The blue door at the back of the hall opens, a young man emerges. At 19 he is old enough to be a man, but he has yet to learn the ways of men. He moves out of the hall and closer to the bougainvillea hedge surrounding it. It is dark tonight. The moon is probably working a second job just to make enough money to get by. In the daylight, you would notice the purple flowers happily smiling at you. Each of them vying for your attention. They don’t get much of that in here. A boys’ high school is no place for a pretty flower. However, it is night time, every flower has closed up for the night. They are dreaming. Perhaps some are praying that in the next life they come back as sunflowers that grow just outside a girl’s hostel. That way, every Saturday when the teachers are busy shagging their wives, the girls will pick them and put them in their hair.
The young man does not notice all this. He quickly looks right and left, searching for the school watchmen. There are none. He deftly pulls his zipper down and momentarily releases a long steady stream of urine. He moans slightly. The release giving him immeasurable pleasure. It reminds him of Millie’s thighs. He gets slightly hard. He wonders if he should rub one out. He thinks better of it. If his fellow school prefects were to find him in the act of pleasuring himself, the whole school would quickly learn of it.
He shoves it in. He raises the zipper before tapping it to make sure it is comfortable. It is. He calls it the anaconda. Millie would not share his sentiments. What he lacks in girth, he does not make up for in skill. He reopens the blue gate and walks in. Now you can hear the booming music coming from the small changing room at the far end. If you open the door you will find all the school prefects there. Pretending to be in serious study, while they are in essence reading dirty magazines hidden in between the pages of Chemistry Book 4. This is their education into the female anatomy. You will forgive them years later, for expecting their women’s nether regions to resemble those in the magazine.
The young man picks up the small black bag at the corner and throws in his books. He leaves the English set books on his table. He promises to wake up early and come in to read “The River Between” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. We all know he won’t. He looks around, he is satisfied with the learning he has done today. In all honesty, he has achieved little. In between sorting out the music system since he can’t read without music and the prefect’s daily meeting, he only read for 15 minutes maximum. But no worries, it is the thought that counts. He tells Kariuki goodbye, of all the prefects, they are closest. Kariuki too despises physics, and cannot understand why they should not have phones in school. Birds of a feather…! Kariuki, will shortly also excuse himself to go to his dormitory. He always calls his girl before he sleeps. She also sneaked in a phone into her school. He plans to get rich and marry this girl. Should we tell him?
Otis walks quickly out of the hall, it is really cold now. One of the many disadvantages of going to a school in Limuru. The lights flicker in greeting as he passes through the corridors. Most of the students are in bed by now. The school is eerily quiet. Otis increases his pace. A part of him is scared. What if a ghost kidnaps him and takes him back to its lair? Will it call his parents for a ransom? Or if it is a female ghost, will it have its way with him? Who would marry him knowing a ghost made love to him? He is trotting now. He looks over his shoulder constantly. Even big boys are scared of the same monsters.
He can see his dorm now. He slows down. No need for everyone to know he is scared of ghosts. He pushes his chest out to show he is confident. He has something planned for the younger boys.
He slips into his dorm quietly, stops at the door and listens for a long minute. He can hear low voices mumbling. They are awake. He walks quietly to his room, places the black bag on his bed and shouts….
No one answers. Every one pretends to be asleep. He knows this. He calls again!
“FOOOOORM ONE! Nawaita mnakataa kuitika?”
The top beds in all the bunk beds in the dorm creak. As small bodies will themselves to wake up. Little feet jump over from the top bunk beds and scamper over to cubicle one of the Longonot dormitory. So named because it is the highest dorm conveniently situated on the 4th floor of a 5 storey building. Cubicle one belongs to the Dorm prefect, Otis. He is King here, in this dormitory at least. In the larger scheme of things he is a nobody. An ugly brute, with limited intellectual ability and even fewer prospects for the future. But in this moment, he is royalty and the little form one boys are his subjects.
He flicks on the switch on the left side of the space where a door should be. The fluorescent bulb wakes up, grudgingly. The room is bathed in white light. It is 11:30pm on a Thursday evening. The heads of the little boys should be on their pillows, for those who still have them. The rest are forced to sleep on their hands. Their pillows long captured by boys from the senior classes. The older boys passing on the abuse they too endured when they were younger. Instead, the little form one boys are clustered together in their dorm prefect’s room. He waits until all his boys are in the room before he starts. He is bored. He wants some entertainment. The young boys look at each other, they deliberately make themselves a little smaller. They try not to catch the king’s attention. He can be vicious when he wants to. He wants someone to sing a song. The singer must sound like a woman. A difficult request given that most of these boys have already broken their voices. The most they can manage is a tenor 2. Their soprano sounding voices were left in primary school. No, he insists, he wants them to sing and sound like Avril. The song has to be a love song.
“Si mnapenda dorm prefect wenu?”
They hate him. But they are smart enough now not to answer the question honestly. Antony, the plump boy from cubicle 5 answers that they love their prefect. It is not the first time he has lied. He has learnt in sharp contrast to the other boys of the necessity of kissing ass in the modern world. It is a skill that will serve him well in the future. If you can look past his mouth constantly smelling of posteriors, you will respect his success.
BabG offers to lead the singing. His voice hasn’t quite broken yet. It sounds like a harp made love to an electric saw, and his voice is the bastard child. He looks like he comes from money. He does. He should be in schools where the teachers know the kids by their names. Schools where lunch is serves a la carte, instead he is here. There is little difference between a prison and this place. You must understand, that until 3 months ago, BabG was his father’s favorite child. It helps that he has no brothers or sisters. The small issue of failing his exams quickly changed that dynamic. Dad decided to take him to a boarding school to teach him discipline.
“Hii maneno ya kuangalia TV kila saa itaisha.”
If you look carefully at his forehead you can see the outline of his mother’s lips. Smack in the middle there are still traces of that red lipstick she loves. It was her way of saying goodbye. She did not know she would never meet that boy again.
“Naangalia Angani, Mawingu Yamejaa, Looks Like The Rain Is Coming,
Natamani Uwe Nyumbani, Wrapped Up In My Arms, I Reminisce My Baby, Juu Yako, juu yako….”
He stops to breath in and then continues. The other boys stand silently beside him, not quite sure of what they should do. BabG continues;
He gets a little passionate here. The music loosening the tension his body is feeling. He forgets the limits nature has placed on his voice. He crows as he sings that last line. He would have continued had a shoe not been very swiftly thrown at him.
“Unaimbia wanaume unawamiss? Hatutaki machichi hapa!” The dorm prefect shouts.
It is not the last time the threat of being associated with homosexuality will be levelled against the boys. Anything that is soft and beautiful and threatens the carefully constructed veneer of tough masculinity will be labelled gay.
BabG retreats into his shell, his ego shattered, his esteem a little lower. It will go even lower before this first year in high school ends. It will be replaced with hatred where once a childlike joy lived. The tough exterior will hide the truth of who he is. A boy scared of being called gay. His parents will never understand what happened to the young kid they brought here.
Meanwhile, the prefect is tired of the entertainment. He reminds the boys of why they came to this school. The only acceptable reason is to serve him. They stay silent. There is a trip to a girl’s school coming up. Every dorm prefect must select 5 boys to represent his dorm. The prefects have a small competition going on between them. They are betting on which dorm’s form ones’ will talk to the most girls. Otis is determined to win. He has brought them here this evening for them to showcase their skills at talking to women. To sweeten the deal, the boy who wins the competition will be exempt from bullying for the whole semester. It is an attractive proposition, the boys perch up a bit after hearing that. Every one of them wants to be free from the constant bullying that is commonplace here.
Antony speaks up. What do they need to do to win? The dorm prefect smiles. He likes it when his boys are driven. It is simple really, the only thing they need to do is come back with a girl’s clothing. The enthusiasm runs out of the room. Every one of them knows how difficult it is to get a girl to give you her number leave alone a damn cloth. The prefect notices this. He mentions that should his dorm come last, he will ensure they do not sleep in here for a month. It is not an empty threat. They begin to whisper amongst themselves. Trying to find a way to win this. Otis asks them, who do they think can win this? All of them raise their hands except for Mutua. They all agree Mutua is a coward. He cannot talk to the female teachers, how will he speak to a whole girl?
They will spend the next 2 days practicing. Otis proudly taking the role of teacher. Imparting the wisdom of how to talk to girls. As if women come with a set of instructions and a manual. None of the boys will stand up to Otis, maybe ask him of his record with the ladies. They will labor in silence.
That Saturday, the school bus will deposit 60 young boys in the girl’s school. The older girls will feel a motherly instinct towards the kids. They still look like babies. There’s none of that rough sisal hair on their chins yet. If you get too close to them, they smell like baby powder and their mother’s milk. One of the girls will particularly like BabG. He still has that aura of innocence about him. She will wonder what it will feel like to have him.
She will approach him but let him think he did it. It is a skill women have mastered. I think it comes from years of massaging male egos. Somehow BabG’s high pitched voice will work on this woman. They will talk for a long minute. Her talking, him ad-libing, saying nothing of value. They are walking, his hand in his. They move away from other humans. They get closer to where the buses are parked. Maybe she wants to get something from one of the buses. She drags him behind one of the buses. She pulls him close. Should he run and hide?
He will kiss her. Or rather, she will kiss him. Her leg is in between his. Her tongue licking the back of his throat. BabG is not too sure what he should do with his teeth and nose. They seem to be constantly in the way. He has yet to learn the mechanics of lip to lip combat. In a few years he will learn that teeth are necessary in a French kiss. For now though, he feels a new dialogue happening in his pants. One he particularly enjoys. She will feel it too. She will reach out to grab it. Gently at first then….
She will grab the back of his neck. His breathing will quicken. His ears will grow just a little bit hotter. She will stop kissing him. She will draw back. Look him straight in the eye, and say happily, I like you. She will kiss him again. And again. And again. A really small part of him will want to lift one leg up and lean into the kiss. Just a small part. He will feel his ass quiver, and his right inner thigh will shake. A small part of the front side of his trousers will turn wet. She will notice. She will kiss him on the cheek before she flees. He does not know her name.
He will go back to school. He will tell no one about it. Not even Otis when he threatens to beat all of them for failing to win his silly competition. But someday when his grandkids asks foolishly how he lost his virginity? His hands will shake a bit. The cup of tea he is holding will rattle. He will remember the short girl who smelt like Nivea deodorant mixed with sunflower seeds. The smell of the hot soil and exhaust fumes lingering in the air as she welcomed him into manhood. He will refuse to answer that question. But kids are foolish. Another one will ask,
“Guka, was shosho your first?”
How does one tell a child they lost their virginity to a nameless girl? A small part of the front side of his trousers will turn wet….from the tea he will spill on himself.
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