On Wednesday of this week I was summoned to the Head Teacher’s office to tend to one of my “Kids”. Apparently, she has of late become rowdy and because she enjoys a queen-like following at school, she thinks that probably the school cannot do without her.
Cathy thinks that while making rules when she was by then not a student of Busiu Central College, they should have consulted her before fixing in their “bogus” rules. She is a lively girl and I like her so much but she does not tuck in, she will not accept to have her hair cut to the school pre-set size.
She is never late for school but when she finds the teacher already in class, it is not because she is late but the teacher came too early. Despite her brilliance, Cathy will probably not perform as good in Maths because for her she does not like sitting in class of a female Mathematics teacher. She thinks that they should have consulted her before hiring female teachers. Female teachers to her can only teach English, Literature, Swahili and Biology.
To my mother, I am wasting money on one of those girls who will sooner or later drop out and head into a marriage but to me in Cathy I see a past self; a sprawling young man trying to make myself seen despite of my humble background, always trying to win influence not based on wealth, gifts and money but because I was to satisfy this adolescent self.
In Catherine I see myself, dodging the sciences classes because I did not want to do anything concerning sciences; my dream was to become a lawyer like Fred Muwema, Chris Rwakafuzi, Caleb Alaka and Erias Lukwago. What was amoeba, paramecium and abacus to me, I would do without them.
I am not trying to defend Catherine, an orphan who should be thinking more about her studies than the worldly pleasures but I am trying to say that there are times when we are not in charge of our bodies, children should always be allowed to be children, make mistakes, learn, unlearn and relearn despite their situation in life.
While I am struggling with Catherine at Busiu Central College, there is also Kevin of P.1 class who does not like sitting in class with his peers. He would rather spend the best of his morning behind the classroom block. Kevin is very weak in class and has never been among the best 20 among 36 children of his class. To take on Kevin we had noted that his mother had made it a habit to cane him for any mistake he would make thus making him loathe anything to do with school and learning.
Kenneth, brother to Kevin in comparison is a quiet boy and you will rarely find him playing like the other children but his school grades are still not that pleasing. In fact, he is just as good as Kevin. It is upon this background that we thought punishing Kevin for academic mishaps was not going to help him at all. So, we took on Kenneth as well as Kevin and we added Mercy. Mercy is a hell of a reckless kid. You would never want her around you for an hour but would miss her the moment she left you for an hour.
The beauty of it all is that Mercy is a sister to Catherine and both girls are academically brilliant but their stubbornness can easily turn you away from supporting them. It is a good thing their brilliance pays for their cheeky nature and these girls are favourites of their teachers. Liked and hated in equal measure, these girls are just like me and I have pledged to do everything in my reach to get them ahead just like I would like to see Kevin and Kenneth progress in their academics.
My admiration for the two girls emanates from my own turbulent academic past that saw the most stubborn boy at Lords Meade Vocational College come out among the best 20 out of 200 in the year 2005. It is amazing that my academic prowess was not affected by the teachers’ judgements and often not pleasing remarks that always appeared on my remedial report cards.
I remember Madam Regina’s remarks in S.2; “He is stubborn and cheeky in Class”. Every time I am called to answer why Catherine is still keeping long hair, I recall when I used to dedicate an exercise book to writing lyrics of Ashanti, Jarule, 2Pac, and 50 Cent. Every time I am told that I should stop paying for Catherine because she dodged class, I remember the year 2002 when we used to skip school to catch the World Cup which was played in Korea and Japan.
I recall when we hid in the bush to listen to the match between Nigeria and Sweden. Our cover was however blown when Aghahowa scored for Nigeria and in our excitement we forgot that we were hiding. We arose up in celebration and ululations that attracted “Kabiina” the askari. I don’t recall how that day ended but one thing I am sure about is that it was not a pleasant experience.
I then went on a spree to do all the things that most adolescents indulge into including the trying on drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Teen life is sweet and if used to judge a person, we can easily cast talent to the sidelines. Right now, Catherine thinks that she will be the next Lady Gaga but I am giving her only 3 years and she will be moving in the direction of her destined future. I don’t mind how bitter my mother is about me wasting money on these stubborn kids but one thing I am sure about is that if someone had judged me thus, I would not be what I am today.
If my father had dumped me in a village school because of the teachers’ remarks, I would somewhere be on FBZero writing ‘watsap’, ‘u’, ‘dat’, ‘weya’, ‘den’. But because I had a father who believed in me and pushed me ahead in spite of my head, I will never strike a child for bad grades, stubbornness or comments of a teacher. I shall also extend an olive leaf to Catherine and Mercy. I will treat them as my children, make them forget their orphanage state of life. I want to be the change that I wanna see and before I throw the first stone, I will remember my own sins.
If you think I am making up my high school lifestyle, go and ask Mr Mulondo about the student who suggested that Jesus used to play matatu in his free time, ask Madam Annie about the boy that climbed into the ceiling of the teachers’ quarters, ask Mr Okipi why he used to call me “rat” or why Regina wrote that damning remark.
Of all the above, Mr Anyiro Lawrence can tell you the best story. He one time sent me to buy for him chapatti of 200 by then and he gave me a 500 shillings coin. I got him the chapatti then tricked him that he would go back to the canteen for the change which I had taken and pocketed. He was to be stunned that there was no change left at the canteen, being that I shared the name Denis with my age mate, class mate and height mate Wambuzi, Mr Anyiro went for Wambuzi; he received a good dose of canes before Anyiro realised he had made a mistake.
Then Wambuzi would prepare the worst pay back ever. He asked me to wake him at 4 am for preps but that will be another day’s story. Otherwise, I am not giving up on my kids.