DAY 21: A Simpler Time.
My most nostalgic childhood memories are set in Ober boys boarding primary school. If I had a time machine, that is the only place in time I would want to go back to. No, it wasn’t in the category of group of schools. The conditions of survival it provided were bare basics. It is located on the western sides of highlands, thus rainy seasons characterized with mud were sharply contrasted with dry seasons. Regardless of the seasons, there was always water shortage.
I joined the school for my class seven and my first lesson was English by Mr. Dianga. He was a dark fella, heavily build on the upper body and with a huge set of arms. I was to learn at the end of the lesson how practically painful his sarcasm was to students. At the end of the class he casually announced that those who never covered their books to follow him to the staff-room for covers. Out of new student’s naivety I followed him.
At the staff-room I was surprised to discover that what he meant when he said ‘book covers’ was ‘bamboo canes’. I had barely stepped into the room, when he grabbed the nape of my neck and roughed me to the nearest table. By the time I finalized translating an explanation from my mother tongue to English, three bamboo strokes had slashed through my backbone. I fought back vicious tears, I struggled to keep at bay angry thoughts. Through fumbles I explained I was a new student and that it was my first class. “Oh, welcome to Ober.” That was his apology, and a muffled laugh as I storm out.
Throughout the day I kept wonder how many strokes I would have received I had chosen Swahili as the language to explain myself. In that time of my childhood, my Swahili was characterized with, ‘piya’ to imply ‘pia’ in written form. In spoken form, it could take me minutes to come up with, ‘nita kuja’, which I could say in a heavy Luo accent. Out of necessity, it took pain and tears to perfect my Swahili. Every Swahili class with Mr. Steve was ten times practically painful than my first interaction with Mr. Dianga.
Myself I wonder why I am attached to that specific point in time. Perhaps it is because it was the first place to offer me a larger view of life. Perhaps it was the first place that I realized that the world does not revolves around me and my needs. That, beyond my childhood mischiefs there was much more; poetry, mathematics, friendships forged in hardship, pure hearts and the expanse cosmos waiting for me.
In the rainy seasons, mad would cover everywhere. But without a care in the world we could still play polythene balls in the rain. When there had been water crisis for too long and the two weeks' sweat would start making me uncomfortable, I would join the caravan of students down the river. With the main motive of eating guavas along the way and stealing the villager’s groundnuts and sweet-potatoes from the farms. The first group of students to fetch water would always pour some on the slopes of the river banks. Thus, us late comers would suffer while climbing back from the river.
It is in this survival that I discovered myself. It is this hardship that shaped me. This point in time I can never get over. When faced with hardship in life I reminisce the comedy in the little tragedies I endure there. Within those fences are my innocent tears, when mom visited me for the first time. Within those fences are the sound of my first applause, when I topped in mathematics. Within those fences are the mischiefs adulthood decorum doesn’t permit. It was a simpler time. A time I will never get over.