In between

I thrive on the silence that reigns between us.

Space.

Spaces.

A little space…some time, I don’t know how much time, but just give me time.

It is in the silence, the slight nods of heads we accredit each other in public.

“You’good?”

“I’m good,” and we walk past each other, careful not to let our feelings show up in public.

In the moments when we part, you turn and stare until I am prompted to look back and wave. It’s always the wave, a slight movement of the hand, and a smile from you.

Our friends see it. They feel it.

We ignore it.

Space.

Spaces…it’s always in the space in between, where we find each other.

Spotlight

When your life is illuminated, you cannot say that you do not see the shadows.

Sandy could have fooled everyone, but me. Fourteen years of smiles, laughter, disappointments and fear, that was us. She was the one who beat up that Louisa girl who stole my blue fountain pen in class six. She was the one who climbed the mango tree in kibuye Estate, and threw down mangoes for me to eat, and even when we were caught, she said it was her idea. I could tell you that she was the one who knew where my dreams ended just as much as where they begun.

The spotlight was on.

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Sandy called me and when I answered she said, “I am done!”

I knew.

I knew, deep down in my coffee-filled heart that she had come to this decision because she was ready. We met outside Avenue Hospital at 2pm. She was in her “stunnerz” as she calls them, and was dragging her blue suitcase struggling to save face while steering clear of the boda boda men. I opened my arms and she walked right into them.

“Twende tukule chipo kwa Frank!” She whispered in my ear.

I flagged down a tuk tuk. We got her suitcase in and then we were off to Frank’s place, a small coca-cola kiosk directly opposite our house. Once there, we ordered chips and a litre of Fanta Orange. I waited for her to tell me everything, because I am impatient when it comes to confessions. I thrive on pain and can hold onto pain like someone holding onto dear life, it is why I did not pursue Counseling as a profession.

I hurt easily but do not forgive as easily as it should be.

I also bear the burden of everyone who opens up to me and that is destructive as I learned that depression is the silent partner who accompanies you everywhere, unlike your shadow, she becomes one with you over time and you know and feel something is wrong but getting out is like sinking deeper into it.

Sandy just kept stuffing the chips into her mouth and commenting about the vehicles that drove past us. I looked at her hands, long slender fingers, and smiled. We had been through this three years ago. She came fed off my support and went back to the hell hole she called love.

I looked at her again and then said, “are you going to take off those glasses?”

“Why, do they bother you?”

“No, not at all, I want to see your eyes.”

“Why? Kuna shida nikivaa stunnerz zangu?”

“No, there’s no problem unless you want to continue creating one.”

“Eish! I have had quite a long night, so spare me the lectures, because frankly speaking I do not need them. By the way, this place has not changed much.”

“No, it hasn’t.”

“So, how’s work? How do you like the whole eight to five thing?”

“I’m doing what I can with what I have.”

“Don’t you miss being on the road? And how are things with you Odhiambo, did he ever make a move? I know that guy’s had it for you since like forever, and you, you are so stubborn to see it! Have you talked to Tru? We have to meet! It’s been ages!”

“Welcome back to earth and we are not talking about my love-life or the lack of it. We can talk about a road trip, and this time I have my eyes set on Kakamega…that place has been calling out to me for ages!”

“Kakamega? Pssh! You should aim higher, let’s go to Zanzibar!”

“I have to save for that to happen, so let’s pay for this and go to the house.”

“Is your Mom around?”

“Yes, it’s the holidays and she’s there. I already told her that you would be staying with us for a while.”

“Look, I don’t want any problems but here’s the thing, Jared proposed. I cannot pretend that everything is okay, because the guy had the nerve to ask me to marry him in front of everyone at the office.”

“And…”

“His baby mama was standing right there, they both thought that I had no idea, Arch, they just…take my advice, never let anyone take your love for a ride…you know my Dad was never there, but to choose me over his kid, Jared ni mjinga sana…I just couldn’t stay there, and when are you coming back to Nai?”

“Let’s go home and we can have some tea then I’ll tell you.” We walked to the house my thoughts still going to Sandy and her resolution.

Getting back on track

April’s not going down as I envisioned it. I know that challenges are part of life but in terms of writing, it’s not been an epic month for me. I managed to write 30,000 words of a story. Things were getting better until I sent it out for review and it was shredded to pieces!

Literally, it came back all red with one bold comment, “I thought we’d graduated from this kind of writing.” So, I set the manuscript aside, walked to Moha’s shop, bought a 500ml Fanta Orange, and had it while watching Spongebob Square Pants.

Ever since, I have not been able to write or better yet work on something else, until this past weekend where I decided to go with my gut feeling. It hurts when you write up something and it is met with such negativity, sometimes the criticism helps, but sometimes it wears you down.

I understand that not everyone would swoon over what I write. It’s just as well because as a reader I also find some genres not to my liking. As a Consumer, I stick to some products because of the value I feel they add to my life- hence my love for a sugar high with Fanta. I am not a Coca Cola person. It just isn’t my kind of beverage. So, in writing I use the same perspective to appreciate criticism.

The Crown of the Sea is out now!

The Crown of the Sea by [Dora Okeyo]

It’s so short that you’ll wonder what I’m talking about in just 12 pages! Wonder what ideas will come into your head as you read this, and whether you’ll feel for the Narrator like I did, but all in all, it’s got me out of my funk and I am relaxed.

It’s free on Amazon, so how about you check it out here–> The Crown of the Sea

Last night’s star

I saw you.

Yes, you.

I saw you walking down the road, hands tucked in your pockets, earphones plugged into your ears. You had somewhere to go.

I saw you.

Yes, you.

I saw you at Nakumatt, wondering which deodorant to buy- pacing back and forth, Axe, Nivea, Fa. You had something you needed to buy.

I saw you.

Yes, you.

I saw you at the bus stop, you were eating roasted maize. You were talking to another guy, the story he was telling you made you choke on the maize you were eating. You had something to laugh about.

I saw you.

Yes, you.

I saw you talking to her. She wore a turquoise sweater, black skinny jeans that revealed that firm behind. You were talking, she was shouting. You were pacing back and forth. She was folding her hands across her chest. She left, and you turned to punch the wall…and then you saw me.

You saw me.

Yes, you.

You saw me and walked away.

What’s your worth?

I was reading a book before watching an Indian Soap Opera I’m obsessed with. So, there I was drinking hot chocolate, scribbling work notes when the program started. I’ve been watching it for more than four months and the hero finally confessed his love to the woman who was always by his side, epic right? So, when she started saying that it shouldn’t be so, I was like wait…this isn’t worth my time, and it got me asking…

What are you worth?

Did you just utter “a lot,” and think in terms of what you do, your job, what you own, your education, your connection?

If you did, you’re not alone. Welcome aboard. More often than not, we tie our worth and value to these things and if you examine them closely, you are bound to end up with a digit somewhere at the bottom line. 

So, I’m still racking my brain about it but the question still remains what’s your worth? Does it have to involve a figure, a feeling, an understanding, a string of words? I have no idea…and “more than I could ever express,” is the answer that comes to mind at the moment. 

There are also certain questions that feel more like loopholes that come to mind:

  1. Should it be on your terms? Is my worth attached to you so much so that I seek your validation?
  2. Is there any way that this could be calculated?
  3. What good will it do me to have a solid answer to this?
  4. Does it matter?
  5. If I could pick anything else in place of this term “worth” what would it be?

Stories from the field

It’s been a while. I’m talking about being on the road and seeing how crazy Kenyans are.

So, yesterday I was in Seme, Google says it takes 39 minutes to Namba Kosea (the red icon) but hey, I was in a matatu and the number of stops made were more than the commas I have used in this paragraph.

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So, we get there, visit the Chief and then have a chat with the Assistant Chief on the challenges they are facing in that community and I’m busy taking notes. See, the Assistant Chief rents office space at the local market center and she’s right beside a posho mill, so every time she says something noteworthy I hear this vru-du-du-du….vru-vru-du-du right in my ear.

When we’re done, I ask about any local food joint because I am both thirsty and hungry and the kids running around sucking on ice jwala are not of any help! We are taken to this small clean mud house and we sit on benches and a tall lady comes to us. Her hair is sticking out on corners that shouldn’t be known to mankind, but I am drawn to the lesso wrapped around her waist, it’s jungle green with bold flower patterns. I ask her what’s for lunch and she says “chapat go’ganda, chai maliet, kuon gi sukuma, kuon g’omena hao hao.”

We all ask for ugali and omena and she serves us this:

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Fresh omena, deep fried and it tastes like nothing heaven has ever served up…or that could probably be, because we were so hungry I nearly told the man next to the Assistant Chief’s office to stop powering up his posho mill! And as I was eating, my mind kept going back to soda. A cold sugar-filled drink to wash down the omena and I asked the lady if they had Fanta Passion. She looked at me and asked, “mano to mane?”

Seriously, haven’t they heard of or better yet had a sip of Fanta Passion? I simply shook my head and said it’s okay, I’ll take some of her water to drink if she didn’t mind. Now, Coca-Cola Bottlers had better increase the supply of Fanta Passion, because the people around me need to have a sip and bottles of this awesome drink!

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As we were leaving the area we had visited, a lot of things were going through my mind, most of them revolving writing and as you have probably read so much about- my next book. I thought of writing about my experiences on the road and it felt so good to have such a burst of ideas and energy that by the time I got home, I was too exhausted to even look at a writing pad or pick up a pen!

Have a great day and here’s to writing!

It’s a small world

Happy Easter holidays! How’s your holiday break coming along?

Well, mine was just fine until I ran into the one person I never thought I would. No, it was not in an elevator, but in a supermarket. I should really stop shopping at the Naivas Supermarket here in Kisumu, but I can’t help it…they do sell braids at quite a fair price, so when a Darling Dealer shop is closed, I simply get my braids from Naivas.

Enough about that, so there I was, distracted by the books when someone tapped my shoulder. I mean it, like they did tap my shoulder a good one. So, I turn and there’s this lady giving me the complete run down, assessing how far below her status I am, and I am thinking, in terms of dressing-way below her status. I walk around town in flip flops, fancy jammies and a t-shirt. However, I am standing next to books, so I still win.

She sneers and says, “Yaani you don’t know me?”

“I am sorry, but I don’t.”

“Well, anyways, you wouldn’t, but that’s okay. I still had his baby and I heard that you ended things with him, well, a little too late, but it seems life has it’s way of making things even. Our son is six years old now.”

“Okay, congratulations,” I said.

She smirks and goes on, “So, what are you up to these days?”

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“Nothing much, but I am glad you are doing well,” I say and smile, trying not to roll my eyes for real and say “bitch please.” She does not seem to be in a hurry, in fact she shrugs and then blurts ” Yaani, you seriously never married him? The way he would go on about you like you were the only girl in the world? Nilichoka kusikia jina yako yaani, and I was quite angry and jealous plus you were at some fancy school…haiya, na gari yako iko wapi mtoto wa sonko? Wait, did you pick an accent from uni? No offense but Mungu ni mwema! If you see him, say hello, I am so over that.”

I turned to see if anyone was witnessing this because it felt like a vivid hallucination. I said “thank you,” and side-stepped her to make my way to the aisle where I could buy those braids that brought me to the supermarket in the first place.

I have seen baby mamas but please tell me when you come across a sane and silent one! I mean one who is not angry at all women and ready to pick a fight if you dare smile at “her man.” She held a grudge for six years! 6 years just hoping and wishing that she would come across me and talk ill to my face, and I gave her three minutes of which she could not see through her bitterness. Maybe I could have pulled an accent…that’d be a disaster! A great one! I was tempted to defend myself and say, “hey, I was the one who left him…because I was young, dumb, in-love and pissed off when I found out he had gotten some chic pregnant.”

I reckon sometimes we remember what we ought to forget and forget what we ought to remember. I couldn’t fault her for her bitterness, but she reminded me of an experience I buried in 2011, and thank the Writing Fairies for Smashwords because I went back and 1033 downloads are something to brag about letting things off your chest uh?

And the next time you see me in boy jeans, a t-shirt and flip flops…be nice! I happen to love the look!

Alice

I came across a being.

She was a soul that thrived neither on words nor acts.

She blossomed into the wild.

Her answers cut like glass, this beautiful daughter of the Lake.

Her response to my advances “en ang’o! Asekoni ni aonge saa mar nang’o chupa ei Nairobi kae! Wuod ma! To mi baa dhogi kae, be in gi simba dala? Be meru odak ei ot ma permanent?”

I would nod and say “Ee” because it’s what my friends told me to do.

I became one with her shadow, followed her trails on Facebook and Twitter. I enhanced my double-tapping skills on her Instagram profile and sent out hearts when I needed to.

This creature, wild, untamed, vicious and one who never backed down from a fight.

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Alice. It’s all she ever said to me, so when I walked into Khaldis that Wednesday evening and saw her talking to a guy in a red sweater, the scent of freshly brewed coffee tormented my soul. I retraced my steps to Gill house, boarded a matatu home.

It was the first time I looked out the window until I got home.