My mum once showed up in my school. Unexpectedly. Without warning. Surprise, is what she called it. My friend, I almost died of a heart attack. For real.
Look, I never had a problem with my mum visiting. I had a problem with teachers telling her lies and giving her fake news about me. So we skizanad, you be the parent, and let me be the student. Ok? Fine. Case closed. Cool? Thank you.
Also, my mum was the ultimate exemplification of forgive and forget. She forgave wholeheatedly. But she forgot only after 23 years. Which is really important for me for very many reasons.
Anyway, back to the day she surprised me.
Like she checked into school and I was just there, a very nice boy. In school. In our classroom. During mathematics class. Very obedient child like my teachers wanted. Kneeling like I had been instructed. With my hands raised high. Doing it as passionately and as well as my teacher had asked me to. Hapo Form 2.
See why parents need to apply special passes to go visit their children? And their children must approve those visits by signing the application form. You just don’t show up. We should be allowed to revoke those visas at the gate as well.
Ati I was kneeling down because I was talking to some chick in the classroom. She was not gatching math and I was explaining to her how to use the Archimedes principle to deduce the length of the hypotenuse in measuring the temperature. And ati we were laughing in whispers.
Lies. All lies. The teacher just wasn’t skiliaring for me.
If you came into our school, that pile of clay and cement we called the tuition block was the first building you saw. It was so huge it covered the kitchen, dorm, staffroom and staff residences behind it. Notice I said residences.
The Form 4 blocks were closest to the gate. Because they were going anyway. And then the form 3 blocks. And then the administration block that served as offices for the Headmaster, the bursar, and that receptionist woman whose son made chang’aa in the laboratory, and people drank. No one died.
And then the Form1 block, and then finally, the Form 2 block much closer to the staffroom just in case we wanted to shave the heads of the school chickens.
My mum, aki she had come with my Aunt Mary, walks to the administration block to speak to the headmaster and the bursar. But the receptionist lady tells her to go to the staffroom because that is where they are. All teachers are there for a short briefing because someone very important is coming to visit that our school. So she picks her bags and starts walking past the Form One class. I hear her voice and chill runs down my spine. Can it be… the end of the road for me? My heart stops completely. I am thinking if my mother ever caught me being punished in school, she would kill me herself. And then she would tell me to go and be that teachers child since she has tried to raise me properly but I have chosen a teacher over her.
I hear her again. Her very familiar voice is telling Aunt Mary how she believes she made a good choice of a school for me, and that I am a much better student than Aunt Mary’s son, Omondi. And that I should mentor Omondi because unlike Aunt Mary, she has never been called to school because of me. Aunt Mary is agreeing wholeheartedly.
They approach the form 2 block because the staffroom is right behind it. Fam, parents can be fearless. Yo. The way they entered the school staffroom, like the chai, mandazi and food cooked with tomatoes and onions cartels that sat in there marking books and papers were harmless was such a sight to behold. I was once called to the staffroom to collect a present for being the best student in sleeping in class. Psh. Never went. They are still waiting for me. Because one member of those cartels with fabricate a crime and all of them will cane you. Guaranteed. Like, what was that?
I see Aunt Mary going past our class. I susu a bit. She is balancing the sufuria they had brought me chicken in on her head. I can see she is also carrying chapatis in her clutch bag. I smile, and my eyes trail her. And then…
I see my mother. And then she sees me. We see each other. We stare. I am as frightened as Lady Macbeth before the ghost of Banquo. She is clearly very shocked. So she says,
Me: (In a whisper) Me? Are you talking to me?
I am pointing at my chest pretending not to know her but having the most pitiful eyes. ‘Ati Mimi… mimi… Mimi ni Ochieng’?
Her: Mayie. OCHIEN’G?
She shouts and Aunt Mary comes back to see what is going on. I tell her, ‘Ssshhh… Cheza chini.’ I am praying that she just continues and goes on to look for her son. Because I already know, I am no longer her son. I want to cry coz I am hoping to be forgiven.
ME: (Still disowning her.) He is not in this class.
So she chomoas her rubber shoes and aims for my eyes, but it finds my mouth. The whole class is like, ‘ALA!’
She tells Aunt Mary to help her put down the shopping she had brought for me that she was balancing on her head.
Her: Today you will know that you don’t know. Ochieng’, You want to kill me. Eeh! Unataka kuniua??? What are you doing down there?
So I am lying down having fainted. I am thinking of how to get out of this mess. I am just like should I tell her this is the drama class and we are acting? Or should I say we are competing on who can kneel the longest, or just say this is chemistry class where we are trying to call the rain. I am hearing her tell Aunt Mary, huyu leo nitamaliza. Ngoja ujione.
Guys, where your mother says to her closest relative, the one she loves, that she wants to make a beautiful example out of you just to entertain her, just know you are closer to death than anything else.
Kidogo kidogo our maths teacher appears just before my mum hangs me…