Every time schools closed, we would have a serious one-on-one with my dear father. He would bring a manila paper in the living room and a felt pen. Then he would draw a flow chart, illustrating how my future would be if I didn’t work hard in school. Key points illustrated included me marrying a cane-cutter leading to malnourished children and quick death. He would call me Khavayie and when he calls me that, his temper is flaring and it is advisable I keep quiet, cry and if possible wear a sack cloth. He would write at the bottom-most part: “NB/ The future is now. Claim it”. Then he would ask my mother if she had any comment to add pertaining to my dismal performance. My mum, now half asleep would shake her head because she had repeated herself a million times and deep down, she was resigned to the fact that my foolish genes came from the other side.
Primary life was so simple and there was no need to discuss anything with daddy. There was no cause for alarm because the marks were just okay. After all, it was ABCD and you can guess and pass. But secondary school was this bully that hit you hard and pushed you down a cliff bordering a sea. It made you realize schooling was not a hobby. It was a serious affair, not for the faint-hearted. You would get so scared of failing and disappointing your folks until you actually failed. Thinking of failure consumed you day and night.
Well, it all started in form 2. I think that form should be removed from high school. It is like the devil camps at the corner of that class and sprays evil charms. School suddenly becomes boring, academics too hard and teachers a pain in the neck. You suddenly loathe school and curse whoever colonized us and thought us Africans, needed modern education. You suddenly get in a relationship with all romantic novels and subjects like chemistry cease to exist in your life. The only biology you know is food is digested and you’ll be hungry after 2 hours. Maths? The time the bells for meals go. Business studies? How much every item costs in the school canteen. CRE? God has good plans for us. You stagger to senior classes, more stupid than ever.
Have you ever been so frustrated that you just let fate win? You don’t wake up early, you don’t do assignments, you don’t study and you just sit like a rock on the side of the road. Dejected. Lifeless. On Friday, our Maths teacher would give us difficult sums that needed you to consult ancestors to answer them. Then our history ma’am felt we needed to write notes the size of the constitution. The Swahili bibie decided we needed to read ahead of her about mnyambuliko wa vitenzi. Then the chemistry teacher thought our future will be brighter if he left behind past papers from the year Moi came to power. As they read out what we should do for the weekend, I would just bend my head and draw their faces. I would draw an ax falling on their heads. I just wanted to go home.
Then amidst this unbearable life, was a breed of smart students, who knew why they were in school. Their future was graced with success and great careers. Their parents were lucky to bring them forth. They had sharp memories and remembered the spellings of mitochondria and cotyledonae. Some of them however, were the biggest jokers and the laziest, but miraculously produced marking schemes.
Then there was a breed of us, whose parents made a big mistake in bringing us forth. We would sit in class blankly, thinking about nothing but food. We would then drift slowly and reach home, remember the rebranded posho mill, how river Kuywa broke its banks, the tractors carrying sugarcane to Nzoia Sugar Company and the songs we sang about wambumuli (wambumuli is a dangerous man when it comes to women). Then drift back to school and remember your blazer is outside and someone might make away with it, or remember your tuck shoes are not white enough for the PE teacher. By the time you finish day-dreaming, there is a long sum covering the entire blackboard. You gasp. It all looks like a chemical formula to make a dangerous explosive. You look at the teacher in tears as she dictates a similar sum for your assignment. Sometimes when you are just waiting for the CRE teacher to come in, a stern Chemistry teacher walks in with a random exam. You want to faint but you are too big and can’t possibly faint. You look at the white paper blankly and can’t understand a thing.
Then exam time. No sooner had we received the papers, than everybody else was scribbling and punching the calculator with all the surety. I would stay up right like a gecko, thinking hard. Soon, somebody asks for an extra graph paper. I would nervously run through the questions and fail to see any question that needed a graph paper. When I was on question six, I hear the teacher announcing we have 20 minutes remaining. I haven’t tackled section B. I haven’t finished section one, which has some miser marks. 1 mark, 2 marks, 3 marks. I furiously start scribbling too, filling all the papers and then draw an arrow, pointing that the continuation was behind. Later the teacher would start collecting but I wouldn’t submit. I would run and follow her to the staff room with my pathetic paper. I would get 28%.
I would plan to do the assignments on Saturday. But Saturday, surely isn’t it a day to rest like God did? So I would postpone to Sunday. But on Sunday, didn’t the messiah resurrect and we need to observe it and pray? I would decide I would do after lunch. But after lunch, time flies faster than a jet of urine and before I knew it, it was supper time. After supper, was the worst day of the week in my school. We had to do thorough cleaning in the bathrooms, dorms for hours on end (dear bathroom officials, did you get jobs in the ministry of health?)
When Monday came, lazy bones would be seen trying to do the assignments with an incredible speed. I would sit and wait for fate. The teachers would demand for the assignments later and I would act shocked and speechless. Maybe, I should have worked harder. Forgive me daddy.