if it were a Legion Maria diocese. I saw him from afar as we parted ways with my two other cousins, gallant soldiers of the war.
The only difference was, this war we had stirred was an unjustified one, there would be no honor bestowed on our heads and definitely no pride apportioned to it. For order and discipline have always been cherished in the land of natives, as in the land of the white man.
Doesn’t the good book marvels, “behold how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in harmony!. It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard of Aaron, running down the edge of his garments”.
We were, as brothers, living together yes but creating disharmony around us. We had been caught on the wrong side of the law and done the abominable.
This story is dedicated to Mr. Juma Wuod Boa, Mr. Oraro Jakonyando, my dad and all the teachers who made an impact in my life – God bless you all
This was no time to interrupt the still thoughts of the old man, a retired teacher turned dedicated preacher of the gospel. This was no season nor time for strife.
I made calculated options and voted on going with my cousin – the class seven demigod – to their home instead, at least up to lunch hour. There we may run into less trouble but more likely no trouble at all.
My cousin’s parents, of the one who passed as the class seven prefect, were the coolest dad and mum in vast Kano plains. Therein we could be treated as little delicate babes our reeking atrocities notwithstanding.
The other cousin, a class six viceroy, was staying with his grandmother, his parents making ends meet in the far flung northern Kenya. His case was the easiest were you to rank the pending consequences of our actions. His could only be rivaled by Ogwal’s, the other carefree lad who as well stayed with an aloof grandma.
A man must try to save himself from trouble; it is better said that so and so died trying than being curled away like a weakling who spoiled the name of the family with cowardice.
Solidarity, is a weapon very precious for success in freeing the world from scavengers or while dancing on the grave of the innocent; whatever the cause, the end justifies the means. We beat stories, laughed and reenacted our heroic act of climbing over the fence and dodging Mr Juma Wuod Boa.
For a moment the charged room and sheepish juvenile atmosphere convinced us that what we did was right. A man must try to save himself from trouble; it is better said that so and so died trying than being curled away like a weakling who spoiled the name of the family with cowardice.
Soon, very soon, lunch time would arrive and that class six mandarin and yours truly would each depart to our homes.
He, my dad, was still seated at his spot, the only change being the vertically standing sun that had partly eroded the cool shade created by the giant jacaranda tree and the old man who was snoring head nearly drooping down as the hot sun – blended with the gentle draught – soothed him deeper into slumber land.
When, later after lunch swallow, I was leaving for school, dad reminded me that the evening, this evening, would be different. It was important that I arrived home earlier – mum would be late coming – he added as I walked to the gates, his eyes almost never leaving the page of the book’s new chapter he had thumb marked. I responded in acknowledgment.
Though what I should have told him instead was, that piece of information was not necessary for it was I, who over the meal table, had stated that mum would be arriving late from her colleague’s funeral trip.
Officially the afternoon classes were crafted to begin at 2 pm sharp, nearly two hours after pupils went home for lunch. But it was a known fact that adherence to the timelines was as rare as politicians’ pre – election promises coming to fruition.
The teachers led in the molestation of the timelines; they would extend their eating hours with dry rounds of jokes well into teaching time. Us, the pupils, soon learned the trick and adjusted.
It was very common to see some of us trooping into the school twenty minutes after the classes supposed start time. Since the hunters have mastered how to shoot without missing, Ineke the bird has learned how to fly without perching. We simply adapted.
…..you’d think he was a census official counting the pupils as they trooped back for afternoon classes.
But this day, this Thursday of doom, Mr Juma Wuod Boa was not wasting his hours with the rest of the teachers in the staffroom. He neatly perched himself on a stool under a flag shade his direction facing the gate, you’d think he was a census official counting the pupils as they trooped back for afternoon classes.
“Just pick your bag and go back home. Bring your parent here on Monday morning,” Mr. Juma lifted his voice at me as I paced towards my classroom trying to avoid his direction.
“Excuse me,” I feigned ignorance of what I had just heard.
“You heard me right. Let’s not waste each other’s time. Pick your bag and do not show up here until Monday accompanied with your parent.”
Good Lord! Here he was sifting chaff from wheat, and the way I had thought to myself that grave danger was behind me.
How does one carry a bag in the hot afternoon heading home without some villager, let alone your father, failing to guess that that was no walk of righteousness but of a troubled mind or better still of a troubler of Israel?
When misery bothers you on your way home and you tell him that you have no seat left for him – having accommodated his various offspring in your homestead – he will remind you, with little care of pity, that you need not worry yourself for this one more time he is bringing his own stool.
I had, a few hours ago, narrowly escaped from a lethal collision with my home – based total disciplinarian when we first run away from school. Why does misery like following me like Twitter! Doesn’t it have other souls to torture, that it must just do rounds dancing on my sole back?
Mr. Juma was determined to fumigate the school off troublers. Each time an unaccounted escapee walked back to school, they were told they stood suspended till Monday of the following week. He executed a purge on criminals, sweeping both rulers and the ruled; prefects and their subjects.
As I walked away head bowed and tormented in extreme sorrows, trying to come to terms with the folly of my acts, my cousins too caught up with me having been dismissed for same offence. There were a few others, non – prefects like Ogwal, who were suspended too. I think I saw one lady as well, standing contrast among the dominated boy child ring.
Suspension gave to some a relief, a time to relax, unwind and forget about village chronicles; to some it gave pain – yours truly was assigned more pain dosage than what the big pharma in her wildest guesses could have imagined. The very thing that gives the young plant energy to sprout with arrayed brightness turns the star – nosed mole blind.
As we parted ways with the rest of the criminal gang, deep down I knew that this new challenge of suspension needed more calculus than its nephew I had mustered earlier in the morning.
I had to find a way of staying away from home for the rest of the day but more importantly finding how I would leave home the following morning heading for school but not quite getting there. For I was in no way ready neither physically nor mentally prepared to jar his ears with the not so popular news of this suspension.
You are a candidate for heaven’s sake. What were you thinking? Over the last few weeks I have seen naughtiness sprout in your head like mushroom in a damp river bed, I am not surprised for this. I had figured out these would be his lines of explosion.
My self – imposed detention center
Aren’t we supposed to let the sleeping dogs lie? I decided to lay low at my cousin’s, in his simba. That would be my self – imposed detention center. I would study, plan and cook theories there until Monday. Then, I would sneak back in class and resume as if nothing ever happened.
After all, when anger fades people forget things, Mr. Juma will forget this; I incited myself. A day before the dreaded Monday, I had with the least weight it deserved, informed my dad that the deputy head teacher Mr. Juma himuselefu had sought to see him. I said it in a way that made it appear more like a general parent – teacher consultation than a matter of indiscipline.
That Monday morning, I arrived in school earlier than usual. A cornered rat will treat you to more friendly gestures if only to cover his destructive ways and live to see another day. As I settled in trying to bury my head into reading, there he was.
“Don’t tinker with my temper, I don’t want to see you in this school without your parent,” Mr. Juma roared his gaze fully steadied at me. Before I could respond he had left for another class to sustain the cleansing.
To date, a lot of lies have been told about the man – Mr. Juma; admittedly bigger chunk of it from enemies of progress. It was once said that he was so intolerant so much that even if his own nostril faked a clog, he’d breathe with his mouth instead. If a man can be that cruel and unbothered by his own necessities, how much more second grade nuisances!
I have never met a disciplinarian like him, to date his own baldness whistles.
Few minutes later, when I located my dad in his bedroom and whispered through the door hinge, patches of sweat dripping down my neck, “the teacher wants to see you,” he didn’t respond. I saw the queasiness registered on his face; I knew he already realized this one here had lit a naked flame near a fuel tanker at school.
In a haste he made strides to the school. I knew – going by the odd silence that stood between us as I tried to keep pace with him – that my goose was cooked awaiting serving.
It has always been widely agreed that trouble is gorier in anticipation than in reality; but this is where the pollsters get it wrong, in such a case like this is where the analysts and soothsayers get the mint all messed up.
Some parents had arrived ahead of us. My father soon joined them where the head teacher was reading out our charge sheet. I stood a stone throw away where I mingled with the other troublers.
My cousins had followed us from a safe distance; without their parents of course. They must have figured out that my dad’s presence would suffice to cleanse us all. They too joined the gang as the other parents exchanged faces of rage and shock as the narration continued.
The innocent pupils were peeping from the meshed windows of their classrooms a little careful not to extend their necks too long to draw the irk of the teachers.
In the words of Mr. Oraro Jakonyando the head teacher, he was determined to ‘straighten us like cigars.’
Among the assembled cast of rebels were decent boys, well shaven and innocent, they must have made it to the ring for being a flag following the wind.
The teachers, my father having dropped the tag of a retiree, seemed more interested in tormenting performers who were hell bent on losing the train. In the words of Mr. Oraro Jakonyando the head teacher, he was determined to ‘straighten us like cigars.’
It was the mention of the words that boiled him; indiscipline and gross misconduct. My dad became strangely wild and pressed on the head teacher to call on the entire assembly. And that before the assembly he was going to cane all, not just I, all the troublers of peace as a lesson to all the undisciplined and the would be undisciplined.
Chineke! The other parents were in full support, vigorously stumping their feet to escort the endorsement. Dad, the king, had planned his cleansing and so it was bound to end in the manner he saw fit unless another king intervened.
And that is where he came through, the head teacher who only a few minutes ago had vowed by the roots of the evil Ojuok tree to teach us grave life lessons. He stepped in like the fourth man in the raging fire to save us from the raving retiree.
“You know, these boys, however admittedly stupid and haughty, some are also the school’s prefects. Parading them before the whole assembly to cane will do them more harm than intended good,” at this point he glanced at his deputy as to seek his concurrence which he got in the form of a nod and continued, “we can organize for them to be…”
“I don’t care whichever position they hold; they should have given that some serious thought before indulging in this silly behavior.” My father cut him short.
The head teacher must have said that to mollify my dad, but he also spoke truth. We the prefects were demigods, crowned with imaginary diadems second to none but the village chief’s. Authority is supreme and divine, and subjects only revere the man in charge if his office’s glory is left intact.
No sane soul, especially the African natives, can salute a haggard who just the other day was whipped like a stray dog for mudding the same laws he wants to be followed. That would be silly.
Authority is supreme and divine, and subjects only revere the man in charge if his office’s glory is left intact.
“What I find so mind boggling,” said my father, “is not much the offence of jumping over the fence as this one’s deliberate attempt to conceal the smell of his actions.” He was pointing at me.
Our derisive jests ceased.
Later, much later, after he had calmed down, or rather been calmed down by the teachers who surprisingly were now leaning on our side, on the side of trouble makers, he turned to us, all of us and with that fatherly love and a heart disturbed by the happenings of the world around him poured his last words, albeit in a laid back tone,
“life my sons and daughter, is like a coin. You can spend it anyway you want, but you can only spend it once. Choose your wars carefully, history has always been unpleasant on the deserters of a good cause.”
Like Ogwal who lived with his academically detached grandmother, some boys whose parents didn’t quite cut the niche for seriousness on life issues, were allowed, days later after our near miss humiliation, to sneak in back to class.
After all, the teachers must have decided that nothing good would come from terrorizing them further; they were already used to daily terror at home and as such additional doses from the teachers would only make the recipe juicer than sour. One cannot successfully scare a pig with threats of mud.
To all the teachers around the world; we salute you for the good work you did on some of us, keeping us in line. We are forever indebted to your sacrifices.
They say one should dance a yard before they dance abroad. I did dance in my yard, the primary school days, and mastered the cruel ways of the world and how it gives its teachings in unmeasured blows to those who did not take their mothers’ rebuke seriously.
Jakonyando saved us from that epic humiliation but in exchange, for the next three weeks, every evening, when everyone had gone home we would clean the classrooms – an eternal reminder of the wages of sin.
Now you understand why I never made it on the list of stagers of the high school strike.