I had a dream the other day-the kind that transports one back in time- visiting day in Form one to be precise. There were plenty of goodies to savour later in the evening. The only problem was that most of the savouring was done by the senior students. The role of Form ones was to pay libations to their ancestors-the senior students. Failure of payment led to dire consequences for the defaulter. Well, on this particular day, I wasn’t ready to pay. I stood my ground to the astonishment of my colleagues. I saw them beg me through clenched teeth to relent-for all our sakes. I resisted-for all our sakes. A tussle ensued between a senior student and I. Word of it reached the headmaster, an Irish man of short stature with the flaring temper of a Russian. The senior student purported that I had insulted him. I retorted that I had not but if I had, he would not have understood the insult anyway. He was slow in grasping the Queen’s language. The headmaster let a quirky smirk slip through his stern demeanour.
“A Form one standing up to a Form four, right under my nose…there’s a first!” he must have mused.
Nonetheless, we both got a good thrashing. I suppose, it was the Irish way of settling disputes. If it is one’s word against another due to lack of witnesses, let both parties suffer. However, something good came out of the whole saga. The headmaster asked me to set up a task force to investigate cases of bullying and report to him personally. I embarked on the task zealously. Notorious bullies were brought to account and reprimanded in ingenious and humiliating ways. Soon stories of our success spread across, the district, the province, and even the country too. Our strategy was emulated in boy schools all over Kenya. The end of bullying was in sight. We envisaged that in a few years, never would one have to go through the horrifying experience that is “monolisation”. Indeed I was on a good run; appearing in school magazines, turning girls’ heads in symposiums, featuring in TV and radio…then I woke up.
It is such a sinking feeling when dreams take you to the loftiest clouds but reality brings you back to earth with a loud thud. I sat on the edge of my bed thinking long and hard. I was a puny fellow back then. I still am. I was tossed here and about. My food, my time, the uniform on my body…weren’t mine. I should have stood for what is mine but no, timidity always got the better of me. When I needed it most, courage failed me miserably. I still remember the faces of my bullies; some dark with bloodshot eyes, some light with dark scars that scared the living daylights out of me. I still remember them.
I am older now, wiser and braver too. I still meet bullies of all kinds; those who want to swindle me off my hard earned sweat, those who want to hold me back from chasing my dreams, those who want to force their opinion on me, heck, even those who want to entice me for a rendezvous in between the sheets! Sometime I think to myself, “If only I knew then what I know now, life would be so different”. However, life does not play out like that. We learn from our past, do right in the present to avoid regrets in the future. I have learnt from my past-my high school days to be precise. I have learnt that bullies would always be there in my life. It is how I respond to them that determine whether they linger or not.
I rose from my bed, read my Bible, freshened up and stepped out-ready to tussle with bullies that the world would bring my way.