The year was 1966 and it was mixed with happiness and misery. Happiness because i had become of age to join secondary school this was not only special but a heroic achievement since i was the only one in the entire district to pull it off.
Miserable in a sense that very early into the year, my inspirational father was amputated both legs due to the prolonged cancer he developed from gunshots while serving in the kings African Rifle (KAR) during the Second World War on the island of malindi.
Weeks later in February of the same year, it was time for me to bid farewell to the mates in the neighbourhood. Not believing that we were parting company, at least for three or four months, off I went.
My father being a military and a staunch conservative catholic, he dictated which school I had to attend. It was a boy’s seminary school.
His old comrade from his army days was sending his daughter, of my age, to a girl’s seminary next to ours. We would share most of the facilities like the chapel even the Sunday service.
In the sixties not many schools would afford separate facilities or enough of them. I had known Marita from childhood since our dads met frequently over a beer talking about their injuries, fighting the Germans and their lost comrades.
I have always been a sharp shooter. It was time to play mischief. After all I was a secondary lad (junior high school). Given the seminary environment, would I make it? Yes, I convinced myself and went into it body and soul.
Step by step, the chemistry worked out even in the holy house of God during the Sunday mass. We would exchange notes telling each other sweet nothings. However, this would be done at the highest of risks.
My Kenyan classmate called Kamau from a well to do family posed a threat to my progress. He became a third party to my risky venture.
Kapiteni was my nickname after the rank of my dad and both my soccer prowess and debating made me a cult hero even in the girls section. This obviously did dwarf Kamaua’s efforts.
By the end of the first year, Marita and I were not only inseparable but an item. At sixteen, holding your catch’s waist was the highest achievement. I did not need or know more than that.
But what i was sure of is that i had a special feeling and liking for this blemish less, slender, and glory eyed creature of the holy one above.
Colonel Mwambapa was a Tanzanian officer who had been posted in my host country to fight the white man’s war. At independence, the colonial army was disbanded and the Africans were in charge.
June 1967, the Tanzanian veteran decided that he would go back to his native country for a peace full retirement. Needless to say with his entire family.
He had to throw a farewell party for his ex-combatants. He invited all the comrades with their families and I obviously had to be there pushing around my dad in his wheelchair.
Stealthily, I managed to go tell Marita of my impending journey and the possibility of my not returning. With watery eyes, she could not utter a word nor could I. She ran away and left me sobbing and that would be the last time to see her until after more than a quarter of a century.
Ok, that was the background….next I will tell you how we reunited. I promise. And don’t write any letters to the Editor saying you don’t want the other bit of the story…it will have to run in order for the story to be complete.