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Sleeves and Fists

Sleeves and Fists


I believe in my heart that in any man’s life, there is always a point words will fail to communicate what we feel. Instead, we will opt for silence, but that too will prove futile. In this event, only one thing speaks louder than the previous two: fists.

I can feel eyeballs turning in contempt, please relax and listen.

You see some nerves beg to be touched. A man’s mother, girlfriend, brother (this is not the association by blood relationship, it’s the close friends dynamic), sister (by blood), grandmother and when we want to impress a bird that has our heart. You may shake your head and wonder who are these archaic men that still fight over trivial issues like impressing a girl? I’m sorry to inform you that yours truly is one of them.

We had just moved to a new neighbourhood which means I had to switch schools. After a long search for the ‘perfect’ school with dearest mother, we found a school deep in a forested place where we shared our lunch with monkeys. I liked it, really, albeit we were beaten like dogs. There was a fresh and chilly ambience with the smell of wet wood that made us all want to fornicate. This is primary school, by the way.

Yours truly here settles in a class where for the first time, he meets a person with exactly the same name as him. It perturbs me, and I hate that I share a name with this boy. This is also the school that introduces me to sexual relationships. Not that I didn’t know them form El Cuerpo Del Deseo, no, it’s just that in this school, they were open about boyfriends and girlfriends, and who was dating who, and who kissed who, and who kissed who, where; the whole shebang really.

Here’s where the violence came in.

In case of a deadlock where two boys wanted one girl, sleeves would be rolled up to the shoulder and fists would fly. It was the simple rule that maintained peace and harmony among the natives.

Two weeks in, I’m acquainted to the premise. I know the people and all the rules that govern them. I know that to be ‘cool’ and respected, I need a girlfriend under my name. I settle for Mercy (her real name, leo hatuogopi), a girl with the ego of a Nairobi Diaries’ socialite. And just like those socialites, she lived and breathed drama but had their body. It is what appealed to me in the first place. I start talking to her regularly, forcing myself into study groups she’s in and at one dark embarrassing moment, winked at her in the middle of class. All the while, Elvis is doing the same.

People around notice and start asking questions. I am the first to admit to the ‘squad’ that I like her, then Elvis. A deadlock. A date is set on a lunch break at a fight corner where trees towered, away from teachers and any form of authority. We were beasts in a forest.

The Battle of the Forest

On the day of the battle, my heart pounded and I started reconsidering my choice of war. Si I’ve lived all this time without a girlfriend, why start now? It’s not that she’ll bake me cookies and bring them to school every day and we’ll eat them under the swaying trees enjoying a cool breeze. Kwanza, it’ll be the opposite, every snack I bring she’ll have to have and I’m not looking to lose weight soon. Eh, I have to…

Before I am done recapping my dumb decision, I am interrupted by chants and war cries by diabolical boys with thin decrepit ties knotted around their foreheads. We both have our supporters behind us, charged up and ready to intervene if they smell any whiffs of foul play. It is all very barbaric and ancient and looking back, I am not proud.

As it has always been since the Biblical Cain and Abel fight, a line is drawn between the two fighters and whoever crosses it first has instigated the fight. Most experts worldwide advise that it is wise to never cross the line first, but they were not there to tell me this that day. So with the zest and courage of only a young bull, I thrusted my heavy body over the line. That decision falls under my top five worst decisions because yours truly was down and enduring thorough beating in seconds. To be honest, details are hazy and all I remember is Mercy staring down at me with a few of my ‘supporters.’ (I quote supporters because, where were they when I was being mauled by this beast?)

Life: 1 Simon: 0


I did not win that day; not the girl or the fight. And since then, I have not been involved in any fights but I’ve got pretty close. Once was with a tout who feigned a dire case of amnesia when he claimed I that had given him two hundred shillings when in truth it was a crisp one thousand shilling note I had just withdrawn from the ATM. For one, I saw the figurative red because I am sapere, and you know that thing about saperes and money. In that battle, I won.

Life: 1 Simon: 1

The only other time, was a trifling quarrel that started with delayed payment of bread by yours truly here. You see, there was a point in high school I had lost money and I couldn’t buy a loaf to pay this chap. So I tell him this and he thinks I’m pulling his leg and gets emotional about it. The conversation escalates fast, profanities of sexual innuendo are hurled, and hormones and emotions are flaring. Then the sleeves and the fists.

In all honesty, who do you think broke the tie between life and me?

For the sensitive ones: This post is a not about violence, nor propagating it. It is about life. Cheers!

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King is a mad writer on the loose. He is suspected to have lost his mind a few years after he was born. Since then, he has been writing his mind almost everywhere he can put his pen on. Someone – a government, a state, a police force, a parent, a teacher, a rabbi, a president, a sacco, a doctor, a deranged ex, a church, a therapist, or anyone with a bit of power bestowed upon them – should reprimand him and help him.