It's been almost a decade, but it seems like yesterday. High school taught me things. It taught me hatred, love, friendships, fights, some badass whoopings and strikes, and funkies, name it. Heck, it even taught me how to approach a girl. There's this feeling I harbour. I always think that one day I will go back and sleep on those wooden lockers. Those stolen naps were as good as my first kiss. The fear, the lingering anxiety. I want to relieve those chilly mornings. A teacher pointing at me from the windows. I stir, look around and doze off like a babe. Some part of me still believes I will go back and run like crazy when the bell for lunch goes. That's how deep it was. I joined school way late in mid-March when winter was looming. We don’t have winter in Kenya, but si you understand that Game of Thrones is around the corner. So’ whatever we say the phrase ‘winter is coming’ must linger around. I even heard that to rope in a chick, go whisper, ‘winter is coming’ she’ll get wet . Winter is a good thing. Us, pre Matiang'i era students would stay at home the whole of January, after completing the ABCD exam in class eight. All this time, Waiting for letters to go to schools we never chose, let alone heard of. These Matiang'i toddlers finish KCPE on December 28 and report to high school on January 2nd. They even go for a midterm in the first term! January passed, no letter. All my friends were celebrating or cursing depending on the schools they were going to join. I was there like I hadn't even done the exams. Mid-February still nothing! By the way si ati, I had even failed that much, I was somewhere there. Actually, the top student that year beat me by kedo 53 marks only. My only sin was that I attended a private primary school. My old man was forced to take matters in his own hands before the shit hit the fan. He started hunting for a school. After three weeks, one tired evening, he came home with a letter. Leading to somewhere deep in Vihiga County. Past Kaimosi forest, past Shamakhokho down to Sabatia. You can guess the school; use google maps, I can't be telling you everything. When I reported, people had read Biology up-to osmosis. To make matters worse, exams were around the corner, I tried catching up. I really did but there's so much a man can do. When the results were released, I had failed. I came in last, forming a strong basement. I was holding the weight of all the brains above me, a strong foundation. The second last person had beaten me with over 80 marks. Eeish, it was terrible. The History and Government teacher made fun of me in her class and that’s how I dropped History. In form one, term one. During the holiday I told my dad I was not going back. Not after all that humiliation. I stood my ground and even started looking for some day schools around. But with some persuasion and unprintable threats, I went back. Things improved in term two. I buried myself into books. I would extend preps, wake up earlier. And when the first results were released, I was position twenty. All the way from the last position to position twenty. Top twenty baby! Even the Principal invited me for a cup of tea in his office. I became the first and last form one to ever have tea with a Principal. Come to the third term I applied to be a Prefect. There was no voting in that school. Talk about utter dictatorship. The Administration appointed all prefects including the f***n Head boy. I applied for the Sanatorium assistant prefect so that could be sneaking into the sick bay to sleep. Sleeping has always been my Waterloo. The Deputy Principal shortchanged me. He appointed me to be an assistant dormitory prefect. Si I wanted to sleep? He even had the audacity to appoint me to be a prefect in some other dormitory. Without even consulting me. Deputy principals have a section preserved for them in hell. A restricted area in the fire, JUST FOR DEPUTIES, a sign will read. Bana, I was a form one, a mono! How was going to wake people up in the morning? I once woke a form four and he stared at me with eyes so furious that I had to run away. Disaster would strike during the weekends; I couldn't command a fellow form one to clean the dormitory. It became the dirtiest dormitory in that County. True story. The senior dormitory prefect cared less, he had national exams to prepare for. I failed at being the dormitory prefect I almost resigned while in form two first term but then there were those privileges of wearing a different tie, so I hung on. Now form two was something else. I got suspended twice. First for engaging in illegal business. Three of us. You would think we were peddling marijuana around the school. Wrong. The illegal business we did was sell mandazi. We would wake up every morning circa 3 in the a.m, rush to school bakery, exchange soap and other laundry items, even basins for mandazi, a lot of mandazis. Then we would resell the mandazi to other students during breakfast and or at tea break for exorbitant prices. You know how the canteen got rowdy especially during early weeks after opening? Men here saw an opportunity and grabbed it. The damn Deputy couldn't even encourage or support us. He sent us home for two weeks, no jokes. Anyway, even those soaps and all those other things we exchanged for mandazi were never ours. The second time I got suspended because I was found in possession of civilian attire. It was the Principal who caught me, himself! And when the big guy finds you, it’s freaking serious. How those clothes found themselves in my box baffles me to date. I could say it was my political enemies because I had become really popular. I was that cool prefect, the Joho of prefecthood. I didn't snitch, didn't beat up other students. I was ever on the right side of history. I never closed that box after it was broken into butterfly style. Everything was stolen including my undergarments. Whoever put those clothes there just opened it, threw them in and went straight to the Principal. I was sent home and stripped off my badge as assistant dormitory prefect in front of the other students. Even my dad swore those clothes were not mine when we came back to plead my case. He had never bought me such clothes nor ever seen them on my body. But then they had been found in my box so it was either I said who they belonged to or I go back and finish my suspension. I went back home with my father. That was in the third term. The prefect body was about to be changed. I was going to miss out because I would still be on suspension. But miracles do happen. Ask Pastor Nganga. Someone forwarded my name for the Head boy’s position. Folks, have guts. A form two to be a Head boy? How large a head does this form two have? Of course, despite being more popular it was the Deputy who chose prefects. The students had no say. I was appointed the assistant Boarding prefect. A straight entry into the big five of the school's prefects’ body. In my absence. Talk of lanes. And fate. Form three went fast but it had its highs and lows. I was kicked out of the prefect body again. This time for inciting other students to strike because I opposed the arbitrary appointment of prefects instead of voting them in. It was a political witch hunt, Donald Trump kind of shit. I had set my ambitions to be the Head boy. I had the numbers so if the students would be allowed to vote I knew I would win unopposed. Those ambitions were thwarted. Honestly, I would have made a whack Head boy. I wasn't shit. I didn't know how to lead; I was just popular and it had gotten into my head. The Deputy knew it well and there was no way he was going to let me lead his prefect's body. We had crossed paths endless times. Even me being his best student in English didn't help shit. There was bad blood between us and it stayed that way. Still, in Form three, there was this teacher who joined the school. Rumour had it that he had a Master's degree from the UoN. He was really good at first. He taught well and was all lovely and funny until one day he was appointed the Director of Studies. That man changed. He would beat us. Fists bana. Students feared him like people fear cancer. He taught Mathematics and Geography. You would leave his maths class after receiving blows and hot slaps and only to find him waiting for you in the geography lesson. It was hell on earth. He was the lead demon. Then one day he got a test of own medicine. This Friday evening, he beat some rugby guy for going to class late. The rugby guy tried explaining to him that he was still training but the teacher heard none of it. The rugby flared and just lifted him up. Some good fists followed as we cheered in our classes. The Deputy and teacher on duty had to intervene but it was too late. Well, it did not go well with the rugby guy. We never saw him again but at least the teacher cooled down. The beatings reduced.

Written by Mugwe Sam. From Kahawa he says, in his final year of university. He believes that this blog is one of the best creative writing spaces around.

Cheers Mugwe, thanks for covering, I have d exams for the past week. Normal operations resume next week.


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