LIFE BY LOUIS: The girl who taught me to hug - Daily Nation

LIFE BY LOUIS: The girl who taught me to hug

Tuesday August 21 2018

She  was exceptionally talented in showing affection.

She was exceptionally talented in showing affection. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

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Most men have twisted their spines and suffered compound arm fractures while attempting to emulate the model hug that the retired POTUS gave his sister and a small girl who received him at the airport during his visit to Kenya.

Although my clan of elders have since forgiven him, he should know that in Matimbei, we don’t hug our sisters. We don’t even mention the word hug in the hearing of small girls.

But this is not about my village rules and regulations.

My first experiment with hugs was almost tragic; I am talking heart attack here.


I was a sophomore in high school and still wearing khaki shorts that flaunted my thin hairless legs. My young face was always twisted in stubborn leer that displayed an attitude of defiance, and my blood ran hot with raging hormones.

The Young Catholics Students (YCS) society was hosting an activity in our school and among the attendees was a prominent girls secondary school from a neighbouring province.

We did not care much about the activity. It was yet another opportunity for girls and boys to teach themselves the rudimentary steps of dating.

Apart from some slight deepening of the voice which I greatly exaggerated by talking in a last drawl, I was still technically a small boy. As usual, I was unlucky in love due to my young age.

I floated around the parking lot admiring the visitors school bus aware of the taunting that awaited me later that evening from the bigger boys.


I watched as the more experienced boys took their new catches for a guided tour of the school that winded up behind the chemistry lab where they stood close to each other away from the prying eyes of the YCS patron.

As I wasted my life in the parking lot reading the registration plates of buses, I met this girl who was an old acquaintance from the village but whose parents lived in Buru Buru. Buru, as we fondly called it then, was the coolest estate those days and it was the epitome of high end living. The same can hardly be said of the estate today.

The girl was slightly older than me, and her borrowed uniform spoke volumes of blossoming early adolescence. A few boys lingering nearby froze and held their breath. Louis was talking to a dame!

I assumed a nonchalant demeanour to give the impression that I spoke to girls quite often. A stale conversation ensued between the girl and I as we discussed homeostasis, fractional distillation, verbs and idioms, tamthilia na msamiati, and even molecular theory. The chat was punctuated by stints of awkward silence.

At some point we discussed reproduction in plants and how bees help transport pollen between flowers that are dating each other. The discussion started warming up to adult content and we both blushed deeply and changed the topic.


We were discussing how Apostle Paul went to Antioch and Phrygia preaching to those stubborn people when their head girl signalled it was time to leave.

Now watch what Buru does to an erstwhile good girl whose parents were respected church elders from my village:

“Give me a hug,” the girl blurted out. I felt a bit dizzy and I turned around to look for safe landing just in case I passed out. Maybe she was kidding, or I was hearing my own things.

She dropped her arms and moved closer with fierce determination written all over her face. My sight was quickly failing and my knees were nearly giving in having been drained of their grease. I dropped my arms too and bit my lower lip.

Suddenly, a wave swept over my young heart that made me terrified. As I froze there anticipating a heart attack at a tender age of 15, the girl flung her arms around my shoulders and pressed herself gently against my small frame.

Fate, possibly fathoming that without intervention I might end up leading my celibate life in a monastery, had finally shone its torch of luck on me.

“Louis, just hold on strong, you won’t die of this small act of kindness,” I whispered to myself while soaking in her nice Ladygay scent. She sure was exceptionally talented in showing affection.

Soon it was over and I was still alive, gladly. I smiled shyly and pulled back feeling as accomplished as a new initiate in a secret cult.

For the first time in my life, I felt something in the gut that warmed the intestines and lay very still in bed until that feeling went away. However, that feeling was not compatible with the double physics lesson the following morning.