The fat graduand. The laughing ugly girl.
But you would have laughed it off.
And your father wouldn’t have stormed into college,
with plain clothes policemen.
No arresting a teacher for having struck you.
No epileptic attacks, Maggie.
No collapsing at your own graduation
fourteen years later.
We watch you walk to be given the power to read.
You’re not a baby now, Maggie.
You’re not a fat spoilt baby at all.
You’re not ugly anymore, Maggie.
You don’t twist your mouth when you speak.
We’re not envious of your having gotten an epilepsy attack
just when the teacher was about to strike you, Maggie.
But no epilepsy protects us from the teacher’s cruelty.
No disease prevents us from going to school, unlike you.
Not even simple Malaria, Maggie.
And our fathers won’t come to school with policemen
because a teacher struck us.
But you’re dead now.
We buried you, Maggie.
And we never took it back;
the fat, the ugly, the twisted mouth.
We just wanted your epilepsy.
We just wanted a father
who would not beat us because teachers beat us, Maggie.
We just wanted a disease, a condition, the police, a mother, anything,
to protect us from the cruelty of the math teacher.
And you had them.
Won’t you just understand that, Maggie?
(c) Sanya Noel [KENYA]
– Winner of the Babishai Niwe Poetry Award 2016