Monday, December 8, 2008

Growing Up



To this day, whenever I meet a primary school teacher, I give them a thumbs up in my mind. In primary school, I remember the kinds of cases they had to solve : ‘He called me a dog’, ‘she stuck out her tongue to me’ and my favourite- ‘she called me a boy’. Well, there is nothing wrong with calling a boy a boy, but when you call the same boy, boy in my mother tongue, it becomes a very big insult. I mention this because I was amused by this term and would use it liberally whenever I had the chance. So you’d over hear a boy almost in tears telling the teacher- I kicked her because she called me a boy in Kikuyu- A boy in Kikuyu is ‘Kihii’, an un-circumcised man. To better explain to the teacher the intensity of the insult, one boy Swahilinized the term Kihii and made it kipii, which was acceptable and the teacher understood how hurt the boy was.
One time I screamed the insult at a boy for throwing my keys out of the window and ruining my key holder.I never said I was sorry but he looked at me and thought of the meanest thing to say to me,, he said- you were born as a mistake.
Insults aside, in standard 6, my desk mate and I got very bored . I asked him if he could draw me something. He drew very well{ I wonder how he ended up. Maybe he does posters or is a graffiti artist now but back then he drew like a pro}
He took out his pencil and I pushed my Maths exercise book to him.
‘ How about Daniel’s foot,’ I suggested.
Now Daniel was a boy that walked 25 km every morning to come to school. He wore no shoes{ shoes were not compulsory then} and so his feet had adapted . The bottom was very tough and along the sides, the separation between the top and the bottom was so distinct it , both feet looked like a nicely baked block bread. In this case, the common bread was broadwayss.
So my desk mate J, drew a loaf of bread, and when I burst out laughing, the girl sitting behind looked over to see just as J was putting the final touches, 5 fingers.
‘ Is that Dan’s foot?’
We all laughed, and Dan, having heard his name came huffing to see what was going on.
He grabbed the book and we all looked at him smiling. You guessed, he didn’t see the joke. He did 7 steps to the staffroom. We got a nice beating.
The teacher on duty had asked in desperation, ‘ nyinyi watoto kwani akili yenyu imeoza?’
‘Kids, are your brains rotten?’

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