“Ladies and gentlemen, introducing to the stage……….”
Yes, that’s how I dreamt yesterday night, it wouldn’t be fair at all if I disgorged the contents of my dreams to the whole world on my blog to see, but I have a different story to tell altogether, it’s not the usual introspective and laugh at the end story, it’s not one of the many creations that my brains can charm to words, no, it’s a part of me I am giving today.
Let me introduce myself, I am Kantai Kotikot. Please don’t bite your tongue struggling with the second name. And if my name is an issue I’d rather we move on swiftly. My mum didn’t expect me to be born a boy, let’s be honest. That’s why when I came to the earth from god knows where I found myself wearing pink knitted pullovers, pink baby caps, pink socks, lying on a pink baby cot with a set of pink bedclothes. And thus my affair with pink started, not a love affair, a hate affair. You know she probably had planned to name me Catherine, or Grace like her elder sister, or Prudence or something on that line, but surprises do happen, and thus I found myself with an English name that seemed to have been given because the doctor had to see one. While the rest of the boys on that maternity ward got names that made the friends of their mums coo with pleasure start saying “oooh…that’s a cute kaname”, like Liam and Chris and others, I was stuck with a name from 3000 years ago, whose only worthwhile exploit was bringing good news after a journey of amateur espionage into Canaan, and coming back with a bunch of grapes as proof. Hell, I don’t even believe, so don’t call me Caleb.
And I think in reality I have never had a name of my own. As all Kenyan children of Christian parentage, I got a plethora of inherited names, and then this Christian name that doesn’t make sense. So I inherited Kantai from this old wizened uncle who went down with a bout of stroke since last year, Kotikot is shared by a whole clan of individuals, mostly teachers who would never want you to deface their name with the act of marrying a girl without a proper wedding. I think nicknames never stuck on me, Benson and company tried, but hey, my names are just too tough for a nickname either way.
I wasn’t born with the Aron Diaz kind of handsomeness. But I am still god’s creation, you know. Yes, god made a few mistakes here and there, like giving me pretty big ears, hair that wouldn’t curl as much as I try, a brain that knows everything about everything, lips that are pink but not pink enough, a height that is good enough for changing bulbs in my bedroom without placing a stool on the bed, but not good enough to impress or give tight ‘pick me up’ hugs that leave you reminiscing on the goodness of the earth’s milky creations. But life continues as much, with all my little deficiencies.
I read Descartes while fourteen. If you know me better you shouldn’t be surprised if I start chiming philosophy like a Greek statue. I learnt of Greek gods while twelve, and I used to fancy myself a son of Zeus until I tried keeping long blow dried hair which led to a crisis family meeting, involving even my grandmother. And then came the lectures about appreciating yourself as you are, about god having a mega plan for everyone, about us being offspring of one Adam and Eve( and how did we become black again?) , and in my brazen guts, I reminded them of the fact that I should have been a girl in the first place. So the talked switched, the slippers came along, and when I didn’t cry, or cut my hair either, they took me to the local preacher for exorcism and prayers. I was possessed of a demon.
If you are not daft, you already have seen that am always at crossroads with religion. Oops, I know friends from church are reading this. But let us not go into dissecting the bible, I don’t want anyone calling me for prayers and a chakula cha kiroho preaching that is supposed to instill some belief in this errant me.it never does, I should say. Every time someone preaches to me about the goodness of god and his marvelous love for humanity that he gave a son for the atonement of our sins, I usually punctuate his interludes with “ amen” and a bible verse of my own, and then another “ amen” before we part after prayers. All in vain.
But let’s get out of that, shall we? I thought I would make this chat a little interesting, but how do you make anything good when you have a lost a taste of life. When you can smile but the smile never reaches your eyes, when you think of falling in love and then go thinking about someone’s death and you reading the eulogy at their burial, and giving a moving tribute that makes people cry, again, in their unfortunate burial. How can you be happy when everything you touch, or love turns to dust? You know how it feels, to be dressed in black, in front of other people dressed in black, three times in your life, saying the same thing over and over again. Of “we loved him, but god loved him more” and the reverent in his cassock and Presbyterian stupor catch phrasing “dust to dust and ashes to ashes.”
Before it happened I always tend to think that I was a very normal guy. And then it happened and my normalcy changed to a normal I have become accustomed to. That of waking up in the morning, brushing away my tears, having a bath, a rebirth and walking out of the house with a smile. You know, before I was normal, appreciating the weather, taking time to listen to the gateman talk about the tribulations of his child, and the mama mboga chime on about how eating her sukuma wiki is good for men because she only takes it from one person with one shamba. I was normal, you know. But now the weather never really changes. There is never light in my days, it’s just this hints of dawn that can’t be called dawn, and when I think its dawn, it gets dark again.
Not that I got sick, no. it’s not like am out here at the Mathare listening to the shrinks analyzing my messed up brains. It’s just that life happens, and it changes you forever. I was supposed to tell you, right? Sorry I forgot. Where were we? Where I was given a Christian name ama? I don’t even remember telling you that. You know the way these things are.
I was born after three able men, Maren,Tittus and Evans. They were older. They all had girlfriends by the times I was eight. And it was not just about the age, it was about the courage. No one ever thought of bullying my tiny ass at kindergarten or school because my army of brothers, and the army of their friends would come fry their slightly bigger ass. And it was always so, until I got to high school, and no one would respect the fact that my brothers were bigger than them. But it wasn’t just about them alone, you know the way you are born, and you find your mum with experience on how to deal with every piece of trouble you can concoct. They spoiled my chances of proving creativity in making trouble because they taught her everything. So this was always me, making trouble and knowing my mum had the eternal solution in her ever present pair of patapata slippers. This was always me, avoiding every girl in the neighborhood, because shit happens, and news gets home from the neighborhood women who never seemed to have anything better to do, and then I would replay my brother’s story of pinching and slapping. But now they are no more, and its “God`s plan.” Somehow it is.
I was 14 when the first one went, and in my dreams I would always see him walk back from his bush workplace somewhere in the deepest ends of the world. His shiny bald head glistening with sweat, his ever shiny blazers and jackets dusty as hell. Then before the dreams could grow out of my brains, the other one, Evans went. Right in my hands. Every time I sleep, I always ask myself what I did wrong. Was it talking to the girl who was struggling on the shallow end of the pool with no bra under her vest, or forgetting to call him for the soda I had bought. Then I wiped my tears, now I don’t, I let them drip to the earth so that they would leave a few spots of beauty on the dust. And they are always three, three tiny globes of tears and then no more. Somehow before I could learn to stand on my feet, Titus got to the end of his rope. And I haven’t had the heart to cry, even in my sleep I can’t. You know “God’s plans”? This god is pathetic at planning life.
So am here, still in bed, still looking at taking my part in the play of life, and wondering whether this hand would kill off my act because it’s expendable. And because I chose not to believe, I have chosen to find death, before death finds me.