The Penance

The Penance

So, last night I was reading the Book of Numbers, and I realized I didn’t have yours.

By Hillary Soh Ojiambo
When my turn came, everyone kept quiet. The music was tuned low and eyes stared at me with anticipation. It was the glorious initiation moment which could not be missed even in the advent of a raking earthquake.

“Peter, this is the beginning of fun!” Aleki, my new friend said as he handed me the plastic tumbler.

I took the tumbler and everyone around me screamed and jumped to their feet like I had just won a Nobel.
Cindy, the wild party girl poured concoction on it while her eyes were fixed on my face. I call it a concoction because it was a mixture of all brands of alcohol the world could provide and had been expertly seasoned with coffee – Honestly, with a silent ‘h’, I can’t explain more than that.

It produced a pungent smell that could be mistaken for a biological weapon but at that time, the smell reminded me of roses at summer time.
My eyes were fixed at her ample bosom, roaming to the slits of her miniskirt and for a moment, I wondered why I had lived a boring life for the last six years in campus- when fun and enjoyment was just below my nose- inviting and available.
She seemed to read my mind and she winked at me. The devil had just hit the jackpot.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” she said as she assisted me in leading the tumbler to my mouth, “It is his first time….!”

Everyone around screamed as the first drop hit my tongue. It was bitter and it set my throat on fire but with their encouragements, I forgot the bitterness and perceived the sweetness that they had been bragging about.
After the first tumbler, she refilled and I drowned it in a gulp and then I took a third one with equal speed. My forth tumbler confirmed my initiation and the music was turned up for celebration.

As she had promised, Cindy was there to take me to the dance floor and being my first time there, we were given adequate space as the regulars sat back and watched- obviously reminiscing of their first days.
My heart jumped to my mouth as she tuned up her miniskirt- barely covering her bottom and turned towards me, a seductive grin on her lips and her eyes lit up with anticipation.

I took a hesitant step towards her and whispered:

“Cindy, I don’t know how to dance.”

She giggled like a green salamander and whispered:
“Don’t worry Peter. Alcohol can make you do anything. You just have to believe.”

Believe, I did.
The lights dimmed and she grabbed me like Kalonzo grabs watermelons in Kitui on a dry, sunny, thirsty Thursday afternoon (Okuyus, I got you there didn’t I? Tongue twister much?).

She led me to the center spot and whispered:
“Just do as I say and you’ll be fine.”

I nodded.
She had found my G-spot, erm, sweet spot.
She turned and pressed her bottom on my groin. A sudden jolt of heat hit my nerve system and it was impossible to stop my ‘Chebukati’ from a sudden standing ovation.

I was ashamed that she would know and I stepped back quickly, realizing in horror that my palms were sweating profusely and my heartbeat was almost becoming louder than the subwoofer.

“Why are you afraid? Don’t ashame me!”

She placed my palms on her bare thighs and begun gyrating softly at my groin. Somebody screamed on my behalf and the dance floor cleared further.

I stood aloof, wondering what to do, wishing to move my feet but it seemed as if I was made of plastic.
She increased her tempo as the observers clapped and it felt ridiculously weird that I was the only one standing. I tried to march her moves, did a terrible job at it but at least my feet responded.

She urged me along by bowing such that her head was between her legs and her bottom raised up for grabs and it was then that everything snapped in place. After this induction process, there was no going back.
I could see my dignity mounting a tuk-tuk and driving off.
With a deep sigh that released all my reservations for a noble life, I grabbed Cindy like how the government grabs land and she moaned loudly as the glue melted from my waist and I began meeting her gyrations with the expertise of a trained gecko.

My life has never been the same again. I had transformed from a vehement youth leader to a rigorous nightclub dancer. That night, Cindy unlocked a part of me that I never knew existed. A wild me.

After the bash, I just couldn’t let her go and luck was on my side, she didn’t want to let me go either. I was tipsy from the drinks and she was exuberant after meeting a rookie in the game. Her place was ideal- as it was just two blocks away and to cut the long story short, that was the night that I discarded the filthy virginity garment.

I never knew virginity had a face until I met me that night. I was so naive, I WhatsApped my 2nd-year roommate for keynotes on where to touch a woman. Oh, the folly of youth!

The Cindy affair didn’t last long- in fact, we never did it again! Three days later, I gave her a surprise visit only to stumble upon a bare-chested beast of a man. He was sprawled on her bed and Cindy lay at his chest picking at the shrouds of hair that made his chest look like that of a primate.

When Cindy saw me lingering at her door, she blew a kiss at her man’s hairy face, whispered something in his ear and as the man grunted his smile, she arose from the bed and come towards me, her skirt falling in place along the way. She gave me a brief hug and ushered me out.

“Peter, I guess you came here because of what happened on Friday night, right?”

I nodded.

“Well, let me tell you this: that night, it was nothing serious. I was just having my fun and thank you by the way.”

“Having fun and we made love?”

She smiled.
“No, we had sex. Not unless you want to continue this conversation with my boyfriend, I ask you to leave!”

I was heartbroken. I wanted to argue, curse and coerce but I thought of the beast with a hairy chest at her bed and my brokenness was replaced with fear. I gave her one last look and retreated, wondering why I had been so stupid.
I guess Cindy had done her work as a tutor. It was now my turn to hunt for a prey. I did hunt and it did not take long before Mercy came into my life.

She was a fresha and I was a fourth year- what some folks call, “elders.” We met at another bash organized by the creative Aleki- three Fridays later. Cindy was also there but whether she saw me or not I don’t give a rat’s tail. Besides, her ape of a boyfriend was present. Not that I care anyway. a

I was no longer a rookie in the game and the aim for the bash was to induct our fresha friends into the brotherhood of music, dance and sex.

After her four induction shots, Mercy was tipsy and unstable, and as a good brother of the cloth, I went to support her. I pulled her to the corner of the room where we danced softly, as she slurred her verbosities away.

By midnight, she was in not in a position to walk to her room, and as a supportive brother of the cloth, I took her to mine. A jackpot, a war prize and a token of appreciation for an evening well-orchestrated.

That night, I had a second experience of what I had with Cindy and I even superseded it as this time, I was the one in charge.

When she woke up in the morning and realized what had happened to her, she curled herself on my bed and sobbed for six hours after which, unlike Cindy and I, she left to go and change and a day later she was back.

For every time we met, whether at her place or mine, the script remained unchanged. We would hug for a second or two, converse for not more than ten minutes and then the foreplay would begin. The ultimate crescendo was sex and I find myself looking forward to such meetings- which though predictable, promised of better things in the end.

One thing I failed to realize was that for every illicit affair, there is always a snapping point. The moment when everything suddenly falls in place and reality sets in. Sometimes it’s a shocking moment when one realizes how stupid they have been. Sometimes it is a surprising moment when one realizes how vulnerable they have been. And sometimes, as it happened in my case, it was a terrifying moment when it dawned on me that what I had considered fun was actually a self-destructive path.
When everything snapped, I wailed and retreated to where I had come from- the pulpit.


I dragged my feet to the altar. Christians who moments ago were engaged in a silent moment of eating the Word of God stared at me, shocked at the stranger who had the guts of stopping the sermon halfway. I wanted to rush, probably run to the pulpit and be done with my penance but I couldn’t. It was as if loads of lead had been attached to my limps and every step seemed like the last step.

At the pulpit, a tall, wiry preacher stared at me with interest, wondering who was this bold son of a woman with enough guts to stop his vigorous anti-hell crusade.

An usher stirred out of his holy nap and seeing that I was almost at the pulpit, he exhaled a sharp war cry and lounged at me, hands stretched, eyes wide and with an unmistakable desire to send me to hell- where I belonged.
I saw his flight and sighed. Do I have to seek an appointment with God also?

He grabbed me by the cuffs, almost roughing me up and without speaking a word, he commanded me to take a U-Turn. My bleary gaze met his stern one and for a moment, I wondered why his eyes were bloodshot and his breath smelt of a particular drink from the other world. I didn’t question for word had it that sometimes, wine is served in churches- maybe this time it was a little too concentrated.

I turned to the priest who was now clenching his Bible like it was a lethal sword and watching us with interest as though we were play acting. When the usher pushed me backwards, I didn’t move and it was then that the priest become the referee.

“John, leave him alone. It is okay.”

John, a man not used to failure grunted his disappointment and stared at me in a way that said, “We shall revisit this” before dragging his feet away.

The entire church watched me with interest, the distance between me and the tall priest was barely thirty meters now but it seemed as if he was a hindered kilometers away. I made an effort to lift another foot and continue with my penance journey but not an inch of my body moved.

My vision blurred and my hearing dulled. Even my nerve system almost failed and all around me, I could hear voices urging me to turn and run away. Others condemned me for my past and reminded me of the very evils that had brought me scampering to the house of God. Christians.

The most irritating voice was that of the nameless baby- the one Mercy and I had conspired to abort and coming out alive, I had taken it by the throat and squeezed life out of it. Now, I saw it, screaming at my face and clawing my eyes out with its tiny hands.

The screams were driving me nuts. I just wanted to die and be done with it!

One tiny hand dipped itself into my eyes and as it fished my right eye out, I screamed and collapsed on my knees, sobbing and asking God- if at all he could hear me to take my life away and be done with it.

Minutes later, everything around me stilled and I started out of my reverie. I was on my knees, surrounded by a dozen or so of people and the entire church was upstanding and their arms were stretched towards me. My gaze met the one of the tall priest and he did the oddest thing one could ever imagine of- he smiled.

His smile was like a fire that incinerated my entire being and at that moment, I screamed the only thing was on my mind:

“Have mercy on my God!! I am a sinner!”

4 thoughts on “The Penance

  1. woooow… how do you do it? I felt like I was watching all these…you created mental pictures in my mind… the piece is amazingly entertaining, the grammar is just superb!!!!!! keep writing Soh.. I’m a big fan of your work.

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