He was called George, just like me, but we were nothing alike. I was tiny. Puny hands. Frail. I was like this tall (imagine a dog’s height). And I was, let me just say this blatantly because it is true, bright. At least that is what my primary school teachers called me. I was one of those pupils who they hoped would be admitted into Maseno School. Maseno was the only national school in Nyanza.

Nobody called me George back then. They called me Magunga. Back then, during my primary school days, I hated the name Magunga. I badly wanted people to call me by my English name, George. They didn’t. They refused, and so did the guys in high school. I hated Magunga because I wanted a more sophisticated, more urban, more suave.  George was that name. A name of royalty. A name for kings and princes.

Later on, after I grew up and hair sprouted from my pits, my father told Magunga stands for greatness. A name he gave me after his uncle died. A man who made him who he was. And I owned that name like a birthright.

The other George was called George, not by his surname. Unlike me, he was big, and strong and academically incompetent, and many a time he picked on me. I did not even talk to him. I kept off his path. When I saw him walking on the corridors of M.M. Shah Primary School, I stepped aside. When he came to the canteen or Dining Room, I gave him way.

I feared that boy.

Once, in Class 8, during break time, he found me finishing on a class assignment. For no reason at all, George slapped me. I cried. And some girls who saw me crying laughed at me. Such a baby, he called me.

It was always easy when my elder brother, Deogratias, was around. Whenever someone bullied me, I would go to him crying, and sometimes he would kick their butt. It kept them away. Until he cleared primary school and went to Form One, and I was left behind in Class Eight. Defenseless.

Girls loved George. The bully, not me. I did not understand it. Okay, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they loved him just as much as they loved the next guy. Maybe I was just too conscious about his presence when he was around me, so from where I was, they seemed fascinated by him. And it baffled me. He was too black. Too daft to answer anything in class. Too removed from reason. But they loved him nonetheless. He charmed them with his strength.

I wished he could just die.

For once, my wish came true. He died. And it was not one of those painless deaths that we all wish for. Neither was it a valiant one. He did not die for his country, or for family, or for love, or for anything honourable. He was killed. Someone in a blue uniform pumped lead into his body, and my guess is that he did not die instantly. He bled out. He suffered. More than I did under his reign of terror in primary school.

I was in Maranda. Form Two, I believe, when news came to us that George was shot dead by the Flying Squad. One of my former schoolmates informed me, and from the smoke in his voice, I could tell that he was really hurt by the news. I feigned pain, but deep down, I was glad that he was dead.

George got mixed up with a very bad crew in Kisumu, and they were gunned down by the bad ass Flying Squad, right in front of their gate in Tom Mboya estate. Apparently, a plan to rob some hapless stranger had gone sour. That is what I was told. Some friends said that it was a setup. That George was innocent, and that the police framed him.

I did not buy it. In my head, he had simply found someone else to pick on after I went to high school. He got what he deserved. He was not helping anyone anyway. Just another life form, preying unfairly on weaker life forms, and taking up space.

I know we are all dying. Living is just a slow form of dying. You know, Valar Morghulis. I know my time to dance with death is coming, and my death may be a lot worse. If the Christians are right, it is very possible that I am headed to hell. But George, guess who is still alive and breathing after all? Me. The one you ruined primary school for. I am the the one still standing. I am bigger these days. When we meet in hell, we will square this out mano-a-mano. I am not scared of you anymore. I am only scared you will beat me with experience, since you will have had a lot of time to get acquainted with the Devil’s lair.

Thank goodness this chap did not get a chance to reproduce.

Today I saw a photo of George as I scoured the internet. It was posted in our primary school Facebook group. It is a group photo of boys in my class. I was not in it. Which did not surprise me. I must have chickened out from getting into that shot because of him.

That is why I wrote this bleeding eulogy. I remembered him. I remembered the way this mean meathead slapped me for nothing. The way he roughed me up. Took my shit, not because he needed them, but because he could. I remembered him, and I had no sweet memory of him. I found nothing to say except these three sincere words;

“A welcome departure.”

Death equalizes us all.

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15 Comments

  1. Gasheri Gichunge on

    Ok, this guy made pry school living hell, to be the bigger person just forgive him,

  2. This reminds me of my form 1 Geography teacher.
    The guy hated me for reasons best known to him.
    He would come to class during preps and pick a group of noisemakers-I was always in the group.
    He would punish us for nothing.
    Then one fateful Sunday evening he died in a road accident.
    I felt so many things but sad wasn’t one of them.

    Deep deep in my heart i said,” Oh Thank God”

  3. Many people would be mad to hear you say that. But most of them are people who were never affected. For me, I will speak truthfully when I say this; someone who picks on you when you are weak is a coward.
    The fact that they are dead does not make them nice people.

  4. I was also tiny and puny, but surprisingly I never got bullied in primary school. But in high school they had a field day with me. My heart still skips a beat when I think of those bullies, matter-of-factly. Recently I met one employed as a cyber-attendant in one of Nairobi’s stalls, and I kind of felt better, an ego boast if you’d like to call it that. I think life has a way of squaring things out eventually.

  5. Abdallah Omar on

    death is an equaliser?a bullet that fell a common criminal cant compare to Guevara take

  6. dennis kabutei on

    Fighting means you could lose, bullying means you can’t. A bully wants to beat somebody, he doesn’t want to fight… Your reunion With George in hell (if Christians are right,) he probably won’t want to square it with you. He won’t want to lose to those puny hands

  7. I was once bullied by this girl in nursery school, cried the whole day until my mama soothed me later at home, and up to this day I still remember that big good for nothing girl’s face, she was so big and I thought she should have been in upper class, found out later I was right, but she had no right to bully me, but I got my sweet revenge when I beat her in school as she dropped out instead of repeating class seven and share a class with me

  8. rob musula on

    bullying scars for life.it is inhuman to pick on young guys and unleash terror on them just because you are stronger.that would be cool in the apes world,but for humans,stop!
    I have seen the effects of bullying first hand on my form two son.thank God I was able to step in.

  9. Honestly, I can’t relate. I’ve never been bullied or picked on by anyone, not at school, at home or even the workplace (at least not yet)

  10. You nailed it bro. death equalises us all. And i have never gotten round to the idea of people speaking in flowery terms about the dead, just because they are dead. How many people celebrated when hitler died? Still, bullying moments are moments are moments that stick with us, if christians are right. for all eternity.

  11. I saw this post and was shocked if not appalled, okay George is dead, still i don’t expect you to be sensitive and feel sorry for him,but if with all this education you got, i think you should know better ,maybe be wiser. Many of us got bullied,abused and called names, but we got over it because it was primary school, you grow up to realize we all had our flaws,but let me get to it,George had a rough life, i was his neighbor and i was scared of him,i remember he mostly worked at their shop after school with his younger brothers and would go home at even 9pm, also on weekends it was brutal , l if you could see how hard they worked you would know, no wonder his hands were so tough ,he never used to read as most of the times his elder brother would have girls over ,even other parents sympathized with their plight but nobody talked, i won’t imply he was a saint but i will tell you he wasn’t what you described him,some of us understood him and knew, i’m sorry you got to see the worst of him,in truth he was kind and generous, he died being in the company of his elder brother who was a drifter,well not everybody’s destiny is cast in stone and George was unfortunate, but if hating him for that incident makes your boat float, well by all means have at it.

  12. We all knew him differently. If he was good to you then sawa. But he was not good to me. Ever. Not even once. You honour him. I do not.
    And no, hating him does not float my boat. I wrote this in a moment of anger. Hell, I do not think about him a lot. He is not worth it.

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