What you need to know:
- I told Brandon to be ready early next morning.
- I found three other parents with their children seated on a bench outside my office, waiting to be served.
As many of you know, when I sneezed three weeks ago, I decided not to take chances with my health – so I stopped going to school despite having no other Covid-19 symptoms.
As someone who listens to and follows science, I obeyed the wise counsel of my brother Pius, who said I could be an ‘asymbiotic’ case, which means I could have been carrying the virus without showing any symptoms. I did not get tested – there is nowhere to go for a test in Mwisho wa Lami –I just felt positive.
I must say I had another motivation. Or rather I had no motivation to go to school. Due to the BBI between Kuya, my close enemy at school, and Bensouda, our female headmaster, I was increasingly being rendered useless at work.
I was being asked to teach, which everybody will agree is below my sharp intellect, my invaluable abilities and my renowned competence. A senior teacher like me who should already have graduated from Kenyatta University with a Bachelor of Educations Degree – were it not for the small matter of a niggling Statistics course – should only be involved in school strategy, policy direction and shaping the pedagogical philosophy of education.
So when I started feeling Covid-negative last weekend, I decided to go back to school on Monday, even though I did not take a test. More importantly, I had missed the staffroom tea and lunch.
I arrived at school to find Kuya seated in my office. He had broken into the office and changed the padlock.
“This is school property,” he said when I wondered why he had broken into my office. “It is not your house where you keep the key in your pocket.” He went on: “What if you had died from corona, you think everything would have stopped here?”
He said he would only allow me to pick pieces of chalk and books.
With no meaningful access to my office, I left for home early. To my surprise, I found Brandon at home, and wondered why he had come back that early. “I was asked to go to school with my parent tomorrow,” he said.
When I asked him why he had been asked to do so, he said Alex, the teacher who sent him home, had not given him any reason. I called Alex immediately.
“Which student are you talking about?”he asked. I gave him the name and description. “I am still new in this school so most children confuse me with other tutors. But if I asked any student to bring a parent and you are the parent, just come with him tomorrow,” he said then disconnected.
What was giving a mere teacher confidence to speak to a deputy like that? I wondered.
I told Brandon to be ready early next morning.
We left home at around 8.30am.
I found three other parents with their children seated on a bench outside my office, waiting to be served. Since I had a lesson from 9.20am, and all the parents knew me as the Deputy HM of the school, I passed them and entered the office, where I found Alex and Kuya holding a discussion with a parent and his children.
“Mwalimu, could you please allow us to finish with this parent?” Kuya told me so respectfully that I obliged. When I tried to get in after the parent left, Alex told me they were following the queue. “I know you are a teacher here, but today you are a parent,” he said. “The other parents arrived before you, let’s respect them.” I did not want to cause a scene so I waited, but deep down I was seething with anger.
It was past 11am when we were allowed into the office.
“I did not know you had a son in this school,” started Alex. “But how did I not notice? Brandon is a photocopy of you.”
“Brandon is not my son,” I told him, without explaining. Alex was too young to understand.
“I want to know why he was sent home. I have provided him with everything, and he’s been coming to school daily,” I said. Looking at his tattered uniforms, I added: “If its uniforms, don’t worry, I will buy a new set mid-next year.”
“Mwalimu, don’t worry about uniform,” said Kuya. “Tunajua uchumi ni mbaya. The issue is that Brandon has not been coming to school for over a week.”
I told them off. Brandon had been going to school every day. “Let’s leave the children out of our differences.”
“Calm down, Mwalimu. Maybe he has been leaving home but not for school,” said Alex, adding that Brandon is naughty.
He then asked Brandon why he had not been coming to school
“Tulikuwa na corona nyumbani,” he said, looking at me. I was speechless, not knowing whether I was angry at Brandon or Alex and Kuya. “Hatukukuwa tunatoka kwa nyumba.”
“Come on!” I lifted my hand to slap Brandon but was stopped by Kuya. “No need to punish the boy for doing the right thing.”
“Brandon did not have corona,” I told him angrily.
“How come? I thought you were away for two weeks because you all had corona?” asked Kuya.
I told him he was not my boss and I was under no obligation to tell him why I was away.
I called Nyayo immediately and when he arrived, I asked him to take Brandon to his mother Catherine. I was not going to stay with a truant who was bringing me shame. Not in these Covid-19 times!