Best Graduation Ever

*Alan Shadowrine*

I was minding my business, reading the ingredients of Arimis the Milking Jelly to understand the relationship between nerve endings and petroleum products, and by that, I mean strangling the monkey, AKA kunyonga, when TUKO NEWS decided to interrupt the peace of the noble research I was conducting. The notification that popped up at my made-in-China KGTel smartphone claimed that outspoken Willis Raburu had proposed to his ex-girlfriend with a Ksh100,000 worth ring. I went ahead to google how to spend Ksh 100,000 in a day, apparently because I only handle money with 7 figures in Financial Accounting classes. As expected, there were almost innumerable ways to spend such an amount of money, so I switched tabs to google how to spend Ksh50 in a week because after I bought 70 MBs from Safaricom’s Data bundles, I was left with Sh. 70 which will be used to have fun after completion of undergraduate studies. How much does a packet of KDFs cost? Before I was done skimming through the results of my search, the notification popped up, You’re offline. Check the connection and try again. You will be notified when the results are ready. That is the answer to how Safaricom spends your Sh. 20 worth data bundles in 4 minutes. 

Anyway, where was I?

Ahah, guys, I will start by telling you that Satan is not sleeping. He is walking in towns in uniform without a mask. He is sneezing into your Mpesa shops and thriving in the basket of the COVID Emergency Response Funds. He is posting pictures on Facebook with his wife, Corona. Or how else can you explain the police officers extorting bribes to families inside their cars for not wearing a mask, threatening to force quarantine them? Or the mysterious loss of funds meant to provide PP something essentials to men and women combating Covid-19 at the frontline?

Oh, sorry, let’s go back to where I was. My graduation ceremony will be happening on May 8, 2020.

 I have dearly been waiting for this graduation day to come. I started waiting for this day since my first year after I was given a retake in accounting four consecutive times. It will wrap up four years of my iconic experience in what I could say is the most prestigious university of all time. I will be crowned with honors, and there will be a thanksgiving ceremony at home thereafter. I will probably buy balloons with Sh. 30 bob from my Sh. 70 savings. The rest will be used during lockdown should there be one. There will be ululations, congratulatory notes, M-pesa messages from friends and family members who are not stingy, and maybe a jamboree to mark a significant event in my life. Those who think that all I do is roast maize and scratch mama Mso on her back with the maize cob, you are wrong. My reputation in this village has gone far and wide, especially after I was the first one in the village to join a university. Forget about the retakes and the times I almost got expelled from school for selling weed cookies. Back here in the village, I am as holy as a saint. 

Now, before the Corona thing came, the village women and church associates were willing to come and cheer me up with congratulatory gifts. I had always thought we would have to hire a 72-seater-2NK bus for the village women alone. We would take pictures and pose for melancholic photos with my friends as we throw the graduation caps high into the clouds. That would remind me of the assignments we shared, the girls we flirted with unsuccessfully, the bills we paid for them, the cats we copied from each other, and the Fridays we exploited Helb loan in a drinking spree. I simply could not wait for this day!

But then May 8 will happen…

I will wake up from my mahogany bed at exactly 6:00 A.M. Trust me you never want to miss anything on your graduation. Well back here, we don’t usually sleep on pajamas unlike I told my friends on campus. So, I will probably be wearing a baggy red t-shirt which I had worn yesterday and yesterday but one. Remembering my primary three idioms, there will be no need to visit the frog’s kingdom as I will be getting honors conferred to me virtually. I will not need ironed clothes, kept hair with scents of radiant shampoo, shiny shoes from Bata shop, graduation gown, or a good camera. I will only need Safaricom services, and with that, I mean 20GB at Ksh.20 valid for 10 minutes. I will sit up with a cheerful heart and reminisce on the life university had given me. And after all these campus vibrations, I will finally be graduating with a bachelor’s. 

The village women will have wished to hire a 72-seater-2NK bus but that is a bygone wish. Women have a thing with making a graduation ceremony sound like 4 years were a leisure walk in a park. They will make you dance to their ululations, singing a conspicuous wedding song, throwing in a traditional chorus, and orchestrating the tunes with guessed lyrics, usually not so fitting. They hold your hand and throw you in dangerous circles, asking you to go down and down, before they lighten your glistening face with hugs and kisses. That feels good until Mama Shiku pulls you to her face when she barely remembered to wash her mouth after eating roasted maize last night, and a mountain of rice with pumpkins for breakfast this morning.

With the current situation, I will have convinced my parents to allow just but four villagers to witness the peak of my educational experience. Mama Carol, for she was fond of telling Carol to follow my reputable morality and who is my distant aunt, Baba John, he is a good chef owing to his 10 years cooking experience in a local school, Mama Kinoo for her prowess in bone-breaking dances and finally, Wa Mso, who always makes me scratch her back with a maize comb while telling her stories about the university. I will make tea, though it will be sprinkled with distant sugar as my dad said he has no money to buy unnecessary things this period. I will sweep our sitting room and wipe off dust from the plastic seats for my guests, each seat at the corner of the house to respect the Covid-19 social distance guidelines. Once we get to set, we will probably chill, drink tea, drink tea again, add another cup of the same and wait until Max text me when they start calling names of the graduates. Safaricom does not tolerate people with poor trends in purchasing their services. When you do, they will milk the little you buy like you are a Friesian cow from Holland. I will then leave some more tea cooking for the post-graduation ceremony.

And then it will happen.

I am operating with a desktop cell and by that, I mean, it can barely keep charge for an hour. So, I will move my seat close to the only socket in our house and plugin my made-in-China KGtel phone. I will load some airtime and purchase some data, log into the web, and join the virtual graduation, put it on loudspeaker for everyone to hear. I hope Safaricom will be kind to me that day and consume my data bundles slowly and absently, but those are the kind of hopes that even the greatest witch can never make succesful. I will pay attention to the brief speech before the slight April rains start falling. I will have to put the phone down and pick my clothes from the line before they get rained on or otherwise, I will wear my red tee-shirt on the fourth day. Being the main factor in this event, I will hurriedly run back to the house with a flask of tea to appease Mama Mso before she starts talking. Everyone in the house will be looking up to me, expecting me to have solutions even to the poor network in our village. After all, you can’t go to university for 4 years and not handle such problems, or so the villagers think.

There will be poor service and so buffering will almost be inevitable. I am not sure if I will hear them mention my name but I will be patient to that. Despite a leaking roof, the rains will start to fall with an increasing tempo and I will look up to my parents to handle that because I will be busy seeking some network coverage. We will want to squeeze our seats closer to beat the incoming cold, but we will risk breaking the 1-meter radius rule. A thunder will strike, and the transformer at Kihingo Primary responsible for power transmission in our village will breakdown in an explosion, and KPLC will take back its electricity to Kindaruma.

My phone will slowly but surely shut down before my name is called. And even before the thunder, I will have read Dear Customer, you don’t have active data bundles 100 and 1 times. So, the man in me is so proud that he will do something. Only that sometimes, something is nothing. But who am I? I will call my name and confer it with a doctorate. I will ask mama Kinoo to lead us with a hymn, a wedding chorus will elevate the spirits. I can’t afford to have a frown on my face, my ego doesn’t allow that, so I will smile, sing, and hope that my name was called. The remaining Ksh 20 will be used to buy graduation cakes at Wa Davies shop, the lock-down will cry for itself. We will gamble them cakes with more tea and cheers to that because that, that will be the first and best virtual graduation of all times. I will then wait to get employed, only this time I hope it will be real.

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