The previous semester.
I was not even planning on going for that party. Being a student leader, and a fourth year, there was a front that I was expected to put up; a façade that forbids me from attending bashes thrown by Second Years. But I could not stand being in Kamaloka Hall either. I was thirsty for a cold Tusker in the house of the Lord. Which did not feel right.
He’d understand, I presumed. After all, didn’t He turn water into wine as his very first miracle? He could have healed a blind boy or exorcised a few demons to grace His glorious debut on earth. But no. He chose to brew.
Obara had dragged me to church. It was a Friday night, in the middle of the semester when most of my student loan had run out. A budget proposal for Health Week was still stuck at the Finance Department. The cashier also wanted a share. The fucker refused to process the release of money from the students’ kitty. Until that proposal passed, I was broke.
For two weeks, I had been eating at the Mess; the common cafeteria where they sold bland, university subsidized food. All the stews served in that place were not as thick as the ones in the Poolside Café. By some unknown Mbalariany University culinary standard, they put carrots in everything. Sukuma, Beef Stew. Undercooked carrots that dug craters of cavities in your tooth, and left evidence in between your teeth. Sneaky bastards that gave your teeth a disgusting yellow tint.
Running on fumes, there was no way I could go to Wambugus. That is why when Obara suggested that I should join him for the Christian Union service, I figured; what’s the worst that could happen? A miracle could as well come my way. He also mentioned something about an interesting speaker they had invited to preach to the congregation. Obara was also the choir master, and his music was okay. Even though I always thought he was better with the piano than the guitar. Anyone who played the guitar in Westlands Campus was better with another instrument. Except me of course.
Sarah, my then girlfriend, had gone home for the weekend. She would be back on Sunday evening with milk and potatoes from her mother’s shamba. I was alone. I hated it when she left. Yet she had no choice. She was a PK; daughter of a strict Adventist dad who monitored her every move. One time I convinced her to stay, so that we could finish watching Big Bang Theory, and fuck in between episodes. The following day, on Saturday morning, she was too tired to go home. We were woken up by a call at 8 am, from her dad. He was already at the parking, standing next to a white Noah.
A sudden bout of malaria had to attack her within seconds.
The speaker that had been invited, a Reverend Joseph Malago, spoke with vehemence in his voice. Even as he did I kept on wondering what kind of God he was talking to. I was raised a Catholic. I was used to slow hymns, candles and incense, in between reciting the same prayers from a little book. A reverent atmosphere for self-reflection and communication with the creator.
But Reverend Malago served a strange God. One who was okay with people calling his son Jay C. This God was spoken at. Commanded. He was given ultimatums. Rev. Malago told Him that “if you do this, if you grant us this, we will praise your holy name.” I pitied this God. He had no choice but to grant these wishes if he ever wanted Reverend Malago to praise his name. Poor guy.
Thirty minutes into the sermon, I was already missing the choir. Obara and his people led the praise and worship. A session that started with exuberant songs, Obara asking us to get up and dance. The most intriguing part of praise sessions is the way brethren danced. I could tell the girl next to me was in a painful struggle to maintain herself from dropping her ass down low for the Lord. The guy in a black T-shirt at the front, the one whose moves everyone else was trying so hard to emulate, winding his waist in a way I have seen in a Konshens video. Clearly that was a congregation that spent a lot of time on YouTube. Hallelujah!
The worship part made me want to cry. A girl – she was my classmate – took over the lead from Obara. She sang as if someone was scratching her soul. She opened her arms, and with her eyes closed, she opened her heart.
I sent Obara a message. Off to sleep now. Busy day kesho. I lied.
By then Reverend Malago’s face was already glistening, the hall lighting bounced off the sweat on his face and made them glow. The pious fervor summoned from divine inspiration, typically involving speaking in tongues, wild, awkward movements of the body and wiping the forehead every five minutes were entertaining. But after a while, I just got bored
Westlands Campus was the smallest of all campuses of Mbalariany University. The hostels and Kamaloka Hall are just next to each other, separated only by a thin strip of tarmac. Walking around that place on a Friday night, it was impossible not to feel forces of good and evil engaging in a tug of war. On one side was a heavenly saint with an incandescent halo; urging you to go for Friday fellowship. On the other, Johnnie Walker inviting you for a walk to an inebriated destiny in the halls. Especially on a night like that when some Second Year was celebrating his birthday.
I found my way into the party room. I was not invited, but I was there anyway. There is no such thing as party crashing when it comes to bashes thrown in campuses. They are meant for the common heritage of mankind.
Jamaican music was playing from Ampex speakers. As usual, couples danced. I would not call it dancing, because what happened was that boys humped their crotches against the girls’ buttocks continuously. They didn’t tire. At some point a couple got creative. The boy sat on a chair. His date – I assumed – parted her legs as she got on top of the poor guy. Then she began winding the bulk registered on her waistline.
I found a spot, next to the DJ’s computer. There she was. Sitting, holding a glass of something golden. My classmate. She didn’t look like she was having any fun. Just chilling. Gathering dust and sweat. Probably wondering what her mum would do if she ever caught her here. She said she was here for the same reason as I was. The birthday boy spotted me and passed me something similar to what she was having.
That night, we watched the kids dance. Laughed at the guy whose nuts were being pounded into sterility. Talked. Held hands. Sat closer. Played with each other faces. Sat quiet. I parted my lips. Hers did not hesitate to rush in and meet mine halfway. She tasted like glory. We waltzed into my room. The lights remained off when I peeled her blouse over her head. A bra strap snapped in the dark. Urgent fingers fumbled with my belt. Gravity helped my trousers to the floor. We fucked until she prayed in her mother tongue.
The following morning, she said her name was Bella. A parallel program student lucky enough to have found a room in the ladies hostels that semester, because one of my classmates moved back home and leased her room to her. A chini ya maji deal that school authorities did not need to know. As long as no one asked, no one was telling.
That Sunday evening, word got to Sarah as soon as she walked in with her milk and potatoes that some girl had been seen sneaking out of White House – as they called my room- the previous morning. I could have denied it. I could have pointed my index finger at her for emphasis sake and said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman. These allegations are false, and I need to go back to work for the students of Mbalariany.” I could have claimed that my political enemies were out to destroy me.
But I didn’t.
She called me a dog, a typical campus malaya that couldn’t see logic past a skirt, then proceeded to bang the door on her way out.
That night, Bella came back with a tin of spaghetti and minced meat. I let her spend the night, but she never left.
(to be continued)