Boonoonoonoos, little bit Boonoonoonoos
1981It is Friday.Eunice and Milkah Wanjiru, sixteen and fifteen, are form-three students at Lamdiak Secondary school—a series of longdark wooden buildings that sit deep in a thick plot of soft Kikuyugrass in front of the Mau forest, one of the coldest places to livein Kenya.It is five-thirty in the morning. There are already lines of girls washing in buckets at the end of their dorm. Form-four girls, cheeks burnt black with cold, have been up all nightstudying for exams.The air is cold and foggy and smells of cow shit andcharcoal irons and foaming Imperial Leather
soap. When Euniceand Milkah Wanjiru walk outside the cold squeezes themimmediately, like two women holding the ends of a wet blanketand squeezing. For a moment it is hard to breathe. The throat isseized. Then heat and air bursts out of them, they puff out warmair from their bellies—it licks their noses, their cheeks.They tiptoe slowly past the school security guard, acantankerous old Gikuyu and Dorobo man, Josphat, who is paidthirty shillings by the school for each girl he catches sneakingout. Josphat is wearing a khaki overcoat from the 1950s. He isasleep, and so this is the best time to sneak out of school.Usually Josphat is up all night smoking bhang. During the day,he likes to sit outside the gate near the bus stop, sewing patcheson his overcoat. The coat smells of old milk and old smoke.