I have seen a few monos in the streets this week. You can tell a mono from a mile away, you can smell even a mono. You can see it in the clothes, brand new, with ridiculously sharp iron lines, blindingly shone shoes, crudely knitted names on the sweaters, shirts and sometimes, even pants. And the faces, the faces betray monoism, frightened eyes, wildly chewing jaws, bouncing steps (fake confidence). I see them and I shake my head. If only they knew where they are going.
Reminds me of my mono moment, years ago.
I was a fresh ntane, initiated into a full Meru man after Primary School, right before High School. So I was swollen. I mean, fat (when people are circumcised in Meru, they are secluded and fed. It was said, your only work in seclusion was to eat, lie down and poop, so it was a mother’s prestige when her son came out with closed eyes, I mean, fat cheeks and fat eyebrows).
When I was called to Miathene Boys’ I was both elated and sad. It was my first choice and it was the first time I would be leaving home for a long spell. ( Mother and I had shunned boarding school in Primary). My most hated aunt (everyone has that one hated relative) said Miathene was far and she wouldn’t come for Visiting Days (I was happy she wouldn’t be coming to see me, anyways) but I was scared. Where was this Miathene? Why did I choose a school I had no clue where it was?
But then, I was now a man and wasn’t allowed to tell my parents I was scared. I was gonna be a man and go.
So, we went out, did shopping and got ready, and did the normal monoism rituals. We had the uniform marked, and the dictionary and Atlas and the Bible (given to me by the Church) written in blocky red on the sides and random pages inside. Even my metal box was taken to a paint artist who wrote in a fancy font, FRANKLINE M. KIBUACHA.
I couldn’t say I needed boxers so I waited till the last day and told Kathee, my day father (LOL, that’s the person who takes care of you inside seclusion).
To Dusty Miathene in a Landrover!
A neighbour gave us his Landrover, and people to fill it started queuing for a place. By the leaving day, we were a full Landrover. It was open at the back, so about 10 of us stood back there and started the journey. The son of the village was going to high school and the whole village had come to take him there (It was such a big deal then in Gitura). Those who didn’t go gave me tokens. I was loaded.
When we branched off the main tarmac road at Kianjai, I started praying that this was a shortcut and we would soon join tarmac past Meru town. There was no way I would be going to school in such a dry, dusty place! Yes, it was so dusty we took lesos and covered our heads (even the circumcised me).
And we covered several kilometres of this, with the February sun shining angrily at us for daring disrupt it’s beauty sleep with a trail of dust and the roar of an old Landrover. We soon came to a Market called Miathene and it all dawned on me. I would be spending 4 years in this godforsaken place which was definitely not what I had signed up for. The owner of the Landrover had an aunt in Miathene market, Mrs. Nkumbuku and she had a shop. We passed by her and she committed to be my mother, that I was to lack nothing.I. oils the anything on credit and she would be paid back. If any problem arose at school, she was to be there for me.
We then drove into the school. Dry, brown playground with grass drying from the hot Tigania sun, old timber and mabati buildings before you came to the Administration Block which had a roundabout that held the flag post. Students came out to stare and point at our vehicle. Our Landrover had made quite an entrance. 🙂
We hopped off. The murram felt punishing under my Landrover-lagged feet. I looked around, there was a long queue of metal boxes snaking to the Admin block, which looked like a classroom. It was after classes, the bigger boys were already milling around to take a look at the monos. Some were too huge, some had beards (imagine beards in high school) and many had these menacing looks – more like predators waiting for their prey to finish up admission into the jungle. I was scared.
Luckily, two bigger boys came forward. Morris (a menacing Form 4 from my village, who I didn’t even know was a student) and Felix (a Form 2 who had spotted my cute cousin Doreen). I heaved a sigh of relief. With these two, no one was going to touch me! And they assured as much – Morris to my parents, and Felix to my cousin (he clearly had a crush on her, which helped).
Touch him again, Mono!
When we were cleared to go to the Dorms, I walked ahead carrying my bucket as Morris and Felix carried my box. Suddenly, a boy came out of the blues and ran a rough hand across my face and announced that he was “removing cobwebs” while trying to snatch the bucket from me. You should have heard the slap Morris gave him!
“You touch him again and I will kill you, MONO!”
He was a Form 2, and to a Form 4, everybody up to Form 3 was a mono! And I was happy to be his mono.
The following few days were so interesting, I should make a movie out of the experience.
Main Pic: Njugush. Source: Standard