Of School Going Teenagers with Big Phones and Soft Hearts

The local kibanda has nowadays become my second home thanks to my poor cooking skills and busy schedule. The place is deserted, as few people around this area have a brunch at 11am. The usual suspects are here, Mathe and her coworker. I order tea and two toasts while waiting for the main dish to warm.

My eyes rove around to a high seat on one corner. A girl sits, her head bowed, her arms across her chest. She looks barely fifteen, and her eyes are covered in large shades. I guess that’s what they call stunners. She wears a grey pullover and a black trouser, making the hotel look like a funeral.

“Wewe leo umeamua haukuli.”

The statement tells me that she has not eaten anything today. And according to the way Mathe is talking to her, she is most likely her daughter.

She does not even open her mouth or nod her head. She answers in sobs, those ones that sound as if you are drinking some porridge and you want everyone to know that you are not willing to share. I pity her. I almost go to hug her but I choke on my tea.

Mathe goes out to call a bodaboda. I learn that the young girl has lost a phone, that is why she is crying. Not a Malkiat Singh, or S M Patel, or a calculator, or a P. E kit, but a damn freaking phone. I pity her even more.

Now she won’t be able to talk to talk to outsiders while at school, text or send pics. She is likely to become traumatized the whole semester and probably flop in her grades.  I almost ask to give her some counselling but I check myself. My motives will most likely be misinterpreted. The irony.

An older woman, likely to be her grandmother or aunt, comes in before the bodaboda does. She becomes very concerned with the state of the young girl whose eyes have become water liquid and her heart ice cold. The older woman pleads with Mathe to buy the phone. Mathe says the daughter has refused a Mulika Mwizi phone. The worker, who turns out to be a relative, advices the daughter to find a string and be tying the phone around her neck so that her friends can stop stealing it. The daughter cries out some more. Mathe eventually gives in to the pressure and dishes out money for a brand new smartphone. The daughter pockets the money and leaves, not yet happy till she sees the phone in her hands. She doesn’t even eat. All I can do is stare as my main meal arrives.

I hope to be a father and a daddy one day. I just don’t know how to bring up my children. I hope they open up a parenting school soon.

 

Caged

“Our crimes are that we are beautiful” Leo the lioness roared to Zed the Zebra, who was in the next cage, then went and sat on a boulder in the corner. She reached for the metallic food container with one paw and overturned it. It was empty. She made a loud roar, one for hunger, hoping the wardens would hear her.

“But then if we were free you would be giving the chase of my life out there in the wilderness, if you wouldn’t already have eaten me by then.” The zebra lazily replied, lying prostate on the ground and rolling a few times. The mound of grass in the corner was still untouched.

“You mean you like this? You must be such an idiot.” Leo angrily stood up and began tearing at the wires separating the two cages with her teeth. Catching a sharp edge, she let out a painful yell and went back to her boulder, face gloomy.

“It is better to be alive in a cage than always being on the run without committing a crime, always being ready to be eaten.” The zebra let out a loud laugh.

“Coward” Leo roared, jolting back to her feet. “Your ancestors should hear you, being afraid to be eaten. Those who galloped on all four legs, jumping across streams that we couldn’t, leaving us stranded on the other end. Those whose tough necks resisted our teeth, pulling them out, and making us die in starvation. Those who made us the tough lions of Masaai Mara. They should hear you.”

Leo paused.  Zed wasn’t listening. His body was calm and he started shifting his long athletic legs into various positions, as if a model posing. Leo turned round to view who had caught Zed’s  attention. A couple stood just outside Zed’s cage, slim phones in their extended hands, clicking, taking photos. The guy, dark skinned and in blue jeans, purple polo shirt, stopped clicking and extended his hands around the girl’s waist; she, light-skinned and in red dress top that reached just below the waist and black almost transparent tights.  The girl shrugged and pushed his hands away. “Can’t you see the animals watching?” She turned to him with a sneer and smiled. He smiled back.

“What do you think about them?” Leo asked.

“Such a beautiful couple. Reminds me of my days in the forest with my girl friend, admiring fish in the water as they swam in the River Mara.”

“You are wrong again.”

“Why? I’m never right to you. All you see in me is food.”

“Can’t you see the guy wants something and the girl doesn’t want to give it?”

“What?”

“Sex, you fool.”

“Why do you say so? I mean, the girl just refused her waist to be held.”

“And that shows so much more.”

Zed downed his head, half closed his eyes looked at the couple keenly then nodded.

“Well, she will agree eventually.”

“Maybe. Maybe not.” Leo growled back.

“What if she refused? Could he take it by force?”

“That would be a crime. Rape. Fool again.”

“So, none of them is really free to do what they wish?”

“Now you are getting me. They just have to agree. But till then, they are caged. Just like us.”

The weight of the new information being too much, Zed sat down and lowered his head in meditation. Leo went back to sit in her corner, watching her prey keenly.

“I have a plan.” Finally she said, waking up Zed whose eyes had just began to close.

“Which?”

“We can escape tonight if we agree. We can be really free, finally.

Zed squinted his eyes and looked at Leo with suspicion. Studying her face closely, he opened his mouth.

“How?”

“We create a scenario, at night, howl like we are in deep pain. The guards will come, open the cages, and then we will lower their guards with comics. I’m sure they have never seen a lion play with a zebra. Then we will give them a surprise attack.”

“That’s quite a plan.” Zed nodded, half closed his eyes and sat on his back legs, his head down cast. Leo looked on, a smile forming on his snout. Suddenly Zed jerked up, started running around his cage in loud laughter. Finally he stopped at the corner where the grass was, picked a mouthful and walked with it up to where Leo stood watching, only crisscrossing steel wires separating their faces.

“A mouthful of grass for your words.” He said, dropping it

You know I can’t reach there, and even if I did, lions don’t eat grass. Leo said, proudly displaying her strong muscles and opening her mouth to show strong canine teeth.

“So you plan to eat me after we escape?”

“But that is not a crime? Leo frowned.

She quickly jerked her right paw, but only managed to have a slight scratch on Zed’s leg before he quickly pulled back and galloped around his cage, laughing loudly. He took another mouthful of grass and walked with it up to where Leo stood, watching, waiting patiently.

The couple stood watching. Excited by the animals’ antics, they lowered their phones, decided to watch the unique scenario with their naked eyes. Slowly, the guy wrapped his arm around the girl’s waist. This time she did not resist.

*Cut*

fourteen falls

You barely know her.

You think that Fourteen Falls is an interesting place to fall in love with a stranger. The sound of the large volume of water hitting the ground makes you talk louder and listen to each other more keenly. You walk along the banks of the river, side by side, not holding each other hands, a little distance between you.

On a normal day you would have said that she is a fashion disaster, but today you don’t really care. She is wearing a black tight jeans rolled up to halfway between the knees and her feet, a white top that you don’t understand how it merges to be black at the back and red artificial hair. She walks barefoot, and you can’t help but stare at how her brown legs gracefully caress the grass. You are no better wearer. You have blue baggy jeans that make you appear bigger than you actually are , a long sleeved blue-white stripped jersey and old blue sport shoes that are torn in several places due to doing morning runs and hiking through various forests.

The furious waters of the Fourteen Falls rage on and on.

She suggests a rock by the river for you to sit on. You think that the rock she has chosen is rough, small and a little bit dirty, but you sit on it anyway. You are uncomfortable at first, the rock doesn’t seem to be made for two, but you forget that too. You look at your surroundings and wonder why the barks of trees are wearing out, some branches have irregular curves and the grass is laid flat by stones and large fallen branches. You wonder whether she is also looking at the surroundings or at you.

She is actually looking at you.

You feel the gaze of her eyes penetrate the skin of your dark neck, something that makes the images you were watching blurred and your mind stop wondering. You turn, look at her thin brown lipstick-less lips and are amazed at how they are a perfect match for the slim brown face, small nose and oval eyes. You lean down to kiss her lips and she closes her eyes, the eyelashes beautifully merging, mouth partially opening, waiting.

You hands touch hers and you continue reaching for her lips.

“Cut!”

The director yells amidst the voice of the zooming cameras.

A soft wind passes between you. You continue holding her hand a second longer before letting go and starting to rise up.

Her name will be Jeddie and that will be the most beautiful scene of your life.