Story 6 of 7 More Detail
06 Abel’s LessonMwaniki Ndung’u
Abel a fifteen-year-old boy who loved technology and science fiction lived in the neighbourhood of Matopeni. He was the very definition of a geek, and while he lived there and went to a secondary school near there, he was an outsider and not very popular with the kids in the classroom. In fact, he was constantly bullied at school.
One bright sunny day, Abel sat at the edge of the school playground enjoying a breakfast snack and watching a new series being released live online. He would occasionally pause to look at the other kids as they socialised and played soccer. His day was doing well until his joyful cocoon was abruptly punctured by a group of older school boys.
“Look at this fool watching that nonsense on the Internet!” Said one of the boys.
Abel, on principle, Paid no attention to them.
But the bully insisted. “What’s wrong? Are you ignoring us, idiot?”
He then took the sandwich that Abel was eating and threw it to the ground.
This annoyed Abel who confronted them. “Why do you always do this? What’s your problem? Just leave me alone!”
“Now you’re very brave, eh?” said another of the bullies.
“What are you going to do to us, fool? Go cry to your mommy!”
Abel rose up in defiance, but the leader of the bullies pushed him, and he fell to the ground.
“Let’s get out of here. This fool isn’t worth it,” The bully said.
The bullies left Abel on the floor while others in the playground laughed at him (or at least, that’s how it seemed to him, as he felt like the whole yard was staring at him).
That evening, while at home and feeling honestly discouraged, he decided to connect to his computer (a little device that projected a holographic screen and a virtual keyboard) to check his social network. All he saw were shares of the playground incident from his schoolmates. He had very few friends who could stand for him. Most of them belonged to science fiction groups, video games or scientific studies and shunned any kind of violence. He would have loved a girlfriend, but the only women he knew were his relatives. This situation depressing even him more, so he decided to eat dinner and go to sleep early.
The next day, the bullies again attacked Abel. Being of slim build, he was no match for the bullies who used his tribe to mock him even further. Abel was Kikuyu and even though he did not know much about his ancestors, mocking their traditions angered him even more.
And as the day ended, just as they were about to go home with only two friends he had at school, Abel was once again accosted by the bullies.
“You come around here again?” The leader of the bullies said.
“I want to have a bit of fun before the day ends by hitting someone,” said another of the bullies mockingly.
Too proud to run, Abel and his two companions had no choice but to face what was coming, they knew the fight would not last long and were left in terrible condition after the bullies were done with them. Going while shouting insults back at them.
“It’s time you learnt how to fight. I’m getting bored of doing the same thing every day,” said the leader of the bullies.
The boys got some help from people walking by and were taken to the school infirmary. Later, when Abel went home, he went straight to his room. He was so frustrated that all he wanted to do was cry.
Later in the night, his father knocked on his room and entered. He had heard about what happened to with his son.
“Hey, champ,” said his father. “Tell me what happened”.
“Nothing happened”, Abel said as he started to sob.
“I heard about what happened to you”, his father continued. “You’re having problems at school, it’s not a good situation, but we all go through situations like these in life sometimes”.
“It’s not just that”, Abel said. “They bother me of my tribe, I have few friends, and no girl will even look at me. I’m a freak”.
“No you’re not”, his father replied. “That’s not what we see. You only need to believe in yourself. You have enormous potential, and you have to learn to exploit it”.
“What good is it to be smart if they are stronger and take advantage of that?”
“You’d be surprised”, said his father, smiling. “Many times, intelligence is much more effective than brute force. The key is to believe in yourself and ignore what others say or think. Many times, people just do what they do to feel good about themselves, but deep down, they are truly insecure”.
“There will always be people who will tell you things to make you feel bad” His father reached out and rubbed his shoulder “But if you believe that you can achieve your goals and that it is you and only you who can do that, you will not care what others say.
Abel sat up as his father continued “You just have to have the courage to take charge of your life, and then you will see how everyone around you will change their attitude towards you”.
Now feeling a little better, Abel told him that he still had to face these bullies every day. A group of five boys, who were very athletic and older than him and his friends. He wondered what he could do so that they would stop attacking him.
“Maybe if I thought a little more like the others and stopped being who I am…” said Abel.
“It’s not about that”, his father replied. “You can still be who you are, an intelligent kid, a lover of science fiction, technology and books, and also be someone who shines his own light, and makes others around him feel good. It’s just a change of attitude. You have to change internally, for yourself, so that then others can improve with you”.
“I think I understand”, replied Abel, partly in hope, part to get his father out of the room.
The next day, Abel came up with a plan to teach the bullies a lesson. When he was a child, he’d heard many tales about ancient Kikuyu spirits and how they used to protect or punish people. He told his friends about one of the tales, and they soon got down to work.
It did not take long for the bullies to appear as Abel sat down to eat breakfast and watch his holo-tablet as usual.
“Here you are again! You just don’t learn, do you?”
Abel stood up and spoke to them directly. “On the contrary, I have learned a lot these last few days. Now I think it’s your turn to learn a lesson”.
The bullies looked at each other before the leader spoke. “Coooool! Now things are getting serious. If you leave here today, it’ll be on a stretcher to the nearest hospital!”
As he spoke, a soccer ball hit the face of one of the bullies, leaving a big red welt on his cheek.
They all turned around and saw Abel’s other two friends holding balls. They went chasing after them right around the school. As the bullies ran after his friends, Abel went to prepare the last part of their plan.
The two friends ran into an abandoned house near the school. Rising magnificently into the sky above the house was a big Mugumo tree. A tree that was sacred to the Kikuyu people. They entered the house, and the bullies followed them. Hot on their heels into the dark interior. The house was almost empty, rickety old furniture gathering dust in the corners. It was bigger than it looked from the outside.
The bullies were peering into the shadows looking for Abel’s friends when suddenly, a mysterious voice boomed out of the darkness. A deep haunting echo, deep sound, calling out first in Kikuyu before it switched to Swahili.
“Why do you keep stalking our grandson, Abel?” the voice said swirling and growing around them.
The bullies stopped, visibly frightened. They looked around trying to identify where the voice was coming from, but before they could find it, it spoke again:
“We are “Ngoma cia aciari”. Ancient Kikuyu spirits who protect Abel, our direct descendent. For all those who dare to persecute and hurt our people, will be brought before the mountain and judged. We have come to take you!”
The sound of thunder rumbled through the entire house. And a silhouette of what appeared to be a big man dressed in traditional Kikuyu clothes and with a red glow in his eyes floated out of the shadows. The colossal figure began to move as if performing a ritual dance, which changed to some form of martial art challenging them to a fight. Utterly terrified, the bullies ran out of the house, only to find a large crowd waiting outside led by Abel, laughing loudly at the quintet.
The voices of the spirits had been synthesised by Abel using an application on his holo-tablet that modulated and amplified sound inside the house. The mysterious giant inside the house was a robotic marionette controlled from a distance by one of Abel’s friend wearing a cybernetic exoskeleton. After preparing the trap, he had set up a live feed so that the whole school would get to see the bullies terrified by the apparition.
After the incident, science and scientific projects became cool, and Abel and his friends started hosting regular science fairs. His self-esteem had been restored, and from then, he had more faith in himself. Still a nerd but now a cool kid.
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