High School Memories
Bear with me once again, if you will, as I recount on yet other wonderful memories I had at Starehe Boys' Centre. As I have said before, I am just developing a hobby of reflecting on my bygone days, both the heart-warming as well as the buttock-clenching ones, with the aim of either gleaning valuable lessons or enjoying my life again. And that hobby, which is turning out to be more refreshing that watching a wacky movie, is inspiring me to live an honourable life while still a youth so that I can get to enjoy it again when I grow old physically through beautiful memories.
And for today, I will narrate the encounters I had in my high school stream at Starehe Boys' Centre, that's 4F Class of '05. We like calling ourselves The Mighty 4F.
Sometime when I was in Form 2 in 2003, I switched my classroom sitting position so that I could become a desk-mate of Martin Wamoni - a bright and a handsome classmate who challenged me to be a better student academically as I continually strived to beat him in examinations. At one time in second term that year, Wamoni together with two classmates behind me (Lawrence Sikuku & Kevin Maina) started to criticize me for having a layer of dirt behind my ears.
Back then, I didn't understand why I was dirty as my classmates put it because I used to shower everyday. Recently, I have been thinking the dirt behind my ears resulted from playing volleyball on a dusty court that was later tarmacked, I think in 2006, thanks to persistent follow-up by my volleyball team-mate named Obadiah Mwangi.
Anyway, coming back to that time in 2003 when my classmates accused me of being a dirty ratbag, Kevin Maina stretched my hand during one lesson and started scrawling some stuff on it with a biro. It felt nice to have the biro massage my hand, so I let him do it.
Guess what? The following day, Kevin Maina stretched my hand again only to see the scrawling he had drawn the previous day on it was still visible which made him to tease me, "This Thuita doesn't shower properly!"
Haiya! I hadn't realized that Kevin Maina's motive for scrawling on my hand was to test whether I showered effectively. But thanks to him, I began to be more thorough in scrubbing my body during shower-time, a habit I have renewed in the past two months, and which I will strive to maintain in each day of the rest of my life, God-willing.
That time we were in Form 2, we chanced to have been taught Geography by a soft-spoken humble lady whose name I have forgotten. All I recall was that she was the wife of Mr. Juma, another teacher at Starehe back then. So let me call her Mrs. Juma.
One Friday afternoon, Mrs. Juma happened to have been teaching us on the last lesson of the day. As she was moving out of the classroom after she was through with her lesson, she told us, "Do have a wonderful weekend."
Seated on a desk near the front of the classroom, I shouted back, "And you too teacher. Rest in peace."
Mrs. Juma turned to look at me, and she was like, "What the hell?"
Then when I was in Form 4 in 2005, a classmate of mine named Mwiti Makathimo accused me twice of having bad breath. Again, I didn't understand why Mwiti smelled bad breath in me because I used to brush my teeth every morning after breakfast. But at least he made me more disciplined in brushing my teeth, a habit I have maintained to this day.
Like for the past two years, I have gotten into the habit of brushing my teeth every day after supper. And whenever I skip that habit, as I have at times done when feeling overly exhausted, I have made up for it by brushing the teeth in the morning after waking up the following day. I will keep up that habit in each day of the rest of my life, God-willing, not only to avoid the toothaches that I have heard some of my friends complain bitterly about but also not to discourage my future wife from kissing me. Oh, how I thank Mwiti for pointing out my bad breath back in those days!
By the way, that time I was in Form 4 in 2005, I developed an interest in reading Time and Newsweek international news magazines which my father used to buy for us at home. One afternoon, Mwiti spotted me carrying one of those magazines. He asked me to let me have it. I obliged. He looked at its cover page, then perused through it while asking, "Are there pictures of some beautiful women in this magazine?" When he realized there weren't any, he gave it back to me. I am not sure if Mwiti recalls that incidence but I do.
Yes, I have some wonderful memories that I had with my classmates in the Mighty 4F which continued even after we parted when our high school days ended in November 2005. Let me give you just one more example. Only one.
Sometime in 2011, I disclosed to my 4F classmates in a Facebook group I had created that I was feeling emotionally disturbed. Then Muthusi Muoma suggested that I needed "chemotherapeutical trivilis".
I didn't know what "chemotherapeutical trivilis" means, so I decided to request Muthusi to expound on its meaning. But to show him that I also know some hard English, I told him to "abjure sesquipedalian obfuscatory argot". To his credit, he took my comment in good humour.
My friend, that's the end of my true story, and I have had a nice time telling it. Thanks for bearing with me.
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An Enlightening Rendezvous
As you might probably know, I used to run a blog I called Polly. A former schoolmate of mine at Starehe Boys' Centre named Josh Komoth, who was a year behind me, was so impressed with the quality of writing in the blog that he asked me to meet him for a talk. At first, I thought he wanted to unload his problems on me, so I told him I couldn't commute to Nairobi. But alas! He offered to visit me in my beloved home-town of Kiserian. I had no choice but to tell him he was welcome to visit me.
He visited me on a crispy morning in 2015 on a date I have forgotten. But I remember Kiserian was muddy that day. It was Josh Komoth's first visit to my home-town, so he kept asking me whether he was in the right direction as he came to Kiserian. What impressed me most about Josh Komoth was that he didn't keep me waiting. He was punctual.
And alas! He was actually driving himself in a black hatchback. So it seemed he was actually more blessed than me was yet I had thought he wanted to unload his problems on me.
Because Josh Komoth was new to Kiserian, I showed him where to park his car and even advised him to close its windows just in case a dirty, light-fingered street urchin peeked into his car in search of sleek gizmos. Then I took him to a cafe owned by my friend Lincoln Kivuti. And I was pleasantly warmed when Josh Komoth asked me to order any meal which he would pay. We both ordered a cup of tea and a chapatti. Then we commenced with our talk.
He first began by extolling the brilliant articles I used to post on my Polly blog. I thanked him but I apprised him I had challenge of converting that brilliance, or rather knowledge, to power because, as I confided in him, I was still struggling with guilt, hatred, boredom, oversleeping and sometimes fear of people.
Then Josh Komoth chimed in, "Those are the kind of challenges that drive young people to alcoholism and drug abuse." I agreed, then swiftly added, "And prostitution!"
Back then, I didn't disclose to Josh Komoth that the articles in my Polly blog which he perceived as brilliant were actually full of lies, exaggeration and plagiarism. And it came to dawn on me that was actually the reason I was a Walter Mitty because since I started penning genuine stores that are truthful and original when I re-branded my blog to what it looks now, the quality of my life has improved significantly. Like for the past one month, I have successfully managed to wake up before dawn every day and I haven't been bored. I will strive to sustain the momentum for the rest of my life through God's amazing grace.
By the way, Walter Mitty is the main character in James Thurber's story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, who tries to portray his life as full of excitement and adventure when it is in fact ordinary. I suspect some of my friends on Facebook are Walter Mitties in that they try to show off in their Facebook posts of how exciting their lives are when in fact their lives are rife with strife and other vices.
Coming back to my rendezvous with Josh Komoth, I mentioned to him that I had learnt he worked with the Australian Embassy. When he told me it was indeed true, I asked him whether he had ever been to Australia. He said yes. Then I asked him whether he had been to any other country.
"Yes!" he blurted out, " I have been to Austria."
I suspect Josh Komoth thought I didn't know there is Austria and there is Australia. So when he told me he had been to Austria, I asked him, "That's Vienna?" He said yes.
Actually, I have known Austria since I was a young boy because my piano mentor, Prof. Charles Nyamiti, used to speak so highly of Vienna, the capital city of Austria, where the greatest classical music composers like Mozart and Beethoven spent much of their time. I will be very unhappy on my deathbed if I will not have visited Vienna in my life.
Again coming back to my rendezvous with Josh Komoth, he asked me that day whether I drew any inspiration from Che Guevara. As widely read as I consider myself to be, I have to admit that was the first time I was hearing of Che Guevara. I confessed to Josh Komoth that I didn't know who Che Guevara was but I noted the hero's name so that I could read about him later.
And later that day, I learnt from Wikipedia that Che Guevara was an Argentine revolutionary who loved the If Poem like I do. But unlike me, he was a staunch communist who was eventually murdered. Some pundits propound he was assassinated by the CIA which I think is because the United States government wanted to adhere to the Munroe Doctrine - a policy that says a foreign power that tries to interfere with the affairs of any nation in the Americas is also considered a threat to the United States.
Yet again coming back to my rendezvous with Josh Komoth, I remembered that day we met that Josh Komoth once broke his leg when he was a Third-former at Starehe Boys' Centre. That caused some complications as I will explain.
Starehe Boys' Centre is made up of two schools. There is the old school where students' dormitories are located as well as the school chapel, the dining hall and the assembly hall. And then there is the new school where most classrooms and laboratories are located as well as the swimming pool and the playing fields. Those two schools are separated by a highway called Gen. Waruinge Street. Starehe has a strict policy that all students, even the most senior prefect in the school, have to use a footbridge when crossing Gen. Waruinge Street as they move from old school to new school and back.
When Josh Komoth broke his leg, he couldn't use the footbridge. The school administration then instructed one of the school drivers to be ferrying Josh Komoth in the school van from old school to new school and back. And I observed that the school driver used to punctually pick Josh Komoth at lunch time. That the school administration cared about the welfare of Josh Komoth who was just an ordinary student without any high-ranking leadership position spoke volumes of how great a school Starehe Boys' Centre was. Thumbs up to the late Dr. Geoffrey Griffin, the then school director.
That day I rendezvoused with Josh Komoth in Kiserian, I reminded him about the leg injury, to which he reeled off, "Oh, that time I broke my metatarsal?"
"Eish!" I exclaimed, "Metatarsal - your word power is strong."
By the way, when I became friends with Josh Komoth on Facebook, I didn't know who he was because I think I used to know him as Joshua during our Starehe years. It's not until I saw his Facebook profile picture that I was able to connect the dots and realize he was the Joshua I used to see getting ferried in a school van.
And I have always wondered why he calls himself Josh Komoth on Facebook because that name sounds very European. If Josh Komoth happens to discover the cure for HIV/AIDS, a person reading about him for the first time on New York Times would be forgiven if he thought Josh Komoth was from Sweden. If I happen to rendezvous with Josh Komoth again, I will suggest to him that he calls himself another name that sounds truly African. A name like Tolulope Lodung'a Akeem. I am just kidding.