GROW

I could blame school-at least going back to school, or the resultant lack of time, I could blame a lapse in creativity-if what I have posted thus far can be described by such flattering an adjective…heck! I could even blame my colossal failure in working at a relationship…but, I will not. That would be too easy. And like my women, I prefer my life and choices a tad more difficult-at least sometimes. The truth is, I grew lazy. Yes, grew. The paradox is clear even as I write this. Growth signifies positive, beneficial progress which generally I have not made so far. But I grew lazy, yes. Grew lazy because I have stayed at the same spot, languished in the same state for so long, that, like a cancer or weed that grows unwanted so too have I become.

Enough of the self-derision though, alcohol was invented for that, I watched a couple-friends of mine, get into a fight-like only couples can, over the most amazingly mundane thing the other day. While the ‘ordeal’ did not give rise to any epiphanies into the secrets of maintaining a relationship, it did give me pause, caused me to reflect a little on the intricacies of male-female relationships.

See the night started off well enough, we were drinking, making merry…they were cosy and sickening-in typical fashion. I was ogling at some body part(s) as usual, letting my mind imagine the possibilities the night perhaps held for me…you know, the simple stuff, and as the night wore on, everyone started to experience the effects. The conversation started, rather continued harmlessly enough. My friend pointed out a girl shaking what her mama gave her (sic) in ways that I’m not sure any mama would approve of, and we both wasted the next few minutes of our lives imagining a world where everything shook like that-vacant expressions on our faces to boot, when this stupor was broken by a very simple question, “Tony, kwani I don’t shake like that?”. Now this is a very loaded question, if you’ve played Russian roulette you may commiserate. Our vacant expressions were soon very occupied. My face probably read “Thank Goodness I don’t have to answer that”, his, in fine print “Oh shit! I could have sworn I was staring out of the corner of my eye”. The question unfortunately just hung there, like the smell of feet in a small, oh so small room; it stung our eyes and made us cringe with our noses pointed to the ceiling. Tony, oh so brave Tony finally stammered an answer, “Babe, hata wewe unajua huwezi shake”…and I can swear I felt my balls retreat into my stomach. This answer hung there too, but no, this was no simple feet odour, the air turned suddenly chilly, windows started to bang and we both, Tony and I folded our arms and pulled up the collars of our coats in terrifying anticipation. Tony had realised too late that he had used his inside voice…outside. “ Ooooh! Si then you go hang with those chics who can shake then…Why are you here with me?…So all this time you work has just been to stare at other women, eh?…”…and they came rapidly these questions, without any regard for grammar or any of the essentials of sentence construction, a woman ‘scorned’ has no time for such petty considerations. I started to back away like I was not even with them, but alas! I was not fast enough. “And YOU! Kazi yako ni kumuonyesha tu matako, eh?…Just because you don’t have a girlfriend you want your boy to be like you?”…and towards the diaphragm they retreated.

My girl was on a roll, and all of a sudden we were on a trip down not-so-good memory lane, rehashing issues thought long gone, long buried and forgotten. Now, the truth is, Angie cannot shake her behind to save her own life. She knows it, Tony knew it, I knew it…the whole darn universe knew it was no secret, but I guess Tony’s mistake was not letting the universe answer the question.

I guess learning the truth is all well and good, you just never want to learn it from the person you want to see you as the very vision of perfection you hope they do. My guess is, even when you are fat, too thin, too short, even if you sing like a frog dying of thirst, even when your cooking smells like feet and tastes just about the same…you never want to hear it from the person you call your partner. You expect them to see the girl or man that you want to believe you are even when you know unequivocally that they are lying, and you are not. And perhaps any admittance by them that you are not is a harsh reminder of your own insecurities and inadequacies…and who wants to be reminded of those, eh?

But perhaps more importantly, the lesson to be learnt is not to grow lazy like me, but get off your ass and change what you feel you need to…or at the very least learn to grow to accept yourself the way you are.

 

I’m back. Time to grow.

 

 

 

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Do this! Do that!

I hate, HATE being told what to do. Loathe it! It drives me crazy. Even my mother knows it. She long ago perfected the art of getting me to do her bidding without outrightly telling me to do something. It’s a subtle, complicated skill to acquire…takes years of practise, and perhaps being a mother of 5 stubborn boys. This character, or perhaps flaw of character has gotten me in more trouble than a sex-tape releasing airhead. Don’t you especially hate it when you’re about to do something then somebody goes ahead to tell you to? Now you’re stuck there with that I-was-about-to-do-that-look on your face, but that I’m-not-doing-it-because-you-told-me feeling in your chest.

I have even more trouble being told what to do by a woman. Now before you get FIDA to set a burdizzo on a brother, hear me out. I have nothing but the utmost respect for women,nothing but admiration and a very healthy fear. The average woman is much braver than any man on any day…just pay a visit to Nyeri.

Anyhow, my problem starts when you get into a relationship with one, then voila, you have a second mother-and this one is worse than your sensible, perhaps petticoat wearing one; no, this one wears writing tools (pencils) for clothes and has neither the tact nor the experience of the first. She can very easily drink you under the table just as easily as she can school your ass in a game of pool, and that is just Monday.

It all starts innocently enough-and the blame is as much ours, as anyones else. You made the mistake of potraying as near perfect a version of yourself as you could-quite understandable, but equally foolhardy, when you started hitting on her. You had impeccable manners, you possessed abyssal charm, it ran deep and true, you were superbly groomed, always smelt like a million bucks. And, she bought it. No, it was not a facade, just a very thorough polishing, and she didn’t so much buy it, as just chose to believe that eutopia you created actually exists.

So you start dating, and you keep your perfection up. Then a few dates grow up and become a few more, and they bring joy to your hearts like a toddler, then they grow up some more and turn into a cute adorable kid, you have her over for dinner, then a few more dinners. Then puberty sets in, and they are scared and curious at first…you have her over for a night, then a weekend, and before you know it you have the odd foreign toothbrush and pink towel lying around. Then puberty really sets in, surly and hard to please, with an attitude to boot. Layer by layer, the polish slowly starts to wear off, and the that armour of perfection starts to chip from battle after battle. You start to get comfortable, moreover, keeping up that ‘perfection’ starts to wear you out. You slip. You leave the occasional smelly gym sock here, you forget to do the week and a half long dishes and leave them lying there. Keeping the manners up starts to tire you out, that bottomless pool of charm starts to shallow out, and your seemingly infinite patience suddenly seems very finite. This is when it kicks in.

If you’re lucky, you have a woman like my mother, who has a PhD in manipulation, so she’ll ask answerless questions like; do you like to be welcomed into sombodys house with the smell of gym socks?,or, what do you think week old dirty dishes say about a man?…subtle. And before you realise what’s what, you have a gym-sock smell free house, and a mke nyumbani style kitchen. But that is if you are lucky. If you are not, then you get the complete opposite, bottom of her class in manipulation, but top of the not as prestigous field of bossing around. ‘Can you wash those socks already’…’Is that the plate with the rice ndengu from last week?!’-it was mid month, understand. And they come nice and fast these instructions, these orders, rapid, like machine gun fire, accompanied by statements like, ‘you’ve soo changed’…’if I knew you were like this…’. With alarming speed they spread like a virus. Soon enough your posture isn’t good enough, ‘sit up straight, will you!’, and you don’t get the door for her fast enough, ‘that door will not open itself mr.’…and your eating habits have gone down the drain, ‘eat with some class like I showed you, you caveman’. And soon enough, you’re like a white kid in a supermarket with a leash around his neck.

I do things slightly differently.If you want to avoid that leash; let her find out from the onset just what your gym bag smells like, let her see you molest a burger like the barbarian you actually are, let her see your house/room in it’s natural state-like the pig sty it sometimes tends to be, let her see you scratch your ass when you think no one is looking. See, if she still wants to stick around after witnessing all these attrocities, you’ll never have to be told what to do, ever!…because she will probably be somewhere on a hill any(damn)way.

Resolutions

Resolutions are as empty as the proclamations of a drunk on his 12th beer, at least the ones I make are. So, this year begun in typical fashion, I was at some noisy shenanigan oogling at some unsuspecting-though I think she was pretty suspicious by then, err…female, chugging on bottle number who-knows of  a cold whitecap. I was starting to doze-very bad habit, recipe for some pretty invasive loving if I was in Lamu, but that was hardly possible sitted at the counter and with one of my friends pointing out some presumably easy, drunk chic every other minute. But, I digress…after the umpteenth derelict had either bumped into my back trying to catch the snooty bartenders attention, or spilt that irritating blue/red/green drink women love on me,  something snappped. Now, I didn’t throw a punch, or shove anyone…well…because at 5’6, I am literally the bigger man. But I realised something, it painfully occured to me that I was doing the same thing, the same damn thing I had begun the previous year doing, and that had gotten me in trouble throughout the year, And I hated myself for it. Well, perhaps I just disliked myself just a tinge…a tiny tinge, like a speck, miniscule really. And while I am no stranger to a healthy amount of self-loathing, I decided there and then, on a bar stool, half asleep, my eyes cross-eyed and glazed with intoxication that I had to change some things.

Spend money with a little more wisdom

I treat money like a mistress should be dealt with; a slight respectful disdain, mistrust and enough self-loathing to hate yourself for having one. Like an object, you might have some now, and lose it all in a jiffy. Sure, I love what money can get you as much as next the next bloke, but I truly believe it is not everything. Now sure, that might be the naivety and bragadoccio of a young man sans responsibility talking, but it’s a recipe for disaster all the same. That Rick Ross must have had a picture of me when thinking up the moniker BMF-blowing money fast. I spend it as if I was the fat cat printing it. So this year, I’m starting a new habit; keep all the receipts of my purchases. I even have a personal receipt book that I ask matatu touts to sign everytime I use one.

Take people who care about me less for granted

We, I am guilty of thinking I don’t need to work at relationships with people I know love me. I feel like it would be akin to being the gardener at the garden to Eden. So I more often than not disappoint these extraordinary people-God knows loving me has got to make you special. This year, these people come first.

Be a little more faithful

I struggle with faithfulness. Even when I should be content, I am restless. I close off many parts of myself…in many ways, I am an open book, but what’s the use of a book in latin if you have no translation. So this year, so help me God, I will keep it in my pants.

Know when to quit

This primarily applies to alcohol, but now that I think about it, it’s a broad stroke. I either do not possess that internal drunk-meter, or I have just learnt to ignore it very well. I keep going like an energizer bunny-unfortunately, no pun intended ladies. I also like to test people, their patience, tolerance, beliefs…and I ‘cross the line’ more times than Kanye West at an awards show. So this year, I will learn when to QUIT!

The mission that wasn’t.

How did they get here? How did this happen?

They were such a perfect couple. She, with her ethereal beauty. Flawless golden skin, like immaculately vanished wood of the iroko tree. He, with his irreverent charm – it was about the only thing he had going for him. It was no movie perfect story, but one steeped in the brine of the real world, fraught with drama, punctuated by long periods of silence and countless break-ups. See they were equally proud, stubborn oafs they were. She would say ‘no’, just because she knew he wanted her to say ‘yes’. He would refuse her simplest request just because she expected him to oblige. But when they were in sync, oooh, it was like watching a cosmic reaction; you could not be in their presence without being consumed. They had eyes only for each other even in the most crowded room; they seemed to be locked in a pervasively sexual conversation when their eyes met, one devoid of inhibitions, one you were not privy to, a conversation no linguist could hope to understand.

Let us start from the beginning.

They had seen each other around the school campus. He was a first year. Hair unkempt one day, blow-dried into an afro the next. He didn’t have a care in the world. In fact, his sole intention for the four years he had to be confined in a campus was to sleep with every girl who would have the guts to step into his room- he aptly called it; ‘the hyenas lair’ for effect, and well, to make sure he never lost track of his four-year mission. He was slightly older than most of the other freshmen having left another institution of ‘higher learning’ before the one they were currently in. Brother had a huge chip on his shoulder. In his head he was well…the shit! He had a certain walk, perfected by years of mimicry and practise. Years of watching hip hop videos. A certain mind set, fashioned by reading countless stories of sex and violence. Moulded by the words of Robert Ludlum, Wilbur Smith and Jackie Collins. Campus was an unnecessary transition for him, a leg in a journey to riches and power, to fast cars and even faster women. So you see, he wanted to make sure he left his mark. His name to be mentioned in awed whispers, and tales of his conquests to be passed down the generations like the legend he intended to be.

She was a sophomore. She had an older boyfriend-well, perhaps a man friend, so the promises of young, immature schoolboy suitors were as empty as they were cheap. She was easily the prettiest girl on campus. Beauty magnified by the fact that she was so unassuming you wanted to punch her lights out just as much as you wanted to be with her with the lights out. She had no time for the pettiness of campus life. She had a friend, they we joined to the hip in that irritating can-she-just-be-alone-for-a-minute-so-I-can-talk-to-her way, so the guys would only muster some courage when they had imbibed cheap liquor, inevitably making even bigger fools of themselves. Campus was a transition for her as well. She had a life of fabulosity to live. A life of expensive designer clothes, trips around the world and expensive restaurants to go out and live. So you see, she could care less whether she was remembered in the dreary campus, she would make sure you remembered her later.

They officially met on a matatu from the rave. A cheap affair where you had to wait in the biting predawn cold after the club didn’t want you anymore, for the morning to come. Only then could you get a matatu back to school; drunk on cheap liquor-and stinking of it, tired, bleary eyed and broke. He and his group had already gotten into one when someone shouted, “Ngojea! Si wale ni wasee wa chuo?! Dere, ngojea!” He turned back thinking ‘Sa hawa ni mafala gani?’…and thank God nobody heard him, because the subsequent moments changed his life. He turned to curse the creature that was keeping him away from his thin mattress that promised heaven at this particular moment, and gulped. She was running towards them slightly staggering, but he could have sworn it was like marvelling at the grace of a gazelle in flight. She was in a yellow top, and bathed in the rays of the rising sun she literally glowed. Her whisky coloured skin seemed to soak the light and radiate it like a moon. The black jeans she had on did nothing to hide the seemingly endless legs that were striding drunkenly towards them. Despite his inebriated state, he felt a familiar tightening in his pants. She got in breathless, panting and a lump rose in his throat. She sat heavily next to him, her chest heaving from the exertion, her breasts rising with every inhalation. Her yellow skin was flushed-running drunk will do that to you, he caught his hand just in time, inches from her face…this had to be a mirage. He knew whatever happened; he would never forget that skin. And just like that, a week into his first year, he completely forgot about his mission.

She laughed at his jokes-perhaps it was the alcohol, but she did. Infectious laughter, it rose from the stomach and clutched at your heart. It was just the right timbre. Not too whiny like a skinny blonde cheerleaders’, not too deep that you wondered, no, just right. And it was easy talking to her, making her laugh like that over and over and over and over again became his new mission.

They became almost inseparable after that-at least he made sure they weren’t, but he could not help himself, he wanted to see that skin flushed again, wanted to keep hearing that laugh, and most of all, in the most beautifully perverse of ways, he wanted to own it-the skin, the laughter, the legs, the…everything! He wanted to make them his, wanted to flaunt them and make sure the whole world knew they were ‘his’.

Their budding relationship read like the script of a Mexican soap. Jealousy, revenge, passion, rumours…these were the themes of their young love novella. His friends teased him about spending so much time with a girl, ‘what happened to your mission?’ they would taunt. Her friends, well friend, questioned whether she was replacing her with him. Guys who got wasted with him avoided him now, ‘how dare he go where we failed?’ they would pose. Everyone wanted to talk to her now, to explain just how bad a choice she was making picking the most rotten of all the apples. Inevitably they let their pride get in the way, refusing to admit just how much they wanted to be with each other. Their hard-headedness well, prevented some hard hard truths from sinking in.

See, at the time, they did not want to meet halfway. Nobody was about to give ground, nobody was going to admit to the other just how right they were for each other, though they both knew it in the depths of their beings, though they both wanted each other with unbridled passion, they pretended they did not.

So, they broke up for the first time!

TO BE CONTINUED…

Mother!

She has lived for slightly over 55 years, give or take a few days…registration was rife with guesswork in those days. She grew up in a family of 8, well more, but inevitably some didn’t make it in that era of even more unreliable healthcare. She came in third.

She was raised by a P3-primary school teacher and an illiterate, wise ‘housewife’ in a village somewhere in the depths of the Coast province. Growing into a promising young woman with a devoutness that should have led her to a monastery for a life of servitude and prayer…but, perhaps in another life.

Originally slated to be a nurse, she, by some bizzare twist of her story, ended up an accountant…and a damn good one at that. Blessed with an annoyingly accurate attention for and to detail, it is rare you will get away with an indiscretion under her nose. Maturing into a young woman at a time of great promise, she quickly landed a job and begun to forge her own path in the world, to find her place in it.

In 1987 after some years of picking and dropping the bad apples, she landed her prince. A simple man, a good man, a self-made, generous man-but that is an ode for another day. The story of their courtship is not clear, perhaps it is a story they wish to preserve for themselves. And, in July of the same year, they were blessed with a baby boy, 2.9 kilograms. Came into the world bawling and clawing, calling for attention-he’ll probably leave the same way too. One year, six months later, another boy came, and they arrived in rapid succession after that-5 at the end of just over 7 years, 4 by the dreaded C-section! I know, the numbers are dizzying! I told you she was a brilliant accountant!

After 5 births, 4 C-sections, a history of high blood pressure and faced with a litter of 5 pesky boys to raise, she knew she had to bring her “a” game! And, at 5ft 3, her ‘A’ game had to come in bold upper case and a few pretentious asterixes to boot too. And by jove it’s a good game!

She is a simple woman. The kind that knows her place in the world. A woman who does not feel the need to stir the pot, or question the delicate balance that has put her at the place she is. She lives for her God, and her family. Every breath she takes is for that band of misfits, and for the unfathomable supernatural power-steeped in strict Catholic doctrine, that dictates her every action. They say faith is a gift, well…if it is, she received it in buckets!

She carries the curse of martyrs. Forced to suffer the agony of the realisation that that gift of faith is not one she can confer by genetics. But, she carries her curse, in stoic silence, never complaining, always praying. With such innocent devotion, that even the most stubborn agnost would grudgingly admire.

Her brood, as varied as they are, display a baffling emotional stuntedness that Freud is probably still turning in his grave over. And this, she has had to face and accept with her trademark resilience.

This is an ode to a rare woman. A woman ravaged by life, by it’s sadistic trials and unmerciful tribulations. But, one who refuses to yield. One who faces these trials and tribulations in determined silence, armed with the sword of faith, and covered by the wollen cloth of faith.

God bless you mother!

Of hearts and sleeves

I have a friend. Poor bastard wears his heart on his shabby sleeve like a fancy timepiece. He wants you to see it, he prays you do…and like a 5 year old girl, he sulks when you don’t. It’s sad really. But it’s eerily admirable. Like a boxer; eyes swolen shut, legs wobbly, barely able to stand, knocked down whenever he finds his feet, who keeps getting up, keeps raising his gloves. You don’t want to watch, but for the life of you, you cannot tear your eyes away.

 

So he trudges along the murky trenches of love with all the weapons and ammo in his meagre ‘armoury’ on display. And by some perverse, almost pitiful logic, he expects to vanquish more battle-hardened and experienced veterans. The idealistic bastard!

 

Now, my cynicism may mask the quiet admiration I have for him.

When many men prefer the pursuit of love a hunt, fraught with deception and wily trapping, he prefers to see it a walk to the promised land, with manna fallling from the heavens. The problem is; manna is bland, monotonous…unsavoury almost; while hunted bison teases your senses, it’s elusively intriguing…it never lasts, but you just cannot get enough of it.

 

So my friend walks an eternal optimists’ path. He professes undying love after three dates, plans a proposal after the fifth, and picks the kids names by the time he is paying the cheque.

 

He is however, not a desperate man, far from it. He does not cower and give up after another ‘failure to launch’, no! He shrugs his shoulders knowingly-like a short man reconciled with the afflictions of his curse, and quotes a famous poet I know, ‘on to the next one’,  and so, the trudge continues.

 

Like most of the non-conforming stalwarts of an increasingly pretentious race, my friend will eventually reach the proverbial promised land…and like the Israelites, the walls of scorn, skepticism and blithing cynicism will come down, and he will enter like the star he truly is.

Brothers!!

I have four brothers!!

They, we, are as different as chalk and cheese, but many cannot tell them, us, apart. We, they are more alike than we, they, would like to acknowledge. And the more effort, they, we, try to assert our, their, differences; the more the similarities cement themselves, the deeper they are engraved in the stone of our, their, destiny.

I am reminded of the time I went up Mt.Kenya some years back. There isn’t a specific path, just many weather beaten pseudo-tracks for those choosing the safer, tried and tested path. For the more adventurous, there is virgin forest and marsh waiting to be molested by the boots and machetes of men who prefer to make the path, not follow it. But eventually, we are all after the same ‘high’-pun intended, we all want to conquer nature and the elements, and by some perverse extension ourselves. We all want to finish the journey and get to the top, gleam some sense of satisfaction from the effort we have put in-in climbing the darned mountain, a metaphor for life.

One of my brothers went to Mangu. Now Mangu is not for the faint hearted. The land is dry and dusty, like a prostitute who has been on the same corner for the better part of a decade, ravaged by life and God knows who else. But this means, it breeds resilience, it encourages simplicity…and that is my brother. Tough, stoic, brave…perhaps the bravest of all of them, us. He doesn’t like pretence, and is un-moved by the postures of people trying hard to fit in. A simple man, his yes, means he will move heaven and earth to keep his promise, and just as decisively, his no is cast in stone. But, he is the most loyal human being I know. If I was a Spartan king, he is the man who would lead my armies and flay my dissidents.

He has an unnerving silence, especially if you don’t know him. But it’s the silence of a strong man, one not bothered by the whims and fretting of mere man.

Wise and strong!

I have another brother who is annoyingly lazy! But only when he has to do something that doesn’t concern him. He hates work, but loves life…loves to live it, milk its tit for all the milk it can offer. He is a character this one, a chameleon of life. An insensitive oaf too. Perhaps that is the nature of big guys, full of life; they don’t let their size down. He is loud and obnoxious, loves to be noticed. He feeds off the appreciation of a crowd like a stand-up comedian, relishing the limelight; he’s a whore for it. He is the kind of guy who will be miserable if he is broke…he will shrivel up and die of this curse if it is visited upon him.

He is like a chic in blue braids, orange tights and a bad Meru accent…you can’t miss him.

Happy and loud!

The skinniest of the lot is the most puzzling. He is a sensitive young man…emotionally aware. If he was a character in Greek mythology he would perhaps be Apollo, partial to poetry and the arts-almost pretentious in his appreciation. The eternal optimist, he likes a happy ending, chooses to see the eternal good in people. He is a paradox this one; brave enough to express his feelings, but the last person you’d want to have by your side in a fight. And of all them, he will most likely be the teetotaler of the brotherhood…only able to stomach the girly drinks-I mistrust men who drink Black ice. But perhaps it is God assigning us a designated driver. He is a bleeding heart, pained by the travesties of humans and the depravities of the human condition.

He is very outgoing, if only to mask how painfully shy he actually is. In another world, he would be a very successful Pope.

Sensitive and kind!

The last one is developing into quite the ladies man. Light, tall and athletic, he has the kind of charm that young women appreciate-in his case, young women have not completed high school yet, but his blossoming success is evident. The notion that being the last one of a brood accords one some irrational right to get your way isn’t something he would nod in agreement to-perhaps being ‘spoilt’ does not particularly apply when you are the last of 5 lads. He is the youngest of five young men, still-like all of them, trying to find his place in the world, and indeed the journey for him is still in its first leg. He reeks of the entitlement this one, the kind of guy who will get away with stuff by the power of his smile and the stuff of his brawn.

If a freak accident hadn’t sidelined him, he’d be the Biko Adema of the future.

Cocky and proud!

So, you see.

While none of them, well apart from one, may ever admit it- save for the occasional alcohol induced rant, they, we, all love each other, pushing each other along their respective paths, albeit with a very high dose of tough love. They, we, are lucky to have each other, like a rugged team of underdogs, they, we, are set to conquer the world, one weather-beaten path at a time!!