WANJURAH: Why cops are being turned into cowards of the counties
There was something in Muthoni’s mockery that was unacceptably insulting even to my five-year-old ears.
I think I was in Class One, having skipped nursery school, the latter being one of the benefits of being the child of a teacher in a village school. It meant you could get a few favours and bend some rules.But as the painful lesson from Muthoni proved, it also had its downside such as exposing you to bullies who derived pleasure from reducing to tears a favoured child.
Muthoni and I took the same road home. Being older, bigger and rougher than me, thanks in part to having repeated her class, made even our friendliest contact game to end in tears for me. I must have reported my ordeal in Muthoni’s hands so many times that my mum either got tired of reprimanding her or concluded her son was a cry-baby.
On a Friday early afternoon while walking home, I accidently kicked my ball into the bushes. When I went to retrieve it, and believing I was alone, I decided to relieve myself. I was fumbling with my zip having concluded my business when I heard Muthoni’s mocking laughter behind me. What she told me next could have transformed a peace ambassador into a murderer.
Typical of boys my age, I had slightly messed my shorts with a little trickle. But Muthoni ridiculed this as evidence of smallness. She claimed her younger brothers, who were twins closer to my age and in the Nursery class, could send jets of urine to considerable distance unlike my efforts. And to rub it in, she claimed to have challenged them to a competition on distance covered and lost miserably.
Size matters even to a young boy. Keen to redeem my honour, I offered my challenge on this unusual urine test hoping to prove that I was better than her and her brothers. She suggested we refine the contest to make it more competitive. We would not just do it aimlessly but we would direct our efforts literally at each other! We set the date for the following Monday.
My child mind forgot our Monday rendezvous until Muthoni urged me to hurry after the last lesson. As soon as the last of our other classmate had branched off to leave just the two of us, she led me to a verdant shielded by a thick bush. She convinced me that ruining my clothes would get her and me in big trouble with mum. She advised that I remove them, fold them and place them next to my school bag. I obliged.
Muthoni said it would be bad manners for a boy to see a girl naked. Could I please close my eyes while she undressed? Mum had threatened me with blindness if I ever saw a girl’s nudity. I not only closed my eyes but gave her my back too.
I heard what sounded like a powerful splash. But I was so determined not to risk blindness that I only opened my eyes when I heard Muthoni’s paroxysms of laughter. When I turned up, she was standing next to my clothes and the school bag that were now drenched with her efforts.
I had lost the contest even before it began. As I slipped back my wet clothes, the pungent smell of urine accentuated by the bitterness of the unfairness of my loss, my dam of tears broke. I cried all the way home side by side with a laughing and taunting Muthoni.
Mum was unwell that day and I found her home. I thought this was a godsend opportunity to extract her maximum anger with Muthoni’s humiliation. My clothes were still wet with her efforts and my exercise book was completely ruined. Seeing her, I instinctively raised the volume of my crying hoping to extract her maximum sympathies.
What I got instead was a beating unlike any before. Mum may have been sick but I don’t know where she got the energy. She beat me with her hands. She beat me with slippers. She sent me to fetch several canes. While at it, she ranted of her fatigue with the monotony of my complaints against Muthoni. Did she give birth to a son or a wimp who was now being urinated on by a girl, the ultimate coup de grace on a man!
Amid the beating, she made me promise I would seek a suitable revenge against Muthoni and that never again would I bring home complaints against her or bullying by anyone else. It was time I learnt to fight back like a man. I made the promise.
The on-going trial of Alistair Llewelyn for assault on Corporal Mercy Wandera reminded me of my ordeal in Muthoni’s hands. My first reaction on viewing the viral clip was bewilderment at the cowardice exhibited by Mercy. While it is unacceptable to bully a police officer on duty, and more so a woman, there is a bigger problem in a police officer who allows herself to be tossed around like a marionette.
I saw little of Mercy’s resistance efforts. Whereas it is natural to expect a police officer to put up a good fight, all she did was to pucker her lips and mouth feeble protests. Yet the pilot does not posses a barrel chest, boxer biceps or other physical endowments that would make confronting him evidently unwise. Like the Nyandarua cowards who preferred to protest from the safety of distance or behind a phone camera, her conduct was an insult to bravery.
What makes her cowardice the more worrying is that it is not an isolated trait. I imagine skills in self-protection and physical combat would be a must-feature in a police-training curriculum. But we have seen even village drunkards who are struggling to remain on their feet beat the hell out of our police. Last year, a very average-looking lorry driver took on three officers and left them pleading for his mercies.
The reason why our officers have turned into cowards of the counties has something to do with their physical fitness, nay, lack of it. The joke is that you can tell a Kenyan cop who is yet to enjoy a posting to the traffic department from the waistline. They tend to be stick-thin compared to their rotund counterparts nourished by bribes.
Few officers bother to keep fit. Few stand a chance in a one-on-one with well-fed man. Few can throw a good punch unless at a handcuffed suspect! Unless IG Boinnet enforces a regimen, there will be more of Mercy-like victims among its ranks.
I spent many years of my childhood scheming how to honour my revenge pledge on Muthoni. The passing of the years made a rematch of the urine test untenable. In teenage, I thought I could have the last laugh on her by luring her to a game that would have basically relied on the same tools. But by then, she was dating the village renegade, a mean fellow I was careful not to upset. Soon, she dropped off Form Two to have the first of her several children. Suffice to say, I never got my revenge!