Pythagoras sir, you prophesized that I would remember you one day. Today is the day. Good people, meet Mr. Muchai alias Pythagoras, my maths teacher at Githioro Primary School. Oh yeah, you guessed right: Muchai inherited his nickname from an extraordinary resident of Samos in Greece who started the Pythagoras Theorem, a gospel that my teacher held dear.
If you went to school when the only tablet was one given by a doctor then you know that it was a treasured opinion that for one to do well in class one required the persuasion of the cane. Just like the real Pythagoras my teacher was full of formula. He discovered that if an offender, otherwise called mkosa adabu, transferred a section of soil from one part of the earth to another he would become an angel. In the same vein, if in any exam you ferried as many buckets of soil as the number of failed questions you would not only understand everything, you would never forget. In other words, once ‘pi d’ got in through one ear you wouldn’t let it flee through the other.
The school stood to benefit in several ways. Needless to say, it would boast of genius angels. After little is said and a lot is done the terrain would be no different from that patch in Old Trafford where Pogba earns his billions. To Pythagoras carrying soil from a hill to a trough was ‘finding the mean’. Of course you know what ‘mean’ means here and if you don’t, think of it as what you would get if Bill Gate’s and my wealth was pooled and then divided equally between us. The answer, of course, would be two tycoons.
If Pythagoras theorem (of flattening a landscape and making genius angels in the process) is not genius I don’t know what is.
Now if you are a japuonch don’t get funny ideas. Punishment, carrying of soil in a bucket included, has since been declared a crime against humanity in this part of the world. To this end we would rather have a student punishing his teacher, not the reverse.
Before I forget why I am writing this tirade let me tell you about Minjo. Now, Minjo was the holder of many records: he had ferried the highest number of buckets of soil, he was the first to grow a beard, among other records. You guessed right again: when Pythagoras said ‘pi d’ it sounded like a buzzing bee to Minjo. In other words Minjo was such an enemy of formula that were Pythagoras to charge those who spoilt his ink pen putting ‘pull up your socks!’ and ‘wake up!’ Minjo would receive the highest bill.
There comes a day when a man must assert his manliness. When that day dawned on Minjo he decided he wouldn’t just ferry less buckets of soil, he would ferry none at all. That is why he took one of his father’s sheep and took it to the market. He approached the school secretary and told her that if she put her head to good use she needn’t worry about that Christmas dress. The secretary, the shilling being her first love, agreed to Minjo’s irreducible minimums and that is why Minjo walked home smiling like someone who had just won Lotto, Sportspesa and all their sister jackpots at a go.
Soon Minjo could be heard telling everyone with ears that he would tackle the maths paper with his eyes closed. One thing led to another so that not only did Kamere discover that Minjo had a mwakenya, he got a copy as well. If you can recall, in my mother’s books Kamere tops the list of those who cost me a ‘Prof’ before my name. In effect, his having the mwakenya meant I had it too. Of course we did what a proper msapele would do: we went to business barter-trading copies of the mwakenya.
Come the big day and a scan of the paper was enough to turn my sweat taps full throttle. The paper had either been changed or Minjo had been duped. Kamere looked like a chicken that is halfway swallowing a snake. I was swimming in boiling soup because Mose, the class bully who had acquired the mwakenya for a hare, was giving me a today-you-die look.
The whole class came alive as Minjo shot to his feet and started giving a press conference to the effect that education was not suruali. I considered joining him and demanding the removal of Pythagoras and reinstatement of the paper and that failure to honour my demands no exam would take place. But that was the surest way of dying in the hands of my mother who expected nothing less of my becoming the first professor in Kiandutu.
Pythagoras’ warning that much as education is not a pair of pants it can enable one buy the crucial thing could not persuade Minjo to withdraw his withdrawal.
To all the candidates, I hope no one sees stars. May all of you get As but not stupid ones.