In June 2019 I turned 35 years old against all my wishes. I wished I was younger, 19 just out of high school and spoilt for choice of a career. Handsome without a paunch and a bald. Full of energy and sporty I can eat a whole loaf of bread without getting worried of overweight. Still believing in love. Being that little prince charming every lass wants to lay. Going for trials for football and having all these ideas money can do such as owning a Ferrari and a Lamborghini cruising the world with a model like girlfriend with the waist of a wasp. A teetotaller because alcohol is for the ill raised kids. A loud sin.
A life well planned out such that by 23, I will be out of undergraduate, at 25 with my postgraduate and having proposed to my high school girlfriend. Marrying her in a garden wedding with invites only cards and taking off to a month long honeymoon to Seychelles, Malaysia culminating in a fortnight stay in Maldives. But life is –
In 1989, I joined Muslim Nursery School at the edge on Machakos town an institution that fills me with nostalgia when I happen to pass by. This is where it all began. This is where hope bred. This is the place where life was roughly borne. This is where I first saw a boy’s eye gorged out by the sharp edge of table it nearly fell. That an eye was like ripe fruit, fragile and ready to fall at the slightest disturbance. That is the only memory I carried from that school.
In 1990 aboard a canter truck I bid the hilly side of Machakos goodbye for the last time. I carried with it childhood memories. A disfigured third finger nail tip from a stone crush, the sight of a boy who had rubbed the itchy caterpillar all over his body jumping on top of an anthill calling his mother. The nights at Muthuna ithei butchery where we hovered around for empty bones to chew, no wonder his name. The nights spend watching factual films, ikusanya, and going home rotten from the rotten eggs that were thrown from the crowd. The evening spend counting the last of my mothers cabbages and potatoes at the market stall while she counted her total sales then tying them at the tip of her lesso.
The sight of Gitau the neighbor who locked his keys in the house daily and had to crawl through the opening between the roof and the wall to pick them and ask any of us around to open for him from outside.
The huge wooden black and white TV of Benard the mech who was my godfather during my baptism at Machakos Cathedral a church I only remember going there once with my father. Ben, whose kids we schooled together and his first born son the smartest boy to ever live, becoming a doctor and dying in a horrific car accident while working in Turkana a few years ago. Smart because that boy scored 617 marks out of 700 in 1992. I remember it because it is a long standing unbroken record. I remember it because I saw him get awarded so many gifts, I envied him.
We left Machakos, our three roomed corner house at the farthest and perhaps the darkest part of the plot. We tagged along Lota, our househelp and her son. We loaded onto the truck our spring beds and tiny velvet clothes and spiderman jump suits and our green Avon bicycle. A bicycle that took me to Housing Nursery School in Tala in 1990.
Tala where I would spent all my schooling days. Carrying bread soaked in tea in tiny plastic container and half an exercise book. Tala, where we passed by the local bakery to hover around like we hovered at Muthuna ithei butchery in Machakos but this time for rejected bread. Rejected because it was burnt toast which we were given for free and ate it with our saliva throwing away the burnt parts. Getting so full on the way home necessitating one to take a nap by the road only to be startled by passersby who would accompany you to your home.
Joining Tala Township a year later after an interview of joining dots to make a picture. A school where I was among the few who started year one to year eight without changing schools or repeating class.
In 1992, the only memory is that of becoming position one for the first and last time in my life and being head over it. Back at home, the memory of a tractor driver being given a thousand shillings by dad in one hundred shilligs notes for delivering construction sand.
In 1993, back at school, and in class three, reading the stories by Pamela Kola and Barbara Kimenye. Being whipped mercilessly by the man who today leads that school, with whip made of hippo hide and yelling our lungs dry after yelling for being dismissed too early to go home.
1994, the feeling of joining upper primary and joining the school choir to sing a vernacular set piece that went as such, ‘riwo riwo ndoyo, chakum gun nyonenyi ka’ I don’t remember what language this is. Uncle John taking me to face the cut and instead of tying a lesso to heal, I wore a long jacket for two weeks during the August holiday. After untying the tiny penis exposing the pink tip nevertheless feeling man worth impregnating a girl only that it couldn’t cum no shit. My only favorite tee from this year is the promotional Hedapan painkiller tee which I wore days on end.
In 1995, struggling with reading the hand clock and addition and subtraction of time wondering why time had to end at sixty and start at 0000. That night when Elisha told Ruth that they had come from drama festivals at midnight and some pervert interpretted it as let’s meet at midnight sparking a beating on accusations of being love birds. We were only 11. It is then I also had identified Ruth as my girlfriend and never telling it to no one. I wanted to kill Elisha too for wanting to meet my girlfriend at midnight. I also met George, a man who has always been my friend for 24 years now and counting.
In 1996, I identified Yvonne as my girlfriend now that we were separated by streams with Ruth. Cate was also beautiful but her mouth was deformed to one side. Viola was dark, tall and Luo. Gloria was humble to a fault but she wet her bed. I can’t remember a damn boy. No, I do, Eric, noisy as a hornbill. Got me in trouble when we coined the luhya folk song sang at the drama festivals in our Kamba. Ms Kamwanza the drama teacher spared us a beating but begrudgingly held the coining such that she used it against me when I was caught stealing bread from Cates locker on visiting day when my folks failed to show up. Mr. Ngati coming to my rescue and taking me to the kitchen to get served with the staff meal which we all coveted. Mr. Ngati rests in peace. Boarding was the worst choice I made in my life for I envied how boarders always had hot spiced githeri with a touch of blueband for lunch while we struggled with cold ugali from yesterday’s supper. Sometimes stale for overstaying. Sometimes we had nothing to eat for lunch. So I boarded, washed my own clothes and had hot meals. At first had sugar, blueband and quencher orange juice, and cocoa. With my first tin of blueband finished, I asked Rachel, the only person who knew where I came from, to pass by our home and ask mother to give her another one. My mother giving her butter filtered from sour milk. Yellow but tasting awful with an odor that flew to high skies. I regretted for once, only for Japheth, a pitch dark abagusii boy, feeding on it with school meals like a starved hyena.
It is also in 1996, that we opened our shop. And the first person to buy from us was this boy who came for cooking fat that went for three shillings. I was there when those doors opened for business perhaps the reason why I find myself still selling at a shop at 35.
Back at school, my sister(she rests in peace), our househelp, Nzilani, and another neighbor Rosalia came to visit me unofficially on a Sunday carrying delicacies now that they didn’t make it on Saturday being sent away by Mrs. Wambua, the coldest teacher to ever grace the face of the earth, with all the food they had come with, making me dejected seeing my sister and Nzilani walk away.
Not to forget this detail that it was Mother and Rosalia who took me on my first day to boarding. On a Sunday afternoon, Mrs. Mwangangi held guard that day and she handed me to Mbaya, the no nonsense ever drunk patron.
A patron we would later catcall in sheng that his manhood was erect hence getting ourselves in flying elephant shit when Abdalla the dorm prefect sold us out. We were beaten to a pulp, to near death and guess by who, Ms. Kamwanza, the drama teacher! We were physically assaulted with twigs that our tiny asses took weeks to recover making it so hard for us to seat on the metallic chairs, this is in 1997.
We pilled sweaters on the seats and some girls kind enough would offer us their sweaters to add on the seats. This again was so horrible making my decision to board the worst ever.
1998 is full of memories, why can’t I continue from the next post?
One story is good until another is told.
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