Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Once there was a family of pretty worms, well as far as worms can be pretty. They all lived in an abandoned anthill. Each had their own room of course and slept on a soft bed of ant exoskeletons left behind by the former tenants. No one knew why the ants left just that now a family of pretty worms had a big home.

East wing, West wing, North and South wing, 1200 bedrooms in all to share among six, seven, ten worms currently. Mommy kept popping them out so who knew how many they were really. Some were long 20, 30,100mm long. Some were short 5,10,15mm or thereabouts and among the shortest ones was Boo, well that wasn’t his name, worms don’t have names but this one always thought he did. He was like the rest in every way, he was brown and slimy on the outside and gooey on the inside. But everyone said he had a weird twinkle in his eyes. See Boo was born during a strange season. They had just moved into their new home. Everything was so cold and eerie and not even because there were broken pieces of dead-ant scattered all over, I mean that only meant free furniture for the worms. There was an easy explanation too; rain and wind must have simply unearthed the ants’ burial grounds and spread it around. But there was an odd feeling in the anthill at that time but Mommy chucked it up to ‘new house heebie jeebies’. It was during this season that Boo was born. It’s a funny story really. Mommy wasn’t due for another few days and despite Doc urging her to complete bed rest, she decided to take a walk around the home, down to the North wing, up the steps, down the shoot and around the pool, well it was more like a puddle with the sides reinforced with mostly ant skeletons cemented with ant poop. While gazing into the pool, suddenly Mommy saw ant eyes staring back at her; hollow, dark eyes looking up at her from afar. As she gazed deeper she saw them coming closer and closer and,

“Praat!!” a heap of ant skeletons splashed into the pool. Mommy got such a scare.

“Are you ok down there?!”A voice came from above.

‘Aargh! Construction worms!’Mommy thought as she looked up to the frightened worm holding a shovel. In the midst of the thought she thought she heard the faintest cry and felt something slither beneath her. She looked down only to see the cutest little worm staring up at her with the biggest gleaming eyes she had ever seen on a baby worm. And that was how the name ‘Boo’ came up as in “Peek-a-boo, I just came out of you”, at least according to Boo himself.

Boo was an odd little fellow growing up as if he was born on his head or something but everyone loved everyone in the worm family. They put extra cushions on his seat at the dining table so he could reach the top. Every time he was happy, the twinkle in his eye would somehow get brighter.

One day during a family outing, Boo got a little lost, well as much as worms can get lost.  All he had to do was follow the slimy trail or the trail of slime back home. So let’s just say Boo intentionally got lost or lost himself because through the twinkle in his eye he had seen something magical. Right in the middle of the forest stood a tall tree. A tree so magnificent, it towered above all others that seemed to form a sort of protective ring around it. It looked like a ballerina, I think, with a bright spot light shone on her; beautiful and handsome at the same time. Boo was drawn to it.

“Boo!Boo!” he heard  Mommy calling.

“Time to go home my weird little baby,” Mommy was always saying funny things like that.

But from that moment, he little worm was obsessed by the ‘Ballerina tree’ as he called it or rather as I call it. Home they went, had dinner, washed up, kissed Mommy goodnight and went to bed.

In the days to come, Boo dreamt only of the tree. He wondered what it must be like to be the tree; tall, handsome, beautiful, the envy of all. Don’t get him wrong, Boo loved his life, his home, his family, he wouldn’t trade it for anything. But for some reason he felt sad for the trees that weren’t so tall, so magnificent, and so shiny. “Were they sad too?”He wondered. He wondered if in some way, maybe he could help them grow tall. I don’t know why a tiny worm would think that but this one did. Day in, day out he watched, he planned, 3 days in all.

He had seen how the dead leaves would seem to give life to the trees and the vegetation on the ground. He asked Mommy. She said;

“Look at our home Boo, there used to be a big colony of ants living here. What they left behind, the dead little things, that is what has given our family life.”

And right then, Boo knew what to do. He set out, slimy trail following. He found the smallest tree among them that surrounded the ‘Ballerina tree’ and lo and behold, right at the heart of the tree’s trunk was a hole carved out. Boo didn’t know who had carved it out, maybe it was the same person who put everything in place because how else could a little worm explain how everything in his small world came to be and how so very perfect it all was. He didn’t have 3 more days to fathom it all, time was running out and he was on a mission.

So the little brave worm slithered all the way to the tiny tree just a few feet away, got into the cave like curve-out, coiled himself into it ever so gently and fell fast asleep.

“Please grow tall and strong tiny tree, you can become a ballerina too,” whispered Boo to the tree as his eyes grew heavy, his body tired and sleep carried him off into forever-land.

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The lit mosquito coil scent soothes me believe it or not. It reminds me of days gone by,  a past I cannot get back and part of which maybe I wouldn’t even want to get back. Some find it choking or simply irritating, backward even.

‘Can’t you get one of those plug-in mosquito repellents?’ one would ask as they see me unfolding the metallic holder.

‘Or maybe even a net?’ another would ask as they saw me struggle to separate two coils so gently so they wouldn’t break in half (that was a very valuable skill back in my day). You wouldn’t want to break a coil in pieces and have your mother scold you about how you now want the whole family to die of malaria because of your carelessness.  Melodramatic much mummy?  Times were simpler then.  Back in Primary school, when the only real worry, at least for me was finishing homework on time. I also worried about how I was going to get in the popular girls’ good books because that would put you at the head of the juice-line at break time. The juice line wasn’t anything official. The popular girls created it every break time underneath the big mango tree at the centre of the school compound. They would have ready to drink juice that came in packets with fancy flavors like tropical and mixed berry. I remember vividly standing in line to take a sip from the juice box and a tiny piece of chocolate chip cookie. I savored every bite (it was just the one bite though). Even now every time I buy myself a juice-box I feel like I should pat myself on the back like I’ve just achieved something big.

I used to wish I could be one of the popular girls; but maybe not, I’m sure I’d be drunk with power, make the little brats build me a shrine or something. Maybe that’s why I’m not a millionaire now? Haha! Yeah, maybe not.

Anyway, Scents can take u back to a very specific point of your life. It’s like you are back there all over again.

I remember the soap I used to use back in high school. I was a real tomboy back then. A sleeveless ‘School of hardknocks’ tee, black bandana (I had a collection) covering my short hair, baggy side-pocket pants; the ones with the zipper at the knees that you could turn into shorts (I had a collection) and sketchers was my signature look. I also had a pair of those shiny, reflector Sean John jeans, if anyone still remembers those. They were baggy of course and I had a plaid blue shirt to match and a blue fisherman’s cap, because, why not.  I loved blue and grey and black. I only discovered other colours in college and I kinda went colour-crazy when I did. The combos I’d wear, eish! I wasn’t happy till I had the whole rainbow on in one outfit.  One time, still back in high-school,  I remember I went with my mum to buy school uniform and the guy behind the counter asks ‘Kijana anavaa size gani? (What size does your son wear)? I honestly should have been offended but I just smiled to myself as if to say, “Mission accomplished!”

I remember the lotion I used to put on back in 2005 to 2006, just after high school because that was when I fell for a basket- ball player. He was my neighbor.  I could sec catch a glimpse of him and he of me even if just for a few seconds. It’s true, I was hopeless.  He had an interesting African (specific country hidden) name that still echoes in my mind sometimes, 10 years later. Let’s call him Nani for purposes of this particular story. Back then, Nani was a phenomenon in my books. He was 6 feet something tall, he had a beautiful physique; a tight six-pack, chisel shaped biceps, well-toned legs, a jaw to die for and amazing eyes. He was somewhere in the middle of a dark and light brown. He had this deep, coarse voice. I could listen to him all day even though all he really seemed to be interested in talking about was what party he was going to and who got trashed last weekend and bla  bla bla. I, know, I’m ashamed that I would shut up just to listen to that but a girl was sprung sha. Even now if I smell that lotion anywhere I get the chills. Sometimes I buy it just so I could remember but also because it’s very good lotion.

This was my journal entry the day we met…

Sometime in January 2006

So we met these two guys Arnold and Nani-it’s French. Two of the sweetest guys I have ever had the pleasure and privilege of meeting. And no, I was not the one who introduced myself in some odd, corny way but Nani started. I almost collapsed, believe me. He is polite (courteous),sweet and drop dead gorgeous and so is his bro Arnold.

Suffice to say, I was whipped from the get go so when he asked me out soon after, February 2nd 2006 to be precise according to my journal, how was a girl supposed to say no?

I remember the smell of his sweat mixed with Deodorant after practice. I would probably find it gross now but back then I even contemplated getting one of his sweaty t-shirts from his gym bag and maybe not giving it back. You know those times when you really aren’t a stalker but for a second you come down with a case of stalker-tendernitis but logic kicks in soon after?

I’m not a basketball fan but I used to sit through hours of his practice sessions just daydreaming of being a flippin’ basketballer’s wife and having cute basket-balling children.

He turned out to be a complete jerk in the end though. Have you ever been phased out of someone’s life till you are completely out but you still think you are in? Once in a while, he would pop back into mine, flash that award winning smile, give me that signature bear hug, plant just one amnesia inducing kiss on my lips and in that moment I could swear that if he had asked me to go back to him I would have. And then two minutes later he’d go back to being a jerk and I’d kick myself for even thinking about going back.

I got stood up a lot in our, I’d estimate 3 week relationship. I could be wrong about the length. My journal tried to warn me but I didn’t listen.

Journal entry Later in February  2006

I just have one question; it’s recurred in my mind more than once. How come a guy can know a girl for just a couple of weeks and already fall for her? I mean he’s even told me he loves me a bunch of times. I mean, I do have feelings and can sometimes like a guy a lot after just one or two days but I would never say anything unless I’m sure I want to really go out with them. I hope he just doesn’t want sex because that’s a no-no. I need to really get to know him better, the swimming date will be a great opportunity to do that. I hope it works out. Hope I get a swimming suit and swimming cap. Hope both are fly and fit properly in and out of the pool.

Later that week…

Oops! Got stood up on the swimming plot. Ouch! I was devastated. Who can blame me? After gathering psyche for 1000 people for just one date. Anyway there must be a good reason why he didn’t show up. Hope he kujas (comes) with it soon coz I’m running out of guesses.  

You know how sometimes you don’t listen to your instincts and then that whole decision comes back to bite? Well, this one bit and chewed and regurgitated my sweet behind. You live and you learn though.  Let’s just say I have a love-hate relationship with that particular scent.

I look back at 14-17 year old me in high school and I am in awe of her confidence. Being a late bloomer (the hips, boobs and booty kicked in way way later) wasn’t exactly fashionable in high school but still she was so comfortable in her own skin and her own style and her own awkwardness. Fast forward to 18 year old me who had just lost her mummy to cancer and moved from a laid back, evenly paced  life in a Coastal town to the ‘Big,Fast’ Capital City. She was struggling with identity and self-esteem issues mixed in with a major crisis of faith, basically at her wits end. Somehow she survived.  I think maybe as the years went by the two finally found a balance, each learning from the other. Her faith kicked back in, full swing; she discovered her beauty inside and out and she continues to discover very interesting parts of herself. She is still an emotional blob but she owns it. Haha!

I can’t wait to get to 35 and look back at 30 year old me. I already have a few scents I will definitely be talking about!

P.S: Watch the kind of mark you leave in someone’s life while you are in it and if/when you leave it. Those things last for a lifetime.

“Hi my name is Stellah and I survived.”

“Hi Stellah!” came the chorus reply that seemed to echo endlessly in the dim-lit basement hall.

This was the first time I actually stood up to share. I would come every Monday of every week, sit in the corner of the back row and listen as people gave horrific stories of abuse; years of physical, emotional and psychological torture. I would cry and ache for them but I wasn’t like them. He didn’t force me to do anything. He only ever slapped me once. Even after he did he came crawling and I mean literally on his knees slapping his own face over and over screaming “I was wrong!” “I was wrong!”

I had had others before him, I wasn’t naive. I had heard the stories, I had friends who had suffered in the hands of their abusers.  Some survived; if going through life feeling like a broken empty shell is what you would call surviving. Others were not so lucky but maybe they are the ones we should be jealous of; at least they found peace in death.

I knew how to protect myself so I did not know what abuse really looked like as I had never experienced it. Maybe if I had I would have seen this coming. Maybe I would have sensed that that’s what it was even though it did not follow the typical pattern, even though I didn’t have the scars on my body as they had, both self-inflicted and others to remind me that I was being abused.

When I first met him, he wasn’t wealthy, he didn’t promise me the world, he didn’t promise to love me forever, he just wanted to know me. I didn’t have much either but I was comfortable. He asked me out on dates a few times. At first it was just for coffee. He liked his black, no sugar. That soon turned to lunches, then dinners. You know the drill. Sometimes he’d pay, other times I would, most times we’d go dutch.  It was two-way at least it felt like it was. How was I to know he wasn’t showing me the whole hand?

He didn’t treat me extra special; he didn’t make me feel like a queen in that sense. He didn’t treat me like trash either.  He was just normal I guess. Maybe that’s what threw me off because I expected the extreme, I was experienced in the extremes but not this. He simply slid so smoothly into my life that by the time I thought I needed to leave I still wasn’t sure why.

He started accidentally leaving stuff at my place; a tie, cuff links, a watch, documents he’d need for work. It was cute so I let him. He’d always remember to pick them up the next time he was over. I must admit he put the time in. He never asked for anything but I gave him everything anyway, not all at once, just drops at a time really so I didn’t feel it, I didn’t see it. See everyone seemed to know what he wanted from me but less was said and known about what I wanted from him. I’m a simple person. I rarely ever demand for anything.  I get comfortable very quickly.  Some of my friends joke that I come pre-domesticated. I would be offended by that if it wasn’t completely true. In short, I didn’t know what I wanted from him, not really.  I was comfortable but he knew what he wanted from me, knew how to get it without asking, and because he didn’t ask, I didn’t know what I was giving.

He came over one night, we watched a few movies, I fell asleep on his lap, and he carried me to bed, tucked me in and slept on the couch. Next morning, he made me breakfast, we had it in the dining room. I found his toothbrush next to mine; “How did he know he was going to stay over?”

He said goodbye after breakfast, he was running late for work.

A couple of weeks later he came over again. We had dinner which he made, we watched movies, I fell asleep, he carried me to bed, tucked me in and went to sleep on the couch again. I got up, watched him toss and turn on the couch, I slid in next to him. Next morning, I made him breakfast and asked if he was coming over again that night. He said he would.

I cleared out a drawer on my dresser for him.’

At that point of my sharing I knew most of the people in the room were wondering why I was there. Why I was claiming to be a survivor yet I had the proverbial (mythical) ‘perfect man’. That’s why I had never spoken up; there were no scars to prove it. It was the same look they gave me at the hospital after they pumped my stomach. They asked me why I took all those pills, why I slit my wrists and I couldn’t explain.

‘I had a big project coming up, one I had been passed over for about sometime before, actually around the exact time I met him. I only figured out that particular connection later. It was worth millions. The guy they had put in charge had scammed the company and ran off, but they needed it done. I had a spotless record so I was chosen. I was ecstatic that night and couldn’t wait to share the news with him. I blocked out a few details but told him everything else. He didn’t ask any questions, he told me I was the best for the job. He made dinner, we watched movies, I fell asleep, he carried me to bed and as he was walking away to go sleep on the couch, I pulled him back and showed him his side of my bed. He slid in next to me. It felt right. Next morning I made us breakfast and asked him to move in.

He said he needed some kind of guarantor so he could still keep his old place; maybe rent it out, more income for us. I signed the documents. I didn’t read anything.

He changed his forwarding address to mine. I received a few packages for him, my signature on all of them. I didn’t open them, I wouldn’t. He didn’t ask me much so I didn’t ask him much either, that would be rude.

I talked to him about my big project, he offered advice, and every time I followed it, it worked out so well I asked for more and more advice. I even showed him a few of the plans, just to get a few pointers really.

He asked me to marry him, I said yes. Two months later he was gone. He didn’t take anything with him, not his clothes, not his shoes, not the espresso machine he had bought; nothing. He just disappeared.

Just days after he left, I was dropped from my project; the company found someone better who knew a more efficient way of doing it. That was the official story.

Turns out he had developed the same project only better in another country and patented the license.  He then somehow  blackmailed the company that hired me into letting him take over and so it would be kept quiet I was offered a handsome severance package but the company blacklisted me, I would never be able to find a job in that industry anywhere in the continent.

I have no physical scars to prove it, not even a dented bank account. I met a woman a few months ago, she has a son, 8 years old, we became friends somehow but she told me it wasn’t by chance, she had been tracking the man for 4 years now and the trail led her to me. We weren’t the only ones either. We don’t know how many are out there or how many there are still to be.

The bouts of uncontrollable rage started coming later, when it finally sank in. I’d have panic attacks every night just before bed and every morning like clockwork. I spent those moments sprawled on the cold bathroom floor, unable to move, clutching at my chest unable to catch my breathe. Sometimes I’d sing to calm myself, most times I’d just cry, cry until the moment passed. I wasn’t able to keep anything down in those moments, any food I’d try to eat would come right back out. It felt like my tummy was permanently stuck on a roller coaster. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my family or my closest friends.  What would I say? How would I prove the damage? I thought I was losing my mind, that I had dreamt it all but he was real, it was real.  I willingly gave him everything so I honestly felt like I had no one to blame. You can blame a rapist, a burglar, a kidnapper, a serial killer, a wife-beater, an emotionally abusive friend. They take, by force, with devastating consequences for their victims. But how do you blame someone you loved and who seemed to have loved you back. Someone who gave you five beautiful years. The heavy drinking came soon after and eventually the suicide attempt. That brings us to now.

I have a son too, he is 4 years old and he looks exactly like him.”

 

 

 

“Argh! It feels like this is going to go on forever!” She cursed.

“Am counting on it,” came his reply. She looked up at him surprised that he would want it to continue pouring cats and dogs but when she caught his gaze  on her she  quickly realized he was in a world of his own and wasn’t in the least bit, concerned about the weather. He had barely taken his eyes off of her since the second they had met for their date that day.

“You are such a weirdo you know,” she joked and playfully nudged him.

“Well don’t blame me, I’m helpless when it comes to you; everything about you is enchanting, I can’t get enough,” He answered rather seriously.

He was in a weird mood today; he kept feeling like he should make a mental note of everything. Everything about her; everything about the day. ‘Must be the weather,’ he thought to himself and shrugged it off.

He had to get home, it was getting late. The buses seemed to have stalled in traffic because there was no sign of any buses going to his place. He’d have to go all the way to Muthurwa, another bus terminus on the immediate outskirts of the city centre to get a matatu instead. It was a bit of a long walk.

“I hate the rain!” he said out loud as he looked down at his now wet and slightly mud-stained white jacket.

“Serves you right for wearing that on a rainy day,” she jested while pointing at his jacket.

“I’m dating the most beautiful girl this side of the pacific, I have to impress,” he joked back.

“Sweetheart, you could dress in a sack and I wouldn’t notice any other man in this town,” she said as she pulled him down by his tie and planted a big one on his lips.

He was sure he lost the feeling to his legs for a second. If they kept this up, neither of them would get home that night. He had to be the man, ensure she got into a mat ok and then had home himself.

A No.108 matatu pulled in followed by two others, the line of commuters they were on moved swiftly till it was her turn to get on.

“I love you so much, you know that right?” he said to her putting more emphasis than usual.

‘What was going on with him today?’ She thought and felt urge to assure him she loved him too.

“I know honey and I love you with all my heart, my soul, from the top of my head to the little beauty spot at the bottom of my foot, always remember that ok?” she smiled up at him as she gently brushed his cheek.

His legs went off again.

“What are you smiling about?” she asked him.

“Nothing, you better get on, that old guy behind you is giving me this angry look, I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?  And the day after and that and the day after that and, well you catch my drift.”

“Shhh…..you talk too much sometimes you know,” she said as she put her finger on his lips and immediately replaced it with her own. She got on the Matatu and off she went leaving him with her sweet scent and beautiful memories of the day. Muthurwa was a long walk off.  It started drizzling again. He had to hurry.

The streets were bustling with hundreds of people trying to get home at the same time. Hawkers packing up their wares on seeing that not so many commuters were interested in buying today. A few were still shouting their offers, trying to persuade that last buyer with the “Bei ya jioni” offer, others still with the desperate look of still trying to find their first buyer while inwardly admitting they might have to go home empty handed yet again. There were a lot of women carrying bags of shopping as is characteristic of the first week of the month. Stress lines on their faces knowing that that won’t be enough for the month and yet no more money was forth coming. Some had the plastic bags wrapped around their heads. He stopped for a moment to shade himself just outside a bank. There were a few other people there too. He overheard a couple of men cursing at the government. Something about receiving an already small pay cheque, seeing the tax cuts and various other deductions, thinking of the due and long overdue bills plus a nagging wife awaiting them at home. Yet still having to dodge potholes and scramble in crammed streets as matatus and pedestrians both fight over the same tiny pavements; wondering about the government that promised 8-lane superhighways, new bus terminals and state-of-the art stalls for hawkers at market places. Of course that was during their campaigning period before they actually get into power. I mean, can we really hold them to their promises after they come into power? You’d just have to wait for the next campaigning period.

This was Tomboya Street, one of the oldest in the city. Right across from it was Moi Avenue which looked like some alternate reality version of Tomboya. Same Kenyan people yet they were seated comfortably in posh coffee houses, sipping espressos and eating fancy-name cakes that were worth as much as a family across the street had to survive on for a week. There was no scrambling here, as the patrons slowly drank coffee and waited for the rain to let up so that they can get into their big cars and drive to this club and that club for a night of partying. They did not curse at the government. Sometimes they would laugh at how some politician messed up his speech by mispronouncing all the words or struggling to even construct a proper sentence. Oh such silly politicians we have, they would say, but mostly they would talk of the latest I-phone model, Lupita Nyongo’s dress at the Oscars and Beyonce’s latest album surprise release on I-tunes. But such is the irony of life, two babies would be born the same way, naked and wailing yet they would live totally different lives but both will be buried in the same earth six feet under.

He was fast approaching the bus station; he just had to cross the road. There was a flyover though it had long been unofficially declared redundant. Two reasons; One; No one who after having to walk all the way from the CBD to get a matatu at Muthurwa would want to waste even more precious minutes going up and down a flyover that looked like it was being held together by chewing gum. Two; there had been several brutal muggings that had taken place up there. He’d have to cross the highway; yet another death trap though luckily, there wasn’t much traffic at that time. So there was nothing to worry about except for that one oncoming bus that seemed to be precariously moving really close to the pavement. There was a crowd of people around him all waiting to cross the road so he couldn’t move back. The bus was getting close, the driver kept swerving left then right each time driving closer and closer to the pavement. ‘Was no one else seeing this?’he wondered. He needed to move back but still couldn’t. It was noisy, the rain had gotten worse but no one budged, instead they kept pushing forward.

Suddenly it was like everyone noticed the speeding manyanga at the same time! The sudden screams confused him and for a moment, he didn’t really know which side to move. A bulky man pushed him from behind and he almost fell forward but managed to find his footing in a pothole; now turned puddle. The bus headlights flashed several times and the horn was deafening. He needed to move back now! But just as he did he realized his foot was stuck, he had stepped into a drain and his leg was caught. He tried pulling it out, pushing and tugging several times but it didn’t budge. All kinds of screams emanated from the crowd around him, some were shouting for him to get out of the way, others were calling out to their gods and praying for the poor boy’s soul. It was useless, the more he tried to pull, the deeper his foot went. He couldn’t believe this was how it would all end. He closed his eyes. Everything happened so fast in the seconds after then it was all over.

“White was a really bad choice today huh?” One of the men helping to get his foot out of the drain said. He opened his eyes and looked down at himself half expecting to see only half his torso. He was ok, just much wetter than before.

“Haha,” he chuckled. “You are the second person to say that today”, he said to the bulky man and thanked him for helping. His foot felt a bit sore but he was more than grateful that that was all he had to worry about. The manyanga was now firmly secured in a ditch just a few feet away with a few good Samaritans helping to get the passengers out. They looked shaken up but it didn’t seem like anyone was injured.

“Looks like a lot of people will be thanking God for getting home in one piece today,” he said to no one in particular as he stepped into the road to cross.

“Hey, thanks again for….”

“AHHHH!!!Oh my God!!!AHHH!!!,” he was interrupted by a gut wrenching, ear piercing scream and the excruciating pain that shot up his spine a second after and then darkness.

Mbugua hadn’t even seen the man get on the road as he drove up Muthurwa Lane that late evening on his way back home. It had stopped feeling like home and more like a prison to him for some time now. A ten-acre lavish jail cell; imported bricks, imported marble tiles, imported carpet grass, even the water that ran in the state of the art eternity pool was imported. But this house was cold, it had been for six years but it wasn’t always this way.

Mbugua’s wife was a beautiful woman, the envy of many her age and even younger. But even with her stunning natural beauty she had to make sure everyone noticed that she, Mrs. Sheila Mbugua now lived the life of a queen and would never go back to the mud and mabati shanties they had once called home. That she was now above the flying toilets and scavenging for scraps of leftover food from big hotels and lining up for hand outs from NGOs. That place was far behind her. Now she dined and wined in the same big hotels and they called her ‘Madam’. Nothing was going to ruin this life. Sheila had worked hard to get here, even her husband’s constant nagging about having children fell on deaf ears. She was not going to be tied down with children.

But Mbugua loved his wife with very fiber of his being, lavished her with all things shiny and beautiful. But he wanted children.  She said pregnancy would make her fat and ugly and she wasn’t about to ruin her figure for some little brats. He suggested that she at least get a job then so she wouldn’t stay home all day calling hair dressers and stylists and her loud-mouthed friends who only came to gossip; she accused him of wanting too much from her. He asked her why she didn’t love him anymore and wasn’t willing to satisfy him as a man; she accused him of having an affair and swore to strangle any woman who so much as breathed near him. He stormed out, got into his two month old metallic-black Chrysler and drove off, drowning out her screams and accusations with his favorite tunes from George Michaels.

By the time Mbugua heard the scream it was too late. The man flew onto the hood of the Chrysler and hit the windshield hard almost going through then got thrown back onto the road. Mbugua panicked, he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see or hear anything for a few seconds but knew he had to get himself together. He prayed aloud to anyone listening that the man’s life be miraculously saved but even he knew it wasn’t likely that the man had survived the impact. He opened the car door and ran out to where the man lay.

Her chest tightened as the matatu passed by the accident site, everyone peered out of the windows to see. The rain was down to a drizzle. A small crowd was slowly gathering around the scene though most people just passed quickly, shaking their heads but still rushing to get home. There was a manyanga few feet away from the crowd in a ditch. A metallic black Chrysler was parked in the middle of the road with the driver’s door wide open and a man with a sharp suit was walking toward the man on the ground in the middle or a small crowd. He looked distraught.

Then she saw it and realized why her gut was wrenching yet she was safe, seated in a matatu. The white jacket! She only caught but a glimpse of it, but she was sure. It was him!

She couldn’t breathe, all sounds around her faded like whispers into the background. She got off the matatu not really knowing how her legs were moving. She felt like a zombie staggering toward a light only she was running.

Cars honked and edged through as some crazy woman ran into the road.

The light in his head kept going on and off like a torch running out of power. ‘Why was everyone screaming?’ he wondered. ‘And why is there a man in a sharp suit leaning over me telling me he’s so sorry but that everything will be ok?’ But the thing that puzzled her the most was her. What was she doing there and why was she crying? And that’s when it all came flooding back; the manyanga, his foot in a drain, the bulky man and the posh car.

He wasn’t sure what to think or say. He looked up at her. Maybe she would know.

He remembered how they first met, it wasn’t the fairy tale love at first sight kind of meeting but they had both felt the connection. He remembered when she first spoke to him. It wasn’t ‘Hi, my name is…’ or ‘You look familiar, have we met before?’ She had just asked him to help her carry some speakers to the concert venue and that is how their journey had begun.

She remembered when he first gazed into her eyes and knew there was something there. He remembered when she looked up at him one time, smiled and he knew if he didn’t say something he would explode!

They did the craziest things together, one time they just cooked dinner, packed it in containers and went to the flyover at the university’s gate, sat on the steps and ate. It wasn’t a candle-lit dinner but they both admitted later that it was one of the most romantic nights of their lives. She remembered how one time he came, picked her up at her dorm, they took a long walk which was usual for them as they could stay up till five in the morning sometimes just talking. Anyway that night they just lay down in the middle of one of the streets in the school compound at around 2:00am and just gazed at the stars. He remembered how they would write letters to each other and to their future selves depicting their dreams for each other. She remembered how they had started writing a story together taking turns and now it was almost as long as a Lord of the Rings novel and they were still writing.

He remembered each time she laughed, each time she cried, and each time she jumped into his arms when they met.

“Aaaaargh…,” he moaned as a surge of pain brought him back to reality. He heard the sound of a siren, she heard it too but in their minds they had very different endings to this story.

She knew he was pretty banged up both inside and outside but she held on the the last strand of hope that he would make it through this.

He too knew he was pretty banged up. He felt the blood trickle down his forehead from where his head had hit the windshield. Every time he tried to move there was pain everywhere and he could barely feel the lower half of his body. He felt his organs slowly giving in to the numbness that was creeping up from his toes. He knew he was broken but as he looked up at her, seeing her desperate tears and that glimmer of hope in her eyes he couldn’t help but pray for a miracle.

“The ambulance is here,” Mbugua spoke his first words. He also saw that the young man was pretty banged up and it made his insides churn knowing he was responsible. Someone gripped his hand from below.

“It’s not your fault,” the young man said to Mbugua. “I’ll be fine,” he finished. And even though both men knew the last part of that statement wasn’t true, both held onto the slim chance that it could be.

“I’ll go with him,” she said, her tears now running freely down her already wet cheeks. The rain had started up again.

“I’ll follow you in my car,” Mbugua said as he tried with all his might to give the young man a reassuring look as he let go of his hand and the paramedics lifted him into the ambulance. Life had never felt shorter to him. He knew then that he was not going back to that jail cell he called a house tonight or any other night. He had seen what true love was and his marriage to Sheila was so far from it.

Inside the ambulance, the love shared between the two was so heavy. It seemed to transcend all the pain he felt and dispel all the helplessness she felt.

“His blood pressure is dropping fast! We are losing him!” the paramedic called out as he went through the motions of trying to save the young man.

All the while, the two in love just gazed into each other’s eyes so intently, so endlessly you would think they were reading each other’s minds; maybe they were. His grip on her hand loosened, his heartbeat on the monitor slowed down. She didn’t want to lose him but she knew she would have to let go.

“Amy,” he muttered in a whisper so low only she heard him.

“Steve,” she muttered back in an even lower whisper.

Thunder roared a flash of lightning and it was over. The rain stopped and the sky cleared and the two in love let go.

Matatu- 14 seater public service vehicle

Manyanga- 25 seater mini bus

Bei ya jioni- a price discount hawkers normally give in the evening when they are about to close business

Mabati- steel sheets used to build houses

 

 

You’ve been eyeing this person for some time now. They’ve caught you stealing glances. It got awkward a few times because you can’t put on a poker face to save your life. That shy smile; like the one a child makes when they are caught stealing sugar, has become your face’ default setting.

You have stalked them mildly (read a lot) on FaceBook, Twitter,Instagram, Snapchat; even Google docs. You know they had frozen yoghurt yesterday at Sarit Centre and they didn’t like the melon flavor. You know they went out last night and ‘yolo-ed’ till 4am. You have wondered how you would keep up with all the partying because you and your bed have a long-standing agreement of a 1am sleep time curfew. You also know you cannot yolo two nights in a row. You are not superman or even superman’s sidekick. If you were to even try that you would be a zombie the rest of the week and have moments of regret on the hour every hour. Still, that doesn’t make the fantasies any less frequent. You still try to convince yourself of how you would be willing to give up your best-friend (sleep) for them.

You fantasise about how it would feel if one day they walked up to you out of nowhere (a fairytale storybook maybe) , reached out, grabbed you, pulled you close, so close you could see the pores on their face and (sucked the breathe out of you) kissed you. But you tell yourself it’s not going to happen. That is how hopeless romantics like you get through stuff like that. You tell yourself it’s not going to happen then obsess over the possibility of it actually happening. You are such a weirdo.

One day , out of literally nowhere, they actually (in reality) come up and hug you from behind. They hold your waist, their hands lock in at the front and they squeeze. You feel them breath on your neck. They whisper something softly which you obviously don’t hear because you have already moved in to your castle on cloud nine and you are never coming down. They slowly turn you around, one hand still on your waist and the other lightly teasing (caressing) your ear. They brush your locs back  lightly. It’s not like they were on your face or anything, they just know how to turn your insides inside out. Have they been light stalking you too; maybe?

Your eyes lock and both of you smile. They say something that makes you laugh out loud and you almost roll on the floor with laughter. You realize too late that their  joke was desert-dry and extremely cheesy yet you laughed so hard, you may have peed just a little. Dang it! Your dignity brakes are on the fritz and you are now running on flirt-mode full throttle. That  definitely escalated quickly. Luckily, they do not have x-ray vision so you are in the clear. By now you are in it for the win so your hand goes on their waist and runs up their spinal-ridge (dip?) right up their back. Your ‘not-so-long’ nails (your nails never grow to claw-height luckily) dig in just to their back  little. One of your g-spots is somewhere on that ridge too but they haven’t discovered it yet otherwise your legs would have been as stable as cooked spaghetti by now.

You have gotten to that awkward point where you aren’t sure whether you should lean in for the kiss or say you need to pee. You really don’t need another addiction do you? Your ears are hot. Your jaws ache a little because you have had that silly half-smile, half-laugh plastered on your face for the last 6 minutes. There’s a deep tickle in your tummy. That is when you know you have reached the point of no return. The point when you know that if you don’t kiss this person, you will spend the rest of the night wondering what it would have felt like if you  had.

You hear a car door bang shut and that’s when you suddenly remember you are standing in a parking lot. Your partner doesn’t seem fazed by it because they are still glued to you. PDA is really not your style. You actually  low-key despise people who have the audacity to (suck face)  make out  in public and with tongue no less. You are all for romance but eish, not in public please.

It’s a little chilly. You are outside a restaurant. It’s a slow night so there are not too many cars in the parking lot. You are from a dinner with friends. With all the glances you had been stealing all night; the kiss had obviously already happened in your head; quite a few times actually. Talk about jumping the gun. There are a lot of trees around that area so the air is very fresh. There is this earthy scent in the air, like the one just before it rains. That, combined with their scent is almost intoxicating. You didn’t really expect this moment to feel so surreal. It’s  like Mother Nature had been planning it too.

Your faces are really close now. You wonder how they can be that close and still maintain eye contact the whole time. You giggle. You didn’t plan to, it just came out. They smile. You feel their hand at the back of your head, their fingers run through your locs. It’s so slight and so smooth. It feels so gentle but it sends chills everywhere.

You never thought someone could shiver on the inside but you just did. You start thinking about the dumbest stuff  like ; would your glasses be in the way if you kissed and if you should remove them but that if you take a few seconds to do that, would that then kill the moment altogether? You decide not to risk it, you keep them on. Suddenly your eyes close by instinct because her lips just touched yours…

 

NB: It was an honour having this piece featured in a monologue event last weekend (poster below). It was a first for me but definitely not a last.

whos-your-daddy-poster

I don’t run; well maybe just from fights but nothing else. For instance:

  • When aliens invade and take over the planet. I’ll probably be one of the idiots who go out to meet them with a ‘welcome to earth’ placard. You know, the idiots who get incinerated by the huge fire-hose thingy that all aliens have. At least it will be quick and painless though. Aliens have very effective technology.
  • When our smart homes and smart homes and future robot nannies suddenly grow a conscience and turn on us. I’d probably get locked in my smart home and attacked by my smart microwave while taking a nice warm bubble bath in my smart bath tub. Of course this will happen like a week before peeps discover that the computers are taking over. So at my funeral talk will be of why the heck she had her microwave on so close to the tub and what a terrible way to go; naked, electrocuted and drowned.
  • When overzealous scientists “accidentally” create a super virus that can wipe out half the population in a matter of days. Me and my hug-loving behind would probably end up hugging patient zero and have the maniac virus melt my insides in a matter of hours before peeps even realize there is a break out.
  • When the earth decides it wants to go on another tectonic plate shift trip and all the volcanoes wake up and explode at the same time and tsunamis visit every coast line and earthquakes become a common occurrence. I’ll probably be the first to fall into a fault line or decide to go hiking on Mt. Kenya on the same day she decides to come back  to life and erupt. Or maybe I’ll be on holiday at the coast renting a beach house on the same day the ocean decides to become a wall moving at 970km/hr and take a walk along the beach.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m just as afraid of death as the next guy. If some random terrorist/bank robber person was to hold a gun to my head, I would definitely pee a little (read a lot). I would then proceed to make the worst hostage because I would skip through the begging for mercy, or planning a strategic 007 escape and go straight to the fainting.

My point is; there are things out here to run away from. We are all born with an instinct-fueled will to survive. It’s a reflex that all living things are equipped with. That’s how creation survives through the ages.

So, run, run from death when you can. Run like the wind. But don’t run from life and all that comes with it.

I don’t run so I will not let you run either. I won’t let you run from the anger  that makes you want to punch through a wall. Or from the pain that, makes you want to sit in a dark corner, curl up into a tiny ball and wish it away. Or from the hopelessness and stress that kept you awake last night and won’t let you get out of bed in the morning .Or from the scary excitement of love. You know the love that your big, mushy heart keeps running into. Love that tells you it’s perfect logic to use your one month salary to rent a hot air balloon so you could share one perfect sunset with someone. Love that gives you googly eyes and slurry speech and rents your tummy out to a colony of butterflies that never sleep.  Love is weird.

I won’t let you run form the bad stuff either; the stuff you can’t control. Sickness, family drama that just won’t go away, sudden lay-offs at work, the ‘broke-weeks’ that never seem to end, accidents; pretty much whatever sucky thing  this side of life decides to throw at you. I won’t let you run from the darkness inside you either; the skeletons in your closet, the ghosts under your bed. All those have to go. You can thank me later.

I have a sort of secret (not anymore) , selfish agenda for making sure you stay put. You really should have read the fine print when you signed up to be my BFF (Best Friend Forever). I told you the part about how we’ll be friends forever right? How we’ll be sitting on rocking chairs at the nursing home all old, grey, wrinkly and cranky (mostly you because I will be an absolute delight). How our grandkids will come to visit and we’d tell them about the good old days for the umpteenth time till they know all the stories by heart. How we’d hit on the hot nurses and attendants and when they’d fall for it we’d laugh our dentures off. And how I’d tell you later that that wasn’t nice and we’d have to apologise only to do it all over again the next day.

What I may have not told you is that you may have to save me from myself one day:

  • That when the aliens come and you see me making a ‘welcome to earth’ placard, you will have to take the damn thing and hit me over the head with it.
  • That you’d have to cancel my coastal vacation when the weatherman says it’s cloudy with a chance of tsunami because you know I rarely ever watch the news.
  • That when smart homes and robot nannies are all the rage, you would have to insist we leave our homes manual, our nannies human and maybe also insist we not get chipped.
  • You’d have to figure out how to save me from the super virus though. That’s a tough one.

In conclusion; I don’t run but if ever a time comes when we will have to; you my friend will have to make this goof-ball friend of yours run!

P.S: I hope you didn’t read this piece trying to figure out the science or logic behind it; there is none. Tell me about the fine print in your BFF agreements. The crazy/weird stuff your BFF (s) have to do with/for you. I would love to read your story.

 

She writes about everything. We were having an argument the other day. She had said something really mean to me. I was angry now,she was angry about a different discussion I had walked away from earlier. I don’t like engaging too much when am angry,I may say something I’ll regret to someone I love dearly and that is a bridge I’d never want to risk burning. I stopped talking and went on doing what I was doing;watching TV or something. She stayed for a moment then disappeared into the bedroom with her book. I followed her a few minutes later. I found her scribbling into that thing like her life depended on it. I did not envy the poor journal. I asked if she was ok. She said she was just thinking. She was so calm by then,it was actually a bit scary. I think her notebook always gets the worst of it. I heard about this guy one time. He came home late,his wife was already asleep.He quietly got into bed and fell asleep too. At around 3am he stirs a little and wakes up only to find his wife staring down at him with a calm smile on her face,saying nothing. The man got out of bed,packed an overnight bag and went to stay at a hotel for a few days. That’s how you get knifed in your sleep, he would tell his friends later. It was hilarious.

Anyway back to her.I went over to where she was and kissed the back of her left hand; she’s a sucker for affectionate physical contact. She put away her book,looked at me with that look that makes my heart melt. Are you ok? I asked again. No am not,she said and we finally settled the argument.

She got a call yesterday;from family I guess. It wasn’t a pleasant call. I could tell from her body language. I let her have a private moment. Aaaargh!! I heard her grunt after the call. She was not happy. Everything ok?I asked. Hmmm? She let out an absent minded reply then disappeared into the bedroom. I was at a loss; torn between following her to make sure she’s ok and letting her have some time to herself. I settled for a sneak ‘drive-by’ peek after a few minutes. She was writing. Her eyes were red and puffy. I didn’t hear her cry. She was clutching a pillow with her other hand. She does that sometimes;cries or screams into pillows so she doesn’t freak me out. Even when she’s going through turmoil she would still put my feelings into consideration first. She closes her notebook with the pen still open inside. She looks up at me and smiles. She is ready to talk because now she can do it without crying.

One time we were trying to get through an awkward conversation. She kept fumbling through her words. I needed her opinion and I needed it quick. I was getting impatient. Let me think please,she said and once again disappeared into the bedroom. I went in a few minutes later, I’m not the most patient person really but she’s teaching me to be. I found her seriously engrossed in her writing. I watch her from the door for a few seconds. She’s do beautiful when she’s serious. She turns everything else off when she’s in her head. She didn’t even notice me come into the room. I go over and lie next to her and just keep gazing at her softly.  She looks up at me and gives me the warmest smile. Would you like to read something I wrote? She asks. I hesitate. It’s ok,really,she says. I couldn’t articulate myself too well before but this is what I was trying to say. She passes me the book. I read through and almost tear up. I understand, I say and give her a peck on the cheek. We didn’t need to say anything more.

She has long discussions in her head sometimes; while we are talking like in the middle of a conversation then she gives me the conclusion. You know you actually have to say the words right? I tell her. She let’s out a loud laugh,apologizes and tells me what she was thinking. She’s weird.

She writes when she’s happy and she’s had the very best day. She writes when she’s angry and can’t even look at anyone. She writes when she’s confused and needs to work through something. She writes when she’s in a foul mood and afraid she may throw a big tantrum or say something mean. She writes when someone does something sweet and unexpected for her. Not even just for the big gestures; it’s mostly for the little things. You know the little things that make you know that someone really really cares? She writes when I do/say bad stuff too. Bad stuff about my present and my past. The stuff that makes her jaw drop and her face cringe. I can be weird too. Can I tell you something? I would say. She would know a bomb was about to be dropped. Ok,wait! she would reply. She’d cover her face with both hands and let out a tiny squeal. She’s an emoji waiting to happen that one. She’d then take in a deep breath; Ok tell me, I’m ready, she’d say.

She writes the dreams she remembers sometimes. They read like epic movies. She writes after failed job interviews and tough client meetings.  She writes when she’s wasted. Those read like comic books. You could practically picture her talking to herself in the mirror with this big bottle of something super strong in one hand and a pipe in the other. Don’t ask. She writes when she’s anxious and can’t sleep. When she has something really big to think through. She writes to get through awkward social situations. She’s a little shy. You’d think she’s seriously texting someone. She isn’t. She’s just writing about how awkward she is feeling and how she wishes she could just be one of those ‘life of the party’ ‘hit it off with anyone’ types.

She is a writer so I let her write. She’s always real th herself and the world in black and white. Maybe if I let her be real in her journal,she will always be real with me. Sometimes that may mean waiting half an hour for a one minute long answer. I don’t like the wait but I’m learning to because it’s always worth it.