“Hey! Give me your bags,” the bigger boy said panting.
“Don’t worry about me. I’m okay. You look more tired than I am,” the younger boy said
giggling although he was clearly not able to keep up with the pace.
“Dad said that I’m big enough to take care of myself,” he added.
“Sure. I can see that you are! Did he also tell you that you are old enough to endure Samu’s
cane?” the older boy asked.
The older boy was called Jeremiah but everyone called him Jerry while the younger one was
Patrick but people were used to Pat. Jerry was thirteen years old and his brother was ten years old.
Patrick was holding the hand of Liz, his young sister. Jerry turned and looked behind at his brother
and sister, a faint smile on his face. At the mention of Samu, Pat and Liz had suddenly hesitated
momentarily before their legs regained strength.
“What!” Pat exclaimed. “Jerry, why didn’t you remind me he is on duty this week?” Pat
asked looking accusingly at his brother and handing over the schoolbags.
Patrick’s bag looked expensive although it had seen better days. Its sides and straps were
frayed. Its zip had become detached on both sides, leaving the metal fastener jammed in the middle
where it held the two lips together. Some books could be seen peeping out. Liz’s bag was new but
Samu was what they called teacher Andrew. It was the shortened form of the biblical
Samson. According to the Bible, Samson was a very strong person but ill-tempered. Among his
numerous feats, it is reported that he killed a lion with his bare hands by ripping it apart. Another
time, he killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey. He also pulled up the massive gates of
a city and carried them far off to the top of a hill just to teach the inhabitants a lesson after they
wronged him. Just like Samson, teacher Andrew was a tall, huge, muscular man. Everyone in the
school and the community, therefore, dreaded to cross his path.
There were many amazing stories that the children whispered about him. They said that he
could eat a whole goat effortlessly. Some said that he did not even need help to slaughter it. He
would just take a goat, pin it to the ground with one leg, use one hand to hold the neck and use the
other hand to cut its neck. After that, he made a small incision in the stomach. He then ripped the
skin off the goat using his massive hands.
Teacher Andrew was always in sleeveless shirts or T-shirts. No one had ever seen him in a
coat; not even when the weather was wintry. Indeed, the weather in Mahiga sometimes did get
hostile. During the rainy season, blustery winds would blow from the highlands accompanied by icy
drizzles but that was not enough to make him wear a coat or a sweater. The only extra item he
would have during such times was a hat. He preferred Stetson hats that were commonly referred to
in the area as ‘Godfathers’. Teacher Andrew did not have a family. It was rumoured that his family was somewhere in
Nyeri. Other rumours had it that his wife had run away because of his eating habits. No one knew
much about him and no one was brave enough to ask him. If he had ever confided in a friend in
Mahiga, and his friends could be counted on the fingers of one hand, then it was clear that that
friend was too afraid to let out the secret. All that was known about the teacher was that he came,
bought a farm and built a house.