The better part of the online week has been about people calling out the people they went to school with, lest someone turns out in their days of hopefully more glory to dispute their academic journey. The sudden online re-union was fuelled by KNEC’s alleged nullification of a KCSE certificate purported to belong to the sitting County 001 governor, Ali Hassan Joho.
I have been silent in all the furore, for what some mistook as my dislike for politics. Others might have guessed I was applying the #NjegeWaithanje principle- Do not talk about stuff you know not about.
But no, it was for neither of those reasons. Rather, it was out of an overwhelming feeling of relief as I thought, ‘phew! That could easily have been me!’ You know, that feeling, yes? Like when you see you friend absolutely destroyed by Sportpesa, and you remember you almost placed the same bet with your rent? That is me, in the face of Joho’s tribulations.
Let me explain.
Sometimes in the first decade of the 21st Century, I gave up on this shit. Absolutely! My grades had taken a certain tumble, and I was not on the best of terms with the school administration, or a section of student merchants who felt I had been a less-than-straight-up partner in more than a few instances.
Personally, I did not have a problem with my grades, because I always felt I was Kemboi-ing in the race build up, such that I could deliver a finishing kick in the last lap. But my Wings To Fly foundation, The MB (very) Ltd, was keen on results. Very. So was The Rose. You might thus understand the pressure that caused me to arrive home with a decision of ‘Enough!’ at the end of my third year of High School.
Of course I did not tell anyone of my decision, not even Njo or Musoki Mkenya.
I had thought out the decision in the free week after end-term exams, and had the clear picture in my mind. I would quit school and leave home without getting noticed. I would not go to any of my relations, because I could see none of them who would be bold enough to hide me from the Man Beater.
I would go to some town, and start some reja reja business, then watch it grow. Sign writing for example. Or water hawking, then once I had saved some, graduate to some bigger venture like selling ‘colombo’ trousers to high schoolers. My vision was clear.
One little problem stood though: Which Town would that be?
Nairobi? No. I was too scared I’d end up a chokoraa; those cunning city people would cheat me out of my capital. I may land there someday, but, for now, I am too raw.
Meru? No way. I have too many relations on all towns dotting that route; I would be discovered on the very day I set up shop, and hauled back home together with my stock. Then…no, stop even thinking along that line.
Nanyuki? Hold on there, just may be.
Mombasa? Too far off for now. By the time I get there, my capital will be depleted. I’ll get there sometime; it will be my last base before I move to Nairobi, but not my start.
Then I counted my money again. 2,335 in all. A considerably large sum by my standards, and partly the reason for my frozen relationship with the traders’fraternity. And a little Nokia phone, which from my Commerce classes I counted as a fixed asset; to be liquefied in the event of unforeseen bottlenecks.x like someone who was refusing to burn bridges at the termination of a relationship. I had, for some reason, been ‘advised’ by the administration to carry my box and mattress home on closing day,
Then I counted my money again. 2,335 shillings in all. A considerably large sum by my standards, and partly the reason for my frozen relationship with the traders’fraternity. And a little Nokia phone, which from my Commerce classes I counted as a fixed asset; to be liquefied in the event of unforeseen bottlenecks.
I then packed a few clothes into my A-Point, still with no idea where I was going. The time was 3 pm, the journey to exploration of fate was scheduled for early the following morning. Early dawn, such that my parents would leave thinking I was still asleep, and thus I’d have a whole day to get away before suspicion arose.
I made sure to attend football practice, spend some time with the guys and be present at family dinner that evening, just so everything would appear normal. I could put on the face, or so I thought.
When everyone went to sleep, I sneaked out of the compound and planted my bag strategically inside a bamboo thicket at the very end of the MB’s farm, where I could pick it on my way to my next life. It was a cautionary measure, just in case someone noticed me sneaking. It would be easier to explain what I was if I did not have a pack on my back.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. The getaway was not my problem, neither was it guilt for eloping. But where was I going?
6 am. The hour of reckoning.
I knew I had to leave, with or without a destination.
So I got about, made my checks to ensure all was clear. I checked on The Rose who was making breakfast. I tried to make small talk. Unusual. I asked her whether The MB had woken up. (Very unusual) She said no. I told her I was going back to sleep (absolutely unusual), that she could just leave my breakfast in the kitchen and I would serve myself when I woke up. (unusual) Then I told her to have a good day. (Guilt)
All systems set, I was sure The Rose could not come around to the front side of the house. The MB was still asleep.Set, set and…go!
I left the compound in my usual stay-at-home clothes; I would change once I was a safe distance away.
As I hurriedly rounded the very first bend beyond our compound to take the stretching clearance that would see me give my back for the last time to The Man Beater Farm, I ran into…
THE. MAN. BEATER. OF. TSAVO!!
I was sure that what I was witnessing was the devil himself in action. I must have lost my mind as I ran straight into my old man in classic ‘unataka kukimbia na hauna breki’ fashion.
Where are you going this early múndúú?
(With every last effort of a man who is not breathing) To the shop
(With Githu Muigai eyes i.e betraying zero emotion) Okay, don’t be long. There is something I want you to help me with.
The MB then made his way back to the compound and let me be on my way.
What now, I thought. I could just go ahead and vanish, leave The MB to help himself with that thing he was talking about, or I could hold my horses and delay my exit.
Option one was most appealing, but one little omission in the MB’s speech made me completely unsettled. For the first time in the spinning universe, I had told him I was going to the shop and he had not asked what I was going for. I was sure he was onto my plan, so I decided to hold my horses.
My fears were confirmed when I got to my thicket and lo! My back pack was not there.
So I just walked to the shop and foolishly bought an exercise book and pen, then shuttled back home trying to normalize my breath and await the verdict.
That day, The MB took me on a drive and we had a man to man talk. Again, he displayed zero rage, which scared me even more and I ended up laying bare all my plans. Except the amount of money I had of course.
That would have been a cause for further proceedings, going by the amount of story making I had to get to in order to justify my having a phone- how we owned it as a ten man chama and took turns to have it during different times. How we had bought some girls a similar one and we used them to communicate in a secret circle of dating teenagers, you know, like that party teens were organizing juzi, what was it called?
I don’t think The MB bought that last story, but like me, he appreciates a clean and creative lie, and he let it lie. And we talked like a man to another, and he managed to convince me I was making zero sense.
I think that is the first story we jointly held from The Rose, bless her living soul, whom we jointly agreed was too far gone with blood and heart conditions to take that.(Going by the investigations I have seen TR dive into, though, I doubt there is anything she cannot take.)
And just like that, The MB refrained me from walking out on education. Any different case scenario, and no one knows where I could be this very minute. I could be anywhere, literally…Grave, jail, abroad, in parliament, living on the street,….or faking certificates.
Definitely, kina Samuel Kariuki, Luke Oluoch Jack Jack Arnold Linga Nzyimi Nyika Shaylor Mwanje Flavia Kassamani Cynthia Awuor Wendy Boit et al would never have gotten to know me. Neither would the prettiest of them all!