It was my first night at St Anne’s Goto High School. Everything was unusual. Senior boys moved from one dormitory to another. They helped themselves to any newcomer’s food they could lay their hands on.
A few of us, form one pupils were forced to open our trunks and give them our preserved food- an assortment of roasted chicken, dried beef and roasted and salted groundnuts. We were awestruck. Most of us wore lugubrious faces.
Suddenly the boarding master appeared. He was a short stalky man. Mr Chibaya! He had shriek of a voice and a round face. He wore a straw hat and walked with a slouch and a stick in one hand. He was humorous and firm at the same time. Soon the senior boys who were tormenting us fled upon seeing him. “Chochocho… chochocho… chochocho!” he shouted and the senior boys knew what it meant. He would easily beat them up.
We were momentarily happy for his salvation. He told us not to be silly and never to give the senior boys our food. Soon as we retired to bed another batch of senior guys arrived. They came straight for us, noisily.
Blankets were pulled off us. They were excited like boys who had just received new toys. Excited! They shouted obscenities and uttered profanities.
I was beginning to get agitated. I remembered fighting boys slightly older than me back in the village. My mind signposted how I gained the sobriquet The Ultimate Warrior, after a World Wrestling Organisation legend, we had seen at the only black and white TV set in the village. It was owned by a storekeeper Mr Levy Chimuntu.
Each Saturday evening, we had crowded by the door stoep of his hut to watch wrestling. It was a rare spectacle. The black and white TV set, had showers that rained badly but somehow our youthful eyes managed to get the ring action.
One day while herding cattle I had a brawl with Takawaira. He was a dark guy with globe eyes. He always wanted me to do his duty to collect stray cattle while he played football. For once, I said enough was enough and refused to take orders from him.
Hastings and Brighton Muzavazi, who were bigger boys itched for a fight between us. The loser, they said, would perform the duty. The football match stopped. Manhood was at stake. My mother has a policy that if ever I reported being beaten by a boy of my age, she would use a broom to beat me up. I was aware of the consequences of any defeat.
Soon Brighton and Hasting heaped two mounds of sand, mischievously shaped into breasts. One mound was my mother’s breast. The other was that of Takawira’s mother. Oblivious of the fact that breast gave succulent life-saving milk, I was agitated when Takawira used his bare cracked feet to destroy my mother’s breast. I retaliated.
The fight exploded. We rained blows at each other. I am not sure how I managed to overpower him. He picked a broken tree branch and went after me. He beat me thrice with it but I somehow still managed to go after him. He dropped the branch and fled for dear life. But he tripped and fell. I went after him and say on him while punching his face. Do village elders not say the day a monkey is destined to die, it finds all tree slippery with dogs in hot pursuit? That is how I had gained the Ultimate Warrior tag.
My mind took me back to the school dormitory. My mother had warned me against beating other boys at school. She knew it was bound to happen, some day at the slightest provocation. I remembered and calmed down.
I covered myself under the blankets to avoid the mess. A senior boy called Collins, came after me. He pulled off the blankets and ordered this villager to stand up. I ignored but soon I received a slap too hard to ignore. I cringed! Another slap came, with lighting speed. He shouted something like, I was going to be a lesson to other new comers.
Subconsciously I threw out the rules through the window. I went after him, punched, kneed, shoved… punched…punched and punched. Shoved… Kneed and shoved. Punched and floored him.
When I came back to my senses, many boys had gathered. The boarding master had come. The Form Ones, were elated! Senior guys wanted to see the boy from the village, who was so harsh and uncompromising. A boxer even. The villager.
I felt bad afterwards as the boarding chose to counsel us and not punish us. It was a grand entrance to boarding life. I was liked in as much as I loathed. But I soon picked myself up.