Farida and the noisemakers

It rained in Kajiado last night, and it was still raining when I opened my eyes this morning. I didn’t feel like waking up to a new semester. And I suspect the lecturer who was meant to take my first class didn’t either because she hasn’t showed up.

You see, a fresh semester like this one spells fresh resolve. You pick up a bag, slang it over your shoulder and swear that this time you’ll really bite the focus. You decide that this time you will write notes and keep up with the lecturer and know what the class is all about. You feel good about yourself because you even managed to pluck up the psyche to do some push-ups.

The only problem about this tune is that, by the third week, the volume is tuned all the way down and the only thing you hear is a painful urge to imbibe.

Needless to say the absence of the lecturer has slowed me down a bit. Now I feel lazy and expunged of any energy. I’m seated in an empty classroom. And I’m so bored I might as well start writing a list of noisemakers and fill it up with random names like Momanyi.

A clock on the wall says it is 11:25, and the cold is biting through my face. So I’m going to do what anyone would do at this point, eat. Maybe I’ll even waddle down to Mburu’s and get myself some burnt corn.

But, before I do, let me tell you about Farida and the noisemakers.

When I was in class three or thereabouts we had a prefect called Farida. She was a pretty light-skinned number who didn’t suffer fools. She had a sardonic mouth, and you got the feeling she would grow up to be a fighter for women’s rights or some such thing. She was strict, and smart, and it seemed that every teacher liked her. Hell, everyone did, except for me because I sensed she didn’t like me very much.

Every time she would curve up a list of noisemakers, my name would always appear somehow, even if I wasn’t necessarily making trouble. I thought she was being mighty unfair. Every time I’d take my spot at the front of the class to wait for a hiding from the teacher, she’d look at me and remain so nonchalant about her injustice. She never bat an eyelash and I spent days just plotting my revenge.

Sometimes I fantasized how it would be if I just walked up to her and slap her right across the face. Christ I hated that girl. She was taller than me, and to this day I’d like to think she’s the reason why I find it fairly difficult talking to taller girls.

And you know what was twisted about this whole thing? It’s not that I wanted to pick up the teacher’s stick and smack her tiny palms. It was that, by and by, I grew to sort of like her.

Years passed and she became quieter, more reserved. Her enthusiasm for noting down noisemakers faltered, she cared less, gave less fucks. And as a result she was demoted. Farida became a bad girl, and it made me like her even more. In my eyes she became prettier, and, at a time when kissing a girl was a great sin, it didn’t stop me from wanting to.

It took me a couple of years to gather up the courage to say a word to her, and when I finally did she transferred and I never saw her again.

**

Some fat men in suits sat behind closed doors one day and decided that this week will see the restart of the political campaigns, which basically means that, every so often, you’ll be seated in your house holding a glass of orange juice struggling to hear the TV because another fat man paid off some idlers to run around and scream his name.

How about that for a long sentence, Bett?    

One time, as I was crawling through traffic, I suddenly became aware that I hadn’t moved for about half hour. There was one such campaign going on you see, there was a flood of cars and trucks with posters plastered on them. And then I saw one guy. He was seated a top an SUV holding up a placard and looking very jolly about it.

And I couldn’t help but think, “His wife must be really bored.”

I imagined that, at the end of the day he will go back home and sit on a couch. He will then regal the wife with tales about his day as he takes off his smelly socks. He will fail to notice how uninterested she is. He won’t see the flash of regret that will come over her face when she realizes she would have just stuck with Momanyi, instead of marrying this boring bloke.

They will go to bed and make love, or at least try to, because lately he has been having trouble getting it up.

The campaigns mean there will be an added ruckus in Kitengela. And it would be nice if we had someone like Farida to control the hubbub. I mean, it’s not enough that we have a gazillion bodabodas and tuktuks beating around, now we’ll have more cars hooting and blocking the way. It doesn’t really help things that there’s only one passable road.

Kitengela is about to be in shambles. They are plenty of noisemakers as it is. You have the usual preacher for instance. He comes with a small choir, entertains the crowd with a few songs, and then goes on to convince them that, truly, the money they have put in his basket will come back through the Lord’s graces.

And there’s also the wooden stand close to the road. It’s loaded with chemicals for all kinds of creatures. And there’s a speaker on top of the stand that promises a variety of insecticides and rat poison.

The guy on the stand sits there very smug because he doesn’t have to strain his throat. And the tragedy is that, even with his innovative skills, he won’t be able to escape Farida’s list.

 

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