Many moons ago – while the Nyayo milk was still part of the Kenyan school curriculum – my young tender heart was flabbergasted, bara gacha’d and sinfully smitten by the beauty of a village girl who at the time I believed held the keys to my paradise.
If I had my way then, I would have bestowed her with a royal exotic name: Queen of Sinyereribury, after my village’s name Sinyereri. However, the gods had their way, as they always do, and slapped her with a true indigenous African botanical name – Christine Nafula Shikoti.
Nafula, as she was proudly known was the daughter of Shikoti, the village herbalist who claimed to heal anything and everything, including stomach cancer, election rigging, premature nini, bankruptcy, and adultery. Shikoti had short, stocky build, slicked-black hair and Coke-bottle glasses that were poorly complimented with a disturbed sense of humour. It was rumoured along the village’s dusty streets that during the day, Shikoti battled villager’s problems, while at night he moonlighted as a rare prized companion for widows.
Although he looked like a crafted warthog that had crossbred with a marauding hyena, Shikoti did carry some extraordinary genes that baffled the whole village. This is because out of that lump of the ugliness of a man came the most beautiful damsel who looked like candy dipped in succulent-vanilla-draped-strawberry flavour. Nafula, was her name.
Well, she wasn’t all that glamorous, if that’s what you expect. She was just a typical girl with irresistible and mouth-watering globular smiles, and an amazing bottled-figure. Her long luhya hair was impeccably peached on her dry skull.
Her smile though deceivingly innocent was naughtily packaged and seductively delivered. Her little innocent demeanour temporarily hid behind her holy-grail. The holy grail that was her favourite red top and blue skirt, occasionally substituted by her cherished Sunday best nylon dress, giving her the impression of a freshly minted Alicia Keys.
However, don’t get me wrong. According to the village standards and generally that part of the world, Nafula was the sexiest and most beautiful pretty thing in the 89-year history of the village. And if the Miss Kenya or Miss World contest would be fairly conducted without involving those skinny, I-only-eat-a-lemon-for-dinner models, Nafula would be winning the damn thing every year without shedding a sweat.
She literally oozed with sex appeal, and based on my fertile imagination then, she tasted like my mother’s fermented porridge manicured with original Mumias sugar. She had sinful eyes, an adulterous mouth, and a holy body. A body that men, young and old, educated and uneducated, rich and poor salaciously admired, confusingly praised and foolishly worshipped.
Unlike her peers who would perpendicularly spread themselves on the ground whenever a big-headed adolescent walked around with an unbuttoned shirt – all the while exposing his wretched hairy chest, earning him countless one-night stands in the nearest bush – Nafula was different. In fact, she made it very clear to all village adolescent boys carrying raging hormones who salivated after her.
She made it clear that oiling her loins required more than an exposed teenage hairy chest and a miserable-looking small bottle of YU petroleum jelly wrapped in a new red handkerchief for a Valentines’ present.
Well, Nafula may have been different from other village daughters of Eve when it came to having multiple sex partners. However, she wasn’t an exception in my young and restless adolescent world. Luckily and for starters, I was armed with invaluable skills and knowledge acquired from endlessly listening to the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC)’s English service programme called Saturday Night Show (SNS) hosted by the legendary John Karani.
In my humble opinion, John Karani was and still is, one of the greatest radio presenters Africa ever churned. During those days, anything John Karani said about dating and love used to be religiously taken as the 11th commandment.
Predictably, armed with wisdom and knowledge acquired from SNS, I was ready to romantically conquer Nafula’s universe. The best part about SNS was where John Karani would slowly repeat the words of a love song, as I scrambled, deep into the night with a kolovoi (kerosene lamp) to jot down the words.
Then the next day I would corner Nafula, my village flame on her way to the river or to the posho mill, where I would romantically turn lyrical. This included magically turning into a one-man band, where I meticulously sang to her the song I painstakingly memorized overnight.
Or better still, I would hang around the fence of Nafula’s homestead for endless hours (precious hours I would have spent doing homework), intermittently peeping through the thorny fence just to get a look at her while she struggled to clean utensils outside their mud-walled kitchen.
While, in the meantime, praying dutifully that her strict authoritarian herbalist father, who used to insist that he be referred to as a doctor, would send her to the kiosk for a stick of cigarette. So that at least I could get a chance to smile at her sheepishly, and probably utterly impress her with a romantic lyric from one of Celine Dion or Boyz II Men greatest hits.
With the strong-minded intention of bagging the pretty Nafula as my village flame, a historic accomplishment that was guaranteed to significantly catapult my humble village boyish credentials to an all-time record high. I had practically gone to the extremes in applying all the tricks in the book to bag her. This included literally risking my young, poor innocent life by ignoring the fury of her parents and brothers, and attempting on several occasions to sneak into her room at ungodly hours just to unleash to her a newly memorized Marvin Gaye chorus.
It also included hiding the offerings and tithes I was given for Sunday school or stealing my mother’s chama money so that I could buy Nafula doughnuts, sugar cane or any of the related romantic goodies. I was focused, determined and motivated. I was not going to take a no for an answer, and I was so sure that sooner or later something was going to give.
To, however, regulate my prospects of return on investment, and, also as a way of reducing my disappointment, I had significantly lowered my expectation of receiving just an innocent inexperienced hot kiss (read peck on my cheek) from Nafula. Though of course, for the better part, I wouldn’t have minded some awkward unprotected nini in the nearest banana plantation.
It took my well-publicized appointment as a Class Prefect, a pair of new shoes, and from my poorly coordinated arithmetic, a blurring eleven months and 17 days of spending a mind-boggling thirty-eight Kenya Shillings of buying expensive gifts, to finally oil her heartbeat. Finally, her resistance had given way to my perseverance. Evidently, my charisma, new economic status and my smooth, sweet and slippery tongue had finally opened the floodgates to her romantic world.
In case you are wondering with my unhealthy obsession with Nafula, well, she was the closest I could get to one of those smoking-sexy damsels in Mexican soaps. You know, the ones who take a shower in ice cream, drink expensive liquor, get kissed with men wearing Brioni suits, and apply very expensive rolls of makeup – expensive enough to power my village’s economy for a year.
Unfortunately, after bagging Nafula, my romantic escapades with her lasted a time it takes a politician to take an oath of office. Reason – I realized very fast that she was pathological allergic to remain faithful in a relationship. Four years after our break-up, she married Dr. Wekesa the village veterinary doctor.
Of course, their marriage lasted long enough till his paycheck couldn’t sustain her village socialite tendencies. She subsequently relocated to the neighbouring village where she co-habited with some Somali guy who was a long distance truck driver. Predictably, the relationship lasted only until the construction of Standard Gauge Railway was announced.
If you ever bump into a bitter lady carrying a monstrous weave on her head; a lady who curses men day and night and despise and regards them as dogs; a lady who blames all men for ruining her life, while not taking responsibility for her own choices and decisions – chances are she is my old village flame. A woman, who cannot get a husband because she is allergic to putting her legs together, says all men are witches, goes a Douglas Waudo proverb.