My mum opened the math book I had just received, and 5 envelops drawn beautifully just fell out, on to her lap. Inside the envelops were lots and lots of high school love letters.

That boy who I lent my math textbook was using it as the post office box to send letters to some girl.

She pushed them from herself and covered her mouth as if she had seen a ghost.

Hapo ndio kiliumana proper.

HER:    What is this? (She is shaking and moving around in circles)

ME:     What is it?

HER:    Hizi barua bi za nani?

ME:     I have never seen those things in my life.

HER:    SHUWALLIII!!! Ebu niambie, wewe. Ni nini unataka?

ME:     Aki mum. Those ones are not mine.

HER:     Umeanza kujua wasichana sasa. Si ndio? Umeanza. Wacha nikaambia baba yako unataka kuoa.

ME:    Wacha hizo mum. Hizo sio zangu.

HER:    Ochieng’ ni nani?

ME:     Kuna Ochieng’ watatu kwa class yetu.

HER:    Wewe ni wa ngapi?

She wails and mourns for me. In advance.



My mom shows up in school uninvited and finds me in the midst of my punishment. She almost gets me killed but forgives me. She decides to go through my books and in the process finds tens of high school love letters. This is where she finishes me.




Back to the story….

Fam, when we were growing up, si sharing was a thing? Like for real, sharing was caring. Not like nowadays. Then, while as grew up, it was ok for someone to come to you and borrow stuff from you, and you are sure they would give back. Books, VHS Videos. Cassettes, CDs, Walkmans, Shoes, Jeans… whatever. If someone borrows your BMX bike, they just take it for a lap, and bring it back. Or the soccer ball you made with paper bags. They go, they pepeta, and they bring it back. Or even mchongowana. You are given one, and you give one. Life was good.

And because me I am a good person, I shared. Freely.

So, when one of my ‘good friends’ borrowed that my Mathematics text book in Form Two, I was ok with it. ‘Good’ and ‘Friends’ are in quotes because as soon as those letters he was sending himself and the girl in class were discovered, before they even hit the floor, we were longer friends. Hiyo story ya ubeste na mtu kama huyo iliisha hapo.

He had told me he needed the book for practice as he waited for his parents to buy him one. I just gave him the book. I could not bear the burden of being in a school like that one of ours and you are still struggling with simple arithmetic. Funny, though, he was exceptionally good in math too. I really don’t know why it didn’t hit me that something was very wrong with that request.

Math wasn’t a big problem for me in primary school. Not at all. I scored a whooping 19 out of 100 in my Standard 8 mocks, and a chicken was slaughtered. It’s only in the third term of Form one in high school that it really really blocked me. I would get 9 out of a hundred and I would be so happy. My Math teacher once refused to give me an exam because he did not think the school could afford wasting resources. So he told I can just go and chill in the field. SIESTA DOTCOM. Nilikaokota. So I stopped paying attention after that. That is why I did not pass as well as many people thought. If you ask me, well, me I passed. If you ask my parents, I disgraced their name, and that of my grandfathers before them, in Mathematics. And Chemistry. And Physics and Biology Too. Kiswahili, History and Geography as well. English not so much.

Anyway, si I lent him. We shared it between us for the few weeks and then he gave it back. He would borrow it, and give it back. And it went on like that for a while. During math class, however, he would give it back. The other times he was free to keep it.

What I did not understand though, is how he was teaching some girl maths all the time. Even during PE. And they would be smiling and all. Whoever smiled while doing their sums? Like he would give her an example and give her my textbook to do her exercises. And she would giggle and blush.


Enyewe I was ant-nyita. Ningejua.

I was not sure if he really liked this girl, or he was just helping. Her name was Millicent. His name, Henry, but people called him Henerry. As in? I would just see it crisscrossing the class between them. It didn’t bother me much.

The day he returned it was is the exact same day my mum decided to go through my school bag and books. And we discovered that my math textbook was being used as the post office box for sending letters to that girl.

She starts again.

HER:    Nitakuuliza tena mara ya mwisho. Hizo ni nini?

ME:     I don’t know.

HER:    Hizo barua ni za nani?

ME:     I have never seen those things.

HER:    (She has closed her eyes and lifted her finger up). I will ask you one more time, if you do not tell me…

ME:     Mum, those things are not mine.

HER:    Just know you will tell me. Just know.

She picks the letters. She tells me to hold them, I refused. She gives me the eye. I take them. Some of the letters smell like they had been marinated in Brut perfume. The others smell so sweet, I really wished such letters were sent to me.

She goes to call Aunt Mary. And the headmaster, and the whole staffroom. Meanwhile, I am asking the God of Samson, to strengthen me one more time, so that I finish Hennery before I died. Just one more time.

My thoughts are interrupted by Aunt Mary. She is shouting,

‘Ochieng’, unaitwa. Na ukuje na hizo barua.’

I step out of the Staffroom, and the whole school is in assembly.

I susu again.

The headmaster is addressing the school. Our headmaster was a tall slim guy with a base. Useless guy. He watched all of us suffer day in and day out. He had collected money from parents to buy us a school bus and build a laboratory. Thirty five years later, nothing stood.

Long story short, my mum makes me read all those letters out loud. In front of the school. Before she punishes me. Wueh!


14th Feb,

Hearts Avenue,

The World,


Dear M,

 With love and commitment, strength and dedication, my heart racing, I pick up my pen to writes the invisible, the unfathomable, the majestic words, going through my mind when I think about you.

 In my heart of hearts, darling, I just want to decipher, how my angel from God’s heaven slept? I am sure you woke up on the right side of your bed, because there is nothing wrong, or left when it comes to you.

 Set my wondering and thoughts at rest. Did you sleep well?

 My heart beats for you!



H (He to the Ech!) Alafu akaweka ka wink hapo.

 DEDICATION: When I see you Smile – Uncle Sam.


I am struggling not to laugh. I am like, yaani this high school boy crush ndio inamsumbua hivi?


The whole school is laughing, some people look like they know who that is and others are just happy.


My mum is not smiling, she is standing right behind me. Aunt Mary is just laughing and saying, ‘Mayie!’


I begin reading the next one:


14th Feb,

Hearts Avenue,

The World,


Dear H,

 It was with greatest joy that I received your letter, with loving arms that I opened it, with glowing eyes that I read it, and with cherishing heart that I keep your words.

 Darling H, today is not February 14. Did this letter take very long months to arrive? If it did, I am happy. Because finally I receive it with fullness of joy.

 I slept well, after preps, swimming away in the soft as cotton city of half inch Slumberland. I slept dreaming of you, and I dreamt so much, I overslept.

 I missed breakfast, but I am full of love for you.

 I will be fine!



M (for MC Light).

 DEDIX: I wanna be down – Brandy.


Letter number three. The school is finished by now. Almost dying. Free entertainment. So now the school knows it is not me who wrote those letters, and I am happy, so now I want to pay back Henry properly. His next letter has only four lines:


14th Feb,

Hearts Avenue,

The World,


Dear M,

 Everyday is 14th of February, because you are my Valentine. We can meet at the school canteen at breaktime, and I will cause the rain of Mandazi and Fresh Milk to flood you my love.

 DEDIX: I’ll See You When You Get There – Coolio.


Since it is payback time I exaggerate the next letter. FINYOOOOOO


My Dearest M,

 In my heart of hearts, darling, I just want to decipher, how my angel from God’s heaven slept? I am sure you woke up on the right side of your bed, because there is nothing wrong, or left when it comes to you.

 Set my wondering and thoughts at rest. Did you sleep well?

 My heart beats for you!



H (He to the Ech!) Alafu akaweka ka wink hapo.

 DEDICATION: When I see you Smile – Uncle Sam.


The school is enjoying this. They are so happy. They are shouting, WE WANT MORE. WE WANT MORE.

Someone shouts, ‘Henry hapo umeweza.’

Another one, ‘MILLI TIBIM!!!’

The headmaster rushes in.

‘Now students. Do you know who this person is?’

‘Motego.’ The whole school shouts.

‘Who is this Motego? We do not have a Motego in this school!’ He shouts.

‘HENRY. HENRY. HENRY!’ Even me I am chanting.

And who is the lady?

The school shouts.


The headmaster can’t believe it. He is so mad he wants to shut down the school down.

I tell him, ‘Mwalimu I have 10 more letters to read.’

He tells me, ‘One more word and you get an expulsion.’

Assembly is dismissed. I am walking my mum to the gate.

She pulls my years, ‘Siku ile nitasikia umeandikia msichana mwingine barua na mimi mama yako hujawahi niandikia ndio siku ile tutapatana vizuri. Enda usome.’

She walks a few steps the turns back. And then she asks me, ‘By the way, if you had never seen those letters and they were in your textbook, when did you last open your textbooks?

I faint.


Creative Writer | Photographer | Filmmaker

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. The part where you fainted!!! 😂😂😂😂😂😂
    Too much!!
    Great work Pau! 💟

    1. Hahaha. Fainting was a time-buying device. It bought you a few seconds to decide what to do. And to pray.

      1. 😂😂😂😂😂 you are talented…

        1. Why, thank you very much.

          Work in progress.

          Thanks for being here.

        2. Me has died in laughter 😂😂😂😂😂Aargh, msee utanimaliza. Great story..Kwanza part two ati, If Mom was ever feeling well akikuchapa, you could be with Papa Abraham😂😂😂😂Nimecheka hadi nikaangaliwa

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