My father is a tyrant. I don’t mean he acts like a tyrant or is tyrannical in nature. I mean he is an actual, modern day tyrant. Kalala isn’t a big island. 242 kilometers squared of rich well endowed land  surrounded by magnificent coastline. About 10 million total population. I won’t go into details about just how technically rich my country is. I say technically because 62% of my country’s population lives below the poverty line yet we are the biggest exporters of tea, coffee, pyrethrum, limestone, salt,the list goes on. Infant mortality rates are at an all time high at 26%  because the health care system isn’t even fit to treat rats. But what do I know, I live in the president’s palace where a man made dam sits on our back yard and the president’s clinic is a golf-cart ride away just past the president’s golf course on our front yard. 

I am 35 years old now.  I was  home schooled up until highschool then joined my country’s top university for my undergrad. I majored in Political Science, minored in Psychology. I was top of my class. To my father, failure isn’t permitted in his house. After that, I was shipped off on a private jet to an Ivy league university in the great United States of America,though to be honest, I didnt find much great about it. But that’s just me. 

The first time I went outside of the president’s palace without armed guards was when I was 19; my friends invited me to shopping then a party and I didn’t want the hassle of being stared at as my security lifts and throws people out of my way. ‘Fine dad, just one bodyguard and he has to blend in’. I was in a store, a clothing store and a child approached me. He couldn’t have been more than 8 years old. I turned to him and gave him my best diplomatic smile. He spit in my face. Your father is a monster and all of you will rot in hell! He said. All my life I had never seen a child so angry. His mother ran up to us frantically asking me to spare her son’s life. Why would she think I would kill an eight year old boy? I turned to my  bodyguard who was now holding up the boy by his belt. It all happened so fast all I could say was ‘It’s ok! It’s ok! let him go!’. The mother took the boy and ran. Suffice to say, my attendance to the party was canceled . I tossed and turned in bed that night. I could still feel the impact of the spit landing on my face and the words that cut through my skin. The next morning I went down stairs, past the ballroom, past my father’s library and study, straight to the kitchen. Sometimes I liked to make my own breakfast. The staff was watching something on TV. “Eight year old boy falls to his death off a 5 storey building.”” Parents nowhere to be found.” “Police rule it as an accident,”read the headlines. The police seargant complained that the building wasn’t up to code. That the poor child must have just slipped on debris and fallen. They put the photo of the boy at the end of the broadcast. I ran outside and threw up a breakfast I had not had. 

When I was twenty two, just before I was flown off to the land of the free,my father called me into one of his home offices in the east wing. He motioned me up to him, up to the president’s seat, the one made of pure gold; also one of our biggest exports. The cushioning of the seat was custom made. It felt like what I suppose it would feel if you could sit on a cloud. No one had sat on that seat except him for the last 21 years and no one would until his death or until he decrees it so, whichever came first. He said he had watched me and my 11 siblings grow through the years and he was proud of each of us; even one of my elder brothers who went to live on an island in the Carribean, something about minimalismminimalism or staying true to the universe or whatever. Your brother was soft, I blame your step mother for all of it. No matter, I have ten more where he came from. He laughed at his own joke; a deep thunderous laugh that I think portrayed more pain than humor. He told me he wanted me to deliver a package; it will be with one of his security officers but that I was the one to take it to the door and put it in some woman’s hands. Easy enough. I thought. At exactly two thirty that afternoon I was summoned to the door, got into one of the armored cars and we drove off. I wasn’t ready for what happened next. 

When we got to the house; a mansion with perfectly manicured lawns, a fountain right on the parking lot and a huge wooden door with a golden door knob. My security ushered me to the front. I rang the bell. A woman opened. Her eyes were puffy and red and her hair messy. She wore blue sweat pants and a T-shirt with the Kalala flag on it. She looked very familiar. I said Hallo and stretched out my hands to hand over the parcel. The woman fell to the floor and started wailing. “Why are you doing this to us?!” “You have killed us!” Her voice and her words would haunt me for years to come. The security men forcefully stood her up and told her to take the package. That her family gotten what they deserved. My hands were shaking now; I just wanted to leave that place. It was a silent ride home. I knew better than to ask the bodyguards what that was about. When we got home I quickly ran to my room, got on my laptop, switched on my VPN and entered a name on the search engine. The woman’s face came up. “Governor’s wife says they will not stop searching for her husband. Pleads to the president to then just give her his body to bury.” The story was much worse than the headline. The police had laid siege on the governor’s property for three weeks. They had cut off the water, electricity even the  sewer system; nothing was allowed in or out of the compound. After twenty two days, the governor finally surrendered himself to the mercy of the government asking only that his family be spared. There was a leaked video of the whole thing on one of the ‘forbidden websites’. I have never seen a man cry like that.

 Akili was the only bodyguard I really trusted. He had started with perimeter-patrol detail but recently promoted to my mother’s detail. I found him outside in one of the parking lots washing my mother’s car. No one was allowed to touch the cars except the president and members of the security team of 53. I had to know what was in the box. You don’t want to know. He told me. But I just asked again and again. He explained that It’s called the ‘President’s Gift’. When someone wrongs the president or the president’s family or the president’s clan in whatever way, the guilt is on that person’s whole family.  Said person is given a chance to plead his case to the commander in chief which is really just a formality as the president at that time has already determined the ‘culprit’s’ fate. In special circumstances the family would be spared and can leave with just their lives and the clothes on their backs. Everything else is seized by the government as ‘evidence’ and whatever the government doesn’t keep is auctioned off in a secret auction open only to the president’s inner circle. Here is the gory part. The box is a sign that the president has pardoned the family and contains a body part of the ‘culprit’. It could be and ear, a finger, lips; whatever really depending on the message the president wants to send the family. The part is put in a black gift box that has the Kalala flag printed on one side and the president’s seal on the top. Once you get the gift, you have exactly 72 hours to clear out of the island; your photo and that of each of your family members is posted on every wall, in every office, in every newspaper and TV station in the country. You are never to set foot in Kalala ever again. It’s considered an act of mercy really. Akili finished.

 I regretted ever asking. I stayed in my room that night and the rest of the week just pouring through the internet reading stories upon stories of everything my father had allegedly done. Each one worse than the last. None of it was in the local news of course. 

I wondered why he sent me to that house. He must have known I would find out everything else. He’s always told me I can be annoyingly inquisitive sometimes. I kept it to myself nonetheless. I left for the US two months after that. On the flight, after saying goodbye to a man I could no longer look in the face, I spent 12 hours promising myself that I will never again set foot in Kalala. 

But here I am, 13 years later; Minister of Patriotism and Development.
End of part 1….

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It ate me up inside…

Posted: September 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

I let her lie on my lap every evening as always, while we watched the news. Sometimes, it physically hurts but she doesn’t need to know that. Even at seventeen she still treats me like superwoman and still lets me treat her like my little girl. Who will stroke her hair when I’m gone? Who will kiss her goodnight and tell she is loved. She’s the one who started that tradition actually. She came up to me one time, she was about 16 maybe. She smiled and said ‘Mummy, can I ask you something?’ I nodded and she asked me one of the most profound questions I’ve ever been asked. ‘Why don’t we ever say I love you to each other in this family?’ I didn’t even have an answer. I think as parents because we provide for our kids and we care for them and treat them with love we forget the power of those three words. That as much as you know someone loves you, them saying it and you seeing it in their eyes in that moment is just as important. So every night, she would come into my room, pull the mosquito net up, say goodnight mummy, kiss me on the cheek and say those three beautiful words. ‘I love you too my sweet, sweet dreams’ I’d reply and every time it was like a breath of pure fresh air. She’s a little ball of feelings that one; she gets it from me. Who wipe her tears when she can no longer call me to? I think in those moments, I’m reminded daily that she’s not ready for what comes next. None of them are. And that, well that scares me more than death itself.

Sometimes I swear I could feel the cancer coursing through my body. You know how say you find a spider crawling up your leg and the rest of the day you can feel that creeper’s tiny legs all over even though you killed it and threw it outside?  Something like that. I could feel it spreading from my breasts (or at least where my breasts used to be) to my stomach, to my pelvic region, to my legs, to my toes, everywhere. It was like with every beat of my heart, as blood was pumped, it would take the cancer cells with it and those buggers would chose to latch onto whatever they found on the way. I know that’s not the science of it but that’s just how it felt. I wished I could tie off parts of my body to slow it down but the monster has been at work for years. I’ve been living on borrowed time I think. Co-existing with a darkness that will soon consume me. With every treatment, every test, the doctors confirmed what I already knew; there was nothing more they could do. I decided to put a stop to the chemicals and go herbal #organicmanenos hahaha! Figured if I was going to go, might as well go green. Haha! See what I did there. I think only my son (my second born) gets the morbid jokes I’m used to telling now because he makes them too; its how he deals I guess.

I remember the first time the monster reared its ugly head. It was back in the nineties. I know, I’ve been fighting a long time. But this is my last stand. I hadn’t been feeling well for a while but I just thought it was fatigue. One morning, I tried to get out of bed. I had never felt pain like that before. It seems to emanate from deep in my core and explode just under my skin. I couldn’t move, I puked allover myself and screamed out for help. The pain was too much. What was happening to me? I was fine just a minute ago and now it felt like my body was collapsing on itself.

My husband found me on the floor in my bedroom. I had managed to roll off the bed. I was trying to crawl to the door. Though the pain towered over every other feeling at the time, I still tried to wipe the vomit off myself. I didn’t want him to see me like that.

After one of my treatments later, I was in the shower and I passed my hand through my hair and came out with a clump of it. The doctor said it might happen because of the chemo and radiation therapy but eish, its one thing being told it would happen and it actually happening. It was just me and the mushy one at home; my third born. I called out for her and she came and helped me cut my hair off.  I was freaked out but she was so calm. Weird. That night however, she climbed into bed with me, lay next to be and was just silent. She had sensed the severity of it all and she was processing. She tends to have conversations with herself in her mind when something is too heavy and she feels unable to express it verbally. So I asked her to touch one of my breasts. This was before I had to have the double mastectomy and the cancer was only on the one breast. It was had as a rock. I heard a sniffle and a sob a few moments later. She told me I was the strongest human she had ever seen. I don’t think I’m that strong. But they make me strong, stronger than I ever thought I could be.

Fast forward to now, I sat my children’s father down to have ‘the talk’. He promised he would take care of my four angels. He is a provider, he always has been. Strict, no nonsense, very conservative, overachiever. So I knew they would be ok financially. Emotionally? Well, I shudder at the thought. He’s never really had to be connected; not beyond the natural father-child bond. I know he loves them, saying it is the problem and sometimes showing it too beyond paying school fees and buying food and clothes and such. But such is the fate of most families I guess.

The fear of death is nothing compared to the fear from wondering who will be brought into your children’s lives after you are gone. Will they be truly loved? Nope, not like you would have loved them and sometimes far far from it. Will they be truly protected? Nope, because you know no one else would sacrifice everything, even life itself for them. No one. Will they be provided for? Maybe; money is fickle and ultimately conditional. Will they be ok? Eventually; but not completely. You will have left a hole in their little hearts that will never be filled. They will try to fill it out of sheer hope but even that hope will disappoint. No pain will be greater; no tragedy more crippling and no triumph will surpass their ability to survive after losing you. Hearts will be broken often until they realise it’s not a hole that needs to be filled. It’s a hole that has been brought forth into existence through no one’s doing and it must cohabit with them in this lifetime.  They will realise that relief will only come after that struggle and knowing that you will always be a part of them. They were made in your likeness.

I hold on to those thoughts even as my body urges me to let go of this life. I hold my babies close every time I can. Those smiles, that laughter, those tears. Argh! I’ll miss all of it. They love each other, my four rug rats. I can draw peace from that. They’ll look out for each other; stand up for each other.

One is a short fuse; one makes jokes about anything and everything; one carries her feelings on her finger tips and one builds walls but will crush any threat against her or her people with no hesitation. I have told them to be prepared but I don’t think they can fully comprehend what’s about to happen.

I don’t want them to see me towards the end. When the cancer travels to my brain and I can’t even remember their names. When it eats at my bones and I’m permanently stuck to a bed. When all my body functions start to switch off one by one. I want them to remember me as I am now. Still able to hug them, kiss them, and tell them I love them. You can get over/past the guilt of not being able to be near a loved one just before they pass but the memory of a loved one wasting away slowly and painfully; no; that will never go away. So yes, I hope they will not be near me those last few months.

I don’t think I can really conclude this story. Because that would mean I’m writing from beyond the grave. Freaky. Then the touchy feely one might get it and frame it and hang it in her house. I guess it could be quite the conversation starter.

“Oh, that? *pointing at the framed letter* that’s just a story my mother wrote just before she died about how it felt like to be dying of cancer. Will you have beer or wine?”

Shall I just leave it here then? Maybe one of my little angels will write something in the years to come; after I’m gone.

 

                                                                        …. Lavender ….

 

 

Love or rather being in love is a beautiful but deadly force. It goes into the very depths of your soul. Your spirit holds on and your body yearns for that one touch. That daily dose of closeness and intimacy that is only yours. And when you don’t get your fix, you have chilling episodes where you can feel the pain crawling on your skin like a caterpillar leaving a trail of allergens all over you. I’m not making sense I’m I? And such is the concept of love.

blog pics

But lust, well lust is much simpler. It starts with the eyes. Sometimes with a voice in the next room. Sometimes with a scent that whiffs past you on the street and somehow sticks to your clothes. Sometimes with a touch, even just a slight graze. He sat too close to me in the matatu. Maybe on purpose? I don’t think so. The PSV was packed to the brim with a few people standing on the aisle. It was raining and water was sipping through the hinges on the window and onto his seat. He shifted to my side slightly and some water dripped from his wet umbrella onto my grey pants and some onto my black boots. He apologized. I said it was fine. It was more than fine. He paid my fare, citing the ‘inconvenience’ he had caused me. Wawili (two). He said to the conductor. He held up two fingers,left hand, his index and his middle. There was no ring on the third. Don’t ask me why my mind chose to emphasize that fact and write it in bold but I think you know. Veins, well defined, criss-crossed the back of his hand and disappeared under his black Calvin Klein watch and then under the sleeve of his leather jacket. He checked the time and sighed. Late for work? I asked him. I needed more words from that beautiful mouth with a hint of a beard. Yeah, but I got my friend to open the studio so it should be fine. He answered. An artist! My legs squeezed together. Reflex. It wasn’t just the streets getting wet. The prospect of discovering someone’s art, a stranger nonetheless has always enticed me. It’s like going on an adventure in some virgin island. You know you might find mosquitoes the size of your hand or get bit by a 6 foot snake no one’s ever seen before or fall of a cliff and into quick sand but the thrill of spending even just a few minutes discovering new beauty is just too alluring to pass up. I digress.

Traffic was a mess, bumper to bumper.

Two posh cars were in the middle of the road, not moving. There was some kind of a minor accident. Neither drivers had come out to even look at the damage. Maybe they didn’t want to get their designer suits and shoes wet just for a minor scratch. The irritated police officer just made sure they exchanged insurance information and waved them through. Excuse me. My seat partner said and pointed toward the aisle. He was alighting at the next stop. Nooo! I wanted to scream. Instead I  moved my legs to the side and gave him way. Sorry again. He quickly said and walked down to the door. I watched him move like you’d watch a baby taking their first steps, soaking in every moment. Weird analogy, I know, but you get my point. I probably was never going to see him again. Not physically anyway. But in my dreams; Yoh! On a horse going to war for his kingdom; Or in a blacksmith’s stall beating hot metal into submission ; Or on the beach,shirtless,sweaty,bringing in his catch; Or in a wizard’s den mixing potions and calling on powers above and below.  I have strange dreams(fantasies) sometimes. But such is the concept of lust, it lingers on, it evolves, it sticks onto you until your eyes latch on to another.

Intimacy is yet another complex entity. Into Me See. Closeness. Not necessarily romance as many believe. Just the very act of allowing another or a few into the most intricate parts of your life, your heart, your mind, your being. it transcends social rules and norms of relating, spits on them sometimes actually. You slide in gradually. It’s never forced, never coerced,never shoved down your throat and always years to be reciprocated. You see her/him/them and it’s an instant connection. She’s out of your league. She’d never be friends with you. You know how awkward you get around new people. Remember how that one time someone said they liked your pen and because you were crushing on them you went ahead and bought them a whole set of assorted pens, matching pencils and marker pens and a matching set of scribbling pads?

Plus, she’s really serious. Looks very together and you are a mess. She’ll never give you a second look. Crap! She just did. Well, smile back you idiot! Don’t just stand there. Oh my, now she’s walking towards you. Can we take a photo together? She asks. Yeah sure. You mumble back. I mean, we,are at an art exhibition anyway and they are allowing photography and it’s raining outside so it’s not like we are going anywhere and we both look pretty good, not that I was looking or staring just that when you were walking toward me you were in my line of sight and …..Geez! Stop rambling and just pose! You tell yourself when you realize you’ve been talking for 3 straight minutes and She’s been waiting for you to finish so y’all can take that photo. You go home that night reliving that moment over and over. You text that you got home ok. You have a long, unexpected chat. You sleep with a smile on your face. You are convinced that that night is the start of a long and beautiful friendship (something). Come over for lunch sometime,her last text said. Sure, I can cook a mean fried chicken, actually any type of chicken, chicken is my middle name. You text back then realize that you just called yourself ‘chicken’. Lunches,dinners, sleep covers, out of town camping trips,long chats, ridiculously long calls,family visits. Soon you realize, there is nothing about you that this person does not know. Even those deep dark secrets that wake you up in the middle of the night. Even the weird stuff like how sometimes on your way to work in the morning you kinda wish you’d get slightly hit by a small car so you’d just break a leg because you really hate your job and you just need a two-month “accidental” break from it and life in general. Bffs,soulmates,peas in a pod, birds of a feather, flocking all over town painting things red and mixing in other colors in the process. Always defining and redefining what levels of intimacy you are on or going on. Like I said, it’s complex. Mix it in with love and eish, that’s a roller-coaster ride you never want to get off from.

Until it ends and then..heartbreak. But that’s a story for another day. For now, enjoy the ride.

 

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality”

– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

He turned off the alarm, pushed his black Egyptian-silk sheets to the side and sat at the edge of his custom made mahogany king-sized bed. He looked back to the other side of the bed, it was rough too. He tries to sleep on both sides now. He looked up to the ceiling

“Get out of bed

Brush your teeth

Take a shower

Get dressed and go to work

It’s a beautiful day!”

Those were the words written on the poster his therapist had advised he have made. He glued it top the ceiling above his bed so it would be the first thing he saw when he woke up. That was his mantra. He lifted himself off the bed, at least it took less time now. He walked into the bathroom, turned on the hot shower and tried to scrub the nightmares away.  He dressed up in his navy blue Armani suit, and as he fastened his tie in front of the mirror, he felt the loneliness start to creep in.

“Not today, not today, not today” he mumbled to himself repeatedly and quickly walked to his sock drawer. He can’t stop moving, helps to shut out the voices in his head. He has a quick breakfast, leaves instructions for his housekeeper and gardener on the platinum double door fridge and walks out to the garage, gets into his black, Audi Q7, opens the garage door and drives out. He is grateful for the buzz of traffic and a city awake.

Before, just a few years ago actually, he couldn’t wait to get home, now he worked overtime every day and spends the better part of the night having drinks or barbecue with his boys. They were his rock. Without them, he would have jumped off that bridge a while ago.  Therapy was working well and he had found faith somehow.  He prayed a lot. He still thought about her. Four years of history is hard to let go especially because of how she left and the mess she left behind. The mess he had been cleaning up for a whole year now.

Theirs wasn’t a story with happy ending but it had a beautiful albeit quick beginning. They had met in college where they were both pursuing master’s degrees in different fields.  It wasn’t love at first sight, far from it actually. He hated her, well hate is a strong word though that is what he felt for her now, back then it was more dislike. He should have stuck to his gut feeling but he was in a dark place back then which probably wasn’t the right time to get into any relationship but especially not with her.

He had lost his mother a few months before they met. She had died in her sleep. The autopsy said it was a brain aneurysm. There was nothing anyone could have done. At the funeral, Shaka had stayed back as everyone left for home. He fell to his knees beside the freshly filled grave and wailed. She was a mean soul but he loved her to her dying breath. His father had run off with another woman when Shaka was just 11 years old. He had left Shaka, his baby sister then only 3 years old and their mother alone. They weren’t destitute; she was a career nurse, doing well at a local private hospital. They lived in a nice house which they owned and lacked nothing, nothing but the warmth of love. His father had left him something, something Shaka wished he could scrape off; his face. Since he was a baby, everyone knew who his father was. He had his eyes, his nose, his jaw even his hairline. He truly was his father’s son. At the beginning this was something he drove great pride from because even as a child because everyone around him would make such a big fuss of it. But then that night came when an eleven year old boy’s life was turned upside down.

It was late but Shaka had always been a light sleeper. He heard his parents arguing, it was loud and pretty heated. As a curious kid of course he went out of his room to eavesdrop. His sister was asleep in her room. He walked to the staircase and sat on the top step. He could see both of them in the hall way downstairs. They were both very angry, screaming over each other like they were competing who could scream loudest. He had never seen either of them this angry.  At the time, he couldn’t really understand what was going on exactly. They would always fight in their bedroom if ever and even then, it would be in hush hush tones.

“Wacha iishe basi! (Let this end then!)” He heard his father say.

“ Sawa! (Fine!) Kwani wafikiri tutakufa ukienda kwa huyo malaya wako?!(You think we will die if you ran off with that prostitute?) his mother shouted back.

Shaka saw his father walk toward the staircase. It was too late to run to his room. His father stared at him for a few seconds at the bottom step, sighed then rushed up the stairs to their bedroom. Shaka ran to his room. A few minutes later, he heard a door bang shut, someone going down the stairs and the front door open and bang shut. He ran to the window and looked outside. As his father walked up to his car, Shaka silently willed him to turn around. Maybe if he saw his grief-stricken son’s face he would come back. He did turn around, their eyes did meet, he did see the tears fall down Shaka’s face but he did not come back. Shaka never saw his father again and his mother, well, any specks of gentleness she had left walked right out the door with that man. Shaka knew she tried so hard to shield them from the darkness that slowly crept over her over the years that were to follow and so he always tried to be a good boy. His sister tried too. They both did exceptionally well in school, did all their chores on time and essentially just stayed out of their mothers way. The hugs, the ‘I love yous’, they all stopped soon enough and all that remained when a little boy and a little girl hugged their mother was a quick pat on the back and instructions for the next day’s chores. After a while, they all just stopped trying.

Now as Shaka watched his woman walk away, he racked his brain trying to figure out what he had done to make her leave. It must have been his fault somehow. People don’t just leave, right?

End of part one…..

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality”

– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

He turned off the alarm, pushed his black Egyptian-silk sheets to the side and sat at the edge of his custom made mahogany king-sized bed. He looked back to the other side of the bed, it was rough too. He tries to sleep on both sides now. He looked up to the ceiling

“Get out of bed

Brush your teeth

Take a shower

Get dressed and go to work

It’s a beautiful day!”

Those were the words written on the poster his therapist had advised he have made. He glued it top the ceiling above his bed so it would be the first thing he saw when he woke up. That was his mantra. He lifted himself off the bed, at least it took less time now. He walked into the bathroom, turned on the hot shower and tried to scrub the nightmares away.  He dressed up in his navy blue Armani suit, and as he fastened his tie in front of the mirror, he felt the loneliness start to creep in.

“Not today, not today, not today” he mumbled to himself repeatedly and quickly walked to his sock drawer. He can’t stop moving, helps to shut out the voices in his head. He has a quick breakfast, leaves instructions for his housekeeper and gardener on the platinum double door fridge and walks out to the garage, gets into his black, Audi Q7, opens the garage door and drives out. He is grateful for the buzz of traffic and a city awake.

Before, just a few years ago actually, he couldn’t wait to get home, now he worked overtime every day and spends the better part of the night having drinks or barbecue with his boys. They were his rock. Without them, he would have jumped off that bridge a while ago.  Therapy was working well and he had found faith somehow.  He prayed a lot. He still thought about her. Four years of history is hard to let go especially because of how she left and the mess she left behind. The mess he had been cleaning up for a whole year now.

Theirs wasn’t a story with happy ending but it had a beautiful albeit quick beginning. They had met in college where they were both pursuing master’s degrees in different fields.  It wasn’t love at first sight, far from it actually. He hated her, well hate is a strong word though that is what he felt for her now, back then it was more dislike. He should have stuck to his gut feeling but he was in a dark place back then which probably wasn’t the right time to get into any relationship but especially not with her.

He had lost his mother a few months before they met. She had died in her sleep. The autopsy said it was a brain aneurysm. There was nothing anyone could have done. At the funeral, Shaka had stayed back as everyone left for home. He fell to his knees beside the freshly filled grave and wailed. She was a mean soul but he loved her to her dying breath. His father had run off with another woman when Shaka was just 11 years old. He had left Shaka, his baby sister then only 3 years old and their mother alone. They weren’t destitute; she was a career nurse, doing well at a local private hospital. They lived in a nice house which they owned and lacked nothing, nothing but the warmth of love. His father had left him something, something Shaka wished he could scrape off; his face. Since he was a baby, everyone knew who his father was. He had his eyes, his nose, his jaw even his hairline. He truly was his father’s son. At the beginning this was something he drove great pride from because even as a child because everyone around him would make such a big fuss of it. But then that night came when an eleven year old boy’s life was turned upside down.

It was late but Shaka had always been a light sleeper. He heard his parents arguing, it was loud and pretty heated. As a curious kid of course he went out of his room to eavesdrop. His sister was asleep in her room. He walked to the staircase and sat on the top step. He could see both of them in the hall way downstairs. They were both very angry, screaming over each other like they were competing who could scream loudest. He had never seen either of them this angry.  At the time, he couldn’t really understand what was going on exactly. They would always fight in their bedroom if ever and even then, it would be in hush hush tones.

“Wacha iishe basi! (Let this end then!)” He heard his father say.

“ Sawa! (Fine!) Kwani wafikiri tutakufa ukienda kwa huyo malaya wako?!(You think we will die if you ran off with that prostitute?) his mother shouted back.

Shaka saw his father walk toward the staircase. It was too late to run to his room. His father stared at him for a few seconds at the bottom step, sighed then rushed up the stairs to their bedroom. Shaka ran to his room. A few minutes later, he heard a door bang shut, someone going down the stairs and the front door open and bang shut. He ran to the window and looked outside. As his father walked up to his car, Shaka silently willed him to turn around. Maybe if he saw his grief-stricken son’s face he would come back. He did turn around, their eyes did meet, he did see the tears fall down Shaka’s face but he did not come back. Shaka never saw his father again and his mother, well, any specks of gentleness she had left walked right out the door with that man. Shaka knew she tried so hard to shield them from the darkness that slowly crept over her over the years that were to follow and so he always tried to be a good boy. His sister tried too. They both did exceptionally well in school, did all their chores on time and essentially just stayed out of their mothers way. The hugs, the ‘I love yous’, they all stopped soon enough and all that remained when a little boy and a little girl hugged their mother was a quick pat on the back and instructions for the next day’s chores. After a while, they all just stopped trying.

Now as Shaka watched his woman walk away, he racked his brain trying to figure out what he had done to make her leave. It must have been his fault somehow. People don’t just leave, right?

End of part one…..

 

 

I’ve never been to outer space but I knew this one girl whose head Was always in the clouds. She had the weirdest explanations for everything. She hated how much time we wasted doing simple ordinary things. Waking up, washing your face,brushing your teeth,taking a shower, eating. Yeah, she loathed the whole culture around eating; specifically the very act of chewing. I know, who would take an actual stand against chewing? Well, she did And would take the time to explain it to each and every one of her friends. She was a lawyer by profession and an astrologist by passion. She had studied for both and I feel somehow,one world had merged into the other. Suited up during the day;killing it in court. Sweat pants and comic character tees at night holding stargazing sessions from her balcony. She had one of those huge telescopes.
I never climbed mount everest but I knew this one guy who did. He used to say he’s never seen a view so breathtakingly beautiful. He’s into extreme sports. He was saving up to go to space. He said he had conquered all of the world’s wonders and that he was ready for the galaxy. 
I never sailed the open seas but one day I sat next to this old man on a bus and he told me that it was the greatest feeling ever. He used to be a fisherman, a really good one at that. The bus ride was 8 hours long, I didn’t sleep a wink, I just listened to the old man. His silver gray hair glistened in the moonlight peering through the window. He noticed me gazing and said the salt water gives it that shine. Is there anything sea water cannot do? He said he had had several close calls at sea. Showed me a few scars. Shark bites. Rope burns. Fish hooks gone rogue. Run in with pirates. I mean I fear driving on dry land, I even dropped out of driving school if you can believe that. I can’t even imagine being at sea; captain of a fishing boat. I never got his name but his face is permanently etched in my brain.

I have never been to Disneyland but I have a friend, her name is Ivy. She has some kind of personality disorder,I forget the name. Anyway, one time she mixed her meds with ecstasy and weed. I dont know what she was thinking. So for three days, she was convinced she was an evil queen in search of the ‘fountain of immortality’. Everyone at the hospital had to play along. There were knights, maidens of the court, there was a prince (she said the king died at war), there was even a court jester. The poor orderly had to tell her jokes and perform magic tricks whenever she called. She had had the previous one hung for defiance. Haha! That was funny. I had gone to visit her at the hospital and I found a gathering in her room of a few nurses and hospital staff. I actually thought something was wrong with Ivy so I Panicked only to be told they were having a mock hanging. They actually had to get some tubing, put it around the guy’s neck and he had to make it look like he was actually choking then they brought in a gurney and carried him out. the drugs passed through her system in a few days and when she came back to her senses she could actually remember everything she had done. We still laugh about it to date. She still says those were the best days of her life.
Reality sucks sometimes, yet we can’t exactly live in fantasy land; not for too long anyway. What to do ey?

 

*No disclaimer for this one; just open up your mind and enjoy. *

My uterus came to visit me last night. She walked right through the glass door. I really should put markings on it. I just heard the thud then the crash. It was a few minutes after 9pm but I was already in bed. I was feeling a bit feverish that night so I decided to retire early with a damp cloth over my forehead and the bitter aftertaste of ginger on my tongue. A friend had suggested chewing on raw ginger may ease the fever and it actually did for a few hours. She came into my room, leaving a trail of blood in her step. She sat down on a stool next to my bed. I handed her the towel I hang on my headboard, it was my favorite towel and also the most absorbent. She soaked right through it in minutes. Typical. Sorry about your door. She said with a shrug. It’s fine. I answered. If anyone was to come crashing into my house in the middle of the night, it would be you. It looked like she wanted to talk so I sat up and listened.

“I know I don’t usually do these pre-visits with you; ours is not a regular relationship but I just thought I should come over and give you a sense of what’s coming this month. It’s going to be a tough one. Remember how a few days ago you suddenly started thinking about that lovely young man you are kind of still hang up on? Yeah the one you, against my advice confessed your love to and he told you, you are not even in his top ten priorities at the time? You almost lost the whole friendship with that one move. Anyhow, so a few days ago you start thinking hard about him and you even reach out to him but didn’t hear back. You even thought of maybe just getting on a bus and going out to visit him in Kericho. Thankfully you were too broke to go so you just stayed home and cried about how your whole love life is a mess. Yeah, that was me. I thought this month I’d start early by sprinkling a bit of nostalgia on your mushy heart. Let’s not forget the meat craving you’ve had all month. Though you should probably get that checked, it’s not all me. Could be a deficiency of some kind. You can thank me later.

So here’s the low down. You’ll have a fever for 2 days, hotter than any you’ve had before. It will come with muscle and joint pains and a slight headache. You will also be feeling very wet in your special place prompting you to check check several times only to find nothing. So you’ll opt to sleep in a pad because you’ll be at your friend’s place and you wouldn’t want her waking up in a pool of your blood and for a millisecond think she may have just killed you in her sleep. Ha-ha! It’s funny, no? Anyway, you’ll wake up dry as can be but still feverish and weak, oh and also there will be slight pain on one side of your throat which will grow gradually to a point where you will have a lot of trouble swallowing. Oh and also because the whole system is connected, it will be a combo of a throat ache, a jaw ache, a toothache, an ear ache and a headache all on one side. You should probably get really strong pain meds before rushing home from your friend’s place which is what I know you will do. You are such a big baby when you get sick, that’s why you prefer dealing with it by yourself, whining and crying into your pillow, cursing at the heavens and calling out the depths of hell. Remember that one time you actually begged God to supernaturally remove me and place me on your nightstand for four days and then put me back into you when it was done. The big guy and I had such a laugh that day. Lucky for you this time you’ll be so full of antibiotics and pain meds, you won’t feel the slightest cramp.

I’ll have a surprise for you though. You know how you still bite the sides of your fingers and sometimes your nails?  You are always fiddling with those things against medical and social advice. Remember that bacterial infection you had when you were younger because of it? Well, guess who’s coming back over ten years later with a vengeance? Yup, Cynthia, meet your long lost nemesis, Miss. Acute Paronychia. She’ll just be living in one finger this time but she’ll come with all her toys; redness, swelling, pain, pus. She’ll even threaten to jump into another finger so you’ll feel the urge to walk around with your fingers spread like you have jiggers crawling under your skin. Thankfully with the antibiotics you’ll be taking for your inflamed throat, you will be able to kill two birds with one stone. Miss. Acute and I will leave at around the same time but the nastiness she will have unleashed on your finger; that will linger on for another week or so. The cold symptoms will never develop into a full blown cold but it will definitely feel like one. You’ll be chilly from the cold and have heat flashes at the same time courtesy of me of course. You’ll perform the ‘blanket off- blanket on’ routine like a ritual in your sleep (if any). A nightmare of you and your best friend (whom you have conveniently syncronised with) being shot and bleeding out on the ground might make its debut. Now that’s going to be scary. A few more weird dreams might be screening but you can blame that on your own wild imagination. The flow shall be thick and heavy as usual so no surprises there. It will only be made worse by the coughing and sneezing because any time you do either, you’ll feel like someone just blew up a dam in your panties. You might feel the urge to punch a few people especially the smiley ones and those who insist on sharing the same air-space  with you but you know how to smile through that or look so gangster that no one dares to speak to you so you’ll be fine. Taking public transportation will be a nightmare in itself. First of all it’s the rainy season so no one wants to open up the windows even when it is clearly NOT raining at that specific moment!!! So it will be stuffy and stinky then you’ll be seated next to an obnoxious man-spreader who will insist on hitting on you because you are ‘just so beautiful’. Let’s just say that there may be a lot of psychological trauma that might result from this particular period so to speak so here’s my suggestion. Call, text, dm, and messenger your whole inner circle of closeness; spread the whining around. Then call that one male friend and without warning; tell him everything! Every. Single. Horrific. Detail. Here’s the logic; with your female friends, sure you can get empathy but they have their own horror stories so in the end “take it like woman!” is the advice  you’ll get. But with a man, you’ll get so much pity and ‘woiyes’ and ‘oh my gosh are you ok’, and ‘is there anything I can do’ and maybe even a ‘you have received xxxkshs’ to go buy yourself something nice so you can feel better. I’m telling you, this technique works like a freakin’ charm.

My jaw was all the way to the ground with every detail she threw at me. I wasn’t sure if I should thank her for the warning or just go to a hospital and have them knock me out for the next five to seven days. She must have seen the horror in my face because she put the towel down, walked up and got into bed with me, wrapped her tubes around me gently and sang me to sleep. I woke up the next day, she was gone. I found the towel soaked in water in the bathroom. I went to the kitchen and found my roommate making breakfast. She had called fundis to fix the door.

Your uterus came over for a visit last night huh? She asked. Yeah. I said. You need a hug huh? She asked as she grabbed me and held me tightly. Yeah, and keep them coming. It’s going to be one hell of a week. I replied. She was slender, but she gave the tightest and warmest hugs.

Acute paronychia: an infection of the skin right next to the nail (nail fold) . the affected area may appear swollen, inflamed and may be tender.