The year is still long ago. I am on the run from Hezzeh, the boy who can beat all boys on the Eastern Slopes of Mount Kenya for trying to slice him off the village queen bee, Múthoni, aka Mútho. Circumcised boys are also after my head(s) for committing one of an uncircumcised boy’s cardinal sins: taking a leak in the Nthaka’s [boys who have faced the cut] toilet. The charge is fabricated, but it is a charge, and that’s all that matters.
I also have pending charges with the Man Beater; although I am yet to appear for a mention, close sources have intimated that the matter has already been taken up from The Rose by The Director of (extended) Family Prosecutions (DFP). I think there has been no mention because he has been busy co-ordinating KCPE.
A number of villagers are also on the lookout since word got out the little he-goat has started smelling the goats’ backsides. One particular villager has taken to taunting me with the sound of a he-goat every time we meet. “Bbboo..bbooo….mbrr, mbrr, Ngúthúkúme?”Mark you, in this village, you can receive a beating from anyone beyond your age group and there will be no case to answer before any court in the land.
Thursday, 15th . When its fifteenth, you have to act fast once the 3.45pm bell goes. Supervising cleaning is easy for any prefect, because no one wants to delay others or remain behind at 4.10 pm. Evening chores are done equally fast, and football practice is highly shortened. Because fifteenth is the day of Cendema, the day when the mobile Cinema comes to the hood, and no one is going to miss Cendema at any cost. Unless you want to spend the next week being irrelevant during discussions and not appearing in the list of noisemakers, in which case you automatically qualify as a sell-out.
Before ball begins, I usually engage in a small enterprising activity. Since my school is a boarding school (synonym for private) I am privileged to have a few extra coins saved from my transport money. This I use to bankroll a highly illegal gambling business. It goes like this: There is a game called beating, you probably know it. Two or more players. Other players cover a coin with their arm and one guesses which side is up- Moi or Ngo. You know that game, if not, go to the year 2000 AD and learn.
So I identify gifted players who have no capital, I finance them and we share proceeds on a 1:2 basis. Don’t look at me like that, I absorb any losses. And I also let off my clients privatise once they are good to run themselves. And I spend a lot of resources to ensure word of my activities does not get to the Man Beater, aka the DFP. Anyway, that’s besides the point.
On this particular Thursday, I am informed as I shuffle from point to point supervising my gamblers that there is a plan to way-lay me after Cendema. An expensive tip off, but the fifteen shillings spent to buy the intel will prove a wise investment come dusk.
What to do now? Skip Cendema…no way! Attend in disguise….well, I am sure the spotlight is on me so I my cover will be easily blown. Pay for protection….Paarfect!!!….Wait, who to pay now? No one can stand up to Hezzeh. Like my cousin Nyuki says, Yeye ndo kunyamba, sisi ni kunusa tu!
Njo furnishes me with another invaluable piece of intel: A group of boys from Gítitú have been training undercover and are spoiling for a fight to dethrone Hezzeh. Their complain: Kwani he thinks he is who? A suggestion to use me to provoke the chip has been floated, I hear, but they don’t know how exactly to initiate talks with me because: 1. I still possess a foreskin 2. I school in an academy 3. We are not from the same village.
Small trouble. Me and Njo are thinktanks. Plan of action: We are going to keep Ngondi, an uncircumcised boy from Gítitú close for the rest of the evening. This will be easy, we just need to sponsor Ngondi’s gambling for the rest of the afternoon. Another fifteen shillings will do. Not cheap, remember a similar amount was used to buy intel! Once Hezzeh confronts us, we will claim he wants to beat Ngondi, and pap, shots will be fired.
You can feel the tension as we settle down for the film of the day. I do not catch the title, but it is a film about how Catholics are evil and will not enter heaven. I am oblivious of Madawa, the drunk who forces us to sit on the dusty market floor so that those at the back-adults manly- can watch the film without distraction. A lot is going on through my mind: following the film, where is Muthoni, Keeping Ngondi close, when will Hezzeh strike?
Ngondi is easy to keep, Muthoni is easy to find. She has made herself largely conspicuous-for me- by passing around close to us and looking behind as she walks away to find a sitting position. I have a feeling she was following me from the field. But competing for her attention with the film is not child’s play, especially the point when all other people go to heaven and Catholics remain on earth. Clothes fall as people disappear into the clouds and Catholics desperately hold onto the falling garments like a children trying to repair Christmas balloons that have burst.
If you want a girl to jipa completely, watch a horror movie with her! She will look up to you for support, and…. Mútho is a catholic, so this qualifies as horror to her. You should see her smile when I tell her I will marry her so she won’t have to be a Catholic by the time Emmanuel-God with us- returns. But the moment does not last. As the credits go up, the bastard descends on me.
No talks today. It is a story of dead men tell no tales. But nothing beats a well planned plan. And no one beats Njo. Before he can land me a second blow, Hezzeh is landed on by a huge multi-man blow that sends him sprawling.
Literally, Hezzeh will never know what hit him. This is because as soon as the knockout blow hit him, whoever delivered it disappears in the dark cloud. So does Múthoni, Njo and Ngondi. I leave last, but before Hezzeh can recover from both surprise and pain. I am not mad, I don’t at all suspect that I have been deserted.
I meet everyone at The Transformer, the place we all wait for each other after the film, because we lose each other every other fifteenth. Múthoni is there too; she professes her undying loyalty. The boys from Gítitú celebrate their victory. Ngondi is the one confused soul. He has no idea what went down, well he saw me go down, but he cannot make head or tail of why Njo is busy narrating how Hezzeh actually was about to attack him (Ngondi) too, but he (Njo) pulled him away and Hezzeh missed.
To cap a wonderful evening, boys from Gícúgú village also declare war on Hezzeh. The charges of urinating in the Nthaka toilet are effectively dismissed as vendetta. Free at last! Free at last! Great God Almighty, I am free at last.
I have no doubt Hezzeh will be back with vengeance, but I just wanna live this moment.
For God so loved the Mboya, that he gave him his only Njo, so whoever confronts him does not prevail, but gets condemned to public uprising. Literally, Njo, what could I do without you?