I have amended what I was to write for this blog three times. This is the third amendment and I am sorry to say, the floor of the house has to pass it. Interestingly, it is the thing that came at the last minute just before I opened my notepad. Sometimes no matter how much you ponder on a thing, your instincts can change the direction of the wind and you would find yourself remembering that your high school father is going to be turning a number of years in his life yesterday.
Yeah, the day before Labour Day, he was born. He probably was afraid if he escaped the womb a day later, the coincidence would be too much since his mother would be going into labour on Labour Day. Also, it would be a public holiday, and maybe just when the doctor assigned to be on duty that day was knocking his socks off, his landline would scream – scaring his soul out of his body for a minute.
Before he picks it up, he’d probably be cursing the day he had that landline installed simply because it’s modernization and those who had telephones in the 90s were considered the elite in society.
“Daktari. We have a patient who has just gone into labour.”
Mumbling, “F**k labour day!”
“I said I’m coming right away.”
Bangs the handset, reassumes his socks and shoes, and drags himself out of his house that overlooks Nyali beach.
15 minutes later, he walks into the maternity ward snapping rubber gloves on his hands and the nurse who called him spots him.
“Where’s she? Any dilation yet?”
“Yes, eight centimetres.”
He walks in, takes a look at the groaning and panting mother-to-be, a very young brown skin girl, and bends for a view of the life-giving canal.
“Alright, looks good,” He raises his head and the mask above his nose at the same time, “Ayya mummy, just take one long breath and puush!”
Minutes later after pushing the only hardest thing she will ever push in her life, she can’t remember but she thinks she must have passed out. She’s woken up by the sound of a wailing baby. The cries, were they to be translated to words, would be, “Wamenichunaaa!” and “Naskia baridiii!”
The nurse hands over the baby to the mother, “Congratulations, it’s a boy. What will you name him?”
She looks at her newest bundle of joy with gleeful eyes and says, “Madoka. His name is Madoka.”
But he didn’t come on Labour Day. So too bad, maybe he wasn’t born like that. Maybe he was born in a moving vehicle or in the middle of a ferry ride when crossing over from Likoni. Either way, he was born and that’s the name he was given.
I have great memories with this guy. I am ever telling people I had a fun high school life and his name always runs in the fore lines of it all. He played a role he shouldn’t have in my life at the time, but I am glad he did because maybe then, I’d be less of the man I am today. And I have never formally appreciated him. So here goes.
From one boarding school in primary to another in high school, I was already hardened for life away from home. I went to a school in Machakos that I thought was God-forsaken at the time (It wasn’t). I mean, where the eff is this place? But I didn’t have much of a choice. After admission, I looked at the card I was given. It was written my name, admission number 10417, and the name of my assigned school mentor or something. I can’t remember what they called it. A form two. Name? Ashton Daudi*. Folks I take this opportunity to make it known to you that I never got to meet or know who that was until during the entertainment session of a funky in the middle of term two. I can’t say what he was doing when another form one said, “Ndio ule Ashton,” because he is a Pastor now. God bless him.
I knew better than not to mind my own business. The fastest way to get into trouble is to magnetize yourself with people who look and seem cool, I thought. Well, I still got into trouble because despite not wanting to roll with cool kids, I wanted to do cool stuff. You can read what that led to in The High School Kiboko. But I was still keen not to associate myself with the seniors and keep my circle small. The only people I knew were my classmates (Form One East big up yourselves), and my fellow dorm members some of who were seniors. Their’s started and ended in the dorm. We would share a laugh or two after mazoeano and one time Anto, a form three (later nicknamed Nitoz), and I were murmuring and giggling in the middle of a dorm meeting despite the dorm captain’s double warnings. Nitoz said something funny, and I giggled, and the next thing I heard was a ringing in my ear and blurred vision. The prime effects of a well-calculated slap. Sigh. Anyway, I would eventually slap a form one two years later over defiance on matters dormitory. So I understood him.
Anyway, I drew a thicker line when it came to bullies. Luckily, my peers and seniors glorified me for having a bigger body for a form one and the fact that I looked like I was from Nairobi. My dorm senior friends like Nitoz and Droozy would not bully me save for the occasional pestering, “Nichangishie gashu.” (Gashu was sheng for sugar; a very precious commodity in our school back then. Boxes would turn into butterflies because of that thing.) The only person who dared to bully me was standing a few strides from the school canteen one evening after classes. I had just bought a whole packet of ngumus and was matching to the dorm, Dorm Whitte – with a straight face. Form one trousers were so buggy that a whole packet of ngumu could comfortably fit inside.
“Weh, ebu come.” He called. I sized him first before deciding what to do. A fairly short but able-bodied brown boy.
“Shika hii na uniridishie zikiwa ngumu sita.”
Looking at the coin he had handed me and looked back at him with acute contempt.
“One bob unataka ninunue nayo ngumu sita aje!”
“Me sijui. Jua vile utafanya.”
The audacity! I threw the coin back at him and umbwad him. He couldn’t believe a form one had just insulted him but he was bluffing. If he wasn’t, I think instead of writing this story today, I’d be writing something inspired by the following screenshot.
I’ll appreciate comments about it in advance. Those comments will be helpful in the collection of perspectives for that blog, so let me hear what you have to say.
Since then, anytime I saw him, I’d avoid him because no one would forget that mono who disrespected them.
Now let’s talk about a mjango called Roba for a while. He was in form three, and he was also the assistant sanitation captain. One day he met me and talked me nicely into sharing my mandazi with him. So you see, people are not all selfish. It just depends on how you approach and talk to them. I won his favour afterward. Form ones were subjected to sanitation duties, pure dog work, by the way. I know you know. Because of him, I got a very easy section to sweep in the school compound. So it’s safe to say he became my friend.
On the D-day of the funkie I mentioned earlier, and in the blog I still encourage you to read; my ass was still hot after six canes from the Deputy Principal earlier that day. The funkie I got into trouble trying to attend is the same one that I managed to catch at the best possible time, ‘Time ya Enta!’ Oh, getting into the gates of the dining hall was not easy if you didn’t have connections, money, or fame especially if you’re a mono. Elephantine form fours manned those gates like it was a club. But guess what, I had the first thing, connections – because of who? Roba.
Let’s just say after I made it in, I realized getting in was the easy part. Getting a chic to dance with? That was the main exam brother. It was a sorry situation because the peer pressure was high, and the girls from the visiting school, Kinyui Girls Secondary, were pretty. At the time, my unexposed adolescent self had never beheld so many girls at a go, and the excitement rendered them all pretty. In fact, they were so scarce due to the ratio of boys to girls making them even more priceless. I had never been to a party scene before, leave alone the dance floor of a place that was not a church. I didn’t know where to start. Idlers outside wished to have the opportunity they thought a naive form one like me was squandering by just roaming around and ogling at the manners I only saw in Konshens’ music videos. In fact, those were the days when dancehall music was dancehall music.
Nevertheless, I was relentless in the hunt. Desperate but relentless. Desperate that, at one point, I regretted the fact that I looked bigger than an ordinary form one. A certain petite, light skin girl with long natural hair and a pair of Ray-Bans was looking for form ones to dance with. Maybe it was her kink. She grabbed a small boy who was actually my namesake when he stood right next to me, telling me about Ashton. “Aka ni kaform one, kuja hapa!” as his innocent self was dragged into the dancefloor for a grind, but the grin on his face as he looked back at me derisively showed that he loved that he didn’t even have to try. Surely, the race is not to the swift.
Suddenly a good charm befell me. For yet another time, my friend saved me from what we called ‘kuscratch’ in those days. It was a mockery word meant to describe the state of being formless, lonely, and desperate, especially during a funkie. I saw a hand beckoning for me in the middle of the floor. On the other hand, well, let’s just say the other hand was busy holding on to the rails of the dancing machine. I responded swiftly like 911, and there I was, like a substitute who had just been granted an opportunity to shine in the final minutes of a match.
But before I could shine, the real owner of the babes arrived saying, “Ayya timeout! Timeout!” Apparently, Roba was also a substitute. (Shaking my head). But just before I could murmur that I had barely tasted that the Lord’s creation is good, I see another hand beckoning across the dance floor. This time it’s not Roba’s. Guess who?
Correct! The one boy I never imagined would grant me such a favour. For a minute, I didn’t think he was serious. But turns out he was, and Roba had put in a good word for me.
Friends, in the expressions of Mkurugenzi Abel Mutua, comment with a word that would express how I felt that day.
On that day, it was apparent that Madox and I had started on the wrong foot. But who knew we would mend bridges over the company of innumerable pengtings. From then on, he and his crew looked out for me like a small brother. The crew was dubbed, Keroche. At the time, having senior friends was close to a capital offense especially if they were in the admin’s radar. But in hindsight, the first two years of my high school were lived beyond my means because of them. Starting with food.
I had a flat plate like almost all other form ones that would hold enough food to keep you awake during evening preps because of hunger. Senior students had bigger plates dubbed ‘boilers’, and Madox would laugh at me with my bottom layer githeri every supper time. ‘Kula hii,’ he’d say, pointing to the boiler full of top-layer githeri he and his crew would scramble for every day like pros. So that was bye-bye to hunger for me.
Every closing day was a time to look forward to because he had me tag along in their plans for a party on the way home. We were like wolves, and the hyenas envied us because we seemed to have the most fun. He had a guy in a small town off school who would keep his clothes and gadgets for him. Home time was dressing to kill time because while we still looked like we were from school, we had to look neat for the ladies we would meet and pick in Thika town. We would land at The Arcade in Thika, and our energy has everybody asking, “Hii ni shule gani?” As a result, the ladies would come to us, and we ride with them to Nairobi in a fourteen-seater matatu brimming with loud music. Sometimes, we would alight in Githurai and hope on a Paradiso. Same loud music but enough space to dance. Amusingly, some of you reading this, that was where we met, and we are still friends up-to-date.
I had a free ticket to all funkies that were held in school. He’d call me my son, and when he got to form four, all his peers favoured me because of my association with him. And you couldn’t mess with me bro (Not that anybody really dared). Even my classmates knew I was in the big boys’ clan. For example, form two, term one. There was an upcoming Scouts Founder’s Camp in Nyeri. A highly coveted funkie. Only form three’s and four were allowed to go, and I was in form two at the time. But being the scouts’ commander, what do you know, he and his comrades managed to convince the Scouts’ Patron to allow some essential form twos. Essential form twos are their friends like me. I remember him saying, “Usijali my son. Hii lazima utaenda.” It was in that camp (I have never been to any other in my life by the way) that I met Hottie.* Back then, she went by the nickname Gaza. A diva from Matungulu Girls. Now if we ever talk about high school sweethearts, that was mine. Her story is for another day.
Being a form two in a camp like that was not all rosy by the way. When we stopped at Thika, as was the law those days, some seniors would buy water for their throats. At the tent, form twos and threes were assigned all the hours of tent guarding, and it was bad because our patron procured a small shitty tent. We couldn’t sleep in all of us at a go even if we wanted to. Some of my friends never got decent sleep during the entire camping, but at least I did. I would sleep on Madox’s spot as he went to cure his throat until he returned. And no, I never took water.
When we got an invite for an English Symposium at Matungulu Girls, it was planned for form threes and fours. Those guys made sure I went because of Gaza’s reasons.
Now that I think of it, it’s interesting how there was a dorm reshuffle across the entire school in term three of my form one, and almost the entire Keroche ended up in the same dorm. So here was a rare case of a form one with a bed, though the piloting decker, at the furthest cubicle in the dorm we called a sector. Our sector was dubbed ‘Bus Park’. I came to realize Bus Park was the name of the sector that belonged to the mjangos who confiscated the school’s Bus Park plank and hung it somewhere in their sector. These legends were of the Keroche family, which had almost fully moved into the same dorm again. Whenever random inspections would take place, they made sure to relocate my mattress and hide my box since teachers targeted sectors belonging to seniors.
Form ones belonged near the door where it was cold, and dogs would walk in the middle of the night to sniff your face. Let’s not start talking about how our mattresses were hot targets for theft and worse if it’s at the front end of the dorm. There was a form four somewhere who had a foolscap for a mattress, just how could he resist the temptation to assist himself with a new mattress? Or two or three, or four? But they couldn’t dare scout for one at the end of the dorm because that’s where the big boys belonged.
That was not the only advantage to being in that cubicle. During visiting days, the cube became a similitude of King Nebuchadnezzar’s feast table. Our form’s academic day would be their blessing too. And when their academic day would come, whoa! The whole of Keroche had something for this young boy. It was law to carry a spoon in the pocket at all times. You never knew where its services would be summoned. I put mine in the back pocket of a short I would wear inside my trousers at all times. The same place I kept my wallet lest someone should pickpocket you in the middle of the night. It happened. The box wasn’t safe either. The ass place was safer. They would keep their food in-store, saving it for what we called ‘Magidhaa ya Octo.’ In the middle of the night I’d hear, “Amsha Vicki,” but most times I was just half asleep. I’d jump from the upper decker and draw my spoon like a sword and devour the rare meal before me. It was a race against one another because that boiler had like five partakers. Dare you underestimate your opponents. In no time, the boiler was as good as the metallic box it was sitting on in use as our table.
Mjango, I guess that was the best way to sum up how a time in one’s life, the junior years of high school, that is predetermined to be dreadful and full of suffering turned out to be quite the opposite because of a school father I was never assigned and neither did I ask for. He still calls me ‘my son’ by the way.
And those days, I even had a school mother. She was in Nyahururu Elite. I’ve run out of space here. Look for me in person, and I’ll tell you how she was always just one call away. I haven’t even talked about how I owe my confidence with the ladies to him. Nilikuwa nimetupa mbao hapo wacha tu. And how I was introduced to the Journalism club officials through him, one of whom handed over his Editorial position to me (big up Walooks, I know you’re gonna read this), and today, I am a Journalism Degree holder.
This is all to say, To More Life Madox! Bless up Pops!
Oh, he also said I should shave my beard until he grows his own. One word. Digehota!
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