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College Hijinks

College Hijinks

TRUST THE PROCESS

PAUL!

You shudder on your platform, feeling helpless and confused. The air becomes thick with intense uneasiness.

What is Paul doing here? Shouldn’t he be in rehab? 

The idea of Paul seeing you so desperate gives you a familiar tingle and you feel like laughing at yourself. After all, it isn’t the first time he’s seen you in this depraved state. You are just surprised and relieved that this time he is supposedly on the rescue team.

Luke tries to turn and pierce you with another huge hypodermic needle. Somehow he doesn’t even get close to your IV bag. Paul whacks him straight down his neck, probably paralyzes the geezer right on the spot.

He crumples to the floor. On cue, the lady to your right comes to and you can’t see her face against the dim light seeping in from wherever.

“SHEILA!”

Your mouth goes dry. The realization she is the one who is behind your captive state in this dungeon sickens you. You feel that karma did part of its job in landing her into her own mess. Ironically, your trust issues with the people around you become so glaringly clear.

You can’t trust that Chrissy was in a relationship with the wicked kidnapper, Luke. Even your friendship is in question. You barely get along with her fast life.  You can’t trust that Sheila will continue to be the angel she has been up to now. You can’t trust that your least favorite person happens to be the hero of the day.

It’s all a mess in your head. For sure, you don’t even know whether you can trust yourself to bear all the mental warfare going on.

“Untie me!” You scream at Paul who is busy taking stock of what is going on.

He mutely walks to you. You can see the longing look in his eyes. The look of naivety and desperation. You definitely don’t want to stare longer.

He unties the cords around your legs, waist, and hands and then steps back as you quickly dash to the closest door you find.

Air. 

That’s all you crave right now. Not Paul, not Chrissy and not Sheila. You don’t bother that Luke has other people in bondage.

Once your face hits the cool air outside, a blinding light flashes your eyes. Followed by distant sirens and the whirr of chopper blades.

“We found ’em! Move in!” A voice bellows from above.

Your knees are weak and you are craving water. The dungeon door opens and you see Chrissy and Sheila, followed by other girls who are part of Luke’s pen. It angers you that people like Luke exist in the world. They are the kind of people the glitzy lifestyle magazines don’t profile.

You hear cars moving in towards the dungeon. You think about safety, warmth, being away from the people you distrust. It warms your heart.

A man approaches you, bends on one knee and lifts your head up. He urges you to your feet, sees you struggle and helps you up. You don’t know him but you are grateful that he is helpful.

You squint closer and see that you recognize this man. He is Chrissy’s doctor. The real angel.

As soon as you and the other girls are safely loaded in a Jeep, you immediately fall asleep.

 

The lecturer gathers up his papers, gives one last stern look across the theatre and then storms out with a condescending shake of the head. Once he leaves, a communal sigh of relief goes around the theatre as everyone stands to leave.

You hate economics. It must be genetic, you tell yourself. You don’t understand why someone should teach you ways of making money and owning property and being generally rich and yet they are not mega-billionaires to pose as inspiration. It’s a waste of your time.

In the fray, you feel a hand link into yours and you smile back at Paul. He has a wide smile on his face and you don’t know why.

“Why are you so happy after an Econ class?”

“Why shouldn’t I be?”

You conclude that Paul must be an alien. But he looks extra jittery and jumpy.

“Am I missing something?” At this point, you are walking leisurely along the campus pathways.

He stops and swivels to look at you. You can never get enough of the magic within his brown-eyed gaze.

“Today marks two years since we met. Back in high school. Two naive teenagers just wanting to have fun,” he says. He wraps your hands tightly into his. “You forgot right?”

A tight know forms in your throat. Ever since he saved you from a mass kidnapper/social extremist who finds pleasure in capturing girls, you feel like you owe him a part of your soul.

But this is too much, too far. The memories of your past with him come rushing through your head. The way you liked him, the way he spoiled you and made you his “queen”, the way sleepovers turned to spending nights over at his place, the denial, the accusations, the constant fights, the rumors…

It overwhelms you. And now you finally wonder why everyone talks lightly on trust issues on social media as if it is a game. It is not a game. It is painful.

You loosen your hands and sigh, stepping back from Paul.

“Is everything okay, K?”

“No. Everything is not okay, Paul.”

Open up. Tell him that you may never forgive him. Tell him that he has taught you whom to trust and whom to discard. Tell him he doesn’t deserve you or anyone.

You want to open your mouth and spew out all the bottled up rage that has been accumulating three years on.

Then you sigh again and begin walking away from Paul. In the hot Thursday afternoon, at the Econ class hallway, you decide you will have to learn and forge a way for yourself.

 

That night you feel engulfed in emotions. The friendship you desperately wanted to break up finally works. But you still feel like garbage. Why aren’t you happy?

Maybe it’s the fact that you and Chrissy no longer talk. And her bed bunk now belongs to a sweet autistic girl called Jenna.

Together with Izzy and Ma, the four of you are capable of talking matters boys, makeup, photo shoots, latest events and lousy lecturers for nights on end.

Today isn’t that day though. They urge you to talk but you keep mute and bury yourself in bed. You wait until they start snoring before you sit up in bed and take a long deep breath.

Your phone vibrates.

You have attached a feeling of bad luck whenever your phone rings at night. It almost makes you chuck the phone out of the window. But you have Facebook notifications and Whatsapp groups to mill around in.

Then you turn over the phone and see the caller -ID. It’s your mother.

You quickly pick up while muttering a short prayer to God.

“Hi, Koki. How is everything?” Your mother sounds characteristically jovial. At ten p.m. She rarely calls past seven.

You lie to her that you are okay and that studies are fine.

“Well, I have someone I’d like for you to speak with.”

You hear her whisper to someone to pick the phone. Your father’s voice clears up.

“Koki. I’ve missed you.”

No! Not your father! 

You jab the Cancel Call button and stuff the phone under your pillow. You’ve learned. You’ve grown. There is no need to go back.


Hi there, reader. I am so glad that you’ve followed through with the College Hijinks blog series, a first for me, and reached the final post. It was really amazing for me to do this sort of first narration fictional shots and I am thankful for the feedback which has been positive.

Help me decide whether I should do more of this in the comments below! Cheers!

 

College Hijinks

HAZE

You are eagerly awaiting the bus to roll down your street. Bag over shoulder, all smiles, it promises to be a great year in school for you. It is unthinkable that you will not be walking miles to get to school. Now you can afford a luxury that not many kids in your estate enjoy. 

The bus comes into view, crunches to a stop and you alight. You find a seat at the middle, next to a fine-looking boy. Even though the school uniform looks baggy and oversized on you, it looks custom-made for this boy with whom you are sharing butt space. 

Sadly, you don’t muster even a word to this boy. All you can do is secretly smell his expensive cologne wafting to your side. He must be moneyed. You obviously can’t be friends, you think, feeling depressed that your economic status will be a quick turn-off. 

The bus finally pulls up at your school and you step out. Your eyes trace the boy’s path as he joins his other friends. They are definitely a classy bunch. 

Your daydream is cut off as you feel a pair of hands wrap around your neck in a warm embrace. It’s your best friend, Chrissy, in all her splendor. She’s not the hardest to miss in a crowd. She likes hiking up her skirt, wearing her hair longer than the rest and always holds her backpack like a Chanel clutch bag. 

It’s hard to think you two are besties with your glaring differences. She automatically senses that you have a crush. And she knows it’s the “new boy”. 

 

A warm and stinging feeling across your right cheek makes you stir. You open your eyes hesitantly and realize that you are in a semi-dark room, smelly and dank. You can’t move your hands or legs, so you squirm helplessly like a trapped fly on a web.

“She’s up! Finally.”

The voice sounds familiar, but you can’t seem to place it. Or anything at all. Your head is aching, a thousand church bells are tolling from within. There is no faint recollection of whatever led you to be in such a state.

A light goes on and illuminates the room. You squint and try to lift your head, get a better perspective of where you are. Or at least where you found yourself.

You figure out that if you are bound, you must be trapped in this place. As the veil of confusion lifts from your head, you hear footsteps from behind you. They get closer and then stop.

You try to turn your head and then a rugged arm comes crashing on your cheek. The slap jars you from your animated state and you feel almost incensed that it is happening to you without any consent.

“K…K…what a stupid name for such an intelligent young lady, don’t you think?” The voice taunts you, as the person bearing the voice remains rooted behind your still body. “I’ve always admired intelligence. The fact that mental battles are stronger than physical ones…”

A pause. The hands move down to your throat and stay there. You glance down and see that the hands are gnarly and wrinkly.  Old hands.

LUKE!

You jerk your shoulders and shake your hand violently, trying to wrench his hands from your neck. But the old man isn’t fazed.

He tightens the grip like a vice.

“Don’t try anything stupid, K. I know you don’t like stupidity, and so do I. So perhaps it would be safe for you if you relaxed,” he says, letting out a guttural laugh.

You have totally undermined Luke. From the very first time you saw him, you didn’t have an inkling that he was so maniacal. So evil and vile.

The fingers dig deeper into your neck.

OWW! You’re hurting me!” 

“Relax. There’s no need to fuss aro -”

“You are hurting me! Leave me alone!” You battle to get his hands off but he still has them on you. Slowly, you start to feel dizzy.

To your right, you hear another groan. And more from your left. It seems you are not alone in this ramshackle. You have company.

The hands retreat and you see Luke waddling to the person to your left, lying prostrate on the metal bench like you. Luke walks around and gets another syringe, digs it into the person’s arm and drives a wrinkly palm across their face.

The groan stops.

“You are a sick person, Luke! Very sick!” You turn to your right and see that Luke has started to sedate the person. You squint and suddenly feel so incensed and happy at the same time to see it is your best friend, Chrissy.

“Leave her alone! Get your hands off her!” You let out a scream, and then hear more groans erupt from the room. You realize you might not be the only person trapped by this maniac.

Shut up! Now! You’re waking them up!” 

 

“No, I don’t like him, Chrissy! Don’t say that!” 

Well, I saw the way you were looking at him. And seeing is believing, so I believe you absolutely like him!” 

Chrissy doesn’t let you breathe. She shoves down the idea that you like the “new guy” when you don’t even know his name. You definitely like him, anyway. But you don’t admit it or Chrissy might just tell everyone else. 

Over lunch break, you decide to meet up with Chrissy and just talk randomly. You have at least three months before you finish your high-school studies and random talks with Chrissy don’t seem like the most academic thing to do. 

But you simply have to. She’s your close buddy. 

You step out to the volleyball courts (your usual rendezvous point) and you don’t believe your eyes. Chrissy is deep in conversation with the new guy! 

A mixture of surprise and anger fills up in your chest. Not long after, she spots you and waves hysterically at you, skimping to you with so much energy. 

K! You won’t believe this!” 

I doubt it!” 

Let me introduce you to Paul. He’s new here,” she says, letting Paul rise from the bench and greet you. “This is my best friend, K. The one I have been telling you about.” 

She has been telling HIM about YOU! You obviously instantly hate Chrissy, but you hold your breath since the “love of your life” is standing an inch or two away from you. 

Nice to meet you, K. I’ve been told good things about you,” he says in a suave Cuban kind of way. He has this lopsided smile with a natural left dimple that almost makes your feet grow weak.

You freeze. Out of all the options you have, your body chooses to shut down. There is no way Paul is talking to you right now. You might as well be in a dream. 

 

“Who are they? Why are you holding us captive?” Your interrogative side takes over, despite the fact that you are still writhing in pain from the second sedative Luke stabs in you.

Luke stays silent, his frail frame on his wheelchair some few paces away from you. You notice that there are more metal beds behind him, stretching to the wall where a bulb is glowing. The fact that you are still not nauseated and are conscious gives you the motivation to keep on grilling Luke.

Your best efforts to get him to talk yield to nothing. He obviously has your phone, so any chances of getting help are null and void.

In the dark room, you can’t help but think about your mother and Tumo, back in the village. They are probably thinking of how eager you are to start lessons on Monday. How excited you must feel to be reunited with Chrissy after a long break. How fun it must feel to start a new life away from Paul.

Then your mind wanders to your father. After seven barren years without seeing him, it is a big blow to your emotions that he should call you a few days ago. He is like a blur in your life. The earliest memory you have of him is when he used to work for a wealthy businessman in the country-side.

He would shower you with gifts in the form of sweets whenever he was paid. But after that, you barely know where he has spent seven years – or why he ever did it.

Groan. 

Your head shifts to the right. To Chrissy. Her body is wriggling from whatever dosage of sedatives Luke has given her.

“Chrissy! It’s me! K! WAKE UP!”

“I told you to shut up!” Luke chortles in anger, wheeling his chair close to your bed.

“Don’t you dare lay your filthy hands on her!”

The curt command comes from a man. Behind you. Behind the dozen metal beds with sedated ladies on them. You quickly remember that Sheila told you about Luke’s behavior. And now she lies next to you, knocked out and mute.

“Who are you? How did you get in here?” Luke looks beyond my bed to the man standing behind me.

You brace your shoulders against the cold lattice of the metal bed and feel shivers run down your legs. Someone is definitely ruining Luke’s plans. And you like it!

The man’s shadow looms over you and Luke glances at the man angrily.

Chrissy shifts onto her left and squints at the man. Her eyes widen. She gasps.  “K! It’s Paul!”


 

College Hijinks

RUDE SHOCK

It is Sheila who comes to your rescue yet again. Every time you see her car cruise up next to your hall and her petite body slink out, you feel a rush of warmth in your heart. Fate must have had a hand in it for you two to meet.

You walk up to her, casually ignoring the questioning and curious looks of some boys who reside in the halls adjacent to yours. They are peering through their windows and ogling at Sheila.

“Hi, K. I decided to come as soon as I got your call,” she says, getting into the car with you. “What’s the matter?”

You open up, finally. You tell her that your best friend has gone missing and you need to find her quick. The more you delay, the more the tension grows.

“Have you told the police? That’s serious!” Sheila admonishes, her face creasing in worry. She grabs her phone and begins dialing.

You dare not stop her. It’s so silly of you that you didn’t inform the police. But you know it’s the fear that gripped you when the doctor informed you.

After some few minutes, Sheila hangs up and turns to you with a hopeful look. “They are on it. Lucky for you, I have a friend up at the headquarters who is willing to help,” she says. “But you really need to be careful, K. It’s an unforgiving jungle here in Nairobi. No one is ever safe.”

A gulp goes down your throat. Advice is what you need. The confusion has been eating at you all night.

“You know what, Sheila? That’s the problem. Someone knows what happened the night I took Chrissy to the hospital,” you say, wringing your hands nervously. “The VC even talked about it yesterday. Ooh, it was so embarrassing.”

Sheila frowns. “It could be anyone. You weren’t alone in that club. There must have been someone checking you out,” she says.

A deep sigh leaves your mouth as you rest your head in your palms.

SNITCHES! You hate them as much as you hate being in a hospital. Even more, perhaps. You try coming up with options but you barely know anyone in the university.

Wait! There’s this old man!” You exclaim, shaking Sheila’s shoulders.

“Which old man?”

“The one who met with Chrissy at the club. Probably 80 years old or something,” you say. “He’s the one who drove us to the hospital. Okay, his chauffeur drove us. But he was there.”

A look of intent crosses Sheila’s face and she turns the key in the ignition. “Let’s find this old man. I think I know who he is,” she says.

“You do?” You are taken aback. “How? I presume there are very old men in Nairobi. No way you can identify the one I’m talking about.”

Sheila smiles wryly. “There’s only one old man who hangs out in nightclubs and preys on little girls. His name is Luke,” she says, her eyes focused on the road. “Trust me, K, that piece of dirt tried his tactics on my own daughter.”

At that moment, you understand the reason behind Sheila’s immense concern. You are both victims of a creepy octogenarian sugar daddy.

“Your daughter?” You probe in a bid to know more about Sheila’s past and present. She hasn’t told you yet about her family life so it wouldn’t hurt to know.

“Yes. I have a daughter. Paula.”

You notice the strain in her voice and you decide that you need not probe further. The task at hand is to get to Luke.

Sheila takes a turn into a gas station to refill and then excuses herself to a washroom within the cafe. You decide to wait inside and collect your thoughts.

Could Luke have snitched you and Chrissy? Why would he do that? The old man couldn’t even change his diapers without help.

Suddenly, you hear the vibration of a phone followed by Anne-Marie’s swoony voice as a ringtone.

When did it get so heavy? This love that’s in between us…

You rummage through your bag and get your phone but it is on silent mode and not ringing.

The vibration seems to be coming from the cup holder on Sheila’s side. It’s her phone. She’s left it.

You choose to ignore the first few rings and rather enjoy Anne-Marie’s lusty voice. Then a primal voice in your mind tells you to peep. It grows so loud and nagging that you don’t realize that your hand has already reached for the phone.

The caller-ID reads LUKE. You get a very sickening gut feeling. Could this be the same Luke that you are hunting?

TAP! TAP! 

You immediately chuck the phone under your seat and look up guiltily at the gas station attendant tapping at the window. He is asking for pay.

“She’s just on her way back,” you tell him and smile sheepishly. You are pretty sure he has seen you hiding the phone. He shrugs and walks away.

Sheila’s phone stops ringing. Her notifications bar drops down and you see the long list of endless missed calls she has received from this creep.

LUKE.

You look up instinctively and see her walking towards the car. You return the phone and fold your arms, sit back casually. Maybe it’s not the most casual you can look, but it pays off since Sheila doesn’t read into it.

If Luke has been calling her incessantly, she definitely knows him. And it could help you a lot to know what Luke is up to.

So you wear your Sherlock Holmes glasses and buckle up.

“Sheila, what did Luke do to Paula?”

It’s a touchy question, but you can’t bear to know the heartache she is suffering.

Sheila sighs and her shoulders drop. “He’s a monster, K. That’s all I can tell you,” she whimpers.

“A monster? Is he…dangerous?”

Sheila does not reply. She is mute. Her eyes fixed frontwards.

“Come on Sheila! Tell me! Is my friend safe? Maybe he has her!”

Like a broken fuse, you come undone and start panicking. What kind of inglorious bastard are you dealing with? Is he some sort of serial kidnapper?

Sheila is not speaking. The tears that roll down her cheeks are doing a lot of talking. Her car makes a turn to the left and into a dirt road. There are no road marks indicating where you are going, but there is a large dark forest flanking the rugged road.

SHEILA!”

“I CAN’T!! I JUST CAN’T!!”

Her voice comes out in bits of anger, frustration, and worry. Like a broken record, she can’t seem to speak clearly without heaving.

The car begins to swerve on the road and you realize Sheila is disturbed. You just opened a can of worms.

“Why can’t you? I…I…need you to tell me,” you plead amid tears. “I know he did something bad to Paula. Something you can’t forgive him for. And something that keeps on haunting you.”

The car slows down a notch as Sheila turns her attention to you. “It’s worse than you think it is, K. I’m just so sorry for what is going to happen next,” she says.

Huh?” 

The car slows down and Sheila cuts the engine off. She turns to you and you can see the tears clouding her warm brown eyes. Her hands are quick as she fumbles underneath her seat for some sort of clothing.

Your mind shouts “Get the heck out!” but your feet are numb, transfixed.

You immediately feel the damp clothe cup your nose and a feeling of relaxation sweeps down your arms and legs. You want to fight off the weird sensation flowing through you, Sheila’s hands holding you down, pinning you on the chair like a tack.

“I’m…so…sorry.”

And apparently, those are the last words you hear as you plunge into total darkness.

 

 

College Hijinks

Who else knows?

If there’s one thing you’ve always been afraid of ever since you turned nine is the ominous feeling of doom inside hospitals.

They give you jitters everytime you find yourself, in one way or another, in them. You don’t seem to forget the day your younger sister, Tumo, was impaled with a rusted nail when she was playing hopscotch.

You had to rush her to a dispensary – a lesser devil to a hospital – and watch in agony as she screamed from the administration of the tetanus shot.

Why are those hypodermic needles so huge? You wonder.

Right now, though, it’s not the hypodermic needles that are giving you jitters. It’s your friend, Chrissy, who collapsed in the nightclub you’d spent partying.

Well, she was the one who had partied. You were only there to make sure she didn’t do anything crazy.

But you’d let her drink way too much and now you have to stay awake at 2 p.m. thinking about her.

Even though right now you should be worrying about Chrissy and her situation, you can’t wait to step out of this hospital right now.

Only one hallway is lit up with a flickering fluorescent bulb which hums every now and then. Since you are alone in the waiting area, you decide it’s time you asked the nurse at the desk whether Chrissy is still fine.

“It’s been fifteen minutes,” she shoots back when you ask about Chrissy. “She’s barely even gotten assisted.”

You simmer up. This nurse must be the vilest of all. However, you remind yourself that this is a very lowly county hospital that Chrissy’s “friend”, John, took you to. You are lucky that he paid before leaving or else they wouldn’t let Chrissy out alive.

A shudder travels up your spine. You sigh and plunk back in the seat, grab the Playboy magazine in front of you and flip through it.

You don’t even question the fact that these are the kind of magazines in hospital waiting areas. A lot about this hospital has already irked you to the core.

It feels like a lifetime before the swing doors open up and a bespectacled man in a white coat walks out.

At last! 

You spring up and rush to the doctor.

“Is she okay? Is she going to live?”

The doctor is very calm. That should mean good news. Or he’s trying to mask the bad news. Damn!

“Your friend is fine. A few cuts to her shin and a fractured collarbone,” the doctor states. Your heart sinks. “She’s going to stay here for a couple of days for checkup and surgery on Sunday.”

But that’s church day! You feel like screaming at the doctor but there are more grave issues to address. Chrissy is going through a lot of pain.

“Can I see her?” You plead. Tears are on the brink of your eyes.

The doctor scratches his neck and then sighs. “Um, yes you can. But don’t wake her up.”

You stagger inside and are led into her room. There’s no way you believe this is real. She has never been hospitalized. Not in a million times.

The machines attached to her keep on beeping and the steady beat of her heart is the first sound you hear as you enter. Tubes and needles go through her wrist and arms, feeding her some sort of painkiller, as the doctor says.

He slides out and gives you a minute. That’s all you get, but not what you need.

As you watch Chrissy’s chest inflate and deflated rhythmically, your legs give away and you slump to the ground in tears. You can’t believe that your friend is on the brink of life and death.

You yearn to talk to her, to shake her awake and convince her that she’s okay.

But the IV needles and the paleness in her face tell you more than you need to know. You can’t.

The door opens behind you and you feel two strong arms lift you up. It’s the doctor. He gets you to a chair and looks at you like a rained-on puppy.

“She’ll be okay,” the doctor affirms. He pats your shoulder. “Now go home and pray.”

 

You hate your alarm. It’s your biggest nemesis and if you could, you would surely beat the hell out of it.

It’s Wednesday and not the brightest of days. It’s been a day since you left the hospital and took a cab back to your hostel in despair and trauma. You thoroughly miss Chrissy.

Your other two roommates, Izzy and Ma, are dead-asleep on the bunk beside yours. You don’t even know a lot about them, but they do know that you are a depressed person.

When they saw you hunching over your bed in tears the previous night, they didn’t need further explanation to know you were fighting mental exhaustion and grief. It’s the story of your life.

Beep.

Your phone lights up. It’s a text message. From Paul.

You push the phone under your pillow and shuffle to the bathroom. One look at your face confirms that you can’t be a Victoria Secrets model anymore. You need one of those Kylie make-up kits and an entire day to make your face glow once again.

Ouch.

You press the back of your neck lightly as you rub it gently and wince. It’s still as painful as shit. This is the reason you don’t want to talk with Paul, or even have a memory of him.

“Can I come in?”

Izzy’s tiny voice startles you at the door. She is wearing her Pink Panther pajamas and is clutching her crotch in mild pain.

“Sorry. Oh, yeah. I was just leaving,” you excuse yourself and let Izzy piss in peace. 😉

Your phone bings again and a text message flashes at the notifications bar. You grab the phone quick and then read out the message of which the sender is Sheila.

She says that she got your number from the university’s admission files and didn’t mean to seem intrusive. Somehow it doesn’t bother you that she got your number. At this moment, she seems like the most favorable person to speak to.

You text her back that you are willing to meet. Since she insists to pick you up, you text her your appropriate time and then heave a sigh of relief.

I need to talk with someone, you tell yourself, or I might just explode.

A quick shower and a rash change of clothes later, you are strolling towards the convocation hall where you and other sophomores are going to be addressed by the Vice Chancellor.

Your shyness naturally seeps in and you can’t help but cower as you find a seat at the extreme back. All those faces stare at you and your clutch-bag and immediately begin profiling you.

The seat you find empty is between two bulky guys who don’t even look up when you walk past them. You’d rather keep it that way. Almost everyone is either on their phone or laughing their lungs out in whimsical conversation.

Just stay low, don’t call attention to yourself.

You pull out your phone, which pales in comparison to those you have seen from other students. Heck, this is what you can afford. No need to compare yourself.

Paul’s text message is still pending on your notifications. You don’t need an invite to delete it as soon as you look at it. There’s no amount of calls or text messages will erase whatever happened.

The Vice-Chancellor arrives in stately fashion, dressed in long colorful overalls together with other deans. After uncountable speeches, the VC stands to address all of you. You don’t understand why you have to stand when he does, but you still do it obligingly.

Beep.

Your phone buzzes in your pocket. You can’t pick it right now. And neither can you walk out, since you will be calling attention, and unwanted too, to yourself.

The VC talks at length and breadth about the pursuit of education, discipline and world-class caliber of the university. Those are all words you have heard Uncle Garry say about this university. You can’t beg to differ.

“But before I dismiss you, first years, I have to address a very grave situation that has threatened to cripple this institution for so many years now…”

Beep.

Frustrated, you stab the volume button until Zahara’s Loliwe dies down. You don’t know who is this who keeps on calling at the worst possible time.

“Yesterday a case was brought forward about two first-year students who were spotted in a nightclub, drunk and disorderly. One of them was hospitalized and the other is yet to be heard from.”

The entire crowd breaks into murmurs and laughter. You can’t imagine! He is talking about you and Chrissy!

This is the sort of attention you didn’t want. You are so lucky that no names are disclosed.

“It is too early to start being waylaid by the temptations of the city under the sun. Take care, first years,” he says and waves as a wave of applause rants the air.

You are not clapping. You are dumbstruck.

Someone knows about you and Chrissy, and your plans to go out last night. And more importantly, they know about Chrissy’s situation.

Beep.

Finally, you can pick the call. It’s Chrissy’s doctor!

“Hey. I’m sorry I couldn’t pick your call. What’s wrong?” You hastily launch into speak mode, beads of sweat trickling down your forehead.

“Hello. It’s about Chrissy,” the doctor says in the most impassive tone. You can’t tell whether it’s good or bad news.

“Why? Is she okay?” Your heart beats faster.

“She’s not in her hospital bed. Or anywhere around the hospital grounds. We’ve checked everywhere and we can’t find your friend,” the doctor relays in a solemn tone.

God! No! 

What…do you mean? You can’t find her? How?” Your mood borders irate and worried at the same time.

“I’m sorry. So sorry,” the doctor says. It’s a tone of finality.

You are crushed. Deformed emotionally, and physically. Your best friend is missing. And you have no idea how to sort everything out.

 

 

 

College Hijinks

Being Part Of

“Dad?”

You are trying so hard not to choke on the tears that are welling up right then. There’s no way you want to cry in front of your peers – and the admissions board too.

Uncle Garry said that the University of Nairobi was not for sissies.

“Surprised I called?” He asks, trying to get under your skin.

I mean, he knows you two haven’t seen each other for the longest of times. And it would be a one-in-a-million chance that he would think of you or the family he left.

You debate with your inner self. Do you continue talking to the man whom you barely know, or do you rant about how he abandoned you?

The decision is hard. But your father doesn’t care that you don’t want to have the conversation.

“I don’t want to cause you any pain. I will hang up and leave,” he says somberly.

“Wai-” Your words are cut off mid-sentence. How rude of him! 

This day can’t be worse for you. First, it was Paul, and now your father. Did they sit down and decide to nag your head today?

You take a deep breath and compose yourself as your turn to present your admission letters winds up. The admission panel is smiling at you as you properly hand over every document that was asked of you in their 365-paged joining instructions guide.

They must think you are some sort of angel. Your lopsided smile, your courteous aura, the way you nod your head as they speak words of encouragement. It is all they want in a student.

A warm feeling thaws inside your chest and you immediately feel like you could reach the sky and high-five the sun. Everything is working out.

You promise yourself that you won’t tear up, or even think of your father and Paul. You are here for Tumo and Mama.

As soon as you are done, you begin the trek to your hostel. They are not world-class, but they are habitable. It’s not like you expected a bellhop to run and pick your bags, or a concierge to start reading off delicacies from their menu for you.

Pssshhtttt!

Even Uncle Garry would have known that and told you.

Halfway on the walk to your hall, you spot a very familiar face within the many freshmen heads around you. At first, you doubt yourself and wonder whether you are hallucinating.

Then you walk faster and reach the person you’ve been pursuing for the last minute. And it turns out you definitely know this person.

A shoulder tap makes the person turn their face to yours and then glow up brightly.

“Chrissy!!”

“K!”

This time it doesn’t bother you that Chrissy calls you K. She is your best bud, the kind that tolerates, loves, cries with you, laughs with and at you. The only being in the world that can call you any name and you’ll be with it. 😉

She wraps her arms around your neck and you embrace like you are still little kids.

You walk giddily into your hall and later find out that you have to share a room with Chrissy! Isn’t it what you just want?

“Wow, K. I am so glad to see you,” she says. “Now we can foot the water bill together!”

You belly-laugh. It sounds strange, but it’s been long since you laughed heartily. And only Chrissy makes you feel this way.

“College,” you say with a sigh, laying your head down on your bed. “Can’t wait. I know you can’t as well.”

“For the parties and cocktail drinks? I would die for that, K,” Chrissy exclaims.

You admire her personality and her looks. She does her natural bouncy afro with confidence and always likes her bangles. Guys would surely lust after her if she went to those parties.

“I was talking about books, Chrissy,” you say. “Finance sounds like a fun subject.”

“If you’re talking about money, money, money,” Chrissy says, her eyes widening. “Then I can see why it would be fun.” She then crosses her arms. “But seriously, you are an arms-length away from the city, K! ”

Oh. There’s only one thing about Chrissy that you now remember irks you. Her wild side. And her well-kept secrets that lie with you about her side jobs. You just hope that college can tame her a bit.

Just a bit.

You get caught in the spur of the moment and tell Chrissy all about your day, and the calls that threatened to derail you. This time you barely hold back the tears. You deserve to feel bad.

“Oh no, dear,” Chrissy says with the meekest of voices. She pulls you into a hug. “You are so strong to look so frail, K.”

“I know. But why is all this happening now? Why would my father call me? Or even Paul?”

Chrissy is pursuing Psychology and you hope she can diagnose you. But she has barely touched Psychology: A Concise Introduction by Richard Griggs to know what you are going through.

At this point, even Richard Griggs doesn’t have a clue.

“Leave Paul alone, K. He did just more than enough for you to even think about him,” Chrissy adamantly says, a fierce look crossing her eyes.

Yeah, no one messes with Chrissy’s domain.

Your eyes are red and swollen. You can’t stop sniffling and for some reason, Billie Eilish’s Bellyache song echoes in your mind. You are distraught and wasted.

Chrissy holds your face up and says, “You are a mess, darling. Let’s go out.”

“Now? I haven’t even unpacked,” you protest, wiping away your tears.

“Me too. So now we are even. Can we go now?” Chrissy says with a mischievous smile. “I have the perfect hangout for us, K. You’ll love it.”

You doubt it.

***

The club is nested at the corner of a street you don’t know. Even though it is eight in the evening, it looks like it’s the break of dawn.

Lights fill up the street and the adjacent buildings. Punk-ass rock music, dancehall, and reggae tunes drown out the hushed talks of the individuals in the club.

Even for Chrissy, this is quite an upgrade. You know well that she likes hanging out in dingy bars, gyrating on a pole all night. She calls it “drawing parabolas” just to throw you off the scent.

Today she decides to take you out to a fly club and you decide she is right. You are uptight and need to loosen up.

“The night is still young, K,” you hear Chrissy say. Damn, she spotted you almost tipping over in sleep. “Come over here and meet my friend.”

You zombie-walk to her friend. He’s quite old, you note. His hands can barely hold the glass of Crazy Cork and he’s using a hearing aid to hear you scream your name at him over Avicii’s Lonely Together.

Wow. For Chrissy, this is a downgrade, you tell yourself, trying to get yourself a glass of Fanta Pineapple.

“Thirsy, honey?” The bartender asks you, already reaching for an imposing tub of Vodka. “Chrissy’s paying. I can whip up someth’n.”

You smile slyly at him and hold your hand up. “Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t drink.”

The bartender almost gets into a fit. He has never served soda ever in his years as a bartender. He wonders whether he will serve it chilled, shaken or stirred.

What is soda? He almost asks out loud before handing you a glass of your favorite soft drink.

“Really, K? I pay and you want to drink soda?” Chrissy cries out as she joins you at the bar table. “Should have taken you for the church retreat then.”

“Chrissy, you know I don’t drink,” you say as you sip your soda gracefully.

Chrissy must be a hard-core person to have such a high tolerance. She has probably glugged more than a bottle or two and her eyes are not even droopy.

A song she definitely likes to rock to is tuned in. Everyone in the club gets into duo-position with their partners for the song. You haven’t heard of that song, but you appreciate the melodies and beats instantly.

Obviously, Chrissy goes to her partner and they start dancing. Well, she starts dancing. The old man seems to be zoned out. Clearly, it is Chrissy who is enjoying herself.

You feel embarrassed to see her like that. The back door is wide open. You wonder whether you can bolt out of here and go sleep already.

“K, come here and dance! Don’t stress!” Chrissy calls out for you.

I can’t leave her here. I just can’t.

One dance won’t hurt. You join Chrissy and you start swinging your bodies to and fro. The song really hypes you up. The old man has retreated to his seat and blacked out.

Chrissy looks at you. You look at her. You realize she looks sick. Her eyes are a deep shade of red and her lips are heavy.

She lets go of you and hits the turf in her own vomit.

Chrissy! 


 

 

 

College Hijinks

What Went Wrong

Your head is throbbing. Hard and fast.

You haven’t the faintest of ideas why you are in such a situation. The last time you felt this, you were with Paul.

But you don’t want such a feeling.

What happened? Did I black out? 

The first thought is where your phone is. And your satchel, which was a gift from your grandma. Hailed as the greatest sewer in your village, having the satchel was like having a part of her soul with you everywhere.

Guilt starts racking your head. And it doesn’t do good for the migraine that is building up. It is as if your head wants to explode.

All at once, everyone is rushing towards you. Feet are storming beside you, people with kind faces and worried eyes are all looking down on you.

“Hey! Hey! Are you alright?”

“What happened?”

“Don’t do anything. Call the ambulance first.”

“Does this bag belong to – ”

Too many words are being spewed out around you. But you are very sure you are okay. Wasn’t there something you were so excited for today? Or was it a hazy dream?

“I…I…am okay,” you stutter, barely catching a breath since everyone wants to look at the bug under the microscope which is you.

Someone holds your right hand and hoists you while another props your left hand on their shoulder. Support. That’s what you need at this time. You damn well know you might end up collapsing again.

“My satchel. Phone…” Your words trail off as your lips tremble and become heavy.

Who was calling me? Why did I even faint? Why won’t my head stop throbbing? 

“Here’s everything. Are you sure you’ll be fine on your own?” A kind-hearted lady asks you, handing you the satchel and the unscathed phone. “I could give you a ride.”

Between elbowing the throng of people along Tom Mboya Street and getting a ride in a Range Rover, there seems not to be a choice. You have to take the ride from the kind stranger and hope you can recollect all memories of what went amiss when you alighted.

The lady leads you to her car where she ushers you in and locks the door behind you. A faint Paco Rabbane perfume greets you as the lady begins to maneuver into a less busy street.

Pedigree.

You tell yourself that she is the kind of woman who has amassed wealth and still has a warm heart. They are a rare breed. Those whom you know have either or none.

“So, what’s your name?”

You don’t like when people get personal, but this is the lady that saved you from the sidewalks where you had fainted. Chances are that you just have to break the ice with this woman.

“K.”

“K?” She throws you a strange side-long look.

It happens. People think you are being a classic millennial, and that throwing single-lettered response is the mark of being “hip” and “cool”. Or you just don’t want to be bothered.

But you decide to stick with your nickname and tell the lady, “Yeah. It’s complicated.”

Like the rest of my life. 

“And what happened back there?”

You realize the lady is echoing your inner questions. There can’t lack a solid explanation. Maybe you just lost breath and fainted. Maybe it was Paul. Maybe it was the giddiness.

You shrug. “I have no idea. Probably a migraine.”

The lady introduces herself as Sheila and says that she works in a radio station. Deep down your fantastic brain, you convince yourself that you have heard that angelic voice somewhere. You might have met a celebrity!

You relax in the car and watch as Sheila drives you right through the University of Nairobi gate. Yes! Does this make me cool already? 

The car cruises to a stop and Sheila looks back at you with the most cordial brown eyes in the earth. She makes you think about your mother.

They have the same brown eyes, high cheekbones, and precise silky hair. You shake your head and realize Sheila is talking.

“I have to leave, K. But I hope you’ll be alright,” she says soothingly.

You nod. You are still assessing this angelic soul in a body and wondering why she extended such a hand of kindness to you. She could have just looked on at your gaunt body on the pavement and driven off.

“Thanks, Sheila. For saving me,” you say.

“No problem. And all the best,” she says and then drives off.

Did that just happen? 

As you wonder about Sheila, you realize that no one really gives a crap that you are standing where you are. Or you are hauling your bags and your garment is soiled along your left leg.

It’s as if you don’t exist, and it not, then they are very good actors.

On cue, your phone rings. This time you don’t miss a beat as you see it’s your mother that is calling.

“Hi mama.”

“Hallo! Can you hear me?”

It’s almost depressing that your mother is screaming at the phone due to the network hitches back at your home. If anyone was too close to you, they might think you were getting reprimanded.

“I can, mama. And I am okay. I just arrived,” you say. At this point, you know you are just stretching the truth and not lying.

Your mother responds with a “Bless you” and then breaks into a wordy prayer for you. A tear or two starts streaming down your cheeks. You do miss her already!

“Thanks, mama. And I love you so much. I will work hard. For you, me and Tumo.”

“We love you too,” you hear your little sister scream in the background and it almost ax-splits your heart.

You hung up and man up. You can’t cry here, now.

Another kind soul takes you to the admission queue where you are given a tag. Now that you are the three hundred and the ninetieth person on the queue, there is a reason for you to sit and wait.

And maybe check your phone.

Not many notifications. A Facebook friend request from a Cameroonian preacher. An Instagram comment under your recent picture where you took a picture with your mother and little sister two weeks ago.

It was a blurry one, and the comment drives that point quite harshly.

You immediately give up on Instagram and stick to Facebook. It’s barely harsh.

Then you peep at your call log and see that the call you missed at the commotion was Paul’s.

What does he want with me? 

Your mind tells you that he has changed. He was sober, after all. And he didn’t sound aggressive or angry.

But you can’t put his mistakes and “bad calls” behind him. He still deals in drugs. You can’t trust him. Not this time again.

Then you realize another phone call had come through. An unknown contact. You don’t call. The last time you topped up airtime, it was immediately flushed down the vortex by your local “generous” service providers. You still don’t understand how they do that.

Everytime.

After a half-hour of your patience being tested to the brink, you move some couple of paces along the admission queue. The panel at the admissions desk seems to be doing pretty well, given the fact that there is quite a crowd at your campus.

Then your phone buzzes.

The unknown contact. Is it Paul? Must be the freak! 

You pick up and curtly ask, “What now?”

“Oh. Aren’t you pleased to hear from your father?”


 

College Hijinks

College Hijinks I

College.

They called it “the place of opportunities” where “favor never runs dry”.

And by they, you mean your uncle. Uncle Garry. The one who used to live under the Thika Bridge in a soaked carton shack and now has relocated to the better slums of Kibera.

You wonder why your devastated uncle offers words of wisdom like some sort of Gandhi prodigy. It may be because he used to be a university dean, working in the famed University of Makerere before he had to flee from the shackles of the man-eating Ugandan head of state.

He told you how college was the place you were bound to have sex for the first time, meet trans-racial individuals and even bunk on classes!

His words excited you right before you had to leave and go to the city under the sun, Nairobae. Nairobi.

For some weird out-of-space reason, you are so excited to join the University of Nairobi that you can’t sleep the night before you leave. It could be that or because you don’t know whether you can trust Uncle Garry.

As you rest your head on your Winnie the Pooh themed pillow, you can’t help but wonder how life in Nairobi is. Of course, you had done your research – and you have also visited the city sometime in the past.

A shady website offering rumors on the mill had informed you that Nairobi girls always inflect in their speech (or twang) and they like a song known as “Leg Over”. And the Nairobi dudes have to don a faded hair coiffure and have an iPhone. Did it say that they were referred to as “cool kids”?

These warped ideas and more are still swimming in your mind even as you board the matatu that will shuttle you to Nairobi’s Odeon stage. Even as your little kid sister refuses to unhinge herself from your bear-hug and your single mother waves relentlessly at you, the mere thought that you are going to make your future brighter drives you on.

You don’t let the tears fall, even as a cloud of smoke wafts around your Sunday-best-turned-Monday-college-admission wear.

It can’t be that bad, you console yourself, settling next to an aging elder snoozing off at the front seat.

Too bad you can’t tune off the snores, the smelly driver’s socks, the cranky radio that constantly spews static…Already you hate the idea of traveling on this matatu.

But you are some kilometers into the town of Nakuru. The driver is speeding like he wants to rush to the next day at the very instant.

So many thoughts are swarming your mind. What sort of people will I meet? Will my hostel mates be friendly? The sex stuff…

In the racket, Fergie’s You Already Know lyrics “Fast life moving, ain’t no going slow” sip into your mind. You desperately don’t want to taste the fast life.

You swear to yourself that you will stay indoors and bury your head in books, only looking up to pray to God before pulling out an all-nighter.

You promise yourself that you won’t even try making new friends, you won’t step a foot into any club, no alcoholic drink will land on your tongue and every Sunday will find you in a church.

A gulp goes down your throat and clears all the doubt of the life you are going to start.

Bzzz.

There is a vibration in your left pocket. It’s Paul. Yes. The druggie you used to learn with in high school, the one who missed the college cut-off points by a whisker. You definitely don’t want any business with him. For more than the drugs reason.

As your thumb hovers on the reject button, you remember that he could be the only friend you know right now. And you know you have really stretched the definition of “friend” in that context.

You answer. Paul is sober, for the first time in a long time! He sounds ordered, calm and sane.

“Hi, Paul.”

“Hi K.”

A grimace flashes on your face. You don’t like when someone calls you by your nickname. Or just a letter.

“It’s been a long time. How have you been?”

The question almost chokes you. Paul wants to know about you. After four years. What do you tell him? That he was the one who wronged you, and not the other way?

Damn. Why did you have to call today? Why now? When I have to start anew? 

A few seconds to contemplate. Such decisions never used to bother you. You used to be rocky, hard-core. But the last few months have been nothing close to easy.

“I…I…No, thanks.”

You hung up. Stuff the phone in your African-themed satchel and press it between your legs. A sniffle almost makes you give in and bawl your tears away.

You are now on the outskirts of Nairobi, and you start to get the giddy feeling that you initially tried to suppress. Somehow the air has changed, the mood is uplifting and you feel like taking a picture and posting it on Facebook.

Lost in the rush, the matatu starts to buckle and slow down at the Odeon stage. You don’t even start to ask about how the driver escaped the traffic that is slogging down the Uhuru Highway.

The place of opportunities.

Wow.

There you are now. No one is standing in your way. Not even Paul. You have forgotten all about how you really struggled day and night to pass your high school tests to get there. The prayers you whispered, shouted and screamed.

What freedom! What vibrant energy!

The moment you step out of the matatu, the feeling of ecstasy has long withered. Your phone is ringing again.

Who now? 

As you turn to get your phone, someone hits your shoulder, another collides against you, another hits your knee. You look ahead of you at the busy Tom Mboya street and see a sea of faces and feet headed for you.

There’s no time to even answer the call. You are now trying to get to a safer position.

You have never seen so many people all at once. Suddenly you feel claustrophobic.

No! Not now.

You beg your chest not to start constricting but it is busy protesting its innocence. It is just reacting to what is happening to your mind.

Your legs start to turn to jelly. No sooner do you get to the sidewalk than you drop to your knees and your eyes roll backward.

Poof! 


Hi you! Thanks a bunch for reading my first College Hijinks post in the blog series. Did you like it? Well then you will love the next posts in the series. Be a good person then and subscribe so that you don’t miss.

And have a nice time, reader! 🙂