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! 

Here

“People know me here.” –A Gesture Life by Chang-Rae Lee

The long holiday weekend is exactly what I needed. For some it was just but an extra day, but to me it was an added day to my leave days. Nothing makes me smile more than buying books and bookmarks, and my short trip to Nairobi proved to be the break I deserved.

I won’t go on about the traffic because we need new tales about Nairobi.

I won’t go on about the way everyone is in a rush, the fashion (shout out to the girl whom I saw spotting white and blue braids,  campus life does you a good one), the hawkers, the matatus, the music, the fast food restaurants, the street kids, the buildings, XFM, and the ambition in the people.

I love these eccentricities. I love them because I can treat myself to something different every time I visit and mostly because Nairobi has woven it’s own culture which is different from the one we have in Kisumu.

What I did miss was riding in a tuk tuk. Yes, I yearned for the noise the little critters make and just cruising around town in one.

I snagged three books and I am done with two, which means I’ll have more time to continue writing the next book and travel a bit.

So, here’s to a new week, some travel plans, great times with friends and family and to finally completing a long awaited manuscript.

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.

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!

Glass

It comes to me in pieces; that day after the party, at your place, outside Naivas Supermarket, the Family Kitchen Restaurant, the church and sometimes…sometimes when I try to shake it off, it comes at 2 A.M.

They say it takes time.

They say, “You are still young, you’ll move on and find somebody else.”

It’s easy. You know, you are like a Mr. Berry bubblegum wrapper, disposed just as easy and fast after you’ve got the gum. You chew for a minute and dispose of the gum and unwrap the next one. It is true, you can never just have one Mr. Berry gum…five is a start.

How would they know? I saw you walking into Mega Plaza today. You were wearing that blue shirt that gives you the Corporate look and you were carrying that awful laptop bag that needs a wash more than a truck ferrying sand. You were talking to someone, ‘her’ I suppose, but there you were…two steps ahead of me and I could hear you, see you and if I tried hard enough, I could have taken in your scent.

It’s never the same.

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It is never about who was wrong or who felt betrayed, but more about what happens. I wish it was more about us back then. You never listened…passion trumps rationale, and you would never know it, but I lost our child. Baby Emmanuela, a gem, the one you longed for…and what hurts even more is that you never gave me a chance to share the news with you.

They told you I was with your best friend. They said,‘you can’t trust these chics, they can definitely bring you down, kwani is she the only one?’ What’s worse is that you listened to people who were surrounded by liquor they never brewed or produced. You took in the word of people who never invested in our relationship and you refused to listen. You threw away a friendship because of your inability to deal with your fear…the fear that you could lose me to James. He is an awesome guy, a great listener…but he will never be you, but you never cared to listen.

I walked behind you until you stepped onto the escalator and descended to the floor below. The lady was now holding your hand, leaning into your embrace and you were smiling at her.

They say I will get over it…and things will be okay, have you ever broken glass? Have you ever looked at the shattered pieces and seen how the light strikes each piece?

I need the light to illuminate my heart. I need it just one more time, because a part of me would like to face you and tell you that on the day you saw me with James, he was calming my nerves because I had just found out that we would be having a child. You were down on finances and the thought of telling you about the baby freaked me out…so much so that I was talking to myself right outside Alpha House…and James was passing by…

Would it matter? I don’t know.

You are happy. You are glowing, a smile upon us mere mortals who betrayed you, and sometimes I reckon losing both you and Emmanuela was a gift, a reminder that life was still bright and crystal clear like glass even after your heart’s been shattered.

For Helen…hope this shines a light on you. 

xoxo

 

 

Like thunder

Michael.

He is the embodiment of all that is strong, swift and calm. A little bit cunning, a little bit wanting but never lacking.

Scratch that, I can do better!

If I told you about a storm, the kind that ruffled the clouds, shook the earth, scattered the dust and misdirected the wind, you’d say I was exaggerating. 

You would look at me, shake your head and walk away as though I was the plague coming to strike you in your house, but that’s the situation with Michael.
Love. Lust. Desire. Ambition.

A relationship that does not require a status because “it’s complicated” is cliché. He hails from the estate down this long winding road, a voice rich with promises and a face filled with dreams, my dreams. 

So, here I am typing away, confiding in a friend, about this dream of mine, and when I go to bed, I ask myself, “why is he always wearing that black jacket?”

What I learned about 2 A.M calls

Never answer a phone call past 2 A.M!

If someone calls you and starts by saying ‘did I wake you up?’, please ‘hang up,’ and go back to sleep or else you will take part in a confession that you will regret four hours later.

It’s almost 10 A.M and I am here writing this, and thinking of how much I need an Editor for this, but the truth is I brought it all upon myself. I stayed up yesterday because of three reasons and they are strictly in this order:

  1. Twist of Fate on Zee World
  2. It was 31 degrees hot
  3. I was reading the book- ‘The Shadow Prince.’

So, there I was reading The Shadow Prince by Stacey O’Neale and thinking to myself that I am better off being who I am and not part of some royal family when this guy I used to like sent me a message on Whatsapp.

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I looked at it and set the phone aside until I’d finished reading the book then I sent him a message ‘hey, you, I’m good. Hope you’re awesome, have a goodnight.’

He did not respond. I went to bed at around midnight…now, people, two hours into my sleep I hear ‘hey I heard you are a wild one…oooh, if I took you home’ and I’m thinking, who is this? (You probably think that I should change my ringtone, and you are right, it changes with my mood…I need that song by RedOne featuring that cute Arsenal player with big teddy bear eyes)

So, if you said that guy up there, well, you are right, it was that guy! I look at that phone and think of all the things I could do including pressing the power button and switching it off, but you know how cunning that little devil is. I understand why Eve ate that apple and shared it with Adam, because I knew I was not supposed to answer that call, but in a split second I did, and in a voice dipped in honey.

‘Hi.’

‘Oh, hey there, for a moment I thought you’d not answer, lakini, how are you? It’s been days, mbona umenyamaza hivyo?’

I held my peace for a while, but in my mind the answer was : ‘Well, you did not like me like I liked you and so you went for someone else, and gave me the silent treatment, for a year.’

What came out of my mouth was ‘Aki si hivyo, you know what happens nikiwa on the road and all that, but thanks for reaching out to me, how have you been?’

‘I have been good. I have missed you sana.’

‘Yeah…well…( and here is where the devil did a number on me) I missed you too, when will you come visit Kisumu?’

‘That’s funny, I was thinking of the same thing, but I just got here today, and you are the first person that came to mind. What are you doing over the weekend?’

‘I haven’t made plans.I can’t believe you are in Kisumu.’

‘Well, I am and I want us to meet up, say Sato afte at Java? I know you love that place and besides, we have a lot to talk about.’

‘This Saturday?’

‘Yes, this Saturday, are you working or something?’

‘Yes, but only until midday and then after that I’ll be free, so how about 2pm?’

‘I’ve missed you so much and it will be nice seeing you again.’

‘Yeah, me too.’

‘So, you get your beauty sleep, and we’ll catch up.’

‘Goodnight.’

‘Goodnight.’

I set the phone aside, it was almost a quarter past two in the morning. How did I do that? I mean, why did I do that? The truth is I couldn’t sleep after that because I kept asking myself why I replied his message. Why did I answer his call?

Do not, and I repeat, do not answer phone calls after two o’clock in the morning. Why?

One, you are drowsy and will probably regret everything you say.

Two, chances are that out will have to follow through on what you say or agree to because you were half asleep.

Three, if you are the type to call people past midnight just to catch up on old times, please don’t, they’re drunk with sleep, and aren’t that coherent,aye?