The Day I Ran Away from Class and Why I Reflect on That Day Today.
A lot of years ago, I was in class four. I had changed school for my upper primary school education. The change had more to do with location than with the identity of the schools since they were both public primary schools and with relatively average performances.
Given that I didn’t have the new school’s uniform, I had to continue using the old school’s uniform as I waited for inheritance time to come. Inheritance to mean, a time when my immediate older brother will outgrow his and then I would step in to inherit it up.
So, you can imagine my purple shirt in a pool of green uniforms. I was more like a single flower in a flourishing forest. Very conspicuous, short for that matter, fragile but very handsome; of course, I was the Mr. my school probably then.
Now I remember this specific day on a Friday while I was very new when our English teacher walked into the class. This day spelled of bad lucky given the topic he decided to tackle. I think the ‘topic’ was specifically chosen for my sake. It was writing.
Let me say upfront that if there is a guy who wrote as though he was marching to war; that man was me. I was fine with it though; the other subject teachers were okay with it too. For fact in my former school, I scored 100% in like half the subjects which essentially meant that the teachers there were able to read all I wrote correctly and properly except my English teacher in this new school.
His opening statement for that day, and I will quote, was ‘There is someone in this class who writes like a chicken.’ Chicken was food. I was left to wonder how chicken and handwriting found themselves in the same page. I didn’t mind because that person was definitely not me.
I was very wrong. He instructed all of us to pick our pens and hold them in our hands. I did exactly that. The next moment I found strokes of cane landing on me. I would later learn that my classmates had been taught writing, including how to write, all along and I was the odd one out.
I quickly saw what others had done and copied. This was the last thing I would want to copy. Anyway, I was left without choice. The next instruction was to write the alphabets in capital and small letters respectively. This was the easiest thing I had seen.
I quickly took up my pen and quickly wrote them as I knew. Another mistake. By this time, I only found myself under the desk. What had happened? I had been rained on with several strokes of the cane mercilessly until I sought safety under the desk. But the desk too was not doing enough of the safety thing and before long I ran out at a supersonic speed (that is how we used to write it for composition).
Enough was enough. I went out to the back of the class and looked at the teacher with a lot of pain and anger. He threatened and warned me but I had had it enough. I then proceeded to the tree farm in the school and climbed on one of them and remained there until the day ended.
You can imagine being up on the tree from 11:00a.m up to 5p.m nursing pain. In the evening I went home and shared nothing about what had happened lest I be beaten the life out of me still because I believed my parents may not understand or trust me. I dimly remember only saying something to the effect that I was not going back to that school again.
Come Monday morning and I was back to the same school, the same class but luckily a different English teacher because the former one had taken up a different upper class. It happened as a miracle. Luckily the new teacher was loving, compassionate, encouraging and inspiring.
He is the reason I can write this weekly pieces of article. The biggest change being that I am not using a paper and pen rather typing on a computer keyboard. Such is how life has changed. I was being beaten very hard to write well instead of being guided on how to write well.
Nevertheless, I was already part of a system where excellence was equated to the best grades and marks. The first of the folks in that line reaped really big, the cream when Kenya had gained independence and was supposed to be under self-rule. Those who went to universities after scoring good grades then found big jobs waiting for them. Interestingly, they started working even before they left universities.
Fast forward, I noticed the joy of putting that certificate, that degree or masters or even PhD aside and make yourself dirty by doing something out of skill or passion and being glad of the craft of one’s own hands. This is a preserve of the few though.
Had I stayed out of that class completely, maybe I could be a renowned village drunkard, yet still I could be the best artisan, welder, plumber or carpenter around. By getting out of that class, probably and in ignorance. I was training myself on how to handle dissatisfaction as much as it could be ruled as misbehavior.
And last week as I watched a friend weld a good table top, I discovered that I can walk out once more in this life and pursue satisfaction and happiness. I saw the possibility of putting aside my garments of decorum and aristocracy and putting on craftsman nobility as long as I would be satisfied with it.
Running out of that classroom may not have been the right thing to have done as I see it now, but it was the best then so that I can be alive today to help us appreciate that we have too many options on what to do with our lives to make them meaningful today than ever. Yet still if only we can bear the consequences of the risks we decide to take.