Butt-slayer, Carrots and Bamboos

This was the fourth time this week his name was in the noisemakers list. Even after threatening the stupid morsel of a class prefect yesterday.

“Jim Kimathi, times 4!?” The teacher on duty lifted his eyes from the paper placing them squarely on a familiar face. Burning any courage left out of the poor soul “ Nyinyi ndio mumeamua kuwa mang’aa wa chure eh? I will sow you who the mboss is. Come here kijana!” Jim rose from his desk humbly. Tilting his head to one side as he walked to the front. Askance in his eyes. They were pleading for a merciful punishment.

“Usiniangalie ni kama mimi ni kasisi!” The class let out a nervous laughter. Obviously banishing the jitters swimming in their stomachs. “Ndevo incarnate!” He spat out the insult like a bitter herb. Jim timidly stepped to the front.

“Haya! And these are speakers of illegal ranguanges! Hawa nitawamalisa!” Nobody was laughing now. “If I reand your name mbring your carcass here and kneel ndown!” He went ahead to read out the names of the boys who were heard speaking in Kiswahili instead of English. By the time he was done with the list, only the class prefect remained at his desk.

“Na hii ndarasa ni ya vichwa ngumu kwerikweri!” he addressed the kneeling boys who faced the floor in supplication. He then opened the door like a chauffeur and in feigned dignity ushered the pupils out pointing them towards the staffroom. Jim took this opportunity to slide his index finger across his neck like a knife in a strong threat to the class prefect.

Pupils of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa Kinyanka Boys Boarding Primary School were by now accustomed to the punishment ritual of the school. It was generally believed by their immediate society that boys were inherently naughty. The teachers and the parents of the school had thus arrived upon the decision that the only way to maintain order and build discipline among the unruly boys was by instituting a punishment regime. Prefects were always expected to present the wayward boys of Kinyanka to the teacher on duty daily. If the prefects did not have any wrongdoers to present, they would get punished for that. One enthusiastic teacher who was aptly nicknamed “Bamboo” was the unofficial supplier of bamboo sticks to the school. Pupils hated him and prayed the worst on him. It could be one of the reasons why his hairline had been receding in recent months revealing a bald patch on his ugly oblong head.

“Whack!”

“Woi! Mwalimu! Haki ni hivo”

“Ni hivo nini?! Hebu toa hiyo mkono hapo ama tuivunje! Mang’aa!”

The staff-room was turned into a room of terror. The boys who were found culpable of noise-making and speaking Kiswahili were now awaiting their due. This particular teacher had a penchant for bare buttocks. He liked caning boys and threatening them with the fury of hell at the same time. He preferred to go about his mode of punishment by not only stripping the boys’ confidence but their shorts as well.

“Shukisha!” He was ordered to bring the shorts off.

“Haki ya Mungu sitarudia teacher” He clasped his shorts at the front, afraid they would betray him and fall by their own accord.

“Si wewe ni wa kuongea illegal languages?! Bado unaongezea makosa naona. Utapata viboko sita! Six of the best!”

“Teacher six?”

“Seven!” He then grabbed at the boy’s green shorts and pulled them down. In a twisted embrace between shorts and underwear, they both descended in united defiance.

And the teacher feasted his bamboo stick on the bare buttocks in relish. Screams and shouts would follow. Pleading and promises would be traded. At the end of the caning, the pupils would walk out smiling. Displaying false bravado. Struggling to maintain a normal gait with their buttocks on fire. Cracking crude jokes about who had small butts and who cried the most. Tomorrow they’d be back, Jim for sure.

However the following day, the scene unfolded a bit differently. It was expected that the butt-slayer would be coming to get the noisemakers and the Kiswahili speakers as usual. For no matter how much the administration tried, the boys never seemed to want to Anglicanize. Every day, there were always more speakers of Swahili. The pupils were more comfortable in their Swahili and sparse Sheng, English on the other hand felt foreign and imposing; as it was. So Swahili made many a boy suffer in the hands of fanatical defenders of English. Yet today, the boys were terrorized for a different reason.

When the headmaster drove into school in his red pick-up at 6.32AM, he was spotted by the serious pupils who extended their morning preps. They intelligently concluded something was amiss. Customarily, the headmaster arrived in school at 7.30 AM. Not long after his arrival, the newly installed electric bell went off asking the school to gather. The pupil laborers who were cleaning the rough dormitory floors dropped their rugs, which were former sweaters. The toilet prefect postponed the flushing of the invaders on the floor, saving the flies hovering for a few more minutes.

All the pupils gathered at the murram coated assembly ground. The headmaster was standing at the raised podium. His arms disappeared behind his back like shy twins. His face was contorted into an ugly mask of anger. He was the devil, or maybe he considered the sight before him the devil’s litter. Eyelids were forbidden from batting. Everything was stationary and keen. For an inconceivable time, there were no stray coughs or shuffling feet. Boys have never been so silent.

The headmaster gave silence a few more moments of leadership before speaking.

“Among you are angels of confusion.” He wiped his gaze across, then reconsidered his statement. “Some of you here are cursed demons! This school is a doyen of discipline! Known all over because we maintain high standards of order and law. Stray and lost boys leave this institution as upright and respected young men. That is why when I was told some demons from hell had decided to sneak into the kitchen and feast on carrots and uncooked porridge, I came here to exorcise them and thrown them back where they belong!” He gushed out with ferocious anger as sprinkles of his saliva spread his gospel across the gathered audience. His legendary anger was at its peak levels. Trembling legs shook all the confidence in the tableau to the murram

“My request is very simple,” He was being polite, this was a veiled threat of destruction. ”I want those lost characters to present themselves in my office within 5 minutes. If by the end of 5 minutes these ambassadors of Lucifer will not be in my office everyone here will be pounded into flour.” He delivered the last statement without the faintest hint of malice, like a priest conferring his final blessings at mass. He turned like a gardener who had just been inspecting his flowers and walked to his office.

For about 20 long seconds, nobody said a word. Then the class 8 students who had the lengthiest experience of how bad things could get, started to mumble. Blame was thrown to the younger boys, class 6 and 7 pupils. They were accused of being hungrier and cheekier. They were yet to get used to the small portions of githeri served for supper, they were told. The younger boys in turn said it was the elder pupils. They did not risk expulsion if they were found, they countered. It was cacophonous. Yet the “ambassadors” maintained a diplomatic silence.

When you’re anxious and nervous, 300 seconds whiz past your face rapidly. When next the headmaster appeared at the assembly ground’s podium, most of the boys were still offering blame. Then some hushing began at the front and it was passed all the way to the back. Faces turned to face their would-be tormentor and stared at a committed scowl. By now more teachers had arrived in school and they were now lined up behind the headmaster like his cavalry.

“Today is a day that most of you will write about in compositions…”

To Be Continued…Maybe