“Tell us the truth young man!”

Mark didn’t know what else to say. He had told the panel everything there was to say. Everything, from the start to the end. Now all that he had left is the fear that was starting to build inside him. He could start to see nothing good coming from the disciplinary committee panel. A young man, twenty one years of age, was facing the biggest test of his life. It had only been three months since he opted to quit a Bachelor of Business and Information Technology course to settle for a Communications’ Degree. The belief that communication was easier and in line with his career path had been his greatest motivation to switching the courses. With the end of semester exams only three weeks away, the committee was standing between him and his dreams.

Mark decided to take another shot at convincing the panel that he was indeed telling nothing but the truth. The panel had twelve lecturers including the Student Counselor. They wore serious faces. Even those who knew him well like the chaplain did not offer him a smile. Mark looked at every one of them, one by one, from right to left and back. He tried to convince himself that it was just a dream. He did not want it to turn into a nightmare. He cleared his throat and tried to smile. He wanted the panel to know that he was relaxed. That he was being real. “This is a straight forward case,” said the student counselor. “Unless he has something he wants to add.”

“This boy is an active praise and worship member,” the chaplain pointed out. “He’s been actively organizing events for the…”

“Aah! Mr. Chaplain! That’s what they do!” interrupted the university warden. “They engage in malicious activities and hide in the praise and worship team. Students with innocent faces like this one here think we are all stupid. The other day…”

“Be calm!” The student counselor said.” What has brought us here is Mark’s case. Let us stick to that.”

Mark felt a stream of courage starting to flow inside him. While he would have been right to think the student counselor was on his side, he still knew that those against him were the influential majority. One word hit his mind: suspension. Mark had been suspended several times while in high school but to be suspended in campus isn’t something he wanted. He knew he had to convince the panel of his innocence but how to do it still wasn’t clear in his young, now aching, head.

Mark gathered his thoughts as best as he could, banishing bad thoughts and telling himself there was one good thing about his situation. If they wanted him to still explain himself, they intended to pardon him, even with a warning maybe.

“Gentlemen, and ladies,” he started.

The university warden cleared his throat loudly as though it was intended to alert everyone in the room. “You have finally decided to admit the truth I presume?”

Mark nodded, as if at a compliment. He took a quick glance at the wall clock; it was quarter past two in the afternoon. He then looked back at the university warden. “I have only two things I want to say. One is the truth. Two, the truth. Yes I stole a computer monitor from the computer lab. I was assisting with cable management but when the opportunity to sneak out one arose, I took it. Unlike other people however, I did not steal for personal use. A monitor was stolen a few weeks ago from the students’ leaders’ office where I sit. We did not know about it until recently. So I took one from the computer lab, replaced it with the one stolen from the office. I basically moved the monitor from one office to another and am sincerely sorry.”

“According to our info, you have committed offences far more than you are telling us.” Said Mr. Daniel, the committee chair.

“Exactly sir! This fellow is here to waste our time.” Echoed the warden.

The room was quite for a moment. Mark did not know how to react towards the comments. He looked at his fingers, then at the clock, the rolled his eyes slowly down to Mr. Daniel. Mark hated him in an instant. “That is the entire truth sir’” Mark said.

“We have info from your colleagues that you stole a gas cylinder from a hotel in Mombasa two months ago when you had traveled with the praise team.’ Said Mr. Daniel. “We also have info that you are among the students that are wanted by the police around this area! Your name is part of a list of names being investigated for various theft cases in the university. You have been mentioned in several committee hearings and so we will not allow you to waste our time here. You belong to the police!”

“I traveled with the praise team to Mombasa yes, but I did no such thing as steal as a gas cylinder,” mark pleaded with anger and surprise in his voice. “In fact the hotel manager is my close friend. I can share the contacts so you can call and confirm that what I am saying is the truth. I wouldn’t do such a thing.”

“Why do you have a bad disciplinary record Mark?” the student counselor asked politely.

“This is the first time am hearing that my name has been mentioned in several committees in the past.” mark responded.

“Are you trying to call us liars?” asked the warden.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” echoed Daniel. “This young man should be used as an example to the rest of the students who think they can bend rules and hide inside their innocent faces.” He turned to look at Mark and asked, “Did your father sell a cow so that he can educate another cow?” without waiting for an answer, he added, “You are a thief young man and you will spend the night in custody.”

“I have told you everything I know. Everything I have told you is the truth.” Mark tried to plead one last time. His voice was more remorseful than before. “If I spend the night in custody, I will be glad knowing despite spending the night there, I told you the truth.” Mark stopped there.

Mr. Daniel hadn’t heard the final plea that Mark had made. He was on phone the entire time, quietly giving orders to someone on the other end. He could be heard saying, “kuja chukua maabusu hapa afande!” and when he was done with the call; he looked at Mark and said, “You’re stupid to think that you are smarter than everyone in this room. You’re stupid and a thief.”

The door opened and three policemen came in. They stood in front of the room. Mark looked at them and instantly, his heart was beating so fast that he was almost tempted to place his right hand on his chest in an effort to calm down. Mr. Daniel stood up and walked towards him.

“Last chance, Mark!? Mr. Daniel said with a calm trickery tone. “Will you stop stealing from the university?”

Mark thought about the question keenly and found an answer.

“How can I stop something I haven’t even started?” Mark responded.

Mr. Daniel handed him over to the police.

Mark was taken to custody.

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