When we formed a grand coalition with Garang way back in primary school no one thought it could last. Garang’s real name was Kihato which directly translated means broom. He bore great resemblance to the revered Sudanese fighter-John Garang.He was built like a bull and by the time we were in standard six he intimidated everyone including teachers but not Mr Tinega who was the maths teacher,our class teacher and the discipline master.
Garang and I were neighbours at home and we could also boast to be friends though ours was a friendship of convenience.He was my deskmate in class and I taught him much in class in exchange for his tutorship outside class.For example to help him avoid Mr Tinega’s cane I usually let him copy my homework in exchange for his services as my personal bodyguard.
This arrangement worked very well until the day Garang copied everything including my name.Since Tinega’s head was not a pumpkin he decided to give us the best of his six on our backsides.I was being punished for letting Garang copy my homework while Garang was being punished for being a photocopier..
The caning was usually held ceremonially infront of the whole class to serve as a lesson to others who might be tempted to fall into the same vise. When the treatment was being administered on your backside you were not permitted to cry out loud.Crying was allowed but from the inside,you had to keep it to yourself.Despite the desire to impress everyone,especially the girls,with bravery,no one ever went through Mr Tinega’s hands without shedding a tear.Garang was an exception,no one ever saw him cry.As expected,when I received my share of the canes I shed tears.
When it was Garang’s turn he bore it bravely and he even told Mr Tinega,”thank you”,after the beating.He just went short of shaking his hands for a service well delivered.It was then that I decided I had to learn the secret behind having a tough backside.It was with that resolve that at break time I asked Garang how he managed to have his rear tough and hard like a stone.He smiled and asked me to follow him.When we got behind the only pit latrine that served the whole school,he unfurled a whole jeans trouser from under his shorts.I could not believe that Garang,who everyone thought was stupid,could be so creative.I decided I would not only dethrone him as mr Brave but I would also step up the game.
When I got home I illegally borrowed my father’s corduroy trousers since at that age I did not own anything that could be called a trouser.In the morning I had trouble tacking it in and up my shorts.Finally I managed though it was not an easy task.I looked like I had fattened up overnight and so I avoided anyone who could have thought of asking me any questions.I had complete faith in my ingenuity and I knew that no one would discover what I had done.
At school I was seeking to be punished and therefore made sure that I made it to the list of noisemakers.When my name which was the only name in the list that da, was handed to Mr Tinega,everybody looked at me pitifully and fearfully knowing what I was going to get.Beside the name the classs monitor had written X10 to mean that I had made noise equivalent to that of ten people.
I was called to the front of the class and I stepped forward majestically and with great pride.Today I was going to show them how real men behaved!Mr Tinega started with the usual speech,”I am going to deal with you horizontally,vertically and perpendicularly until you lie low like an envelope.”Before he could say,”inama”,I was touching my toes obediently and excitedly waiting for the punishment to be meted out.After six strokes of the cane I STRAIGHTENED UP and with a big smile told Mr Tinega ,”thank you.”He could not believe it and he ordered me to bend again and I did so without a fuss.He whacked me like he had never done to anyone before but I kept smiling.I stole a glance at the class and saw them look at me with admiration and I actually saw them holding back from applauding me.Then,disaster struck!!
The folded up trouser decided to misbehave.It peeped from under the shorts and before I could sneak it back up,Mr Tinega saw it.Now I was in real trouble.I was ordered to strip to my birthday suit and to give me some encouragement the cane fell on me furiously.By the time I had undressed fully I had perfomed quite a strip dance as the cane never stopped rising and falling.Everything was out there for all to see.I was quite embarrassed as everybody laughed and pointed at my ‘mouse.’It was seeking to retreat but still a good part of it was still hanging outside.I was finally allowed to dress up and I did it faster than lightning.Everybody including Mr Tinega was laughing and Garang was the heartiest of them all.He was rolling on the floor shouting,”Don Corion,Don Corion!”I thought he meant to say Don Corleone but that did not matter.Soon the whole class joined him in shouting and chanting the name.I was spared further punishment though I knew I a lot more awaited me at home as Mr Tinega decided to keep my father’s trouser.From that day I joined Garang’s rank with a new name to show for it.Don Corion,the legend,was born.