At some point,we were all young.And probably even good-looking.Back then,no one would have made us believe that one bright morning,we were going to wake up,look in the mirror,then go back to sleep again, in shock.Because staring back at us, will be a wrinkled bloke with a white beard, who looks like something someone dug up in the backyard.Then we'll realize that we are now all grown up, even ageing.Then we'll wonder just how the years have come flying past.
This age comes with strange new behaviors.We'll suddenly start waiting for that Mathree that's not playing loud music,yet just a few years back,we'd nudge closer to the booming Kenwood speakers.We'll start wondering why there's all this hullabaloo about some guy called Demarco,yet all the Jamaican Ragga criminal does,is yap on and on about some woman's wriggling bottom.We'll smile less,and start finding the nine o'clock news interesting,when just a few years before,we'd do rounds in the village instead,hunting for the damsels.Men will develop that beer belly, and start wearing funny jackets to church.To church, because that's the only place that is open on a Sunday morning,thus offering them refuge,as they seek to flee from their teenage kids,who've now turned the home into a recording studio.
The ladies will find themselves belonging to four to five Chamas.They'll be looking forward to the meetings,so they can eat sweet Mandazis,drown in bottles of wine and complain about weight.They'll even probably ditch the knee-high skirt for the garbs that fail painfully short of concealing the toes.
Nothing will make you understand why a sensible young lad has chosen to drop his pants to his knees,dye his hair like Chris Brown and adopt that walk that the hyena tried and failed.We'll start conversations with age-mates we've never met with the phrase "Kids of today!",for the other party will most likely also have something to say on the same,and just like that,new bonds are established.
But we conveniently choose to forget that,even as we find the young lads irritating,someone out there had to bear the brunt of our own growing up trends.The only difference is in how we executed our ploys,how we went about "being cool". Let me give you a small glimpse of our growing up days.
As little boys,we served it rough and had it served even rougher back at us.We played brutal pranks on each other,and looking back,i think the judiciary should have been more involved here.Like when we'd place pieces of broken Nacet razor-blades on the ground as we sat around,then invite you to take a seat.Looking back now,i think those who fell for this prank, had every right to prosecute,for one's backside would be grossly shredded.In the absence of the razor-blades,we'd place hot coals of charcoal,and cover them up with a little dust.You'd sit, then your shorts would be burnt and you'd let out the kind of scream that would cower a demon.There's nothing like burning charcoal on your soft backside.
If we wanted you to watch us play football from the sidelines,we'd carefully wrap a rock with old newspapers plus black polythene,then invite you to take the penalty spot-kick.Images of 'Ncabubu' jumping on one leg, while clutching the other in his hands(or whatever had remained of it) are still fresh in my mind.He hit the rock, split it into two and rendered his North-Star shoe irreparable.I don't know how many times his right leg was split into,if he could do that to a rock,but i seem to remember him in crutches afterwards,watching us play,exactly as we wanted it,for the guy kept scoring for the opposing side.That's why a plot had to be hatched,damage-control mechanism had to be deployed to stop the guy,because he wasn't also bad in boxing,which ruled out any possibility of a direct confrontation.
Footballs drove us nuts.We'd even play on the dusty road,since vehicles were hard to come by those days.And even when one showed up,we'd quickly retreat to the sides, stone it, then vanish.And the driver would hit the brakes,then come out screaming obscenities to no one in particular,ready to kill.Then he would look around and immediately realize the futility of bracing yourself for battle with an army you can't see,for we'd be nowhere to be seen.So he would just get back in his vehicle and drive off in a huff.Why we did that,i don't know.Because these were pure acts of terrorism,which would earn you time in the coolers today.
Sometimes innovation would be awakened in us.Like when we made these four-wheeled wooden"machines",big enough to carry four to five suicidal boys.Then we'd carry the darned thing to the top of that hill,get on board,then have it roll downwards toward the stream(or river) below.Sometimes the wretched thing would disintegrate mid-way,and send us sprawling to the rocks by the roadside.Or it would successfully make the trip, with us screaming on board,only for it to end up in the river below,in what would easily pass for a real road-crash,requiring the attention of the traffic cops.But those were hard to come by those days, so we weren't really scared of the guys in uniform.
Sharing was taught at an early age.We'd mill around the boy who'd successfully managed to steal that sh.10 from his mother's pulse.How a loaf of bread,or Kaimati,would be shared between five to ten screaming boys,i can't tell you.But each would get off with a piece,no matter how small.Sometimes sharing would turn tricky, if Matebe was present,because the kid always wanted it all.He's the reason why most fights broke out,and he'd always vanish with the whole loot.I hated him for that,and many times we plotted on how we were going to kill him,though am not sure if we understood what killing really meant.
On weekends we'd rise up early to go hunting for birds who's names we all knew.We possessed astonishingly effective home-made weapons, that would have shamed The Boko haram anyday.Sometimes we'd lay traps for birds,and end up with the wild rabbit instead.Need i say,that kind of a catch was the boys' version of Christmas.And it instantly made you a celebrity in our circles.
'The art Of Conversation'
Onward to high school.At Ikuu Boys,Chuka, we'd write love letters to girls in neighboring schools and painstakingly scent them.Sometimes we'd use Life Buoy soap,if Bruce,the only one with a perfume bottle, had ran out of it,to scent the letters,by applying a gentle,small coat at the back of the paper.I never heard anyone lament that the letters smelt of the bathroom,so the girls couldn't have been any smarter.Then we discovered James Hadley Chase novels and all hell broke loose.I would read a copy again and again,while playing the goings-on in my mind,more like a movie.You protected a Hadley Chase novel the way kids protect their i-pads today.
It was then when we perfected the art of conversation because then,you actually had to physically meet your target girl,present your case,then wait for the results after a fortnight.Sometimes the results came,and sometimes you waited till you gave up.No matter how many borrowed jeans you'd show up in,some girls just didn't seem to budge.My first encounter was disastrous.No matter how hard i tried,words just wouldn't come out,for my mouth had turned drier than the Kalahari.Finally,the girl drew something on the ground with her big toe and left.Still no words came out and after spending eternity rooted at the same spot,alone and motionless,i sauntered home to hug my pillow.It was mandatory that you report to your peers on every outcome of every date,so when prodded,that was my cue to lie.But the chic had squealed on me,so when i tried explaining how successful my date had been,Jordan and Bingi just laughed off my lie.I was so mad at the girl i immediately started plotting on how i was going to commit my first murder.Eventually,my shame wore off and i moved on to my next 'conquest'.
Today,kids will meet a week before they move in together....Facebook and twitter will have done the rest.And as they talk about their favorite soap opera on their first 'date' and discover that they like the same character,they'll deduct they have a lot in common and wedding bells will be ringing after a month.Then the world will be required to finance both the wedding,and the honeymoon in the Seychelles,where some media house with nothing better to do,will screen their pictures on prime time news,as they play with the baby-crocodile.The same media house will stay mum on the split,that happens at the airport when they fly back.But the girl will have gotten herself pregnant in the brief 'marriage'and before you know it, she's posing for some magazines,published and read by her peers in high places,as she holds her 'baby-bump' and 'giving motherly advice to aspiring mothers'. With a mama like that,now you know why kids are calling their mothers by their nick-names.
If you come from my area,then chances are you had your own quarters,most likely at a certain corner of the compound.Some guys went a step further-they would make their own "gate",for obvious reasons,to and from the compound.And because we knew our cows by name,and they knew us back,sometimes you would sneak in a girl in the dead of the night,only for the cow to start mooing on recognizing your gait.The more you signaled her to keep her big mouth shut,the more she mooed thinking that breakfast may have come in early.Then the old man would wake up to see who's milking his cow at night,only to come face to face with Gacunku,the first-born daughter of Salesio, his sworn enemy.These are the kinds of things that brought tension between youths of our time and our fathers.
Your circle of friends were entitled to your possessions,including your food.They would troop into your home pocketing and head straight to your quarters.And because the spot where you hid your key wasn't exactly a secret(almost always at some top corner of the door,or somewhere on the flower bed),they would let themselves in,eat your food,listen to your tapes and on realizing that the Eveready dry cells were getting sluggish,they would leave whistling,exactly the same way they came in.And no one would call the cops on them,for your circle of friends was known to your family.Besides,at that exact moment,you were probably at theirs,doing the same thing,so nothing to worry about...just another day in the office.
Anyone who acquired the prized 'Savco' jeans would be made to understand by his peers,that the acquisition did not belong to him alone.Each member of the group was entitled to it,if he could prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the damsel he's out to impress was a few social steps higher,and proper presentation would, therefore, be key.So Jordan would show up at Canisius home in search of a damsel,dressed in a black trendy pair and Chris would arrive in the afternoon,dressed in the same pair,in search of the younger sister.If the renowned lawyers daughters could tell that a single pair of trousers was being used to woo them,they never showed it .Maybe out of kindness.And these two guys won our admiration for making forays in such an affluent home.But Leftie wouldn't play the sharing ball,citing skin diseases(A false accusation.We were actually a clean lot),and he was instantly blacklisted.That meant he could borrow nothing from any member of the group....in fact, the first thing i did the next morning,i repossessed my ruck-sack, as a sign that things could only get worse for him.No one could survive this kind of an embargo and,need i say, his resistance was short-lived.He, like Saul of the Holy Book,suddenly turned from fiercest critic,to staunchest ally.And for his troubles,we elected him 'treasurer',because,after all,he was the chief financier of almost all our 'habits'.
I have no way of bringing back those days.Once a second has passed,its gone for good.And clearly many have passed,since those beautiful days i've been re-living above.Here's a toast to all 'wazees' whom i grew up with, my age-mates..Jordan,Chris, Baggio, Cloudie, Leftie, Mugash, Pauloo,The late Tonardo,The late Bingi,(You guys went too soon.We miss you) and of course,Max,the best all round footballer that Kenya never had.There will be many, many more who'll remain unmentioned, but without whom,the 'color' of my growing up days would be tragically lost.It wouldn't have been the same without you guys,i salute you.And from behind my key-board,i am secretly sipping a toast,in your honor because,for now,that's all i can do.Cheers,gang!.