Waithera, My First Love

She looked at me directly in the eyes and asked if it was true that I had asked her out (through her friend), rendering me tongue tied. My 14 year old self had never imagined to ever hear such words from a girl. I was the shiest boy I knew in the world, and here, this happy and amazingly courageous girl was ready to have a relationship with me. At least that’s what I had asked for. A relationship.
Waithera was a lively soul. She had two best friends; Abi and Stella Kapera, whom I used to open up to about my interest in her. I just had no guts to look at a girl and tell her that I ‘wanted’ her. First, My English wasn’t good enough. Second, which beautiful girl would accept me as her boyfriend? I should have had a big sister. Perhaps it would have helped at the time.
I said yes, but God knows my heart was dying to come out. I was breathing with my ears. She excused herself to go to the washrooms, and when she was back, the ‘relationship’ was on a roll.
The next day, Waithera wrote me a love letter that she sent someone to hand me at home time. At Class 7, I had only tried to gain the special friendship of one girl who was a neighbour, the first one to write me a letter saying how much we could not be. I read it painfully and even had the guts to store it. Mother discovered that piece of paper under my mathematical set one evening, two weeks after Valentines. The thorough beating that ensued was enough to make me swear that I’d never approach a girl ever in my life again. Everyln was gorgeous. But we were two boys who wanted her and she chose none of us. We were both 12 at the time. Gendia and I are great friends to date. I do not know whether the girl we both ‘loved’ is still alive. Hopefully.
I was dying to know the contents of the letter. Waithera did not have the best of handwritings (she’d kill me if she reads this). I sat in front of the school bus with the kindergarten children on that evening to escape the mockery of my peers; the backbenchers. And there I met her words. They were blissfully heavy as tonnes of flowery magnets, luring me into falling for them. How could such a beautiful girl agree to be my girlfriend? Where was I going to start being his ‘boy’ (since we can’t say man)? What was I going to tell her the next day?
I’d steal mother’s Sagem phone to call the landline at their Kileleshwa home. Sometimes it was her voice only that I wanted to hear then go speechless and she’d wonder why the hell I called if I had nothing to say. But I reckon she understood me. She understood where I came from.
Those last two years of primary school were funny. She became my desk mate in Class 8. That’s the best thing Mr.AMollo, our class teacher, unknowingly did for me. But we were eventually separated because we couldn’t concentrate in class.
I have never seen her since. Two years into secondary school, someone hinted to me that she was at Moi Girls High School, Kabarak. I sent her a birthday card that year but never received a reply. That was enough. I had to move on.
Today, she is a serious Formula 1 fan. I doubt she knows I’m a poet; that I’m good in English these days and that I can face her without getting shy. Oh, how life has a crazy way of teaching us things.

Post Author: Eric Onyango Otieno

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