Growing up in the past was fun almost every other day. Every new day was full of twists and turns and sometimes you would feel like you are in an audition for a movie.
There is this guy Arum Tidi who spent so many years repeating lower primary classes until he felt schooling was not just for him. He was almost the age mate of some of the untrained teachers in school. It reached a time where he would only come in the games seasons i.e. football during first term games and athletics in term 2 as he was blessed with brawn. He was so endowed with big hands and feet and his presence in the soccer or volleyball line up would send rival school teams into fear and there were even reports of some passing water just by his mere presence.
Arum Tidi over time got smitten but was a shy guy who had problems approaching slay queens of them days. He also felt challenged in the alternative mode of reaching girls which was letter writing and therefore had to look for ‘go between’ who would not only talk to the girl she was interested but if need be also help in writing the love letters and acting as courier too.
One time the role fell on yours truly and I felt it was beneficial as it meant that I would be protected in return for writing and delivering the letters to the potential girlfriend who was called Nyangi. Sitting down with Arum Tidi so as to draft this letters was a scene to behold as most of the time he would be quoting for me the lyrics of popular benga songs like the ones of Okach Biggy, Awino Lawi and Collela Mazee and expect me to turn the same into letters that would soften the lady’s heart to say yes. This was in spite of the fact that the lyrics were also known by the targeted lady and therefore not original from him. We once sat for over three hours drafting letters and throwing them away as not being romantic enough till I got tired and told him that I was resigning if he didn’t think that we had done then was romantic enough. This made him agree and I was then tasked or is it commandeered to take the letter to Nyangi.
I had to use all my wit to make sure the letter reached its destination without raising eyebrows especially with other potential suitors and of course making sure the letter doesn’t fall into wrong hands. This would mean spending sometime grazing the cattle next to the river where Nyangi would inevitably end to fetch water. Once this was done, another problem arose as apparently the language that was used was too ‘complex’ for her and yours truly had to read the letter for her and make her understand. There is nothing as hard as reading a love letter when you are not the person who should be saying what is in the missive as you have to find a balance between the content and how you deliver it so that you don’t steal the show. You want to make it in such a way that its not misconstrued like you are the one communicating your desires. You always want to be neutral to all the kinds of reactions you receive so that when you go back you don’t end breaking any relationship you had with the person who sent you especially when they start asking you how it went and whether he has a chance and you know that there is no chance from what you saw.
The task became even more interesting when Nyangi tasked me to write a response back to Arum Tidi not knowing that even the letter that I brought to her was written by me, on instructions of course. Nyangi would try to play hard and use all kinds of words to inform Arum Tidi that he wasn’t interested while also providing a window of opportunity for further engagement. This is the moment I realized that I could as well make hay from this engagement. This I would do by making sure that I included requests that were not necessarily coming from Nyangi to Arum Tidi. I would include things that she ‘needed’ to be bought for her. Things like soaps, perfumes, shoes and some money for the village salon. I would make sure that this was in bold knowing anyway that I would be the one reading them to Arum.
Delivering the letter back to Arum meant that I would emphasize on not only what I perceived as interest from Nyangi but also the fact that she needed to be taken ‘care’ of in response to her ‘requests’ in the letter. This would obviously pass through me and while Nyangi received the other gifts ‘requested’ for in the letter which for her was a surprise anyway, the money ended up in my pocket as my wages. This would go on for a long time as the longer there was suspense without any positive response the better it was for my wages as every letter would come back with fresh requests.
Arum Tidi and Nyangi, if you are reading, sorry, I had to earn my wages!