It was during break time when I first saw him. We were all in a file, heading to the dining hall for a hot cuppa and a slice of bread. The crowd moved slowly. There wasn’t much hurry to get there because we knew what we were getting at the other end, some brownish tea that tasted distinctly like firewood.
His name was Omwami, and he had his shirt untucked. It looked worn out at the collar and his sleeves were folded up to his elbows. He walked with measured strides, among a group of boys that I assumed were his cronies. Omwami looked straight ahead as he walked and he had these cold eyes that could freeze you to the bone. He had a sardonic mouth, Omwami, and a scruffy beard and a slim figure. Rumor had it that he was 24 years old, and that he was trouble. He looked scary, and anyone with some good sense him knew better than to cross paths with him. Why would you anyway, when even some of the teachers didn’t go close to him?
He was in form 3 when I was in form 1.
At the time, I had heard only stories about him, stories I was convinced were just folktales. One such legend was that he had once walked into an ongoing class and proceeded to obliterate some students with a stick because they had bothered his friend. They said the teacher never dared to stop him.
Anyway, while I was taking my hot cup of firewood, I saw him make his way into the kitchen. It was a restricted area, the kitchen, and anyone seen to be wandering about was ordered away by a stone-faced chef. Omwami disappeared into the kitchen and came out with three boiled eggs. He peeled off the shell and then in one fluid motion he put the whole thing in his mouth. The rest of the eggs he distributed among his cronies.
And then one day the school’s administration handed him an expulsion letter because of some mischief or the other. I suspect that it was really because they were scared of him.
The day he was told to pack his bags and leave, we were waiting for a class to begin. Someone who sat at the window looked outside and announced, “Wasee, Omwami anaishia.”
Desks and chairs were dragged along the floor as we scrambled to see this spectacle. The fallen warrior taking the walk of shame. He had a green canvas bag. He looked harmless, really, but he hadn’t left silently. The story was that he was so enraged over the decision to expel him that, before he left, he passed by the labs and smashed some test tubes and dislodged a tap. Yeah, that’ll teach them.
High school, for me at least, always had this hostile air to it. There was a ripe demand for respect and it seemed the only way to get it is if you were Omwami or you were good in sports or you had the ability to beat everyone else to a pulp. I had no chance you see.
So it was in high school that I started to ask things from my body. I wanted to grow a beard. I wanted to find out if I at least had some sportsmanship in me, so I went to the pitch and chucked a ball around from time to time. I wanted to be taller, and more muscular and consequently scarier. At lunch I made sure my plate of R n B was a hill and I carried it by the palm of my hand so that someone would see and think, “Now there, there’s goes a big strong man.”
It never worked.
One sunny afternoon, after the day’s classes were over and I was milling about in the dorm, I got wind of a group that had rendezvoused in the next room. They were spectators. Apparently, three other boys were squaring off over who could do the most push-ups and there was a little bit of cheering. As I watched this exhibition, I was sold.
Till now, the push-up is my favorite exercise maneuver.
So what I did was, I made it my routine. Every day at 4pm I would waddle down to the dorm and do me some push-ups until my chest ripped open and my shoulders wanted to come off. And I remember thinking, “This sure would be nicer if I had some music to keep me going.”
See, after school I was excited to go on with this routine. I threw in a couple of more exercises and I was really intent on building muscles. And it was easy because I could always find motivation from music, upbeat songs that made me get off my ass. I’d plug in my earphones and I was off to imagining myself as Rocky. I even added a little bit of running to the roster.
But many years later, and my fitness capacity has fallen into question.
I stopped sulking over how my body looked like. I figured if anyone ever wanted to pick a fight with me I would just turn around and leg it, so there was really no need for me to have guns for arms. Plus it was a tortuous endeavor, to break a sweat just so my body could look less round and more like a square.
And it didn’t really help things that my earphones always seemed to have a fault or the other. Sometimes only one speaker would be working, and sometimes none of them would. Other times you had to keep holding the wire just so the speakers would pour anything out. It was distracting to exercise with such conditions. You put that together with my general laziness and you’re not going to get anything done. So I stopped working out all together.
Si you know Kilimall? The online shop that has huge discounts on just about everything?
When I came out of this meeting, I was given a nicely wrapped package. Inside it was a pair of AEC BQ658 wireless sports design earphones. You know it’s a serious machine when the manufacturers use labels such as BQ658. This one came in black and green, and it’s undoubtedly a pretty piece of accessory.
Although, I suspect that the people who designed this device wanted everyone else to make use of the instruction manual. Because as soon as you take it out of the box you want to ask, “Ati what goes where, exactly?”
But you know what bugs me about modern day earphones? It’s that they now have those rubber things that don’t really fit until you squeeze them all the way to your hypothalamus. It’s intruding as hell, and every time you reposition your head one of them has already come off. Gladly, though, is that this particular one comes with non-slip ear hooks and about three different sizes of ear plugs. Fits like a glove.
I asked around and found that the reason why the usual earphones suddenly stopped working is that it’s easy for them to develop problems with the wiring. And why wouldn’t they, if half the time you’re wrestling to undo them? The AEC is magnetized instead, meaning you can clasp both ear pieces together and place them however you want without having your wires crossed, hehe.
It works via Bluetooth and has a multi-point connection that allows you to pair with 2 devices. When fully charged, this thing gives you 5 hours music play time, and up to 7 hours talking time what with its hands free microphone. And if that’s not enough, you get a lady inside the speakers who tells you when the device is switched on and ready to pair.
Needless to say, the AEC BQ658 boasts of stunning sound quality. You play a tune on them and it feels like someone gently blowing into your ear and massaging the lizard part of your brain. The decibels are crazy and the noise reduction component is nothing short of impressive. And with such clarity of music, it’s impossible to miss a beat. Or a work out.