Growing up an introvert

While growing up, I was a small introvert kid who mostly just stayed indoors listening to the radio, sometimes watching TV (A Greatwall which my dad won in a church lottery; maybe I should try gambling after all) and reading or writing silly things while other kids went outside to play. On weekends, school holidays and other days when we were not in school, mum would go to the market or women fellowship meetings and leave me to take care of my kid bros.

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Deno and I in this 1990 photo

In retrospect, by virtue of being the first born, I was actually the defacto house help. We never had a ‘mboch’ so I was expected to cook, clean the house, do the dishes, fetch water, go to the shops or posho mill and a million other chores. Mum did the laundry though, until a time when I was deemed old enough to do them myself. My bro Deno, who is just one year my junior, was the complete opposite, a total extrovert.

Deno hardly ever stayed in the house. He disappeared in the morning, sometimes even without taking breakfast, and came back late at night. He would sometimes come for lunch with his friends, quickly wash a shirt and a pair of trousers and hang them to dry. He would wait for the clothes to dry for an hour or two then dramatically wear them and leave. He was more active, outgoing, outspoken and social. The contrast in our personalities was so stark that we ended up fighting on many occasions. I still have a scar on my forehead from a stone that he threw at me one afternoon. We still slept in the same bed that night but not after he was thoroughly canned by dad. At times he would be beaten on arriving home after everybody had gone to bed but he would repeat the same the following day, or even sleep at his pal’s place. We got used to it.

Sundays were special days. We always looked forward to the Sunday morning breakfast. It was always tea with bread or sweet potatoes or something that we didn’t eat often. We would then take a warm bath, clad in our Sunday best clothes and go to Sunday school. (By the way, I was quite active there. I acted in plays which we presented in church. I particularly remember one in which I was the narrator of a play depicting the life of Jesus). After Sunday school, Deno would usually go with his friends while I went to peruse the Sunday newspapers at a vendor. I did this as a ritual every Sunday until the vendors knew me and would let me read for free. I would then head home or if I had some money, go to watch movies in Kamukunji video dens. Yeah, I wasn’t a very good boy after all. It is in these dark, dingy dens that I was introduced to sexuality. I started looking at girls differently and having not so good ideas in my head. Adolescence had kicked in.

Strangely, I didn’t have any notable friends. I always walked alone almost everywhere. I was always silent especially in the company of strangers, older people or even relatives. Sometimes I visited people but I just bored them to death because I never talked much. They would leave me alone in the house and go to talk to someone. In fact, I never said a word unless asked a question. If I had to say or ask for something, i would recite it in my head a few times then count to three before saying it, even to my own dad. However, I was more free and natural with mum. I really don’t know why but I just grew up like that and I still have that problem to some extent. Deno was different. He could easily start and sustain a conversation with anyone.

I started going to a library to read at a young age.I would spend my free days at the library reading then walk home in the evening. One afternoon while there, I noticed a lady seated directly opposite me with her legs slightly parted. She had a short skirt and from where I was,I could see her inner thighs. My heart beat a little bit faster. I had never seen a woman’s nakedness before. I wanted to see more. I leaned back while pretending to be reading in order to have a better view of inside her skirt.

Read Part 2 here