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.

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.

coffee latte art espresso coffee shop caffelatte cup spoon wooden table
Stocksnap.io

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.

The man from the Sea

And so it was that Neema went to the Sea. I visited the beach every night hoping to get a glance of the little girl with eyes as big as the moon, and palms as soft as the love of the sun, but she never appeared.

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Image Courtesy of Pinterest- user @sinsaymo

The man from the Sea never visited, and with time I learned that one pearl ‘amani’ kept turning black every time I returned home from the beach. It darkened with every visit, and I feared it would lose its appeal, so I stopped waiting for them. I prayed for Neema and wished her well, but there are some things that a woman never forgets-the love of a child for instance.

My husband, the one who dwells in a mnazi den, stopped coming home and I had the nights to myself again. I sat on my mat, watched the moon and sang myself to sleep. Those were the days when the women laughed into the night, and the children chanted their prayers as the men thought about dawn.

The weavers created the best carpets and mats.

The cooks prepared the best bhajias, kaimati, andazi and kokoto. Those were the days I tell you…but even then Jabali was but a little one, his feet finding their way around the sandy beaches we graced. He had his mother’s eyes, charcoal floating in milk, and his father’s shoulders.

Years later, this little gem would be the one who unleashed a wrath worse than the heat from the sun.

5/40

What do you mean by that Nicole?”

“What do you think? Martin has always been the bump in your highway. You cannot drive at a hundred kilometers when the bumps appear from nowhere. Okay, if you drove you would get my logic.”

“So, now I am flawed? What is wrong with you woman? Why do you support him? Is there something I am missing because you are always coming to his defense?”

“I just wish there was more about Telemundo in our office, that place iko na drama,wah! Kwanza did you hear about what happened upstairs?”

“Where? I am upstairs too, can you be more specific?”

“Marjorie, you are the one who knows how to relate to the public, now why should I enlighten you about people in our so called office, and listen, before you call me a gossip,ati oh, drama queen ati mama muchene, just listen because it might help you.”

“Are you really going to finish that soda?”

“Kwani what do you take me for? Si ikibaki nabeba nikienda nayo home! Wacha kumezea soda yangu mate, plans zako zinyamazie!

“So, what were you saying about my public relations skills?”

“Listen, I will do my research and tell you all about it. Do not stomp on Martin’s foot,maisha ni hard. Maybe he just has complex issues. Between you and I, tunajua kichwa yako ni ngumu kama ya mbuzi, pardon my French!”

“Why are we even friends?”

“Hata mimi sijui, but you are one crazy woman. You are stubborn. Pass me that pepper, sauce yangu imedry. Wacha kuniangalia hivyo madam PR!”

Once the bowl of pepper was in her hand, she dipped her index finger in and made a clean sweep of the paste. Her words clouded my mind. What if there was more to my situation with Martin? How many complaints would I file to get him to stop? What would I gain? What would he lose and why did it matter? I looked around the room. Eyes. Hands. Tables. Voices. Thoughts. Needs. Mouths.

At the far end looking right at me was Martin.

Forty Days

They say a thief has forty days. In Kiswahili it’s musical, more like a warning, a lyrical warning, siku za mwizi ni arubaini.

I came across some boards and lots of pins on Pinterest about writing challenges. There are monthly challenges, bucket lists and the greatest of them all NanoWrimo. The transition from The Currents Series to another book has been tedious. Some days I’m lucky if the words come out of me, but I still believe they will. There is a story somewhere in my notebooks, journal and book clips.

I decided to create my own challenge and set my own goals.

So, for forty days I will post twice on this blog. A 400-word post at 4 A.M. and another 400-word post at 4 P.M.

I’ll pick it up as I go and somewhere therein I’ll have gained back my composure and discipline to start working on the next book. Now, for all the readers out there and family, yes and those friends who constantly ask Writers, what are you working on now? Please know that it is not like opening a refrigerator door.

Until then. let’s see how this goes. See you at 4P.M. for the first post!

Strangers in a bus

There are things Tom never talked about. His house. His job. His love for chapati and the scent of the earth when those raindrops hit the ground. He woke up at five because fifteen minutes before that the Muezzin would summon all the faithfuls to the Mosque. He had his tea, black and strong with two slices of white Supa loaf bread.

When he got inside the bus at six, he never looked at the other passengers.
Maybe he did, but he never saw me.

He sat by the window always keeping on the driver’s side.
Sometimes depending on the bus he’d be stuck with that morning show about domestic issues and fall outs on Classic. You’d see him scrunch up his face, twist his lips as though he wanted to spit out the disgust that streamed into his ears, but he’d never utter a word.

He would keep his eyes outside the window until the bus came to a stop in town and then he would take his time and let everyone step out before finally taking in the bustle of that morning.
Sometimes when he did this,he had a smile like on Fridays. Sometimes he looked like he needed a hug, a reminder that someone still cared, like on Mondays.

There are things Tom never told anyone, like who he really was and why I was the only one who saw him.

How about mass printing in Kenya?

Kenya is the home of literary giants.
Aspiring writers are often challenged not only to produce quality manuscripts but also to learn and build up on what their predecessors have put out. I recently started working on improving relationships with the writers I know here in Kenya to get us talking about writing in Kenya and publishing and how to change it for the better.
So, I got in touch with Elly and I’m pleased to introduce you to her. Hello world, meet Elly.

  At days’ end, on my way home, a boy and girl from a nearby primary school walk home too.  The boy has a cast on his arm, so the girl walking beside him is carrying his book bag.  There’s a story here, a delicious story, as the girl laughs at what the boy says, then they walk in comfortable silence.  I imagine them growing up together, falling in love (or not) maybe falling in love with others.  The two going through struggles together, maybe reaching a point in their lives where they don’t know each other anymore, and wish they could go back to the old days and…the story continues in my head. 
Of late, it has been a blessing to know I’m not alone in this wonderful sense of imagination. I feel privileged to know people with the same sense of creativity that constantly hangs over me daily, like finding kindred spirits.

Kenyan writers have increased these past few years.  Their work is fresh and entertaining it is often sad that the only place to fully read their stories is online: on a blog, or an e-book.

In a not so distant past, I ran a bookstore in a small town outside Nairobi.  A young man walked in with his poetry books one day.  He had traveled from Uganda, and gone selling his poetry in every bookstore he found.  His books were inexpensive, only Kshs. 80.  I bought them, paying him for twenty books at one go.  We sold those books for Kshs. 150 within the month.  He had moved on to Tanzania by then, and he’d sold off his stock by then, but his brand of marketing stuck with me.
Print a large quantity of books, cheaply, sell fast.
So, I want to will a pulp fiction publishing house into existence in Kenya.  A publishing house that will choose to publish fiction at affordable prices, so that the everyday Kenyan can afford it.  Yes, I realize that the bottom line is important in business, however, no one wants to constantly buy a fiction book for Kshs. 800, that is the truth.  We’re all on the streets buying foreign fiction books for Kshs. 100, or even Kshs. 50.

If you can find a way to print fiction on cheap low-quality paper, and make your stories epic and exciting enough to capture the masses, I think we could be in business.

This is my quest.  Writing has always been easy, creativity quite available, however, the business side of printing in Kenya is an amazing challenge, especially if you’re looking toward selling affordable fiction. Finding a printer who can help print pulp fiction…in great big quantities, will make Kenyan fiction a bonafide trade/business.  One without elitist circles, or prestigious airs, simply fiction with one goal—to entertain.  This type of mass printing will nurture Kenyan writers, give value to our constant creative thoughts, create new job avenues, increase readership and inspire more Kenyan fiction into the world.

About Elly:

ell

Elly is a gem when it comes to romance. She loves gardening and knows a thing or two about delicious treats. Hint: Cakes! She is currently writing the Koya Series.

Visit her blog: Love in Nairobi or send her a tweet @ellykamari254

To read her novellas, visit her smashwords page: Elly Kamari

Lemons and Lemons

It’s good to be back home, and if you haven’t noticed, I am on wordpress.com again. Working on site upgrades will take me some time and money, and it’ll be done as soon as I settle down.

Have you ever felt the sudden need to slap people senseless in a vehicle? To unfasten your seat-belt and start giving everyone a piece of your mind using your palm, like pow-pow-pow and then settling back into your seat and plugging your earphones to the cool sound of Sauti-sol and Micasa? It happened to me on Friday and yesterday.

I traveled from Kisumu to Nairobi on Friday and this driver kept playing some rhumba music. I have my tastes but why would anyone want to listen to sleep music while driving non-stop for six hours? To make it worse, the CD he was playing got stuck on replay when we were approaching Naivasha. It played the same song until we got to Nairobi! I had some chords stuck in my mind way past midnight as I tossed and turned in bed.

When I got into the shuttle for Kisumu yesterday, it got worse, I was hit by the scent of lemons! Look here, I love lemons. They are green beautiful devils. They can be used to detox, to sanitize, to add flavor to food and drinks. Anyone who loves tequila can attest to the love they have for a slice of lemon, or lime and salt- but hey, I digress.Lemons are adorable little things, you can squeeze them in your enemy’s eyes and feign innocence. But too much lemon in the form of cologne is a complete turn-off. I was hit by the scent of too many lemons gone bad. It was like someone was rubbing lemons on my nostrils while another was forcing the nasty little creature down my throat. The seat I had chosen was next to the door and the guy who was killing me was seated right beside me! It does not matter how cute you are, but if the scent of you drives me to my grave, you are being exorcised like the demon you are. Six hours of that revolting scent, and when I thought my day could get better, the driver turned up the volume, filling the vehicle with the same CD I had been treated to on my first trip.

The best part was I had enough leg room to stretch out and sleep! I did wince whenever he hit a bump or two, or slowed down for the police, but the urge to slap everyone was so strong, it made for a great dream, because I would not do that in real life. The guy seated beside me could definitely hit back and send me to the morgue.

The first rule of war: you always win in your dreams, in real life, you can be slapped senseless!

I think

It’s too hot, what do you think?

This restaurant is too expensive, what do you think?

People can be so rude, what do you think?

Blue shirt or the purple one, what do you think?

We should go to Mombasa, what do you think?

Jaymo’s business idea is good, what do you think?

Sweetheart.

Honey.

Love, are you there?

Have you been reading the whole time?

Did you hear what I said?

You know what? Just forget it!

We should spend more time together, what do you think?

Honey…

*walks out of the room*

I think…