By Kimaru Kokota
Like the smell of a rotten egg patched on a cloth, the odour of events that transpired that day has permanently refused to leave your brain. You still get that feeling whenever December staggers to take its place and space on the calendar. You have since tried to forget it. But then, possibility is a word yet to be injected into the dictionary of your struggle. You are like that bitter lover who thinks of how terrible her ex was because he used to bite his nails but still find her hands twitching on his DM, aching to write him a text. You just can’t move on.
Whenever you think of it, you see the 12 year old you amongst an exuberant lot of children. Pregnant with expectations and the childhood ecstasy that comes with knowing that the saviour was born of a woman. Not only a woman, but a virgin. A Virgin! Your Sunday school teacher’s face always lit up whenever he mentioned the word virgin. It was a word that seemed to be packed with a unique respectable honour that was only used on Mary. Not Mercy, Sharon or even Brenda, just Mary. You liked the name so much that you promised yourself to use it, at least once, to cover for the creativity impotence in your compositions. It was on the same line of Mary and virgins that you pitched the idea to go for renditions a skit on kuzaliwa kwa mtoto Yesu.
The face that your Sunday school teacher put on was characteristic of the one he had whenever talking about Virgin Mary. It is how you knew it was a great idea. The other children were summoned and it is how you found yourself in a queue. They were all shining in their new Christmas clothes, faces shining with Vaseline and innocent smiles which were their natural make up. You were also elegant. Only that you had a decoration, a natural ornament, that hang from the mouth of your nose. The ornament was like two rivers that ran from the nose to the lips with obnoxious slowness. Nevertheless, you were trim and ready to play mtoto Yesu part.
Hands were raised whenever a character was mentioned. From the hands raised children were assigned roles to play. Some got roles without a whisper while with some, a heated debate ensued. The three wise men, the manger owner, Joseph, infamous eye witnesses and the donkeys were found. The only vacant slots remaining were for Virgin Mary and Mtoto Yesu. You were still hopeful since the slot for mtoto Yesu was vacant. The teacher’s face lit up in a way you all knew whatever he was going to say next was about a virgin. Only a hand was raised. It was Penina, the girl from over the ridge. It was a direct entry for her. No other girl in the grouping could compete against her. Like a jigsaw puzzle, her character and face perfectly fitted the role of Virgin Mary. All the boys in the village and the next knew that she had never ever played kalongolongo. She was a true virgin Mary, this Penina.
After it was all settled, you remember your hand shooting up even before the teacher opened his mouth. You were the cockroach amongst them but your confidence couldn’t be housed in the body of an elephant and a hippo combined. They all stared at you like you had just transformed yourself into a black cockerel as it happens in Afro Sinema. At first you thought that it was another case of direct entry. You then looked around and saw the halo of surprise and disbelief they wore on their heads like a crown on a model.
I want to be mtoto Yesu .
Your utterances were received with guttural grunts of disapproval. You looked at them, the teacher included, with a look that imminently said, Yaani you guys don’t get it?
You can’t be baby Jesus! Millie said and then continued in her soft childish voice. ..Yesu hakuwa na makamasi kwa mapua.
Embarrassingly, you touched your nose as if to confirm whether all she said was true. It is then that you met the thick syrup that had been your face decoration for as long as you could remember. Another two rivers were added to your face, only that this time around they flowed from the eyes. You cried your small heart out. Partly because no one approved of you playing the role you so much dreamt of, but mostly because your Christmas was ruined. How could it ever be the same with the kind of embarrassment?
You have now probably grown older. You are not supposed to be troubled because, it happened while you were a kid. At the time, the only thing you were passionately kissing was the tips of Coca-Cola bottles. Smartphones and the slavery of social media had not tiptoed to your analogue world. Christmas meant new clothes, vibrant talks with aunties, playing hide and seek with nephews and nieces late into the night. It was Christmas in December and even lice on beds in ushago knew it.
Sadly, for you, it will never be Christmas in December. The memory of you wanting to be Mtoto Yesu with mucus is still fresh among your childhood peers. Whenever you visit ushago for Christmas, after saying how much you have grown and asking when you’ll get a wife, the question next on queue, is whether you still remember that incident. It irks you to say the least. You will have to accept it, or better, get used to it.
Until then, it is no Christmas in December.
About Kimaru Kokota
Kimaru Kokota describes himself as a kick ass writer,avid reader and photographer with no camera.He is also a Bathroom singer and a Dancer in bad dreams. Kimaru is the Writer in Chief at Kokota Tales where you can read more of his punchy tales.