Silence is golden, they say. For the most part of my primary school, I was a captain. One of the things that were expected of me as a captain was to ensure that no one was making noise in class. Woe unto you if your class was heard making noise by the teacher on duty but failed to cough up a list of noisemakers on command.
Silence meant that the students were studying. Joke on them though, because students soon found ways of communicating. Like note passing. And making faces. There are other such ways of passing messages. Silent communication for instance is passive communication where robots do not directly pass messages among themselves. Rather, they observe the behavior and location of neighboring robots and act accordingly.
Everyone has a different way of interacting and exchanging information with others. Couples are said to have synchronized minds after long periods of spending time with one another. All it takes is one look into the eyes of your significant other for you to know what they want. Here in Isinya School for the deaf, sign language is heavily relied on.
It is a very hot Saturday and I regret wearing a black blouse. The sun seems to be on a mission, a bad mission. For a minute, I forget about the heat because the little ones keep giving me hugs. Hugs are therapeutic. They make you have a tingly sensation around your chest area. Like tea does early in the morning when the air is colder than your ex’s heart. These children are big on physical touch. Hugging is their way of saying I love you and thank you. Most of them have sharp eyesight because they hear with their eyes.
I low-key feel good because I have received more hugs in this place than I have in my entire life. There is so much love in the confines of these walls; I wish I had swung by on 14th February. It’s an enclosed world where no one knows what it sounds like when birds are chirping, or when it’s raining. They only know it’s raining when they are asked by one of their teachers to go unhang their clothes. They do things together and move together. They eat a lot. Like locusts. They need the energy to sign, communicate, and think.
Sekoya East Africa Magazine organized this event. Michelle and team doing the most as usual. I will not forget to mention the amazing ladies in the creative industry who showed up; Chelsea, Ayuma, Martha, Kandy, Risper. And of course, Faustin who I thought felt like fish out of water, being the only guy who had tagged along.
The kids have been split into seven groups. Each group has been assigned an item to make. There are beadwork, bowties, bookmarks, pompoms, and cards. My table is making bookmarks. Never in my life have I made bookmarks before, but I’m supposed to teach a group of about 15 little children how to do it without making a mess with the glue.
I set out to do it and it’s easier than I thought it would be. We are all learning on the job and there are a couple of kids who are learning so fast. Fabregas, for one, is on his fourth bookmark as I struggle with my second. In my defense though, I have to oversee what all fifteen of them are doing; momentarily helping one with the glue work, or to resize the cards using scissors.
There’s a boy with blue eyes in the table that’s making pompoms. I keep going to their table to borrow scissors even when there’s one on my table.I can’t stop myself from satisfying the desire to glare into his eyes. Writers are often very extravagant with giving their characters blue eyes, when only eight percent of the world’s population has blue eyes. And here I am, looking into blue eyes. Savouring the moment. Taking zoomed photos of his face just so I can flex on my WhatsApp status.
During lunch break, one of the teachers tells us that one of the kids asked when we will be visiting again. And that fills our hearts with beautiful emotions. The plan was to hang out with them while crafting stuff up until 1700hrs then leave. But just as we are about to leave, it begins raining. Hard. Like the rains are professing the gratitude in the hearts of these little ones. I slip into antisocial mode and check on my phone. There are a couple of unread messages in my WhatsApp and just as I am about to respond to one, I feel a tap on my shoulder. It’s one of the teachers. I smile and say hello. He taps his left ear then shakes his head, to mean he is deaf.
He signals me to follow him, and he leads me to his desk. I assume it is his because when we get there, he pulls out a phone from the black bag on the wooden desk. He opens his WhatsApp, and goes to type something on his status.
M: What is your name?
I take out my phone too and do the exact same thing.
M; Second name?
M; Mine is Mutai. Where is your home?
M; I’m from Kaplong.
Bor; No shit!
Bor; Sorry. I was just exclaiming, because I went to Kaplong girls.
M; That’s nice(Now he’s visibly smiling.)
Bor; Yeah. I know. Do you like it when it rains?
Bor; I like going to school. I love it when it rains.
M; I thought you were Kikuyu.
Bor; Is it because of my big forehead? (He laughs so hard I can see his wisdom teeth. I make a mental note to email Churchill later because I’m hella funny)
M; You are brown.
Bor; I get that a lot.( I hit the send button by mistake and the status reads just now. As I hurriedly try to delete it, he looks at me like you would look at a clumsy toddler )
Michelle signals me ad says we have to leave.
Bor; I have to leave.
He goes to the keypad in his phone and I key in my phone number.
PS; A chef’s hat (officially known as a “toque”) is traditionally made with 100 pleats, meant to represent the 100 ways to cook an egg.