The people of Mwisho wa Lami village may not be so talented in many areas but when it comes to spreading news and rumours, I am yet to find a village that can do better than my great hamlet. It is like keeping anything to themselves is painful.
And so when news that I had been “beaten transfer” to Daraja Mbili reached the uneasy ears of Caro, my sister and self-appointed minister for information, it was as good as announcing the same on Radio Ingo.
Within minutes, almost everyone who knew me had been made aware of my transfer. I received many messages of goodwill from family, close enemies and distant friends. Pius called to congratulate me and tell me that although we were never on the best of terms, he was happy for me and told me that to succeed as a headmaster, I needed to be strategic. He also reminded me to work smart, not hard. My sister Yunia also called and reminded me not to forget her at the end of the month.
The most memorable and emotional SMS was from Fiolina, the laugh of my life, and accomplished scholar at the world-renown Mosoriot TTC. It read: “My Deer hurby, Congrajulations on your Promotion to Glory that I hard. I wish you good lack in owl you do. Xoxo, Chao”.
Emotional as it was, I had no time for emotions, it was time to work. And the words of Pius kept ringing in my head: be strategic, work smart, not hard. I had planned to report to Daraja Mbili early Monday morning but after listening to Pius, I decided not to go there on either Monday or Tuesday, and I would not even go there on Wednesday. I spent those three days in deep thought, soul searching and strategic and forward planning.
At Mwisho wa Lami, I have always been a strategic thinker, and the only problem has been that since I reported to intellectually inferior HMs, it remained difficult to implement my strategic objectives. I may not be the headmaster of Daraja Mbili, but since I have overall responsibility of the school, here was a chance for me to implement my well thought-out strategies. So for three days, I thought, planned and wrote every of my plans down.
Come Thursday morning and I was ready to report. I was feeling fresh and intellectually stimulated after three days of thinking, planning and resting. I would have arrived at the school very early in the morning. But my new thought-led way of doing things reminded me that I had to find the school in its natural environment. I had to arrive incognito, incommunicado, like a commando. So I woke up and dressed in an old green Kaunda suit (yes I still have those) and mounted my bicycle at 8.30 am.
It was around 9.10 am when I arrived at the school. With no HM to hand over to me, I walked into the staffroom, greeted the three or so teachers that were in and introduced myself.
“Oh Karibu sana Daraja Mbili,” said one of the teachers. I asked them to call all the other teachers who were not in for a staff meeting in an hour’s time. The staff meeting started at around 11 am. There were only four teachers and although I can’t remember all of them, I could not forget El Nino. I had heard of El Nino before. A great friend of Saphire, he was nicknamed El Nino for his wetting of his clothes after heavy daily drinking. The only difference between him and Saphire was that however much he drank, however much he wetted his clothes, however late he got home, he would be is school early the next morning.
In the middle of the meeting another lady teacher arrived. You will not believe who she was. Xtash! Do you remember her? That grand lady whom I taught at St Theresa’s Girls and who I at once considered making my domestic student! Before Fiolina mesmerised me.
“Welcome Dre!” she said on seeing me and moved to hug me. All the other teachers looked down as Xtash and I embraced. Like in Mwisho wa Lami, hugging and embracing in public are still taboo in Daraja Mbili. “We have really waited for you,” she said happily.
“Oh so you teach here?” I asked her.
“Yes I help them as I plan for my next move in life.”
In the meeting I did not talk much. I just let them speak as I wanted to get to know the school more. I had thought the school went up to Class Five but I was happy to learn that its pioneer students had just joined Class Seven. And there was more good news. On hearing that I would be joining the school and given my track record, some parents from the neighbouring Mwisho wa Lami and Mikumba village had transferred their children to Daraja Mbili.
After the meeting, I asked El Nino to take me around the school. The HM’s office was closed with two padlocks and I wondered why. El Nino told me to ask the PTA chairman. “Do you know the PTA chairman?” I asked.
“I am sure you know him,” he said. “He is called Douglas, but everyone calls him Tocla.”
Tocla needs no introduction. He is Fiolina’s elder brother and we have not been on talking terms for some time now for various reasons. I had stopped buying him anything at Hitler’s after he made it a daily routine, and even formed a habit of borrowing drinks on my name whenever I was marked absent at Hitler’s. Secondly, I had told him off over his incessant demands that I pay more dowry.
The last time Fiolina packed her things and went to her parents place, I refused to go for her and she returned without me spending a penny on Tocla. Lastly, I had refused to stay with Tocla’s children in Mwisho wa Lami. He had brought his children to stay with us a few weeks after we got married and hoped we will stay with them and educate them.
“We used to have one padlock, but on hearing you were the new headmaster, Tocla came here last week and added this,” said El Nino. I needed no calculator to smell trouble.
“Do you know any other PTA member?” I wanted to see if I could use another member.
“I don’t know them well but I know a woman call Albina,” El Nino told me. Senje Albina. She was a distant cousin of my father and we had never talked for long. I had heard that she had complained that she was never rewarded for having seduced Fiolina for me. Who can believe that! Matters were made worse when we forgot to invite her for our wedding. Things went downhill after that.
No sooner had El Nino completed taking me around than Tocla arrived in school, accompanied by other parents. I remembered seeing two of them during Fiolina’s dowry negotiations.
From their eyes, it was clear that I was not welcome in there.
“Dre, director hajakwambia hatukutaki hapa?” Tocla shouted.
“Kwa nini?” I asked him.
“Tunakujua sana wewe,” said one of the men. “Hatutaki uharibu hii shule kama vile umeharibu Mwisho wa Lami.”
“Ulikuwa wapi kuanzia jumatatu?” another man asked.
I asked Tocla if he could open the HM’s office so we talk from there but he refused. Within a few minutes, more parents arrived. They were not the usual old parents but rather young men whom I suspected did not even have children at the school.
Sensing danger, I walked to the toilets. From the toilets, I jumped over the fence, and started walking to Daraja Mbili market, leaving my prized bicycle behind.
“Ndio huyo anahepa,” I heard someone shout and I took off. At the market, I boarded a bodaboda motorcycle and we sped off. I did not go to school on Friday but went to the Education Office to report what had transpired.
Surprisingly, the staffing officer only wanted to know why I had not reported on Monday.
“Serious parents will have problems with a headmaster who goes to school when he feels like,” he said.
“Go to school on Monday and if the same occurs, come back here and we will give you security,” he said and left. The County Director of Education was not in. Part of me feels like I should ask to be taken back to Mwisho wa Lami but when I remember that Xtash is at Daraja Mbili, I can’t reject this God-send opportunity.
As such, I will go to Daraja Mbili tomorrow. The first thing I will do is ensure that Tocla is nowhere near the school’s PTA, brother-in-law or no brother-in-law!