“Happy eighteenth birthdaaaaay…” They sang in cheerful voices as they showered me with champagne and applied cream on my face.
“Wewe si wangu sasa. Weh ni wa serikali.” My dad said and everyone giggled.
“Make a wish dear.” My mum said.
After thinking for a while, “More life.” Everyone cheered. I am not sure they knew what I meant.
I was the birthday girl of the season, the newest eighteen year old in town. The smile on my face must have been so big that later that night, I felt the effect of my face contract. My close friends and relatives had come home to celebrate the transition of a lifetime with me. I didnt know they would come by the way. It was all planned behind my back by my mum and younger sister. I was to scold them for not giving me a heads up. I am the only one in our house who hates surprises. I had to love this one though especially because of the venue, Savannah Garden Resort. But that was the formal part of the celebration. Turning eighteen is a big deal in this generation. It means ‘more to life’ for a millennial. So it really meant more life for me.
I wanted something that could initiate me into adulthood. Call it baptism by smoke and bitter waters at the same time. I felt like a balloon that was full of the atmosphere and needed a mild-sharp poke. That way, I’d release myself to what I thought were the best things in life. For a moment they are, no lie about that. But again, should I repeat that they are momentary?
I loathed staying indoors for all it offered. Safety my foot, rest my foot, do this-do that, go here-don’t go there, everything my foot! I wanted out and be like a bird. What is being eighteen all about anyway? If it’s not about self-rule, self-decision making, I can do it myself, I can go by myself-then what is it all about?
“Give me a break mum! I’m eighteen now!” I raised my voice in protest as she pretended not to listen while chopping carrots at the kitchen counter. It was just the following Friday after my birthday.
“You are not going to that concert. Now who will take care of you for the whole night?” I didn’t realise the weight of concern in her voice by then.
“It’s just a concert mum, my cousins have offered to take me. And you know them. Si ati huwajui!” I tried every bullet of tactics I had in my barrel to get her to say yes. I can count the number of times I heard her say yes to any proposal I made that is similar to this one, the Wizkid concert. Who doesn’t love Wizkid’s music on this earth today surely? At least I know my mum doesn’t. She has all the reasons not to anyway, but not enough to hinder me from going.
I nearly despaired after I stood for what seemed like watching hair grow. She had chopped the carrots into pieces and began chopping the pieces into other pieces. I thought she was finding it like walking in concrete to accept that I was finally eighteen and she had to give me some liberty, if not full liberty that perhaps would only have me in a body bag a few hours later.
“Okay.” She sighed after saying. I stood and turned around to confirm whether she was actually saying what I wanted to hear. It lessened up the hot breath that was ventilating through my nostrils. I was full of a mixture of the baddest hormones in my body that were just at the verge of causing a very destructive tantrum had they gashed out of ‘human anatomy knows where’.
“Okay?” I asked.
“It’s okay you can go. But be back by 6am and not 6.01.”
Those words were just what was necessary to abort my plan-B mission to sneak out that Saturday night. I had done it before. Though according to my terms and conditions, I had to be left with no choice in order to take up that devious plan.
Saturday 7pm found me dressed to my own expectations of the night. A pair of blue skinny jeans, an off shoulder top and a pair of sleek old school rubber shoes.
“Good to go, good to slay and good for the most vigorous acts for the night, courtesy of Wizkid.” I said to myself before the mirror before I dashed out.
I met my mum on my way down at the staircase.
“Is that how you are going to that place?” Realise she even didn’t even want to mention the place.
Kwani how am I dressed?” The last thing I wanted to hear was instructions on how to dress for the night of my life.
“Don’t you have a jacket?”
I would have protested, but it was not worth the time.
Wewe unataka kutuchelewesha!” Tony, the only guy amongst us said.
“Ah! Mum made me go back for this stupid leather jacket.” I said as I shut the door of the Uber.
Lisa, the eldest of my cousins began rubbing it in, “Aw you’re still mummy’s toto.”
They all laughed.
“So where are we going?”
“Ever been to Tribeka?” Lisa asked.
“Welcome to the adults club. So a toast to the newest adult in the universe.” Miranda said as she raised a glass of dark-red wine that I can’t recall the name.
Jiharibu sasa!
“Cheers girl.”
“Maisha ni yako.”
“Life is short.”
“You’re only eighteen once.”
The gang of adults who are my cousins’ friends, all elated gave me a toast.
I also gave mine, “To growing up!” After they chuckled, “To growing up!”
If that was what wine tasted like, then I wanted to live on wine alone.
Not for long however, not for any longer than that night.
Laughter and mouthing by the help of wine set the moods for the night, all the way upto the KICC.
The grounds shook as if trying to bounce and centrifuge everyone under the cloud of wildness and fun. The loud music was already inviting the shake-able parts of my not eight figure and not one figure sized body. It is just the size that I heard the droolers I came across say, “Ako there, si mbaya…” “Kitu size yake…” “Ameweza kiplani.” “Msupah uko ndani ya ndani…” Whatever all that means.
All manner of mjangos were present on the grounds. Some came for the love of one of Africa’s top artistes, some came to widen their circle, some to replace their exes, others to jump off the friend zone, some to taste from the plate that that side of the world has to offer, some to show off what their mama gave them, some to hustle for the meals to come, some to escape the realities of life through the power of the smoke stick and lucrative deception of the bottle, others to take advantage of those who go beyond their limits of sobriety- and some came to mark a checkpoint in their lives with a baptism of all those prospective reasons there is to attend the event.
I had the notion that I could go wild for only this one night since I had my elder cousins to take care of me and hold me when I trip, maybe. Yes, they did that, but only for a fraction of the night.
I was young, wild at last and finally free. For once there was nothing to care about in life. The only thing that couldn’t grant me freedom was gravity. I was this close to walking on air though. Or did I? Because as the night grew from younger to young, I did two booze bottles. I bet I didn’t finish either. Nothing else got my attention apart from the music and the bottle.
I hanged around my cousins and their friends who got divided into cliques later. It must have seemed like I looked new to that life because what happened afterwards was to my judgement, as a result of a series of shows of naivety.
The chain of everything going well began to break when I left my bottle on a table without anyone to watch it. I came back and took it again for there was still a high place in my own world that I was yet to get to. Aside from that I needed company.
“Ah go look for Tony and hang out with him and his friends.” I remember Lisa’s words. Tony was not even acting like I was there. Miranda was no where to be found among thousands of revellers.
Somewhere in between I got a Heineken can, gulped some, took my eyes off it for a while and gulped some more. Those in betweens must have caused me my fate later that night.
I wasn’t feeling like myself sometime later. I only remember segments of events. Like one which saw me almost getting into a car as forced by some mjangos. My resistance energy was low. To my rescue came a mjango who told them that I was his sister. He looked twenty. They let me go. That was not my full relief though. It was a diversion to something else that I am cock sure I didn’t wish for my birthday.
A blackout later, I woke up on a bed in a bed and breakfast place in Ngara. I woke up next to the same mjango that rescued me the previous night. I could only remember a tiny fraction of what happened in the place I was in over night. The rest is a mystery, only left to my own assumption out of the broken pieces of evidence I was yet to find.
“Where am I? What happened?” I asked him. He did answer, but not to the questions I asked. Fear and confusion was schemed all over me.
“Call an Uber and go home.” His speech was straight forward. He didn’t explain anything to me as if to say, “What happened last night, stays in last night.”
Petrified, I wanted to go home.
“Where is my phone?” He unapologetically pulled it out of the pocket in his jacket. The only money I had on me was some change in my pocket.
I got home towards 7.30am and slept. I was not sure of how to treat the reality that I didn’t know about but had the worst of ideas about. After I woke up again, I found a used condom in my bag. In the bathroom, I felt some pain towards my inner thighs. Just what had happened to me?
I leaned on the bathroom walls with the shower running to have the water flow along with my tears. I pulled my hair until it was not painful anymore, because there was a greater pain inside than the pain under my skin. The pain of the unknown hurts gradually like an acid rising on a fabric. Who could I tell without being laughed at or scolded? I had myself to blame. I trusted my cousins more than I trusted myself. I didn’t want to imagine how I would face my mum when she says, “I saw this coming.”
I realised that I have only God and myself to trust and the former gave me my mum who helped me recover though abit later.
The gynaecologist confirmed that I tested negative for every possible infection and pregnancy. Many questions still remain unanswered.
It takes a broken leg to make one realise the great previlage of walking.
There is more to life than the high life. Turning eighteen is more of a responsibility call than a call for freedom.
Ps: This non-fictional story is in honour, love and enlightenment to all mjango-teenage girls and more especially those who lost cherished-pure bodies to naviety, wrong choices, misleadings and dignity losses as a result.


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Written by The Mjango

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5 years ago

Woi, so painful

5 years ago

I loved every bit of the flow….
It almost felt like being at the concert in person
And btw you made wine sound Soo sweet?
Nice piece..

5 years ago

Definitely well related.❤ sorry.

5 years ago

Soo, wine is sweet ?. Eighteen is actually a responsibility ?. Sorry ?