The Princess

Tough as a nun

Tough as a nun

I have had several run-ins or encounters with Sister Venerandah aka the Princess. She started teaching us pastoral in 2nd term. Pastoral, am sure you are wondering, is like a spiritual subject. We used to have a free lesson, then our class teacher thought that perhaps pastoral would make us a better class. Ours was the only class that had been “forgotten” in the allocation of these lessons, and we didn’t mind.

There is this day that she comes to teach. The topic: Are you fully alive? Then she leaves us with homework. Can you believe it? Stuff like what makes you happy? What hampers your happiness? What would you like to do to ensure you are fully alive? Etc

I sit near the front. During weekends, we are allowed to buy chewing gum. So after I buy, I stick those silly stickers for footballers on my desk. They act as ‘good decoration’. I’ve stuck them all around my desk. So on her first day in our class, she notices the silly stickers.

“Savvy, what is this?” she asks. Like she can’t see they are stickers.

“I asked what these are.” She repeats calmly.

“Stickers.” I answer.

“What are they doing on your desk?” Same patronizing and falsely polite voice.

“Nothing.”

“Savvy, what is this?” she asks. Like she can’t see they are stickers.

“I asked what these are.” She repeats calmly.

“Stickers.” I answer.

“What are they doing on your desk?” Same patronizing and falsely polite voice.

“Nothing.”

“You know Savvy, these things distract you.” She continues. I am about to protest, but my side deskie gives me a warning look.

“So I want you to remove them, all of them, okay?”

I nod as expected.

On another occasion, it’s yet another of one of those days. Those when you let go, and don’t worry about anything. You suddenly remember Jesus saying we should not worry about what to eat, or wear coz he provides.

So you scramble out of bed late, and grab any blouse you get your hands on. You don’t even get to comb your hair or polish your shoes since you are already late. And then you rush to the assembly hall.
After assembly, am walking briskly to class. Princess (how the name came about is a story for another day), being unnaturally observant, notices something wrong with my blouse.

“Savvy, come.” She commands.

“I walk up to her.”

“Let me see your collar.”

I confidently giver her my back so she can inspect my blouse. Then it dawns on me that am wearing a SHIRT that is almost four years old. I have had it since form one.

“What is this? How can a girl dress this way?”

The collar is almost non-existent. And it’s a shirt instead of a blouse. It means it’s got a hard collar and an extra button like it’s meant to be worn with a tie. Princess introduced this blouse rule soon after she joined the school. The line between blouses and shirts is thin, believe me.
“Why are you wearing a shirt?”

“All my blouses were dirty.”

“Am I supposed to wash for you your blouses?”

“No.”

“Then why are you telling me your blouses are dirty? Do you want me to send you home to bring more blouses? Because it seems you have very few if they are all dirty.”

“No.” I answer very meekly.

“Then I want you to call your parents and tell them to bring you more blouses.”

“I will.”

“You know it’s against the rules to wear shirts?”

“Yes.”

“And a very torn one at that. How can you behave this way, Savvy?”

I am silent.

“Or you want me to burn it?”

“No.”

“Then charity is the best option. Go remove it.”

Do you have any idea what day it is? It’s a school day. Which means the dormitory is locked. And am wearing a half-sweater (sleeveless). I have to spend the rest of the hot day blouse-less, wearing a scarf, hoping to God no teacher notices or asks us to remove our sweaters.

Another time, am in the computer lab working on my project, due for marking any time soon. I have too much to do so I decide to skip supper. Gracie, being a good friend, decides to bring me super in the computer lab. Here I am sitting, my legs up, the plate of R n B (rice and beans) delicately balanced on my stomach.

Then the door opens, and….Princes pokes her head in.

I freeze.

“Can you sit properly.” Is the first thing she says. There is shock and wonder on both our faces.
I sit up straight.

“Why are you eating in the computer laboratory?” She asks in her characteristic calm voice. She likes asking why questions. I just never seem to have any answers. So am silent.

“Finish eating, wash your plate, then come see me in the convent.”

The food is suddenly tasteless. I go to the lower hot water tank and wash my plate. Filled with dread, I walk to the convent and timidly ring the bell. The cook answers. I tell him to call for me Princess. And she takes her sweet time.

What follows is the talk. Princess is assisted by her side kick Sr. Vero. They tell me I need to realize it’s my life, that I should stop playing around, that I need to get serious and stop breaking school rules, that KCSE is around the corner, that God knows what am going through, if I ever have a problem not to hesitate to ask them for help etc etc. Can you imagine I actually cry? Then they let me go, amidst much sniffing and blowing.

Maybe am too emotional (the tears!) and am just trying to be tough. I leave them with the plate and spoon, wipe my tears, put on a brave face and go back to the computer lab.

“What have you been told?” M.T asks when I get back.

So here I am telling them what happened, detail by detail. Of course I leave out the part about me shedding tears, and laugh at having gone through yet another incident with the Princess.

It Could Be You

Hmmm....

Hmmm....

So you’ve never kissed a girl. Never had a girlfriend, but of course, no one knows that. It so follows that if you’ve never kissed a girl (and you are a boy, that should have been the first thing I said), then you haven’t had sex. Unless it’s with yourself, and let’s face it, that doesn’t count as sex.

You go out much. In fact, every Friday is a Furahi day. You have your own crew, of course. You are at an age where desperation has not set in, till you have to go drinking alone. You tell yourself you are no alcoholic, so how can you drink alone?

Strange thing is, you keep to yourself. When most people are drunk, at least those I have encountered, they are friendly and social. They’ll kiss strangers and hug people they just met at the club, even confess undying love. I know of unsociable drunks, those who can’t hold their liquor, their language is abusive and their behavior disgusting. Like someone called Blanche. But that is a story that has already been told.

It’s not that you haven’t approached girls before. You just got turned down, what, a couple of times before? Then you decided that was it. No more hustling for chicks. You are just going to be the cool guy who sits at the table (making sure no one grabs it when all your crew has left to go dance or talk to chicks or bathroom breaks…that sort of thing.). Sometimes chicks say no when they mean yes. (You just have to know when a no is really a no, and how are you going to do that without practice?) If all your pals with chicks right now were honest, they’d tell you they get turned down 70% of the time but it makes the 30% all worth it. So maybe you shouldn’t have given up. And why am writing this here when I should be telling you this face to face? Tough question. Let me finish the narration first.

There you are at your corner again. One of your friends has spotted us… we’ve just checked in, the place is packed and there is no place to sit but he ushers us over anyway. Some of the crew gives up their seats for us. Introductions all round. Turns out we school together but we’ve never met. And I thought our campus was small.

There are those who use the excuse of being drunk to do some things they know they shouldn’t be doing. Like hands crawling all over your body (not really all over, but how does a hand all of a sudden appear on your thigh? Isn’t it a rule for chicks to wear jeans when going for rave? That way, contact is limited, as compared to for example, a short skirt.) So this guy is disturbing me, saying things like “ Wewe si bibi ya mtu…” ..Meaning you are not anyone’s wife. So anyone has rights to your body, that sort of reason, since no man has claimed it. What about myself? Do I have the right to tell you no? I bet with your reasoning, I don’t.

You are the one solving these small small conflicts that emerge in a large social group. The alcohol is not getting to your head and we are having small-time conversation. Some other two chicks join the table and there is a further shortage of seats. I offer to sit on you. I think I can trust you, your hands are not wandering where they shouldn’t (for now), you aren’t making any suggestive talk and are acting gentleman all through.

I just can’t resist. I have to kiss you. And you respond. The rest may or may not be history. Time will tell.

Survival in The Library

The Library...looks almost like ours

The Library...looks almost like ours

It’s almost exam time yet again. This is the 6th semester ever since I reported here, the sixth exam period am about to face. After all this time, you realize you have sharpened your skills for cramming, perfected your miniaturizing art of writing ‘mwakenyas’ (let’s just call them ultra summaries that somehow find their way into the exam room- though mine usually stay away from the exam room) and how to revise effectively.

You have somehow found yourself with a free day, so you decide to study in the library. The room has enough distractions: from a roommate cooking to friends of roommates who just can’t shut up, to neighbours playing the latest hit yori yori, I can’t stand that song anymore. Other places of reading from, like lecture halls, are occupied during the day. So the library it is.

Contrary to popular belief, the library is not the most quiet place to read from. It’s only quiet at the beginning of the sem, but at such a time like now, discussion groups are relocated to the library. People answer their phones, have shaky legs (you just find the table vibrating, wondering if there is a miniature earthquake but it’s just someone whose legs can’t stay still). Others chew gum loudly, like it’s a wad of leaves or something, others sing along to the cranky music from their cheap China phones.

So here is a survival guide to studying in the library:

i.) Go with a friend. You may get bored after an hour, or you may need to borrow a pencil or confirm something. But do not make the mistake of sitting together, because you might end up talking or being distracted by whatever questions the friend has to ask, unless you are reading the same unit. The friend will also take care of your stuff when you need to take a toilet break or go outside to answer a phone call.

ii.) Chewing gum. This helps when you are doing a unit with more notes and less reasoning. It helps with cramming, or memory, as some research actually found out. Just don’t chew it loudly, it’s not polite.

iii.) Dress well. The library has been a meeting point for many people. When you are a chick and you stand up to go make a phone call, everyone whose mind was screaming for a break will look up and check you out. So don’t wear that green Safaricom t-shirt and black pants that make someone instantly think of the Lewa marathon.

iv.) Flirt only in your mind. Do not be tempted to take this library flirting to actions. One moment you are reading your notes, and you look up and there is a guy staring at you. Most likely, he’s not seeing you, he’s just trying to make whatever in his book stick to his mind through the process of staring into space. You just happened to be in his space. So, if he’s good looking, just smile in your mind, not out loud otherwise you may embarrass yourself.

v.) Patience. Be patient with those who chew gum loudly, have silly loud conversations on the phone, curse at themselves, sing loudly from the bad music in their earphones, shake legs unnecessarily, have group discussions in the library, wear loud shoes and just demand attention, have dressed so badly you wonder if the just woke up and went straight to the library, have dressed as if they are going to a club… the list of irritants is long. Just let them be.

vi.) Concentrate either way. That is why you went to the library. Sure, you may waste half an hour or more time, but make sure that at least for half the time you are in the library, you have done something substantial. You can later claim how you just dozed and stared around in the library, or wasted time walking around like a teenager with an attention attack, but deep inside you know you read something. Otherwise, don’t bother going to the library at all.

Hiatus

Maybe am finally home.

New home

New home

The Harambee Stars

The Team

The Team

You may have wondered how come I have not written about the Stars and the German coach who bailed on us. It’s really water under the bridge. I may have not attended the match at the stadium, but I was well represented by my brothers, while I watched the game from home.

There is no need to analyze the match. Had we won, we would still have remained at the bottom of the group, and wouldn’t have qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola in January. World cup hopes were dashed the moment Kimanzi was removed as head coach.

Harambee stars biggest fan mourns the waste of the spectacular talent that was displayed on Saturday. Who thought of Antoine the swine in the first place? Good riddance to bad rubbish. I know KFF or KPL has issues bigger than Mt. Kenya, and perhaps that is why we need a local coach who understands the situation on the ground, not some well-dressed coach I had never heard of before till he was made coach.

We now take a break to watch the rest of the world battle it out to qualify, or maybe the English Premier League and UEFA Champions League, of which my team Liverpool is not doing too well either. Perhaps I should be supporting a local team too. Maybe Nairobi City Stars (formerly World Hope) or the champions Sofapaka. Perhaps Tusker FC…am sure I directly contribute to their sponsorship via EABL.

The Harambee Stars have another shot at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012, and we start another qualifying round late next year. The world cup of course, remains a dream. I sure hope one day we’ll make it, but not with statistics like these: 6 games, 5 loses, 1 narrow win (we got a penalty and it was at home.), unpaid dues, warring officials, lousy coaching, bad kits (I did notice the Nigerians have no names on theirs either…or is it an African problem? How are we supposed to know our players’ names? Even the commentators have no idea whom they are talking about.), a governing body that does not know it’s name, lack of funding etc etc.

One thing they can count on though, is the support of loyal fans.

The fan

The fan

P.S. Are these people for real?

A Boy Called Harrison

Part II: The End

Vee and Chebo manage to convince me to reply. I tell Vee she’ll be the one to format the whole letter, which ends up being one-small-writing-pad long. So I jot it down, get a white envelope, put the letter in and with some calligraphy from Chebo on the envelope, we are done.

KCSE begins. The first week is crazy and hectic. I have papers all morning and all afternoons. A break finally comes on Friday afternoon when the rest are doing History Paper 1. Guess where I am headed, duh! The swimming.
Come Saturday afternoon, and we are skipping rope to diffuse some exam stress. In the evening, as I settle down to do some serious ‘chopping’, I receive yet another letter. With a rose. This is turning dramatic.

Vee, being dramatic and a believer in romance, brings a soda bottle, fills it with water and puts the rose in it. The bottle is then put on the table. Then we settle down to read the letter. By ‘we’ I mean almost the entire class. It’s a classic love letter. All the quotable quotes, and some lyrics from some reggae songs. I don’t really listen to reggae, but Vee2 does and she knows the quoted songs.
My friends tell me I have to outdo him. Too bad I didn’t keep a copy but sample this:

“You are the Harrison Ford of my life.”

Some lyrics from Westlife’s overdone song: My love.

Also, some quotes from Glen Washington’s Strangers in the Night.

Vee lends me her long writing pads where she composes sonnets for Ib. I fill two of them. There are many couriers offering their services for the delivery of the letter. I can’t remember who exactly I trust to do the delivery.

I spend all afternoons of the second week by the poolside. Scratch that, I spend all afternoons in the pool. Just in case you are wondering what we used for sunscreen, Edwina has a large amount of Valon Petroleum Jelly that she assures us it’s the best. So we smear ourselves before jumping into the water. Don’t even begin to wonder how we wash it off after swimming.

So a few days later, as expected, I receive a reply. And you won’t believe it. It’s not a mushier declaration or anything. Well, he’s given me his address, and a mobile phone number which is like 07XX XX XX. Yep, 8 digit phone number. Then he goes on to say that his mobile phone had ‘haribikad’, and that he needed like a K to repair it. He doesn’t like asking money from chicks, but he will pay back. There! Can you believe it?

Do you think am going to dignify that with a reply? I have no idea where he got the idea that am a CMS (Cash Money Sister) from. I mean, how do you like ask me for money and am still in school? Never mind you are going to use it to repair an imaginary mobile phone. And like expected, here is my friend’s turned around reactions:

“Savvy, drop the guy. How can he sink so low?”

“Dump him like a hot potato.”

Even Vee gives the letter a mean sneer. Everyone gives their views and comments, whether called for or not. It’s as if the this whole saga was between them and Harrison. In a way it was: they had participated in the composing and delivery of the letters. It’s not really the idea of asking money, it’s just that how do you ask me that after we’ve met only once and exchanged two letters? Besides, his letters had spelling mistakes. That really gets to me.

So well, that becomes the end of that. Soon after that, a final letter that I didn’t bother to read. It’s details are told to me. Asking for forgiveness. Am like yeah, so long. In the rest of the weeks that followed, I never catch a glimpse of him. Am too busy with my papers.

It’s Tuesday the 15th, and guess what? It’s my last day in this school. My mum and K come to pick me up. As we slow down to join the traffic, I see a boy in my peripheral vision. I get one good last look at him as he turns the bend to school. Then we pull onto the main road and drive off.

Fashion Writer

I settle down comfortably, wriggling in the couch trying to make my niche. Just when I have sighed internally of relief, my mother asks for a glass of water. I patiently fetch the glass and pour the water for her. I then turn to the newspapers for the last week. I flip through the political pages to find any stories that will hold my interest. I find Clay Muganda’s articles with just the right dose of satire that makes them un-put-downable. Just as am getting to the punch line, my mum requests for a book, which is within stretching distance. Patiently, I get up, hand her all books on the study table (so I don’t have to stand again) and return to find the comfortable position quite elusive.

I find Zuqka (Daily Nation) not as interesting as Pulse(The Standard Group), you must admit. The only columns worth reading are Siste’s (not always) and Pub Crawl by Full Pint (almost always). Zuqka’s take on what people are wearing does not bring anything out of the ordinary (try Pulse’s Fashion Police for a change). I look at the featured blog section, who knows, someday this blog may make it there. This Friday, it’s the Diary of a Mad Kenyan Woman.

There was no Saturday newspaper in the house, so am now catching up with the Sunday Nation. I start with Staffroom Diary– this guy makes my Sundays. Then Dr. Dawood’s Surgeon Diary, followed by the Beetle Bailey cartoon, after which I read Dr. Chris Hart’s interesting psychological take and the jokes on the same page (nothing to write home about, the jokes I mean. Sometimes I have already read them on the internet). I flip through Buzz, which is rather flat these days. Ever since KJ entered politics and with it went the ‘head-on-korishon’? page.

I usually read the column Letter from London by Gerry Loughran. It’s a great read. Having done with my regulars, I flip through the whole paper again. That is how I find myself reading this Fashion Column by Carol Odero.

Where does she find such language from? Clearly, if you are going to write a whole piece on the cocktail ring, you have to be a little innovative in coming up with catchy (if ridiculous) phrases.

“A cocktail ring is a bold declaration that says you choose what encircles your finger.” Kwani the other rings are not worn by choice?

“It glares, glints and makes absolutely no apologies while being infinitely fabulous.” What?! She’s on a roll, ladies and gentlemen.

“It’s memorability and appeal lie exclusively in its flamboyance such that you can only wear it on a strong finger.”

I get as far as “…Again, it bears a strong personality by itself and can be said to attract substantial personalities who use it to underscore their savvy…” before I wonder what I am doing reading an over-colourfully phrased article about rings. I can’t take it anymore. I remember last week’s article, and I want to quote something from it.

I open the middle pages of last weeks’ Sunday Nation. My mum has just used it I-don’t-know-for-what, damn! And of all the accumulated newspapers in the house, some from last year even, she just had to take a recent one? Too tired to google to quote the colourful phrases, I’ll just have to wait for next week’s article to see what she writes and if she is for real. To me, the articles are unreadable. What do you mean by, “It’s memorability and appeal lie exclusively in its flamboyance such that you can only wear it on a strong finger.”

Or maybe am the one who needs to upgrade my fashion sense.