When a boy meets a girl

My son Russell, now aged 16, has fallen in love with a girl named Maureen who transferred to his school at the beginning of the year.

I had noticed a change in the boy’s mannerisms a few weeks into the new term, but I never linked it to anything in particular.

He would dress sharply to school, carry himself about with an air of importance and he had even started talking in what sounded like a forced bass.

His new obsession with my colognes also raised my eyebrows, as did his fascination with his mother’s collection of women’s magazines.

“This girl called Maureen is going to kill me with feelings!” he confessed to his brother Jimmy on Thursday evening. “I just cannot stop thinking about her. I love her so much and I want her to be my girlfriend, but she does not seem to notice me.”

“Well, why don’t you tell her how you feel?” Jimmy asked. “You better tell her soon, before somebody else makes a move and sweeps her off her feet.”

Russell paused for a moment while biting his fingernails and staring blankly at the ceiling. Jimmy’s words must have hit him like a thunderbolt.

When he finally spoke, there was a tremble in his voice that betrayed the fear of rejection. “That girl looks too classy for me, bro,” he confessed. “I have tried to talk to her several times but whenever I open my mouth, words fail me. Naona kama atanilenga halafu yeye na mabeste wake waanze kunichekelea.”(What if she rejects me? Her and her friends will laugh at me). As most men and boys will agree, approaching a woman or a girl for the first time is no easy task.

If there is one challenge that can grate on a man’s nerves and cause him sleepless nights, loss of concentration and even possible dementia, it is the seemingly insurmountable task of declaring his love to the woman of his dreams.


It is a little like vying for a political seat in a politically hostile area.

Of course, a few men and boys have mastered the art of seduction, and they do it with so much ease that it is like a game to them.

A girl may seem totally unapproachable to one boy, or too stubborn, or too classy and snooty, but an expert in these matters could make it look like child’s play.

“Wewe jipatie psyche tu,” Jimmy encouraged his brother. “You should not fear her class or friends. Mwanaume ni kujiamini.”

Russell was then offered a few tips on how to win Maureen’s heart. First, he was urged to make himself visible to her.

“Do not hide in the shadows while expecting her to notice you. Just because you like this girl does not mean she will look for you the way our CID goes hunting for criminals. Jianike boss. Jianike kwake.”

Russell was further advised to act in as normal as possible since girls can tell when a boy is faking it.

Do not pretend to be what you are not, he was told, and do not promise her heaven when you cannot provide it. Do not attempt to sound like you grew up in Chicago when you actually grew up in Siakago.


A boy can get away with a few phony promises which he knows very well he will not deliver, just like our political aspirants lie to us, but there is a limit to how much lies you may peddle to a girl.

Most importantly, Jimmy advised his brother to get straight to the point and avoid unnecessary banter.

“Minimise your words when you approach her. Girls do not like boys who beat about the bush. Usiende kwake uanze kuropoka ni kama unamwomba kura.”

I would have wanted to contribute my two cents in this discussion and suggest ways in which my son could bag his newly found love, but social conventions forbid me.

In matters of the heart, a man goes it all alone.

A father cannot assist his son in mapping out his love expeditions, so the best I can do for Russell is to create what our government terms as an “enabling environment” for him to play out his act.