Elias woke up from an overly long nap that had stretched from immediately after a heavy lunch of maize meal and beans to six o’clock in the evening – time for another meal of the same. He was an Ordinary Level sub-candidate who had missed that afternoon’s classes.
He rose with the guts of a soldier summoned to duty, rushed to a lavatory contiguous to the dormitory from where he hastened to the dining area while drying his face with fingers he had under his shirt that he raised over his face to do so.
Done, he spent considerable time on the dormitory pavement observing the sky. With the exception of a fathomable breeze, he was certain that it would not shower – at least on that Friday evening. A very special evening.
He returned into his room and at the top of his voice, announced to fellow roommates that there were would be a gathering of sins; jumping of the school fence, selling of merchandise, drinking of alcohol, smoking of weed, watching of pornography, and requesting for moments of intimacy from ladies of the night.
All were privileges denied to newbies as they were relegated to the cleaning of toilets, scrubbing of floors, and dusting of windows. These were rights enjoyed by those boys who had come of age – finished their first year of contribution to the school’s welfare – and deserved so.
Arnold had just been promoted into his sophomore year of school and strongly believed he belonged to that group so much that when Elias asked:
“Is there anyone who would like to accompany m into the famous valley between town and school?”
his reply was not one to be kept rotting under the tongue. This was his moment. A moment he had anxiously waited for and been psychologically prepared as well. Anything that could interrupt the routine of the prison that school had become was welcomed. Anything that could change the army training camp that school had turned into was much needed.
He, Arnold, dressed up for the occasion: brand new denim pants, t-shirt, a baseball cap, flat shoes, and like Elias, put on a dark hood which which was notable as it would not only help with the breeze but as a disguise from the watchmen who were always positioned at several points across the school fence.
Elias put together what he had stolen from the newbies over the course of the week, merchandise; two packets of Kakira sugar, one packet of the detergent Omo, a bar of blue soap, a tube of Close-Up toothpaste and placed them in a new plastic basin which he handed to Arnold.
At about ten o’clock or thereabout, the two walked to another dormitory where they linked up with three of Elias’ acquaintances Patrick, Joshua, and Anthony before continuing with the very important trip. The night was still very young.
“Have you seen any watchmen out there?” Elias asked a staggering student who was returning from the famous valley.
“Yes. I had to bribe one in the school farm in order to get in.”
“O.K. Thank you. I think we should take the new route via the incomplete school pitch. We will be fine there.” Elias suggested.
They trekked on and found themselves on what would, after its construction, become the new school pitch. The weight of the basin and its contents was bearing on Arnold that at one moment, he missed a step and landed his right leg in a ditch and bruised his big toe. It was an arduous journey.
“Guys! I have bruised my toe.” Arnold said
“Hush! We cannot stop here. We are halfway to the school fence, and in between the staff quarters and school farm which is filled with watchmen. Remember? Elias retorted before adding that,
“Do you see that house over there? That is home to not only the most respected but also the most feared dwarf of a deputy headmaster. He gets sight of us and that will be the end of us. Our education. Think, you idiot.”
Indeed. Nothing would stop them. Not even a continuously bleeding toe that left a sticky spot of blood on Arnold’s flat shoe. The company, or rather gang, kept their slouches and slowly but surely walked through all the blackjack on the undulating terrain until they got to the school fence. Everyone except Arnold jumped over it. He had to wait for one of them to hold the barbed wire high enough for him to bend and pass through. He was the bearer of the treasured merchandise which would be sold to pay for their evening. They felt successful.
The deserted murrum road was welcoming and they made it to the dukas without a glitch in their plans. Elias successfully managed to sell the merchandise to a shop owner who was hosting other students interested in similar transactions.
With enough money on him, and as matter of consequence, them, the night was set. Their first step was a stall which had attracted another legion of students. On display, it had various brands of chewing gum that included BIG G, PK, sweets by KENAFRIC, cigarette brands like Supermatch, Sportsman, REX, Safari and Pall Mall, and sachets of strong alcoholic beverages like Uganda Waragi, Vodka, Empire and Zebra.
Midnight, the hour of porn, found them conversing with, and passing the cheap Safari cigarettes between friends that had come to and left the stall.
“Arnold, see to it that you do not choke on that cigarette” his friend, Ivan, said
“Do not worry Ivan, I have been smoking my grandparent’s pipe since I was eleven years old. That gives me three years of experience” Arnold replied.
However, Safari cigarettes were not his grandfather’s homegrown and well tended to tobacco. They were not good tobacco that satisfied the insatiable urge – to smoke – of the stomach. They were not the bad tobacco that gave you a headache. They were worse. They made Arnold cough and develop just enough fear of lung cancer for him to pass his incomplete butt to a laughing Sulaiman. They were Arnold’s first cigarettes.
They walked from one kibanda (video hall shack cum pornography cinema) to another knocking on doors and inquiring from bouncers or peeking through curtains to know if they were showing. They ended up seating on the last two seats of one that was close to full as they were late.
It was not any different from a church. Everyone was still – calm and not moving lest the son of God found them rowdy. The seats were simple logs of wood resting on short pillars planted in the soil and designed like pews arranged in several rows that made two columns. The twenty-something inch screen was the padre. From it came the only crystal clear sounds. From it the graphic visuals were displayed. Arnold and the rest of the congregation listened, and concentrated much better than they did in class.
This porn was nothing like Arnold had seen before. He owned a copy of the Kama Sutra, had read a copy of Tracey Cox’s illustrated Hot 100 Sex Positions and knew them at the back of his cerebrum. He had also stayed home alone and watched both the blue movies and all episodes of American Pie but nothing compared to what he was watching. It was all he had imagined but with much better audiovisual qualities. It was a record with full detail. Fellatio. Fingering. Threesomes, and more. Lesbian sex – apparently, everyone’s favorite. Innumerable sex positions.
What the films lacked in commentary was provided by the engaged crowd. Their words, if heard by the undoubtedly trained actors, were meant to make sure that they got the full value of the UGX 500 they had paid at the entrance.
“Look at that sexy thing. If I was that guy, I would eat that pussy until she cried out and called her mama.” One bellowed out.
“That mzee is stupid. Doesn’t he know that one finger is not enough. He should insert a second one.” A disappointed one said.
Arnold felt lucky to have sobered up fast enough to savour the experience. Another first for him.
His sobering up came handy. If it was not for it, he would not have overheard, by far, the most intriguing statement of that night.
“After here we should go and try that stunt.” It was Elias’ voice.
On the screen, Arnold saw a peculiar sex stunt. A man was lying on the bed, literally eating out of a woman’s nether regions and her on top of him doing the same but reverse direction. They looked like they were searching for fossils. Arnold came to learn, later, that it was the sixty nine.
When Arnold stealthily turned his head over his shoulder, he saw a more peculiar scene. For the first time he had confirmed the mysteries and rumors that had, for the lack of a better word, besotted him. He quickly turned his head back to the screen. It was an unforgettable sight. It was a sight that instantly changed his life. Joshua had comfortably placed both his legs over, and in between Elias’ who had suspended, by hanging, his left arm over Joshua’s left shoulder and was sucking a sachet of Uganda Waragi and whispering into Joshua’s ear with the look of a man whose third leg was ready to take a walk in the holy of “holies”.
It was indeed true. Arnold’s friends were a couple. They were lovers. They were fucking, or at least looking forward to it. They were planning on doing the sixty-nine. The porn Arnold and the others were watching was much more than simply that to them. It was a starter of a much more wonderful night – for them.
However nonplussed Arnold felt, he was not to be surprised. His school had made a second page headline in the leading daily back in 2001.
THE ONLY SCHOOL EXPELLS HOMOSEXUALS.
It was one of the reasons he did not want to attend it but for the uncompromising nature of his parents.
Not so long ago, he had spotted a used condom in the toilets. For an only boy’s school, that should have been a significant sign.
While sweeping their room, a room of thirty two individuals, he had come across a sealed condom under one of the beds of someone who was suspected to be one of them – and taken the blame for it. Thankfully, those who were involved cared to protect one another.
During the last term of study, he had been filled with a deep sense of angst. He had been added to a list. It was a list of people with particular characteristics; well kept, smart, metrosexuals with pockets which, which like walking banks, never run out of money. They were boys seen, sociologically, as having attributes common to homosexuals but were in fact heterosexuals.
His perspective changed. He chose tolerance. He would not be the open wound that they were. He would let them be a line of dust that he could easily rub off. They were his roommates. He had always considered them his friends. And there were, reportedly, more.
Arnold’s concentration on the porn waned. He was waiting for the film to roll its credit -if any – and then move on to something else. Another adventure on what had been projected as a very special Friday night.
Behind the kibanda was a stall which had attracted quite a number – of students. Almost all who had been inside the kibanda proceeded to it. Elias, his Joshua, Patrick, Anthony, and others left for school or wherever else they went. This was the stall where a morally upright society’s dissidents went.
On it were leaves of a plant. They had alternate, palmately divided leaves and tough bast fibres. Weed.
The dealer rolled the leaves into thin cigarettes. With the UGX 5000 that Arnold had on him, Davis, Sulaiman could share his company, and weed, and get as high as humanly possible. It was all they really needed.
And boy-O-boy! The weed did its job. It was so fine that it occurred to Arnold that its use could reduce a person’s IQ by up to eight points and a hundred points off their initiative and ambition. A research finding he had read.
That you can have a kick but not be able to accomplish anything in life including delivering a newspaper. Arnold was in bliss. In heaven. He was seeing pink elephants. He had nothing to accomplish. He wanted a kick, not to deliver a newspaper.
There are three things that the brain can ably recognise; the aroma of good food, the sight of beautiful people and the smell of good weed. And, yes, it was so good it came with intriguing nomenclature: indica, cannabis, Mary Jane, babies, the good Jamaican, and pertaining and important terminology like fire, rizzler, and effects as well which included happy feet, punches, and what Arnold and friends needed – heights.
It was so good that it reminded him of an endless list of people who had confessed or been known to have smoked it at certain moments in their lives with the most interesting being Arnold Swazznegger who once said that “weed is not a drug to be abused but a leaf that is smoked”. Certainly, at that very moment, it was nothing else but a desired leaf.
“Do you think this will make me powerful and influential?” A staggering Arnold asked while rotating the baby to Davis.
“Je te promets. Je te promets”
The heights notwithstanding, the tuition paid for their French classes had not entirely gone to waste.
Instead of returning to their dormitories, the weed got to their heads. Its well known effects of erasing the mind – Arnold could have used an erasion of that Elias and Joshua sight – and giving anyone Plato-like brilliant ideas took over. And what was their brilliant idea? For boys from a single sex school, it was, as a matter of course, to head to a red light district but they could barely carry themselves there so they ended up heading to what they discovered was a neighbouring girl’s school. How easy? How wonderful?
Arnold took his A game, or otherwise, to a window of a dormitory that they had singled out.
“Hello beautiful ones?” He got started.
“Hello young-er man-i?”
An old girl with fat cheeks and a Janet haircut approached the window and engaged Arnold in a conversation. She was not worth note but in the absence of anything better, she was his sex goddess. Unfortunately, he could not reach out to feel her. The window was fitted with a cage that only limited their conversation to words. There was no opportunity for a touchy-feely session that the weed proposed. Poor Arnold!
“I want three things from you. A taste of your lips, a touch of your breasts, and all your pleasures below.”
That was too forward coming from the virgin that the fourteen years old Arnold was but he was high, in a drunken stupor, had spent the last few hours watching a blockbuster, and was looking for an escape from the faggotry he had seen.
“Hahahahaha.” She laughed, and said “But you are a young-er man-i. You cannot suffocate me.”
“Do not worry about me. Do not judge me by my size. I can do things boys your age can do.”
She had not responded when Arnold felt something heavier than a pat on the back. It was a well laid slap from a farmer’s hand belonging to a person he had not envisioned. It was a spoiler who had, with him, several boys that shared the same school with the girl he was trying to woo. Hey had aptly used the time Arnold spent at the window to devise a plan that would help protect their girls, and leave Arnold with an ordeal he would never forget.
They pulled him by the hood and rolled him in the dust for several minutes. A proper ass whooping was given. He could not fight back. All he had to was give in to their demands. The dark hood, the red baseball cap, the t-shirt, flat shoes were taken without much effort. Their shopping had been made easier. A mall in which they did not have to pay had been brought to their compound. All they had to do was ask, and be given.
It was when a request for the new denim pants was made that Arnold had to respond positively – for the sake of the last of his dignity. He had given up much already. He could not return to school with dangling things between his thighs. Little is known of how he made it through the barbed wire, how he ran up the hill on his way back to school, and how he made it onto the school compound.
He was lucky to meet a fellow student who secured a blazer from the nearest dormitory before he tiptoed back to his on shoe-less feet, dressed in bruises, to stock take and turn himself into a laughing stock for those who got to know through fabricated stories.