Written by Dora Achieng’ Okeyo
Twitter Handle: @herhar
I hope this letter will clarify some of the questions you have about us.
It is eighteen minutes past four in the afternoon as I sit down to write this. I had often thought of how best to express myself, but the only answer I kept receiving was through pen and paper. I would have sent you a hand written account of my side of the story, but then you told me to embrace technology.
I love using my pen and how my hand glides on a blank piece of paper. I think we are a lost generation because we have missed out on the romance and magic of letter writing. Imagine waiting to hear from me in two weeks or more? Imagine how you would feel when you receive my letter and sit down to it immediately? I long for such an interaction, but you said “si kuna email na Facebook” (but there’s emailing and Facebook).
I wonder why we have Facebook, Twitter, Google+…of what use have these been to us, rather than creating a distance. I can recall, I sent you a three hundred word message on Facebook and your reply was ‘lv u mo.’ Yellow; you have no idea how disappointed I was. I had opened up my heart to you and there you were, maybe in your room, contemplating the next Manchester United match, and so you quickly pressed some keys and clicked ‘reply’ without a second thought.
I was not disappointed let me admit, I was irked! I could have given into the social dialect and said “Nkt!” but then we would have been the same. Yellow, I want you to write it as you say it. Write “I love you more” not a selection of words that cannot be found in a dictionary!When I asked you about it, you told me simply “si you know I don’t always have much to say.”I immediately asked you, how last week’s game was and the monologue lasted ten minutes!Yellow, let me take you back to 2008-the month was December. Can you recall the date? Let me ease the pain of doing so, it was the 18th. You came to our house back in Kisumu. It was a sunny day with the heat soaring above thirty two degrees Celcius. You were with your elder brother and his friend. I had just come from Kibuye market and my feet had collected every particle of dust it could on my way home. I was glad to see you and we hugged for over a minute. If I am right it was almost two minutes and some few seconds. I sat down next to you and started asking questions. We hadn’t met in over two years and I missed you. You told me you were studying Engineering at Moi University and that you were fine. I wanted to hear more about you, but you suggested we go out for a few drinks. You waited patiently as I took a shower and got dressed. I had my black fitting jean trousers from Enkarasha and a blue blouse with white polka dots. Your brother-Joshua, said “You look beautiful” and I blushed. It was so embarrassing that I blushed with my arm wrapped around yours.
I was but two decades old.
We walked into a bar & restaurant and ordered drinks. I asked for soda and you all started laughing at me.
“What? I don’t drink alcohol.”
“Sure, but that’s cheap take at least an Alvaro, in fact take three of those.”
“So, I hurt your ego.”
“Okay,I will take an Alvaro please.”
The attendant went to the counter and came back saying they were out of Alvaro. I asked which soda they had and she said they had Coke. I opted for two cans of Redds. We had a wonderful time then talking about the old days.
You might not recall this but I do. The first time I met you was back in 1996. You were the new kid-fresh from another lower school. You had joined our class with your sister-whom you led us to believe was your twin. I liked your sister. I loved her big chocolate eyes. She also had a neatly pressed uniform and she smiled a lot.
You on the other hand were quiet. You sat next to the stammerer of the class. You never raised your hand to answer any question. I liked your eyes then. They were dark and mischevious. You were like two people in one and I labeled you a pretender. We never talked much but you knew I was in-charge. I was the class monitor and you respected that.
We shared seats for the fisrt time in class 6. This decision was thrust upon us by the class teacher, who felt we could make a good team. I still haven’t forgiven her for that. She had just opened a Pandora’s box-if only the short plump woman knew!
I had been a monitor two years so I knew my role, you on the other hand had no clue. You were the prefect and you had to take charge of the class. I was working as your assistant. You did what every organization does to the intern and left all the work to me. The class would be making noise and you’d do nothing. When the teacher would show up,you’d direct him to me for the names. I always did your work. I did it because I never liked to leave any stone unturned. You used this against me Yellow and the result….wait, I will get to that in a while.
I was in the school dance troupe, Choral verse, public speakingteam and also a debate member. It is in this year that I constantly emerged the best speaker. Do you recall what happened in the third term debate between our stream and six blue?
We were two points down and we needed to level the score, then Esther came up on stage and can you recall her introduction? She stood up to say “I’m Esther, standing before you as happy as a lion…” As happy as a lion, seriously? The whole room laughed out loud. The teacher had to call for order ten times before we proceeded. She broke the tension in the room with that. Later on, she told me she wanted to say “as happy as a king, but she couldn’t remember the phrase. I thought we were very stupid for having laughed at her. All of us had crammed the similes. We knew only a king could be happy, but what of a lion? Couldn’t a lion be happy as he lioness brought back a hunt?
I still think of Esther each time anyone says they are happy.
So, I had said we’ll talk about the turn of events due to your oppression. I was diagnosed with stomach ulcers the next year. The Doctor asked me, “what’s stressing you yet you are a child?”
I would have gladly answered “Yellow” but was in too much pain to talk. My lovely Mother could not understand what was happening to me. I could also not explain it all to her, but this sudden bout of anger was within me. I felt like a walking volcano ready to erupt!
If you took the time, you would have realized: I was in school by 6:30am, had to clean the board after every session, I exchanged old books for new ones at lunch, had to walk home for lunch and be back to school for dance practice, I had to supervise the class members who cleaned the class, had to go get our Class teachers’ daughter from school. I was doing everything for the welfare of others and not mine. Why do I say I was oppressed? I was oppressed because you knew your roles were to maintain order in class, assign someone to clean the board and supervise those cleaning the class-but you never did a thing.
The pressure I had to endure that year almost killed me!
I am glad I graduated from primary school to secondary school. I had this never ending crush on you which made me hate you more Yellow. My sisters would laugh at me each time they saw us in school. It was a taboo to hold a boys’ hand let alone talk to one for two minutes in school. Do you recall those who were discovered by the class teacher and they were whipped?
I wonder why they thought feelings could be undone by whips. I felt sorry for them. You and Joel laughed as the boys screamed. It was funny then-you always laughed at everything! What was amusing about someone’s pain?
I went on to high school in another district. It was the only place without a trace of civilization. I found out that my new school was in the middle of a sugarcane plantation. We had a navy blue gate with a watchman who never stayed at his duty point. He was forever eating githeri in the dining hall. Our classes had broken windows and I happened to learn that potholes not only existed on the roads but also in classes. My new school was Catholic. I had to wake up by 4:00am and shower on a slab with over three hundred girls. If you applied soap on your eyes-you’d reach out for an empty soap dish. I was told I had to buy toyo not Cussons-to stop them from stealing my soap. I had never used toyo-I used it in my second year of school, never have I missed the scent of Cussons like I did in that year.
It was the same year that we met. I never knew you were studying in out alleged brother school. It was a law that all the girls in our school had to date boys from your school. You were the best guys around, who knew how to keep ladies company. The other boy school was not lucky. They were kicked to the curb because they turned down a symposium. They learnt what a woman’s scorn is. All the girls who had secret admirers and boyfriends from that school dumped them. They had to settle for second best.
You came to school that year-it was the first time I was seeing you since primary school. We did not say much, but seeing you was enough proof that a crush could last a while. You were talking to my best friend-it was the words you chose, I saw you as a man then. Don’t get me wrong here, but your voice drew me nearer. When she left to grab a book for you, I shivered. I was in a navy blue school skirt, and red house tee-shirt. You were looking at me-I felt your eyes on my neck, down to my hips and I blushed. It must have been innocent-but I felt good. You asked me about my new school and whether I liked it. I told you I had been there for two years so my opinion did not matter. You laughed and then stared right ahead at your bus. I stole a glance at you-you were so tall. I hated being fifteen then, it was too much joy to take. Yellow, I never finished doing my laundry after you left. My heart was on a high I couldn’t stop smiling. My friend talked about how much you had changed too. It took me four years to realize that she too loved you.
The next time I saw you-I was defending you from the wrath of a girl who had nothing to do with you. You had also received a letter from a junior in our school declaring her love for you. I wish you knew how sad I was then. You read the letter in our presence and I pitied her. She had laid her heart bare only to be mocked by her beloved. Yellow, I still believe that you did have an affair with her. I am not being a drama queen. A girl would not tell a boy she loves him unless he leads her on. I know you had an affair with her, I just wish you wouldn’t have read that letter before us.
You sent me a card to wish me well in my final exams. I had a boyfriend then from the enemy camp. I’d receive letters from him and I’d be high on love till dawn. They called me by his first name. We were named one of the best couple and I relished the thought. Your card-was purple and it had a teddy-bear bearing flowers behind his back. The words were in golden italic “best wishes for my best friend”
You wished me well and I sent you a letter to the same effect. I had a crush on you and it was growing into something more. If only I knew it would be destructive then I would have let the enemy flatter me.
Yellow, our friendship grew till that day-December 18th. We went out with your brother and friend. I danced the whole night under the influence of Sprite. In fact your friend said he’s never seen a girl take soda the whole night while clubbing. I told him I was not just a girl.
Your brother after taking one too many told me that you had a crush on me. He asked me what I would do if he kissed me and I said I’d slap him senseless. He then asked what if it was you and I looked away. How could you love me? We were good friends wasn’t that enough? You were tall, with looks that could dazzle any lady and your voice-was richly deep. I was in love too, but scared of admitting it then. He kept telling me things about me that you noticed and I felt uncomfortable. I hate being around your brother especially when he’s drunk.
We had late supper as the alcohol sunk in your veins and then made it for another club. Your brother retired home-he was too drunk and sleepy.
I cuddled in your arms in the back seat of the taxi. Your friend looked at us and said we had to stop acting as lovebirds. I smiled and you chuckled. We danced some more at that club. I had never seen ladies wear nothing but pieces of cloth. I saw them flirt with men who bought them drinks. It was almost 1:00am and I couldn’t keep your brothers words out of my mind. I asked you if you liked me. You smiled and took a swig of that beer. I felt safe and warm in your embrace. Yellow, we talked about life back in primary school and high school. You said you had always loved me but were scared of what would become of our friendship in-case we broke up. I admitted that I liked you too and you kissed me. It was the first kiss from a love as tender as eight years old. I loved that kiss. I loved it not because it was from you, but because it was a declaration of feelings that were long overdue.
We became a couple officially that night.
You asked me for a chance and I gave it to you.
We never ushered the New Year together and I was superstitious. You know that those who usher the year together will always be together throughout the year. I wanted you to kiss me that night, but as the crowd shouted “happy new year!” you were nowhere to be seen. You told me you were having drinks at some bar downtown. I cried that night; my tears went back inside and the pain eased by dawn.
The next morning I dawned my beautiful dress and made for your home. It was your birthday and we had to wish you well. You hugged me tight and said, “you know I’ve always loved you.”
Watch out for part two on Tuesday 22nd May …
- They just want to dance with somebody! Hilarious video of teachers dance-bombing students who think they’re being interviewed about end of school year (dailymail.co.uk)
- 5 little yellow stars (Why it’s great to be on Twitter) (charlotteclark.wordpress.com)
- WR Hearst and the Truth In Journalism – You Furnish the Pictures and I’ll Furnish the War (longlostfame.wordpress.com)
- My teaching job is a Nightmare! (educationclearinghouse.wordpress.com)
- ‘The Blackness-The Case Of The Secret Santa’-a sample (athensagentofcoven.wordpress.com)
- To the Grey Classes of 1987 and 1992 (edlunnon.wordpress.com)
- Dear Mildred (treesflowersbirds.wordpress.com)