It wasn’t my first. Maybe my second or third. But its the most memorable.
The weekend started on a high note. Rather, a joyful note. Classes ended at around 1pm. After lunch the whole school got to work. Cleaning, scrubbing, picking litter, arranging, preparing. In the evening we would have visitors. We had to be ready for them.
We sang as we washed the classrooms. We almost brushed the grass outside spotlessly clean. Even cobwebs that were nonexistent were removed. The trees were pruned. Lights on the rectangle in the middle of the school were repaired, after all, they were only used five times in a year. Two times during the director’s sons’ birthdays, and the other three times were for occasions like this.
We didn’t even need supervision for anything. Everyone was motivated. The dorms were squeaky clean. Our clothes neatly arranged in case any of the visitors wanted to see our things as they were in the habit of doing. Even our hair, though undone from the month or so since we last saw barbers and saloonists, were well brushed.
4pm. We had finished all activities. Now we waited. But unlike visiting days where we waited neatly in classrooms to be called as the parents came, this time we waited outside. In a disorganized manner. The teachers, for this one weekend, wouldn’t use their canes on us. They became a part of us. For this one weekend in a term.
So we all pretended to be doing something outside, positioning ourselves in such a way that we would see their lorry coming. From Nairobi. We waited. Excitedly. Expectedly. Anxiously. Any car that approached would raise our hopes just to dash them when it turned out to be a local vehicle plying that route.
The sun would be setting in that direction from where the visitors would come from. But who cared about looking the sun in the eye?
And then the frenzy. No one can claim to not have been the first one to see the truck. But that didn’t matter. Not when everyone was running to the assembly ground to welcome our visitors. That was the only time, in the history of that school, that students could be the first ones to welcome visitors.
They hugged us. Made jokes about how they were almost not coming. High fived those too behind in the circle to receive hugs. Asked us how we were doing. Not expecting complicated answers. Just normal stuff.
Then they prayed. With us. They thanked God for the journey mercies, and prayed for the weekend. A short prayer. Longer prayers would be done later. The older boys in class 7&8 would then help them carry their equipment into the hall. That would be our home for this weekend.
All was going well. Until Saturday night. As usual, we had eaten, played games, had a session in the hall full of preaching, singing and praying. This was the last session of the day, before going to bed.
So we have eaten supper and are seated down waiting for our visitors turned friends to come. Mwikulu is playing from the speakers. Small animated chatter can be heard across the hall.
Then abrupt silence from the back that sends chills to the front with its eeriness. Before we could digest what was happening, screams. Those ear piercing screams that cut across your heart. So we all turn to look behind and we see nothing. The door is opened. The door was at the back. Its dark outside. The screaming students from behind there are under the chairs. We are now confused. What is happening?
Seconds later we get our response. I am pulled first before I see it. I am seated at the end of a bench. Next to me is the middle space where people walk to the front. With my bible and notebook in my hands. The next moment i am at the end of the bench. Near the wall. On top of bodies hiding under the short benches. Things were flying around. Bodies were falling around.
Someone hands me their pair of spectacles. She’s under bodies. And more are crushing on her. She just holds them up, I take them since my body is on top of the pile. I still don’t know why the whole hall is hiding. Why my fellow pupils are screaming their lungs out. Why is the body next to mine shivering? Why is that other person who is whimpering squeezing me to the wall? Why are they using our bodies as a shield, those under us that is?
It roars. That’s when I look at it. Yellow faced. With red horns out of the head. Skull like eyes. Bloody red mouth. Green ears. A dark flowing robe. A skeleton on the front of the body or what looks like it. Long skinny white hands. And nails. Long bones that look like nails more than 20centimetres long.
I couldn’t even look away. It noticed me looking at it, and made a roaring noise facing our side. The benches were our saving grace. They were arranged too closely together, preventing it, with its huge body size from coming to get us.
The screams had died down. Some were crying. The hall was filled with whimpering, sniffs and terror. You could literally feel the room beat in symphony with the erratic heartbeats of the 98 primary school kids in it. Gladwell fainted. Lucky held me to prevent me from falling. Loise was at my other side. Crushed between me and the next body. Hiding in between. No one was breathing.
It reached to the front. Followed by its minions. None of us remembers what happened immediately afterwards. Or how long it took us to start breathing again. Or who carried Gladwell outside. Or how our bodies untangled. Or how the owner of the spectacles I was holding, found them in her blind state. Or how our bodies stopped shaking uncontrollably. Or how terror eased out of the room.
But what each of us remembers, is that; on the 18th of October, year 2003, on a terrifying Saturday night, the 98 of us, gave our lives to Christ. After having seen the devil.