For Mr. Warutere, who spared no rod.
I saw my primary school science teacher Mr.Warutere the other day, and all I could do was to run off, scared. I sought refuge in some salon, and waited (for two hours) just to be sure that he was long gone. Mr.Warutere, Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
The year is nineteen ninety eight, the place is Nyamachaki Primary School, I am in class six. We are in class, hurdled up in various groupings, discussing-I will refrain from using the phrase ‘making noise’ for I firmly believe that the topics under discussion were serious, thought provoking, life altering, and organized for instance, wrestling, soap operas (No none but you and Maria de los Angeles), brick games, and the just concluded Muiru crusade. At this point,id like to slot in a tiny little fact (we are supposed to be silently revising for a science exam) moving on, Each group has a designate story teller, charged with the very serious responsibility of submitting, to the group on the various current happenings, however should the story teller fail in his mandate, he is quickly dethroned. As usual, I am the on the receiving end (the one who sits back, listening and laughing to the stories only interrupting the story teller when I seek clarification).
On this particular day one Muritu is the story teller. Standing on the top of the desk, he starts, ‘did you see wrestling last night, did you see the way the undertaker beat up his brother Kane and then threw him in a coffin, then the lights went off and when they came back Shawn Michael was in the ring and undertaker was on the floor unconscious…”and he goes on and on. I love Muritu- since we have no TV at home, I am solely dependent on him to paint my imagination, and when he describes Shawn Michael, in my head I can see him (a skinny lad, with long hair and tight leather pants, who maybe is flanked by two scantily dressed women, I can even see him dance to his theme song,…am not a cowboy, am just a sexy boy).
All this while, Mr.Warutere is standing outside the classroom, peeping from the window (it never crosses our mind as to why the neighboring classes-6Band 6G are deathly silent). The story is getting more intriguing, apparently there is a new wrestler named ‘The rock’, who has a very catchy slogan that Muritu cannot pronounce, and Leminton steps in to save the story, we applaud. Leminton is up, on top of the desk, on his hands, a blue rolled up pullover, with a knot at the centre -the pullover represents the wrestling title belt- he stands at the edge of the desk, raises up the pullover cum belt, and tells us to concentrate on his eye brows which instinctively go up, and he starts, “if you smeeeeeeeeell, what the rock (he pauses and looks around, feigning a mean look), is coo…. He does not finish.
The following events take place in real time.
There is a scuffle, Leminton is flying up in the air, yet he is not a bird, a strong hand propels him up and a belt eagerly waits for his behind, Muritu is resting on the floor writhing in pain, I am on my knees with my hands raised up to the heavens (where my help comes from). There is crying and gnashing of teeth, as a reckless belt lands on our backs, hands and head administering pain without fear or favor.
At this juncture, crawling under the desk has never been so easy, there is no boy or girl, prefect or head boy, just beings fighting for dear life. I can’t feel my head, and there is a sudden vibration on my rear end. Amidst all the mumbled cries, and terrified screams, and still hiding under the desk, I try to make out what the ‘assailant’ is saying. “Ngombe Nyinyi…the rock ni science? Undertaker ni science? muiru anahubiri science? The scuffle lasts for three minutes,(a lifetime), and the last landing of the belt finds us(all fifty three students) hurled up at the corner-the ‘our shop corner’ which we set up with the aid of trainee students teachers to provoke our business acumen.
Mr.Warutere stands, holding an eager belt, hissing in anger. Since I don’t want to face him, I start retreating, squeezing myself in between my fellow classmates, who also seem to share my thought, everyone is trying to hide, or at least to hide the already beaten parts of the body so that in case,(I would have used the word ‘when’ but there is no crime in hoping, so I stick with ‘incase’) there is a repeat of the just concluded beating exercise, the belt would land on new flesh hence bring forth some of sort devolution of pain. He turns to his solomonic wisdom and decides that since we have time to ‘discuss’ irrelevant matters, it means that we have seriously read and understood in its entirety, the class six science syllabus, and that we have even gone ahead to interrogate the class seven syllabus. He therefore decides to administer an impromptu science quiz. Everyone will step forth and listen to his question (trust him to formulate fifty three different questions in a minute) and we will have one minute to respond to the question.
“Muritu,Ngombe wewe kuja hapa, without the aid of a diagram demonstrate to us the dichotomous key of all rocks and wild flowers” he barks, in my mind am thinking “well Muritu, we love you but the almighty loves you more”. Muritu steps forth, and starts to stammer (of course he doesn’t know the answer, unless dichotomous is onother wrestler), and it is clear from the line of questioning that we are headed for war.
A minute later, we are all bare feet, kneeling at the assembly ground, and its drizzling. He rushes to the staffroom and comes back with a plastic cane…we are going to limp home today. As he thrashes our feet, our class teacher Mrs.Wanyoike passes by (the woman who convinced me that ‘sheep’ was not a floating vessel in the ocean, and that ‘sheet’ did not mean lying), which means that my mother, a teacher, will hear the story. To add insult to injury (she also taught me that) our head teacher who also doubles up as our Math’s teacher, peeps from the window, (there will be a math’s quiz, slashing of grass and a twenty kilometer race around the playing field).
“Mikono mbinguni” he says as he walks back to the staffroom, we will remain in that position until he comes back. Am kneeling next to leminton,
“leminton, you didn’t finish your sentence, what was the rock smelling?” I loudly whisper,
he turns to me, looking around, unsure, and when convinced that the coast is clear, he replies,
“if you smeeeeeeell, (again he pauses and lifts his left eyebrow) what the rock-is-cooking”, we all chuckle.