By Ayieko Jakoyo; Naivasha, Kenya
Since I started schooling I had never reported to school on the opening day. The holidays were never enough for me. I always had to extend holiday by two or three days; sometimes a week would do better. I guess I inherited this inherent stubborn behavior from my dad, a no nonsense man who wouldn’t entertain any form of joke around. He never came home before 10:00 pm, except those days when the government put curfews over insecurity cases. That is how I also became so insensitive to time because the man I always looked up to was never in good terms with time. The two were never friends. They always went parallel.
I remember how the deputy principal scolded me one day for reporting to school three days late after opening. He was a new deputy principal and he had not known my trend yet. He was a huge black man, darker than a thousand midnights, tall with a heavy waist and a protruding stomach that carried half of his weight. The man rained several canes on me including kicks on my hinds and a slap that awakened the spirits of my ancestors. An average student would change immediately but for me things were different. I couldn’t get over the stubborn spirit of lateness. He had to put up with me until I completed form four.
Matemo hostel, room number 13A. That was the room I was assigned together with two of my friends, Okusimba and Rabuor. They were the best friends I had in campus. We had carried a half a sack of maize, considerable tins of beans, some millet, groundnuts and the African vegetable softener- omusherekha. On top of this, HELB had already behaved the previous week. What were we to worry about yet food security was tight? We felt much at home and very little at school.
I knew Anita during our orientation. A fairly tall lady with silky hair, her skin was averagely brown just like a ripening mango from Kamba land. She had a fairly pricking chest with the shimba hills well placed on it. The weight above the legs made the guys around stretch their legs beyond what physics calls elastic limit. I had to man up and act smart before the hawk eyed vultures pursued me. She gave in to my antics and theatrics and finally I was Anita and Anita was me.
My roommates were always very happy whenever they saw Anita coming to visit me in the hostel. Their happiness was not driven by the fact that Anita and I were getting along so well. They were happy because her coming meant a change of menu. Whenever she came while we were frying Sukuma wiki, I would rush to the butchery at the main gate and that would mean meat for all of us. This went on for some time as I kept milking my HELB account dry.
I had already made it a culture. Whenever we went on short/long holidays, I would still extend the holiday with a week or two before coming back. My two roommates were very obedient and observant to the lectures and always came back on the reporting date. I waited for all the four drafts of timetable to be posted on the WhatsApp wall before I could report. All that time Anita had to miss me. She would patiently wait for me to report at the end of second week if not the beginning of third week. She used to complain at first but with time she got “used to.”
Anita had monitored my trend of reporting every beginning of the semester. She had marked her calendar so well that if not the end of the second week, then it was the beginning of the third week. She had very well marked her “safe” and unsafe” days. I mean the days when the with green lights and those with the red lights. My foes were working day and night while my inherent stubborn spirit of lateness kept me at home waiting for draft one, two, three and finally fourth draft before I reported. Little did I know that as the timetable master was working on the drafts at the administration block, several other drafts were being written in the escapades. This went on for some time while I was oblivious of the happenings.
I called Anita one evening on the second week of opening. The tone with which she was talking was not satisfactory. She decided to make the conversation as short as the goat’s tail. She was answering me with very scanty words like yeah, ok, mhhh and many more. I felt like she was just not in the moods to talk and I had to leave her sleep maybe. She knew I still had two weeks to report as I was used to.
I hope you understand the feeling of a farmer when monkeys infest his banana plantation. That is what I was feeling the whole night. I had never felt like that before. The stubborn feeling was not giving me peace. I didn’t want to give it much weight though. The following morning, I expected Anita to call as it was her routine, she did not call. At around 9:00 am, I decided to report to campus. I prepared myself and boarded the midday bus. It was a journey of averagely four hours and I knew I would be in school before last lip of the dwindling sun kissed the ground.
By five in the evening the grandson of Rateng’ was in town. I met a few of my guys and we chatted shortly then took a motorbike to carry my paraphernalia to my room which was just a half a kilometer from where I alighted. When I got to the main entrance, instincts convinced me to walk faster than I was walking. I had always obeyed my instincts ever since I was young. I did so.
I was just about to open the door to my room when several liters of adrenaline were secreted. I halted immediately and looked on my left. I almost doubted my eyes. However, I convinced myself that what I saw was exactly real because I had never had myopia in my lifetime. Even in our family we had no myopic history!
Anita was carrying a water bucket heading to the bathroom from a neighboring room. Then all the dots of doubt I had in my minds slowly joined and formed a circle. The whole figure of Anita was standing in front of me covered half way. So all these time Anita has been enjoying an escapade just in the neighboring room! My luggage dropped and I saw my roasted piece of beef rolling down. A double tragedy to me. Anita stood still looking at me with crocodile tears. I saw my life flashing just in front of my own eyes..!
The contemporary scribe