Celebrating East African Writing!
As though all had conspired to ensure this miserable existence would be his fate. Even the rain he so loved had seemingly summoned all vigour and uncalled for vengeance as if to reiterate this very thought he was loathing. What happened to the inspiration it once brought forth?
Now Mr. Mai had only the more reason to keep his lesson going for another hour or so, seeing that they couldn’t possibly go home in this inclement weather. At least or so he consoled himself he didn’t have to listen to all the gibberish Mr. Mai was indulging in, as the deafening sound of the rain kept drowning out his voice…
“So Laki, what do we call this kind of story?” Mr. Mai’s condescending voice rudely interrupted his train of thought.
“Boy, don’t make me repeat myself and don’t you sir me.”
“I didn’t get the story, was…”
“Just what is the matter with you son? Why don’t you use what is between those ears to listen in the least! How do you expect to understand if you don’t listen? Every day you sit here and you don’t get a darn thing, now what is that?” Mr. Mai said, pounding his fist on the table for emphasis.
“I am not stupid, if that’s what you mean,” Laki responded.
Suddenly the entire classroom all this time engulfed in pin drop silence and an air of expectation erupted in fits of mocking laughter. He had managed yet another show quite effortlessly, just how did he do it? The moment of laughter raged on endlessly as if taunting him, even seemingly drowning out the sound of the rain.
“Allegory, an allegory is what the story is and I would like to see an allegory from you tomorrow and you will read it for this entire classroom, the entire damn school if you have to, until you get it. Do you hear me?”
“Do you understand me?”
“I sure hope so, for your sake.”
The laughter again.
So he wasn’t good with books, but there really was more to him. So what if he only understood black and white? Couldn’t anyone look beyond this inability to grasp the not so simple theoretical concepts? Why did it have to transcend all other areas of his life, always hovering like a damned shadow?
“What do they call people who don’t get a darn thing?”
“I am not stupid if that’s what you mean.”
Ripples of laughter.
Perfect mimicry. It had to be Luka and his right hand man Sol.
Anger coursed through his entire body, his first instinct to pound the living hell out of both of them. Teach them a lesson and prove his worth if that was what this was all about, but then he wouldn’t be using what was between his ears would he?
Anyhow he was going to put an end to this, he had to put an end to this. He deserved more than being ridiculed every other day, hating himself, dreading class…
Tomorrow they would see him in a new light.
Friday. Allegory day.
“Well you look quite a bit today, what’s all the fuss?”
“Just a bright day, dad.”
“How is school?”
“No more gloomy talk about that then I suppose.”
Just like his dad to spoil his good mood, false courtesy, reinforcing things he ought not to, subtly.
From day one it was only too apparent that he wouldn’t become an engineer or a pilot or any other worthy alternative as prescribed by his father and so conversation between the two was restricted to necessity and polite remarks.
Nothing was going to spoil his mood.
“Bye dear, have a good day.”
Just as he had hoped.
The sign greeted him from the notice board as he entered the classroom. The lesson was to be the reading of his story. Mr. Mai had probably chosen the hall, so that should he feel inclined to call the entire school, there would be no problem of accommodation.
He heard the whispers and murmurs of excitement, as he sat through the first lesson.
As soon as the bell rang to end Mr. Balo’s lesson, the whole classroom was out and headed towards the school hall. Five minutes later Laki left the classroom. When he arrived at the hall Mr. Mai was busy trying to calm the excited audience.
“Get on with it,” he instructed, irritated.
Laki walked up to the set stage, his bag on his back, the silence suddenly making him uncertain.
Giggles, murmurs, whispers.
Heart palpitating, legs trembling, he stepped onto the stage and began to open his bag. He removed his trumpet, closed his eyes and began to play. He played as he always did when he was alone with no one to ridicule him, to bother him or put him down. He played the most beautiful rendition of SWEET MARY.
Sweet Mary, Sweet Mary,
She put her footprints on all our hearts,
With that twinkle in her eye,
And her steps ever so gay,
Sweet Mary, Sweet Mary…
They all knew it by heart, it was the most popular and they began to sing. He played and played and played and he couldn’t stop because the music just carried him on.
The hall was filled with the sound of music. Students from other classrooms began to trickle in but he didn’t notice. They sat and stared in awe. He didn’t see the audience or its magnitude, he just played. His heart was filled with joy, indescribable joy, and he played a song for Jesus, his King who had given him this gift. His soul was liberated and he was soaring.
The hall filled to capacity, even the flickering on and off of the lights seemed to go unnoticed. Outside the rain poured but it was drowned out by the sound of the beautiful music and when at last his heart was content, he received a performer’s highest honour, a standing ovation.
He looked at the packed hall, the cheering students and tears flowed freely.
They saw him.
Mr. Mai saw him, Luka saw him, Sol saw him.
Was that his dad to the left?
It was! How did he get there?
How hadn’t he seen him?
It didn’t matter; his dad had heard him play.
They all saw him; they all saw him in a new light.
© Peace Muchiri 2011
If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Sunday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week on the next Monday. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.