- September 29, 2020
By the time I went back to Anestar accompanied by my mum, it was chaotic. The students who started the fire were in police custody. This is where I write with a heavy heart. Because God loved me, undeserved love, which I will never understand. No one beat me up, unlike the fate of the other culprits. I was only asked to speak the truth. Kneeling, watching a sombre mum stare at me, I narrated the whole story to the teachers. I wasn’t arrested.
One Mr Mbuthia said to mum, “Your son has great influence. I hope you teach him to use it well, he can be a great leader. We however no longer want to see him here. We give you ten minutes to get his stuff and leave, otherwise, he will be arrested too.”
And for me, Mr Mbuthia had these words, “Instead of fighting a system, work with the system to make it better.”
My story will be incomplete if I don’t mention my alma mater, Fanaka High School. A small school in Narok town that took me in. Okay, it was small back then, but now it has developed and is one of the best schools in Narok, having split to have Fanaka Boys, and Fanaka Girls.
The director Ayub Muriu, a bishop at Redeemed Gospel Church International, Narok, took me in with open arms. At a time when no other school could look at me. His wife, the principal, told me, “I know what you’ve done, and where you’ve come from. And I want to give you another chance.”
Mama did not give up on me. She prayed for me. She loved me. She still risked paying my school fees.
And so it was that in September 2011, I joined form two at Fanaka High School. With regret in my heart, a backpack of mistakes, and a clean slate. I still messed up more than once, as transformation is a process. I was still finding my way, but this time keen to mend my broken life.
I found God and even became an official in the Christian Union. That’s a funny story for another day. I founded F.B.I.; Fanaka Bureau of Information, a journalism club that shaped the lives of more than fifty students. Before I left Fanaka having satisfactorily completed my secondary school education and qualified for university, we had issued numerous certificates to students for outstanding reporting as journalists under my lead.
Here, I also found the admiration of teachers from the language department, who inspired me to dream again of being a writer. Earlier on in primary school, at age twelve, I had discovered the now-defunct Maasai Education Discovery (a library that was founded by the current Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina), where I fell in love with novels and dreamt of writing.
I also served in the school as the entertainment captain, and assistant dorm captain. After, I teamed up with Isaac Muigai and founded the Royal Youths for Christ, a group of church youths using their talents to serve God. I wrote scripts which we acted out, and started performing spoken word poetry in church. This gave me a sense of belonging.
I went on to join the Co-operative University of Kenya and became my mum’s pride. Twice I was featured in the campus magazine for publishing a fictional book in a business institution. In December 2018 I graduated, the top student in the human resource management class.
At campus, I met mentors like Kirianki Imanyara, one of the finest Co-operators in Africa, who taught me to dream and be fearless. I also met Steve Muthusi, a cognitive psychologist and author of Stir Up Your Potential, with whom I visited secondary schools, taught personal development, creative writing, and shared my story.
On my 22nd birthday, I spent the day at Fanaka High School where I planted forty-four trees and had a chat with the students.
I regret my mistakes but I am grateful for where I’ve come from. Make no mistake, I still haven’t fully found my purpose. I fall. I cry. I mess up. At only twenty-six, I’d like to call myself a work in progress. But at least I handle it, and in nine years now I haven’t hurt mum, she speaks highly of me. A cliché but I must use it, I am the apple of her eye. You should have seen her joy when I launched my first book, and when I graduated, and when I got a job. She listens to me and she believes in me.
Lesalon Kasaine currently works in the content department of Transread Technologies. He also volunteers with the Personal Development Challenge. His latest book, Three Bolts from the Blue is out now available on Amazon and in hard copy. Although the book is largely crime fiction/a thriller following the life of a detective in Nairobi, in the last story, he tells the fictional tale of teenagers who sneak out of school – something he’s a bit of an expert at.
Extract from When It Goes South, a story in the book Three Bolts from the Blue:
I jog my way through the manmade forest and then climb over the wire mesh that forms its border at the end. I land into a neighbourhood I am familiar with. This is my hometown. Mum thought it best to enrol me to a close-by school. That way she could easily monitor me. Or so she thought. I skin my way through the road, taking frequent turns to avoid the crowded paths.
I have cocked my hoodie over my head, covering half my face, and my hands I have shoved inside the pockets. I walk casually, doing my best to look normal so as not to draw undue attention. I have done this many times, so I know the supreme rule. Keep your head down and eyes up.
I just need to get to Vampire’s house, buy some weed, and then be on my way back. Evanso is covering for my absence. The plan is watertight. It cannot go tits up, leading to a drastic turn of events.
Fifteen minutes later, I sink through a rusty black gate. The last rays of the day’s sun bounce off its flaking paint, creating a jagged kaleidoscope of colours. I walk straight ahead, pushing my way past freshly draped laundry on hanging chords. There are doors lined up on either side of the decrepit plot. Vampire’s is the furthest one on the right, next to the pair of communal bathrooms. As I approach Vampire’s door, heavily wet lingerie slaps my face. Whack!
“Ew,” I mutter, scrubbing at my wet face, especially on my lips. I look at the lingerie, stretching down from the hanging line, dripping wet. From the size, I can tell it belongs to Vampire’s heavyset next-door neighbour. The thought of where it covers makes me feel as though the roadside mutura I just ate is rushing up my throat. I put a hand on my chest, willing myself not to vomit. Once I am sure that nothing is rising from my belly, I look around. No one is onto me. I pull up the single peg holding the loincloth and it falls to the floor with a sputtering thud. I then stamp a foot on it, before proceeding to Vampire’s decaying door. Everyone calls me a hellion; I guess I look the part. I might as well act the part.
The bell sharply rings to announce supper’s end and that we should all be back into our respective study groups. Tonight, mine will discuss Moles. Chemistry. God, I hate school. I hate whoever came up with such a pretentious notion of monastic living created to soothe the hearts of parents who in reality have no time for their children. I hate Chemistry too. I always flunk it, and my dad might one day rip out my throat for scoring in the shameful ranges of D’s and F’s. A medical lab technician, he yaks on about how he used to score straight A’s in his heyday. He even voices his shock at how his clever DNA could have possibly skipped me. It would not surprise me to find out if he doubts my relation to him. My mum, a nurse, runs a warehouse of secrets, you see. But since they were both bright bulbs in school, it makes me a blot on the escutcheon. The black sheep of the family, if you will.
I walk casually towards the classroom to pick my books and then head to the library, where my group huddles. I glance at my watch. Ten minutes to 7 P.M. Any time from now, Roy should jump over the wall, sneaking back in with our spliffs. A wicked smile flirts with my lips. Tomorrow, the neighbouring Furaha girls’ school will visit our school for sports and fun day. We shall be ready to mingle. Furaha high school started as a mixed boarding school before the director bought up land some three kilometres away to start a separate school for the girls. Any reunion is usually a great time. A bad boy reputation is the currency for any potential relationship with the girls.
It is only when Mr Irungu, my class teacher and the school’s discipline master, stands outside the administration block with hands held back that students run to class. I break into a jog, my heart pounding, as I very well know that the next few minutes will be tense. I have to get my books, leave them at the library, excuse myself, and then head to the wall to await Roy’s return.
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