Do you smoke?”
He then raised his voice and banged his mahogany table in a fury. Almost rising to his feet as he asked him again…
“Young man, do you smoke?
“And does your mother know that you smoke?”
“Mwalimu you see what I was talking about… The boy smokes but the mother doesn’t know.
“Mwalimu these are the caliber of students that are holding us at ransom. They are the enemies within the system masquerading as friends by dangling chocolate in our direction in one hand while holding a pistol in the other” And if history is anything to go by, these boys will shoot us in the foot near horizon.”
“Sir I don’t smoke.”
“Can you go down. Mr. Mukongolo give him five.
That is the moment the heavy hand of the Deputy landed on Job Aswa. He was a man, heavily built and masculine than the word itself. His large rounded glasses complimented his tough disciplinarian look.
As he descended on Aswa, I heard his stroke of the cane produce the (Voooooop…sound as it sliced through the air an the twaaaaa… sound as it landed on his behind. What followed was wailing and gasping for breath like a wounded wild beast from the victim. I was next on line… Standing outside the Principals office waiting for my turn to be fried or worse still eaten raw. The secretary must have been saying something to calm me down. But my adrenaline factory must have been working overtime and kept my attention on the “war” behind the door…
“Mwalimu this is the boy that carried a hack saw from his village to school. He is the Jua Kali artisan of St Anthony… The boy purports to help his colleagues cut their padlocks whenever they lose their keys…”
“But Mr. principal the boy can be using the same saw to steal from his friends.” The deputy quipped.
“Can you whip him as many as you can…”
Mr Mukongolo sprang into marauding action. Spinning my head methodically that I found myself hugging the ground while my behind faced him at angle theta.
I felt my five litres of blood literally running away from my hind section. I closed my eyes and prayed to the spirits of our forefathers in Chetambe Hills to intercede for me at that hour of death. I even managed to say a few “Hail Marys.
Mr Mukongolo’s phone rung. And he excused himself to pick it.
For a moment I rejoiced at the delayed “judgement day.”
I added “glory be to the Father, and to the son… into my silent prayer chants. And for the first time, in the longest 5 or so minutes in the Principal’s office, managed to look up.
And the beauty of the office struck my eyes… Wow! There were-arranged artistically- scores and scores of trophies of varying sizes. I moved my eyes from one trophy to the other methodically. Allowing myself to caress each trophy with the attention it deserved.
“Sir… how did you achieve all these?”
I asked the question then immediately regretted why I had asked it. Mr Nabungolo’s attention shifted from his paperwork to me. I had heard of a legend that the man was very good at tae-kwo-ndo. and that he would kill a boy if he decided to punish him himself.
I caressed the beads of the rosary in my neck and awaited hell to descend on me…
The Principal swung on his rocking chair, pushed himself behind and stood facing me… I new I was now finished.
“Son what you are seeing here are by products of years and years of hard work and discipline from your elder brothers and your teachers… These are the fruits of young men that have believed in our vision of providing high Academic and Sporting Standards… Please stand.”
The Principal went ahead and gave me a history of the school. His highs and lows. His best moments as a teacher. And the things he wished he would have done better. I admired him… Felt so proud of his achievements… And felt proud of myself that I had seen this other side of him. The most dreaded place for students turned into the most fascinating class for me.
Mr. Mukongolo returned. Apologizing profusely for taking long outside. But the mood in the Principal’s office confused him. The principal and I were now standing and chatting like Father and Son.
“I am already done with the boy mwalimu. Please give him some attention papers and ensure he no longer carries hack saws to school…”
Watch out for part 2.