Military Life. Chapter 8 – The Rain Makes Us Equal

Previously
The pride that some of these people had was just sickening! This was just food. It had gotten to some of us that we were now “soldiers”. Did I mention what my idea of a soldier after that certificate collection thing at my high school was? Green patch army fatigues, a rough face, (Was already wondering how I would get my scar) a big fancy looking phone (Which I would later learn were cheap replicas from China et al), a badly looking tattoo of what looked like a lion or a goat with a big head, boots and of course the aura of power and supremacy. So here, we were, not even tested or given service numbers and yet some of us had already started building egos and blah blah.
The clouds were getting thicker as the minutes went by. I think I felt droplets at some point, but ignored it. I did not think it would rain. We waited for the others to finish eating. The know it alls were already investigating the place and were all over. As much as people were smiling at each other, deep inside were scared adults and big babies wondering what would be happening in this place. Then, without the usual increments, it started raining & it poured as if we had cursed the clouds. The stampede that followed was just out of this world. People were running in all directions not knowing where to go. The accommodation areas did not have an extra roof to cover those who stood by the verandas. The instructors were all giving commands in different tongues.
“Where do you think you are going!!?”

“My friends, this rain is your friend!”

 

Nobody cared to listen as people ran trying to look for shelter. I removed a hoodie I had in my bag, faded black or navy bluish, you couldn’t even tell. I strapped my bag in its normal position on my back and then wore the hood over the bag. I had to protect my certificates. I then joined the rest in running. I cannot tell where I was running to, but I just ran. I found myself at the Simba division stands. They were painted red. I looked around the grounds and there were not many people on the grounds. Surely how would people not remember the stands? The devil inside me was dancing. Thanking the rain for making us equal. I looked at the suitcases in the field and felt some pity for those who had packed for a holiday. Then I was like Hmmm “In any case, why would you bring all this stuff and you wouldn’t need it anyway?” The military gives you everything!
I do not know where I lost my friends from ‘home’. Ray and Ben were nowhere to be found. They were right behind me in the line I do not know what happened to them. We had not thought of exchanging numbers yet. I cannot remember what we talked about with the outside world, but the main question was if we “got in”. We were in yes, but not yet ‘in’ ‘in’. Back then sending a text message was Ksh 5/-. By then Safaricom had busted all those schemes some ingenious techies had discovered of changing message center numbers. We used to send free messages, and the number changed on a weekly basis. So I will not lie I was texting anyone. There were no data bundles also, so if you were chatting on the Waptrick chatroom with strangers you never expected to meet, airtime would be consumed directly. It was 8/- an MB I think. That is if my memory serves me right. I had a Motorolla C 168. Facebook had not yet developed on such a phones’s platform. So no Facebook. In any case, I could not add friends because I did not go to the same high school with them. I remember back then you could only send a request to those who shared similar High schools or any other institutions. The only request I sent out was one to a guy who left Mang’u in 1992. You can imagine the gap…
The only thing phones did back then was download music. & porn – still images, of course. A C168 did not have a memory card so the only things I could download were pictures (Cars and logos). (I loved this phone. One day -post high school, Dad came back from a Nairobi trip, handed me this package in between my TCM movie and Voila!!!).
Later I spotted Ben looking all confused and drenched. He spotted me and came to my location where I shifted to give him space on the stands. By now, they were filling up with ‘wet people’. The vocal buzz was getting louder as the stories continued. Somehow, radio reception was poor. I do not know how I did not carry a novel to this place, because this would have been the perfect place to read a novel – or so I thought. By then, I did not have anything to write on my orange notebook. I vowed to look for old newspapers from somewhere to keep me busy. Ben came up. We did not have much to talk about. However, Ray and our other friend Gus had stories. Like lots of them. We started on a common level, what everyone was doing before they got here.
My story was something like.
“I was volunteering with the Red Cross, but since these activities were randomly placed, I looked for a job to keep me busy, I had been bored silly of staying at home, reading novels, eating and listening to non-stop rock from the then ‘uncommisioned’ X Fm. I could write down the playlist and slot tracks in their exact time spot through the 24 hours.”
“I got a clerical and basic office administration job (which included cleaning up). Since I was not that money oriented, I took the first amount that was proposed. He was actually doing me a favor since I did not have any certificates & I was doing this to pass the time. Back then, a computer packages certificate was very vital. Packages were gold. I worked for a year, quit like two months before the advert came, and went to Nairobi where I heard people were being paid like 7 times more than I was being paid just for typing. I never got the job, so I was just idle for that, last months. Recruitment came, another long story and here I am.”  
Ben’s was a short story, he was lost in some Chris Brown song. He was really moved. It was his anthem. He was a rice farmer in Mwea – I think. Gus was a business man and Ray was a farmer as well & business man. Frankly speaking, the details of their stories floated away in wonderland. I was busy scanning the field for beautiful women or girls for that matter. No umbrellas in sight, of course it is a military camp, no umbrellas allowed there is the look of vulnerability in some of these women. Activate the pervert. I spotted the beautiful Somali girl again. Maybe this could be a good girlfriend. Another shy light-skinned Kikuyu that would later nag me my entire college life, caught my eye. They came in all sizes, looks, dresses & scents. As much as I detested the pride of others, I also had my own. Fueled by my high school experience, I expected that the little mastery of women I had would compensate for all my other weakness. The words of our high school geography teacher would later ring in my mind:
“You are now all under one umbrella, the name of this school is covering many of your traits, abilities, performance and etc., Someday, day it will be removed and you shall leave this place. & then you will need to prove yourself as an individual.”
Of course, he was talking about performance and life achievements not prowess with women.
It went something close to that. These words were directed to me, in this particular scenario. Especially at this level. Wet bodies were gliding over the grounds after the rain had stopped, curves like I had never been exposed to before, as much as the ratios were unrealistic, something deep inside told me I would get anyone I wanted here. I did it in high school over the festivals, weekend after weekend out, why not now. Little did I know this was a completely different level.
When reality struck, people started running to the field to try salvage their suitcases and the documents that were obviously at the easiest to reach level. Which was also the easiest to reach for the rain. It was almost half past four in the evening. We were commanded to assemble near the dais for a word from the administration. In the same order that we had eaten our lunch, we would get accommodation and breakfast the following morning before assembling to the field again by 6.30am.
We were dismissed. We headed in the direction of the ‘accommodation areas’. The field looked like a tourist convention. People dragging suitcases from a passenger terminal of sorts. I spotted another beautiful girl and started in her direction. I expected to help her with her suitcase. Shock on me, as I noticed the men pacing in her direction from various corners of the field. She was not alone, the other women as well were being approached in a similar manner. I am sure from the sky; it looked like a science experiment: Molecular behavior of sorts.

The first of many struggles had begun.
Cont…

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