Last night, as I went home, some young boys cat-called at me as I walked past them. Amidst all the things they said, prominent was “Nerea zalia mimi mtoto.” I froze on my tracks. What will happen next term when they open and discover I have been posted to their school? I know they are not these city boys because during the school term, nobody stopped me and schools just closed the other day, so they must have been school kids. Don’t be deceived into imagining I am that noticeable. I have a big body and an obstinate pot-belly. You might not notice it, unless you ambush me when I haven’t tacked it in. When you check keenly too, when I have squeezed myself in tiny jeans, you will see rolls of flesh falling lazily from the sides. But when darkness takes over, confidence skyrockets and gives these kids unquestionable confidence. It reminded of another incident last year.
I had gone to my grandfather’s funeral in the interiors of Kamukuywa village, up in Bungoma County. No electricity. No tarmacked roads. No vehicles, just motorbikes. And like you know, funerals in luhya land are a celebration and a big, big deal. As night crept in, more people came to late mzee’s home, with a keen eye on the kitchen or any place that smoke emanated from, suggesting food. They territorially placed themselves at vantage position to see and smell food.
Meanwhile, music was blasting, attracting the entire county to converge at the funeral. As I danced to Mukangala and Masinde Muliro songs, I saw a group of young boys drawing closer. When these songs play, you just have to move an arm, a leg and the head if possible. I was with my brother and cousin, who had confused village girls with their ugly sagged jeans and timberlands. I feel like rolling my eyes, just remembering how horrible they looked. The young boys were dancing and drawing nearer, to us with a sinister motive I am too familiar with. I saw a story and wanted to write about it, so I chilled and danced, shaking my shoulders. Dances always unite people and you get absorbed in the frenzy, oblivious of the fact that you cannot coordinate body movement. It makes people who share a common interest feel connected by the music. Before I knew it, I found myself in a circle with tu small girls, probably form 2/3 in a day school and a ring of boys around us. Me, Gladwell, was in a circle of little children. I ought to be ashamed of myself! But like I said, darkness has a way of making you very confident, because nobody can identify you. So I shook hysterically. In the semi-darkness, you can’t see people’s faces, but just silhouettes. Girls in Kamukuywa village shook and shook, changing from lipala dance to an unfathomable dance style, occasionally kneeling and lifting the hands high. Boys there are not small bodied. They were build adolescents and smelt of acrid sweat. They were excited at the sights of girls’ buttocks. Things were unfolding quickly. One tall, probably a standard 7 boy, scattered fear and came right behind my ass. I thought to myself, hio ndio child molestation so… I moved away and left the circle, then went to dance near my able brother. That adolescent still hovered around me. Then my brother left to check if the roasted meat was ready.
The adolescent with raging hormones seized the chance and came forth, emerging from the dark like the walking dead. I don’t remember his name but he said he likes how I dance. He was coming so quickly and I played along.
That boy: “So unachop wapi?”
Me: “Nasoma Bungoma DEB. Na wewe?”
Him: “Mimi niko Matete day school. Uko class?”
Me: “Class 7.”
Him: “Mimi niko form 2. Kwa hii *mangata unafanya?”
Me: “Ni babu yangu.”
Him: “Iza . Babu yako alikua ni neighbour wetu. Si ukam twende keja yangu?”
Just like that! The form 2 boy from Matete Day School wanted to take me to his siimba. I was holding back laughter and proud of my incognito. What has become of kids these days? I said, “naogopa.” He said, “wee kam tu, kiasi.” This adolescent was truly ambitious. I lied to him that I was going to get my jacket and went to the house to tell my folks we laugh about it. My brother made sure to note, identify and mark his face for the next day’s sake. And indeed, the next day, in broad daylight, when all evil is exposed before man and God, the form 2 boy saw me, in heels, jeans and a house of weave on my head and ran for his life.
I hope we never cross paths when I am posted to that school, maybe.
Thanks for reading!