The Milk Boy


Humans love certainty.

We love to know when this or that will happen. We love to know why it happens too. That is why we like to live on deadlines and draw plans. Our salary checks in on a specific date and if it doesn’t then we are thrown off course. Most of us have a routine of what time to go to bed and what time to wake up.

We know when we want to marry and when we want to get pregnant. When we start a degree course, we know when we will graduate. Our lives are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 30/31 days a month, and 365 days a year.

We love actuals.

We are supposed to cry when we are sad. We are taught to laugh when we are filled with emotions of joy. We vent when we are upset and if you scare us, we express fear. Even our emotions are meant to have absolutes.

But life, oft times, has a lot of ambivalence.

I don’t know how to feel about this story. Some stories come to me and cause me sheer pain. I’ll listen to the storyteller and shed a tear for them. Others cause me anguish and a kind of hopelessness. I want to do something about the situation but I have no idea what that thing is. Yet others leave me happy. I smile through the story and get taken aback when it ends. There’s always an absolute feel to every story I have listened to.

Yet this particular story leaves me at an in-between. I have no idea what to feel about it. I don’t know why, or maybe I do.

Elena’s story begins when she was in class six. And when I hear that I think, “what? Isn’t class six too early?” See, right here is my conflict. Because, how do we start talking about boys and girls in class six? Shouldn’t a class six kid be playing computer games or watching something kiddish on TV? How does she have a boy-girl story at her age?

But she does.

Class six is just the on set of her adolescence. The teenage bug has hit all her peers. Her, not so much she thought herself a late bloomer in the boy-girl sphere. She remembers one time sitting in class and simply being disgusted by the idea of having a boyfriend. She thought, “A boyfriend for what? You get a boyfriend then end up pregnant. Then what?” She thought pregnancy because that was what our parents then used to scare us off the boy-girl conversation. I hope we are doing better with out kids now.

So Elena focused on her books and boy didn’t the teachers love her. She was a bright student, top of her class. Now that she thinks of it, maybe she was just a dedicated student who wasn’t distracted by the wave of adolescence, at least, at the time.

She scored straights ‘As’. She won most of the academic awards. She was almost the best in anything academic in her school. She was also a church girl. She had being raised in one of those homes where the greeting was “Bwana Asifiwe!” in the morning. By the way, it always puzzles me how we (Christian folk) have made that a standard greeting. I opine that it is a declaration but that’s just me.

She also describes herself as miss goody-two-shoes.

I disagree. Being bright and going to church doesn’t exactly make you a miss goody-two-shoes. It just makes you what you should be, a student. She held on to her status rigidly, maybe out of the fear of causing her Christian family embarrassment. She swore never to be caught dead in the boy-girl drama.

But her oath was like a dare to fate. It didn’t take long before her black and white started gliding into grays, a bit of ambivalence.

“You don’t wake up one day and decide that you have feelings for a boy. It kinda creeps up on you, like a flu.” Says Elena. I want to laugh at that but I can’t because flus have become a big deal in Africa since Corona. Kitambo we’d be like, “I have homa so I’m gonna take dawa or just sleep it off.” I don’t mean medicine when I say dawa, no. I mean that concoction thing that leaves your breathe with a bit of a stench.

Elena says that this boy bug starts by a little too much time in front of the mirror. “You don’t even notice it until your mum gives you that side look.” She says.

Unlike most people, She didn’t go out looking for boy-trouble. Boy-trouble came looking for her. In her mother’s house, right there at her mother’s doorstep. She was still in her holier-than-thou bubble when this fine looking gentleman knocked on their door after school hours. His mission? To deliver milk!

She knew him, from church.

I stop there to think of how many ‘normal’ situations could lead to so much drama for a teenager. I mean, a guy well known to the family delivering milk? What could ever go wrong with that?

“I don’t think I had ever spoken to him before that. Mum wasn’t in most days when he brought us milk. And it wasn’t love at first sight. This guy was out of my league. He wasn’t even in my age group. He was way older, almost ten years older.” She says.

“So what attracted you to him?” I ask.

She says it was the way he looked at her, his tone of voice when he spoke to her, and his maturity too. It was that, she guesses, that got him beyond the doorstep into her mother’s house and into her life. And somehow they clicked!

He’d tell her stories of his escapades university all that shebang that would intrigue a primary school kiddo. But it wasn’t his stories of campus that she was particularly interested in, even though that’s what she told her mum on the days mum found them chatting away. It was he.

She was beginning to like him, to enjoy him a little too much.

And so did he, or so she thought. “I will never forget when he gave me his first goodbye hug and held onto me a little longer than usual. To this day I do not know whether that was intentional or not. I just know that it made me feel some typa way that nobody had ever made me feel.” She says.

She would sneak out to call him on her mother’s phone while he was away in campus.

She still shudders at the innocence she had. She would be there thinking that he’d be thinking of her while in campus. In campus surrounded by a host of fine looking, wiser, better groomed, cultured girls? She might have been way in over her head but still she thought she was special.

She looked forward to the holidays. Not her holidays, no, his holidays. She couldn’t wait to see him. Her heart would spark at the sight of him.

“I liked him most of my teenage years, all of my teenage years to be honest. I always wondered whether he felt anything for me.” Elena says.

This question was answered not long after.

“One day I’m at a friend’s house and we’re just hanging out. One of the other girls starts talking about this guy who made moves on her. She went on and on to give details of their time together. And my mind wandered away until she said his name.” She says.

She halts as though to swallow some bitter pill. Then proceeds solemnly.

“You never think that your guy is also your friend’s guy. My heart sunk. I couldn’t speak. I hadn’t told anyone about us before then. Then I realized that my conversations were always in private, never in public.”

They lived in a place where dating was taboo. It was a small town.

“Someone who knows your mother would see you and the story would get home before you. So we were all just sneaking around, kissing and not telling.” Elena says thoughtfully.

She confronted him. “How did that go?” I ask.

“I remember being so angry. I lashed out at him but I don’t remember his response. I don’t remember the look on his face while I said everything I had to say. I just remember that it didn’t change anything. I didn’t stay mad and we didn’t stop seeing each other.” She responds.

There was not just one other girl there were many girls.

“But did that stop me? No! I think this is what Kirk Franklin calls “being addicted to the pain.” She says. I think this is also the part where people write letters to their younger selves and say, “I would tell her to value herself. Know her worth even.”

Her best days would be Sundays.

Not because of church. And yes she would meet him in church. But she knew for sure that she would meet him after church. Just them. The best part was that they’d never plan it. But they both knew it was going to happen. They’d both be up on stage on Sunday morning singing to Jesus, probably repenting for the previous Sunday’s after-church activities. And then walk right back into it as if a few feigned tears could blind Jesus.

He knew where to find her. And she made herself available, always.

She held onto the hope that one day he would choose her. She felt wanted in his arms. He was her first love and those are difficult to get over no matter what you tell yourself.

It was an open relationship. And I here I was thinking that open relationships started with millennials. Kumbe there’s nothing new under the sun?

Anyway, they called each other BFF and there were no demands for exclusivity. She knew he was seeing other people and so did he. But he remained her constant. She says that after hanging out with a guy who is way older, your peers begin to feel like toddlers, like little boys playing with mud.

She went through high school. Wrote to and received letters from other boys, telling them how she was crazy about them.

“My goodness! Teenage years are such a joke.” She jests! “Your teenage years can take all the silly you can afford. And break-ups don’t hurt that bad. Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’s just because I dated quite casually. It just never hurt.”

“But this guy, I should give him a name, but I won’t. Let’s just leave him faceless and nameless.”

She pauses, and then proceeds.

“Ours was not the kind of relationship where we wrote each other letters. By now, as you can imagine, the guy had a job and I was in high school. I don’t imagine that any working guy has the time to buy a letter pad and write sweet nothings to a high school girl, find a stamp and post it. I’m not making excuses for him. Honestly, I never expected it. I just knew I’d see him when school closed. And that was enough for me.”

She convinced herself that he would forsake all others and choose her. She never admitted it but she did fall in love with him at some point. Her heart moved from seeing him as a friend with benefits to really seeing a future with him.

It is at that point that it began to sting. Surely, after all the intimacies they had shared, Elena felt that she knew him and he knew her. Their age difference was now seemingly not so appalling.

She held out hope for the day he’d ask her to be his girlfriend.

“It never happened. I dated other people, perhaps to make him jealous. Nothing! I dated and broke up.” Elena says. “Oh, it hurt. It tore my young heart to a million pieces. I’m still collecting some of them to this day.” She says pensively.

She regretted the day he knocked on her mum’s door. She regretted smiling at him, letting him into her mother’s house. Lying to her mum about him. Letting him into her life, her heart, and her body.

“How do you recover after trusting someone with all of that and they just toss you over?” She asks.

I ask her what happened to him. Did she hate him? Does she still see him? I am curious.

She pauses and says, “I would very much like to say that I deleted his number, blocked him, never spoke to him again. But that did not happen. Our relationship took a very interesting turn. He remained my friend. Our friendship has morphed into this wonderful, respectful, supportive kind of friendship. We still talk a lot, about everything-God, church, our families, life, food, just about everything. And I’m thankful that we’ve gone through murky waters to get here.”

“Even though I doubted his heart toward me as a lover. I do not have an ounce of doubt about our friendship. Some relationships are just better that way. I keep telling him that I would have made a horrible wife for him. He agrees.” Elena says.

There’s a lot going on with our teens. There’s a lot going on with our kids. Even in church. Wait, especially in church. Do you know what your teen is up to?

There’s hope in Elena’s story but there’s too much ambivalence in it. I honestly do not know how this story makes me feel. It leaves in the in-betweens.

What does this story make you feel? Post your comment, I’d love to hear from you. And if you have a story of your own share it. Tuendelee kuongea!

  1. The story leaves me feeling sad mostly…i feel like that guy should be persecuted for taking advantage of a minor. He took Elena’s innocence and her youth. Some would argue that Elena should never have given him her body but please remember she was a child. God protect our children from such men.

  2. I’m right there in the in-betweens with you because wueh! 🙆🙆Class six? And what was Mr. Milkguy thinking? Teenage is such a ride. Kwanza in church where you can’t have these discussion because your body is ‘supposed to tow the line’. But heee, surprise!! It doesn’t always.
    I pray that you heal Elena.

  3. Oh boy! Quite a courageous one this one, I am happy that she managed to navigate through it all. As for the milk boy I don’t know what to feel or say at this point! Good read though, keep them coming.

  4. This is one of the many that have heard. We’ll hear of class 3 you’ll not leave the in betweens. So much is happening with the teenagers and especially in church as we greet them Bwana asifiwe. Am glad somehow she navigated through although the damage was done. And they are both bold to still be friends.

  5. When I was in class six,I knew nothing about boys anyway things have changed a lot. For real there is a lot going on with teens just everywhere.I think parents gat a lot to do and everyone in the society to save the teen’s.

  6. It makes me angry….very.
    Mainly because am reading it from Elena’s mom perspective.
    And all through,I felt like it could happen to my teenage daughter, right Infront of my door,in s house that I toiled to build and most probably,it would pass me.
    Then I’d never forgive myself.

  7. Oh!!..Milk boy..
    Reading it from a perspective that the meeting point was after ministering on a sunday; which is still happening currently…

  8. Teenage life is complex. Those feelings nowadays come earlier than class 6. The babies (sorry teenagers) don’t know how to deal with them and would hardly agree to what adults advise. I think parents should extensively and intensively engage their kids on matters relationships this early. Let the kids feel free to tell you what they feel, know, think, like, want etc. Do they have or wish to have a boy/girlfriend, and who would be their choice? This is a very hard nut to crack, especially with us church folks, but I think if done successfully it would help. I held my breath through out the read, thinking how much damage could the milk boys cause to this girl, had he decided to take advantage of her feelings. And how many other milk boys do we have in our environment, who ain’t as “good” as this specific one? This story to a parent isn’t just a story.

  9. ……when i flash back well and after reading this story i can only say …if there is any darkest moment in ones life is the teen age stage, hauna mbele wala nyuma hata kama umeokoka. you just go by your feelings and moods.
    May our good God keep the teenagers from the fiery bodies including wale wangu.
    thank you for sharing

  10. I like the way you tell the stories. A true master at combining the five key elements that go into every great short story…… character, setting, conflict, plot and theme. You have a beautiful mind.

  11. Interesting.
    Keep telling African stories.
    Its not easy being female. Love grows gradually whether its with a milk boy, shamba boy, house gals or a minister and once you fall in love to the ladies somehow the other person starts becoming part of you. Its life, its normal.
    The teenagers of today are shrewd, crafty and always ahead. There are a lot of relationships going on an the parents would never know. Ours is not to worry but tell the youths the truth about life. When such situation arise they will know what to do.
    We have come from far, our experiences make life interesting. You can never live in isolation. Empower teenagers with knowledge, that all.

  12. This is one great story… Makes me feel sorry for the lil’ gal. Having to navigate the murky world of love and emotions all on her own must’ve been difficult…. Glad she overcame. Methinks it’s high time we churchfolks had candid conversations with our teens(Happy coz most of us are already doing so). I believe we can still help them.

  13. Its seriously teaching us to be observant with our teens knowing that kikulacho kinguoni mwako,these milk people,security guards and other casuals in our compounds need to be thoroughly observed whether men or ladies.

  14. Ooh Milk boy…I have no say around here but then those who have gone ahead should have a way of having control which will never be easy.
    Nature should also legalise the letters to our younger selves😂😂😂….
    Nice piece…

  15. It’s amazing to actually have this conversations openly – teenage love, hahaha.
    Glad someone is writing about these stories 😊

    I also don’t know how to feel about this…the milky guy 🤔 was he just there to milk at first!? Is it really a thing or we have been taught to make it a thing, as in sex is a man’s thing??? what does that evenn mean, lol…then there’s the idea of woman “giving in”, huuuuh, okay story for another day..

    I actually I’m not sad about how the story ended with the guys becoming friends, especially applauded the woman for figuring her way around the whole thing without victimizing herself…

  16. We know when to get pregnant.. …. ..
    Her (elenas)story makes me think loud hehehe..wat are they up to ????……Meanwhile in class six I was too beautiful but no “”””boy thinking”””.

  17. Enyewe there’s nothing new under the sun. I had always thought that millennial teenagers have it rough than we did back then because of phones and technology. Maybe I thought that coz I was a late bloomer. But I’m glad Elena went through the motions and came out quite okay.

  18. Interesting read…….I feel Elena,I understand her….I can imagine how heart broken she was when the’milk boy’moved on for good and she had to re-adjust… interesting Love story.

  19. …well…niko hapa nangoja part two of this story….I feel like i was watching an episode ya series flani and I’m waiting for season 2….mmmh….

  20. What a read…i’m left in-between feeling sad for Elena,angry at the milk guy for “you should know better” to get entangled with a minor and the “hopelessness” of Elena’s mum..i don’t know what to feel😏

  21. We church folks sometimes tend to forget we are Human and think somethings Can’t happen. If only we could learn to be real with each other and teach our teenagers how to deal with most issues Life wouldn’t be so harsh on us. Nikama tuliachwa tufunzwe na ulimwengu Hehe… Nice piece my chair

  22. As a mother of teens and passionate about youth welfare, I must say I aaaaaam veeeery disturbed. Have I gotten it right, have I said right and in the right way, what else do I do as another, how else should I pray, how best can I help? That pastor for the story anyway….taking away ignorance

  23. One thing i know for sure is tgat 95% of our teen rships never led to marriage!but there was “something”about them that you remember to date!!
    Yooo!lakini huyu milk boy ni m-mean😥

  24. Things I will tell my daughter,stay away from the milk man oooh. Some of your stories……remind me of how one has to jealously guard their hearts from exploitation by older generations but more importantly from those your parents consider as harmless neighbors or family friends. Those things do not exist.

  25. Another good piece, I feel the milk boy took advantage, As a parent I feel a need to take our Kid’s (teenage) through this kind of expectations earlier enough without fear so that they may overcome though not easy but it’s possible, for me having a crush/feeling’s at such an age is senseless because eventually it *May*98% not bear fruit for the girl child, as parents we can opt to share with them on timing’s of doing engaging in any stuff in Life stages. Thank you

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