HOUSEFLY STEW

Boys will always be boys-biting more from life than they can chew. In their journey towards manhood, they dare the gods and test their parents. Give a boy enough time to wander and surely he will wander; boys are born with innate longing for adventure without obligation.

Once upon a time when dawns were young, one such  boy wandered and went to visit his maternal uncle in some far of land. He was a young chap with knobkerries for knees and fans for ears. But he was a lovable one-the type that makes one want to give them a whole year supply of toys. He forded through raging rivers and went through forests teeming with animals red in tooth and claw. He stoically braved the brazing sun overhead and stinging briars at his feet. When his hunger pangs started drumming loudly in his belly like tom toms he sighted some smoke wafting from a woody grove. He was hungrier than ten donkeys but with renewed strength he rushed down the last hill for he knew he was almost there.

The boy was received well by his kin who hadn’t seen him for quite a while. As he chatted with his cousins, the lady of the house busied herself with preparing a meal for the guest. After a short while, the cloying aroma of a delicious meal wafted into the githaku-the traditional sitting bay where the boys were playing. The boy’s taste buds went into a riot-boys are almost always hungry.

Finally, the lady of the house set a meal of mukimo and housefly stew for the guest. Black slimy things that were flying  in some toilet some minutes ago were now floating on some fat and onions, ready to be eaten.Ok,by then houseflies hadn’t attained that ugly Latin taxonomy name musca domestica but they were still hideous. The boy was taken aback by this culinary serving, but since his stomach rumblings could be heard a mile away, he decided to take a small bite just to silence them. By and by, he was done with the mould of mukimo and housefly stew. Boys will always do the undoable-they can fall into a pit latrine and come out smelling or roses. He never had as much as stomach ache since boys are always led by some benevolent celestial assistants we call angels.

As the lady of the house picked her utensils, she gave the boy an evil glint with her red eyes. Her eyes were always red-they had enough blood in them that she could sell by the pint. The boy’s uncle showed him a place to sleep and pretty fast, he was in slumberland, dreaming those boyhood dreams full of big ripe mangoes and girls with even riper chests. He was sleeping with belly up since that was the only tenable sleeping position.

So what are you going to tell my in-laws about your stay here?  The boy’s uncle asked him one morning after he had stayed for there several days.

I am going to tell them that I was received very well and fed on housefly stew. The boy answered back.

His uncle got perplexed. He scratched his bushy beard that looked like thatch, his big Adam’s apple moving up and down like an animal trapped there. He got sad, like grief had laid actual hands on him.

Did you hear what the boy has said?

He asked his wife who sat across him, looking regal and resigned like an abdicated monarch. She didn’t answer back. Cuckolds always get such treatment from their wives. Which sometimes they deserve.

The following day the boy’s uncle slaughtered his prized cock for the boy. He asked his wife to make a dish fit for a muthamaki for the boy. The wife did make a good meal-though the chapatis were thin enough to read a newspaper through. The young fellow ate heartily and licked his fingers till they almost came out and burped loudly to tell the host that the meal was hearty. His uncle went to sleep a happy man.

What are you going to tell my in-laws about your stay here? He asked the boy the following morning.

I will tell them that I was received well, served with a meal of housefly stew and then a cock was slaughtered for me. The boy said without batting an eyelid.

Did you hear what the boy said?

The boy’s uncle asked his wife. Once again she didn’t answer back but sat there pursing her thick lips since rolling of eyes wasn’t in vogue then. The uncle was one of those men whose wives had sat on his chapatis before serving him. This was said to make even the wildest man a cuckold who tugged at his wives apron strings like a little boy. Later,the uncle slaughtered one of his prized bulls for the boy, but his answer didn’t change.

Every community has its hallowed animals that are reserved for the gods. Sacrificial animals which cannot be eaten by mortals even under the pain of death. The boy’s uncle had such an animal-and this was his last card up is sleave.It was an abominable thing to do. But again, it was an even more abominable thing to have one’s nephew reporting to ones in-laws that he was fed with a meal of housefly stew. All at the behest of a domineering wife. He had to kill his nephew with kindness to erase housefly stew from his mouth and mind.

The following day, the uncle hired the woman with the best culinary skills in the village. He couldn’t trust his wife any more. Some girls with the best gaps between their teeth and voices like kanyoni-ka-nja the nightingale were also hired to serenade the boys as he ate. You see, the way to any man’s heart is through the mouth and his eyes. You give a boy a feast for his mouth and his eyes and he is in heaven.

The ngoima or fattened sacrificial ram was slaughtered for the boy the following morning. The neighbors watched by the fence at this mad man who dared slaughter  a ram meant for the gods for a young boy who didnt even know the difference between a girls breast and mangoes.The things that men do to correct the mistakes of their women are sometimes hard to fathom.

Soon afer,the boy was served with the delicious meal fit for the gods. The village belles belted some forgotten serenade songs for him-mentioning him two times in every stanza. The boy ate like an army on the march, all the while eyeing the nubile girls’ titties going up and down like lost mangoes as they danced for him. You see, boys dream of strippers while men dream of a woman waiting for them at home. When he was done, he burped loudly-an indication that he had his fill. His uncle was sure that his trick had worked.

The following day, the uncle prepared the boy to leave since his wife wouldnt do it.He packed for him the fruits that were in season then. He also gave him a big cock to take home. Finally, he was given rukuri-those delicious crunchy meat pies that were preserved in honey for him to snack on in his journey home.

At the gate, the boy’s uncle confidently straightened himself, thrust his chest forward, cleared his throat and in a fatherly tone asked the boy:

What are you going to tell your parents about your stay with your good uncle?

With the pimpled insolence of a 14 year old the boy answered back:

I am going to tell them that I was served with a housefly stew, a cock was slaughtered for me, then a bull and finally a fat ram.

Uta-do?

The boy then left for home.

Bats of sorrow forlornly flew over the boy’s uncles head, threatening to build a nest there. In the kitchen the lady of the house chuckled as she did a triumphant mugithi jig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CARLOS (PART 2)

After the Safari Rally was over, we managed to feed Carlos on a buffet of wasps enough to sting a whole village to death. Red wasps, black wasps, big wasps, small wasps-he was spoilt for choice. We waited for him to get braver than ten lions, but instead he got very sick and in a short time acquired the pale hue of death. Eutychus, the wise fellow who had advised us to feed Carlos on a meal of wasps to make him brave told us that we had overdosed the poor thing with wasps. But we suspected he had bewitched our lovely dog with his evil eye.

Days rolled into weeks, Carlos didn’t get better. Each day he had a new ache, much stronger than the previous one. We knew this because we felt the pain too. He was always in brute grief, so pained that even the fleas that infested his skin deserted him like rats running away from a sinking ship. Like a father watching his son bleed in the battlefield, we watched Carlos handle his grief like gentleman. You see, to call Carlos a dog hardly served him justice. He may have had four legs and a tail, but to us who knew him well, Carlos was gentleman. More refined than some men we knew, but we didn’t dare say that aloud.

By and by, his bodily features betrayed how life had wronged him. Mortality weighed heavily on him, like unwilling sleep. We touched his coat, wishing that some of his pain could be transferred to us, and thus be shared. It didn’t happen. But Carlos bore his pains stoically, raging against the dying of the light, without  yelping like some mangy mongrels who lacked pedigree.

One day, with the single-mindedness of boys with a dog life to save, we approached Chege our cousin to come and pray for our dog. Chege was older than us and never missed Sunday school. Thus he was fluent in the saying ‘The Grace’, and such prayers. When he heard our idea, he laughed so loud that we thought we could see the githeri he had taken for his lunch in his stomach. Then he dismissed us.

With that, it became clear that Carlos death was imminent. He sat on the evening veranda of his life-reminiscing about famous hunts we have had back in the day. He ruminated on many a juicy avocado we had stolen together, and the swims we had in the River Mathioya.

Then one day, around that time when the Berlin came down, Carlos soul went up. God’s fingers touched him, and he slept eternally. He became one with the wind and joined other dog souls. While the whole world was celebrated the fall of the Cold War, we mourned the death of Carlos.

However, my mango shaped head refused to accept that Carlos had died. Maybe he had taken one of his long naps. Or he was in some dog coma from which he would come from if we stole some bones from Kuria the mean butcher and ran them over his nose. To protect his lifeless body so that we could bring it to life later, we hid him by the old muiri tree which was said to have powers to turn a boy into a girl if one run round it seven times.  But why would a boy want to turn into a girl while boyhood was so much fun? Anyway, if that tree could do that, it could revive Carlos form his coma since to us, he want fully dead. Denial.

The day at school was longer than a week in a hospital bed. We couldn’t wait for the school bell to ring our way to freedom and rush out to go check out on Carlos. When we finally arrived home, we found ants crawling on his matted skin. We ran the bones we had picked form Kuria’s dustbin over his nose, but Carlos didn’t as much raise a paw. My cousin Tony took a long stick and started beating the ant trail all the way to the hole they came from.Myself,I took to stoning the birds that chirruped above in the tree, oblivious of our sadness which hang on the whole place like a sad shawl. Anger.

Deep inside, I wondered why God has taken away Carlos and not the other less colorful dogs in the village. Why couldn’t he take all those useless village cats-all meows and airs-and leave our dog alone? We could even add Him ngunu-the old angry cow that was always itching to gore our bottoms. God, please take even the only donkey in the village and leave our dog alone. Bargaining.

For the next week, grief and despair descended on us fighting for a piece of our hearts like two jealous Naija wives. We wore a cloak of grief that was too heavy for our boyish heads. We no longer stole avocados-stealing them with Carlos not around meant nothing to us. We stopped going for the Sunday football jamboree by the river. Who could enjoy a football match when Carlos was dead? Or better, who could enjoy life in the absence of Carlos? The whole village was teeming with men and dogs, but the loss of one dog made it look empty and bereft of life. Despair.

Soon, we started reliving the times we had with Carlos. We talked about that day when he saved us from Wamatangari the village madman when Carlos appeared from nowhere when he was chasing us cracking a nyahunyo behind our backs. We reminisced on how one day Carlos led us home after we followed the Safari Rally Cars six villages away till it got dark and we got lost in some coffee bushes. We recalled how Carlos had nurtured many a dog to life by licking their lives wounds. In short we decided to celebrate Carlos life. We let Carlos dog soul rest, not because we loved him less, but because we cherished the moments we had with him more. After all, Carlos had blessed us with a thousand tail flicks, which were more honest than the handshakes we had gathered in our lifetime. Though the world was full of suffering, it was also full of overcoming that suffering. The world had just overcome the 40 year long Cold War, so we could also overcome the death of Carlos. Acceptance.

Its only when we came to this stage when we buried him under the ancient avocado tree down by the gurgling river. We called our cousin Chege to officiate as the padre since he was holier than us as he didn’t steal mangoes and avocados like us. Granted, he used to touch our sisters breasts but he didn’t steal them unlike us who ran away with every mango that our fingers touched. The burial was a solemn affair where Chege intoned in some Latin words he borrowed from the local padre. Where he lacked words, he filled the spaces with Kikuyu words or mumbled along.

After the burial, I waited to see Carlos’ soul ascending to heaven. It didn’t see it happen so I imagined him there. I saw him seated on the right side of the Light in some dog heaven where there were no strays or mongrels or mangy dogs with fleas since every dog was a thoroughbred with heavenly pedigree. In the dog’s heaven, it rained steak every morning and sausages every afternoon and avocados at dusk and the heavenly choir howled some dog ballads all night long. It’s only when we imagined that Carlos was in heaven that our minds found peace and started looking for another dog. By and by, we adopted another stray dog who remained nameless. However, he never replaced Carlos, but only expanded our hearts.

In our little minds we knew that this life isn’t fair to dogs-and maybe this also happens in the next world. Thus Carlos might have been locked out of heaven since he wasn’t washed by the blood of the Lamb. My cousin and I swore that if Carlos wasn’t in heaven, then when we die, we want to go where Carlos went. But if heaven really goes by merit and not favour, then Carlos is there, howling eternally while jumping up and down the golden stairs by the crystal shore.

Losing Carlos was painful for us ten year olds because we never pretended to love him-we loved him more than we loved ourselves. Thirty years down the line, I hardly recall the fall of Berlin Wall in October 1989 since that’s the time Carlos died. But I vividly recall Carlos since he left paw prints in or hearts no age can erase. This is because a loved one is not truly forgotten until he or she is no longer remembered. Carlos lives in our hearts, and like all things ever enjoyed can never be lost, but is a part of us.

When Carlos came into our lives, he taught us about love. When he left, he taught us about loss. No Professor, however well read, will ever teach you that.

 

 

PS

So,did Carlos go to heaven? Did his soul find itself at the Pearly Gates,with ol’ Peter calling out his name as the saints go marching in? Find out  about that in Carlos Part 3 .

Thank you for getting time to visit the blog

M.G.

 

 

 

 

 

CARLOS (PART 1)

Easter  Saturday,1988.It was a muddy day, wet than a widow’s handkerchief. The mango season was over so there were no succulent mangoes tempting us to steal them. Our mango shaped ten year old heads had to come up with mischief to keep us busy all Easter weekend. Thus my cousin and I decided to go and hunt for wasps for Carlos our dog. Now Carlos was like our  second self-a pillar of canine benevolence.His spaniel eyes made everybody feel like buying him a year’s supply of steak for his palate and shampoo for his matted hair.We lived for Carlos who loved us more than he loved himself.

The idea of wasps had been hatched a few days earlier in school. Back then, boys were endowed with  certain inalienable rights: among these were right to life, liberty and right to own dogs. You could also add right to all the succulent mangoes that hang in the village mango trees like earrings on a beautiful ladies face. Thus to fully exercise this right ,my cousins and I had motley of dogs between us. They were perpetually hungry creatures-some stray, some tame some wild- that always followed us like shadows. When we ate, they ate. When we swam in the treacherous Mathioya River, they swam. Sadly, when our scrawny backsides got whipped for stealing mangoes or whichever fruit had tempted us, they too took a beating.

There were dogs,and then there was Carlos.He was the compulsively friendly mongrel we had named after the famous terrorist-Carlos the Jackal. Of course we got the name from Mr.Munderu our history teacher after Socrates,our previous favourite dog died. We told other boys that Carlos’ mother was a leopard and his father a mountain lion and that he had jaguar aunties and puma uncles. But Carlos was no more than bag of bones with fleas enough to infest a small village to pandemic levels. His tail was permanently between his thin legs. He was not living to his famous billing. We had to do something to redeem his image.

To us, Carlos was more than a dog. In our journey in the village lanes towards becoming men, Carlos was our benefactor; our dumb constant north. He had this existenstial angst in his eyes which other people took for a lonely stare but us boys knew better.His primordial instinct helped us to know where the juiciest avocadoes were ripening. When we wanted to cross the often moody Mathioya River and get sugarcanes beckoning to be eaten by us the other side, Carlos guided us on the safest place to do so.Many a day, when we became too wayward and our mothers denied us food, we shared our last stolen avocado with Carlos, knowing too well that he will never repay us with similar avocado, but with unfaltering loyalty. He gave us our first lessons in loyalty, in swimming and many other vitals skills of boyhood. Carlos lived for us; one woof at a time. His bark was his honour. But his meekness troubled us a lot and we had to get a solution fast.

Thus we approached Eutychus- the boy who had repeated Class Four  three times and sported a nice beard. At some point we had applied paraffin to our chins so that we could sprout a beard and be like him, but it didn’t work. That was our first lesson in scams.Eutychus was the brightest of them all; he always had a solution for all our boyish problems tucked in some corner of his guava shaped head. He loved us because we were very obedient-we diligently delivered the perfumed letters he used to write to our elder sisters. We didn’t deliver them because we loved our mean big sisters that much, but because we respected Eutychus more.

At the price of two stolen sugarcane sticks, Eutychus advised us to feed the meek canine on a meal of wasps three times a week. Henceforth, Carlos would scare even the devil himself. I tell you this boy was genius.

Every dog has its day-that’s how Easter Saturday found us hunting for wasps for Carlos’ problems. We took the bushy footpath towards Boyo, the gurgly river that washed our villages’ sins downstream. The guava trees around the river had plenty of wasp nests. Several wasp stings later, we decided that the best time to catch them was at night and abandoned the mission altogether. This meant that we would be idle until nightfall when we would embark on the wasp job.

Girls will always be girls, always trying to enhance one or other aspect of beauty. In the village then, grapevine had it that if you took a specific water beetle that used to thrive in the rivers and made it bite your  titties, they would bloom big enough to cause an eclipse. This knowledge had been passed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter, long before the Americans came up with silicone implants for the same purpose. Thus we decided to look for water beetles and sell them to the progressive village belles later, each at the price of one chapati. Our heads were always teeming with brilliant ideas those days.

When we had collected enough water beetles to turn our village into big boob’s fetishist   heaven, hell broke loose. A loud helicopter loomed on the horizon, its steel blades cutting the rarified village air into pieces.

A Lancia Delta Intergrale, loud enough to wake the devil from his afternoon siesta, came charging at us from the road that led to the next ridge. In one brief moment, my brief life which was largely consisted of episodes of mango stealing flashed before me. I tried to say the Lord’s Prayer, which I only knew the Kikuyu version, but gave up the idea altogether when I reckoned that Jesus was a handsome white man who didn’t understand Kikuyu.

After the rally car passed us, we followed it down the muddy path watching it skid with glee. Carlos followed the car too, salivating at the Farmers Choice sausages emblemed on the car’s sides. Carlos had never tasted a single sausage all his life, but all in all he knew sausages existed. Just like we human beings have never been to heaven, but we know it’s up there. Dogs got canine faith too.

For us boys, we were following the rally cars for a different reason; the big spare tyre at the cars back could make a nice wheel for our carts. We had to pinch it.If we could steal old lady Jerusha’s mangoes without her detecting us, we could steal the big spare wheel behind Kirkland’s Car No.9 without him noticing.

The Safari Rally -the greatest duel between man, machine and time- was underway. The wasps and water beetles could wait!

(Continued in Carlos Part 2-https://www.drummajor.co.ke/carlos-part-2/)

 

 

ALL DAYS ARE NOT SATURDAYS

When I was 10, with knobkerries for knees and fan like ears, I had teacher called Mr.Munderu.God rest his soul in eternal peace. There were teachers, and then there was Teacher Munderu.Note the caps in ‘Teacher’.He took to teaching with the zeal of an Old Testament prophet. If he said one and one was eleven, not even the local dreaded Chief could undo that.If he said the sun rises from the West,it would rise from the West for us 10 year olds.

As young boys travelling in the village lanes towards being men, Teacher Munderu was our constant North.

Perimeter is all the way round

One July morning he whipped all of us one hundred plus souls out into the parade square. He then made us go round the whole school block shouting ‘perimeter ni muthiururuko!’Perimeter is going all the way round. Any child who lagged behind had this mantra hammered into his or her thick head with his well-worn cane. By lunch hour we were still going round the block shouting hungrily ‘perimeter ni muthiururoko!’ It’s only when the area Education Officer’s Enduro motorbike roared into the parade square and Teacher .Munderu disappeared into the staff room that we crawled back to class.

Not an attack of Alzheimer’s, however acute, will erase from my grey head what perimeter is.

First World War

One lazy afternoon, Teacher Munderu was teaching us about World War One. For the entire afternoon that the lesson-or you can say the war-lasted, the whole classroom exploded with the boom boom of the British Maxim Gun. Like a B52 bomber, Teacher .Munderu swooped on Eutychus, the tall mean boy who sported a beard at Class 4. He then brandished two chairs over our scared heads and smashed them to pieces like torpedoed German U-boats. Like a fearless Austria-Hungarian soldier at the Battle of Somme, he aimed his bayonet at the swollen tummy of my cousin Tony who always sat at the front so that he could always get Nyayo milk packet first.

 

Then he grabbed him by his tiny neck till veins on his forehead threatened to burst. Swiftly, he turned him upside down, sending the guavas he had stolen at old lady Jerusha’s scattering on the floor like grenades from some GI’s pockets.Lawd-First World War was bad! Being taught about it by Teacher .Munderu made it even badder.

 

When Teacher.Munderu announced that the next lesson would be about Second War, I conveniently got very sick. Well, I used to have this recurring attack of tonsillitis from eating too many stolen guavas, so it was easy to feign a grave tonsillitis attack. I would rather endure a tonsils jab from the huge matronly Sister Teresia at Kiangunyi Catholic Mission than endure Teacher Munderu’s Second World War.

 

Despite all this, I couldn’t wait to grow up and don a bushy beard like Teacher Munderu’s.And play Bob Marley’s music from a huge stereo like his and have crib of my own like his full of books about Jomo and Steve Biko and Marcus Garvey and such fiery men. Man, I couldn’t wait to be a man and be free.

 

Apart from Teacher Munderu, our other friends used to be dogs. With my cousin, we had motley of perpetually hungry dogs-both tame and stray- that always followed us like shadows. When we ate, they ate. When we swam in the treacherous Mathioya River, they swam. When we took a beating for stealing mangoes, our dogs took a beating too. There was even this old dog which would volunteer to take a beating for its Master, since it couldn’t fight for him. God rest its canine soul in some dog heaven.

Carlos the Jackal

Then there was Carlos-the mongrel we had named after the famous terrorist-the Jackal. Of course we got the name from Teacher Munderu. We told the boys that his mother was a leopard and his father a mountain lion and that he had jaguar aunties. But Carlos was no more than bag of bones and his tail was permanently between his legs. He had fleas enough to infest a small village. He was not living to his famous billing. Some bright boy who had miraculously survived Teacher Munderu’s First World War thrice as he had repeated Class Four 4 three times advised us to feed the meek canine on a meal of wasps. Henceforth, Carlos would scare even the devil himself.

 

We had to consult the wisest man around. One idle Saturday morning when guavas were out of season and thus there was nothing tempting us to steal it, of we went to Teacher Munderus.We had to hurry. It was on Saturdays like this that Aunt Keziah started kneading dough at two pm  and gave an offer we could never refuse-to go down to the ill-tempered mama near the river and borrow her frying pan in exchange for her first chapati.We lived for Saturdays and Aunt Keziahs chapos offers. Even if she sent us to pick the frying pan from hell,we would still have done it.

 

Mwarimu,is it true that if we feed Carlos with wasps he won’t be afraid of even the police?

 

Teacher Munderu glanced at us, our dogs and saw hunger. He promptly handed us a bunch of bananas. A busy mouth can’t ask pesky questions. Then he got into his crib, pored at his big books, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. Our dogs started scratching their fleas. Teacher Munderu read on. My cousin fished a guava from his pockets, took a bite and handed me the remainder to eat.

Then Teacher Munderu closed the Bible he was reading. We made ourselves comfortable on his wick stools. Carlos cocked his ears.

Jesus Rastafari

 

’One Saturday morning, Jesus washed his dreadlocks and hits the streets of Jerusalem listening to Bob Marley’s No Woman no Cryfrom his Sony Walkman’, He started.

He was in stone wash jeans and a t-shirt and swanky North Star sneakers.’

 

My! So Jesus was such a cool dude, huh?

“So Jesus walked on and on down the streets of Salem like the God he was. He was headed to the temple to pray on that Saturday morn, like a true Rasta’. Teacher Munderu continued.

My mango shaped head  sensed danger. Jesus had a record of whipping a business people when he found them in the temple. How about us mere boys and dirty dogs? Anyhow, I had to be ready for it.I sat at the edge of my seat, making sure my cousin and the dogs came between me and Teacher Munderu. My cousin was not a keen Christian like me so he didn’t know that Jesus whipped people when he went into the temple.

 

‘Along the way, Jesus comes across some masons in a mjengo carrying building bricks.’

 

 I breathed a sigh of relief-Jesus wasn’t headed to the temple after all.

 

‘Verily verily I say unto you, may what each of you is carrying be converted to bread,Jesus said with a firm still voice.

 

Behold, whatever each mason was carrying become a loaf of bread. The bigger the brick, the bigger the loaf was. My, why was I born after swanky Jesus had left?

 

The following Sunday a multitude had gathered at the mjengo spot, each carrying the biggest load of bricks he or she could carry. Most could barely move, but were waiting for Jesus. Some sharp boys had even put some bricks on the back of their dogs.

Teacher Munderu intoned, seemingly in a trance.

 

Jesus never fails. Teacher Munderu continued. So next Saturday, at exactly midday, Jesus appeared.

I moved closer to Teacher Munderu-bread was coming. Lots of it.

All days are not Saturdays

Jesus adjusted his akala shoes and surveyed the eager crowd. Some young chaps from Bethlehem exchanged high fives with him.

 

Hindi ciothe ti njuma !, Jesus said. All days are not Saturdays.

 

With that he was off to Cana of Galilee for a pre-wedding party. But he had to first pass at Bethany to have his dreadlocks set by certain lady who in some later date washed his feet and dried them with his hair. This man Jesus!

 

This story by Teacher Munderu sent me forth on a journey. Henceforth, I skimmed through my mums Bible looking for the story. Upto class eight, I was still looking for the story. The story wasn’t there.

 

Mum, is this story about Jesus turning stones into bread true? I asked mum someday.

Read the Bible, she answered. I re-read the Bible once more. Still, it wasn’t there. Could they have cut out Teacher Munderu’s story from the Bible?

 

When I sprouted a scraggy beard and left my doggy ways, I met a boy who told me there were other books left out in mum’s Bible I was reading. Thus I thumbed through the books of Tobith, Judith, Maccabees, Sirach and Baruch looking for that story. It wasn’t there too.

 

By the time I realized that the story was a figment of Teacher Munderu’s imagination, I had read the Holy Bible several times over. Teacher Munderu may not have taught me much at Class 4, but he lit a fire in me that led to a lifelong odyssey in search of knowledge-and truth.

 

Sometimes it’s not very important what a person was. What matters is what we remember who he was-to us.