Of the midnight dances


There are some periods that my people back home whisper about. They cringe with fear, while others shiver with excitement at the thought of the impending uncertainty. Circumcision period and Kesha. 31st December. We are all broke and I am not sure if you want to read about the nostalgic eve of new year’s day. But hang in there. I am broke anyhow. Broke all sides. I had revolutionary ideas for my December salary, but the devil was in my purse I swear. It was doing a little jig as I wrote what I intend to buy over the festive season and here I am shocked, had I planned to buy barbed wire? What for? And in a blink like Matiangi’s speed of releasing results, that money vanished like the As.

Back to kesha. On this day, girls are seen rushing to finish all chores on time. The village is busting with life and excitement because hapi no lia is hours away. The drums can be heard from a distance. 1-2-3 mic check. PEFA church is always on high alert and expecting sweaty teenagers. Deliverance church is on stand-by, with the keyboard guy doing tululululu on his instrument. Buggy trousers, huge fellowship t-shirt written “Turkana mission 2013”. He is ready to dance like David and his clothes will surely off. Past Deliverance is Etochi ya Were church (God’s Torch church). I tell you this church has never connected electricity since rural electrification. They walk around and borrow lanterns across the village. This Etochi church has the hugest drum in the entire village that can be heard many kilometers away. The male drummer ties a rope across his shoulders and this huge drum lies on his belly. He hits that drum with too much anger, probably because his wife abandoned him for a truck driver. Another woman plays the smaller drum and hits it till her headscarf becomes drenched and the sweat from her head is brownish. Etochi attracts every single young person because of its dim lighting conducive for what Sodom and Gomorrah perished for. And  in the neglected corner of my village, not corner as such, but the boundary between my village and another, stands the catholic church in its unshaken splendor. It’s too quiet on the eve and the songs are not as enchanting as I would have wished.

Lastly, there’s disco. People here still call it disco. Just like they call crop-top tumbo-cut. These discos are held in the village square and two artistes would be called to rock the revelers. These luhya artistes would dance with too much vigor and the entire audience would join the frenzy. Girls would go there, fully armored with jackets for the cold in case it arose. For boys, it was simple. Good and ugly closed shoes in case of a stampede and a condom acquired from an elder cousin. We all wanted to go to Etochi church. Behind it was a huge tree, that has seen all evils under the moon. Fit girls would follow boys up the tree for some privacy. Of course one couple once came tumbling down and the girl’s skirt tore, while the ambitious man’s lips split and forked like a snake’s.

Normally, our relatives would take us to any church and we would usher in the new year outside home. But soon after my breasts stood full and unashamed, my father knew it wasn’t safe anymore. He knew better. 17 years is too dangerous. Mwalimu would sit in the house and loiter around. He suddenly discovered that the cows were not tethered well or the gate needed fixing. He would insist that I stand with a torch as he fixes some loose hinges for many hours on end. Then he would insist that we cook chicken. I would just die a cold death. Did I hear chicken? Yet drums were already calling us? Chicken, yet my Barasa had already whistled as he passed home? I would just slip into gloom. My father would start narrating headless stories to my young siblings as they laughed hysterically at the boring jokes. I would brood. Barasa would see all girls that night. Even that foolish Truphena who once bought for him a belt. I had warned her and on one occasion beat her up and her mother came baying for my blood. Daddy beat me up so badly as if I was not his child.

Mwalimu would then turn on the TV. It was now 10pm and the drum beats were too loud and felt like they were outside my bedroom window. I could hear yells and cheers as people sang praises and on the other hand, the village square became alive with booming music. When the chicken was ready, my father would savor slowly like a toothless freak, yet we all know he clears his plate in a flash. He would look at the bone and comment on how big the chicken was. Then he would start narrating foolish stories again about how he once almost chocked when he was given chicken’s legs. Goodness, I wish he had been chocked then. I would probably have been born in Puerto Rico. Or Peru. Or even Botswana. Or in another home where parents allow their daughters to go out for kesha. It is now 11 o’clock, when music from all sources has mixed with excitement. Dust is rising up the sky. Ancestors are turning in their graves joyfully. Roofs are shaking. Teenagers are sweating. Some are touching. Others are up the tree I told you about. Others have already used the condoms. Mwalimu is now staring at the stupid TV as the president reads his speech. Damn that wretched old box. Damn it.

Barasa passes outside home with his 7 friends, yelling as we had agreed for the second time now. He was to take me to the village square. There is too much commotion outside. I want to jump through the window. Mwalimu is not moved and now turns to us and ask us what our new resolutions will be. It is now 11.45. God please silence this man like Nebuchadnezzar. Make him eat grass tonight please. I want to see Barasa for sanity’s sake. He then asks mother to bring him tea. People take it. I don’t. I don’t want tea. I want Etochi, the village square, the music, the semi-darkness and Barasa. As midnight approaches, I grudgingly mumble that I am going to sleep as he opposes. He wants us to see the new year together. It is going to be an ugly year. I know it is.

Maybe if he hadn’t been a stumbling block, I would have turned out to be the best female dancer in the village. Mwalimu you win. Always.

Happy new year to you all. Thank you for being the best readers!

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