When I joined high school, and I am not divulging when lest you worry about my age, it was forbidden to touch a girl.
Okay, let me clarify that so that we are on the same page. The most you could do with a female of your age was ogle and drool over until further notice.
Now, further notice meant many years later, and if you got lucky, you danced with her during the school-leavers’ party held every end of the year for the departing young, ambitious minds. One or two teachers attended, just in case, so, you mostly danced with your partner with your hands where they could be seen. Of course, a few rendezvous were planned then, but it was nothing alarming if you get the drift.
We also ensured we got back home in good time to gobble up supper, which was a hurried affair, leaving time for homework. (If women eaters grew up then, they would not be where they are now.)
Given this background, of which I am fiercely proud, you can imagine how long it took to woo a lass. There were months of intense letter writing, (I received a few of those, decorated with smileys and flowers on the margins) hidden in textbooks, which were exchanged regularly. Or sent by mail. By the way, does the Post Office still exist, or is it a museum piece? A story for another day.
A few of these wide-eyed romances resulted in actual marriages because the courtship took long enough to leave nothing to chance.
Out of three streams of 150 primary school graduates, only one female was put in the family way as we joined Form One. Feel free to calculate that as a percentage. I am not moralising. I am just saying we were brought up comparatively better.
If a girl impressed a lad, he visited her at home when the parents were in. The reverse also happened, and it had to be well before dark, for obvious reasons. I thought then the devil lived in darkness. Don’t ask me what I think now. But I am sure we are reading from the same script.
Fast forward to recent events, when girls sitting their Kenya Certificate of Primary School Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams gave birth in their hundreds. Holy Moses!
If you do a quick calculation backwards, those babies were conceived around February or March, when schools were in session. You can see where I am heading but lets pause for a minute. Feel free to sip water or whatever you have before you.
There is a generation of parents who pretend to love their children so much that they allow them to attend “parties” where they do not know what drinks are served. The same culprits easily allow children to go for something they call sleep-overs, which simply means they come back home the following day.
Honestly, I have no idea where the devil lives but such leeway is tempting Lucifer himself. Such freedom must, of course, have its own damned and very, damning consequences. Read my lips.
I hear the statistics could be worse, as media reports have tended to concentrate on just candidates. There are others in school on the brink of becoming mothers before they have grown into women.
I also hear some of these liaisons start from something as minor as a boda boda ride and most of the girl end up being taken for a ride.
Did I just say I know not where the devil lives? If he does not live in (male) teachers’ quarters, he visits there often. That is where a huge chunk of the teenage pregnancies we are so horrified about are conceived. Ask the teachers’ employer, the Teachers Service Commission. You will be shocked by the statistics of those they sack.
Let me take you back to my school days again. During a Class Seven pastoral lesson, one Father Cavanagh (now retired) was so taken aback when he saw a girl seated between two boys that he asked in either mock or real horror: Unakaa katikati ya simba? Of course, the implications were not lost on our young but not so innocent minds. In the middle of the laughter, the admonition was as real as a lump of hot ugali landing in a hungry stomach, or a lash landing on the back of an errant teenager. And that happened often.
Folks, let us ponder these weighty matters and resolve to do something about it. We may not go back to where we came from, but let us remember the sense of values that made us who we are: that is those of us who are worth anything.
My dear brethren and sistren, it appears the forbidden fruit is being mass-produced. It is the only growth industry we must halt.
Have a reflective week, folks!