“REMEMBER to show all your workings and don’t forget to sign the exam attendance sheet,” Mr Amin is saying.
We call him Idi Amin. He is our math teacher and he is savage. He also has an uncanny resemblance with Idi Amin, the infamous Ugandan dictator.
“Marks will be deducted for not including your names on the answer booklet….”
He rambles on but I can barely hear him. You see, I am gripped by terror. I have been studying for this test for weeks and yet, today, I am totally blank. I try to recall equations, formulae, operations, but I come up with nothing.
He places a bunch of papers in front of me. I take one and pass the rest to Muthoni. I surreptitiously wink at her. She is a math genius. Maybe today, of all days, she can come through for me. However, one look at me and her face spells, “Mscheeeew.”
I am really and truly in trouble. The room is quiet. The clock is ticking. I open my paper and scan it. I always like to start with the easy ones. Wait a minute. My paper is blank. Well, apart from one instruction: “By any means do not raise your head or ask questions. You are being watched.”
This is beyond weird.
I feel light-headed as my head spins. The room around me darkens. I look up and I am in another room. It is flooded with bluish light and a wispy wind is blowing through the French windows. He is standing in front of me in a hat, dark suit and red shoes. I am alarmed and confused. Like when you feel your pockets and realize your phone is missing. I stand up, fists clenched, ready for a confrontation. I summon my rudimentary boxing skills.
“Who are you, and where am I?” I ask him.
“Please sit down. This will be much easier if you sit down,” He says rubbing his chin nonchalantly. “You will notice the color of this sunlight is a little different…” He continues, but I interrupt him.
“What kind of bull shit alien abduction is this?”
“You abduct me so you can show me a different color of sunlight?” I am getting incensed.
“Well I thought teleporting you to another realm would help you see things in a different light.” His voice has a calmed, soothing quality. He walks back to his seat, his shoes gently tapping the linoleum flooring. We are now facing each other.
“I am not an alien. I am God.” He announces so matter-of-factly.
“No you’re not!” I say mid chuckle. I am suddenly amused. “God looks something like Morgan Freeman. At least that’s what the movie guys think. Not this.” I look at his face. Contrary to both sides of popular opposition he is neither black nor white. I cannot make up my mind about his skin color. I suck at color recognition anyway. It probably has a weird name like mauve.
I decide to give him the benefit of doubt. Besides, nothing else can explain why am sitting here. He clears his throat. “Anyway, now that the social niceties are out of the way, let’s get to the agenda of the meeting. You have been asking to meet me.”
“No I haven’t!” I retort.
“Oh yes you have.”
“No I haven’t.”
“Listen. I’ve been running the universe for ages. Trust me when I say we can do this forever.” He pulls some papers from a file lying on the floor.
“My records show that you asked to speak to me on this date and this date and also on this date.” He hands it to me. It is indeed true.
“Okay, I did. I was a little drunk.” I say, trying to hide my embarrassment. “But this is not what I envisioned. I was thinking more along the lines of a burning bush. Besides, I have a test to do, you know that?” I protest.
“Then be clear next time. But now that you’re here, ask your questions. You seemed to have quite a lot.”
I think for a moment. “Did you really create the universe? Some mad scientists claim you didn’t. That it was a Big Bang that did all this and you’re just taking the credit for it.”
“Of course I did. That was my biggest construction project yet.”
“Construction project, huh? Did you involve the Chinese? They have been involved in construction projects since time immemorial. Have you seen the Great Wall of China? It’s grand.”
“Yes, I’ve seen it. It’s bigger than your intellectual capacity. Or your attempt at humor.”
“Okay, that burns.” I laugh.
He does not.
“Why are you so serious, anyway? The earth won’t fall off its orbit if you smile a little. Wait, you’re the one who holds it in place so I guess it might.”
“No, I don’t hold it. I left that to one of my lieutenants. You guys spun it long ago and called it ‘gravity’ or something of the sort.”
“Oh, so you have minions who do stuff for you? Then do tell, why the red shoes? They carry planets on their palms and spin them; surely they can get you some different shoes? ”
“How does that bother you? You earthlings get dumber each day.” He shakes his head in disappointment.
“Plus, those shoes with pointy toes are so out of season. Why don’t you get some Yeezies?”
“Why don’t you go to hell? I’m not fashion forward, okay? Get over it. Next question, please?”
“Speaking of hell, is there a heaven and hell? I’ve always thought heaven and hell are just two high end hotels on the same street trying to one up each other. So far we earthlings have only seen heaven’s brochure.”
“Don’t be silly. Of course there is a heaven and hell. I won’t tell you where you are headed, but I hope you won’t blame me if you end up in less than comfortable surroundings. You haven’t exactly been a shining example of moral rectitude.”
“Prove it. We dumb earthlings love to see evidence.”
He clicks his fingers and a hologram appears in front me. “This is heaven,” he says. In it, there is everything I ever imagined heaven to be. The streets are paved with gold. There are peaceful streams with crystal clear waters cutting through lush, well manicured lawns. The cottages are quaint and look like something out of a painting. The scene is almost beautiful, except for the dogs frolicking on the lawns. I hate dogs.
“Well, have to admit that’s amazing. How about hell?” I ask him. He casts a sidelong glance at me.
“It’s not a pretty sight. Definitely not something you want to see.” He says.
“I think I do. I watched Wrong Turn. Well, I barely got halfway, but I believe it prepared me well enough for horrific scenes. So please, try me.” He does not look too pleased, but he agrees.
He snaps his fingers again. Nothing happens. We wait. I do not quite know for how long since we are in a realm where I have no perception of time. For all I know, time could have stood still or it could be rushing by. He snaps his fingers, twice this time. Still, nothing happens.
“Seriously, you need to fire your IT guy.” I laugh. He looks at me unimpressed. Patient, but thoroughly unimpressed. I dig in. “Or hire me instead, when it comes to computers my teachers think I’m quite good with the QWERTY keyboard though I offer very little else. But why listen to them? They also said you’re omnipotent but that computer glitch shows that you’re not completely unfazed by technology.”
Finally. He laughs. Then he stretches his arms and ponders for a while. “You know, of all people I have invited here, you are the most annoying. You have a penchant for the inane and you think you’re funny. People like you make me think of concluding the Human Experiment before its due date. ”
“Why? Have humans failed so badly?” I enquire.
“Badly? That is an understatement. Have you bothered to look around you lately? Have you seen how people dress? The shows they watch? Have you seen what they tweet? Don’t even get me started about that Donald Trump; it’s a madhouse down there. What a waste of good clay!” He is getting agitated. That escalated quickly. Clearly humanity has been a thorn in His flesh for quite a while. I try to close the subject. I do not intend to end this encounter with an apocalypse.
“I understand you Sir, and I agree to some extent. Humans are difficult to love.”
“Kind of like you and that girl in your class?” He says. His great face brightens.
“You mean Jennifer?” I ask. I am surprised that The Almighty takes an interest in the nitty-gritties of my boring existence.
“Yes.” He replies.
“Now that you have brought that up, can you tell me why whenever I talk to her she rolls her eyes and walks past me?”
“It’s because your mouth reeks of garlic.” He says and spontaneously bursts into laughter. I see it is not just my classmates who enjoy the hilarity of it.
“Really?” I blow my breath into the back of my hand and inhale.
“No. it’s because you have a right-angled personality. She doesn’t like those.”
“Okay, that’s a cheap shot, but do go on.”
“You also speak as though you’re dropping a rap verse, and… and also your breath stinks of garlic and worse things than those found on Satan’s ‘high end hotel!’” another round of uproarious laughter. “Please, give it up.”
“That’s not even funny,” I say. “My feelings have been hurt, you know.”
“Look. I have a universe to run. It’s a tough job. Your feelings can crash and burn.”
“You are very dismissive though, in person that is. None of the religious texts brings out that side of you. But it’s good to know that The Guy Above has a dark sense of humor. ”
He waves his hand absent mindedly. His eyes are fixated on a sheet of paper. ”That is what you get when you hire a good PR team. They minor the major and major the minor. Bottom line, you end up looking much better than you really are. Image is everything.”
“Figure you can lend me your PR team?” I ask. He totally ignores my question.
“It says here in my records that you have tried to talk to this Jennifer sixteen times, this year only? While I applaud your relentless hard work, this is becoming pathetic. There are better ways to spend your time.”
“Can we talk about something else?” I press on. This conversation urgently needs to move forward.
“When it comes to that girl, let’s just say that that ship sailed…and sank.”
“Are you even listening? You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
“Yes I am. My job affords me very few pleasures. Watching people like you is one of my favorite pastimes. A few moments ago you were stumped by a math quiz. It’s just hilarious. ”
“Moving on, what’s my future like? Do I become successful? I’m thinking president or some big shot CEO or something close to that?”
“You’re pushing your luck too far young man. Even imagination has its limits.”
“Humor me. What would it take?”
“A ton of money, unimaginable goodwill and for good measure, a good plastic surgeon. You really do have a face for radio.” He says and laughs so hard the room trembles. If anything, it looks like this meeting has been a good break for him. He is enjoying each and every one of his jokes.
“I need to go now. This meeting has been most profound. I won’t ever forget it. You know how they say it’s been a pleasure? Trust me it hasn’t.” I say and stand to leave. Then I remember that I do not know how to teleport. Those geniuses who developed the school curriculum did not think it was an important enough skill. No wonder God has a low opinion of earthlings. I sit down.
“It is not my fault that you did not learn anything earth-shattering today. Your questions were at best pedantic. Try harder next time.”
“I’ll try, though I blame it on your red shoes. Too distracting.”
“Goodbye, earth resident and all the best in your test.”
“Wait, how long have we been here? I mean in earth minutes…”
“About a hundred and twenty minutes.”
My head spins. I feel hazy as I go through the motions all over again. I close my eyes as a strange nausea comes over me. I am clearly not built for teleporting. Within no time I am back to a more familiar place. I hear shuffling of papers and hushed voices against a backdrop of pin-drop silence. I open my eyes and come face to face with a blank exam answer booklet. My booklet. Mr. Amin is standing over me, demanding my paper. I hand it over to him nervously. He shrieks with terror when he realizes it is blank. Well, as blank as my mind. He angrily marches me to the principal’s office, the offending booklet firmly in hand. What do I tell the principal? “You won’t believe what just happened; I just talked to God for two hours!” Or do I tell him that I just had a severe attack of test anxiety?
Which one would be more palatable, the truth or the lie? On second thought, never mind. I doubt he has the stomach for either.
Post image by A♥ via Flickr.
About the Author
Ndung’u Kimani is a wanna be writer from Nairobi city. He currently split his time between earning a living, reading and day-dreaming but mostly the latter. Other interests include flailing his arms mindlessly to the sound of music, all in the name of dancing. He also writes from time to time and hopes to be a published author in this lifetime.