Road Trip: The journey


Six feet two, black hair slowly fading to white, dark glasses to hide his tiny eyes and the large nose beneath it, he stands proudly against the white washed walls of the late night store. Next to him is a girl, a real girl with bigger boobs than we all expected. Well we didn’t expect a girl, probably a fat Indian cat or a goat. Yeah a big he-goat with a goatee long and bushy enough to make Anyang Nyong’o rethink what dumb looks like. Truth be told his massiveness has a way with the ladies, I suppose he stands close enough to them, then leans over to their ears and lets out his hoarse voice spiced with foul smell. Basically, he’s the kind of man who’d chew pk and still smell like he just made out with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I suppose it’s better if I explain that the first time I met him, the quote “look like a pig” probably would define Rihanna. Looks aside, he’s a man of many talents, many of which are secrets even to him. Ooh before I get lost talking about him, let’s call him Rory.

Looking at him right now reminds me of the past two days when like normal campus students we had stolen our parents cars and a tiny bit of money, well not too much to make them bankrupt. We then took a drive to some place in Kambaland, a place you get to by driving through 10 roadblocks every hour. The buses on this road are driven in rally mode cos for an old yellow bus to easily zoom past to a 2 litre KBN is just not possible, unless the dumba stories are true.

Remember the guy who said Kaos suck at giving estimations of distance. Well our host kept telling us to look for a water kiosk painted in blue. It sounds easy when you hear that and remember everything pat Machakos is painted yellow, not so interesting when u speed race with an even a more powerful car probably a 2.3 litre on the sign-less roads of Garissa. The car eats tarmac for lunch and not so pocket friendly for an impromptu trip. So after 5 turn arounds we get to meet our host who is clad in full army gear complete with a 3 litre jerrican imprinted Fresh fry, I suppose for a water bottle. How would I know, I come from a place where water is not new, we pee whenever and wherever we want and that’s probably why we grow to normal height. The guy who meets us, let’s call him Kababa- that’s his real ocha name after all, is shorter than a metre rule. Looking at him makes you do weird things like trying to find the place where his waist is located only for him to bend to tie his shoes and you realise that was his neck. On his feet is a pair of brand new Akala sandals which I can bet he made himself from the used car tyre he stole from Matuu. Truth be told I’ve never seen more yellow in a single place in all my life. In this place yellow is swag and everybody has yellow plastic shoes, free yellow wiper caps or just a yellow sock, the other side missing or not.

Kababa graduated from Juja and the entire village are gathered at his dad’s to celebrate, a vast compound that is gated from 1km away. Past the gate is the dry Ngumalo river, one I understand is where his entire household takes a shower, past their ‘bathroom’ is a huge bump, huge even by Kamba standards. This homestead is awash with foodstuff from muthokoi, ‘maanya’ to weird looking Kamba delicacies that surprisingly taste better than they look.

The moment we get into the compound we are served with water, I wouldn’t know if it’s cold after all this is a place beyond Matuu or was it Mutuuu. Then comes very hot chapattis, so hot u can literally see smoke rising above the tray they lie, with it comes matumbo ya kuku and something else we couldn’t get its name right. But before we fight our hunger away we have to salimia 20 something relatives who dorn huge smile and shout ‘wacha’ into our faces. You gotta earn the meal, well if this is earning our daily meal, it better be good and good it was.

In our rounds shaking hands, some tender others as hard as hard comes yet with a tight squeeze in their shakes, we realise a goat has met its death; a chicken breathed its last and a squirrel’s mbio za kiwanjani fikad ukambani.

The gang consists of Rory, Duch, Mutiso and me plus whatever girl we happened to have dragged along. Ooh Duch is the unlucky one who get’s rejected now and again. The guy has probably known singlehood longer than Raila has known Kibaki doesn’t like him that much. On this fated trip, he dragged Patricia, pronounced Pathrishia who speaks English, a few English words and a tonne of mumbi language. She’s the kind of grl who will use “fucking” and “forever” in the same sentence and lower your libido while at it. The gang thinks by Duch hooking up with her he’s taken onto punishing himself which i won’t lie will be great news to us. In this car he chauffeurs he keep on saying “funga window” yet he happens to have the controls that could do all that. That however is just part of the drama in this car as Pathrishia went on and on telling us how so little she knows of Kamba, well she has as much knowledge as lawyer has honesty. On her bare back is a tattoo of a goat eating grass. Well that’s a story for another day. I switch on the car lights to look for a smokie or anything to chew to sleep but Pathrishia barks, “Wacha kuwacha taa.”. To which Duch whispers to me, ‘isn’t she funny?’


Daddy Issues


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Let me tell you a story, I’ve never been able to forget since the first time I heard it.

“Two children are on vacation with their father at a holiday inn on the shores of the Indian ocean. He takes them sightseeing and even hires a boat so as to give them a memorable tour of one of the world’s largest water body. Being a man of his own words he takes them to a solitary place beyond the rocks to fish. After a number of fruitful moments he gives his line to Mark, his eldest son, to hold onto while he goes below the decks to make them something to eat. But first, he gives them a warning or an instruction you may say. Love in his eyes and anxiety on his trembling lips he says, “Mark and Doug whatever happens don’t jump in the water.” then he scurries off below the decks. While down there, Mark tags on his father’s line which somehow has caught a big fish. At first he keeps this to himself because he wants to take credit for it but changes his mind when his catch suddenly seems to have more power than he expected. “Doug!” he calls, “I think Dad’s line has caught something here!” Doug looks at him then shouts back, “Well lets see!” then he walks towards him. Before he gets there the line gets a sudden tag and before he can say Help Mark is being furiously dragged on the water. Doug, thinking first shouts at his dad for help. His dad runs the flight of stairs to the top of the deck and seeing his son helpless in the middle of the ocean he’s lost on what to do. He shouts at Mark to let go of the line who does so not because he heard his dad rather because he’s too tired to keep holding on. His dad revs the engine and turns around to go save his son from drowning. From a far he can see shadows circling his son and from his random readings his fear is confirmed, sharks! He’s now close enough to his son and asks Doug to help him pull Mark aboard and just as he’s reaching for Mark’s hand he sees the shadows now so close enough that he might not be able to pull Mark to safety. So he pulls out his pocket knife and rips the skin on his left hand and plunges into the water just as Doug holds onto Mark.”

A few writers have succeeded in painting dad as a figure who could change one’s life but am certain this story takes the thumbs up. Many would reckon I did this piece because of the looming father’s day, well I did but something else strikes me. Almost every book I read have painted “daddy issues” as the reason for dysfunctional kids while “great mums” are the reason for unexplainable success. Well, I agree and Yes, I don’t agree as well. I agree because many people can’t be so wrong at the same time unless this is a universal controversy to paint all fathers as absent, abusive, alcoholic and irresponsible. To add my voice to it all, well mum’s too could be provide a better mark for such description yet in it all they have been showered by all the hullabaloo of how they make the world go round and how when the clock stroke midnight they ensured Cinderella had one shoe on.

I’m not intent on painting Mums as bad people so as to make Dads gain some points, well maybe a little. I wanna paint dad’s as the people they really are, passionate enough to make a fool of themselves sometime even so that mum’s take all the credit. And that has been their undoing, while mums drag all their children and relatives to battle it out, dad’s have stood a safe distance not because they are cowards but because they are brave enough not to let their personal battles to bring their offspring to harm. In case you have been questioning how aloof your dad has been during turmoil, I bet today you get your answer. Just before I forget I once heard,

Women fight like politicians, they bring all they can hold onto including chairs, name calling and threats of allegience to mount Kenya, men fight like sheep they hit their heads together even after it pains them to death.

I’ve stayed with my dad a lot so when I vouch for him, I know how much he means to me. My mum too has played a superb role and sometimes forced me and my dad into weird escapedes like man hugging and asking my dad to flog me out in the open infront of my friends, who I had happened to tell that am a grown ass man who gets flogged no more. So much for her undoing, she has cooked me chapatis, ugali and an extract of milk the luo call moo alenya and ngiende. She has thrown all caution to the wind and told my average looking girlfriends in the face that they are not as hot as they think they are. But in all her brevity today I choose to honour my dad, a man I believe there are few like and if at all they are he’s beaten pants down at being the best dad I know of. This is not because when my mum caught me and Anita, the girl next door, “reading” and mum had insisted I get punished he had said somethings are not what they look like. Or it’s not because the day he got me teasing my distant cousin that she’s so ugly that her tits had shrunk back like those of an ostrich he had walked by like he heard none of it. It is also not because when he made me go to church every Saturday when all I wanted to do was hide below my once-white-now-something-else duvet. Maybe it’s because he never took away my 42 inch pictures of J-lo that hung on the ceiling directly above my bed.

I remember once when worms were having a ceaseless party in my stomach and we had taken a matatu into Kisii lands when the turn boy commented that I was fat ass pig whose every dose of deworming drugs had been shared by the worms who also happened to have worms inside them. The matatu had roared into laughter and dad had sat quietly next to me and pretended like he never understood that dialect. When we got to our stop he got off the matatu and pulled the turn boy aside and shot him a blow into his belly that got him flying and landing into the bush. Maybe a kick had followed I don’t remember because fat as I was my eyes were sealed shut from the laughter that ensued. I ended up laughing all year long that soon I had lost weight and looked like a normal kid. My dad still jokes that the worms had gotten killed from the body vibrations that came with laughter. Maybe i’ve exaggerated a little, who cares cos after all you’ll need to have a better story to convince me that your dad is more bad ass.

To celebrate all dad’s who have suffered media demolition and literary torture, please share your stories of how heroic your dad is and show him some love all week long until 16th June.

Oooh and one more thing, Mark survived so lets make dad’s trend this week. Tweet with me on twitter @Jahnekoh and let’s celebrate the men who us happen.


Here’s my favourite joke for father’s day

Dear Dad,

$chool i$ great. I’m making lot$ of Friend$ and $tudying hard. I $imply can’t think of anything I need. $o just $end me a card, a$ I would love to hear from you.

Love, your $on.

Dear Son,

I kNOw astroNOmy, ecoNOmics and oceaNOgraphy are eNOugh to keep even an hoNOur student busy. Do NOt forget that the pursuit for kNOwledge is a NOble task,and you can never study eNOugh.

Love, Dad

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Lost in a bottle

Sometimes life lets us cross paths with people who have had better experience with the ugly. I know we all like to brag among ourselves on who is more bad ass and take credit as the one who has seen it all, sadly enough this isn’t true. I have had my share of experiences with diverse people but had I to write a memoir about the ones who strike me, I would probably state that she makes the list. To the eye that sees she’s just another regular chick: fly, cute smile and a figure to kill for but to the eye that perceives her eyes speak volumes about what she knows that she wishes she could tell and hasn’t found a chance yet. She probably doesn’t know as much cos she’s had first hand experience but perhaps cos she knows someone who has. I guess we’ll never know lest she tells it all to us. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you the lady who you will only know of cos of this piece but no name to boot. *whispers* I suspect she is CIA and you know the drill, if she tells you who she is she would have to kill you.

Here she goes….

Everyone has that harmless habit that they indulge in. It’s always harmless and perhaps tricky because you quite never know when you are going overboard. Even when overboard no one freely admits because admitting deems us weak and no one really wants to be seen as weakling by our peers, the people who we admire and possibly seek their approval even when the approval is as useless. I should know these, I struggled to be acceptable for a while, to be able to fit in and eventually when I could fit it no more I drowned my imaginary insecurities in alcohol. I have absolutely no excuses for the things I have put myself through because all I simply had to say was no to another round of drinks my friends offered or simply reject the callers in my phone book whom I had long certified belonged to the drinking buddies category. Those people whom as the name suggests only look for me when it’s time to hit the pubs which was usually between Friday through to Sunday and long before that days rolled into each other and hitting the pub on a Monday did not look so bad anymore I mean I will just hang around here and just wait for the traffic to ease up…. see it was that harmless really.

The road to soberness is such a hard task more so when our form of relaxation involves binge drinking staggering from one weekend to the next one and a party is remarkably fun when there is alcohol and scantily dressed campus chics nursing their drinks and failing miserably at their attempt to smile and act hot even when the weather is clearly freezing . I always partied hard ,woken up to strange women in my bed and once or twice found myself in even stranger beds but at that particular point I always thought to myself why fix what is certainly not broken, you are probably thinking I was in denial and you are right as well. Mondays found me passing by those seedy joints for a shot of this or that and maybe that’s the point I should have paused and thought hard because from there it all went downhill quickly. Everything spiraled out of control. had huge debts including servicing a car loan for a car I was not even using to discussions with my boss bordering on all my missed deadlines and increased absenteeism. My boss a very nice chap covered for me and even made excuses to cover my drunk ass in the attempt to man up and start cleaning up my mess.

Eventually it became an open secret that I am the chap who cannot handle his drink. I still hanged out with my friends who never made an attempt to help me get help. Not that I expected them to do so. I suppose they used me as a yardstick to measure themselves. Probably gave them a sense of false security to know that they had not yet hit rock bottom or maybe provided some twisted and messed up inspiration for them to drink with reckless abandon in an attempt to forget that they were headed in the boat I was currently rocking. My boss is the one who came to my rescue. I hear you silently asking where was your family well they were long gone. No one really wants to hang around the brother who borrows your laptop ad never brings it back and attempts to get it bore no fruit because the laptop was long sold to repay some mysterious debt. I do not blame them they really did try to hang around and when they got tired of walking in egg shells they eventually began whispering behind my back not that I was least bothered by this behavior the only person who I felt I had let down was my mom I could see the hurt in her eyes and I stopped dropping by to see her altogether.

My boss called me into his office one morning. Before going to his office I passed by the gents to splash cold water on my face in order to appear more alert. When I go to his office he did said nothing but handed me a brochure and asked me to read it and get back to him. When I turned to leave he told that was the only way he could help me because it was no use talking about job at that point in time. I did not need anyone to the tell me that was my last chance to try and make something out of my messed up life. Friday 13th June 2008 my boss drove me all the way to a place known as Asumbi Treatment Centre in Homabay. Asumbi treatment centre was my home for three months. Before I was admitted he had to sign in writing that he was a family member and he had agreed to support my treatment, nice guy God bless his soul. In between the administrative procedures no word was exchanged maybe as there was nothing left to say and I suppose it was his way of saying coming here does not make me less of a man.

The 1st month was the hardest and loneliest period in my life. We were not allowed any contact from the outer world not that anyone was about to surprise me with a visit but it would have made me sleep better knowing I still had minimal contact from the world I left behind. The second month was relatively easier I made few friends and even though we looked fairly normal at a glance there was no doubt as to what led us to that particular place.

Butterflies are God’s evidence of second chances, that remains the most important lesson I got from Asumbi Treatment Centre. I had new dreams and aspirations and most importantly I was a changed man. Starting over was not so hard mostly because I had my former boss watching my back he got me a different job from what I had and which did not require much vetting mostly because he had whispered to his contacts who I was .I changed my number changed my friends and changed houses everything that comes with trying to acquire a new identity. Somehow nothing stays a secret for long in this town, soon old friends began calling asking If we could meet and catch up. I never honoured any of those place meetings because rehab was not a place I was in a hurry to go back to. But I never turned anyone away who was on the path to self destruction I made it my business to try and get them to get help because admitting you need help does not make you weak it makes you a stronger man for speaking out. I guess we all would do well to remember the famous pig song whose first stanza goes:

’twas an evening in october,

i’ll confess I wasn’t sober,

I was carting home a load with manly pride,

when my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,

and a pig came up and lay down by my side.

Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,

Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say;

”You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,”

Then the pig got up and walked away.