Although this year’s August holidays were the shortest in the history of humankind, due to the financial challenges I had, they were very long. Extremely long. It was therefore a big sigh of relief when schools finally opened last Monday. Regardless of the problems I have in life, school is where I am always at my best. School is where my heart is always.
Due to my widely recognised expertise and the experience I have on pedagogical matters, no one judges me in school. Expect for a few enemies of development here and there, everyone respects me. School is where I thrive.
Like every responsible deputy headmaster, I was the first one at school, arriving at around 7.30 am when just a few students had arrived. No other teacher had arrived, unsurprisingly so. This despite the fact that the evening before, I had sent a WhatsApp message to the staffroom group reminding everyone that this was one short term and that we needed to begin early. I had put Sella on duty.
I called her after arriving in school asking for her whereabouts. “I am not aware I am the teacher on week,” she said. “My phone got lost and the new one has no WhatsApp,” she answered when I told her I had sent a message on WhatsApp.
“You need to be here,” I told her. She said she was away in Maseno University meeting her lecturer. I am also a student at the larger, better and more pedagogical KU – doing a more superior course – but I am never claiming to be meeting my lecturer every time. Well, I can’t dispute that she was meeting her lecturer but maybe it was for a different reason other than academics!
I ensured that the school was clean, and called for parade. Only two other teachers, Nzomo and Kuya, had arrived. I simply told the students to go to class. As students went to class, I went to the staffroom and asked one of the two teachers to take over the duty that week in place of Sella.
“Not me,” said Kuya. “I actually came to get permission. I need to travel to Nairobi to sort out a few issues with TSC.” Nzomo also said that she had not gone home over the holiday and wanted to travel to Nakuru the next day. I went to my office, and started preparing for the term. We were all interrupted by the sound of a car coming to school.
Now a car is not a normal thing in this school, and the last few times cars came to school, they were inspectors. Within the time we heard the sound of the car and the time it arrived, Nzomo and Kuya were already class - don’t ask me how. I came out and started inspecting the school – my eyes on the car to see who would come out so that I act appropriately.
The car was parked under the mango tree very well, a clear sign that whoever had come with the car would stay for long. It was going to be a long day with inspectors, I thought to myself.
A minute later, someone came from the car. It was Bensouda. A young man also came out of the car and walked with Bensouda to her office, carrying her bag. A few minutes later, a boda boda came to the school and left with the young man. No sooner had the young man left than Bensouda left her office and walked around the school, car keys in her hand.
“Good morning Madam headmaster?” I said when we met.
“Good morning Dre,” she answered, “How were the holidays?” she asked. I told her it was short. She came back to the staffroom, but not before she passed by her car and took something from it.
We all met in the staffroom, for tea. By then Lena, Mrs Atika and Oscar had arrived. Bensouda joined us for tea, cars keys still in hand.
“Congratulations on your new car Madam headmistress”, said Nzomo.
“Thank you Nzomo,” answered Bensouda, a wry smile on her face. “We thank God for His blessings.”
Several other teachers also congratulated her. I had not known that that was what one says to someone who had something new. I hadn’t imagined it was her car as I kept wondering how one would be able to buy a car from our measly earning. Bensouda must be having a rich husband, I thought to myself.
Soon after tea, when the other teachers went to class, Bensouda walked to the car at least three times, twice to dust the car with a piece of cloth she had. And for the fourth time, she walked with me to the car as she wanted to show me around.
She opened the car and we got inside. It was a wonderful car. The only other better car I had entered before was my brother’s Mercedes Platz. Inside Bensouda’s car was quite good, with so many buttons to press to change climate, control radio, put on lights among others. She inadvertently started the engine and the car jerked abruptly but stopped immediately. It was a shocking moment. She tried to switch on the radio but failed.
We then walked around the car before going back to the staffroom. Behind was written Nissan Unny. The number plate was the newest in Mwisho wa Lami and its environs, KAP. I can’t remember the other numbers. “Everybody has a Toyota so I went for a unique car,” she said as we walked back. “This Nissan is very rare and strong car.” I believed her.
She showed other teachers the car at lunch time. After lunch, she called me to her office and asked me to get some good boys to wash the car for her. I got two boys who were too happy to get water from the river, and came to wash the car – under her strict supervision. I had to get two girls to get them more water as the wash was thorough.
The driver returned just a few minutes to games time. Bensouda called me to her office. She asked if we would behaving games and I agreed. She asked me to release the students. “I need to use the field,” she said. I didn’t ask many questions.
I released the students immediately. They were happy. No sooner did they start leaving school than Bensouda entered the car with the driver. Instead of driving out of the school, they went to the school field. When they got to the field, Bensouda then took the driver’s seat, while her driver took the passenger’s seat.
Most of the students, instead of going home, came to the field to watch the driving lessons. It was the first time in our lives we were seeing someone issue instructions to Bensouda.
“Kanyaga mafuta, Kanyaga na nguvu,” he would say. “Toa mguu kwa glach. Sawa achilia handgrade, ongeza mafuta,” The car would move very fast then stop. Bensouda was sweating and wanted to leave but the driver insisted that they continue with the lessons.
“Ni rahisi, angalia mbele wewe kurutu wacha kuangalia glach,” he ordered when she looked down to check where to step on. She tried again and drove fast. “Brake, shika brake, sio mafuta, shika brake wewe mama,” the speed increased and the driver had to act fast as they were headed to the road. They stopped just before hitting a tree, but after clearing some shrubs, with Bensouda loudly wailing.
Bensouda was so shaken by then that she left the driver’s seat. The driver took the driver’s seat and they drove off. On Tuesday, she did not come with the car, but she came with it on Wednesday and Thursday. It was the same as Monday, regular visits to the car, she dusted the car at least thrice, it was thoroughly washed in the afternoon before driving lessons at games time.
By Friday she had improved and could drive slowly but with the driver with her.
“Once I know how to drive well,” Bensouda told me on Friday, “I will take you for a road trip.” She also promised to teach me how to drive. Interesting times lie ahead!