To all the girls who said a silent no to me yet so loud like a Boeing’s engine. You made me the man I am today and probably will forever be. You made my heart beat so helplessly in ecstasy and overflowing adrenaline as I sprinted for you back then. Today, the same heart is as tough as rubber because of you.
Not these hair band rubbers or baby preventing latex. We are talking tyre rubber. A tractor’s even. Other girls need more than just a dark or light complexion, whatever makes me tick. They need more than just a killer curve arching down their waist, bulging out from side to side as they walk in tights and pencil trousers. Creates a view and a half when they stand against the light and it silhouettes back into the room. They need more than just a star salted smile and waterfall inspired feminine laughter to make my heart melt in their presence. They surely need more than just an angelic voice and a never ending sprint of stories flowing from their souls for I love a good story partner. They need more than a church dedicated heart to woo my familiarity of the definition of an ideal woman. They need more than pretty natural fingernails and toenails curved by the Lord Himself while He is in good spirits.
They need more than that. You’ve made them need a bullet to penetrate through my thick layer of rubber to relieve my heart of the pressure you were unknowingly pumping in me. Two times the pressure when you made it clear with everything but words that you couldn’t do me and I probably wasn’t enough to do you.
(I will truncate part of their names to uphold their anonymity but at the same time elevate the mystery about who they are likely to be.)
Sigh. The first serious crash I have ever had in my life. I was in class seven. We were in boarding school. For banter’s sake I will spill some beans about how life was back then. At the time, it was hell on our little earth. In retrospect, it was the cooking of priceless experiences and untradable memories. Experiences that shaped me, if not all of us in boarding. To show you the height of the flame we bore back then, on bad days, which were most days, we had not more than two slices of bread for breakfast and very thin tea.
Maybe you’re saying right now as an adult you cannot eat more than that anyway. But remember we were staring at teenagehood if not already teens. We had appetites like maggots and the pressure of life there wasn’t making it any easier to bear. I haven’t mentioned how we’d be stocked up with ugali and bean or ndengu later for lunch after previously drowning ourselves in tasteless white porridge at mid morning.
Little mistakes would get everyone caned a good number of times. The caning was improvised in ways only we in the whole history of primary school students have experienced. From employing black mamba to whip our asses, both boys and girls in fact, to employing a wooden table brush to knock our fingertips while held together (famously known as ‘zingatia’ which was the most dreaded by the way. I still have a visible blood clot-ish on the tip of my left middle finger and right ring finger.), to whipping the sole of our feet with the black mamba (dubbed ‘Wayo’), to doing us on the back, Jesus’ style with the red bucket holder and to whipping our bald heads with a car engine belt (unceremoniously called ‘Mohawk’).
But girls had hair, you’re asking. No my dear. Wahl was the machine used to shave all of us. And for kinyozi enthusiasts you know Wahl leaves nothing to chance. It leaves an airstrip on your head. That was the meeting ground for boys and girls. And just when our heads were bald, they were ripe enough for mohawk whenever a mistake hit the radar. Even petty crimes like dropping a spoon in the dining hall would land you in trouble. Well look at us today, we have good table manners.
Back to the first crash. So you can imagine even amidst the bald headedness of girls, I managed to single you out. However I must confess that I didn’t make that choice for myself. Peer pressure did. My two best buddies at the time had pocketed class eight chics for themselves. Okay the other guy was a class eight with his class eight chic and my other buddy, Taylor, in my class with a class eight chic. Kapish? Seeing the way girls drooled and threw their pride out the window for Taylor awakened the pressure in me. I consulted him, like the godfather he was. He surveyed around and he picked you. Suddenly, you were my heart’s choice.
You started to notice after I started to intentionally say hi to you every morning we met. I was becoming weirdly nervous around you. I had no experience with girls. I was the genius of the class with acne and a boisterous laughter that was funny but no girl did fancy a guy who laughed like that and the rest of that combination.
There’s this day we were assembled at some gravel grounds between our dorm and yours. We were given sweets. Very unique sweets. Like jellybeans. As everyone savoured theirs, I withheld mine and gave them to you. A spectacle accompanied that. Your girlfriends grew itching tongues. You were dumbstruck. Thank heavens you just took them. I would have hated myself more if you didn’t than the way I did when I realised two weeks later that you returned those sweets to my bag. I was with Amos when I found them and nobody else was in the hall. I threw them in anger and despair. Our constant hunger couldn’t allow Amos to watch such rare sweets given to the ancestors.
Everybody knew I liked you but you didn’t want me. I sucked it up that I was a loser. Even more when it became clear to everyone that you were entertaining the love arrows of a class five boy. “Just how!? Taylor just how!” I’d rant to Taylor in our man to man conversations. Word had it that you were only playing smart to survive. The said boy was close to the patron. His favour would in turn be your favour. Bread time? The priceless commodity those days. We worshipped bread mjango. He’d serve most times and you’d benefit more slices than anyone else. I couldn’t compete with that. I retreated peacefully like the good man I like to think I am.
A lesson learnt, but I must admit I was not left with so much to esteem over as I went to class eight and later to high school. However, I grew to appreciate platonic relations that were around me. As much as I was a weirdo, everyone would attest that I was a good friend. Fun to be around. Caro Mutio, remember we were very good friends till people almost began to think otherwise. Rosey, my forever deskmate and fellow class prefect. Our stories never ended and we watched each other’s backs like tag team champions. Jane Peter it was all fun and games until you slapped me. I can’t remember whether I slapped you back but the man I am now hopes I didn’t. Yeah so you were my punching bag.
Moving on swiftly.
The first time I noticed you, you were singing Sia’s Titanium. We were in form three. By this time my self confidence had grown biceps and triceps. My self awareness graze the roof. You had come for a journalism function. You know me and journalism. My comrades had trusted me to oversee the hospitality of visiting schools as they prepared the hall and all. I loved it anyway. I was the qualified entertainer. It was my calculated opportunity to make as many acquaintances and maybe even grab the fairest of them all before anyone else had their chance with them later that day.
By the time I heard you sing, I hadn’t really found who to focus my attention on. Maybe it’s because your school had every pretty face and I was spoilt for choice. Then you sang. Probably out of nothing else to do in that badminton court. I had my neck crane my head. I left the group I was with.
Heck you had and still have the most amazing voice I have ever heard in my life. Well, hopefully still have because now what I have of you are just memories to reminisce over. I’d notice it’s your voice in my sleep. I’d notice it’s you in an anonymous phone call.
I sang too. We connected. I heard the way you speak, with that brainwashing voice added with a British accent. We connected even more. You have this face that looks tough yet so kind, pretty yet so bitch you can’t kill my vibe, all of which are mere impressions. You have a soul like gold. I wanted to be associated with you. I Iearnt that you are so bright. I admired you again.
Although something became clear. I admired you but surprisingly in a very platonic way. I just wanted to have you as a friend. You were not like others. Later that afternoon as people twerked and threw their bums some in the air and others on our boys’ pants, you, so modest, said we could go chill outside. I was done fancying over bums back in my second high school funkie in form one. I couldn’t be more happier to have met someone similar. Stories brewed between us that we got so drunk in knowledge about each other.
I believed I was set for life with you as a friend. I knew I’d always have a confidant and I’d be yours too. After you told me that, “You’re a nice guy. Please stay that way,” I knew there was something you were not telling me but I should have known there was a lot you weren’t going to tell me. I should have known as you implied constantly through those words and our relations yet again so smartly like the genius you are that I wouldn’t know to dig deep – that there was more to you than met my eyes. I was swimming in the luxury of amazement about how you and I were so alike. Yet again I was inspired to try harder and be like you. Be as smart as you are. Speak so fluently and eloquently as the whole world around you was ever amazed at. Hell I was even catching a British accent. I melted when I heard you speak Kamba. The language I wish I learnt to speak. Melted even more when I heard the way your accent coated your Kamba so beautifully. Gosh! You had started to teach me that high-end language. You are multi talented just like me but again more than me. Everyone wanted to be associated with and I knew I was privileged to have a seat next to you.
Yours is a long story that I have the heart to tell in a stand alone blog.
So to cut to the chase, one day, after high school had bid us goodbye, I had seen you settle in K.U. and you’d love to have me visit from time to time and hell even join K.U. as well. You began to drift afterwards. Suddenly you weren’t responsive anymore. A friendship so highly adored in me had found a drainage on your end. I thought maybe you found better friends in Uni. Gosh I’ve just remembered the day you, Muhzzie and I met in Macha to chill. You both lived there. We were a gang of three and I honestly had faith in our loyalty to each other as friends. Friends for life even. We even had our own whatsapp group where everything went.
Muhzzie I remember the day I borrowed a cook’s phone in school to call you on August 7th to wish you a happy birthday. You were home earlier before we closed since it was customary in your school for form fours to go back to school for the better part of the holiday. That’s how much faith I had.
Seems our mutual friend was the cord that bound us together. When she drifted, you drifted. We all drifted. It killed me. Ola? It really did. Especially because you even didn’t give a heads up. I guess tragedy never gives one. One day you trust me to take you cloth shopping in Gikomba, that place you have never ever been to or wore anything from. Yes, you came from a very good family. Though at the same time, you implied that it is a good yet messed up family. You taught me to thank God for a stable family even though we may not have all the other good things of life. Through all that time I had never breached our friendship. Even as little as pinching a coin off the twenty grand I was carrying for you on our way shopping. Then the next day, you disappear like dust after a drizzle. No closure. No nothing.
I packed up my shit and left the waiting bay too. For a train that will probably never come. I stopped trying to text or call. I deleted everything that reminded me of you. I later heard that I wasn’t the only one you cut off. I was part of everyone you had in your life that was cut off. Even Muhzzie of all the people. She was so broken by that, I hear. But honestly, that was my reprieve. That helped me handle it better than I would have knowing I was the only one.
It’s what, four-five years down the line? That train still hasn’t even hooted in the horizon. I’d have killed myself waiting. No it wasn’t easy just to decide one day that I wouldn’t give a damn anymore. If it would be easy then my end of the friendship would be questionable. I had to walk myself through the fire that came with disciplining myself to grow some self respect. Respect for my time, heart and attention. Without which I’d still be helplessly clinging on to you and our friendship yet you already left not determined to come back. Who knows? What kind of a man would I be?
I enjoyed it while we lasted. I learnt to know when to hold on and when to let go.
Little did I know that your high school daughter would follow in the same footsteps.
To be continued…
(This blog borrows inspiration from Katutu’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.)