Let’s have a moment of silence for all the teenagers struggling with pimples and acne.
When I joined high school, those babies popped up on my face, chest and backside like lilies in the autumn. My self-esteem headed south and I wondered if I would ever get a decent date.
Those days we considered the likelihood of getting a date as being directly proportional to physical appearance and how much of a language called sheng you could speak.
I carried around a needle and mirror in my wallet to prick those unwelcome protrusions every time they reared their ugly heads.
When I had a date, which was not very often, they also conspired to appear with all their relatives and clan members. In return I would ferociously attack them until they bled, making the me more miserable.
When I met a girl and my lies about how I loved her more than sweet potatoes and pumpkins would not come out as quickly and convincingly, I would nervously pick at the pimples until they spurted blood.
Looking back, I now understand the reason that I fared such badly on the dating scene. Apart from being not convincing enough to my prospective dates, the appearance of bloodied spots on my face did not aid the already precarious situation.
Because I was brought up in an equivalent of a ladies hostel where the two thirds gender rule in our homestead was heavily skewed towards the ladies. I never hesitated to steal my sister’s facial products.
One notorious anti-acne product was a white paste with a name that closely associated itself with eliminating pimples in a week.
It did not come cheap, and we must have ploughed all our school pocket money savings into buying the product until we discovered it was as effective in curing pimples as warm salty water is in treating obesity.
That paste which I highly suspect was made using wheat flour and water would leave your face ashen and you ended up looking like a rabbit that had just taken leave from its burrow.
Regardless, I continued to employ its faltering services until I was convinced that I was growing a special breed of pimples that was drought resistant.
I say drought resistant because in my four years of high school we survived on one meal a day split into three small servings aptly flattered as breakfast, lunch and dinner.
When I finally finished college and landed myself a job, I utilised my medical cover to visit a top dermatologist located in the plaza where most of the medical consultants trade their practice and poor hand writing.
He did not need to ask me what my problem was because it was all evident for him to see, and moreover it was very clear from the signage at his door that he did not treat bronchitis and heartburns.
“I am suffering from acne,” I said as he slipped on a pair of medical gloves and stood over my uplifted face.
He touched my cheeks and forehead where a big plantation of pimples blossomed. He touched them gingery and assuredly like he really treasured them.
He must have treasured them when you think about it, because this brief consultation was going to transfer a few thousand shillings into his bank account.
He asked me what else was bothering me. I wanted to tell him that I could do with a million shillings and a plateful of ugali served with gizzards and avocados, but I realised that this was not the time for small talk.
“Apart from pimples, what else do you have?” he asked me as he toyed with a thick medical journal that had photos of people with pimples as big as water melons.
I fidgeted a bit before mentioning a job, a family, my KVX that I only drove around end month, a Sony 14″tv, a video tape player, a girlfriend, several flowery suits, and a Nokia 3310 phone.
He was quiet. You could hear my last meal of pounded potatoes rumbling in my stomach.
“Ignore the first one (the acne) and focus on the rest”, he finally said as he prescribed a mild antiseptic soap. He explained to me that the appearance of pimples on my face was consistent with my teenage years and it was nothing to worry much about.
“When you are old enough the first one will go, but all the rest will remain”, he added as he pressed the buzzer to summon in the next patient.
I went home and sat on my bedsitter for many hours that evening thinking about what the grand old doctor had said, and about life in general. The truth hit me like thunder. I was worrying over something that I had no much control over while life passed me by.
My long relationship with the pimple cream came to a premature end, and I have been using a mild bar soap since then.
To all the teenagers struggling with acne and pimples, I would quote my dermatologist and encourage you to ignore the first one and focus on the rest.