The ones we call friends

It is six minutes past six. A cool summer evening. I am sitting on a bench by the beach. It is quiet, calm, although the sea is throwing a wave or two my way. Occasionally I do wave back. It is that time of the year when the days are longer than the nights, so the sun it still slowly waltzing away from a distance.

I sit in silence, recollecting my thought. It is something I do quite so often, so that one day when I wake up and find out that I have been living a lie all this while, no one will be to blame but me. At first, my thoughts are scattered because most of the time I do not know where to begin.

Looking back, all through life, we have those people we are close with. People that we trust that no matter what comes our way, we can count on one, two or maybe three of them to come to our aid. They are the ones we call friends. Fortunately or unfortunately, most of us skate through life without really getting to know whether in deed we had true friends because the circumstances did not really work in our favor to offer a test. So we will be invited to their birthday parties, their graduation, that occasional weekend drink to pour libation to our ancestors and we will gladly make an appearance without even thinking for once where that person will be when your shit hits the fan. We end up living in this bubble thinking that when that day comes and you have to jump off a cliff, there will be a cushion of friends down there waiting to catch you.

Now, the thing with life is it is not predicable and it has the tendency to throw curve balls when you least expect. So one day you will wake up to a world you haven’t seen before. Somehow in such days, you always feel something is not right from the moment you get up from your slumber. You will wake up feeling like a rolled up toothpaste tube.  As you glance at your smart phone, you will see something lingering there apart from that dismissal letter from your job. You will spring up, not sure of where to start, and since the die has already been cast, you definitely have to make a move. You have been living this lie of one day at a time, and never really believed the adage that a penny saved is a penny earned. Looking back, those numerous night outs with your so called friends will slowly replay in your head, that loan you are still repaying on that car will be due, but you won’t fret, not just yet, apparently because you have friends.

For the first couple of hours you will text, or maybe call your friends and you will all share a laugh or two about it and one by one they will tell you “let us talk later, I’m at work”. You will sit there oblivious of the huge hole that you have been digging yourself into over the years without realizing. You will slither back to bed, after all it is a free day for you. Everything will still seem okay at first but later in the day when your texts and calls are going unanswered for no apparent reason or with flimsy excuses, reality will start to kick in. you will lose sleep, simply because you have nothing to wake up to and with bills to pay, that is scary. You will forget that you have barely eaten the whole day, after all you have no reason to eat. The night will be unusually quiet, and the moment when you start hearing your digital watch ticking is when you will realize that you are completely alone. Like a single ice cube, slowly melting away. The night will be long, very long, unusually long, like a Legio Maria sermon. It will feel like a whole bunch of nights sewn together.

Just before the crack of dawn you will manage to grab a minute or two of precious slumber but soon enough you will awake feeling like jumping off a cliff. It is a new day, but the same old problems that you faced the day before. You will forgo your usual morning caffeine and sit by the window gazing at the morning frost. Last night’s dreams will flash at the back of your mind if at all you managed to dream a thing. You will sit and stare at the rising sun, the frost melting away from the glass windows, but your circumstances will be there to stay at least not without a fight. You will start you long journey along depression highway. A journey we all dread, but one you have to travel nonetheless. The day will lazily go by with your circumstances sinking deeper and deeper into you. At dusk, you will find yourself strolling towards your local watering hole. You will sit there, with a beer and if you’re lucky, probably a girl. A couple of pints later, with less and less of your situation occupying your mind, you will remember how it feels to smile again, how to crack a laugh without a care, how to be free, free of all worries but you won’t realize that that freedom is hanging on a very short leash. You will realize that even in your sorrows, your current friend, Mr. Beer, has your back and you will love him even more. You will get up and dance, with your friend in hand like there is no tomorrow. People will stare, perhaps even laugh, but at the end of the day, deep down you are on your own.

The following morning, while you will be waking up from your own vomit in a drain somewhere, with your phone and personal effects missing, that is when you will realize that there are savages out there, people who will kick a man when he is down. Your phone on the other hand now with a new owner, won’t have a single text nor a missed call from anyone checking up on you. The thief might even question where it is functional at all. You will trudge home feeling like you have hit rock bottom and you will be right. One thing however is as long as you live to see another day, you have a chance to fight and rebuild your life, perhaps this time with true friends after all not everyone get a rebuilding chance.

The last couple of days, I have been reading so much stuff on social media about the passing of Achieng’ Abura. So many people posted messages about how good she was and how greatly she will be missed. On a careful glance of her Facebook wall, on one of her finals posts, she lamented on how she had let life get the better of her and lost 50kgs in a mere three years. On a different post from 17th September, she asks for support for her ailing son and miraculously people seem to have just seen the post when she was no more, because all the comments are dated from 20th October on wards telling her to rest in peace. They say that at the end of your life, if at all you managed to get at least one true friend, you have lived a good life. So I sit here silent, with a pocketful of ‘what ifs’. What if, just what if a friend had extended a helping hand when she actually needed one. And now as we are left here to ponder on our hypocrisy, here is a ‘what if’, I thought you could all use one day. Spend it wisely.

Wake up and Live!


sleep

I remember when I was young; Sunday was a very sacred day. I would wake up very excited because I had been brought up to believe that Sunday was exclusively church day! I’d take a shower then head to the dining table for breakfast. I loved Sunday’s breakfast because this is where I got my crazy addiction, if I was a ‘mwana wefwe’ you would have guessed that it’s a tea addiction but I’m not, after all there was no tea on the table on Sundays. How many of you like cakes? Scratch that, how many of you love cakes? No let’s try it one more time, how many of you adore cakes? That’s more like it. The kind of adornment that when you go a couple of days without a cake you start to have withdrawal symptoms that are majorly characterized by hallucinations; for example, you randomly rush into the kitchen because the meat being fried today, of all the aromas it had to choose from it chose the cake aroma! You’re disappointed but you don’t despair, you look over to the fridge for refuge and upon opening it, you see a half cut watermelon and you’re like; “I see you cake, good camouflage though”.

At these desperate times, your normal dreams are taken hostage and all you dream of is you’re in a different world of your own, Cakeville! You walk into your house that is made of cake, pancakes hanging by the windows as drapes. The normal flower pots have been replaced by cupcakes. The only problem is you cant eat your way into homelessness, so you choose to starve yourself and as you lay your head on a sponge cake pillow, you decide one bite won’t make the whole pillow disappear. So you decide to take a bite only to awaken and find yourself chewing on the sponge from your actual pillow.

Anyway enough of my addiction for now. So we would head to church and since I was still very young I would head to Sunday school. Occasionally some older guys would walk in just to sit around. On one occasion I asked one of these guys why we always gave out money in form of offering and he decided that of all the days this was the perfect day to test my faith. He told me that the offering was being saved up on our behalf; it was our bus fare to heaven. Wait a minute I can’t believe I fell for this. Anyway he went on, he said that over our lifetime the priest would hold this fare on our behalf and he kept God in check on how much each one of us had saved up and when we reached the target, God would take us. I was shocked by the sound of that and when he noticed he assured me that most of the people reached their target when they are old so I breathed a sigh of relief. I sat there for a moment in silence, trying to asses the progress of my savings. When the offering basket was being passed around, I noticed that he didn’t give out anything and when I asked, he said that he didn’t want to hurry through life, he wanted to make his journey as long as possible. From then onwards, I vowed to follow his footsteps.

I kept this new found wisdom to myself after all as the Swahili saying goes “usimwage mtama penye kuku wengi”. In the very least, I had a purpose to live.

Since then, so much has happened. Times have changed, rivers have run dry, Kibaki has receaded back to Othaya, Kalembe has gone back to be a squatter, Wakoli Bifwoli was spotted somewhere sipping away boredom with a straw, in short life has happened. We have become too consumed by our lives that we no longer care about what goes on around us. We have stopped living, we are just surviving. We have become like planes on auto pilot, we just do what we have to do and not what we need to do. We have managed to stifle out the fun in life, and tucked it deep somewhere in the Mau forest and that gives me hope, hope because the rate at which Mau forest is being depleted maybe, just maybe, someday some kuyu will be busy logging to make charcoal like always and he will stumble onto this long lost package and since everything comes at a price, he won’t let us have it for free, he will stifle us off a few coins but after all mankind will be happy again, man will enjoy life again, we will stop surviving and start living.

Nowadays you all wake up at the crack of down, I am assuming that all of you are working, of which according to Facebook you all are, no one is a hustler, and you’re all big CEOs in some imaginary companies. You rush to get ready because you have to be at work at a particular time. You forgo the most important meal of the day because according to you it will delay you for work. You hop into your car and since you need some motivation, you turn on your stereo and out comes “uvivu ndio adui mkubwa, kwa ujenzi wa taifa kwani ndicho kiini hasa kisababishacho njaa”, you don’t nod to the music, neither do you even smile because you are on a smile rationing and its too early to start dishing out smiles, because the days’ ration may ran out before noon. So you sit there behind the wheel with your lemon face in no mood for lemonade. You drive off, its still early so there are a million others hurrying on foot, but no you can’t offer them a lift lest they leave weave droplets or unfinished dreams in your car. You decide your two friends; boredom and emptiness are better company. So the three of you sit there in silence, with all the windows rolled up to escape the morning cold after all who want to fall ill?

You get to work, and sit in your office. The sun is now beginning to shine, but you won’t even peep through the window to enjoy the sunrise because no you are a busy man and precious time will be lost. You sit at your desk, deep inside your own cocoon. You don’t care what is going on around you. Occasionally you will get up to answer nature’s call because that’s the only thing you cannot block out. While at it, somewhere along the corridors you will meet your fellow employees but you won’t even share a greeting because you feel like we are living in so harsh economic times that dishing out free greetings will one day render you homeless or you’ll have to join Kalembe Ndile and become a squatter and you don’t want that. So you finish your business and sprint back to your office. Lunch break comes sooner, you decided to go out and take a walk. On your way you’ll see them, those that sit by the roadside asking for change. You will hear them cry out, but you’re busy so you won’t even give them a glace let alone a coin. You won’t even notice the beautiful weather because, no, you’re not a weather forecaster neither are you a beach goer.

You will sit down to eat, but you won’t even give a rat’s ass about the taste. No, you won’t even chew, you’ll just swallow because you have limited time and work is waiting. You won’t even notice the other patrons because no you came there to feed not to jibber jabber. And when you’re done, no you won’t even extend any form of appreciation because after all you are the guy with the money so they should rather thank you instead. You rush back to your office, your full belly leading the way. You are now even more oblivious of your surroundings. You sit back in your office, and sometimes you manage to steal a few nap minutes. You are again buried in paper work, or firmly fixed onto a screen. Out there seconds, minutes, hours, are flying away. Before long its time to call it a day, you pack your stuff and on your way out, you won’t say goodbye to anyone after all you’ll see them again tomorrow. You forget that tomorrow is never assured and bundle yourself back into your car. No, you won’t even wave to that security guard, he is way below you, your mind tells you. You speed off into the rush hour traffic. With your windows rolled up, you ignore those city vendors peddling chewing gum, screwdrivers and tomatoes because stereotyping has led you to believe that they all thieves even that little kid who has been forced by circumstances into the street. No you don’t care where his next meal will come from after all stones are free, you forget that even Kidero’s grass didn’t come cheap.

You get home and no you won’t forget to lament about how hectic your day was and how much work you still have to accomplish tomorrow. You’ll probably grab a newspaper or turn on the TV to catch up on the news. You won’t even dare check up on those you refer to as friends. You will grab something to eat and decide to call it a night.

We are all trapped in this vicious cycle of monotony. We are stuck on the same path day in day out. We forget that there are a million other paths out there that lead to adventure. We have stopped living, we are just getting by. Every day we pray to see another day and when that day is granted, we forget to live it.

It’s never too late, wake up and live!

An Irish Affair

AA2097If you have been away from home for long periods of time, you start to miss home. Sometimes the little devil manages to take control of your brain and lies to you that when you have been in a foreign country for a couple of years, and you have adjusted enough not to miss home, this happens to be the biggest lie I’ve ever told myself. As much as I have made many great friends in my home away from home, I still look forward to coming back home and catching up with my old friends.

On one occasion, I had just landed from Zululand and for some reason I had my mind on visiting Eldoret. I didn’t waste time and two days later I landed in the land of champions.

Eldoret is a small town; I keep saying that it was designed by people who were at the very extreme end of their thinking capacity. It’s like they never imagined a time will come when the town will need to grow. It is a one street town, it will only take you about five minutes to walk from one end, Zion mall to the other end of town, Somalia. Ok maybe not five minutes lets say ten minutes, yes ten is fair and Yes there’s a place called Somalia in Eldoret.

Guys do you remember when Titus Naikuni the former Kenya Airways CEO described Kenyans as peculiar? Remember? That thought must have struck him while in Eldoret, where peculiar is at its best. Nowadays, just like Nairobi, you will spend some unnecessary minutes in traffic that stretches from Eldoret hospital all the way to Paul’s bakery. For those who don’t know, Paul’s Bakery has been there since before Eldoret came to be. For many years Paul’s bakery and White Castle Motel were the talk of the town and if you weren’t a frequenter of these places everybody else made you feel like a leper, like these places served fries with a side of gold or their meals came with fortune cookies that gave you the chance to have a sneak pick of heaven. Nowadays you can even take a girl to the moon and she will still reject your proposal, back then all it took was a piece of black forest cake from Paul’s bakery or a date at the famous Sam’s discotheque at White Castle and she would even rush you to her parents immediately and throw in a good word for you. I miss the old days.

Anyway back to the traffic, well the cause of this traffic is not anything to write home about but it’s worth blogging about. Rarely will this traffic be a result of an accident, I know you’re wondering where this traffic comes from, don’t worry I’ll tell you. Picture this, Kemboi has just harvested his wheat and is ‘tractoring’ his harvest to Unga limited, on his way he bumps into Kiplimo at the Barclays junction who has just sold his maize harvest at Unga Limited and they decide that this is perfect time and place to catch up on the events of the day, the weather, their mursik stocks and the current international prices of wheat, by international they are referring to Nairobi, so they halt their tractors and start to jibber jabber. They are on either sides of the road and cars are starting to pile up behind them but these mursik descendants aren’t minding any of that.

The conversation goes like;

Kemboi: Eeee Kiplimo…Chamge

Kiplimo: (shows teeth) Missing!

Kemboi: Umeusa? ……Bei ako namna gani?

Kiplimo: (still grinning, because the banknotes are flooding his pockets) Ee ndio ametoka huko, bei hayuko mbaya sana. Hao anaumiza sisi sana!

Kemboi: haya wacha nikimbie huko, apate wewe wapi?

Kiplimo: Anaingia hapa Equity, mimi atakuwa hapo.

Kemboi: saasawa

They both drive off. Now if you take a glance at the streets, or follow Kiplimo into Equity bank, you’d realize that about 90% of the people in the queue are either in gumboots, carrying a kiondo, or life has happened to the extent that they have wrinkles covering their faces like a mask.

Anyway I hurry towards 64 arcade to catch up with a great friend of mine. It’s around 11am and I have nothing planned out for the day so like most of my days, anything goes. Now remember when Chipukeezy said “Mwanaume ni kusahau”? Yeah he was spot on! I’m here catching up and we have agreed that I am buying lunch, time is in a rush too and as I take glance at my phone to check the time, I find myself dialing… one second later

Me: Hey Caro, sema
Caro: Poa sana.

She sound so happy, so I continue

Me: Where are you?

Caro: Niko hapa barclays, heading to school. Kwani you’re in Eld?

Me: say no more, I’ll be there in a minute. Let me come say hello then.

I get up to leave and of course I am met with the “what’s happening?” eyes. Girls have a way of talking without even uttering a single word. I reassure her that I’m just going to say hello and I’ll be back. So I head out. I find Caro waiting for me outside Barclays bank; the weather is great so she’s in a nice sundress. We share a hug then I dive into convincing her that missing that class won’t cause Christmas to be postponed nor will it cause the tectonic plates to shift, after all she could always copy notes. This is something that I have perfected with time so it usually has about 0.05% chance of failure so I wasn’t surprised when it worked for the a thousandth time. Since it’s already noon we decide to get lunch and catch up. She takes me this place opposite Eldo mat ….. This place goes by the name “The Well Irish Pub and Restaurant”, now any time I see or hear the word Irish, all I think of is whisky so I smile and hop in. It’s a neat place and it’s not packed. The decor is okay, the ambience good. We settle down and immediately a waitress comes to us. I request for Heineken as I run through the menu and then I throw a stare at Caro and she comfortably tell the waitress “Heineken pia” then she smiles. Now that action sent my mind way back in primary , Caro was my last deskmate in primary and she no-nonsense. If you only hear the phrase “what a man can do, a woman can do better” and would love to see that phrase in action, search no more, Caro is the epitome of this statment. If you ever tried to hassle Caro back in the days you were in for a very big surprise. But now here she is, very cool, calm and collected sipping Heineken as we scrutinize the menu. I used to be very tiny but then life happened and I became what I am, so I am very happy deep within because if I was still tiny and even insinuated that I wasn’t going to settle the bill the only thing standing in Caro’s way from picking me by the collars of my shirt was the little kit in the middle of the table that held spices which I presumed would be sprung to the wall.

The waitress comes for a second time and we send through our orders. As she walks away, I whip out my phone and start dialing…

Me: Hey Sema

Ron: Poa sana

This girl loves to chuckle a lot, I guess on her spare time if she’s not playing hello kitty with her kittens, all she does is sit somewhere and just starts giggling. Every time we talk on the phone she never disappoints, the conversations are always littered with lots of giggles and I so love those giggle.

Me: Uko wapi? Im in tao, you should come
Ron: Niko home, imagine ndio nimeamka haven’t showered hata

Me: Hebu wacha story mob and freshen up haraka
Ron: giggles, giggles and more giggles
me: hebu hurry, im waiting
Ron: Sawa give me an hour basi
Me: Okay

As I put my phone back on the table, our meal is arriving and so is Drew’s call! Now Drew is a very lively chap, we’ve been friends since nursery school. If there’s one thing that Drew loved back then was milk! I don’t blame him though, they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, Drew’s apple had somehow melted and turned into milk. Not a single day ever went by without him having his usual milk fix. We would roam around the estate on his mountain bike that had no carrier yet we both found a way of cruising around with both of us on it. Guys remember the vhs tapes? Yes I remember them with much fondness because they were a highlight of our childhood before the vcr came to replace them. We used to exchange these tapes a lot and back then if you didn’t have a vhs tape player then you missed out a lot on the movies! Anyway Drew goes like “Buda naskia uko mtaani” of which I confirm affirmatively and he says “Usitoke tao, nipatie thirty minutes max ill be there”.

I dig into my food that has been staring at me while I was on the phone. From Caro’s facial expression I can tell she’s enjoying it too. One thing I love about Caro is she doesn’t pretend, when she’s hungry, she’ll eat proper without giving a rat’s ass who is watching. We chit chat as we eat and before long Ron arrives. She goes ahead to jibber jabber about how I rushed her before digging straight into my food. This is an example of the type of friends that walk into your house and head straight to the fridge and while at it, they’ll ask for your wifi password, the true friends, the awesome type. As I gesture for the waitress, I throw a glace at Ron, she’s, oh yeah I love throwing glances around in spades, she’s smiling, and for a face that appears not to have aged even a second since I first saw her, I think that face deserves to rock a smile all day everyday and occasionally a side of good amount of chuckles. Before I even utter a word, she jumps on my case, at the fact that I’ve grown so huge, Caro joins in, “kwani nini hiyo unakula SA?”. I just sit there with my face covered for a second before I hear a deep voice asking that question again. It’s Drew! And he too for someone who was thinner than I back in the days, has become a bouncer!

One thing about Drew is he carries a little diary in his mind about everybody he’s met. When occasions like this presents itself, he’ll open that little book to your page and start reading it aloud. He flipped it back to our early primary school days and started preaching, occasionally turning to Caro or Ron for backing then we would all bust up in laughter like we owned the place. Stories flowed, lots of them, of the times long gone, of the memories deeply cherished, and of the milk gallons drank. Let’s pause for a moment. Now if you had been there watching us from a distance, you would have felt sorry and asked God where in your life you went wrong because these are the moments we all wish for, the type that make time fly away, the type that temporarily erase our; sorrows, regrets, our lack of assurance for tomorrow, the ones we never want to end but sadly evaporate before we are even able to make that wish. The stories continue flowing as we anticipate the arrival of more of our classmates. I guesture to the waitress for another round because at this rate it clear that it will be a long great night!

Friday #Tings

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So before you start asking for part two of the previous post, its coming next week. In the meantime here we are, what to do? I’ll just jump right in.

Here we go.

There is a certain vibe that Friday brings. A vibe that overruns every nook and cranny of this city. Whether it rains, snows, an earthquake happens, or even a surprise invasion by aliens, none of these will manage to kill this vibe, as they say; the party don’t stop! Early Friday morning you get on twitter and the hashtag fever has already kicked in on so many a people. #Fridaytings #ThankGoditsFriday #TurningupTonight #ItsGoingDown such are the tags that will slap the sleep off your face if you dare show your sleepy face on twitter early morning on a Friday. The old Friday, the Friday that we always knew, has become the new Christmas making the dreaded thirsty Thursday look good, after all who doesn’t love Christmas Eve?

If you go to town on a Friday morning you’re bound to see a number of things; ladies, so many of them, under their weaves, weaving their way through the city traffic. See what I did there? Eeh… eeh? You’ll see them, swinging their huge handbags that would comfortable accommodate ten watermelons without any fuss. These bags have become synonymous with Friday and to a larger extent, the weekend. Not because of their size, not because they are the best handbags in town, but because these over sized handbags are a physical manifestation of a question, a question that the city ladies don’t seem to have an answer to when they wake up on a Friday hence they drag this question with them throughout the day. The question? “Nitalala wapi?” (where will I sleep?) Is this how mobile we’ve become even in the presence of mobile phone?

Anyway these bags carry more ‘stuff’ than a magician’s kit. They carry a separate set of life, a set that will be called upon later in the day to ‘turn up’. On one occasion, I met up with two awesome friends of mine in town and as usual they came adorning these elephant bags. It was about two in the afternoon so we sat in one of the popular joints in town catching up over lunch before we started having one two for the road to pass time waiting for nighttime to come join us. At around 9pm I decided we should go hit the club and these two beautiful souls asked me to have one more drink while they hit the washroom and we’ll be out in a minute. So I sat there, gestured to the waitress for another fix while they towed their elephants to the washroom. After about 10-15 minutes they came out in a fresh set of clothing, the scent of lilies filling the air, their smiles now so visible from their crown painted lips, and who said only magicians can pull out bunnies out of hats? Hello Nairobi ladies.

So we hit the streets, navigating our way towards Tribeka lounge, the one place you won’t see skinny chaps with trousers glued to their skin or a guy with a bird on his head, Mohawk, is that what it’s called? You must have seen, met or have someone in your family with that hair style, if not, ask your watchman to remove his beret haha. Anyway every time I see a guy with such an awkward hairdo, I lightly pat my afro and tell it “hang in there old chap, you’re the sane one here”. We continue to maze our way along Kimathi street. The streets are alive, crowded, music is blaring from the clubs around, people are shouting over their voices, cacophony, that is the word. We walk past Club Bettyz, Past IClub, the kind of joints if you walked in, you’d rub shoulders with so many HELB-ers, drinks in the hands, swaying away to the so familiar tunes and if Mr. Charles Ringera were to appear and question the redirection of the funds to EABL, they would all sing in unison to the famous words of the tough son from Garissa; “Hii pesa sio ya mama yako”. Do you know of the three famous Chinese curses? Do you? No? One of them says “May you live in interesting times”. I wonder how much more interesting it can get from this.

We cross Kenyatta Avenue and keep pacing towards Banda Street, our destination. Up ahead, club Sylk stares at us welcomingly. I think Nairobi would rank up there among the cities with the highest number of clubs per square meter. We resisted all other beckoning rivals and found ourselves at the entrance of Tribeka. There was a small queue forming so we joined from the back. I overhear them denying entry to two high school looking chaps before they’re shoved aside. A few minutes later, before us stood two giants of men; built of stone and bone, in their black suits. Their physic is dominant, they speak with authority without a single stutter, after all I’m yet to meet a shy giant.

Initially you had to go through the restaurant then climb a flight of stairs into the lounge but with recent modifications, the restaurant has been moved hence we now have to go through a short, dark, tunnel that gives you the feeling that you’re entering a different world, then up a flight of stairs. Anyway we get to the lounge and we’re greeted by another hulk of a man, he goes like “Niaje mzito”. I just smile as he hurriedly fumbles his way to get me a table. On many a times have I arrived at a time when all tables are occupied, but this being Kenya, there are so many ways of getting a table. So if you’re reading this and you’ve one day been escorted out of Tribeka for no good reason, it might have been me or someone else like me pulling the strings but I’m not apologizing, that’s how the world is, tough indeed!

So we sit down, the music is blaring, I love the ambiance. As usual it is filled to capacity. When I look up, girls. When I look down, girls, when I look to my right, more girls, to my left, even more girls, this is the point where as a guy you quietly say a prayer because truly this is the day the Lord has made! For a long time almost all the clubs had a dance floor, but with the recent increase in people who ‘turn up’, the dance floors have mysteriously disappeared. This change however, is something that I like because these dance floors that were meant for dances, had turned out to be the meeting areas for a certain caliber of girls, the ones that came all the way from home to solicit drinks from guys. In these dance floors is where they held their committee meetings, to catch up on the events of the day. You could see them, breaking a sweat to each and every song, even when there was no music and the Dj was plainly speaking, they continued to dance, after all they had to get drinks somehow. For this reason, I avoided dance floors like the plague.

You know what guys, let’s take a commercial break and jump into a different lane. All of you hop in, there’s a something you need to see.

On the other side of town, there is another type of club goers. Unlike you and I, this is a peculiar batch, or should I say interesting? This group rarely comes to town let alone because it’s a mare Friday. They only come when their pockets allow. You won’t see them in Tribeka, Gaileo or any other fancy club. Take a walk with me down Ronald Ngala Street, down, down, and as you’re approaching River Road there’s a club there that goes by the name “Club Milano”. It’s here, that you will find this peculiar bunch of peeps. Just at the entrance, there are always a lot of people sitting on either side giving people very weird stares. Here you don’t walk in, you squeeze in! you have to grind past a couple of Jah men to get inside. On your way up the stairs, you have to high five Ras Jef, hug Ras John , flirt with Empress Jane, and taste someone’s stash. Oh and talking about stashes, here you’ll see 99.9% of the people carrying little black polythene bags like purses. For some of the guys, the little stash would be hooked to his belt providing a safe and quick retrieval route of the contents even when on the move without a hustle. The content of these little bags? Well, they call it “mogoka”, some kind of leaves that they chew on. So here you’ll see a lot of people with swollen cheeks, and no it’s not a side effect of being involved in a physical fight, well in some way it is a fight but between their teeth and these leaves. Class are you seeing this?

This place is packed to capacity too, yeah by Jah people. Here you won’t see a table full of drinks, no, technically one drink is enough to cover the night. Here you chew more and just sip occasionally. If you want to see people who really appreciate music, this is where you come. You’ll see them, on their feet, feeling the music from deep within, swaying to the beats and singing word for word, after all they come here for one purpose, to get the message! And while we’re still on the message, you must have guessed right that the genre of music played here is Reggae music! So the message is always enough to go around. People are so friendly here. In the so fancy clubs, if you made a mistake of spilling someone’s drink, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll feel a sharp sensation in your rib cage, from the sudden punch or kick of cause but here, someone will just have a couple of leaves from your stash and call it even after all we are all Jah people. What a leafy world we live in.

Quick, quick, lets head back, it was a commercial break not a road trip.

Anyway, while I’m still staring away, a waitress comes and leans towards my ear inquiring about what we’d love to drink, I let my two friends order first not because I’m a gentleman but because there was a pretty girl giving me an eye and I didn’t want to break the eye contact. Boys will always be boys so don’t blame me. When the waiter turns again to me, I order a bottle of Jack and tell her to also give that pretty girl whatever she’s drinking. Then it hits me, just when I thought the dance floors had disappeared with the committee here I am buying drinks for one of their members. They have come up with so cunning ways to get drinks, anyway well played Nairobi ladies, well played! So our drinks arrive, these two pretty ladies had ordered cocktails, a mojito and a long island to be precise. I do sometimes drink cocktails but I’m not a big fan because cocktails are similar to chef salad which is just the kitchen’s trickery to utilize scrap meat. With cocktails, you can never tell what type of vodka or rum has been used in it and if you’re paying Ksh 450 for each glass it is a very big gamble. So anyway I sit back, whiskying away, enjoying this awesome company of my two friends.

So this is Friday, the day that has brought a lot of happiness to so many people. Anyway class dismissed, I need to finish my drink.

Of Teens, Love & Letters – Part One

our_latest_love_letters____by_whatevercathiewants-d5s4i6cLove-Letters

I was never the noisy type, at least for as long as I can remember. My favorite sitting spot was at the back of the class watching everyone else. From here it was easy to spot the bookworms, the jokers, the love birds, the class goons and the teacher pets.

Let’s rewind the years back a bit. All through from class one to seven I had managed to pull off good results largely because God had just created man and put him alone in the garden of Eden therefore the trees in garden were still seedlings; no fruits yet. Just hold on, you’ll see where I’m heading with this Eden story. Where was I? okay the part of the brain that processes phrases such as “ you’re my one and only” “you’re the only bean in my githeri”, yeah those kind of phrases that the current ‘xaxa’ ‘xema’ generation is literary throwing all over the social media in spades was nonexistent but as long man kept producing good results in school, God was happy.

Life was so simple back then because it revolved around football, computer games and good results. The school or rather my class, had more girls than boys but all I saw was good friends and competitors nothing more.

Fast forward. After 7 years of carefully tending the garden of Eden God decided to throw me a curve ball. And at this time all the fruits in the garden were ripening, He couldn’t have chosen a more perfect time than that. He decided to introduce eve into the picture. It’s not like I had never seen her before, we had met a millions times in the corridors, in the dining hall and she was just in the opposite class, I in south, her in North. The difference this time was all the fruits were ripe to the extent of when you ran your eyes through the ‘menu’  you wanted to request one fruit as the main dish and a couple other fruits as a side dish; haha you catch my drift? See what I’m talking about?

Anyway by the time I had made a pick, there was a new kid on the block. Do you know those type of guys who enter a new place and want to automatically want to be the cock of the town? You know them? Yes one of them happened and he too decided that he wanted exactly what I had ordered, but there was a problem, there was only one dish of that kind on the menu. So what were two teens going to do about it? Well, back then mobile phones were still a fairy tale it’s not like these days where you accidentally trip into a ditch and you’re like “hey, a mobile phone” forgetting that now a limb has been galvanized into your usual walking style from that fall. Guys are you still following or are you lost? Anyway for those still finding their way, you’ll meet us ahead. So yes back then it was so difficult to approach a girl and spill your teen heart out so what did we rely on? Yes, letters!! Something that has almost become extinct as we speak.

This girl completely stood out, not just in my head but literary. She is the type that when you look at, you’ll be compelled to believe that she’s one of the lucky few that were created on the eighth day after God had rested and now had a clear mind unlike those that look like they were created in a hurry when God was so tired and after He had had a couple fingers of Jack on the rocks. She is the type that I can bet that after God had created her, Jesus parted him on the back saying “nice job” then they hi-fived!

The writing of the letter itself was an art, you had to be a Picasso with words. You had to curve your letters carefully before bringing them together to form a word. You had to nurse those words, give them an occasional hug here and there because while they’ll be pleading your case, you’ll be nowhere near. So you had to give those words enough love before they left. Writing it was the first part, getting it to the recipient was a totally different ball game. The Letter delivery process was run like a cartel, there was the middle man who would pass the letter to someone else who would then pass it to the recipient. This process as it would be revealed had so many flaws. And here’s an example;

It’s very late in the night, everybody else in the house is quietly snoring their night away. I’m in class eight so as we all know in an examination year, even the bible says candidates can’t live on books alone so after a couple of hours of relentlessly trying to study I give up and take up the art of lettery. Yes ‘lettery’ should be a word. Never mind that I wasn’t bothered about missing my sleep. It amazed me that the same mind that had totally refused to absorb any educational stuff at that hour, decided to operate at 200% when I switched to lettery, I’m loving this word haha Oxford dictionary are you taking notes? I sat there for about two and half more hours before I finally called it a night and tucked my curved words inside a GHC textbook waiting for the morning light to embark on their journey.

When morning came, I hugged my words goodbye and passed them over to the middleman, in this case a middlewoman. Wait is there a word like ‘middlewoman’? Well we’re not here for a grammar or spelling class right? So let’s go on. I was so optimist for the day but who knew I was a Shakespeare in the making? During break time, the carrier seemed to have forgotten her duties and she ended up dropping the message! So the message was all over the playing field. For some reason I had resisted the urge to go for break so I sat in class day dreaming, well you can’t blame me.

My daydreaming was cut short by a song coming from most of my classmates, this song sounded so familiar, wait a minute, they’re reciting my letter! The class goons came back teasing me with every laughter jokingly sandwiched by two lines from my letter. It was astounding how quick they had memorized it considering that our break was only 45 minutes. As fate would have it one of the teacher’s pets decided to divert the letter to the head teacher, the one person who no one ever wanted to cross paths with.