Hide and Seek
Three little boys sat in the huge shade of an indigenous tree. Around them, napier grass flapped in the breeze. Cypress trees lined the fence. It was the perfect spot to hide. They could see the road but couldn’t be seen.
As they waited it out, it occurred to them that their names weren’t cool enough. In the enviable spontaneous nature unique to kids, they decided to pick out new nicknames.
Lazima ianze na Oku na ikue na mnyama. Sawa?
The seeker passed by, peering into known hiding spaces. All over the teachers’ quarters, she smoked kids out of their hiding places. Then raced them to the tapping wall.
She passed by again. Okusimba, Okunyani and Okung’ombe decided it was time to end the game. They crept slowly out of their hiding place and made a maddening dash for the wall. A spectacular finish yet again.
Three little boys with cool nicknames needed more adventure. Hide and seek just wasn’t kicking it. Why not walk from school through the forest?
Walk they did. Every Saturday after the half-day lessons, they snuck in line with the kids that walked home. Little boys with cool names don’t take the bus.
They would walk towards Nala hospital and turn right into Otiende estate. From there it was straight on until they came to the winding paths, crossed the stream and walked into the forest. Along the way, they discussed the tall tales they would tell their younger playmates.
An hour later, they would emerge and walk to their respective homes.
It was along this route that the trio first spotted a couple making out. Well, first time outside the movies. (Years later, a few trees away would hang the body of a local kindergarten teacher. Thankfully, they wouldn’t be walking through forests by then.)
ALSO READ: How The Brave Die.
Three little boys with cool names who can walk through a forest need to have some coins. After all, what’s a man without a shilling to his name? Especially if the name is Okunyani or Okusimba or Okung’ombe.
And so, they made money. Together with other boys, they collected scrap metal throughout the week. They combed through the one hundred acres of Kakamega School, taking anything that had a ding to it.
When the mass collected was substantial, the metal band (hehe) would rendezvous on a Sunday afternoon. Time had come to turn metal into metal that could buy stuff.
Every member was required to show up barefoot and in their dirtiest clothes; for camoflouge purposes. No need being recognized by someone that knows your parent while you’re hauling two sacks of scrap metal.
Assembled, they’d throw the sacks over the porous fence and walk to a flat in Amalemba. There, a lady weighed the merchandise on a scale and paid them. She had a soft spot for this band that ran a clean business; they never put sand in the sacks to create a false mass.
Their earnings would be splashed on hot oily samosas, the biggest sweets and an endless supply of ice. Soft life from hard metal.
Facing the Music
Three little boys with menacing names, legs that go through forests and questionably deep pockets are bound to get into trouble.
It was on a Saturday afternoon. Okusimba and Okunyani had just finished rewatching Bud Spencer and Terence Hill’s ‘Watch out, We’re mad‘. They’d decided they could afford to sit out the day’s treasure hunt.
As they sat outside Okusimba’s house, Okung’ombe, his brother and another kid shuffled past. Dan the cat-whiskered watchman marched right behind them. Their goose had been cooked.
Okunyani and Okusimba waited a few minutes before gathering the courage to follow Dan and his prisoners. The duo watched from a distance as Okung’ombe’s mother rained hell on the unlucky chaps’ behinds with the handle of a hoe.
Needless to say, the metal band went out of music. Three little boys with cool names and who could walk through forests, now had empty pockets.
Back to hide and seek. Okunyani and Okusimba would hide in a seemingly easy to find spot then exchange shorts. When the seeker approached the spot, they let just their bums come into view.
The unsuspecting seeker would call out the wrong name.
Right into the trap. Misidentification is sacrilege in hide and seek.
They’d come out shouting, “Umevunja nyungu! Umevunja Nyungu!”
As such, the seeker had to restart the game.
Oh, and the three little boys’ nicknames never caught on.