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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Leave Things As They Are Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Mbũrũ, Kenya Sep 5, 2006
Child & Youth Rights , Sports , Human Rights   Short Stories
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I do not know why she had to kill herself. We loved each other so much despite our age difference. I was still trying to figure out whether to go for one among the many when she quickly bumped into me and openly declared her love for me. At first, it seemed a cloud – it would pass, I assured myself – but how wrong was I!

I told her that I was not ready to get involved in such an affair considering that I was her teacher.

“Nyambura, I can’t befriend you,” I asserted one Friday evening. “My position is very decisive. More over, you are still young.”

She looked perplexed and stared at the ceiling.

“Sir,” she called, “I really love you.”

I wondered whether she was speaking the truth or just playing with my mind. It did not occur to me that a girl, sixteen years of age and in form two, could really understand the meaning of true love.

“Let me think about it,” I said. “Just give me three days...”

“Teacher,” she cut me short, “three days are more than enough. This passion has been inside me for a very long time. I can’t wait anymore sir. It’ll kill me.”

I kept silent. Did I hear right? What if the school administration found out? Was she sent by someone to test me?

“Irene,”, I called using her English name, “As I have just said, give me some time to think about it. This is not as easy as you think.”

She left almost hurriedly. It was already half past five yet the official leaving time was a quarter to five. My mind raced back and forth weighing up whether it was the right move I was going to make.

I was the Head of the English Department at Marururumo High School in rural Kenya and at only 23 years! All my other colleagues were well above thirty and had more expertise. I had graduated three years before from the University of Pwani with First Class Honours in Sociology.

When I sought for employment, the Principal, Mr. Chunga initially looked down on me.
“Are you the one?” he asked after perusing through my certificates.

“Yes sir.”

“But you don’t look this educated,” he said implying my small body.

“Sir, those are my documents,” I said.

“Can you check with us on Tuesday next week?”

I felt rather odd. Coming some 50 kilometres away hoping to get employed but it seemed that I would be quickly turned away. I had understood what his statement meant. I was not going to give up that easily.

“Sir, I’ll work as a volunteer,” I said.

This did not impress him. “Young man, I don’t know what you are taught in today’s universities,” he continued, “You very well know that you must be interviewed… We don’t employ quacks. Education cannot be compromised.”

“Sir, I understand. But give me a chance and you’ll be impressed.”

Mr. Chunga, a large heavy man, gave the impression of having been absolved into his seat. With a bald head, his face registered a twitch. His eyes, beady through the thick lenses, had given the impression to deign over me. He stood, headed to the cabinet and opened the middle drawer and took out a green file emblazoned: Subject Performance Sheet English Language.

“Young man,” he started as he showed me through the file, “This has been our English performance for the last three years. As you can see, the marks are going down every year, yet our teachers are experienced. In fact, the English Teacher is doing his Post-Graduate Diploma this year but these marks are really worrying.”

“Sir, if I don’t make the grades better, just fire me,” I told him avoiding his comments about the English teacher. He looked at me registering some frustration, which I did not know whether it was due to my pestering or the poor grades.

“Come tomorrow ready to teach.”

“Thank you, sir.”

* * * * * *

Monday came faster than I imagined. I had long forgotten about the agreement I had made with Nyambura the previous Friday. I arrived in the school at 6:50 a.m. two hours before the beginning of my first class. At university I had learnt the true meaning of the saying ‘time is money’ after failing to submit my research papers on time only not to make the grade in the unit I was undertaking. I had to re-sit the unit, at my own cost.

The month was June and so chilly that I could not hold my pen with my hands comfortably, though I managed to prepare my notes for the day. Time flew so fast that I did not realize I had written notes for all the classes. As I did not have anything else to do, I decided to stroll around the school to make myself warm. As I was walking near Form 2J, I noticed a group of students in convergence and making a lot of noise. I entered the class and put on an angry face – at least to look serious. The whole class got into a hushed silence. On the floor lay Nyambura unconscious. The scene was pathetic but so sad at looking at her miserable body on the floor. I got confused and asked an equally disarrayed crowd what had transpired.

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Writer Profile

I am a researcher on educational issues especially in the rural areas, with much emphasis on girls' education.

As a trained journalist, I have a lot of concern with the handling of the education sub-sector in Kenya and take a critical role in viewing the reforms currently being conducted to integrate education structures for the sake of the youth in Kenya.

One major aspect, sadly, is that Kenya has been sovereign for over four decades but has been the only African country besides Somalia not to have made education compulsory, free and basic. For Somalia it can be understood - the country had been in civil strife since 1992- but for Kenya the politics of the day have played a negative role in reducing the promotion of education to a system sheer competition, instead of progressive

Apart from that, I write fictitious literature.
Currently I am working on prose on love and betrayal and a collection of poems.
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