Omolo Agar Road

Friendship is like clay.

You can scout for it, but never come across the fine particles you seek. Sometimes, you stumble upon a nice heap of soft, fine clay that summons the potter in you. Then, without knowing it, you start to knead it, compress it, air it and slowly add water, and color to create what you had in mind.

Friendship is nothing like clay.

Clay receives direction on a potter’s wheel. It endures the heat knowing that it will come out firmer than it was whilst going in the kiln. Clay follows the path set out for it by the potter’s hand, bending, twisting, falling off…all at will, confident that it will be as the potter imagines it.

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Friendship is clay.

It is there but few seek it out to sustain it.

Like the Potter, some use it to mold it into what suits them before casting it aside or passing it on to the next person.

I found myself at Omolo Agar Road, at a crossroads, and that is when I saw this neat heap of red clay. I wonder how long it took me to accept that it was not going to be mine, but the thought of molding a pot or a family of four had me smiling all the way to work.

 

4/40

I opened a few online store pages as soon as Nicole left my office. I would give a jig to wear a red dress to work. My colors were more of the neutral range: grey,black,brown and white. I switched things up with some bright colors once in a while but the only red thing I owned was a belt. I couldn’t buy a red hand bag, not even if it was leather and I know my leather.

After much scrolling and clicking, I closed all the tabs and went back to drinking my tea. The extra cash I had in my account would go to Dad’s treatment. His talk about grandchildren was a thrill to my brothers. Francis was one to talk given that he was off to saint hood. The one time I brought up that girl with breasts like coconuts he gave me the silent treatment for one month. The next time I mentioned the one with an orange phone with that ringtone that sounded like the clash of sufurias, he unleashed a three month cold war. That boy had a good memory. His father’s memory. He had a heart. His mother’s heart. I couldn’t tell which one I loathed. Dad, Raphael and I know that he’s never going to wear that cloth. We also know that he would be better off teaching Theology as opposed to living and practicing it. See, Francis cannot fail to acknowledge curves. His head turns at the sight of legs, bums, light skins and long weaves. He appreciates beauty. 

Raphael believes he can do it. Father just shakes his head. Raphael thinks he would make a great priest. Father just shakes his head. Raphael opens his mouth to say one more thing and Father goes, “When are you going to get married to that young woman who cleans your clothes, prepares your food and sleeps on your bed?”

Raphael suddenly has a phone call to answer. 

With my last sip, I looked out the window at the parking lot, there were four slots remaining. It was almost noon and I had not made any advancement on the project I was assigned. I sat by the window, counting the black cars and then the white and the grey/silver. I lived for days like this when I would only look forward to lunch and 5pm. Some days I looked out my window and there were more open parking spaces because the bosses were not in. 

Space

You stop and stare,
You wait.
You’ve been waiting for ten years to see it.
You look in my eyes, but it’s not there.
Every year you stand and stare at me.
You blink once, or twice but I never count because you are always standing steps away from me.
Move.
Take a step towards me.
Look into my heart, not at my eyes.
Do not see it but feel it.
Move.
Won’t you just take that leap, darn it, just move!

You stop and stare.
We have been here.
We have thought of this space.
They call it love.
You call it time.
I call it cowardice.
I call you out on it, but still you stand your ground.

You stop and stare,
I have waited ten years.
I turn back tonight,
I’ll stop hoping, staring back, pushing you to make a move.

What hurts the most is that even as I walk away,
You still stare.

My Day so far.

So, hello I am seated in a restaurant in Homabay typing this post in between light and dark.
In between you say? Yes, when the lights go out and they come back in a span of five minutes, that’s what I call a flicker.
I traveled to Homabay County on Sunday for work related duties and it’s been a great joy working with the people here, and I also realized that I could travel for an hour on a motorcycle within the same division like it’s no big deal.
The man ferrying me was stopped by policemen near a stream by the road. The police woman asked him for her due.
She was a short beautiful lady with a sweet voice ( it’s true, I liked her voice) and she said, “Nipe ile uko nayo kama ya soda.” (Give me what you have even if it could buy a soda)
And the man carrying me insisted that he had none because he had to drop me and get his pay.
The police insisted, “Ni sawa nipe hata ya maji, hiyo tu uko nayo.” (It’s fine, but give me at least to buy water, just the little that you have)
He gave her forty shillings and she let us proceed.
After that I went to meet some senior officials and found myself in between them and someone who refused to obey their order, and I had to sit back and look at my finger nails. Have you ever been in a room where suited up men get angry in a flash?
Words were exchanged, insults and threats delivered but in the end the one who was junior had to submit to authority and I had clean fingernails.
But, when you have had a crazy day and you miss home what do you do?
Take a stroll and take pictures of the scenery and in Homabay it’s the Lake Victoria.

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Memories in pictures

I’ll tell you about what stumped me the most while I was home after a very long time.
First, it was the church.
The St. Peter’s Church where we used to attend the first service every Sunday morning during the Christmas holidays. We would sit on wooden benches or the floor depending on how full the church was and listen to Reverend Walter’s sermon.

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The main entrance of the church

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I also took pictures of the home like I knew it, but it’s been years since anything made it feel like home. The cow shed is gone, the passion fruit tree withered away and in place of the open entrance there’s a gate.

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You’ll hear from Me.

For as long as she could remember the scent of him and that smile, all Vanessa had been doing was waiting.
She  was the one who saw him that day in the school field. He was in a blue shirt and khaki trousers. The other boys were drawn to him as much as the girls were. He said something to make them laugh and that’s when his eyes met her cocoa eyes. They were dark and had a glint of mischief, but it was his height and ease that drew her to him. She had a few boyfriends in her stay in high school. There was the one she met in a bus on her way home who had written one letter but used a revised stamp. She had to pay fifty shillings to read his illegible writing and wrong musical dedications. Any fool knew that “Queen of my Heart” was a song by Westlife and not Backstreet Boys!
There was the great dancer in form three who though short had managed to hit on her best friend and get away with it.  His idea of getting back at her had been to leave an empty packet of milk in her locker. She found it quite refreshing. Their break up and his upgrade became the talk of the two streams for that weekend. She told no one the that she never loved him, but was in awe of his handwriting and grammar. Even  then she knew that she could not love a guy in high school. She could not lend her heart to a boy who had an influx of love letters from other girls. The thought of such deception made her cautious, but relatively stupid.

She fell hard for him.
He was talking to his friends that day but once he caught her staring,  he couldn’t look away. She stood there until he walked towards her.
She could look into his eyes, but the scent of him was all she needed.
He was charming, but she knew that charm was deceitful and her heart stopped.
They were called to the hall where the results were announced. She hated Physics exams. She loved the practical exams but the theory part always had her in knots.
When their teacher announced the results she looked down aware that her performance would prove to him how stupid she was. In fact, she hadn’t studied for it. The skirt she was wearing was a size smaller, and the elastic on those new socks were stressing her, so she couldn’t focus in the exam room.
How would he know that she had been attending an English Symposium the previous evening and had been the best? Or that she wanted to know his name and hear him say that he liked her?

The result came in and he stood when his name was called and the sound of palms meeting filled the room. She could not put her palms together, but he saw her. His eyes stayed with her until the end.

The smart ones stayed in the podium to receive their gifts as the room filled with music. It was a Symposium and some entertainment was in order. She slipped out and returned to the hall when she heard E-Sir’s song,  “Mos Mos” and found herself doing the Helicopter dance just like she had seen in the music videos and shows.
After a while she stepped out through the back door hoping to sneak back to her dorm and change. Those socks were really killing the muscles on her legs.
“You’re a very good dancer, Vanessa.”
He was right beside the door.  His hands were in his pockets and his right leg was raised as he leaned on the wall.
“Hi.”
“Max,you can call me Max. I was looking for you.”
“Well, you found me. ”
” I did. You’ll hear from me.” She wanted to ask when she  would hear from him but she didn’t want to seem desperate. She knew his name and he knew hers. It was enough to disregard the miserable grade she got in Physics.
The next weekend brought with it time to watch a Nigerian movie and read his letter under her blanket with the aide of a flashlight . He did not just like her, he really liked her. He was not afraid to admit it, but he found her confidence a little intimidating.
His handwriting was impeccable and he signed off better than she had hoped. She read his letter over the weekend, before she could pick a pen to answer his letter. But she knew even then that her heart would always beat to his.

That was ten years ago. Vanessa was still waiting. She heard from Max once in a while but his words never reached her heart or sparked the fire that he had kindled in her.
She had dated some guys, got dumped by three and set four in the friend zone. He had evolved into an accountant. She had evolved into a woman. When they met that day at the cafe, he had invited her to his apartment and treated her to lunch. He had the same glint in his eyes. She had the same stare.
He kissed her forehead that night, but nothing beyond that. She walked home tired and spent. He had drained her of the fire she kept burning for him.

She did everything to steer clear of him. No one she knew had married their high school sweetheart, but even then she hoped she would be the first.  The fire in her heart was slowly picking up. He worked in the same building as her, and they had lunch when his moods favored him. Her colleagues told her they looked great together every day. She smiled at the beginning but it became more of a burden like an unwanted constipation.
She stayed late in the office that evening. The proposals for the new Campaign had to be revised before the Shareholders meeting the next morning. She heard the knock and his scent.
“Hey, would you mind if I join you?”
“No, please do.”
“Thanks.”
“I brought you some cupcakes from the cafe. I know you always have house coffee and two chocolate cupcakes every Wednesday.”

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“Thank you Max, I didn’t know that I had a stalker in you.”
“I think it’s a good thing, at least a stalker who brings you cupcakes, look, would you like to go out with me, as in be my girlfriend Vanessa?”
“Max…”
“I know it’s been a while but I have been watching you Vanessa. Like how you frown when you want to say something but can’t. You also love blue scarves, and that everything has to be in order for you, but more so I have seen the way you look at me.”
“Max,can we do this later, um…”
“I have waited for fifteen years to talk to the girl I met at St. Anne’s during a Physics symposium who made me lose my cool. The girl who knew she came first and who wrote me the only letters I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I could sit here and go on, or tell you how much I have dreamed of this, but it is not in my style to live like am one of those Mexicans you swoon over in TV. So, what will it be Vanessa, be honest with me.”
“Max…”
“Are you seeing someone?”
“No, all this time I thought that it would never happen. You made me wait Max. I waited and dreamed and gave up and gained hope, it was like… Would you wait for me to finish typing this document?”
“It’s been fifteen years Vanessa, a few more hours wouldn’t hurt, but am not leaving this office without you.”
“You’ll hear from me.”

Other awesome posts in the East Africa Friday Feature
The Girl with the Golden Smile 2
Flashes of The Birthday Killer

Wind: Book Three of the Currents Series

Writing a series is the best way to test your determination, discipline and focus as a writer. You write the first book and as you release it, your mind is on the second and the third…and sometimes there’s always doubt knocking on your door trying to convince you that you’ll never make it.

The greatest challenge has to be consistency and also retaining your reader’s attention, and trust me when I say that’s hard to do especially if it takes you a long time to release the next book. Why?

Well, hundreds if not thousands of books are published daily. If your reader gets bored they could always look for something else to read. If they find something and love it, they can easily forget your work.

So, that said: I am working on Wind which is the third book in the Currents Series. I am constantly learning as much as I can about the experience of those who have read the first two books- Fire and Water, and it’s much appreciated.

I have to admit that it’s taking me sometime to write this book because two characters are introduced to the story and weaving their background and seeing them fit in the story is what I’d like to perfect, but until then here’s a sneak peak at the introduction and the cover preview. I’d love to know what you think, help a writer out.

When the wind blows, even the strongest of trees sways.
He felt it while he was at the training grounds.
The people who witnessed it said they had never known the wind to have such anger that it brought down branches of the strongest trees to fall on their roofs.
When he felt the wind on his face, he put down his shield and ran right into it.
The people who saw him wondered why he would do such a thing, but he knew where he was going.

He was Wema.
He was going home, back to Leo.

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You can say “No” and move on.

Saying “no” can be the hardest thing to do just as saying “yes” can be the easiest at times.
I do not know what I did right there (with that opening sentence) but it’s been a long day.
Work took longer than I had hoped but the greatest challenge had to be working with a lady who made it seem like she had no time for me.

How do you talk to or reach out to someone who wants nothing to do with you?

Well, I learned today that you sit and wait to be noticed.
Yes, you sit and wait (for hours)

So,  there I was in this woman’s office waiting for her to stop talking to another woman about the choir collections and ten o’clock tea. She turned to me scrunched up her nose in the air and asked,  “what do you want?”
I  thought,  “some courtesy,” but said “twenty minutes of your time,” and I went on to tell her why and then she nodded and I got on with my work. As I sat there all I could think of was something my sister once told me. She said,  “no one’s better than you for as long as they answer to someone else.”

The woman provided me with the documents I needed not because I was patient but because she learned that I had a famous grandfather who was the founding partner of that school,  but also because I was sent to her by her boss and as such  she had to do as expected of her or face the wrath of her boss.

As I was leaving,  I looked back at her and wondered how approachable she was to other people and why she did not want to attend to me when all I was doing was my job and not hers. But, what I learned was that it hurts when you’re belittled or ignored while working to improve or change the status quo.
I also learned that saying “no,” is better than ignoring someone or a task that you do not want.

Writing backwards.

It was not my intention to be awake at 3am.

It was also not my intention to sit on the cold cemented floor and think of the perfect story to write, but it all happened, and now, I am here thinking of what to do with myself.

My friend always tells me not to be fooled by rocking chairs. They move back and forth but they never leave the spot they are in. I know about being a rocking chair, isn’t that the same as procrastinating?

It so happened that y 4am I had written three chapters of a story that could not stop bugging me in my sleep. I went back to bed at 5am, and lazily stepped out of it at 7:16am to make chapatis for breakfast.

I committed a crime, and maybe my literary sins are catching up with me- but have you ever read something you wrote and asked yourself, “what was I thinking?”

It’s been three hours and I feel as though I am back to square one- and the three chapters that I wrote while half asleep or half awake do not seem to make sense to me.