It is strange that when I hear the word outcast, I remember Kamau, the boy who sat behind me in class three; the boy whose name might have as well been spelled thus because everything about him was. I remember how nothing could keep us from playing rounders; how nothing could tear us from bambrika (apparently it’s public van?); how we made holes everywhere to play or made balls from socks because playing was the reason we went school. Nothing could tear us from our games. Nothing of course, except him.
I remember how strange it was sounding his name somewhere between Musyoka, Mumbua, Mwikali and Mumbe. It did not help that he had browned teeth and carried with him a macro-environment. Then, we thought he controlled the weather with the way we could always smell him a few meters away from the classroom. We treated him like he was spiked; like he was the Minotaur, looking to devour us for sustenance.
So, when Kamau stopped coming to school, no one was really surprised, just relieved. When Kamene, the class informant, asked her mother as she later told us, she was told that the gods had finally smiled on us and removed the mbui (goat) from within us. The surprise came when we learnt that he had been sponsored for exemplary behavior into Utawala academy-then the dream of every mother for her child.
That day we sat still in class during tea breaks when normally we would have been out playing. For every one of us, envy wore a different shade. Some marveled that such a weird-smelling and equally weird named boy could qualify to be in such a prestigious school. Others simply refused to believe it. I wondered how a mbui could be fated for a life designed for a sheep. I remember that it was then that I first questioned some of the things our fathers taught us through our mother’s mouths. It was then I first wished that my name had come with instructions. I also wished I had been outcast because even in his absence, the mbui, had stopped our games one last time.