Back in secondary school, in Form One, most of us were too little, too skinny. We saw huge guys for the first time and we were in constant fear.
There were two huge guys in my class. One was showy and loud and such an idiot. The other was quiet and always joking. The showy one was actually bigger, though with hindsight, I think it could have been flab.
You guessed it; there was soon a showdown. Showy Guy is trying to bully some section of the class and suddenly, Quiet Nice Guy is standing up, challenging him. I had never seen him this angry.
So they start sizing each other up. Showy Guy has a rep to maintain and Quiet Nice Guy has nothing to lose. He is ice cold and he is daring his foe to come on over to get beat. No one who saw the fire in his eyes that day doubted that he would have torn his enemy to pieces. Limb from limb, like an over cooked piece of chicken.
The other guy backed down and started mumbling something. we didn’t care anymore. The balance of power had shifted so suddenly, so dramatically. We had a new king. And those who were friendly to him were suddenly more confident. He sat next to me so…
The bullies from the higher classes did not cross the threshold of our classroom. We heard that there were cases of bullying in other classes but those were just stories. If you were in Mwiri during those years when the wars with the Jinja schools raged, you will remember his heroics, proudly leading a whole school against loonies with sticks and stones.
It was like he was two different people. He was cool, calm and collected but then, he could erupt and do unthinkable things. I guess that was foreshadowing.
Last month, I saw him on the street but he was so different. He was not the proud, smart eloquent dude I knew back in school. He was an outcast.
He moves around talking to himself. He has matted hair and he doesn’t know, or care what a clean shirt looks like, feels like.
He has no pants. He has no dignity. He has no shame.
When people see him on the other side of the street, they change their plans to cross over. It could be because of the smell that they predict will rise off him into their clean nostrils but then again, it could be because normal sane people don’t present themselves like that to society.
He doesn’t eat what you eat. He eats the left overs of the city. From a big bowl that overflows with the other refuse of many days and nights.
Martin Aliker is stark raving mad.