close up photo of yellow rose in bloom
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on

There are those that went to campus straight after high school.Most of us went to colleges and have had to go through twists and turns of education.I hazarded a Nursing school somewhere in the tea-growing highlands of Central Kenya.

See,the School of Nursing was ran by some Catholic nuns who believed being a nurse is tantamount to saying a resounding YES to the call of being a nun.Ours was a military camp with a garnish of Holy Rosary and a dash of Jesus.They hated men so they couldn’t admit male Nurse-students.No,those would teach us girls sex and sex was a sin that earned you a ticket to hell after graduation.They however managed to create excellent truants led by myself and a clique of other fun loving girls.

One day I left college grounds in the most spectacular fashion.I joined a group of relatives visiting their patients at the hospital.Mum had given me a scarf because of the biting Limuru cold so I converted it into a head wrap.I also tied an unbecoming lesso around my blooming waist to hide from the hawk eyes OF the G4S security officers at the main entrance.You could never look at me twice.I looked like your average mama mboga.

The hospital and the school of Nursing are still on the same grounds just in case you’re wondering.I left and felt very accomplished hooking up with my then boyfriend at Westgate Mall.

This kaboyfriend of mine was romantic or so I thought.He bought me fresh rose flowers.He knew I loved those.Still do.Okay,I love fresh flowers to death.

Future father of my unborn Children,can you say I never gave you a clue now?

after a round of teaching me how escalators work and how they differed from elevators and other short stories,he took me back to his kasingo room pale Gachie. We were enjoying another round of ‘Three idiots’ –our favorite movie–When Tiana(name changed),sent me a text message.

“Cate we have a roll call in the next thirty minutes with Sister Martha(name changed).”It read.I panicked.Sister Martha was a true character from The Little Hours.She was a reforming sadist.But she tried you know!Nabbing us and sending us home to our indisciplined parents was her specialty.Man,how she enjoyed that punishment.I had removed her head habit so many times in my head.I wanted to cut her long Indian hair too.That and many other forms of torture.Including introducing her to a man.

Joe(name changed), panicked with me.I panicked some more.I think when they say ,”you can always count on me,” that never includes standing with you when you are on the precipices of being suspended from college.

Now because he was the real OG,he hailed a cab for me and asked the taxi man to rush me to NMTC like lack of importance.One drawback though,I paid for the cab!

Kufika Rosslyn Estate,sema traffic!Those days Two rivers mall was still a dream in someone’s brain.

By now the whole class was aware I wasn’t in.Not that it surprised them.No,they were used to my truancy.They were desperately trying to call me.Tiana told me everyone at the college was pretending to be busy and others have left for the hospital until I arrive.

This is a debt I will pay someday when I grow up(wink)

Turns out I wasn’t the only one missing.One girl in the Third year class was also Missing and another from Senior Second year.

Hence every class was really trying to cover their own by being scattered till these empresses arrive.

Before you rant,once caught,the school had a punishment of suspending your Nursing training for six months!We didn’t want anyone to suffer that.It meant covering for even your worst enemy.

When my cab neared the hospital entrance,I alighted and tried to remember my skills at Basic Life training. There I was ,trying to think fast and furiously how to enter given the glare of the G4S security officer who’d already been asked by Sister Martha to watch out just in case anyone streamed in.Martha was the Thanos of our days.She had a seventh sense!

I clutched my bouquet of sweet smelling fine Roses ,faced Mt.Kenya and chanted our National Anthem in eloquent English then strutted towards the gates of hell.


Him : Cate Maina (everyone called me that.Not just Cate.Cate Maina.As if to distinguish other Jesus-loving Cates from this particular Cate).

Me : Sema mkubwa want some of my flowers?

Him : Wewe umekuja sahi na sister anawatafuta ebu simama hapo nimpigie.

Me : (Raising my voice)How dare you accuse me of that Tim?(name changed) Honestly nichukue maua hapa nje three minutes ago nipelekee patient wetu Maternity alafu useme nimeingia sahi?

Him : (Doubting himself) Lakini si nimekuwa hapa umetoka aje.

Me : Tim ulikuwa casualty nikitoka nimekungoja hukukam nikasema nitoke since nikuchukua tu na sitaki roll call ianze Kama nakuchill unipee ruhusa.

Him : (Clearly I’ve won)Oh sawa,sikuwa casualty but enyewe I had left kidogo.Sawa peleka maua.

I knew no patient in the Maternity wing but did it matter?


That’s how I ended up in the Hospital where my classmates were waiting with my Student Nurse uniform.

Let’s just say by the time roll call started,I was the one leading the school in an opening prayer.


Dear Sister Martha,

I greet thee in thy sky blue habit.How have you been?

2 thoughts on “NURSE A MEMORY

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