Nothing is safe in that place. Not your half-used container of shoe polish or your half-utilised piece of soap. Neither your clearly-labeled cup nor your worn-out pair of socks with holes on them. It became sort of a culture that by the end of the school term, no one is wearing his own pieces of clothing. The thievery had seeped into the very fabric of school culture. Students, mostly juniors, had even resorted to lock their clothes up on the hanging lines with a padlock just as an extra layer of security. This was futile as they came to discover when all they could see on the lines were their padlocks. And so, it did not come as a shock when Ole woke up one morning and found out that of the clothes he had hung just next to his bed, including his three pairs of underwear, the only thing left was the little drying drops of soapy water on the floor. Damn, those night crawlers who pilfered his belongings were in super stealth mode. But the weekend had just peeped in and so Ole didn’t worry much, because the weekend brought with itself, its own forms of relief.
He strides along in slow, paced and seamlessly calculated steps. In his movement, he drags with it a deep rooted demeanor of hype and groove. His non-smiling face and clean-shaved head deflect off the four-o’clock sun rays of that Friday afternoon. His goggle-like spectacles bounce up and down his nose as he turns his head from side to side like a bubble head, probably to the beat he will later play in the ‘club’. His sweater has coiled around his neck, much like a scarf, and his shirt has found its way out of its rightful place inside his trousers. It is Mwamba. In his left hand, he wields a HD digital radio, which he has borrowed from his Kiswahili teacher, supposedly to listen to recordings of Kidagaa Kimemwozea. But it will not serve its purpose for this particular day. It will be superseded by a much more innate desire.
As dusk engulf the day, and the preps die down, the devils of the night seem to roam freely in the air. When the stillness has had enough of its time and some early sleepy-heads have sunk themselves deep in between their sheets, there is a small crowd gathering somewhere in one of the dorms somewhere. There sometimes feels like a whole other world in the school that only some people are aware of. In a common room, the lights are turned off. There are a few hushes and whispers as the device is plugged in. People are uneasy. They have come in their vests and topless selves, in crocks and sandals, but others still have their full uniform.
“Weka doba!!” Put some dancehall.
The radio coughs out a beat. In a whimper, the guys are in the zone There are dancers and there are watchers. But at the point in time, in full darkness, it is the dancers who steal the show. In the little light penetrating the windows, Bilal is in a corner, moving his chest and arms in a wayward manner. Fabian has moved his stick-like legs like a jelly fish. Saalash has just joined the party and the music is at max. If one looks closely, he sees another one dancing himself wild as if some chick in his imagination was under his spell. The room is sweaty. Fifteen minutes of this club-like intensity and Nzomo takes over the radio. With that, enters all the house music. Everyone knows that Nzomo will one day be a DJ, and so, why not let him take over.
You could feel the goose bumps tear apart your skin as trance beats rise up in a crescendo. The beats are slowly turning people into energy-filled pieces of pure brutal verve and vitality. Swedish House Mafia. Heads are rolling, hands are raised and bodies are jumping up and down. You could hear the sound weaving its way into your skin and into your brain, making you surrender yourself into the rhythm. In that place you had no choice but to leave the world behind you. It’s a psychedelic nonsense. If one wasn’t so drunk in the flow, one could see the grey gas rise up from the floor, and creep its way up into the whole room. It was now a real life club. With all the ‘party smoke’ surrounding the bodies. It was not until they started losing their breaths that they noticed. Fucking Carbon Dioxide. It was all too hyped up, and some fool had opened up a fire extinguisher while everyone else was in the trance. People scattered, unable to loosen themselves anymore. Like a riot, after the air had cleared, there was no one.
Shhhhhh. Don’t tell.
It was two days now. Ole had decided to go on with life but he couldn’t ‘burn’ his underwear for another day. That Monday morning, as he showered, he washed his boxers thoroughly, so that they could last him a week now. Ole placed it under his mattress, a safe-enough spot. But now it would mean that he would have to be careful for that day, in order not to cross paths with any of his teachers.
As the day waned towards the afternoon, Ole could now feel his but ache against the brutal flat hardness of his wooden seat. He tried sitting on his thighs, but curse his emaciated thinness for robbing him of his weight. Ole had thought once about mass gainers, and how the school rugby team had gotten into a frenzy with that stuff. They were mixing the stuff with everything, from breakfast tea to the stew at supper. In their defense, it was a better way to get into the first team. However, Ole was quite contempt the way he was. It was while he up and down, that he could feel his thing tagging along, in between his legs, freely. Somehow it clicked in him, that for the first time, he was a ‘bell ringer’.
The process is insipid. Drifting. It starts with one person. Maybe the one seated right next to a wall where the body can lie at peace. At first, the sounds become like waves that translate into a slow-tuned orchestral piece. They lose pitch as they come out of the teacher’s mouth. Then, as the eyelids slum shut, it becomes sort of a wrestle with conscience. With the body, depleted of its reserves of energy, one cannot do anything but simply give in, as the heads oscillate up and down like a pendulum. This turns into a force of sleep that its tendrils engulf even the strongest-willed person. Ole felt himself drifting.
It becomes a state whereby the body lets the mind wobble away into the unknown, transcending the being and ploughing into the sub-conscious of the self, and into the inner-most fears and desires. It takes the person into a journey, across time and space, where everything is limitless. It is at this time, when the mind has deliberately sought a path of its own, that it seems to leave the body in such a sweet slumber.