December 15, 2017

Horizon: A Stolen Boyhood 10

fatherhood

By Mwangi Macharia

There was an unusual silence on the assembly ground. Thick clouds covered the blue skies. They were getting darker by the moment. The teachers and the students were in a sombre mood. I did not know what was happening. The teacher on duty took the podium and cleared his throat. Mr Masinde led the morning prayers immediately. This was a rather unusual case. Every week he was on duty we would have songs and dance in the assembly. He was the music teacher. Yet today an odd gloom had caught up with him.

Immediately he finished, he dove straight into the announcements then invited the Head teacher, Mrs Mangao. She was still elegant papa. But today the beautiful face was darkened by an aura of sadness. “Good morning school?” she began. “Good morning Madam.” We all replied in a chorus. As she spoke no student could fidget for we knew her soft spoken nature was in her mouth only. Her beauty was subscribed to happiness but everyone knew just how suddenly all that could change and the hard loud echo of her lashes grazing your buttocks with unfathomed severity could be a reality. Yet for all that pain, warranted more often than not by the nature of adventurous children, we adored her.

But I was a good boy papa.

“Today is a good day that the Lord has given to us but a sad day as well.” Mrs Mangao continued. My heart began to beat fast. “We are morning the loss of one of our teachers…” I was now sweating, anxiety was rising. I did not know what to expect. The next thing I heard was Mr Mukandi’s name being mentioned. Immediately my mind clicked that it was Mr Mukandi who had passed on. I could not bear it. Tears began to flow, my systems were all shaking yet I dared not produce a sound for I feared the wrath that would befall me.

“How can he leave me?” I thought to myself. I loved him papa he had become a father that I never had. Despite his episode with mama I was convinced that he was still a good man. I had always wished that he could marry mama one day and we would be a happy family. But my dream was not as valid as I thought. If only you were around papa, I would not have had my heart broken. Now he was gone! How could this be? He had just left our house full of health a week ago and taught me four days ago and he still looked healthy.

That day was dull papa as I mourned a father yet I will never mourn you. The day dragged itself as I waited for the evening. I wanted to hug mama and break the news to her. It felt like a big job, a man’s job. But I was the only one to do it.

Evening came and as usual mama came to pick me up. I could not wait till she got to where I was. I dashed towards her and embraced her thighs tightly for that is the far I could reach. I began to weep. “Daddy, what is it?” she said this as she squatted. She wiped my tears and looked me in the eye then asked me the second time what was the matter.

“Mr Mukandi is gone.” I said amidst sobs. “Gone where?” she asked. I could tell that she was worried and concerned from her tone. “The head teacher said that he is dead” tears continued flowing.

“What?” mama could no longer hide her concern and love for Mr Mukandi despite what she had realised. Mama rose and held my hand and we began to walk home. Mama said nothing all the way.

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