Boarding school. Funny how just two words bring up a lot of memories for most of you out there, isn’t it? That loud matron, the warden who would keep watch for those loitering out at late hours, stealing your first kiss after night preps or slipping a note into your sweetheart’s hand as you trade goodnights, staying up late at night making ‘solu’ when ‘kawu’ has hit, I could honestly go on. But why don’t I let you take a trip down memory lane before you continue reading? There you go. Each story has a different ending for you, doesn’t it? Anyway, the story I am about to share is for those of you who barely had a reputation to keep, so to speak. To explain this, let’s start with breaking down the ‘levels’ that we managed to mentally place upon ourselves back then.
First, there were the cool kids. The kind that every guy wanted to be associated with. It didn’t matter if you were seen with their flask or notebook. To anybody else, it looked like an endorsement of sorts. A kind of badge that said, “Look fellas! I’m cool now!” Of course, these chaps hung with the coolest girls, snuck in the coolest gadgets, and had cartons of goodies delivered to them during visitation. Furthermore, they somehow managed to keep their academic record clean despite all the ‘chilling’ they did. They never quite stood out as ‘bwats’ and neither did they get singled out as failures. Whatever methods they used, it gave you a bit of weight to be seen with them. Obviously, I never fit into this category no matter how hard I tried. Believe me, I did. But I was too lousy anyway. I can name names though. Just treat me nicely.
Then there were those who knew what school was all about. An education. We called them ‘bwats’ since they were always the ones who teachers used as an example for those of us who did less than average at every academic assembly. We got so used to them walking all the way from the back of the assembly to receive their awards that any other person doing the same would cause jaws to hit the floor and eyebrows to worship the ceiling. Always dressed smartly with either a book, mathematical set or ruler in hand (most times all three), it was somewhat reassuring to see these guys anywhere on the school compound. A sort of flag that said, “You are at school now. Act like it.” On the other hand, they also had the power to dampen the mood without trying. I mean, imagine you’re thinking about what to tell your crush after she said she likes you too only to see mathematical set-boy rushing to class, which would be the reason as to why you now remember you have a test tomorrow you didn’t read for. What are you going to tell your crush now, huh?
This other category is probably universal, I should say. The teacher’s pet. As the name suggests, they were always at the teachers’ every beck and call. They were the kind who would become prefects at merit alone. No surprise that a handful of them would actually cause the suspension and dismissal of many a few students. Well, it was common knowledge that many of these ‘teachers’ pets’ turned into ‘snakes’ eventually. For those not following, I mean spies. ‘Snitches’ is a more commonly used word these days, I’m told. You couldn’t even make ‘solu’ in peace with these guys on the prowl. It would definitely get you at the receiving end of a swinging bamboo stick at the Monday assembly under the pretext of loitering during lights out. Well, whoever came up with the ‘Taamu egeenda n’ebyaayo’ mentality sure helped make way for how to get one (or several) back with these fellas. For those who don’t know, it directly translates to ‘The term goes with its own’. Which basically means since the term is ending, I can get away with kicking some snitch butt.
Now, let’s talk about the one group that made boarding school all the more enjoyable, the misfits. Living up to the name, these guys were always waist deep in any trouble that arose but somehow managed to get away with maybe a few whacks on the backside or even a suspension. At most they’d have to bring their parents to school to receive their punishment in front of the whole school. Of course, we’d only cheer for them. Heavy pats on the back would welcome them as they joined the rest of us after getting their punishment, only for them to go back to the old routine of rule-breaking. Sleeping in during morning prep was their breakfast, dodging afternoon classes after a heavy meal for a nap in the sick bay their refreshment. They gave prefects the hardest time and it was always a form of entertainment for us seeing one of these dubious characters go head to head against a prefect we all could not get along with. Of course, no one but teachers would side with the prefects. That’s how they managed to get away with most of the stuff they did. The cooks adored them, the askaris loved them and the girls fawned over them. We wanted to be them but we didn’t have the guts. In a way, they were a way for the rest of us to tell the administration to shove it, and we loved them for it.
The other bunch that we found no fault with were the ‘chillers’. I call them so because they were exactly that. These guys had no problems with anyone. They were really cool guys, but somehow had their fingerprints in whichever mischief arose. Of course, it was always a misfit who would take the fall but we always knew who else was involved. Proving it was something we never had the time to pursue. That was for the snitches. You could say they were a watered down version of the misfits with a dash of ‘cool kid’. What’s more is that the teachers actually liked these fellas. Just a word from any of these chaps and the cooks would give you more food. They were that cool. What set them apart from the ‘cool kids’ was that they didn’t have cliques. They fit in wherever they chose to be. Plus, they never played around with girls. They were faithful to the hilt.
Now, I’m sure many of you had a few…….weird characters in your boarding schools. Those that seemed to be a bit off, if I may say so. It seemed like they ran on their own time-table. Let’s just go out and say it, shall we? They were confused. We shall go ahead and just use the shortened term ‘confus’(pronounced confuse). Not really talkative, these guys were an enigma of sorts and if you took the time to carefully observe and try to understand them, you’d end up more confused than a chef in a mechanic’s garage. I kid you not. They could walk into a room, totally oblivious to whoever is in that room, do whatever they needed and move out. On more than one occasion, it would be a room or place they have actually never been to. I would have found my own with these guys but I was too busy trying to be cool to realize it.
Well, you probably think the ‘confus’ were weird, but I assure you, they had nothing on this particular personality. There was probably one in every year of class. These guys never fit in wherever they decided to be. They couldn’t be cool, didn’t really make it to ‘bwat’ status, sure as hell couldn’t stomach the idea of telling on others but the misfit status was lost to them like a water on fire. They could never pull off being ‘chiller’ and they definitely weren’t confused. They were simply…..there. Like that one irritating pebble you notice around the compound and decide to do away with it. Only thing is that when you pick it up to toss it away, you don’t know where to throw it so you put it back where it was. Time and again. Until you just learn to ignore it.
I am sure there are other characters I might have skipped but the stage is now set. If so, do tell. For now, which one were you? Which character is on your stage?