Rumor had her a virgin. He stepped over that threshold himself, a few months before on a warm night up-country in the tractor-driver’s hut. Mwala in an idle moment lasting half the day asked, ‘Done it yet?’ knowing full well he had not.
‘Not yet,’ said Harry, springing to attention in a dark place down there, bending forward hand-in-pocket to conceal in his khaki shorts a stalk of lust for a high-breasted coffee-colored coffee-picker in ragged homespun that hid nothing. Worn by Kate Moss it would be high fashion.
‘She likes you,’ said Mwala, lounging against a tractor wheel.
‘That one? Bikira?’ He whispered in awe as she went by, arrogant as a supermodel, sunlight glinting off the four-sided drum of plucked cherries on her head for which morning’s work she would receive one sumuni – half a shilling.
Mwala shook his head. ‘No. Yes, she probably likes you, certainly likes you, perhaps even adores you, how could she not, ha-ha, ha-ha,’ forcing his face straight, ‘but she herself has not yet done it! And would be worth many cows fewer if it happens before she marries. No,’ he pointed with his chin, ‘Over there,’ at what could have been Bikira’s mother, a Kamba woman with leathery breasts, soon to be bouncing on top of Harry on a rickety African bed like a squeaky trampoline.
Mwala put his head round the drape before he finished.
‘Everything good, young man?’ Firelight reflected off his broad copper-skinned face.
Harry’s ancestors had their consummations witnessed, but that thought came later. Mwala’s pork-pie hat flung a shadow on the mud-and–wattle wall. Funny, what you notice when it’s not just your mind on other things.
‘Yes, for Gods sake,’ Harry cried, jerking his way to the first hot squirt inside something other than his fist. Well, not entirely true. Horny young beast, he took advantage of little orifices encountered on his wanderings in the African bush: holes in rocks, forks in branches…why, one steaming day he even whipped two green plastic cushions out of the Jeep, placed them side-by-side on the ground and aligned his throbbing teenage manhood between. Excited by the grip of hot plastic, he pumped to onanecstasy.
This was some decades before entering the world of tantra that elevates masturbation to meditation, a spiritual practice removed from the guilt-edged pleasures of boarding school where priests preached purity from the pulpit before sliding hands up altar-boys’ legs in the sacristy, settling in the confessional to hand out penance after eliciting the fullness of the sin.
‘And how many times? And did you take full pleasure? Every time? And did you do it together? And were you touching or just watching? And how many of you together? And did you climax together…Aaah!’ as with each question the words came faster and Father Confessor’s breathing heavier. They swore they could hear his cassock coming up and his hand going down.
‘Did you think he was really wanking?’ said Piers Minor, later expelled for submitting a drawing of an anchor on the letter W in the competition for a new school emblem. He ended up in finance, turning his hand to banking before being exposed, poetic justice.
‘Course he was.’
‘Father Feeley had a stiffy, I saw it.’
‘Yeah, Jones, bet you felt it.’
‘It’s only three Hail Mary’s if you do it alone.’
‘You don’t have to tell them.’
‘It’s supposed to be confession!’
‘Do priests confess?’
But back to the farm. Next day, morning roll call, in front of the whole coffee-picking gang, some eighty men, women and totos, she presents Harry with two live chickens, a brown and a white hanging by their legs. Everyone was laughing and he was burning. Burning for more but he remembered feeling something wasn’t there, down there up-country in the bush, but at least now he knew where to find it, an experienced sixteen-year old ready to give a girl a good time.
Soon he found one looking for just that. Or was it hope springing eternal like the joystick in his pants?