A parent’s note.
As students headed home for the half-term break, following a crash program since schools were reopened, I was so surprised to get a call from the principal of my daughter’s school.
“Calvin, please pick your daughter at 9 am after meeting the board. She has a case to answer…”
I don’t remember the rest of his words as my mind was now racing. Several thoughts crossed my mind. The only reason we get lost in our thoughts is when we are passing through unfamiliar territories.
Thoughts are not feelings, they are ideas of how you should feel, right? When thoughts and feelings get confused, the truth becomes clouded and lost.
But what truth was I even thinking about? “A case to answer…” the principal’s words reverberated in my mind.
“Jasmine! Jasmine! What have you done my dear daughter?” I wondered as I rushed to get my car out of the driveway.
My wife followed, running behind me, wondering what in the world was I up to. I had just deserted breakfast, picked my car keys and headed out of the house.
“Baba Jasmine… What’s wrong?” she asked as I started the engine.
“Jasmine…” That is all I could utter.
“What’s wrong with Jasmine?” she asked, holding her waist and taking a step back.
“The principal just called stating that she has a case to answer. Amanda, can you imagine Jasmine of all people, my Jasmine?” I looked at her expecting an answer.
“Then change from your pyjamas and at least take your phone with you,” she responded.
Two minutes later, I was stuck in the Nairobi traffic jam with all other motorists on that Thursday morning.Motorists driving along Mombasa road on October 14, 2019.Kenyans.co.ke
Thoughts of the unlawful activities students had taken part in crossed my mind. The severe warning issued by the education Cabinet Secretary followed.
“It looks mundane and must stop. We are not closing any schools," the CS vowed. Was my Jasmine roped in a case?
This traffic was giving me a headache. I wished a VIP would pass so that the road would be cleared, then I would tag along and speed behind them past the traffic snarl. Even an ambulance would do better. I wondered where they were when I needed them the most.
By then, adrenaline was still pumping in my veins and everything I wanted to do was to push my senses and levels of the natural self. But I couldn’t. I felt like flooring the pedal.
A matatu honked. The driver muted a few words I couldn’t comprehend. He was seemingly angry.
I rolled down the window and heard him shout: “Get out of the way! Drive!” I wanted to shout back only to realise that I was static yet the traffic lights had turned green.
I wondered if, inside the PSV, there was a passenger who was running late, thus forcing the driver to speed. Those times when you are inside a matatu and you get angry at the driver for stopping for ten minutes to pick passengers at an undesignated terminus.
Jasmine’s school was buzzing with activity. I saw one parent hug her daughter. There was something in that simple hug that warmed the mother’s heart.
One parent was laughing with two other students besides their car. The smile started from his lips, a grin spread to his eyes and a chuckle came from his belly. They were all laughing heartily. A good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows, and bubbles all around.
Another parent was dragging her daughter’s suitcase, heading home to be together for three days.
I parked beside the administration and headed into the principal’s office. The secretary asked me to wait for a few minutes as the headteacher was occupied, listening to a parent’s request.
“That’s what CBC (Competency-Based Curriculum) demands,” I heard the principal say as he opened the door and bade goodbye to the guardian and his daughter.
“Please come in,” he asked me to enter his office. He shouldn’t even have asked. I rushed into the office and sat, looking pensive.
I introduced myself and reminded him that we had met a few times before. I rarely went to Jasmine’s school. My wife Amanda was a regular.
“Yes, Baba Jasmine. I remember you. Nothing to worry about. Let me have the secretary send in for your daughter. She is one of the best students in our current Form Four lot,” he stated and rang the secretary.
Did I get him right? One of the best... Is this irony in its best form or…
Jasmine appeared with a smile on her face. You should have seen her. She looked beautiful as her mother. Amanda and I always debate on whose smile she took. Amanda always wins, but I am sure she always cheats.
“Have a seat Jasmine, kindly tell your parents what you have been up to,” the principal stated.
There it was. The bombshell. I thought. The room was silent, my heart was racing. This would be the first time Jasmine had been caught up in a scandal at school.
“I received a call from Life Music, they want me to join them on a three-day tour as I benchmark on music and composition, getting ready for my musical exams,” Jasmine stated.
“What!” I thought I didn’t hear her clearly. She repeated.
“Is this the case she has to answer?” I asked. The principal and Jasmine looked at each other and burst into laughter.
I looked at them for a few minutes and laughed too. But I didn’t know what we were laughing about.
“It was a prank daddy,” she stated in between her laughter. “I knew I wouldn’t convince you about this at home. You and mummy would have declined to let me go,” she stated.
I looked at Jasmine and smiled. This girl will finish me one day. She adored music. I wish you could hear her sing. She’d been to some talent shows on TV in Kenya and was ranked among the top.
But joining a band on a tour, in her last year in school was a big NO!
“I know we said I would take a break first. But this is so big for me,” she pleaded looking at the principal for help. I yielded because she had already channeled my anger at the prank. I didn’t have the energy to argue.
The principal added that she was related to one of the band members who would keep an eye on her.
“It’s okay,” I added, promising to convince her mother.
It then rang in my mind. Neither Amanda, my wife, nor I, thought of it. Promise that you won’t laugh. We did not think of calling the principal to inquire what the issue was. As a parent, I bet, the one thing we all dread is hearing that our children have been caught up in a scandal at school.
“As you are still here. Can we kindly talk about her fee arrear? This is the first time I am witnessing a delay from your end,” the principal weighed in.
“Yes. Yes. We used the money to fund some business idea and I was heading to the bank to get a loan before you pranked me,” I responded.
He wondered why I was heading to the bank. And inquired where I banked. “Co-operative bank,” I replied.
“You can also get loans, track loans, check balance and bank statement up to to 1 year. Register for Co-op Online service by clicking https://onlinebanking.co-opbank.co.ke, select personal internet banking and click on existing customers to register.
She added that for new users, registration is instant and free of charge. All you need is your National ID and any of your Co-op Bank ATM cards.
That was faster than I had thought. I realised that I could also pay my tokens, water and other bills.
“Thank you for paying my school fees and allowing me to join Life Music pa’,” Jasmine stated as we headed to the car.
“Don’t tell your mama I fell for a prank,” I responded as we laughed.
I bet somewhere, some parents driving around also saw us laughing and felt happy for us.