Love is overrated, love is underrated. River Nile is the longest river in the world and sister Atis the ugliest of them all. That’s one thing about facts, they shift. One moment it’s true and tip it a little bit and it all changes. Over the years a number of philosophers and mathematicians have modelled theories that show how everything has a focal point that seems to carry the weight of the universe as it is. Religion is one such philosophy, truth be told I have had moments when I doubt the existence of a being who takes care of the diverse human population. Sadly or fortunately enough that lasts until that moment when my helplessness reminds me the lyrics of amazing grace or How great thou art? I can’t complain much given that my parents helped me see the position occupied by a deity on whose palms the fate of the universe rests. Before I end up giving a religious psychobabble, I am pushed to remember the purpose and inspiration that burned my palms to this post. Well, Malcolm Gladwell did an impeccable book called The tipping point on whose pages he convincingly admonishes the existence of a miniature action, product or event that seems to shift everything to an avalanche of success or chaos. Wade your way through that.
While I have had my share of books to read, philosophies to believe and principles to adopt, my success at finding people I can totally place my trust in has been vain. Let your take away be that as the world drinks, speaks and worship Madiba am the rebel who watches from behind the big leaf with squinted eyes and Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass as I plot to change the world as it is and paint a different picture of Madiba. Not at all. I have heard PLO Lumumba talk and It turns out as much as his prowess in grammar was mainly astounding, his depth in wisdom, plagiarised or not, is equally edifying. I remember vividly when he said, ‘There are several ways to make history, not all of them good.” It was a warm Saturday evening in the serene compound of the glorious St. Mary’s School, Yala. KCSE was approximately 1 year and 2 months away and in his eyes as he berated the status quo and how much potential the new generation had, my attention shifted to an year earlier when unbeknown to me I had lost one such person I held in equal if not better regard. Not that I had known him well, if I did it wasn’t as much as I would have liked. But then I was just a kid growing up in a chauvinistic African society where one’s family was almost limited to his fathers’. I mean the society speaks in lengths when the woman has to move in with the husband and as such home is where your dad calls home. Your mum’s relatives, although you’re let occasionally to go and visit, being fond of them was considered unmanly. Well am sure a lot of people wants to foil my analogy of this society but am sure we all can agree that our societies have more unwritten and unspoken laws that are held in very high regard, and this might just be one of them.
My tipping point, turns out to be my maternal grandfather. A man of whose few words and immense wisdom confound me to this very day. At a time when other adults saw me a child who needed to learn how the world operates he made me believe that I could change the status quo. Honestly, most times his deep voiced sentiments and comments sounded aloof but while I grew up I realised that he had been planting a seed in me. Days have gone and soon I’ll be out of campus and no man has remained significant in my transformation from the loud mouth teenager to the young adult whose struggles to be a better man has been more procrastination and little action. Sometimes I wish I could find the opportunity to say these things to him but am a little too late. Because while my field of vision is the wreck of havoc that turns out to be the world, he lies outside next to a forgotten pit latrine in his beloved home. Most times I wonder if the dead really see us, and if they do what he would say of the man I have become. But like he consistently told me, ‘’it’s the questions to whose answers we can’t find that push us to do the things we never thought possible.” Well am just a stubborn child who still thinks the sky is blue and that I can be anything I set out to be, and he was just the old man who looked down on that kid and believed he could do it all but left too soon.
I gotta admit that even though I act tough about it all and find humour at the insane things my mum’s siblings did at his funeral, which I didn’t attend. Deep down am more lost and pained by his demise all these years later. Many people would say that that’s the problem of loving too much, but he would say, “if you can’t love with your all, why love at all.” If he’s looking at me from wherever he is I hope the person I’ve become makes him smile and if he doesn’t I hope to be the person he wanted me to be.
Oooh and while he was gone, America elected a Black President with Kenyan roots and I pray they elect him again. He managed to kill Osama Bin laden, great uhuh! And those goats he gave me haven’t multiplied a bit, turns out his daughter, my mum, has been making more soup than she cares to admit. She says I got his eyes, I hope that’s true.
Campus has been good to me. I mean I thought campus will be a place where I try out all those crazy things I watched in movies. Things like telling the lifeless professor to shut up and get a life. Everybody who has watched 3 idiots sure wish they were the ones who were asked to explain how an induction motor starts. Or that they wrote the speech that ‘silencer’ dutifully read. I don’t know about you all, but I thought about all that crazy stuff. Like being the idiot who came up with stupid and hilarious answers to being the smart ass that astounded the whole world. In other words, I wanted to be the jack of all trades. A friend of mine once confided in me that when he came to campus he believed he would be the smartest guy to step foot in a Kenyan institution. He thought the lecturers will make statements like, “Why can’t you be like John? he gets the highest marks, he respects me and sometimes he even teaches me new concepts. I have taught for so many years but I have never met an outstanding student like him.” So I guess am not the only one who wanted to be a smart ass or the idiot for during my time in school I’ve heard questions like, “who collects taxes?” “Who hikes the price of Unga” “Is Mwalimu Kingangi really a mwalimu” But suppose I were to highlight my time in campus I would talk of the time Kish smoked his first puff of weed and became a prophet and went on and on saying, “I can hear the Lord speaking to me. He is saying….” Or the times he simply had too much to drink and revealed all those secrets I confided in him. But nothing simply beats the day when we woke up to find two guys embracing in sleep, buck naked. I know I said CU wasn’t my thing but that weekend I sure went for confession.
Before I lose myself trying to tell stories of the past, am going to talk about my feelings. You guy, yes you stop moving to the next tab. It’s not like am going to cry or say that Jessica’s baby is Asian. Well I could talk about that but today I choose to voice the pains of looking for a job. In a perfect world we all know people who know people who know other people. This people ensure that at the point we get out of campus we secure a well-paying job complete with a company car and a nice big mansion in Muthaiga. But that’s just for the unlucky few who lack start-ups with big potential like that guy who sells mandazi from office to office. Or him who doesn’t know people in the drug world who can hook them up with the victoria Backahm designed Range Rover evoque. While some people I’ve known have chanced on big ideas that could make internet business a joke and facebook the punchline, it floods my eyes to see their lack of motivation or skills to make such dreams a reality. I suppose all is not lost to such people because I believe like Wozniac found his Steve Jobs these people will find their own Mark Zuckerberg.
While I believe am gifted with a mind like few others, I lack the drive to bring such ideas to fruition. I mean I thought about windows 8 before they released windows 7. M-pesa was how I moved money while in high school. I mean you transfer credit from one phone to another until finally you get a tonne of credit on your chosen sim card. Genius huh! Well unlike Safaricom’s rip-off, mine lacked transaction fees so I bet had I licensed the idea I would be that arrogant guy who drives around 560hp. That’s car language for 2013 BMW m5 which surprise! Surprise! got whooped by a 406hp Tesla model s which happens to be an all electric car. Still on my insanely unique and profitable ideas, upgrading Thika road was an idea I put into the suggestion box at parliament. And there’s more I deas from where that came. All the Mwangis reading this post are prepared to steal my next idea and just to show how much I appreciate you coming by I’m gonna say it somewhere in my next words.
In the meantime am gonna finish writing my job application letter and send to those companies that have no idea what an asset I can be to them. i believe am not alone when I say writing job application letters is a tonne harder than writing love letters. I mean in love letters you could quote lines from songs in your vernacular and the lady will never find out or you could copy the letter written by your deskmate word for word and it will still pass. My first draft for a job application went something like this:
Hey guys, I want to apply for a position in your finance department. I totally understand that while right now you might not have a vacancy available, sooner or later Mutiso will die, Onyango might resign or it will be discovered that Njuguna stole from the company. It is at such times that I beseech you to find it within your HR’s grace to give me the job. We both know that as much as you would muse about how I should have five years’ experience, you would conduct training on the job soon as I get the position. I have worked for my mum for several years cleaning utensils, cooking or even running small errands like going to Mama Kathenge’s house to see what new furniture they have so my dad could buy a better one. This is a job that uses the highest level of skill and dexterity and I have been able to deliver with unbelievable success. But that should not be taken to mean am perfect, well I am but Mama Kathenge’s dog once bit me so I have some unresolved fear peeping inside me.
Even in times when the company decides to host a get together I can deliver such rarities like good weed: from weed cake to veve all those things that I understand your social standards have made it hard to acquire. I can be useful in errands such as going to facebook and saying scandalous things about the competing company or #TwitterBigStick them. let it not be lost on you that suppose you pass me by on the upcoming opportunity I will join the competition and soon you will regret your actions.
Am not a guy fond of goodbyes but just so you know, goodbye and don’t forget to tell your very sexy secretary to call me, using her line.
Oooh the bright idea is buying the blocked China phones then selling them after unblocking them. See! I Keep my promises.
I’ve been in the house for quite a while. I haven’t checked out the time but from the amount of light that go past the curtain into my room I reckon it’s a little past 11, 2 if am still drunk. The events of last night are just a memory but proof of a half-naked lady hurdle to cusp her hands on my man boobs. I turn to look at her face but she buries it into my long unkempt hair. I don.t remember her name or even why I decided to bring her home last night. Probably I do but am too hangovered to admit that I was trying to find out if I could still shuffle, get down and most important of all still out there in the dating scene. She has a subtle scent of expensive perfume so I presume she’s got some class. Her palms are soft and her breath warm.
I open my eyes slowly while keep my breath in rhythm with hers while I struggle to replay how last night went down. This is a trick I learnt since the dreadful day at Njoki’s when I tried to slip away and got busted because my breath was uneven. Nkt weirdo! But anyway thanks to her, slipping away has become more of a talent and as such I don’t have to remember anybody’s name or promise to call when it is pretty clear that when I pretended to save their numbers I actually replied to my whatsapp messages. Carefully and noiselessly, I slip out of her embrace and drop onto the floor. I turn back to see her face but the horse tail hair has got it covered, literally. The fake hair looks new, which is a good sign since I won’t have to disinfect my bed. Her skin is chocolate with a dark birth mark on the nape of her long neck. Without getting to see her face I deduce she’s a 8 or 7 depending on how easy she made it for me last night. Something I guess I’ll never know since my computer is off so no video evidence. I’m naked and I can’t be able to find my clothes. Well, I see all my clothes but they are all over the floor and I can’t rem which set I put on. My shoes don’t help either: three pairs are dirty and as such they won’t help me pick out the trouser I had on. While still struggling to patch up what happened the previous day, an idea strikes me that by finding my wallet, I would find out what I wore the previous day. As I grope through the pile of filth the washing lady has used to squeeze kshs 600 from me every week, she moans something to do with Freddy. I smile at the thought that it’s probably her boyfriend’s name. After quite awhile groping about am certain my wallet is either lost or misplaced. Whichever way, I’ll never figure out what went down because my phone too is nowhere to be found either.
I walk to the front door and pop it open. A few girls scream and their mothers curse just as I realise am still buck-naked. Full of shame I close the door as the conversation outside shifts to women saying they would talk to the landlord to have me evicted. As I disappear into my bedroom I hear something to do with man whore and bad example. I wish that helped me figure out what went down the previous night but all I got is a proper reason to start scouting for another house or just move in with Mary, the crazy girl who believes am a neurosurgeon. I slip back into bed as the lady brushes off the hair from her face. Without my glasses on she looks quite beautiful so I do a little dance of victory for having added double points on my street credit. As I lean to kiss her on the forehead and try for a round two it dawns on me. My name really is Freddy! And she looks a hell lot familiar. Maybe that’s because I must have been with her most of last night but something seems totally wrong. She doesn’t seem like the kind who’ll go home with an asshole like me or maybe she was just off her game the previous night. Who am I to judge? Everybody falls down sometimes only that this overly familiar beauty fell at the wrong feet.
Somebody knocks then opens the front door so I cuddle back to sleep in her embrace. It’s probably my roommate back from his Jehova Witnesses duties. Which means he’s converted a few souls, drank lots of tea and walked a marathon. But the person who’s in the house hasn’t ,locked the main door so am pretty sure it isn’t my room mate. I shut my eyes and pray they don’t budge into my room without knocking unless it’s Kim Kadarshian and Janet Mbugua. I guess am too late with the prayer because before I say an amen the door is swung open.
“omera bado unalala” I hear the all too familiar sound of Lando my favourite Jaluo.
I heave to face him and wink at him to get off but the joke is already on me. He dragged along the entire Gor mahia crew who are already taking pictures. My phone rings and Lando tosses it to me. It’s Sande so I guess I’ll get to know exactly what happened.
“Hi Sande, fill me in on what happened last night”
He laughs teasingly and says, “You guy deserves a medal or something cos last night you were unbelievable”
“haha I get it, ….so what did I do?”
“You sure you don’t remember?”
“yeah sure I don’t”
“Who am I to spoil your fun? Let’s make it one of those lost seconds you’ll never recover but trust me bro, you were a-m-a-z-i-n-g.”
He’s definitely happy I can’t remember so I lie back staring at the ceiling making up things that I suppose could have happened.
photo adapted from theleaguepfmoveabletype.com
The night outside is dark as it can be. The air moist and cold probably from the showers witnessed earlier on. The weatherman looked foolish enough for what he had said. A few people walk up and about and mostly in pairs. A couple giggles and wraps hands around each other, lips touch perhaps. Pair of teenagers is coughing in another corner, evidence of their drug experimentation. In the alley closer to the building is a city council bench. One of those installed in a city beautification attempt. The position of this bench is quite strategic in that while it’s unlikely to receive guests during the day, it received a fair share after dusk. It would remain occupied till a few hours to dawn and in lucky occasions to the early hours past dawn. Today a couple of university students in their late teens and early twenties are sharing stories in an urban slang that has become famous with the likes over a couple of cheap liquor and smoke. The air feels of illegality and indecency and crate is dragged on the hard concrete every now and then. A few are seated on the bench, in pairs and threes while others find themselves on the pavement out in the open. They form a circle within which a couple of skateboard stunts are done and some health threatening head spins. Hoodies and marvins are exchanged in tune with the Jamaican voice who sings something to do with “puff puff pass.” A number of shameful scenes are witnessed in form of dance. Well, this is what Nairobi has become at night. While the society laments the behavioural filth on Koinange street, every other street has an ever increasing share of moral decadence. And who is the moral cop, not one yet but a few loud mouths in city hall who stare in cameras and promise to make a change every election year.
Across the street on another bench is Ofis who has just caught his break in life. This very spot where the teenagers now make merry and more sin has been his home since the council installed it. In the circles of homeless people, this is his permanent residence and he has guarded it jealously like it was his life source. Tonight while he watches a generation that has thrown caution to the wind he wishes he had the chance to do it all over again. Maybe he would have made different choices but after all the grass is always greener on the other side. He probably would be more lost now that there was loud music, loud speakers and indecent dressing and language to boot. He chuckles at that thought and sips from his bottle. His days have grown long since the day he met that teenager who only drank scotch. He wasn’t very rich but his character wasn’t poor either. He’s the only one he’d call a friend in a long time. He was consistent in his word and was never late. Tonight was one of those nights he was supposed to come along.
Three months ago he was just a lonely and homeless man who slept in this bench. Three months ago his happy days were spent on the streets making up stories about every person who dropped a coin in his metallic cup. His earnings not so meagre ensured he had a hot meal in the evening for unlike normal people his spot would earn him more the next day despite the depression. If there was one thing he had come to believe, it is that man even in all the unfamiliarity would never leave a begging hand empty, at least a hand a day. Then one day when he came in the wee hours of the morning to his bench he ran into that teenager. Pea, he said his name was and the only man who unlike all the other violent men who lay claims that the bench wasn’t his, apologised and started to walk away. He was touched that night and called him back and soon they were talking like old friends. He wasn’t anything he would call attractive. In fact he’s the man who still had to talk his way into the heart of an overdrunk slut. His face was too long, his skin a little too dark, his beard a teensy bit bushy and his lips a tonne thick. He had earphones drapped in his ears and no piercing whatsoever. He spoke much and listened as little but when he spoke wisdom emanated like he was a thousand years older. It’s a no wonder he liked him.
So the old man told him everything he had learnt and promised to tell him more only if he came back for more. It was days since they last met and the old man had given up hope of ever seeing this young man. Soon he would be resigned to the idea that he was just alone in this world and that no friendship would ever last, at least not for him. He sips from bottle again as he hugs this realization in his mind. His feet are cold, his anger on the rise and his mind second guesses the idea of walking over to the teenagers to ask them to walk a way but something hold him back.
“Can I share your seat?”
“Well, it isn’t mine, help yourself out”
“Not at all, I was hanging out with myself the entire time.”
The old man is surprised he came back and turns over to give him a hug. Well most nights they just sit together without talking. They used to, the earlier days after that night they met but that changed after the old man had told William Jay Smith’s famous poem of the wise owl in an oak tree. It went something like this,
The wise old owl sat in an oak
the more he saw the less he spoke
the less he spoke the more he heard
why can’t we be like that wise owl bird?
Pea would bring a scotch and Ofis his life insights. Such was a friendship forged on the bench and fermented by scotch.
Going to shags is a tradition i have come to like. Much so because down there folks look after each other. As much as ‘son of Opollo’ will inherit one widow after another or ‘nyakwar Odagi’ drinks too much changaa the society won’t just gossip about it, they will find time to at least tell the involved that it is wrong. There the line that divides right and wrong is quite clearly defined. Written or unwritten there is a doctrine that ensures that despite your double phd or vast wealth you still take time to at least meet the form four leaver the old lady across the fence set you up with. Here one has to take it when the old toothless woman spits on her palms and rubs it on your face (blesses you) or worse spits directly to your face. I know this sounds a little overstreached and an argument could be made as to why i shouldn’t accept such treatment but in a world ruled by a few old people who i bet don’t even know what day it is, what can one do? Forgive me if i give this old men less credit for even when they last saw you as a kid they still have the skill to liken your curled eye lashes to your granddad’s even before you tell them from where you come. These old people know the villages populace complete with an entire factitude of ones lineage.
Then they prod on what it is you take at the ‘mbararieny’ (campus) and suppose you say fancy names like civil engineering or actuarial science they have the audacity (after you’ve explained specifically what it entails) to make a sentence like, ‘Haha the world is surely coming to an end, mimi na babu yako si tulitengeneza barabara bila kuenda university.’ But that is not what drives me to shags that frequently, what takes me there can be better placed by a sentence i overhead once when i was a kid. Fact is, my great granddad had 3 wives and my granddad had 12 children so basically i come from a huge family. It is therefore natural that once in a while, i tag along my dad while he moves around making courtesy calls. One of my step granddad’s, at one of this walks, once said, ‘One is never lost if he doesn’t need to look back to find his home’ . Well translations rips it of most wisdom but that will do.
This time however, while i went to a friend of mine to say hi, i walked into a meeting that had been called to discuss a child of the home. This might be news, but this year freshmen instead of a letter got an sms informing them of various campus placement. One such student had travelled to KU to pick his letter and maybe survey what life is in campus and happened to run into a bash. Long story short he took a video which he shared with his pals at home and somehow it land in the hands of grow ups. The surprise and disillusionment of the parents at home of how students who happen to have been properly brought up behave when they joined campus made the parents present to consider not taking their kids to university. Some complained of the pains of having to sell land, cattle and sometimes conduct fundraising in order to pay for fees, buy laptops or provide upkeep at the expense of their hitherto born again son becoming an alcoholic or their daughters pic being found on Campus divas for rich men wall on facebook.
Well, without going to shags i would have seen such as the rot of our society but now that i went i empathise with the parents, rich or not, who sacrifice their comfort only to have a stranger graduate into a life they never wanted their kids to have. But that’s just my two cents.
In the end i bet it’s better to say ‘A stranger maybe one who is not known, but it is always one who knows not what is strange’
Great week pals.
We haven’t talked in a while. Well we didn’t even use to talk but that changed the moment the round bottomed and full breasted lady started acting like she got my vibe. Truth be told i was kinda naive not to see all the signs. Like she wouldn’t pick my call when i called, never called back and just when i seemed to have given up she would initiate a chat that would get my heart warming in the joy of true love. She was fair, that i gotta give her. Her face wasn’t wrinkled below the chin like my last girlfriend. She had better mastery of the queen’s language and sent texts that didn’t replace s with x. Her messages were fully spelt and whenever she doubted a spelling she would bracket a plea for forgiveness. Well if you ask me that wasn’t such an easy find, she would laugh at my jokes, well not most of them but at least some got through. She was the smartest lady i’ve ever met and who ensured i got it into my head that i had finally met a match or probably a better intellect for she stopped me from the numerous repetitions i was used to to help other not so intelligent souls catch on. She liked my friends, or so i thought and she even passed regards to one of them, probably cos he was always coming up in our conversations.
Ok, ok i get it i don’t have to retell that story but today i come to worship at your temple not because i missed you but because i feel like you’re the best friend i have. The one who would listen and never talk back but would somehow place bright and repugnant ideas into my beautiful mind.You know what, you get me. In case you are interested, i broke up with her and she acted heartbroken but you know what they say, “True love waits.” Actually i haven’t gotten over her and for what’s its worth, suppose she realises am the best she’s ever gonna have, i will be right here waiting to take her back.
So while last week I went home to spend my semester break somehow my phone got busted. Well, my new smart phone caused all the hullaballoos with my relatives especially my grandma who was specifically impressed with the pinch feature. The first night she ran her rough fingers on the gorilla glass and I would swear I could see scratch marks after she fell asleep holding tight to the phone that suppose it had blood it would have bled out by the time I pulled it free. But that wasn’t the highlight of that experience now that I remember how she laughed every time she pinched and it zoomed in an out much to the chagrin of my little cousins. If you think the worst had happened my little sister became the next fun(pun intended) who probably loved the Adele songs I had added to help me sleep on the bus. What’s more weird than a lady watching soaps if not a teenager singing Adele songs every time you meet her, her earpieces sticking out of her ears. It is however that time when she came to me with those innocent eyes and hands clasped on the chest that gave me a diarrhoea. After three days without my phone she had somehow broken the charging port with also happened to double as the USB. And her defence, well she was sorry and offered to give me a Kshs. 100 to help me cover the repair costs, and when I refused to take that she kept asking and insisting that I was mad. Well I was mad but you know what they say, “You are a master of how you respond to any situation” so I smiled and grudgingly took the cash and pretended her accept her apology. In case you want to know, it cost me 1000 to fix the port. So while I was pissed off I chanced on the memory of William Ernest Henley’s Invictus poem which also happens to be the poem that Nelson Mandela read everyday for 27 years while imprisoned. And Diary, so you never complain i never kept a copy with you, here goes:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul
Till next time, sweet diary, lets keep the secrets revealed here-in between us.