Bachelor’s Degree

When finally the tribulations of a 21st century bachelor are brought to the classroom for study, the world will be shocked.

The plight of an African child is huge. Research has evidence. But when you add this to the fact that the child is a bachelor living in an era where fathers have become capitalists with little yam to bequeath their sons, you start having an idea the turbulence tides the boy child has to cut to float. Take it from me boy child, you are alone in this world. 

You come home with some shopping. Thank God the government still allows polythene bags. You’d have needed a fleet of high-speed wheelbarrows to carry home this hunt. At such times of inflation, speed and security are a must-have thing to beat the numerous checkpoints of scavengers like the landlord who want to take the joke of friendship too far. Life says you should not sow where you have not reaped and you agree, thy will be done.

You unpack. 30 minutes. Even though it is just a packet of maize flour and half-good tomatoes which the grocer gave you at half the price, it was money altogether. The sweat of earning it in the tough world out there demands that you unpack with modesty, care, pride, importance, and all other female words.

Why are women so proud?

In this young night, one of your neighbours is working on an Indian recipe and you are now sneezing because of the burning pepper. Do they have a verified pair of lungs, these people? Sometimes you sit and think his chest is full of wooden organs that do not break down in the midst of human existence.

One thing about this guy, nobody knows what he does for a living. All you know is that he pays rent on time, gets laid enough times a week and plays his mean selection of Post-Enlightenment Rhumba and offshoot Kwasakwasa like, as they say, shit. Now it is TPOK Jazz with Mario, now it is Mangwana with Fatimata. Now it is Franco breathing out Fabrice, now it is Kanda with Monie. He has made it and you have no legitimate reason not to feel jealous.

The orange flame of your candle flickers in a lazy style. Even candles of these days know that broke bachelors deserve no respect. You are a loser. Hopeless. That’s why it stretches and sways as if you did not buy it from that mean shopkeeper. Some things can be so bad! But you know what, problems are for a short while. That’s what you tell yourself. You’ll get money and pay the electricity bill and once again it will be Let-There-Be-Light in the firmest voice.

The other neighbours next door left are a quiet couple who put on white suits to church every Sunday. Across the corridor is a family that never talks. It is like you will eat their children or destroy the woman’s pregnancy if they greeted you. Just when the world was getting rid of Nazis, new developments develop and you actually feel discriminated. Though you can’t figure out under which law to sue and the dumb lawyers in town can’t figure out a way to get compensated. Why the government can’t turn Law schools into brothels and Mexican girls imported to keep our farmers happy is beyond. But God never sleeps and one day things in the constitution will get clearer and you will be compensated.

Now you are through with unpacking.

You look at your shopping, survey the four walls that contain you every night, and sigh at the implication of what you see. Poverty is a bad thing even on nights when the candle doesn’t show respect. You believe you are a poor achiever and this disturbs you.  

When a man opens his door and goes out in the morning, regardless of age and rank, he goes out to look for his death and women. When you come back hungry without death and without a woman, it means that is another wasted day, and another wasted human tag. You should be caged in a cow pen where your sisters mow waiting to be milked or to be set free for grazing or to be sprayed against ticks. You don’t have the slightest business being a man. For what? You can’t even afford some burnt offering to commemorate your fall from grace, you moron!

You should be a tree, not a human. Cut down and taken to a timber yard. But since you are a weakling, you will not be allowed to go do heavy duties like making doors and beams. That is a job for the stronger weaklings. For you, a wild shrub, yours will be to make things like pencils to be held by tender hands of class one pupils. What else can you make, a toothpick? Or matchsticks. You are sloppy and you may break in the task. So pencils. And maybe tissue paper.

You think about yourself. You agree you are wasted space.

Look. God created mountains and valleys, great scenery. God created man in his image, great thing. But the idea of creating a bachelor was the wrong decision. A religious friend of yours called Barnabas believes that God created man from his own image, man created woman from his own crooked rib, and a woman, from this crookedness, created a bachelor. The bearded men people meet, with much word and little brain, great dreams and no cash, like yourself, are creations of this heartless woman. It pains. 


At 33 you are still a bachelor without a girlfriend. Not even a bar girl. And in your entire life you’ve never had a kid. Those random high school girls who get pregnant without knowing the father have never lied it on you. Not even a mad woman. Futso, a mad woman. 

Last time in the village you left in a hurry because you got privy to a closely guarded dozier. Elders were convening a meeting, and you were to be invited to shed some light on why at 30 you were still a bachelor. Weren’t you the grandson of Khalaka Makhalaka who married at the age of twelve, and who paid dowry for twenty-five wives, sired one hundred and six children with them, and who couldn’t count half his grandchildren? Did you want to bring shame to the lineage of the respected Makhalaka, grandchild of the Egyptian Pharaoh? Those were the issues in the prosecution.

For over three years you have not paid the guy who leaked to you the secret because you were to pay when you get back, and you’ve never got back. Sometimes you think that is the reason for your unfortunate luck. People here look at you and see a desperate job seeker. The village thinks of you and sees nothing but a criminal to the law of man and nature.

Oh God, you think. What am I?

When you die, they will store you at the morgue and put your face in the dailies. Your mother will be expecting that a daughter of someone shows up with a tear and a young one. First day. Second day. On the fourth day they will give up and return you home. But your mother will conjure up another excuse so they don’t dig your grave. Day five, still no wife, no girlfriend, no wild child. By now elders will be impatient. They will quickly cordon the hut housing your bones. Then they will come as if praying. They will get out the thorn and complete the ritual – push it up into your exhaust pipe. That is the ritual bachelors have had to undergo ever since your grandfathers left Misri. Then they will hold a short prayer, asking the gods not to return you in any form.
Then they will wait for the night and bury you.

A person knocks at the door. It startles you from your thoughts.


Author: Papa Were

Just a man with a metallic horse and an umbrella.

Reply and run away.