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What a ‘first’ love!

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Having been initiated into manhood through circumcision at the age of 8 years, my immediate next milestone was to get a ‘wife’. I got one, a 7 year-old! The moment she ‘accepted’ me as her ‘lover’, is the last time I talked to her on a one-to-one (direct) basis; and also the last time I came to within 20 metres’ distance with her!

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My culture has a circumcision tradition through which boys are initiated into men. The average initiation age has been falling steadily. At my initiation time, the average initiation age was between 18 to 24 years.

However, in life there are always some exceptions. I was (am) one such exception. I was initiated quite early in life during a December vacation when I was just 8 years and two weeks old! I actually got circumcised several years before my two elder brothers.

Uganda’s School year starts in January. So, I had no option but to start my Primary 4 when I still nursing my circumcision wound.

But that Primary 4 was unique. Firstly, all the children looked upon me as a very a brave ‘man’. I was for obvious reasons the centre of both attraction and envy. The little girls also admired me!

So why not use my ‘status’, to stump myself as a true man. I could now demonstrate to the entire school that I am a real man by getting myself a wife.

I had two best friends Wahata (RIP) and Kabole (RIP) who happened to be step-brothers – their father had two wives. They resided just outside the Girls’ wing fence. However, they spent most of their time playing with children from the teachers’ quarters, and who resided inside the fence. That enabled them to integrate into the school teachers’ ‘community’.

One Sunday morning I went to church and as was usually the case met Kabole and Wahata before going to attended the mandatory 9:30 School Mass Service. With them was this little pretty girl, Agnes.

There was a newly qualified teacher who had just joined the Girls’ primary school as a staff member. She had brought along with her a relative, Agnes, to keep her company and also assist her with some domestic work. Agnes was attending Primary 2.

Having literary been part of the school teachers’ community, Kabole and Wahata had already acquainted themselves with Agnes, and in fact integrated her into their play group.

I didn’t waste time. This was the girl I wanted. After church I told Wahata and Kabole to pass on my interests. I used some of the money I had been given during the initiation ceremony to a buy a present – a handkerchief – which I sent alongside the message!

The next day, Monday morning, I received wonderful news that Agnes had ‘accepted’. Hurray!! I had got myself a wife!

But, that was the last time I talked to Agnes on a one-to-one (direct) basis; and also the last time I came to within 20 metres’ distance with her. From then on, she ‘took-off’ each time she saw me, her love! Our communication was maintained only through an intermediary of Wahata and Kabole. It became routine for several months.

One Wednesday I came down with Malaria and stayed home. Following the events which transpired that day, my parents never believed that I had been genuinely sick that day. But, take my word. I remained home because I was genuinely sick. Besides, I didn’t have the benefit of a ‘crystal-ball’ to warn me about what was in the pipeline.

On that Wednesday, the administration from both the Girls’ and Boys’ schools combined to crack-down on the unethical and un-Christian behaviour that was threatening to become viral within the young community.

There were no formal classes that day. It started with the highest level class – Primary 7. Using a strategy of divide and rule, the students who identified/reported other students with girl (boy) lovers across the fence, had their punishment reduced proportionately according to the number of love pairs they reported.

The strategy was very successful. Once the full list was established, an assembly was called and all the boys (girls) were paraded and caned in-front of their own school. They were then taken and paraded and caned infornt of the girls’ (boys’) assembly as well.

But one person on the list, the youngest of them was absent from school on that Wednesday.

My elder brother came back from school that evening and briefed me on what had transpired. I went to school the next morning and learn that my ‘best’ friends Wahata and Kabole had actually betrayed me. But, school had returned back to normal, almost – I could see some of the older boys uprooting tree trunks as an additional punishment.

No dust was raised during register and during the pre- first break lessons. School also seemed to be normal when we went back for the post- first break session.

Just before 12:00 o’clock, one of the senior teachers came and knocked on my class-room door. He had a male parent with him. He requested the class teacher to send me out.

I learnt part of the purpose of the request immediately I got outside the class – the teacher was using me as a benchmark. He asked the parent to look at me and imagine how a small boy like me could also indulge in such activities – I was being used to benchmark the ultimate limit.

I served the purpose and the parent left us. The teacher then asked me whether I knew why he had called me. I told him that I did. He then invited me to go and show him my ‘wife’.

I attended a demonstration school within a large Christian community complex comprising a boys’ and girls’ primary schools, and a boys’ and girls’ Teacher’s Training Colleges. The Boys’ Primary School was separated from the Girls’ primary School by a plant hedge and a small road.

Agnes’ classroom was only about three minutes walk from my classroom. We walked there and then as soon as we were visible through Agnes’ classroom windows we witnessed an experience of a life-time!

As soon as Agnes saw us, she stood up (she was seated at the front of the classroom), jumped onto the nearest desk, then run on top of the desks and fled the classroom. Everybody – her teacher, her entire class, my teacher and myself were overwhelmedly surprised and astonished by the speed she manoeuvred herself on top of the desks.

Did she flee because I got within the critical 20 metres range, or did she flee because she was aware of the prevailing circumstances? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter anymore!

What is important is that the exhibit was gone! So, we couldn’t be paraded in-front of the assemblies! I was taken back to the boys’ wing and caned in-front of teachers, not the entire school.

I don’t know what happened to Agnes after that – never bothered to find out, mainly because the two people who had the information about her were the ones who had betrayed me!

 

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