IT WAS TIME TO GO.  

No more intensive reading, I knew. No more follow ups by those high school teachers who relayed live updates on my academic progress to my guardians back home. Those teachers who would even call my guardians when I didn’t answer questions in class or whenever they noticed I was not in for their lessons. Those teachers who limited the amount of pocket money I received, the ones who would be advised to ‘work’ on me mercilessly whenever I didn’t perform well. I was not going to miss those teachers at all. But I am glad they contributed to making me who I am. How much contributions each made to put me here I can’t gauge but all of them had a role to play in shaping my life. I remember the teacher who constantly told us “kipuke to oonge. “ whenever we seemed careless with reagents during our Chemistry lessons. 

           I was to leave the following day, so a small send off party was organized and all family members invited. This time I was lucky because I knew I would go to school with some good amount of money. Of all the members of our extended family, I was the only who had sat for a main national exam that particular year so no family member would give an excuse for not contributing to my going to school, of course financially. Family members turned up in large numbers than I expected. You can be sure that for every family member I saw arriving, I virtually saw some good money in their pockets. A brief fundraising was done. Even people who by my view of things looked poor gave out some good money. This was love for their own. 

        That moment. That moment when we had to give back what we had received. There was this uncle who felt that because he had given out an amount of money he had never given elsewhere, should talk on behalf of everyone , giving advise as I go to school. This uncle was that uncle everyone feared in the family. He could say anything anywhere anytime and anyhow. I was anxious. What would he say? . Before he could talk the most religious member of the family, Uncle Dhidh was asked to pray. That day he prayed for quite a long. He told God so many things about me, things myself I have never told God. He prayed in a way you would think he was giving God first hand information and that God had absolutely no idea about me. 

        The speeches were brief unlike my expectations. After a series of best wishes, the family members left one after the other. Only the very close family members were left behind to give their very final remarks in another meeting similar to the one that had been held before but this one with fewer family members, the very close ones. In this smaller meeting, I knew they would not spare the rod and if any of them knew anything about me that didn’t please them, this was the moment. Oh my! 

     “Sid, I know you will be going to school tomorrow, “my dad began. He said a lot about me, nothing embarrassing. My mum sealed the series of advises from various people including my aunts and uncles. 

      “Sid, I know you. I know your hunger and thirst for ladies. It is better I say this in front of the family members so that in case this is the source of your destruction, let it be that it was a personal decision you made. “There, I knew there was more to come. There was surely more bomb to come. Honestly, I am that shy guy and ladies know that. How did my mother realize I have a hunger for ladies. I had been a committed member of the church and that, she appreciated. Where did the idea on my interest on ladies come. I made sure she noticed my disinterest in the whole conversation. Surely,everyone was listening  as my mother gave the worst version of me which I had no idea about. “I know you are surprised, I know so much about you that you thought I didn’t. Anyway that was just a joke. “ breathed a sigh of relief. Indeed it was a joke because the manner in which she talked about it. She looked half serious and half in a joking mood. All that while I hadn’t realised my aunts had been having fun about the whole thing. 

         “The point your mother is driving at is that, take care. There are so many ladies you are going to interact with in campus and unless you are careful, you will be carried away. “My grandmother cut my mother short. 

        “What does getting carried away mean? “I asked. Luckily, no one heard me speak otherwise I would have been subjected to serious discussions. How could I oppose my grandmother? “

         “We are getting late. Can somebody pray for us?” Father asked. 

         “Wait. Sid, may I talk to you briefly before you go to sleep, immediately after the prayer. I knew granny had some good message for me. Any time she ever called me aside, there was always something good in store for me.  

          As we shared the grace, I moved to granny’s hut for her final blessings if she had any. Such opportunities are never taken for granted. What if it was an opportunity to spit on my head. I am told that is how she blessed. “My grandson, go to school and study hard. I know you are not like those men who are possessed with matters ladies. That may change soon because you are going to a land far away, Kamba land.” All this, she told me in the absence of all the other family members. “Where you are going,” this, she told me in my mother tongue, “there is a lot of witchcraft, please take care. It’s better to stay hungry but not still from anyone there. Please.”

          She made it appear like I have never lived with people before and that I have always looked for the slightest opportunity to steal. I always appreciated her pieces of advise. They were always sincere, from the bottom of her heart. She wanted the best for me always. She then left me in the sitting room and dashed to her bedroom for a short while and came back. All of a sudden she began sneezing. She sneezed a number of times, uncontrollably and stopped. She dipped her hand in her pocket to give me a few coins. I realised from my interaction with her monies that she trusted me more with coins than she did with notes. The pocket she dipped her hand to God knows where it was. Her money was always beyond reach at any given time, thanks to that short, extra large inside but tightened at the waist by a sisal rope that was replaced quite often. It had pockets enough to keep a toddler safe from danger. Out of that pocket only came, fifteen shillings. “That is for tea. Make sure you don’t stay hungry.”

          I left to go to sleep. 

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