Hey gang! So you guys remember the last story, read here was supposed to be the last one the Campus tale series? Well guess what, we have one more story to close this chapter. It is also our first time to host a guest blogger.(yeey!) Gang, meet Kiiru Macharia, one of the best writer on these streets. You guys know him right? Because you should. Well, if not, you are just about to, sit tight.
By Kiiru Macharia
There is something enchanting about a lady in uniform. A nurse, a police officer, an air hostess, an usher, a member of the choir or even a student. They are different from all of us in ordinary attire. They stand there in groups, looking all alike, yet so different. Wait till they start doing coordinated activities. A sight to behold. But there is someone who shivers every time they see a lady in school uniform. His name is Pinchez. So what is with Pinchez and school uniforms? But before that, what sort of name is Pinchez?
Pinchez is ghetto for Peter. Like Simon Peter from the scriptures, Peter was devotedly pious his whole life. He had even been appointed as the Chairperson of the Christian Union back at XXXX Boys High School. He was a saint. He exuded such a righteous lifestyle that it earned him the nickname Apostle. He scored his B+ and joined JKUAT Main campus to pursue a Bachelor in Architecture. As any other celestial shepherd of the flock would do, he joined the University Christian Union Chapter and immediately got elected to some semi – senior position in the union executive committee.
If you went to a public university, you must have known someone who was a member of these executive committees. The ones where every male member is Brother So and So and every female member is Sister So and So. Where these brothers and sisters meet every Wednesday afternoon for Bible study and hang back every Sunday after the church service to discuss pertinent issues affecting the work of The Lord. The ones whose WhatsApp Group chats are thronged with Bible verse quotes and YouTube links to some killer gospel jams. The ones where the members are fond of visiting each other’s humble hostel abodes and sharing some tea and cookies as they share testimonies and cheer each other on, in this seraphic battle against the devil.
Brother Peter was in charge of Outdoor Evangelism. This entailed organising crusades within the university and facilitating for missions outside the university, including weekend challenges in the high schools around the area. He adored his job. Three weeks in, he had already secured permits and licenses for two outdoor crusades and scheduled weekend challenge sessions with three schools. Two girls’ school and one boys’ school. Three days and two nights in each one of them. The first school was a girls’ school located somewhere in Thika. It was all systems go. Transportation to and from Thika, check. Meals and accommodation for the members, check. Program, check. Theme, check. It was now time to cast out some demons.
The girls looked like the Nigerian flag in their green skirts and white shirts. They were so exhilarated. They sang their mouths dry and danced till it hurt. They screamed their lungs out and ululated in unison. They were like little kids on a trampoline. The air in the room was stuffed with hope, reassurance and purity. And a little sweat. Souls had been converted and evil had been defeated. Brother Peter was a proud man. His theme verse had come to pass. Romans 10.1: Brethren, My hearts’s desire and prayer to God for them is for their salvation (KJV). The school headgirl gave the vote of thanks and a group photo was taken. Just as they were packing to be on their way back to Juja, one of the students approached our brother.
‘Hi, my name is Janet. I want to say thank you for everything you guys have done. I am really inspired,’ she says.
‘Hi Janet. I am glad our work has not been in vain,’ BP responds.
‘Uhhm, what course did you say you study?’
‘Wow! I also want to be an architect when I join campus,’
‘Oh really? That’s wonderful. Not many girls are interested in this field,’
‘Uuuhm, could you give me your number? I stay in Thika and when I break for midterm, I would like to come over and see what you do in class,’
‘Uuuhm, I don’t really think that is a good idea,’
‘Our classes are strictly …’
‘Hey Peter! We need to bounce. Time is not on our side!’ a voice shouts from the door.
‘Coming!’ BP shouts back as he scribbles his mobile number on Janet’s notebook. He dashes out and boards the bus, which meanders through the leafy suburbs of Kiambu county, en route to Juja Sub County. Janet’s friends come rushing and surround her. She shows them Brother Peter’s handwriting. They giggle in excitement like the little girls they are.
A chilly mid – February morning. Brother Peter is in class listening his lecturer blab on and on about Urban Design and Landscaping when a text comes in. ‘Hey Pish,’ it reads. He ignores it. Focus, he tells himself. Ten minutes later, another text message. ‘Ni Janet,’. Class ends and he texts back.
‘Khaaai.Uxhanixahau?’ (Translation: Oh My! You already forgot me?’)
BP stares down at the picture on the display profile again.
‘We met at the weekend challenge?’ he asks.
‘Eggsactly!’ she responds. (Translation: Exactly!)
‘Oh. Niaje? Mko midterm ama?’ (Translation: Oh, how are you? Are you on a midterm break?’)
‘Eeh. Nimekumixx!’ (Tranlsation: Yes. I have missed you!’)
This caught Brother Peter by surprise. No girl had ever told him that she missed him. How do you respond to such temptations from the devil? Simple, you do not. Furthermore, she was a stranger. He put his phone on silent mode and went about his ministry business. After a three-hour Christian Union executive committee meeting, he grabbed his phone and his screen was a nightmare. Seven missed calls and thirteen messages. All from the same person. Janet. Janet from the weekend challenge. She had sent him her pictures. She looked different in home clothes. Different because these home clothes were just a short tight dress. Something about her sending photos didn’t sit right with him, so, like the ‘I miss you’, he let the photos pass.
‘Ghai ata huezi comment?’ she asked (Translation: Why won’t you comment?)
‘You look good,’ he responds.
‘Really? You think xo???’ (Translation: ‘Really? You think so?’)
‘Thnkx. Naeza kam kexho u xee me in perxon’ (Translation: Thank you. I can come tomorrow and you can see me in person,’.
Come to my place, why? Also, even if you wanted her to come, tomorrow would not be possible. It is a Saturday and you have to prepare for Sunday’s church service. You have to test the Public Address system. You have to make sure the choir’s uniform is ironed. You have to make sure the church is cleaned and you have to rehearse for Praise and worship. He thought to himself.
‘Sorry. Tomorrow is not possible,’
‘Juxt 20 minutex. Plz. Plz’ (Translation: Just for twenty minutes. Please?’)
No response. Brother Peter dozes off. Tomorrow is a big day and he has to get up early.
Saturday evening. Brother Peter was putting final touches to Sunday’s church service when the church choirmaster called for him outside. He had a guest at the gate. She only identified herself as a friend but would not be let in since she did not have a student identity card.
‘She says she cannot reach you through your phone but she knows you are from the Christian Union. So security called the only person they know from Christian Union.’ the choirmaster narrated.
BP strolled to the gate in awe. And upon getting there, he was dumb struck to see who it was. Janet. Janet from the weekend challenge.
‘Janet! What are you doing here?’
‘Are you not excited to see me?’
‘No! You shouldn’t be here!’
‘So you want me to go?’
‘Yes! You have to go back home, Janet,’
Silence. She stares at you, disheartened.
‘You need to leave,’ you insist.
‘I can’t. My parents will kill me for leaving without permission,’
‘What! They don’t know where you are?’
Brother Peter was muddled. He had never been in such a situation. What should he do? Comfort her? Chase her? Abandon her?
And this is not one of those scenarios where the good book has a verse to guide you.
He had to make a quick judgment. So, he decided to escort her to the bus station.
‘Where are the buses to your home,’ he asked her.
‘Aki Pish si I already told you I can’t go back home today. Furthermore, it is already too late given the traffic congestion on our roads” Janet responds with a teary voice. Her protests had attracted a few idlers at the bus station who were now throwing them judgemental glances. BP looked at his watch. It was already half past 6 o’clock. She was right, it was late, and he needed to get back to the chapel as soon as possible.
‘Okay. Stop crying. Come with me.’
He dialed a number on his phone and a lady’s voice answered on the other end. It was Stella, her neighbor. He had since moved out from the campus hostels and was now living in a small bedsitter across the highway. With a roommate. He told Stella that his female friend had come to visit him but was stranded and needed a place to crush just for the night. Stella lived alone. She said she did not mind hosting her until morning. She had even prepared enough dinner for an extra plate. So they walked up to the apartment and knocked on Stella’s door.
‘Stay here. I need to rush back to the chapel to finish up on something and I will be back later for us to figure out what to do,’ Peter instructed Janet. She nodded and smiled softly, the tear marks on her face reflecting against the light. Peter thanked Stella and rushed back to the chapel. James, the choirmaster, had stepped in and there was not much left to be done. They cleared the room and left. Peter told James of his friend and that everything was under control. On his way back home, he passed by F1 and bought three packs of French fries accompanied by six samosas and three sausages. He also bought a one-liter soda at the local supermarket. He knocked on Stella’s door and got in. Janet was sound asleep on Stella’s bed. There was no need to wake her. He had a brief chat with Stella as he nibbled on his share of chips, sausage and samosa, before retiring to his room to rest. Tomorrow was a big day.
2.30 am. Janet is wheezing heavily. Her face is as pale as turnips. She tries to mumble something, but Stella cannot comprehend what she is saying. She is rolling on the bed, gasping for air. Stella shakes her uncontrollably but this aggravates her even further, making her collapse on the bed, face down. Stella panics and runs frantically to Peter’s house. Peter gets up and strides into Stella’s house. One look at Janet and he knew what going on. She was having an asthma attack. He grabbed her small purse and frantically searched for an inhaler. There was none. They needed to get her to the dispensary as soon as possible. Stella made a call to her bodaboda guy. The one that drops her home whenever she comes home late and drunk, from having a good time.
After a quarter of an hour filled with clueless first aids, the bodaboda guy arrived. The three-speed off to the school infirmary and Janet was taken in. Brother Peter remained outside in the cold, his teeth grinding inside his clenched jaw, wondering what on earth he had got himself into.
Half an hour later, he was called in, Janet was feeling better, in fact, she was sipping some hot chocolate. The medics wanted an explanation; Who is she? Who is she to you? Is she a student? Where is her student ID? Why did she not have an inhaler with her? She looks underage, how old is she? BP had no clue where to begin. So he lied his way through it and her bill was credited to his student account. Peter Njoroge. Bachelor of Architecture. First-year, second semester.
The school van dropped the three of them home. BP was as sleepy as he was irked. He loved his sleep. Who doesn’t? It’s annoying for someone you hardly know to steal two hours of your sleep for a stupid mistake as not carrying their inhaler. She should not even be here in the first place! It’s no use going to sleep now. He thought.
So, he tucked Janet in Stella’s bed and went back to his room. He read his bible before hitting the shower to get ready for church. After dressing up and having his breakfast, he knocked on Stella’s door and got in. Janet was still sound asleep. He gave Stella a 200 shillings note and asked her to give the same to Janet when she woke up. She asked her to escort her to the bus station and ensure she had boarded the bus to Thika. He then made his way to the chapel, his eyes itching from drowsiness.
In the middle of the church service, he started to receive dozens of calls. He ignored them but they become a tad too many. So he excused himself to answer. It was Stella. She wanted him to come to her house immediately. It was about Janet. Oh, not again! This was now getting out of hand. Nothing had ever come between him and his ministry work. Especially during a liver Sunday service. He sighed and made his way to Stella’s house. Their apartment was a fifteen minutes’ walk from the chapel. On his way there, he came across a flyer posted on the school notice board. It had Janet’s image and the word MISSING in bold right above her picture. Brother Peter froze.
He called Stella.
‘Stella, what is going on over there?’
Stella hesitates and hangs up. A few minutes later, she calls you.
‘Sorry, I had to get away from them,’
‘Them? Who is them?’
‘The police. And Janet’s parents’
‘The police!? What do you mean?’
She explained everything to him.
Janet was not on mid-term. She had been suspended from school two days ago. Her school had called Janet’s parents to confirm if they had received the suspension letter. To which her parents had responded saying they had not even seen or heard from her. The school principal had raised the issue during the school assembly and one of Janet’s friends had stepped forward confessing what Janet had told her. That she was too afraid to face her parents with a suspension notice, and would go to a friend he knew in JKUAT. The principal had informed Janet’s parents who had began the process of searching for her all over the university. They had alerted the area chief who had liaised with the local police. They had posted the MISSING fliers all over the school. Word had spread fast. The medical staff at the university had seen the flier and identified her. The driver had led them to where he had dropped them the previous night. They had found Janet asleep, in Stella’s bed. Stella had been questioned and told Janet’s parents, the police and the area chief about Brother Peter and how he had asked her to host Janet for the night. Here they were, waiting for him.
Brother Peter felt his knees become weak.
What sort of devil’s handwork was this?
There was no way on earth he would come out of this unscathed.
Who would believe him? Who would believe that he did not know this girl’s second name and had only met her once before, at a Christian function? Who would believe that he was a staunch Christian? Who would believe that he was a virgin? Yes, you are right. Nobody!
Brother Peter switched off his phone and threw the SIM card away. He rushed straight to the bus station and boarded a bus headed to Nairobi. He alighted at Ngara and went to his brother’s place. He explained everything to him. They analysed their options for a while and they came to a conclusion. That that was the end of Brother Peter’s education. And that from that day onwards, his name would be Pinchez.
Pinchez is currently a freelance model and fashion designer. He has never made any effort to contact Janet whatsoever and says he does not want to open that wound. Ever. He shelved his dreams of being an architect and now designs clothes instead. It is not what he used to pray for back at Christian Union, but again, it is still better than prison.
This marks the end of the Campus Tale Series, you will agree with me it was a long yet good ride. That said, stick around I have new stories for you, you might want to restock your coffee beans. Before I leave, I must link you to this great writer. Go on, head to his blog and devour his work.
Pic courtesy of Deposit Photos.