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I got my eyes from my old lady, my mom has these enchanting light brown eyes that beam under daylight. They are her salient feature, perchance, her most alluring. When you see my mom the first thing you spot are her eyes, then – maybe – her residual austerity somewhere underneath. Mine (my eyes) are a tad more subdued; more hazelly and darker, under the right light they come out light brownish – unlike my mom’s skin, mine are conspicuous to my ebony hue. Okay, this is coming out a tad conceited, but I swear this is not me blowing my own trumpet, so i’ll wrap up this preamble here.

When I was in highschool i had this teacher enamoured of me, a stout english teacher with an archetypal villainous Heisenberg Breaking Bad goatee – somehow a wholesome appendage to his look. The villainous tag bolstered by his left hand, a hand that could whack the adolescence off your face, albeit he never striked me, I saw him mete out the wrath of his hand on a couple of students. Wait, do they call them – teachers of english now, no? I digress.

It was during this period that I first had a cognisable awkward moment with compliments. My boisterous teacher would amble to class, his sleeves folded to his elbow and salute us, then go ahead to acknowledge the ones he liked more. Suffice to say I was in. He would motion at me and say, “Allen Mwema, my very own boy. Very nice eyes today” After, he would start the class, sometimes, the acknowledgement anew amidst the class.

As a demure highschool boy, I was coy but relished the attention. Subsequent to each compliment from him, my deskmate would dramatically lean over and leer into my eyes, exerting and squinting to see the peculiarity therein. He saw naught and couldn’t wrap his head around the attention I was getting from the teacher. In hindsight, I guess his sour grapes were too obscuring his gaze ho-ho.

This happened maybe through highschool, petering out when his services were allotted to another class. Only happening when we met in the hallways and when I strolled by as he coached the basketball team in the evenings. I tried as much to avoid him. In as much as I savoured the compliments, I was absolutely inept on taking compliments. Oft-times, I was left slightly mortified.

Years later, as a 19/20-year-old college student I experienced my most awkward moment vis-a-vis compliments yet. In between classes, we stood out in the tenuous sun shooting breeze with friends on a nippy mid-morning. A tall-ish damsel, who I later learnt was a roommate to a friend walks to where we were holding court, her eccentric boots clattering on the paved floor, segueing on the schmoozing. Soon after, I notice her make a beeline towards me, just halting her strides before me.

“Hi, what’s your name?” She asks.

“Oh, Allen.”


“Heh, No, Allen. With a double l followed by an -e”

“Well, Allen, I think you have nice lips,” she rejoins, totally blindsinding me.

After what seems like a solid minute but only less than 3 seconds in real time i say thanks. Trying to play it cool as I imploded inside, my demureness engulfing my existence. I think she caught it, I was slightly agitated. In turn, she backpedaled on her approach a bit as we ventured in excruciating small talk, having seen many introverts like me daunted by her self assertive disposition and forthrightness.

You never know how gruesome small talk is until you have to talk to someone you know zilch about save for their appearance at that moment in time. Eventually, I saw my out of the confer. If it went on a little longer, beads of perspiration might have dotted my forehead and in turn vanquish my street credentials, not that I had any anyway, only, fluffing a convo with a lass isn’t exactly permissible in college. I think I spurned it and I kept avoiding her since, almost having to duck when I could to evade her line of sight.

I’ve had other significant moments with compliments since, some even with a dash of risqueness. I’m better now with compliments, i think because they are kind of thinning out if not nonexistent entirely. The rule of thumb is to maintain composure but stay appreciative and not make a complimentary acknowledgement in return – it’s tacky, unless the compliment is utterly honest.

Also, i try not to hinge compliments on people’s bodies, i base mine on accessories – small intricacies people put together – like a purse perhaps, or shoes, you can never go wrong with shoes. The thing is; everyone likes compliments in the apt setting, but nobody really tells you how taking compliments is harder than it seems.



  1. “Allen Mwema, my very own boy. Very nice eyes today” our salutations have officially changed starting today 😂

    Great read. And nothing but truth, compliments are very hard to take, ten times out of nine.

    Liked by 1 person

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