The most I had seen of sex by the time I joined secondary school was during an evening prep session back in primary eight when I dropped my eraser accidentally. I bent under my desk to find it and there, underneath the last desk on our row, Nancy Wendo was playing with my friend Mangwana’s penis, Caroline had her skirt pulled all the way back on one side, laying bare her big fat thigh, and Mangwana had his hand inside her white knickers. She was lying on the desk, sleeping, but upon closer observation, I saw that her eyebrows were knitted and her lips twitched too much for a person who was asleep. Nancy on the other hand was rubbing Mangwana’s erect penis languorously, her thumb grazing the very tip and flicking the foreskin up and down so that the pink base of the head flashed and disappeared like the bottom of a long turgid glowworm. A strange excitement built in the pit of my belly and my eyes met Mangwana’s straight yet it seemed he didn’t see me. He merely hung his head over the English book and stared out like a drunk man. I spent the rest of the term wanting to put my hand in a girl’s knickers: Judy’s, Sonia’s, Magero’s, Mercy’s, Nile’s, Nerea’s. I wanted their hands on my penis, rubbing up and down in the back of the class at prep time.
I understood the mechanics of sex well enough. The thing in Nancy’s tender fingers went into the place Mangwana was tickling then there was movement: the back and forth threshing action of the waist, called yundo, that the girls in the dudu dance troupe secretly practiced when Mr. Nyandiga wasn’t looking, to everyone’s great amusement. Yundo was sweet and sometimes painful. Mangwana called it līt tō mīt, although it was ultimately more mīt than līt because both parties apparently persisted until it culminated in lāyo, which also meant urination. For a time I was sure a boy’s urine was a dangerous thing that could impregnate any careless girl. No wonder boys and girls slept separately, some hapless bedwetter could accidentally impregnate his sisters and then…sacrilege.
A short while after I saw Mangwana and the girls, the deputy headteacher and most dreaded disciplinarian of the staff, Mr. Oyoo, found a pornographic magazine stuffed between the branches of the tree from which the school bell hung. The school was a Seventh-day Adventist school, and some things were bigger than mere punishment, so he cancelled all classes and called an impromptu assembly for all of us in primary six through eight. He begged and entreated and threatened and cajoled the culprits to step forward but none did, so we went back to class. In the evening, just before prep, I was delivering a batch of class assignments to the staffroom when he called me into his office and gave me the contraband magazine, holding it by his thumb and forefinger like a rat’s smelly carcass.
“There is a fire burning near the fence where the workmen were splitting wood,” he said. “Go and throw this satanic thing into the fire and come back and report to me.”
I ran out of his office and across the parade ground holding that magazine and it was like one of those hairy caterpillars had crawled across my brain; I was itching to read that thing, itching bad. For most of the run to the little smoking bonfire I was visible from his office, and he was famous for always having an eye out that window looking for trouble. There was a place however, where the path went behind an old crumbling wall and as soon as I was out of sight, I paused and opened the magazine. The first picture was a cannon-hole that fired a burning blast which shattered into vulva-shaped pieces the ceiling of decency that my mother, the church, my school, and society had spent fourteen years erecting. I ripped off the page and resumed my run, threw the magazine in a wide arc for my audience of one and headed back. I had just passed the latrines when a thought struck me: if Mr. Oyoo patted my pockets he would feel the page, cold against my buttocks, stuffed into my underwear. I turned round and went to the boys’ latrine to pull out the page, intending to stuff it into a crack and retrieve it later. Again the picture startled me, and this time the excitement in the pit of my belly slowly spread lower. Staring at the picture, I undid the buttons on my shorts and pushed down my underwear. The woman was old, almost our home science teacher’s age and size. Was this what Madam Owino looked like down there? I was holding my throbbing initiate in my hand, tight, and when it came I was off balance, almost tripping over my shorts. The spasms gripped my calves so that I suddenly stood on tiptoe, flexed my thighs so that I leaned heavily on the wall to avoid falling and then I felt an unstoppable building up of fluid and thought, “Oh, this is the urination.” I squirted a fluid that was definitely not urine on the grimy wall of the latrine and went weak at the knees. I ran to class. Mr. Oyoo could come and find me there if he wanted. If I had gone to his office just then, I would have given the game away with the stupid smile on my face.
I was still a virgin in form two of secondary school. I hadn’t learned anything new since that one incident back in primary eight. I was going to Migori Secondary, the local day school. There was a teachers’ strike but we students kept coming to school to help each other with school work and to revise. Some young teaching practice students from university, who were not members of the national teachers’ unions, came to teach us. My class got a Ms. Gakuo whose harsh and unwelcoming demeanour was more than offset by her being callipygian.
Her math lessons were chaotic affairs: with every stroke of the chalk as she wrote on the blackboard, her derriere trembled while we nursed tented trousers and decidedly non-mathematical fantasies. Once Muteithia let his penis stick out through his fly and showed it to Raphael in the next row. Vita Richard became quite famous for holding his hands high in the air and shifting his desk up and down using nothing but his erection. When she would turn round, thinking he wanted to ask a question, he would say he was just stretching. Nobody would get up to do examples on the board, not even me though I knew all the answers, and she began to hate us even as we loved her more and more.
The absence of our regular teachers and the presence of village girls whose secondary schools had closed invited and enabled truancy with sexual intent.
Now you never went alone when you played truant to go for a tryst with a village girl. An irate father might split your head with a hoe and claim you were stealing, or just bury you quietly, and nobody would be the wiser. You went with someone—a wingman who would keep watch and, in case of trouble, give you a warning signal—and after you were done with your paramour, you convinced her to let him have one go. We called it combī—combination sex. That is how I lost my virginity proper.
My old friend Mangwana, now a fellow point guard on the basketball team, had convinced a girl from Ulanda Secondary to let him visit whenever her father was out. In our parlance, they were “pushing”. Usually he went with our teammate Oshani but after hearing several stories about Oshani usurping unsuspecting benefactors, he decided to play it safe. He called me behind the dining hall one day.
“Do you know Lorraine, the daughter of that policeman who lives behind BAT?”
I knew her, she had been a year behind us in primary school and that was not all.
“Her father walks everywhere with his gun, and they have a police dog,” I said.
“He was promoted. He has been in Kisii at his new posting for two weeks already.”
“And the dog? I don’t want to be outside with that beast.”
“Lorraine will lock it up after lunch, just watch out for her elder brother. He usually passes by on his way from the farm. If he doesn’t see Lorraine outside he comes to check. If you see him, you knock the window twice and hide.”
It seemed simple enough. Just one thing left to seal the deal.
“How long will you take?”
“Not long,” he replied.
“And after you’re done?” I pursued.
He turned his head away, “After I’m done you have ten minutes or I’m coming in with a stone. I swear, ten minutes only. You hear?”
I nodded. We walked nonchalantly to the toilets, chatting about nothing. Opere DC, the headmaster’s son, had cut a hole in the fence there and everybody knew about it but the teachers. We took off our school shirts and stuffed them in a polythene bag, put on a pair of t-shirts Mangwana had carried with him and we slipped out. Two hours later, I was sitting behind the small outhouse where Lorraine and her sisters slept, listening to the low rumble of Mangwana’s voice and Lorraine’s occasional chuckles. The shade of an acacia tree fell directly on me and, in the afternoon heat, I wanted to close my eyes and sleep but I kept my eyes on the dusty path leading to the gate.
They were more silent than I thought they ought to be; sex was meant to be accompanied by creaking beds and loud, pleasurable noises yet all I had heard after an hour of listening was a really loud grunt from Mangwana. The sun now struck me almost directly, heating up my left side through a gap in the foliage. I was just getting up when Mangwana appeared round the corner of the house.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Can you feel that sun?” I replied, a bit angry because he was being inconsiderate. But I kept it down: this was the part where he told me I could have sex with his girl.
“Ten minutes,” he said, looking me right in the eye. “Don’t close the latch and don’t let me hear her cry out.”
I brushed his shoulder as I passed. He smelled damp and musty, like something from a dirty kitchen. When I walked into the room, the same smell struck me almost like a slap. Lorraine was lying on the bed in a t-shirt, a sheet over her obviously naked lower body. I met her gaze and saw that she was not angry or displeased at the sight of me.
“Hurry, my brother will be passing soon.”
I closed the door behind me and drew the latch.
I cannot remember the moments between when I closed the door and when I got into the bed beside her, naked. I do remember, however, that she frowned when I lifted her t-shirt over her head. “Mangwana will be angry at you for that,” she warned.
“Will you tell him?” I asked as I eased a nipple into my mouth. She answered by pulling my head closer against her breast.
The first feel of a woman’s skin, all of it, against one’s own is a special thing. I held her around the back and pressed myself to her so hard that she cried out and held a hand over her mouth, but I didn’t care. I lowered my head and smelled between her legs like a dog, smelled deep until the sharpness caught in my throat and she closed her thighs bashfully, unsure. I moved her legs so she was splayed out like the woman on the magazine page, and I stared. Surprised at the sight of my own penis waving like a straining sea anemone in an ocean current, I moved close, my face right above hers, my lips enclosing her lower lip and tugging softly, then I pushed myself into her yawning centre and felt the warmth of her body enclose me, pull me deeper, consume me. I’m not sure if I remembered to thrust but she did, moving her hips up and down, one hand on my buttocks. I’m not sure if I shouted but she held her hand over my mouth and asked me to keep quiet.
Mangwana knocked on the window to warn me but I was too far gone to care. I’m not sure if I satisfied her, if she felt even a smidgen of the pleasure I felt, but I remember waves carrying me and smashing me on the rocks of her grinding hips, and the pressure building and building and building until I exploded, and exploded, and exploded, and when she felt me empty myself deep inside her, only then did she cry out. I’m not sure how we disentangled, when I dressed up, if Mangwana was angry when she opened the door, or if he spoke to me at all on the way back to school. All I remember is that after I was spent and finished she held me there, still inside her, wrapped her legs around my back and smiled at me. And I didn’t want to ever move.
Mangwana went back to taking Oshani along with him after that.
Moi University, first semester of my second year on a weekday afternoon and I’m in Sheila’s room, the curtains drawn tight. I’ve missed basketball practice again. Mangwana is on the basketball team here and we haven’t been able to talk properly since I arrived. I’ve been avoiding him at practice.
Sheila is on the bed, lying on her stomach with her legs slightly apart. I’m kneeling between them, a hand on each smooth, pampered calf. I bend her legs at the knees so that her feet come up on both sides of me as I rub along her shins. She arches her feet like a ballerina en pointe. I lean back and bring her feet together, sandwiching my penis with them. Her feet are moist and warm from the closed shoes I just took off, a small line indented along each by the edge of the leather. Slowly, I rub my penis along the sole of her left foot, the tip trailing a clear shimmering line of fluid. Her foot twitches, she giggles, rubs her toes against each other and feels them slide easily, lubricated.
I met her at the basketball court a few months back after two grueling hours of training drills, a romance novel in her hand. I walked up to her and she smiled, bemused, and let me drink from her water bottle.
I slide my fingers between her toes and rub them one by one. From this angle, each toe has a distinct shape: a triangle, a square, an almost perfect circle. When I hold them against each other though, they fit like a jigsaw puzzle. I put a finger to the tip of my penis and rub the fluid into the corns where shoes have rubbed her over the years. They feel soft and smooth. She moans, moving her other foot into my hand.
“What size are you?” I ask.
She turns, coquettish, “Measure me. What size are you?”
I lay the length of my penis along her foot and rub it to and fro, kneading the instep of her foot with my fingers.
“I didn’t know you had a thing for feet,” she murmurs.
I laugh, crawl over her legs and move up so my penis is between her shoulder blades.
“That’s a bit high,” she jokes.
I wriggle back good-humouredly, one knee at a time, letting my penis rub along the length of her spine. As before, it trails a line of shimmering moistness. She arches her back.
“Ohhh…it is so cold,” she purrs.
My penis disappears between the hills of her buttocks, drawing its moist line in the valley between. I come to a slow stop, put a hand on her shoulder, and ease my weight down onto her.
I had asked the other basketballers about her and got nothing but hostility. I was a junior after all, and not even good enough to get on the first team. I suspected she was going out with one of them and, if they wouldn’t tell me, I was going to find out for myself. So after I drank her water that day, I sank down on the steps near the court where she was sitting and asked her outright.
“How come you always come to watch? Is there someone you like on the team?”
She smiled, but didn’t look up from her book. We just sat there as the court cleared and evening fell and, when she stood up to go, I offered to carry her books for her. She let me.
I feel her tense, her sphincter tightening reflexively beneath the tip of my penis, the muscle of her shoulder knotting. Gently, I move my waist around and around—yundo. I lean forward to kiss her back, between her shoulder blades, tasting myself. I lick and flick my tongue from left to right until she gasps, all the while working my hips, left, right. My penis makes soft sticking noises. I have knocked the door enough so I stop and wait. Gentleness, patience, desire overwhelms instinct. She pushes back towards me so that, as soon as I move a little, I slip in, the head of my penis enveloped by a tight shifting warmth.
“Stop,” she whispers. “No, don’t pull out. Just leave it there. Let me move.”
Līt tō mīt.
She works her hips now around and around and sometimes up so I go deep and sometimes down so I almost pop out and she has her hand on her vagina; and louder and louder and louder she moans until she rocks against me hard and squeezes me tight and punches the pillow with her free hand and cries out. And then she subsides.
“Go and clean up,” she says weakly.
I remember the first time I kissed her, just inside the door of this very room after delivering her books as usual. I went in and she held my face away, her hand across my lips, and asked me, “What are you doing?”
“Kissing you,” I replied.
Looking into my eyes, she had seen that I was honest in my desire, so she had let me.
I dip her washcloth into a bucket of cold water and carefully rub my penis, then I rinse and clean it again and wash my hands. I’m tumescent almost to the point of pain. I turn to her and she hasn’t moved, except to touch herself some more, her fingers wet and silvery in the dim light.
“Come and get it.”
I climb up behind her and let my body kiss hers, all of my skin against all of hers. My penis finds her centre, following a constant wave of radiating heat, and I enter her hungrily, feeling her close around me, claiming me.
“Ahhh…it is so cold,” she gasps.
If it is cold to her it is blazing hot to me, and I push in and push in and push in until my muscles are spasming and seizing. I’m gripping the headboard which is shaking as she moans and thrashes, and my loins are turning inside out, through my penis and into her, then I’m empty and I collapse on her back, immobilized—lāyo. I breathe deeply. We lie there like that for what seems like a year, then she rolls me off and starts to arrange the place, naked.
“You have to leave, he’ll be coming here as soon as practice is done,” she says.
Mangwana. He’s the one she used to come to watch at the basketball court. I saw them together, kissing on the day of a big match just before he went in to take his place. We had already made love, her and me, and it had been, as it always was with her, transcendent.
I put on my clothes, help her make the bed, and open the windows to let out the smell of sex. Then I kiss her and, smiling because of the deja-vu, I leave: Mangwana is coming after me—combī.
Alexander Ikawah (@filmkenya) is a writer and film maker living and working in Nairobi, Kenya. He was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story prize in 2013. Though he mostly works on short stories, his intention is to write the next great African novel. When he is not writing or reading, he watches and talks about films with a small but growing community of young Kenyan film makers and script writers.