By Onyinkwa O
Everything these days is like fast food ~ quick, easy, cheap and readily available, but not healthful. Back in the day we was in school, approaching a girl was one of the most difficult tasks any boy would undertake. Just the thought of it would bring a cold sweat and have butterflies fluttering in the stomach, but we all knew that a man had to do what a man had to do, and so we would make the move nevertheless.
You had to have your lines ready, and by lines I do not mean “Nipe namba yako”, “Uko WhatsApp” and any such. And if she answered or reacted to any of your lines in a manner that you hadn’t anticipated, it would throw you off balance momentarily, but your come back is what defined if you had what it took to ‘tune’ her to your idea.
The name she gave you the first time you asked her name was as a rule, always not her real name. When she did give you her real name later, that was an important milestone and marker that you were getting somewhere. These first meetings were almost always during the day, and during some school inning, or outing, and not in some disco, bar or matatu.
There was no ‘Jam Session’ unless you lived in Nairobi, and even then, a girl at F2 (Florida 2000) on a Sunday afternoon had to be the daughter of a ‘Jezebel’. There were no cell phones and only a minute number of homes had fixed lines. Communication had to be by handwritten letters (also known as ‘missives’) that would always be ‘sealed with kisses’, and for the more romantic ones, the inside would be sprayed with his or her parents’ ‘Limara’, ‘Yolanda’ or any such fragrance.
The lines used in the face to face meetings however, were nothing like those used in the ‘missives’. You had to be creative and avoid the cliché lines that had been written and read before, and that gave rise to a profession in many school for lyricists who were known to pen the most heart melting lines for a fee of anything upwards of a loaf of bread.
The lines had to be on point because they either built you, or destroyed you, not just in her heart, but also in the eyes and minds of all her friends and classmates. Boys didn’t share the letters they received as much as the girls did, but one could not resist giving a desk mate or a few friends a peek if she wrote something really ‘knee weakening’.
We would be issued our letters in the School Chapel after the night prayers just before we retired to bed. One night, when I was in form 2, I received one such ‘knee weakening’ letter, which I could not resist showing three or so of my boys. As we excitedly read and giggled beneath one of the security lights at the garden in front of the Chapel, it drew the attention of a form four student from my dorm who happened to be passing by. He came over and snatched the letter from my hand and begun reading it while laughing out loud that heavy evil laugh that only form fours had. Once done, he did not return the letter. Instead, he folded it, placed it in his shirt pocket and left.
The School program was such that once were all in bed, the house Prefect and house Captain of every house would take a few minutes to make announcements and address the house. On this particular night though, the Kenyatta House Prefect had an unusual announcement to make. He begun by revealing that in addition to being a sports powerhouse, our house also had very talented upcoming lovers, and to illustrate, he offered to read a letter that one such young talented lover had just received. He would pause after every line to letter the uproarious laughter die down before proceeding. However the loudest laughter came after what he read at the very end.
Now, one of the most popular artistic forms of expressing one’s love then was to turn certain names and words into acronyms of some love message. This particular one was BOMBAY ~ Both Of My Boobs Are Yours!