There was Kim back in our hey days in Nakuru High School. Few of the national schools that existed before every other bush school became upgraded to national schools. Before you ask me how life is treating me now that I’m bragging of having schooled in a national school, let us talk about Kim. If Kim was me, he wouldn’t brag. Never saw that braggadocio in him, even when he was a warrior in many niches.
I don’t recall when I met Kim. Despite us being classmates, stream E, it would be possible not to meet immediately in form one until sometime later when I got to know him. Somehow, we met, in ununderstood circumstances- the peak of it being in form 4E now that everyone lets down their guards in form four. Students develop tight friendships in their last years, they shed off their egos and attitudes. There is this smooth lining that remains when we become real to both ourselves and our friends.
Suddenly, life becomes easy. There is nil need for us to hide any longer or pretend. We free ourselves from chains we put around our lives and allow that sparkling spirit of humaneness to drizzle down to others. We no longer care about the flaws that stain our foes now turned buddies. Everyone becomes the inevitable friend you need to have. Life takes such a huge turn and our friendships become tighter.
Maturity takes over and suppresses our hormonal mischiefs. We spend more time together. You’ll find form fours hurdled somewhere together often, having banters and genuine laughter. They share meals, money, garments and all that is at their disposal. All these is because KCSE is a common enemy. That is why all of them have to team up and beat Wasanga who then was waiting around the corner (Matiang’i now is). Each of us needs to hone their skills because we understand the compelling urge to perform well and kiss the gates of varsity when others are doing the same.
So I familiarized myself with Kim in fourth year. I have stellar memories of him while we were in 4th year. But much happened before we got to form four.
I really want to use Kim. But in a country where your name can betray you because tribalism is one of the beef brawn pieces that we eat every day, saying Kimani is of great importance. There is some niggar somewhere who needs to read Kim in full so that he can know whether there is a need for him to finish reading this article. If he sees a Kikuyu name, then he’ll sit his ass and read it because ni mtu wetu. It has reached a point in our lives as Kenyans that everything boils down to tribalism.
Kim was of medium height, like 4’8 there. He had a broad chest with heavy shoulders. Strong jaws followed his face. He had this soft look of a sap but another outlook of a lunje. I guess he was a crossbreed. He stayed in Magadi dorm while I resided in Turkana. Magadi was nick named palace because it has this design of a palace. Did it have privileges of a palace? Kim will answer that. I only entered Magadi thrice in my entire four years, I didn’t see anything heavenly. Though it later burnt up in a very blazing inferno.
It was a doomsday when we watched helplessly from a distance as the electric fire consumed the once beautiful dormitory in anger and brought it down like a giant monster having a glorious day. I was not shaken at the sight, but sure enough, the fellows who resided there and were crying beside me influenced my emotions. I have never comforted a man ever in my life but that was my time to shear the ego and hold one broken soul in my arms and let it simmer in my soft heart. Kim also lost everything.
He is not the kind of man who exposes his emotions on the face. But in his tranquil and emotionless face, you can know when he is thinking hard about something. During that day, we were in our third year I guess, I saw that look in his eyes. Whenever he thought of something, he would look down. Like the answers were on the ground.
While we kept lying low in the score sheet, Kim would appear in top 20. Top 20s were given a loaf of bread. I was one of those who would book a piece of the bread even before the results were released. There was a time I had dreams, dreams of becoming a pilot but they got lost when I started hitting on sugar-mamas and losing my head around money and exuberant lifestyles. I later got fucked up with nerve infection on my left foot and later in from four, ulcers made my life miserable. I could not chase dreams while I chased all these ailments away at the same time.
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Somehow, Kim hated this art teacher who lived next to Magadi House. Well, we used to call our dorms Houses. I have never known the reason but I have my reasons. When we entered form one in 2008, Nakuru High was infested with huge students. They were big men who looked like they were being bred on chicken mash on a daily basis. Some had beards. We feared them now that our generation was one of the pygmies. Even at my 5’7 at that time was a drop in the sea. There were tall and well-fed men. I was a shadow.
There was a wind that some of these guys were getting a share of her pussy. Her house was just adjacent to Magadi House. A 20 second brisk walk. Separated by a mesh but there was a way there. So she was being smashed every other night with men from the senior classes. She was hot I could say, small bodied and wore glasses. Small, the kind that you would throw her legs on your shoulders and rock her pussy all night. There were days I would crave for her ass. I knew that she was beyond my league because I was a kid and she would despise me if I made attempts asking her for a swim in her river.
You would never make Kim mad. That is for sure. He never got angry or assaulted anyone physically or verbally. He never got angry. In most cases, I observed him take things in. He just kept them because they never came out. He was either smiling or quiet.
Unlike I who was quite cross and strict, he had no rules that he laid upon his life. His interaction was free with everyone. He liked everyone and we had the same reception towards him. But he knew when to read his books and when to do his homework.
In our third year, he was the prefect in charge of the environment if I am not wrong. Him in uniform and him outside, no major difference. He would only act if there was a teacher in sight. We would do all nasty things around him because we knew he wasn’t going to be a bitchy prefect to snitch on us like his fellow weak-ass prefects did. I need to know if life is according them that blue uniform and handing them beef burgers when the rest of us are squeezing bitter herbs down our throats shingo upande. He was a man of the people.
What I didn’t tell is that we called him Wakemanja. I asked George (read his story here) to ask him where that sobriquet came from. He told me that Kim gave it to himself. A year before, there was a guy called Anamanjia– who later became the vice president of the school. I once almost broke this guy’s neck when he wanted to pick on me because I didn’t obey his tiny ass. Thank God someone rescued him because I would be rotting in Kamiti right now.
Anamanjia was the kind who went to science congresses. One time he made this nice project that Kim drooled at. So he stole the name and made Wakemanja out of it. He too set out for science congress. I mean he was a genius, why not.
Life was closing in on us in form four. But life was getting interesting. We could steal tea meant for the teachers from the staffroom. There was a door directly proportional to our class that led us directly to the table where tea was. At around 4.30pm, we could hang out outside our class which was near the staff room waiting up for the tea. Kim had this tall green mug. The rate at which he stole tea made me believe that he was actually a lunje. Only lunjes could risk their lives that much just for a cup of thick tea.
Wakemanja ended up in the University of Nairobi to pursue a degree in architectural studies. As you can guess, it is a tough course. I met him late last year in town. We sat in Sizzling Grill restaurant and had some tea because I was late for a mbuzi that was being put up by a summer bunny cousin of mine. You couldn’t detect much change but there was something, wisdom.
Later in the evening we met, it was around seven and we sat in one of the city council’s benches near bomb last garden. Being a Sunday, the streets were lonely and the night was silent. We shared a chat. Life had changed his perspective. One thing I didn’t know was what he did during his free time. He only slept 4-5 hours. This course took so many things away from him in a way that he dreamt of buildings. He would walk around town, go around admiring buildings and wondering if one day he will walk around a building and say, “I’m the shit behind this state of art skyscraper.” I guess he would feel immense joy and deep inside he would know that his six years of study were not a waste of time.
Right now he is in his sixth year. Doing what he does best. Rulers, laptops, tape measures, manila papers, and sleepless nights. If you meet him in the streets you wouldn’t notice him. He is no attention seeker, just a man of his own kind. Cool but with such positive aura.
I never knew anything about his life or that of his family. Beyond us being classmates, there was a wall he never let people into. Mysterious guy.
Off record, I’m glad the elections are over so that we can get back to our hustling shacks and make some money, live our lives and worry about nothing. Therefore, let us cease from being proxies of hate and chaos. Just like y’all come here to read without giving a thought of my shady background, do so in real life. No contempt, just immense love.
Mzangila Reader of the Month
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Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?