When I was younger, I lived a sheltered life. I know that sounds Bate’s Hotel-ish but it was not like that. I loved my childhood but I always felt detached from the other kids.
See, I have always been an introvert and a bookworm. I loved reading things no matter how mundane they were. Like the medical journals in our home library that I just found out were just, “Big books to fill out the shelves.” My father’s words. They did come in handy during high school biology though. Particularly that topic on bones na ile ya chromosomes.
But being a bookworm was not the problem. The problem was the introversion.
I think introverts think a lot. And we feel a lot too. Our empathic skills are dialed up all the way to 100. So, when hanging out with my friends, I found myself as the mother hen of the group. There is always a mother hen but it feels weird being one in a group of guys. It does not help that guys are dumb so the taunts and the jeers were always present. Lurking beneath the surface of most conversations.
“Na uko na u dame.”
“Hizo ni machozi?”
“Baby analia analia.”
I’m the sensitive type you imbeciles!
Anyway, you get the point. Now, based on the knowledge I had absorbed, the obvious solution was not to accept myself the way I was. Not to say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” (Which is a lie by the way. Words are more powerful than sticks and/or stones. But I digress.) No. The obvious solution to my sensitivity problem was to change myself into a macho man.
The guy who plays every sport. The one who taunts others. The one who does his homework in the first few minutes of the day before the teacher asks for it – because apparently that’s cool? The guy who never asks questions because cool guys do not need to understand things. Men just do things. Manuals ni za nini?
In class six, the taunting stopped. I had made it!
Then I hurt my hand in a football game (soccer if you’re reading this from Amuurica) and I vowed to never play sports again. (Pain is a powerful motivator.) After that, I got new friends. Friends who did not care about sports. Nerds. My people! Still, these were dudes and as I said, dudes are dumb.
We were playing with marbles one time. I had no idea how to play and coming into the game too late, I was embarrassed to ask and I did not want to be made fun of. So, I sat on the sidelines with my injured arm, watching people play marbles (most of which were mine). Missing out on the fun. Not knowing what was going on and why people were cheering.
The memory haunts me to this day because all these years later, I still don’t know how to play bano.