A Journey of Thoughts

 

I have never set my heart to writing odysseys from within. It always has been stories, figments of what I consider my imagination, creations of my fertile intermittent bouts of creativity. Today, I woke up, it was no different, I looked at my screen and a story arose, but midline I stopped, my hands floated over the keyboard for a moment in pause, and I pressed backspace. I started over, started over for good. And in the spirit of starting over, I started this piece.

Been listening to countless songs over the week. I have never been a fan of modern music, but they have taught me how to think like the modernist I am supposed to be. Florida, Bebe Rexha? Best song I have had to start my year. I hope I am singing the song to you as I write this, but you and? You and I are like the guys making cream at the end of the road. They breathe hot and cold, just like we do. They live in the hope that one will make the first move, be a little aggressive in buying their stock, they pray that something big happens and they get suddenly rich, like I do. But hope is not a forte for sinking the despairs of my heart, is it? So I will be real, just a little real, the real between hilarious and savagery which I have been accused of for the last week. The plain real.

The pain is real, all real, when I write, and I have to dedicate it to no one because I can’t tell you it was all about you, it’s real. Sometimes I am just walking, looking at people, feeling their vibe, listening to the bubble of happiness’ that flows beneath every of their conversations, the one that seeks to blow up and bloom any moment, and I have to imagine that was us, just for a moment I would love to exchange them for me and you, but it’s not possible, is it? We are from two sides of the divide, and it’s not every day that a classic case of Romeo and Juliet happens on earth, because you are the Juliet, a typical one, but I, I want to make myself believe that am no Romeo, in fact I should not break the rules of survival.

In fact this whole piece spells like travails, a woeful tale of thinking without acting, of hoping without really hoping. The smile you give me, they are treasured, like my mum`s old watch. The little chats, the ones that never really seem to be going anywhere, they are the best moments I had to hold, but whence I remember that a dozen of guys desire you as I do, I just have to hug myself a little tighter, sigh a little and go back to my books. Because without you, and them, I would have no point to hold my head high.

The last week has been tough, really tough. I have had to face the reality of my life, but I wouldn’t tell you about them. Quoting your words `everything you do is fun`, it is, really is. Sometimes I despaired, came crashing down and I had no one to talk to, because you all think am the strongest. Sometimes I hoped someone would hug me, someone like you, someone who would smile and wish away my tears, but there was none, you were not there, I was not there. So I sunk myself into my world, my books and my world. I read and read, late nights and early mornings. To be honest I have not slept the week. And it felt something like success; smelt like it too, I had found something that would make me ignore you. But at the end, when I sat, twirling my watch, snapping my fingers when I was done with my exams, I saw it was all zilch. Vanity.

And it’s February. I might be suffering from the valentine syndrome. When everyone seems to be going out and getting gifts. When everyone I know seems to be love, and to be loved back. When all I have on my phone is `my love` and WCWs.it pains me, yes it does, but it doesn’t anymore. When I was broken, when all I had was school and home, when I looked at my phone to text you but couldn’t get the energy to break the resolve not to, some bird told me to give it another try. Someone told me to stop being a `prick` and open my eyes to the world. So I am taking a pause from my world and be real, tell you as I feel, but is it real? Is the feeling real, I hope so?

They told me I shouldn’t write too long, it’s been 800 words and counting. But somehow am feeling like it’s not enough for such deep thoughts. Looking up, scrolling back through the text of my deluge, I feel inadequate, confused with what am saying. Somehow I have not said what I meant to say; somehow I have missed the whole point. Am choosing whether to let it go, my fingers are floating over delete, again. But it’s not because I think this piece is all bad, it’s because I fear. Like broken promises I cannot redo the damage once I start this. But this, this might sum all of it up, in only but a few words.

 

The heart lies, to itself,

It’s all broken, and confused,

But it beats, still, and blood flows,

It pumps, makes and breaks the circle,

Never stops,

Lest we forget.

 

I hoped and lost, but it didn’t drain me,

My legs will move, my time will tick,

I will tell myself ‘am ok`,

I will sigh, look back and move on,

Because that is the way of life,

But we can’t lie to ourselves,

Lest we forget.

 

Its dark, this life, the living,

It’s at night, am stumbling in the dark,

But if I think of you, us, the moon peeps out,

And I have a glimpse of light, the clouds give away,

The gloom rolls by, to remind, that I can’t,

I can’t forget the light, your light

Lest I forget the day.

 

DEDICATED TO ONE S.G.W

My fountain has dried up; I have said a lot, I ought to have said more, I can’t. I am sorry, this might never reach you, like a package it might never be opened, but I left my story unfinished, the other story that is. I might never be able to complete it if I don’t stop now. But this, mi amore, this is the story of my life, the eternal story of my hopes. Your story lest we forget.

 

 

Tales Of the Night

“ So, what are you?” I knew I was bait when she asked this question.  I look at her again. I am a little tipsy as of now, but still it’s early in the night. Listen, I don’t know her name, I don’t even want to, but it was Friday, and Friday is when you leave the office at five, straight for the bars and clubs. That is the   gospel according to Nairobi diaries.

I want to answer. I am a lawyer, my suit sells me out. It’s a three piece, Carnali, a bit old because I bought it when I was doing clinical externship in my third year of campus. You know, guys think that lawyers have cash, but we don’t. The old ones probably do, but they are as mean as Luhya gizzards. You can die working for them for small cash. But you don’t say that, we are still loved. I want to talk to her, the night is still young. If all goes well we might retire to my ka one bedroom stuck out somewhere in Rongai. But when I open my mouth to impress her with the `Pontius Pilate` talk that young lawyers  don on their  sleeves, I hiccup, hard. And yes we are proud, you ask us a mundane question like “are you single?” and we have to perambulate in the jargon of legal technicalities, past entities, aggravated assault blab bla bla. No wonder we are all single like our briefcases.

“Chill niende choo kiasi ntarudi.” I need to get a grip on my tongue. Whenever am this drunk it slips like a condom (I didn’t say that).  I stagger from the tall stools they have in have in all joints. Why can’t they also accommodate short men like me, since we drink the most? Past a couple of other guys drunker than me. “Oya (hic), lawyer (hic), si utuachie ka (hic) chupa ya kufunga giza?” that is another drunk man`s gospel, especially when its February, and your pockets are still stuck in January. I don’t feel like buying anyone a drink, somehow when you do so they always suck you into their tales to start invigorating you with their half-baked political analysis and footballing tales, punctuated by requests of “ waiter niongezee keg kwa bill ya lawyer apa!”

I think Bob Marley`s song was blaring over the speakers when I staggered into the gents room. It was his birthday too. So I stumble and shuffle my feet into the tiny room. Let me tell you something, ladies, you should respect your men. You have never been to a gent’s room in Nairobi, especially in a bar. The stench hits you from the outside, it’s acrid, and stinging like a conductors armpits, or changaa as it goes down your throat. But we have no option; we are always drunk when we need to take a piss. First sight is the “urinal”. It’s nothing big; it’s only a wall, usually with its white tiles turning brown, with a small kamtaro somewhere where you need to aim with precision from a thousand kilometers away. And the troubles, when you enter, and find a guy at the other corner, you take the furthest corner. If they are two, you stand behind them to wait., and you never look at each other`s eyes or what they carry below the belt, ever! And you don’t talk, that might just be taken for sarcasm, or jest.

I am `kazwad` as hell. But ahead of me are a bunch of guys who seem to take pride in their peeing. I think they have been taking tusker cider, or guarana, those light light drinks that never get you drunk but fill your bowels. And they are three, I have to wait, until the two, who are trying to outcompete each other in singing their rendition of Bob Marley`s song, then wait for the next one to take up my position for my two minutes of fame. They take forever, these guys. Seems they have rivers of liquid deep down. Somewhere in between they stop singing, and start discussing which of the `ladies` each will take home. All the while am stuck, shuffling, shifting my wait from side to side like a footballer preparing to take a spot kick. It drags on and one. They even have the guts to argue about who has taken the `mali Safi` of the ladies. I lose hope of ever peeing, I am turning to go, when they also decide to leave, the two zipping up their pants and bending to confirm whether they have zipped up correctly. The third wasn’t even doing anything; he was acting as escort apparently!

Man has to pee, you know. I do my thing; there is nothing to regal you about it. Its “churrr, shake after use, zip and go.” Nothing to write home about. I am slightly soberer than I came in; I even have the guts to think to think I can stand on the left leg without falling. But I don’t want to try that, last time I did it I ended up slipping and falling on the road. No, I refuse to say that I was drunk. That was a product on involuntary intoxication leading to insane delusions and temporary insanity. Yes, objection overruled? You see, am so very sober, I can even talk in lawyer language. Yes, your objection is sustained. Let me go back to the girl.

There is nothing ravishing or extreme about her. She talks in that lilting and excruciating mix of Kiswahili and English, which they don’t pass for sheng, that wants to scream “ I am from kilimani!” when you live in some bedsitter in Umoja.  I am not intending to investigate her. She`s shalolo0w, like real shallow. I want to compare her depth of knowledge to that of Nairobi River without the sewage. Somewhere between inexistential and hardly there. She says she works as a model, which I don’t believe. Doesn’t modeling require someone taller than me? She’s having her fair share of troubles with the `sina tabu` seat that I was complaining about. She does it with grace, though. Every time she slips from it, she stands up. Stretches the skirt that is shorter than short, orders another drink and climbs back on. Look, I am not saying it was comical, I am just saying….. I hope the drinks are not on my bills though.

She swallows “makali” faster than I do. I want to think that that is part for gender equality or something. I am regaling her wth courtroom tales all the while, sipping my drinks at a moderate and gentlemanly speed, because I don’t want to look like a general `fisi` out there, but a lawyer `fisi`.  She’s laughing, giggling, smiling, though I know too well she doesn’t know what damnum sine injuria and habeas corpus are. But somehow I have to keep up the presence, be the perfect gentleman. You know my dry spell has been too long it’s almost got to be climate change or something.

Somehow I want to start the idea that we should retire to some `better` place. I am always stating like “hey, how about…” and her worship goes like “just one more.’ I have been doing the same for an hour now.it has become poetic. Suddenly she stands up, no, stands down. Her makeup is messed, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She is drunk, so drunk that she walks straight into me when I climb down from the height of the stool.” Can’t we go to some other place?” my head stands up, not the head above my shoulders that is.

I am slightly elated. I have hit the jackpot for the night. I pay the bill in a hurry. Even when I realize I don’t have enough cash I beg the bartender with my eyes, and words that I will pay tomorrow. He lets me go, I am a local here I should buy shares in its ownership. But m drunk too, and excited in some ways. I can’t stop the grin. I feel like singing along to Eminem`s River, not because it applies to the situation but because it is my favorite song. I step in to the road; a taxi is parked, almost as if it was ready for me. The window slides down, I am thinking about the fare, and how much is left of my pockets. She beckons; I don’t have a choice but to follow. Am on autopilot I think.

Door opens, as if from a will beyond my hands. This sounds like juju. But am not letting `bahati mzuri` fly away. I will have a one night stand, for the first time, a one night stand. It feels like the time someone took your virginity, remember? But when I get in, when the door slams with some finality, when I look out of the window, when the driver asks “Oya, boss mpaka wapi?” I get a chance to look at her with some sense in my head. Her make up isn’t that good; her hair isn’t that good on her either, her nails are shredded around the edges like a bread knife. Apa nimecheswaaa. And that head, and the hands, they look like mine. This isn’t what I bargained for. She is a man! Or he is a woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A CUP OF TEA, AND SCARCITY

KIRINYAGA ROAD
Late in the evening.I don`t know whether the sun was setting, you can`t see the sun from this place.Its dark, dark as the story of the country we live in.The nearbly nairobi river swoshes away in silence, troubled with sewage and murk. Silence, again.

When you meet my guy, a mechanic in one of those dinky streets between shops on Kirinyaga Road, you might take a step back for a moment.

He`s not anything big to feast your eyes on. He doesn`t have muscles that tweak at every one step as you would expect of a Luo man. His shoulders are hunched, most of the time, possibly from the weight of insults that runs amok in this side of the town. His lips are red, like he woke up and smeared a respectable amount of his girlfriends`s lip bum in the morning. But is not the red that you admire, not the red that makes you feel like going home for a kiss, no. It is the red of wild mapera found in Koru, botched red. Like wine with breadcrumbs in a clear glass. Red painted by months of drinking Gibson Gisore`s `Cheap liquor`

`I have a degree, in Mechanical Engineering.`

For a moment I am taken aback, shocked with the cold cadence he says this statement, as if in distaste. He spits the name `Mechanical engineering` out with a little pain, the pain of one who spent years hunched over books at UON,only to come out and realize the magnitude of reality. He feels like It`s wasted time, the five years.

” I came out with big dreams, but they were crushed. I have no uncle somewhere high in an office, and no one takes your papers if your `uncle` is not there to push it through, or your pockets are not deep enough to oil the hinges of job givers.And if they do, they file them together with the others, where they will gain dust like accolades of failure.”

His English is oiled, smooth. It comes out through the scarred lips like bottled water, like Musa Amoke when he is not amok. They call him `professor` down here. He knows every edge of the car like a wife knows her husband`s vests.But it didn`t get him through the countless job interviews he has been to, or the number of times he has had to borrow a tie from one of his many friends,to walk into the big offices up the town where you can see the sun settle into its sleep. Even with a nice degree, the clients can only call him the despicable `Mekanika.`

He tells me of his neighbor, an architecture graduate who sells smokies in Town.I will check that one soon. I almost cried, but I never really cry when I am seeking stories.

We talked long, but in every other few minutes when we would crack a joke over the cup of tea whose preparation I had reservations about, he would say `Cha muhimu ni uhai.` His loss of hope with life was almost palpable. It hurt, it seared my heart to some level of tears. It burned like cheap alcohol down the river had burned his lips.

He made me question the value of schooling, once again.

Last week I shared my sympathy with the dreams of those who were graduating. This time I think I will send my condolences to those who have no big `uncles` swinging their armchairs in any office. Unless God works his wonders, you are in the same murk with my guy.

See, employment for the youth has been a campaign issue for as long as I have been alive. It is almost synonymous with the WiFi in the hostels that my campus chairperson promised akina Sheila Kimeu and Jepkorir Joan Sang. It is the joker in the game, the one that tricks you into believing you will win, but you never do so.

Whenever you wake up anywhere in this country, young men and women with degrees, torn shoes and all are trying to make ends meet. Their leaders promised them jobs, but the jobs were like money from AIM Global, they never came. Today we happen to be commemorating a year since WE brought the government back, with a promise of 100,000 jobs for the young men of this country. But continuously the story has changed. Since they are not into pleasing you anymore, they are telling you to `Employ yourselves` and `make employment for others.` The rationale is bad, the logic stinks. We have all played into the hand of Charles Dickens`s `The In Between Country.`

My guy calls all of us students Schlemiels, a clever euphemism for stupid. I had to google that word immediately after our conversation, when the cups of tea we were talking over had run out, and the `Mathe` was throwing us glances of hatred. I almost wanted to ask her where she reached in her education. But my guys boss called, he fished into pockets and removed a well worn phone, one who`s screen had been shattered into a cobweb of lines, as if a representation of the kind of zigzags one has to go through to get work in this country. Work was calling.

This is one of those stories that should never be completed. They should be left in the drift of our drafts of thoughts, wafting away and back so that we remember the truth. We are all blind, those who have seen a little light are our guides, and they are keen to lead us into the dungeons again. We are Joseph Conrad`s characters in Heart of Darkness, or the prisoners in Plato`s famous allegory of the cave.

One day I will wake up, and walk the street of Nairobi talking to the hawkers. I know each of them has a story to tell, how jobs are scarce like good, well maintained kanjo cars. All of us can`t wait to be pushed to the brink of life, to reach my Proverbial Nairobi ya maisha.

That`s why when men of honor like Kelvin Keter decide to take us back to the farms, I will role up my sleeves for the job, because there is no other job. Unlike Nairobi, I know home is not shamba la mawe.

Let not our futile dreams urinate on the reality of life in Kenya

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