In this school, if you wore shoes, the other pupils considered you weird. They’d stare like you had just landed from a black hole in the universe. Generally, it was normal to be poor. Falling short was not just acceptable: it was celebrated. If you carried packed lunch to school you would be an outcast.
Life remained tethered to conservative ideals; just like wearing long dresses with zero fashion sense has been. Somehow, by a stroke of luck, I went to an urban secondary school in the Rift Valley. But not even this could prepare my uncompromisingly morally upright head for the laissez faire way of life at the university.
Here I was, walking on the hallowed grounds where the fountain of knowledge sprung. Yet, my eyes faced a constant blitz of near nude images.
No, not images from the Internet. Everywhere I looked I saw what - in my upbringing - was abomination. On average, the image was made up of the following components: A lady with 50 per cent skin exposed; the other 50 per cent found safety under threads of linen or transparent lace.
A clear outline of the backside restricted further human imagination. Some walked around with an exposed midriff – bouncing on the go like unrestrained jelly – that would surely have sucked the last breath off my grandmother. My friend, the only one in those first campus days, Collins, had a very queer way of dealing with the ‘freak show’, as he called it.
“Just look away like you didn’t see it,” he would say. Collins was a believer. Not that he feared he would need to pluck out and through away his sinning eyes. For some reason my eyes refused to comply. I would sway my head one way and my eyes would swing the other way.
Frankly, at some point, it was disturbing. This constant exposure to sex appeal was becoming a dangerous distraction. I didn’t want to fail my exams at the end of the semester. At least not because every time I opened a book to read those images blurred the text.
That’s when I approached a professor I was getting accustomed to with my problem. At first he laughed. Actually, more like chortled, in a manner to tell me, ‘I pity you farm boy’. But it is what he said, albeit much later, that would actually help. He said: “This is your new normal. Just mind your own business.
That lady you keep staring at won’t sit your exams for you.” Indeed, it was not my job to categorise moral versus immoral. I would realise later that some of those naked girls actually know their stuff.