BY MIKE MUTHAKA
I’ve always been aware of the whole preparing-for-school business, since my first day of school at Twin Birds Academy. Getting ready for school has forever been a torturous endeavor. It has always been this slow and dreadful operation, spaced out by varying degrees of idleness and waist-line discomfort.
Not forgetting, of course, my perpetual fear of school – where your caregivers pinched harder than your own mother.
And as you were barreled through the morning ritual, in a misty cloud of sleep, you couldn’t help but think: “This is really no way to ask a three year old to start his day.”
Those mornings all began the same, with the snatching. You would be blissfully asleep. You’d be lost in another galaxy, with grassy meadows and fluffy rabbits. Deep blue skies and a smiling sun. You’d be rolling down smooth hills, and chasing the yellow tele-tubby around. And then, just when you were about to catch the bugger, you’d be grabbed by the shoulder, “amka twende shule.”
Your eyes would burn as you lifted your eyelids, trying to see the face of the intruder. A cold stream of drool would run down your supple cheek. The intruder’s hand would still be on your shoulder. And for a moment you’d want to sit up and say, “What the hell? Can’t you see I was about to catch the damned tele-tubby?”
But you quickly put a sock in it, once you realized the intruder was Mom. And she doesn’t tolerate your antics.
So, with a heavy heart, you make your way to the shower, thinking, “I swear if I ever find the guy who invented school… And what’s up with Math anyway?”
Now, in campus, there’s no one to stop me from catching the tubby. I don’t have to wear shorts and over-the-knees socks. The Toughees have been replaced with a pair of loafers. Most of my classmates now have breasts.
And, heaven of heavens, I don’t have to do Math. When I waddle down to the shower I don’t think about Math, neither am I worried about getting whooped in the ass because of running in the hallway. “Michael nowadays you’re becoming naughty.”
But on Wednesdays, I have to let the tubby go. I have to wake at 4.30a.m, so I can make it to Helen’s class on time.
Getting ready for school is less terrible. I can take a shower and dress up while I listen to music. And while it’s still a bit painful to let the tubby go, my mind is usually left to ruminate on what I might spot on the way to school.
I leave the digs with my folks at 5.30a.m. Sometimes I spend the entire journey watching the inky blackness outside. I watch the world wake up with rolling banks of mist and sun streaks in the sky. I see the early birds, catching a bus to work. I see the watchers of the night, bundled up in heavy sweaters, going back home after a cold night shift. I see a few school-going kids, shuddering in the bleak dawn air, dreading that morning Math class.
(Why oh why does he never finish homework on time? Those bloody cartoons he watched yesterday will mean zip later that day, when stern Mrs. Somebody gives him a good ass whooping.)
We reopened school last Wednesday. And that morning, while I pulled on my jeans, the last thing I expected to see was a painting of Adam and Eve.
Class was out by 11a.m. Helen, the lecturer, brought it to a close by reminding us to send in our term papers by Friday: eight to 10 pages, Times New Roman size 12, double spaced.
Then I talked to a girl in the hallway, where I might have promised her a packet of skittles. I thought I’d go back home and get started with the term paper. But I hadn’t spotted anything to inspire the weekly Dusty Rugs tale.
I didn’t want to go home without a story. So what I did, I talked to a few more girls at the cafeteria. Then someone touched me on the arm and said, “Twende trap house?”
Up to that point I’d never been in a trap house. I only had a faint idea of what goes on in there. But from the name I could only assume there would be music, and it would taste like crap.
(Trap. I meant to say Trap. No, wait, sorry. It’s crap.)
So I jumped into the wagon and headed for the trap house. Perhaps I’d get a story there.
It was a 10-minute walk away from school. And to get to the house you had to jump over a low fence. Then you had to ascend some shifty-looking stairs with no railings.
There was a metal door at the end of the stairs, which led to a dark corridor. And as soon as you crossed the threshold you got slapped with the clammy smell of weed.
We found the host playing PS. He was seated on a couch, wearing pajamas, never mind that it was going on to 3p.m. He had a silver chain around his neck and his eyes were so red they could have stopped traffic. He had a sly cast about his face, but with a capacity of kindness.
He played music from his phone, hooked up via Bluetooth to a pill-shaped speaker. The walls were covered with blue wallpaper. Old red sofas surrounded the room. And at the centre, a dusty rug strewn with matchsticks and ashtrays and cigarette butts.
I thought I heard a girly giggle coming from the next room.
I plunked myself on a sofa and kept quiet, like the perfect guest.
Then I suddenly found myself in the company of lighthearted and loose-tongued strangers. And all that time I kept thinking: What if the cops raided this place? How would I explain this to my folks? Heck, what would I tell Helen, when she asks why I didn’t submit the term paper on time?
“Tell me, Michael,” she’d say, “why shouldn’t I give you an ‘E’ on this paper?”
“It’s not my fault. I was locked up.”
“Well, I was busted inside a trap house.”
“No, trap house.”
“Somewhere you wouldn’t expect to see a painting of Adam of Eve.”
Anyway, the painting was hung high on the wall, and I thought it added a nice sensual flare to the room. It showed the naked couple under a tree, with nothing but leaves for their loins. Their skins were milky and unblemished, soaking up the afternoon light like a spectrum.
Adam was an Adonis. He had a shock of black waxy hair. His abdomen was ripped, with strong arms and an eight-pack to boot, giving way to taut long legs.
Eve had long blonde hair tumbling down all the way to her nipples. She was holding a lock of hair in one hand, and on the other, she was receiving the forbidden apple from the serpent, which had curled itself around the tree. Only, from my end of the sofa, the apple looked more like an egg.
I began to wonder about the artist.
Who was he? And at what point did he decide to paint Eve with small breasts? Which muse led him to do that?
There was another problem, too.
Eve wasn’t as pretty as I expected. I thought her eyes were too far apart, and her nose was pointy. This wasn’t how I pictured Eve, not since the day I first heard the tale at Twin Birds Academy.
And then I thought: What about Adam? How might he have reacted to this kind of surprise?
He’d be blissfully asleep in the Garden of Eden, lying on the grassy meadows. His Adonis-like body would be resting under beautiful skies and fresh lemon smells. He’d be surrounded by every kind of animal and every type of tree.
Meanwhile, God would be plucking out his rib and molding it into a woman.
And Adam would wake to find her there, in all her naked glory. He’d run a hand over his waxy hair, studying the curves on her body, slowly licking his lips.
Then he’d see her far-apart eyes, and the pointy nose, and he’d burst into a fit of laughter. He’d laugh so hard the animals would stop in their tracks to look at him. His laugh would reverberate all through the Garden. Even the serpent – out of sheer malice – would laugh, even though he doesn’t know what’s funny.
And then Adam would look up and say, “Nice one, Big Guy. Let’s try that again. How about you go back into my rib and get me the real Eve?”
Mike blogs at www.mikemuthaka.com