But I’m still a second-year 

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It is that time of the semester when tables have turned. Guys are hell broke. The mess if flooded. Low quality food that used to be neglected is now on its highest demand ever. As Babu puts it: when the semester begun comrades were feeding on chicken, two months into the semester they started feeding like chicken. And now as we climb up the remaining hill of the semester, comrades are feeding with chicken. Rice and beans has become too crucial a meal. It has actually become the talk of the campus. You ask guys what they’re going to munch on at the mess and a greater proportion of them tell you, “tunaendea default” rice and beans is what they term default. Grown ass comrades pocket spoons to the mess as if going for war – pocket spoons because their campus leaders are too busy screwing girls around with the little salary the school provides them with, to the extent they forget to champion students’ grievances.

End semester exams are kicking off next week. The Media and Politics lecturer has wished us good luck in the imminent papers. He’s hardly walked out of class when Janet* makes for my desk, closes my book and lifts me out of my seat. I obey. Two steps past the door, this rowdy class fella shouts my name and demands I should wait for him. So Janet and I lean against the balcony (outside class) to await him. Janet inquires what time it is, I dip my right hand in the pocket and take out my phone, the phone says it’s 1:13 p.m. That chap is taking exceptionally too long to come out, I’m forced to text him “utanipata mbele” cause I can feel my belly complain of lack of matter in there. Plus I’m keeping Janet here for so long. I don’t know what that guy is discussing with the class rep that has kept him in class for more than 5 minutes.

We start walking along the corridor slowly as we create time for that dude to catch up with us. By the way I haven’t told you who Janet is. Let me briefly describe her,she’s a brilliant ambitious girl – she’s always insisted that I call her ‘girl’ and not ‘lady’, or worse ‘woman’. We are friends. I’ve told her severally that I envy the man that will get hitched to her, but ni sawa tu. “We take these things to your room kwanza ama twende nazo Java?” She queries. Java is the fast-food joint that substitutes the school mess in this campus. Comrades say that food down there (at Java) guarantees good nutrition. Her question is immediately interrupted by Milka* who butts in and requests me to buy her lunch. It’s like Milka has been trailing behind us and eavesdropping on our conversation. Anyway that’s how she finally joins us (me and Janet).

“By the way Achman, you never reply my texts. Or you don’t have my phone number?” Milka adds.

“Huh! Which texts?” I probe.

You see, it’s always hard to talk two ladies at a go. Especially in my case here – where Milka and Janet have never shared a hairstyle. That’s to mean they aren’t friends. I’ve neither witnessed them interact nor seen them form one group meant for class assignments. It’s hence hard to initiate a conversation that can actively involve the duo. Girls always want equal attention and that’s what I can’t guarantee here. I’ll either talk too much to Milka and neglect Janet, or the other way. But surely I don’t want to engage in any conversations with Milka for a reason I’m yet to disclose. I’ve never wanted to talk to her since that fateful day.

***

It’s our third week in campus. Or should I say it’s my third week in campus. When I woke up today, I promised my soul that I was going to exchange a word or two with the beautiful Milka. So when the class elapses, I gather enough courage and approach her (outside) – the kind of energy that a confused fresher can ever collect. I reach her and open my arms wide for a hug. She takes two paces backwards, rolls her eyes, and does her mouth the way girls do when they don’t want you around them. She then stretches her arm to greet me with a faked smile. I make a quick check at my dressing for about ten seconds, I lift the collar of my shirt and smell my chest to check whether I’m stinking. I’m not stinking. The only smell I can notice under my shirt is the scent of Axe Dry (Excite) roll-on.

After confirming that I’m all fine, I stretch my arm out too for a handshake – one wise man said, never ignore a stretched arm, you never know what it holds for you. Our conversation lasts roughly two minutes, within the two minutes I request to have Milka’s phone number but she refuses. “Number tutapea fourthyear ama fresher kama wewe? Ken twende” she picks that dudes hand and they march away. The embarrassment! I crawl to my room and collapse in my bed. Life goes on. I mind my business and only talk to her when it’s necessary, like when one of the lecturers force us into one group for an assignment. Or when we meet along the many corridors around.

So today she is here asking why I don’t reply her texts. Oh! And she says I should buy her lunch too? Ok, lunch I can buy, but replying her texts? No. That I can’t. By the way she is one of the reasons I decided to hide my last seen and to deactivate my message receipts on WhatsApp. Haha, guys have been asking this. I actually don’t understand why she should text a guy she refused to lend her phone number two years back. I have never found the guts to chat her up since that incident. It’s not that I bear a grudge against her, no this is not a grudge. A fresher gathers sufficient vigor to hug you and ask your number and you snob and avoid him? And you stretch out your arm instead of the hug he expected! And you expect that he will forget that in his entire life? You think he will just take it lightly? You think he can again create space in his dialer for your contact? No! Madam things don’t happen that way.

My gods do not permit me to do such a disgraceful thing. Ok, I respect women, and girls, and sluts. The same way I respect Milka. But I think she should just continue dishing out her numbers and whatever she has or owns to fourth-years as she clearly put it that day. I don’t and will not want anything to do with her phone number or her hug. Maybe until I become a fourth-year. Even if she sneaked into my room, stripped naked and displayed her ‘fundamentals’ in front of me, I wouldn’t take it. I mean the number, leave alone her fundamentals.

“You are buying me lunch? Asks Milka.

“Sawa” I retort.

“Aki thankie Achman, basi have my number.”

“But I’m still a second-year!”

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