[A school bus’ engine roars to life as a male teacher and his group of students descends the stairs to the museum.
Another bus hoots and a female teacher leads her girls into the vehicle. The red bus leaves first then the green one follows. It stops at the black gate. The driver dressed in the mandatory blue doffs his hat at the female guard.]
Driver: When are you free?
Officer: From today till Monday when I report back here.
Driver: Okay I’ll call you when I’m done dropping the girls back to school.
[She smiles and waves them through then heads to see the curator who tells her to lock the doors as he leaves the compound in his treasured but dilapidated Datsun.]
Officer: That should be added to your collection.
[She locks the exterior wooden doors then punches in a six digit code in the alarm system before heading to the changing rooms. She comes back, puts the working clothes in the guardhouse then brushes her apple bottom jeans and straightens her hair before demurely walking out with her DnG clutch bag]
[An alarm goes off, which is quickly cut off. A tall figure heavily built opens the cubicle door slowly and then ventures out cautiously. He stretches then looks at his reflection and grins widely as he removes his name tag written JIMMIE.]
Jimmie: Who’s the handsome fellow in the mirror?
[He detaches a badge from his breast pocket and pockets it. He pulls out a comb and straightens his hair after washing his face. He steps out of the washroom and blinks rapidly to adjust to the dim interior lighting. They adjust and he heads straight for the art gallery ignoring the CRYING WOMAN carving by Peter Mokaya.]
[He curses loudly as he sees the door is closed. A clock above the alarm system reads 6:30pm. A strange look washes his face as he pulls out his phone. A groan escapes his lips- his phone reads 5:50pm.
He hears approaching footsteps but it is too late to hide so he turns round and sees a uniformed girl walk up to him. She is light skinned and short in stature and he realizes she was one of the female students to come for the field trip. He admits she looks sexy in the school skirt and his eyes travel to her bust and sees the name tag KATY. She adjusts her black Louis Vuitton duffel bag]
Katy: Are you part of the faculty?
[Jimmie immediately dislikes her though he is drawn by her beauty. Rather impatiently she repeats her question.]
Jimmie: If I did work here I highly doubt I would still be around especially on a Friday don’t you think?
[Katy gives him a hard look then heads to the door stretching her hand to grab the door.]
Jimmie: I wouldn’t do that if I were you. The alarm system will come on.
Katy: You mean go off.
[Jimmy shrugs and decides to at least look at his surroundings. The windows were heavily barred so he couldn’t use them. The room was very big with 40×25 inch portraits spaciously hung on the white walls. Most of the paintings were abstract but a few were compositions. He quickly got bored and looked for a place to sit down.
Katy watches him]
Katy: You do not look like an art thief.
[Jimmie finally sits down under a painting christened The Enlightment. A small boy was walking through a dark patch of trees as he headed towards the rising sun in the horizon.]
Jimmie: Who knows I may be waiting for my accomplice to come.
Katy: You!! I bet you are the most art ignorant and illiterate person this side of the universe.
Jimmie: Art is for sissies and women who have nothing to do in life.
Katy: I’m sorry if I hurt your ego.
Jimmie: You did not even make a superficial scratch.
[He turns to look at the painting above his head.]
Katy: [Mutters] Then I’m the last king of Scotland. [Aloud] What now?
Katy: The situation- hello we are both locked in a museum.
Jimmie: I am going to find a way out while you just stay out of my way and shut that mouth of yours.
[Katy rolls her eyes and leans against the wall in the process moving the portrait with her shoulder. Jimmie quickly grabs her and she kicks out at him hitting him with her bag.]
Katy: If you do that again I’ll do more damage.
[Jimmie slowly gets to his feet clutching at his stomach. He curses and watches as Katy gets defensive.]
Jimmie: Do you want to get us arrested? If you move the paintings you’ll make the alarm go off.
[She feels stupid and tries to apologize but he motions for her to keep quiet.]
Jimmie: Yet they say ati women empowerment.
Katy: I said I’m sorry. What do you mean by that statement?
Jimmie: Nothing at all.
[He heads out of the gallery leaving Katy watching him as he left.]
[Jimmy walks up the corridor passing the male washrooms where he had hidden himself. He sees a flight of stairs leading up to an office. A bronze plaque nailed on the door shouts DIRECTOR. He turns the knob and it opens.]
The room has a beige sofa and an arm-chair against one wall. A cordless phone and a desktop computer sat on a mahogany desk against an opposite wall. A Turkish carpet covered the floor up till a wooden cupboard.
[He went straight for the phone and picked it up, then slammed it down again.]
Jimmie: Great it’s dead and there is no network in here. Preserved in a museum I now feel like a fossil.
Katy: Well you are a fossil.
Jimmie: You scared me anyway what are you doing here?
Katy: Boys are not supposed to be scared isn’t that the norm?
Jimmie: Girls are supposed to be scared isn’t that the norm? I suppose that’s why you followed me in here.
Katy: You are such a male chauvinist you know that.
Jimmie: And you are such a female chauvinist.
Katy: You can’t blame me. After all you men always think that you are the best, superior, crème de la crème.
Jimmie: I am not having this conversation with you at all.
Katy: How do you know there is no network in here?
Jimmie: Male intuition.
Katy: Oh please!!!
Jimmie: I am starting to dislike you intensely with that attitude of yours.
Katy: What attitude? You just expect me to be silent and let you call the shots? Reality check, we are in the 21st Century. We women know our rights.
Jimmie: typical of you to make a mountain out of a molehill.
[He heads to the wooden cupboard and opens it. Inside is a coffee maker, three plastic tumblers, an unopened tin of coffee beans, a small water dispenser and three large packs of assorted biscuits.]
Jimmie: splendid! Instead of being out on a Friday night partying, I am stuck in a museum with a Miss Prissy yapping on about women rights.
Katy: And am tuck with a Stone Age caveman.
[Jimmie holds his tongue and boots the computer. Katy takes a seat and watches him as he ignores her. He clicks as the computer asks him for the password. Katy asks what’s wrong.]
Jimmie: Are you a computer hacker?
Katy: Isn’t that what you guys do?
Jimmie: (sarcastically) I am just a Stone Age cave man.
[Katy ignores sarcasm and sighs as she realises that they have to put up with each other till Monday. She pulls out a shawl and a book. Jimmie shakes his head and tries to type in passwords but to no avail. His stomach rumbles and he makes himself some food. Katy pulls out two chocolate bars and hands him one but he declines to take it. After some time in trying to crack the password he yawns and looks up to see Katy sleeping on the sofa. He sighs and leaves the room.]
[Jimmie wakes up and stretches trying to get the cold out of his joints. A shawl drops to the floor which he picks up.]
Jimmie: Kwani the paintings will expire?
[He puts the shawl over his shoulder and heads to the washrooms and freshens up before heading to the office. He slowly pushes the door opento find Katy still asleep. He places the shawl over her body and leaves.]
Jimmie: (Muttering) Please at least just flash.
[The service provider tells him he has no airtime. He pockets the phone and sneezes. Katy shuffles into the room and heads to the female washrooms without giving him a glance.]
Jimmie: (Whispers) Morning blues.
[He heads to the office and pepares hot coffee then grabs some biscuits and sits at the table to once again try a hand at guessing the password. Katy walks in minutes later and comes to watch him work.]
Jimmie: No one works under pressure.
Katy: Have you thought of clicking on the hint button? I suppose the director is a male and forgetful.
[Jimmie blushes but snaps;]
Jimmie: You are so gender based, get a life.
Katy: I am merely pointing out facts of life.
Jimmie: Really? Tell this simple caveman what these facts are.
Katy: In a nutshell women are better than men.
Jimmie: In that case, come and crack the code.
[Katy takes the chair and hits the himt button. Jimmie watches as she types in words which are all rejected. He frowns and then notices the cursor is a bronze reptile. He snatches the keyboard and types in JURASSIC.]
[A welcoming message appears.]
Jimmie: Guess you are not better.
Katy: I am the one who pointed out the hint button.
Jimmie: you typed in Mesolithic, neolithic and microlithic. You have to think like man- Jurassic park is much easier to remember than what you learned in history class. Now excuse me I have work to do.
Katy: the phone is dead so there is no internet.
Jimmie: (Snorts rudely) Why the government bothers to educate the girl child I wonder. That device on the wall is for wireless internet not for décor.
Katy: You have an ego. Girls too are humans and we have more potential than you boys.
Jimmie: And you have such an attitude. The girl being over-compensated by ignoring the boy will not help any one.
Katy: It is fair since you had a headstart.
Jimmie: funny it is we men who fought for you. Starving the fet person to feed the thin one wont help.
Katy: What are you implying?
Jimmie: The girl child is mentioned all over. The boy child only comes up when for negative comparison.
Katy: Well we need a standard and that is the boy child
Jimmie: Let me warn you women with your attitude will find it hard to get a husband.
Katy: It is called being single by choice.
Jimmie: Do not lie to yourself Katy. You may sugar coat it but the truth of the matter is you will get no man to fit your expectation because the boy child was neglected as emphasis was placed on the girl.
[Katy stays silent as the truth sinks in but she shakes her head.]
Jimmie: I knew you wouldn’t agree. Let me give you some facts.
Katy: Go ahead I am all ears.
Jimmie: give me your ideal man.
Katy: well unlike you, he is one who can reason, show emotions and empathy, hardworking, educated or rather smart. Then there are the physical traits but I doubt you want to hear them.
Jimmie: (Quickly) that’s enough. Society expects the boy to be strong when under pain. Imagine a worst case scenario- boy is raped funny as it may seem it is the reality. He suffers in silence since he isn’t to show feelings.
Katy: Ahem go on…
Jimmie: We travel to Zimbabwe where our boy will not be believed because boys are NOT rape victims. We go to Botswana where widespread belief has it that girls are more vulnerable to HIV than boys, and since boys are initiators of sex it will be hard for him to narrate his ordeal. Also because many don’t believe the boy can be a rape victim
Katy: Okay that sounds so gloomy.
Jimmie: Away from the scenario then to education. A female UN worker in Ghana said that high enrollment of girls in Ghana led to dropout of boys who favour employment to earn a living.
Katy: That shows he is afraid of competition.
Jimmie: You can be right too however look at it from a different perspective. Schools usually have guidance dept. and lessons. Such sessions are in class where both girls and boys meet. Boys tend to hide any problems or questions they may have infront of girls. Even in a single sex class remember the counsellers are usually teachers who teach them
[He sips his coffee and munches on his biscuits. He offers her a cup and passes the biscuits.]
Jimmie: Let us go eastward to Nigeria. Nothern Nigeria boys are few in school while Southern the opposite is true. So it is not just the girl child. We come back to Botswana where there are countless book research and programmes on the girl child butpractically very few about the boy child.
Jimmie: (Pauses) a principal here in Kenya said and let me paraphrase: ‘If the boy child is in danger then the girl is in even geater danger.’ I agree because if the boy turns to crime all are afeected.
Katy: But in the family the boy is more privileged.
Jimmie: The freedom we have is a curse in disguise. Let me ask, what are your paroz doing now?
Katy: Wondering if I am in school learning?
Jimmie: what would happen if they know you are trapped in here with a boy?
Katy: (Smiles) Hell would come to earth.
Jimmie: If you were in day the door would have been broken down by now. I am in day school.
Katy: Really? I thought you were…
Jimmie: I modified my uniform. Anyway my parents think I spent the night out at a friend’s place- there is a ring of truth to that. You see the boy is left to do what he wants and so he experiments.
Katy: Yeah I have to always state where I am goimg and keep curfews.
Jimmie: I call that guidance. If the boy had such rules then things would be different. The girl is always taught everything about herself like the first blood stain she got. The boy learns all alone.
Katy: also the boy child is usually compared to rogue politicians, abusive husbands and absentee fathers especially in single parent families.
Jimmie: exactly! The boy becomes bitter in life and this brings back your ideal man that you will find only in utopia.
Katy: Because he will either be an absentee husband, a squanderer on chips funga, mpango wa kando, hit and run.
Jimmie: Glad you seeing the full picture. By the way I am not a sexist I support gender equality.
Katy: (Good-naturedly) you are one smart cave-man.
Jimmie: (Smiles) the term is evolving. I am Jimmie by the way.
Katy: Jimmie the Cave-man. I like the sound of that.
Jimmie: Katy the Modern Woman. We cool now?
[Katy shakes his hand and nods.]
[Katy closes her bag and hands her number to Jimmie who then gives her his. They agree to meet again under non-claustrophobic conditions. They head to the gallery where they hear knocking and someone shouts Katy’s name. the two look at each other.]
Jimmie: Guess they noticed you were left behind. Tell then you are here.
[Katy shouts back and the person outside shouts in joy and orders for the door to be opened.]
Katy: Ready to leave now?
Jimmie: I can not.
Katy: Why not?
Jimmie: Remember the illustration if you were to be found in here with a boy? Bad picture for you.
Katy: How will you get out then?
Jimmie: A way will open. Remember you are the girl child. Neglect is nothing new to me I better go.
[Katy hugs him quickly and plants a kiss on him. He smiles and rushes to the cubicle just as the door is opened. A motherly figure walks in and hugs Katy. She is followed by the security officer and the bus driver. Katy greets the Madame and reassures her she is okay. She explains that she couldn’t call the school ‘because cellphones are illegal in school and the museum phone was dead. The officer backed her up on the phone inactivity.]
Officer: I am sorry ishould have checked infact let me do a quick search now.
Katy: There is no one around only a cave-man would want to be locked in a museum.
[The three grown-ups look at each other and laugh.]
Driver: It looks like someone needs a check-up.
[The officer then punches in numbers in the alarm system. The teacher herds them all out.]
Katy: Excuse me can I borrow your phone teacher?
[A message tone rings out in the building and is hastily cut off. Jimmie reads the text from Katy and wonders why she sent hin the opening date of the institution- 030799. He heads back to the gallery to admire the painting one last time because he vowed never to enter another art museum. He went to look at The Enlightment which he developed a soft spot for.]
[As he stares at the painting his eyes wander to the alarm system. Something dwans on him and he sends a flying kiss to the painting. He punches in six figures in the system and smiles as the system goes off.]
Jimmie: Thank you Katy.