I do not understand why I was feeling sleepy, but I could feel myself drifting off to sleep, under the hot sun scorching my head.
“Kendi na Shiku walrikutana walrai,” (Kendi and Shiku met I swear,)
“Wacha walrai!” (you don’t say!)
I caught this conversation that was a distance further in the line. By now afande know it all had left and we were left to ourselves for a while. The atmosphere was full of interesting stories the kind that anyone would tell after a long holiday. 80% of the stories being told by the guys related to women, and related. The men were loud of course, but as usual the ladies were hushed too in their stories. They were also telling their sexcapdes only in hushed tones and not as loud as the men’s, which were always told as a conquest of sorts. I had seen enough of such (Kendi and Shiku) scenarios on telenovelas. Back then, I used to be a fan in my early high school days. I was more interested in the guys telling of how they used to drink their heads off and take to lodgings in random places. There were also some who came in with casts, bandages and even one who came with crutches. To them clear indications of victory or failure on some fronts.
The excitement calmed down when we were told that the reason we were there is for confirmation of the recruitment results. This meant a repeat of the entire recruitment process except the aptitude tests for the Air Force and there would be no running. Suddenly everybody got into a dingy mood. The instructors were quick to note this and they started making fun of it. At first I would not get why everybody was suddenly sad. It hit me when the term “Unaogopa nini?” (What are you fearing?) came through.
The teasing began, in a mocking voice:
“Weeeweee kaaaaama ulieeendaaa kuduuuunga duuuunga kiiila maaahali! Weeeewe kwiiiisha!” (If you went poking around everywhere, you are done!”
“Ulilala na wangapi wewe?” (How many did you sleep with?)
“Kuna tunanga hapa hata hatukai kama tunajua kutongoza!” (We have some elements here who do not even look like they can woo a girl for themselves)
(Nanga in Swahili, official meaning one, means anchor, and it is literally heavy, keeps a ship from drifting off, in the case of an insult, it means a thick headed person, or a stupid person… who probably drags the rest in a team. The other meaning; very offensive… still an insult, Insults are part of the job)
“Wanawake!” … *Silence* – no response
“Haya basi, Wasichana!” … Some shrill voices answered from random positions in between the cues. It seemed like they did not like being referred to as women at that point. They only responded to the term, girls…
“Ohhh, sasa hamuwezi itika Wanawake, juu nyinyi ni wasichana?” (So, you cannot respond to the term women because you are girls?”
“hutu tumaringo twa peni mbili tutaishia hapa hapa.” Hamna habari!
(You have no Idea! This cheap pride will end at some point)
“Haya wasichana, basi!, ata nyinyi kama mlikuwa tu kazi yenu ni kupanua tu, Wakati umefika, Kama ulishika mimba, *whistles, passing a finger across the neck* – the universal you are dead sign – Nyumbani!”
At this point, the instructor was telling the girls that if they had overdone their lovemaking, related, and got their selves pregnant, they would be going home.
This is the part of the hushed conversation two of the pale faced girls were engaging in.
“Aki sijui kama nilikamata” (I don’t know if I got pregnant)
“Hujui aje?” (How don’t you know?)
“Haii, hakutumia Trust, but aliniambia alitoa, hakumwaga ndani” (He did not use trust but he told me he withdrew).
From the sound of things, they had come from somewhere “deep”, if you know what I mean, I figured Trust was the common name for condoms, wherever they came from, just like Omo is the name for any powdered detergent… again, the Trust Condom advert is even painted on external walls of hotels and even bookshops in some towns I won’t mention.
“Wewe huwezi jua kama mtu ametolea ndani?” (You wouldn’t know if someone ejaculated inside you?)
The conversation was cut short by a tall and broad shouldered, Military Police officer. These are among the most feared divisions of the military. The world over. This is because they are ‘the police of the Military’. How did that sound? Okay, ‘they maintain the law and order within the Military’, still sounds ridiculous, Okay… ‘They are the law enforcers of the military’… Let me use some more easier terms, they can arrest you, hold you for questioning, Myth also has it they can torture you for ages, they can even get you locked up in a maximum prison for the rest of your life… and just like in the movies, this was the same case here.
They were some form of force even as I could see from my stroppy sitting position. Their first presence was felt with the colored calling letter holders and other fraudsters still coming in with their punctured hopes. They were clad in light green reflective jackets and red berets. That always means sensitive assignment going down. In this particular case, the instructors who were in that area teasing us were slithering away from the scene. The red beret was like a magnet that repelled them, a force that was clearing its way.
“Mko sawa?” (are you people okay?) He asked us in his commanding, guttural voice.
We all answered yes.
“Sawa basi, mtulie tu hapa mtamaliziwa kazi ianze,” (Okay, be easy, relax you will be sorted out and work will start)
He moved on swiftly and like clockwork, the instructors who had slithered off the grounds started to converge again in between the queues.
The girls were back into their conversations.
“Wee sio serious” (You cannot be serious)
“Unaskia wakipata uko nayo unaenda nyumbani? Haya!” (You know, if they find out you are pregnant you will go home?)
“weee we unataka tu kuniweka uoga tu buure!” (You are just scaring me)
“Shida yako basi!” “Mimi niliwacha aingie hivo, nikawacha amalizie ndani!” (Your problem then, not mine! (I let him penetrate me without protection and I let him finish the job inside.)
“Na huogopi kushika? (& you are not afraid of getting pregnant?)
“Kuogopa nini? “Mimi najua siku zangu.” (Fear what? I know my days.)
“Siku aje?” (Days how?)
At this point, I wondered how a person, wait, a woman!!! Could get all the way through high school without the idea of “days” (I mean the recruitment that year needed form four leavers and above). Though a virgin, I was curious and a pervert enough to know the idea behind safe days and I could calculate them perfectly… as long as the cycle was regular. Here was a woman who did not know even her cycle. Deep in my mind, I was like ‘minus one’. In my mind I was like ‘kaschana wewe kwisha!’.
“Kwani wewe umetoka wapi?” (Where are you from?)
“ati wapi?” (say what?)
“*censored* town & village, *censored* district”
“Huko ndio hamfunzwi hii maneno?” (Is that where you don’t get taught these things?)
People will execute me if I disclose that village, but the conversation continued. At this point, it took the turn of a biology class that one clearly missed. The enlightened ‘naked rider’ started explaining how safe days worked. She tried to calculate the days for the girl and from the look of things; it is as if her activity landed on one of the good days because she seemed easy afterwards.
The men on the other hand were in their own state of worry. They were not fearing pregnancy & STIs like the girls, they feared sexually transmitted diseases only. It was clear from the team that recruited us that we should not engage in careless behavior over the period before Eldoret but it seemed some were not interested in being careful. Now the men who were the loudest while counting the women (commercial included), they had spent the nights with were the most freaked out.
As entertaining as the stories were, my worry was intensifying.
‘At least I have seen Eldoret’ I started reassuring myself.