Memories

I am falling. No, it’s neither in love nor asleep, but into a black hole. I have always known that I would have to write about myself.

Now that I have to, I fear that whatever it is I write, nothing may be as virtual as I would like it to be.

Someone once said that there is no line between fiction and non-fiction, the only difference is three letters ‘non.’ I have thought about this for twelve years. Truth is when I write it is never for anyone, but myself. Some stories have been to free myself of a guilty conscience while others to free others of theirs.

In essence it all boils down to me. I choose who lives and who dies, not when but just how. I leave the ‘why’ to you who’s reading this right now. So, if you could meet me for coffee and ask me one question, what would it be? What would you want to know about me? On the other hand, if I were to meet you for coffee and ask you one question, it would be ‘would you like to go for a walk with me?’ I learned this from my Grandmother. She told me, anyone willing to walk with you is worthy of your time. I did not understand the depth of her wisdom then. A friend once told me that life is never ending. He said this at his grand father’s funeral where we stood by him lulled by the wailing and the eulogies. He smiled and said he was glad the old man got some rest because dialysis was killing him. The thought that tubes went in and out of him broke his spirit more than the fact that the process was extending his life. He just stood there and said that life never ended. He said that one is born out of two people, lives, dies and moves onto the after-life.

What he could not bring himself to admit was that life only ended if whoever died never created any memories with those he/she left behind. And that’s why I want to live, such that generations to come will know about me, and I am glad that in Kenya, generations name their newborn after those who are long gone. Talk of a sure way to ensure reincarnation, and Romeo had the audacity to ask “what’s in a name?” And there are some things that I will never say, not out loud, and not even at my deathbed. The moment you think, ‘I have to share this with someone,’ it becomes a confession- words spoken in the hope of being understood and forgiven, but none of it makes sense.

Truth is most of them are memories they wish to realize again and again.

Excerpt from Memories. Published on August 29, 2013 on Smashwords.

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The final word

I want to sip you like wine, to swirl you before I quench my thirst of you.

I want to reach for you, dip some ice and let you burn your way into me.

I want to brew you, to add a spoonful of cream and a bit of caramel and warm up at the thought of you.

But, you…

You come to me in doses, a drip in the morning, a taste in the afternoon and a sip in the evening.

It shouldn’t matter, your coming, and your going, or our longing, it shouldn’t matter.

You come to me when he is talking about a future, when I am supposed to be paying attention to a telephone conference, at the supermarket, in church, in the bathroom, in bed, in a matatu and right now…you want to stay.

You say it’s because it’s time for you to stay.

We have to see this through, you say, and when I make a move to put the pen down, you remind me to reach for a cup of black tea. Tea? Yes, you ran out of coffee, again! You say.

Why is it that you know when to push and when to refrain? Why is it that you know me so well?

I reach out for that cup of tea and you smile, and a part of me knows that I am never getting any sleep until I write the final word. 

Little truths

I know a couple of things. I call them little truths.

These are the friends that fill the void, the never ending affirmations of who I am, and what I do. They listen. When my words echo in the night, they always find comfort in the depths of my uncertainty.

I do not tell the world.

I do not show them these little truths.

“What are you working on?”

“Something,” and I leave it at that.

I learned to protect what I know to be fragile.

I learned to forge what the world sees not, into something that once seen, can never be forgotten.

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Such is life

There are a few things that I refrain from telling the world. These are often phrases prompted by situations. Things like “I don’t care,” and “Really, that’s nice,” and “I’m sorry.”

Most of the times I intend to say the opposite, but for the sake of peace I utter them.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. It’s been four days since I resigned from my position at work and I was stressing about writing when I ran into someone I looked up to in the writing scene. He smiled when I walked into the New Victoria Hotel, the one directly opposite Tuff Foam Mall, and pulled out a seat for me.

“How are you doing?”

“I am fine, thank you Sir. How are you?”

“Growing old, so how is the writing coming along and please don’t tell me you are working on something.”

“Writing’s great and yes, I am working on something.”

“You know, Prof showed me some of the material you’d written and I was taken aback because, well, you have a long way to go and don’t tell me that you are into what these young fools think is the epitome of writing. Don’t sit behind a screen and type things and call yourself a blogger, because that is a waste of time. I see it every time with my students here at Maseno. A student cannot differentiate between ‘there’ and ‘their,’ and he or she is so proud over the number of likes the post has. It’s like they are applauding the disregard of grammar. They like what is full of trash,like the chips they eat every time! Before you say that I am being harsh,let me tell you what I told Prof after reading your book, Fire. I told him to advise you to get a job, work, and do something else because, and I agree with Prof on this one, the world right now encourages folly, a shallowness that your book does not. It needs one who can enter the realm of literature and see beyond the proverbs and sayings of a drunk to grasp what you’re talking about. You do not have that kind of audience. You cannot create that kind of audience. So, forget it and do something else with your life. It’s what I told him and I am glad I met you in person, because you need to hear the truth my child.”

“Thank you Sir, I appreciate your honesty.”

“Do you,really?”

“I do. I really do and I’ll hear what Prof has to say, chances are he won’t utter a word about meeting you or that you read the book.”

“I read all four. It was the third one that really depressed me. Enough about it, tell me, why are you not at work? Prof mentioned that you do something with young girls here in Kisumu.”

“I resigned.”

“Why? Did you get a better offer?”

“Yes, I chose my own. I have a few months before I focus on school.”

“Great, now I am almost done drinking this tea. I hope you heed my advice and that all goes well for you.”

“Thank you Sir.”

We talked for a while and he invited me to talk to some of his students in the coming week. I accepted his business card and jotted down his phone number in my notebook promising to call when the time was right. He left after insisting that he pays my bill.

I sat there looking around trying to see familiar faces because when you are breaking down in public it’s best to know who’s around. The first ten minutes after he’d left were the hardest. He was not just “Sir,” but the one who inspired and worked with the best of the best in the writing scene in Kenya and Tanzania. He had not only read one but four of my books. He found the third book,Wind, depressing! He’d read my books, not just opened a chapter and forgot one,but actually read four of my books! 

I sat there and for what seemed like ages, let the tears roll down my cheeks. I am sure the people around noticed, even the waiters but no one approached my table. It’s one of the things about breaking down that no one tells you; when you silently shed tears everyone stays back uncertain of when you’ll start bawling. So, there I was, with a brownie and tea cup in front of me,crying because someone I looked up to said that I should keep my pen locked up and get a job.

It’s what stuck with me as I went back home. At some point, I found myself picking apart the words he’d uttered and thinking back to his face then. He’d seen the frustration I’d face writing and was offering me the easy way out, but he also knew for sure that I would not take it. He was asking me to stay down knowing that I needed the strength to keep standing and it was only Prof who told me of this later on as I called bawling my heart out.

Truth is, when someone says anything about something I create, it makes me feel something. Sometimes I feel good, sometimes I feel confused or I feel bad, so in his own weird way, he was making me understand what shutting down felt like so that I’d fight to stay on, and that is one awful way to do it Sir! 

My version of events

And…you say that my love is like a raging fire, flashes of yellow, red, orange and a twinge of blue, flames that light up your world and burn it down to grey ashes…

You say…it’s hard to tame me.

A lion cannot tame the one who hunts and brings home the prey…a lioness

You say my heart is as cold as June in Nairobi, but hey, Nyeri’s always been cold, but even Nyaru’s never gone beyond 17 degrees Celcius, do the flowers die?

You say I am not like the other chics…now, I know nothing of the other chics, for what I carry around are my dreams, emotions, and this body that goes on the two legs that seem to get me miles away from what you say…

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I say my version of events do not thrive on your validation neither do they cease to enlighten me when you choose to shun me away.

Oh, but what do I know because though I stand my ground, I still come back to you, begging and pleading and staying up late waiting…for you, my dearest blank page, are the one who consumes my thoughts, my feelings and desires, now with this heartfelt plea, would you let me be and let these words flow?

 

A song in my heart

I woke up with a song in my heart,

It felt like I had a new start.

I could have taken to heart,

The little things that hurt.

The disappointments, hours in traffic, sickness, bills

All these ills.

I woke up with a song in my heart,

It had no rhyme

I had no time.

It had no melody,

But carried a tune.

I woke up with a song in my heart,

So I filled the beats with words.

I wrote them down, even as I looked like a clown.

I wrote them down

And one by one, the words rang true,

The sun rises on every soul,

The sun sets on every soul,

What you do in between fills your soul.