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Phantom-Interior

The night was to be event packed. Being a Saturday, I hence preferred to spend the day tucked in with frequent breaks to catch up on Designated Survivor or Legends. I was way past teenage years but today, no, tonight, I was to relive that whole notion of being a teenager.

I was exhilarated. There would be young boiling blood and hormones all around me and I was ready to capture it all through a keen eye and unperturbed curiosity of teenage life after ’07.

Why 07? Everything became f*cked up after that.

Evening approached promptly and soon I was being woken up by my teenage landlord’s daughter informing me it was time to live a little. In her teenage words, it was time to let go of old age and relive my youth.

Haaa..

In few minutes I was done getting ready. I chose sneakers over boots, a t-shirt over a shirt and a hood over a v-necked sweater. I didn’t want to look old in the midst of 17 and 18-year-olds. I wanted to have the little swag I had on fleek as I mingled with kids born post Millennium.

Heading out of the gate, I saw this flashy nganya packed at the middle of the road. It was some minutes past 9 so they didn’t cause as much inconvenience as they would have during rush hour. I say flashy because lights were emanating from every inch of its bluish body. I could see screens inside but no music was coming out of the minibus (nganya).

Hormone-full young people were strolling outside waiting for time to leave for the birthday party in some leafy suburb in Nairobi.

I was full of expectations. Having heard tales of how intense these teenage romps get and being in the middle of the action made me an insider into the action.

At exactly 8;45 some girl in combat wear came around telling us it was time to leave. She looked unsettled. Her hair was braided. They were thick braids. She wore no makeup and in the moonlight, she looked older than her age. I knew she was no older than 18 but she looked 23. Maybe it was the party, maybe it was some shitty family issues. I didn’t know for sure…

We were supposed to start boarding. She instructed everyone to get their Identity cards out as they were to be checked before boarding.

This meant that anyone under the age of 18 didn’t stand a chance. Coming straight to me, she asked me to be the one checking the identification documents. I didn’t know why she decided on me but I guess it was because I was the only one with a beard. Maybe it was the aura of uncertainty that was all over my face. But then, maybe it was because she was Sue’s friend. Sue was the landlord’s daughter.

I wanted to turn down the ask but then she folded her palms together, put them close to her heart and said pleeease?

I couldn’t say no to that so I obliged. As a dutiful Sunday school kid (mtoto wa Sunday school), I headed to the bus, asked everyone who was inside to step out and started checking the IDs. Everyone except Sue and I were born between 1998 and 1999. I felt old. I imagined the grey hairs on my head and squirmed. The youthfulness in the vehicle threatened me.

I don’t threaten easily.

As soon as the last kid stepped through the door, the screens came to life, the music followed closely, and the weed smoke reached my nostrils. The party had just begun. Soon bottles of cheap liquor were being passed around but I dared not taste the poison. The music soared through the nganya like an eagle on an up-draft, taking with it the very souls of the smoking crowd.

Everyone was loud. The music was loud but my insecurities were louder. I felt out of place.

This was going to be a long night.

I could smell her teenaged years. She reeked of teenagehood. From the way she talked to how she pronounced ‘like’ you could smell her 17.98 years of existence. I was however blown away by her confident personality. She knew what to say, how to say it, who to say it to and when to say it.

As she looked into my eyes in the dim moonlight, I knew she would be troublesome. There and then I decided that she wasn’t someone I would spend the weekend start talking to. However, the way she blew off boys who tried to fool with her locks, hold her waist or grab a piece of her when no one was looking made her appealing.

I have always had a thing for the rebellious type. The type that won’t stay in line… The type that insists on jumping the queue… The type that dances on tables at 2 am… The type that everyone else is afraid of engaging… The type that sits alone at midnight… The dangerous type…

So I knew she would be a handful. She didn’t seem enticed in kids her own age. Her eyes were set on the bearded guy. The elder in the room. The one with grey hairs in his subconscious.

She seemed pretty determined to get my attention.

But she was young. Her years were at least. Her body though, that is another story. She was flaunting it around and I didn’t have an option but to notice.

“Hello beard guy”

”Hello teenage girl”

My name is Aisha

I didn’t ask.

She laughed.

What’s funny?

“You are funny. It’s standard practice to say your name after someone tells you theirs.”

“There’s nothing standard about this conversation. There’s nothing standard about you or this night.”

She looked at me smiling as I said that.

“You’re Ken and you stay kwa Kina Sue”

“Yes. My name is Ken but I don’t stay kwa Kina Sue, I stay kwangu”
.
“Who says I stay kwangu anymore?”

“People intent on telling the truth. People intent on independence. People who don’t know who Wema Sepetu is say that”

She rolled her eyes. That surprised me. Not that I didn’t expect it from a 19-year-old, I didn’t expect to notice it in the moonlight. It was normal for her. Rolling eyes. The universe accepted it. We overlooked it. As adults, we understood that teens couldn’t do better.

We had stopped to fuel on Total station along Limuru road, just after Agha Khan. Being a weekend, the road was deserted and the sleepy-eyed station attendant wasn’t amused by the millions of teenagers alighting the ride. He didn’t care less.

“Can someone eka coloring life by Vybz”

Asha screamed.

As if on cue, the driver bonyezad some buttons and everyone was screaming as they danced to the tune. They seemed to know the lyrics to the whole song.

The gas station transformed from being a filling point to a dancefloor.

These teens had energy. Almost every female character had a tiny short, boots and a low cut top. I watched in awe as groins were rubbed through dirty dancing, girls whined…

Then came Tippy Toe by Femi

I watched in bewilderment as faces changed from innocent post-teens to crazy party moguls…

Ken

The authorKen

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