Celebrating East African Writing!

Tribulation Day

Wanyama looked up to find his ugly science teacher breathing something similar to a compost pit down his neck. His black bulging eyes in addition to his breath was enough to cause a heart failure. Wanyama hardly disliked people; he didn’t have the energy to hate them, but hating his science teacher needed no effort. In fact, it needed energy not to hate him.

“Dare you copy this exam, Kijana, you will know why you were not born on a Sunday.”

The fact is, Wanyama was born on a Sunday morning at cockcrow – his mother never ceased to mention that fact. So Mr. Waithaka and his theatrics didn’t make much sense. Copying Mr Waithaka’s exam was the last thing he would do. There were more pleasant ways of committing suicide. Thing was, there was something creeping up his trouser. He had tried to shake it off subtly, but in vain; he had to wriggle a little bit more vigorously. The wriggling is what Mr. Waithaka, the Terrible, must have noticed.

“Yes, sir,” quickly slipped from his mouth.

Mercifully enough, the creature fell off, or so he thought. Ten minutes or so into the paper, he had all the points he could remember, enough to start answering the questions. He would start with number two, then five – the rest he would leave to the mercy of guesswork. Just as he was about to start on the final answer sheet, he felt the most painful bite he had ever experienced on the lower part of his thigh. He forgot where he was, what he was doing, and that he was even in Mr Waithaka, the Terrible’s class.

“Fala hii!” involuntarily escaped from his mouth as he literally jumped and hit himself on the desk. Mr. Waithaka, who was at the front of the not so big class, stood up as if it was what he had been waiting for, and walked to Wanyama’s as swift as an arrow. Meanwhile, the rest of the class looked at Wanyama – most amused, others simply stunned. There were a few giggles and murmurs as if they were thankful for the interruption.

“Ndennis Wanyama! You have thirsted for a suspension since form one first term and so you will get it even if it is your final term in school,” barked Mr Waithaka whose accent became heavy when angry. He was frowning so much; his face looked like a spider’s web. ‘Oh, no!’ lamented Wanyama on realising that he was in Mr. Waithaka’s class. Only God could get him out this one, hopefully alive.

“But mwalimu, it was…”

“Who are you mwalimu-ing here, eeh? Do you know how old I am?”

And with that he dragged poor Wanyama by his belt to the staffroom.

A few steps away from his classroom, Wanyama could hear scraping chairs and desks. He was sure his classmates were standing on the chairs to peep through the very highly placed windows, most worried for his fate. Mr. Waithaka was known to be most malicious. Anyone who fell into his hands deserved a moment of silence. His cruelty was that bad. Dennis Wanyama was not actually a bad boy, everyone knew that. He was actually more saintly compared to most of his colleagues. Wanyama’s problem just seemed to be bad luck. He probably should not have been born on a Sunday after all.

As Wanyama was being dragged to the staffroom, he looked at everything with nostalgia – the yellow flowers beside his class, the pot-holed pavement, that big tree near the form 3 block…he looked around wondering if it might be the last time he would set eyes on them. With the Terrible, all things were possible.

Mr. Waithaka’s entry into the staffroom was rather zealous, one would think he had received money in his MPESA account worth a million shillings or more. He stood at the entrance as if wanting all the teachers to notice the ‘rat’ he had caught in his trap. There were a few teachers and Wanyama couldn’t decide whether that was good or bad. Mercifully enough, they were not surprised or even interested in what their colleague had to say or do. A few minutes after their entry, Mr. Waithaka started rambling to his colleagues about how this form four student had been a notorious boy since lower primary, as if he even knew where Wanyama had been in primary school. This made Wanyama think to himself about having a medical check-up carried out to ascertain his science teacher’s sanity.

In the process of eloquently describing Wanyama’s wrongs, Mr Waithaka suddenly jumped up as if he’d received a dose of electric shock. He was silent for a minute or so before making a noise which could be described as a half hiss, half snarl. None at first knew what had happened. But Wanyama wasn’t surprised that his science teacher could hiss. To him, among other things, Mr Waithaka shared a personality with the snake.  In another minute, his science teacher was half jumping and half dancing vigorously as if trying to shake off something. The scene before him was the best 3D movie he had ever seen – live. What had bitten him must have got on his teacher too. In no time, Mr Waithaka’s shoes, belt and socks had been flung away from him. Just as he was about to strip off his trouser, a colleague rushed and dragged him off to the next room.

The other members of staff tried to look serious, but not for long. One was snorting, while another was almost literally swallowing the blackboard duster next to him as he burst into laughter. Another madam who was seated at the far corner didn’t make any sound, but her shoulders were shaking and tears were streaming down her cheeks. Anyone could tell that those were not tears of grief.

Wanyama was so happy, he wouldn’t have minded laughing loudly too, but did not for the fear of being misunderstood or suspected by the teachers. He had been sure his day of tribulation had arrived. But, alas! It had been his science teacher’s day, though Mr Waithaka deserved a hundred more of the experience.

Several minutes later, Mr Waithaka came back acting serious and grand. Yet how could a shoeless man with dishevelled hair and holding up his oversized maroon trouser act dignified? The creature must have really got him. It was comical in a sad way.

“Go to class. And never repeat it again,” barked his science teacher while trying to look serious. Wanyama was not sure whether it was him or the bug being addressed, but it did not matter. He was sure that the joy of that day would last him through the remaining days of high school.

©Lillian Konuche 2014


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