Thursday, November 10, 2011

University and The Girl

She is about 5’6, dark complexion and a pretty face on her. She has a head scarf and a white jumper which under normal circumstances would be a major no no. She has on a long denim skirt with a triangular patch of white material decked with an array of designs. Her nails are long, glassy and well kept. Two toes peek out of the tip of her sandals. She just stands there, staring into nothing probably thinking about her future, or last Friday’s reveling. I walk up to her, ignoring the people on the long winding queue. She is beautiful, no, stunning. Her simplicity emboldens her elegance, she might as well be clad in designer garments, heck she might as well be nude. I suck in some air, push up my chest and move in. Her name is Tina*.

Forget the head scarf...

Okay, fine.

I met her on January 8, 2007. It was a Monday afternoon, hot, dry; the best Athi River could offer. We had been grouped, the lot of us. Each group had its leader and I could hear them refer to us a ‘my children’, it sickened me. Here, I was nobody’s child. For all I cared I was my own man and I was not going to take anything from anyone, well except her. She stood in the finance and accounts queue with nothing but an orange paper folder in her hands. She held it magnificently, like a lady. I looked down at mine, already damp from clammy hands. What the heck, I thought…and moved in. I told her my name, my real name (I was not going to make her think I was one of those F2 jam session Rasta color clad obohos from Eastlands, so no, Ras would not suffice)

she told me hers. I told a joke, she smiled. I was in. We chatted, she was from Westlands (I later learnt she was from Kabete) She had two older brothers (I didn’t care much, soon after I learnt none of them was in the army or a trained licensed killer) and she wanted to become a teacher. I wasn’t surprised and you can’t blame me. Only a teacher would wear a headscarf, jumper and denim skirt on her first day in university.
We became best friends, inseparable. We shared jokes, classes, friends and enemies. We argued, made up, and at times… (I’ll leave that part out).

This went on for a year, and then it all went south.
It was a slow gradual drift. I started making new friends, she went back to her old friends. I changed my lifestyle (which means I reduced the number of days spent looking for the elusive hangover remedy), she wasn’t as motivated to change her life. But all these changes were nothing compared to what happened when I met Val*. In no time, Tina was gone, old news, MySpace. We tried everything: random meet ups, phone calls, texts, nothing. It was gone.

Val was nothing like Tina. She never wore a head scarf, she said it made her head look small, she had short finger nails and she never wore denim skirts. She didn’t play an instrument (Tina played the guitar, bass, recorder, flute, drums, piano, saxophone and she sang), she loved her iPod though. She wanted to join the corporate world. She loved the whole thing: suits, meetings, suits, pitches, strategy papers and suits. We were friends, good friends. We shared friends, she thought my jokes were silly and we even shared a few classes. I met her family (well part of it, her dad looked like a bigger version of Kojak so I avoided him like the plague…or Kojak) she met mine. We fought, we made up, we… (You know the drill). She became my first girlfriend in campus and Tina became the girl I once knew.

Pictured: Old news, in this case, Tina
Then it all changed. A year and some later I had my heart broken for the first time in campus. For a while, nothing made sense. Life was sh*t. She moved on, Val, graduated and moved to another town. Her life moved on, mine stopped.

Thank you Val, you evil *****

While my life was on pause, I met a few more. Now these are a bit interesting. While my life so far had been well padded by a close friendship and a romantic relationship, both taking up half of my campus life it is at this point in my life that I realized that I was prey, I always had been and it seemed that Tina and Val had formed a force-field around me that protected me from what I will call, for the sake of this post (and my security) The Other Girls. The Other Girls offered me comfort, solace in the emotional turmoil that had become my life. We ate together, laughed together and when it rained, I spent the night wherever the downpour got me. But The Other Girls were evil. They made me do things (said in a deranged whisper) and I realized I had to kill them…which would have been really awesome if they were zombies (and I suspect they were) but I stopped hanging out with them they crawled back into the darkness where such wenches lay.

Pictured: Pure Evil

This story should end here with me learning that women are crazy and clearly not good for me, but what fun would that be?
Later I went on to meet other ladies who would continue to make my life in university a collection of amazing memories that would need its own blog to narrate.
But this story is about Tina.
You see, university does a lot to people. People change. In fact, there is no greater show of the consistency of change than in the corridors of university. We join, we meet new people, learn new things, meet more people who teach us more things and before we know it our before-after photos are no different from Michael Jackson’s. Through this wave of change, Tina never, not even in her gait, changed. She was always the girl with the smile, glassy finger nails (though at some point she started biting them…why oh why) and long skirts. She always had a head scarf and always looked like she was thinking of her future or last week’s party at Koki’s*. She always treated me like her best friend, like she always had. Even when she went to the states on tour with a singing group she came back as the Tina who I met all those years ago.
I decided to write about her. Not because I realized that I’ve always been in love with her and this is some soppy Hollywood attempt at winning her heart (girlfriend would kill me) but because as I look at my hair, my dressing, my lifestyle and even my writing I notice one thing, through the various influences that came my way, ups and downs, fashion fads, writers who make me feel like I should rethink my career choice (ahem Biko) I still try to remember who I am and keep it that way. That I could only learn from her, the one person I know who all through campus, stayed true to herself.
I went to her graduation party a few months back and as her family was saying things about her childhood and her achievements and while her father proudly told us about ‘his little girl’, all I could see was the girl in the black head scarf, white jumper and long denim skirt; the girl who showed me how to get through university. And with a wry smile, staring at her father I wished away the memories of his little girl and I….
Beautiful, ain't she?

Incase I disappear mysteriously, girlfriend read this post... I'm just saying....