WHEN THE RUG IS PULLED FROM BENEATH YOUR FEET

Today. 7 years ago. Thursday the 11th day of August. The year is 2011.

A normal mundane day.  Two children are taking breakfast as their mother prepares to go to work. Papa is dressing up as well so that they leave together.

‘Chwaa! Chwaa!’ the comb runs through their mother’s luscious hair. The youngest one, a boy this one, is calling out to his mother to help him take a piss. Suddenly, the comb slips and falls on the floor. She tries to pick it, then it slips yet again. Her daughter is watching all this unfold like a dream. The mother gropes for the couch and settles slowly in it. She stares at her two youngest children and tries to talk to them. No sound comes out. Her voice is gone. Her mobility is gone. The rest of the day whirls like a nightmare. A rushed hospital visit. Scans. The frantic need for money. Ambulance rides. A million and one calls. Fear. Uncertainty. This day will remain forever etched in their minds. The rug is suddenly pulled from under their feet.

The second daughter, a bony 16 year old figure is away at school. Blissfully oblivious of the rug no longer beneath her feet. Preparations for the upcoming KCSE take up all her energies. The previous day she was on the phone with her mother who assured her she is praying for her. This motivates her to sync her energies into this. Little does she know her mother’s prayers will not be forthcoming for a very long time to come.

Days slide over each other. Slower than usual. Longer even.

Mama shows signs of improvement. She smiles feebly when she is visited by the people she particularly likes. This encourages them to keep believing for a miracle. Only that God has something else in mind. He is preparing to teach them what healing is. Miracles are instant. Healing is a journey. You notice the transformation little by little. Healing of the body. Souls. And minds. Friends and family hold their hands. They pray for them and with them. Immense financial support comes through. People make sacrifices. A month and some days or so, the daughter slaving away in school calls her father. The physics teacher has noticed that lately she is aloof. He keeps on calling her out in class and asks what is with the absent mindedness. She rattles about her mother being in hospital and the teacher offers his phone. Hoping and praying for some miracle. Papa tells her that mama can now speak. She requests that he puts her on the phone. Calling out ‘mum!’ timidly, she awaits her response. Her mother’s voice crackles through. Groggy. Heavy. Mumbling incomprehensible words. Yet this is the best sound for her up to date. The voice of her mother back. It will always beat any music she has heard and will ever hear. Heck! It sounds better than the sound of laughter. It is the sound of hope. The sound of resilience. The sound of life. The sound that grounds her.

Adjustments have to be made. The children, in between forced laughter, tears and swollen eyes, ask each other since it is said that everything happens for good, what good is this happening for. Whose good. What reason. They fail to wrap their minds around this. Their father becomes their greatest pillar of human strength. How he tenderly takes care of his wife with quiet determination.

The good that happens in this, is that now everyone has to find a balance. With the rug no longer underneath their feet, it is now getting cold. It feels naked. Exposed. The children have to anchor to something, someone, anyone. This draws them closer to each other than ever before. No one has the time and energy and the time to squabble over who eats the topmost slice of bread anymore. Or why the youngest seems to be highly favoured. No more logging heads with their mother about teenage boys. Their hearts are united on one thing and one thing only. They realize they only have each other now. They have to be strong.

Tragedy has a way of drawing people closer to God. Now, they have to hang on every word of encouragement from the Bible, the Word. Lyrics of songs that they used to sing hurriedly through before this, now hold such a depth. They sing slowly, savouring every word.  Talking earnestly to God becomes a norm. They now have to talk to God about their mama. A stark difference from when their mama talked to God about them. Another lesson is also in who their closest family and friends are. Times of inconvenience serve to show us who is really in it deep with us, for the long haul. Some friends are lost, and others gained.

7 years later. A profound journey of healing. Thanksgiving. A family whose bonds are still intact. A journey of learning, albeit painfully, to trust fully in God. To lean on Him for comfort and strength. Trusting in His divine providence. 7 years of old strong friendships, and new ones to make up for the lost ones.

Dear Resplendants, as we reflect on this one, let us draw a few lessons from it;

  1. Everyone has a story. None is richer or trivial compared to the other. Life is not about comparison. It is about sharing our stories. And listening to stories even more. Everything is beautiful in its own way.
  2. Seek God all the time. Do not wait for tragedy or really difficult circumstances to force you to seek solace in Him. He is God in all seasons. Life is like a fleeting glance. Today we are here, the next minute, day or second we are lying motionless and cold. Better to make things right while you can.
  3. Love everyone. It is difficult to do that on our own. However, when God comes in our hearts, He fills us with so much love that we only want to share it. People might walk away when it is no longer convenient for them to stick around. Friends. Family. However, do not hold it against anyone. Do nothing but love. Wait not for tragedy to force you to look into the sad eyes your wife, your sister, your children.
  4. Trust the journey. We are an impatient generation who have a liking for instant things. Instant fame. Instant coffee. Instant weight loss. Instant wealth. You will miss out on the beauty in the small things that make a journey as you chase instants.
  5. Be present today. Do not just drift by or watch life drift by waiting to die. Be present in your own life and in other people’s lives. Be there. Solid. Reliable.
  6. Live a day at a time and believe that there is a reason for everything. Do not let events in life cripple you. You lost your dad? Somehow you have got to find your footing again. Your brother is resting in glory? Take heart and trust God to take you through each day.
  7. God is all you will ever need. God is enough.

AN AVID READER OF THIS SPACE IS CELEBRATING HIS WEDDING TODAY. WELL, HAPPY NUPTIALS MUSAKHULU. WELL APPRECIATED. WISHING YOU, AND YOUR LOVELY BRIDE A LIFETIME OF LOVE AND LAUGHTER.

 

A NDUTHI, NDUTHI GUY AND HIS HEFTY PILLION PASSENGER

A great deal of my friends have been asking why I have not been writing.

I like to tell them that the Kenya School of Law happened.

I have since admitted to myself, albeit shamefacedly, that is one very lame excuse. Flimsy, no doubt.

People make time for what really matters. That is the rule of thumb. I am not an exception. I have been spending more time on things that do not really matter as much as writing does to me. To list them down would be akin to hanging my dirty linen in public. No one wants that. We all want to showcase our cleanest linen.

Let us just move on. Like I never left.

I am walking home painfully slowly. The weight of my backpack bearing down on me. Straps digging into my shoulders. Extremely spent. Fatigued to a fault. A nduthi (motorbike for my readers from diaspora) zooms past me. Only it does not really zoom. It leans in close like a cool superbike move. Then thud! Ptaa!

Nduthi, nduthi guy and his pillion passenger kiss the ground a tad bit hurriedly. I can feel the pain in that thud. The pillion passenger, a hefty, middle aged woman, produces the Ptaaaa! As she lands down. It sounds like she is pouring. The sound that grains produce when they pour. I start to think that maybe we will have to gather her up.

Let me just let this off my chest. I have a habit of laughing at the most inopportune of moments. My laughter is always on the surface. However, this time, I quickly suppress it once I feel it rising up like mercury in a column. My sane self prevails over my other scandalously laughy self. I quickly get out my 6 year old phone ( I have a story regarding this phone. I had earlier mentioned to my friends about how my phone was the oldest. 6 years now. One of them quips; I bet that phone has lasted longer than your relationship. I look up in shock, only for him to attempt damage control – ati if it has, then it means you are not the problem, you are a keeper).

Where was I? Oh, the part where I retrieve my phone and flick the assistive light. The nduthi man does not stay down for long. He quickly dusts himself and tries to help the lady up, in futility. The lady cries out for help. I quickly step in since everyone else is busy spectating. I hold her left arm, while the nduthi guy supports her right side. Together, we help her up. Midway, I suddenly feel afraid that I will go down with her. I don’t feel so strong myself. Lakini, I mentally summon all my strength, and will myself to do it.

I hold the torchlight for them as they try to trace the luggage. The lady then directs this first nduthi guy to proceed with her luggage, and to call up one of his other nduthi friends to carry her for the rest of the way. Soon afterwards, the second nduthi guy zooms past, with the hefty woman, yet again, a pillion passenger.

Why would she still go ahead and use a nduthi, after what had just happened. This, and other questions, are what occupy my mind the rest of the way.

One of the things I think to myself, is how unexpected, falls are. You never really know when you are going to fall, and even when you know, you are already halfway through the falling. The fall happens. Sometimes you want to stay down there and throw yourself a pity parry (party). Well, what I thought about today is, that when you fall, rise up. Try to rise up. If you cannot, ask for help. Oh, and learn to travel light. Figuratively and literally. It is in doing that, that you reduce your chances of falling.

On the flip side, when you are asked for help, ( hata do not wait to be asked. Offer it) do not look down on yourself. I repeat. Do not look down on yourself. Summon all you have got and channel it into helping someone up (even if it means gathering them, or helping them to gather their pieces). I was a bit unwell and dizzy, but somehow, the strength was there when I needed it. No light is too dim. No strength is too little. Do what you can to gather a friend, a stranger, pick them up. Reminds me of a song, “Little is much, when God is in it”.

Haya, na wewe ukisaidiwa to gather yourself, and your broken pieces, please dust yourself. Do not shy away from trying yet again. That lady won my admiration. I think she is the real MVP of this story. Had I been in her situation, I would not use a nduthi home anymore. Yet she requested for another one. Went ahead and rode it! Hats off to you; hefty, middle aged lady!

In that same breath, shout out to another MVP in my life, Talay. Happy birthday to you, the not so hefty, young lady!

 

 

TAKING STOCK 1

I have never taken stock here. There is a first time for everything, right?

Let’s delve in.

Feeling: All these kinds of feels. Happy and grateful to have experienced 10 days of 2018! A little anxious about how the year will play out.

Learning: To drive a car from my Papa. In preparation for my Black Jaguar F-Pace!!!!

Reading: Strong in the Storm by Prof. Mutea Rukwaru, about surviving storms in marriage. It never hurts to prepare well and early;-); The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It is such a fun, light yet deep read. One of those books you read in small doses because you don’t want to overindulge.

Eating: CLEAN!!! The few people who know me a bit too closely understand that I can be a cake monster. Junk foods just whisper my name seductively when I am stressed up. I have managed to steer clear of any trashy food since Christmas holidays! Resistance my Frens

Drinking: Lots of water, fruit smoothies and mursik from Memo’s Sotet. This skin garra glow!!

Making: Plans  to create a life I truly love.

Wanting: to only be happy. Happy and HAPPY all the time.

Hoping: to excel in everything. Especially the bar exams.

Enjoying: Meaningful conversations and great friendships. I could never ask for more.

Playing: Well, nothing tech related at the moment. I really wish I could play hide and seek right now.

Purging: My space of negative energy. Negative people. Negative music. Negative everything.

Wishing: I had a superpower that alleviates sadness and suffering from the human race.

Loving: God.

Marvelling: at how much progress I have made health wise already! Girl! I am proud of you!;-)

Smelling:  a rat!! (kidding); loads of good things around the corner.

Wearing: a beautiful smile!

Noticing: the subtle things that are left unsaid. The silence in between the words. The spaces between the letters. A lot more is said in between.

Knowing: ALL IS WELL.

Laughing: at anything and everything that is laughable and not 😀

 

 

 

STORY OF MY LIFE

Boy child chronicles have been trending the past couple of days. I was determined not to feature anything negative on any of my spaces. Facebook, Whatsapp, this blog here. Name it. The unfollow, unfriend, unblock buttons exist for people like me. Anything spewing vitriol and hatred, vulgar or just plain stupid gets you off my feed and friend lists faster than a sneeze.

However, the astronomical pressure that we exert on young men (the proverbial boy child) cannot simply be swept under the rug. I have therefore reached out to a few male friends in their 20’s. Amazing men with rich stories. Let us pull our seats close till our foreheads touch. Hold our coffee mugs closer to our hearts. Then we listen and nod our heads for the rest of the month. I intend to make up for lost time by lining up a couple of rich stories all for you.

This first account is by a friend I made sometime in September, in very peculiar circumstances. Story for another day.

Story of my life…

The most difficult age for any man is probably between 24 and 29 years. The pressure to be something. To be someone. Anything is so immense. When you look around you, everyone seems to be doing something for themselves. People seem to be living a life you only dream about. You have applied for jobs and the results have been more disappointing than ATIKU’s shot at presidency.

Sadly, this is the age when most guys lose it. The age when if not careful, one is consumed by alcohol. Or drugs. The disappointments have become too much and you find alternative ways to face reality. Reality escalates from bad to worse when a number of those you studied with have been lucky enough to land lucrative jobs. Soon enough, your circle of friends thins out. It is not that they lock you out but you get real with yourself and lock yourself out. I mean what do you do when you are in a Whatsapp group of friends discussing last week’s trip to Dubai…and planning another road trip to Jos. Yet you are not sure about where your next meal will be.

On most days you follow the conversation silently. All alone like a solitary cross on a grave. You realize that this is no longer your crowd since the more you stick around, the greater the pressure to be something, anything takes a toll on you.

You know when stories about house parties come up and you act deaf since you do not know where an extra 5 guys would fit in your cramped up flat.

Have you sat in a group of people discussing the iPhone X or how British Airways offers shitty services and you can feel your heart whispering to you, “Yoh bro, this is chest pain hour. can we find a group that chats about bumpy boda boda rides ” Yet you sit there silently. Timidly, like a secretary taking down minutes at the annual general meeting, as these people get lost in their conversations.  Once in a while, one of the friends will turn and ask if you need another drink. You pause and consider declining the offer and heading home but then home to what? Grudgingly, you drop in the “I will just have one last one”. A blatant lie.

A few years of job hunting get you so desperate that you are now ready to do anything even if it means smelling a rich man’s farts as long as it pays. You end up as an office messenger in a blue chip company in town. To imagine that 5 years of studying and getting a degree is now reduced to picking and dropping off letters. When you are not doing that, you are on a scouting tour for cheap lunch by the employees at that time of the month when they are broke and cannot afford to order with Chicken Republic Foods. This is when you conversations about where people studied surface, you keep mum. It is no longer useful to say you also completed your degree.

Once in every while you will bump into your classmates. They will offer to buy lunch but not even dining at a caffesserie will make you feel better about yourself. You will wish that they give you that 20K instead and you sort your meals for the next couple of days.  As is the practice, you will have photos taken  and uploaded. Yours is the face that will stick out like a sore thumb. The best filters cannot mask a face that has borne the city dust and survives on boiled beans.

The worst of it comes when you try to date. You have nothing to offer in terms of today’s ideas of love and relationships. How on earth are you going to do romantic evening walks when your feet are sore from delivering letters to offices around town? What will you tell your lady when she suggests you go and chill out at God knows where? That your financial religion expressly prohibits that? This is the age where you sit back and watch the ladies you would want to date, dating and getting married to men 10 years older than you. You cannot blame them – it is only that your life seems to be progressing slower than their goals in life. Some of the ladies you meet during this period, if you are lucky, will be patient with you till you hit 28. Then if your life is still in disarray, like Arsenal’s performance during the Champions league, then my friend, prepare for a walk out.

It is that age where you learn a lot about life. You learn to celebrate celebrate the small wins each day. It teaches you perseverance. Friendship. Love. Career growth and personal responsibility. This is always your rise or fall stage depending on the choices you make. Your life in your 30’s is determined by how you will have handled your life in your 20’s.

That is why I always ask, “Are you working on your dreams today?”

I DON’T HAVE THE ANSWERS

I’ve wanted to write for a while now. When I write, the world seems somewhat less invincible. Someone called me a ‘keyboard warrior’. Well, I will wear that proudly on my sleeves. Like my heart. No matter the connotation the tag invokes. The last time I wrote I was an undergrad. Now I am a graduate. Graduate has a nice ring to it. It definitely sounds better than undergraduate. The end of an era, marks the beginning of another. Most memorable out of school will be the friendships I forged. Well, I am not sure I forged all of them. Some of them just happened. We fell head over heels in friendship with some of them. Others, we fell in love…er…friendship slowly at first, then quickly. The way you fall into an endless pit in a nightmare. Slowly at first and then next thing you know the ground is rushing up to meet you. Let’s drink up (no alcohol, mates) to true friendships. Those that were forged both in and out of school.

Well, at this point I think it is prudent for me to confess something. I really don’t know where I am going with this. Guess what? That’s okay. You too don’t need to know everything. The beauty of life is tweaking routine with randomness. Be a non-conformist. Try a bit of spontaneity as well. I particularly love the song, “I Don’t have the Answers” by ‘We Are The Messengers’. The first line of the song is “I don’t have the answers, and maybe that is okay. We can search together…’ In my humble submission, my ladies and lords, we spend our entire lives searching for answers. We do it in solitude. At times with friends or in the company of family. Or total strangers. We are constantly searching for answers. I wish to further submit that we do not get all the answers.

We live in a time when true friendship has become rarer than true love, and chivalry combined. The marks of true friendship in this age have been reduced to the occasional ‘hae’ and ‘you’ve been so lost’ on whatsapp. Never mind that you have no idea how your ‘friend’ looks like beyond the cute display photo on whatsapp. They could have lost several pounds, or become obese. Friends do not see friends beyond the virtual space, because hey! Si jana he posted a photo on instagram and the location indicated was the Radisson Blu. Life has to be treating him real good. Right? Wrong.

Totally, utterly, wrong. Incredibly so. Friendship means a lot more than what we millenials understand it to be. It means much more than just ‘hang-out buddy’. It is beyond the occasional ‘you guys, we need to hook up sometime’.

I cannot claim to comprehensively define what true friendship means. Yet as a modest attempt I would take it to mean a strong sense of unconditional love and connection towards another being. Age, distance, resources, status, sex and other perceived impediments notwithstanding.

Friendship is a heavy tag that we have trivialized. It means sacrifice. Emotional, material, psychological, social and physical. It means not counting the cost when it comes to those who call you friends. It means sharing the last morsel of food even if you know not where the next one will come from. Acquaintances are almost always confused for friends. If you do not know someone well enough, then that is an acquaintance. Or just someone you know.

True friendships sometimes last for a season. That is quite okay. We get to know people deeply and when the time is done, we should be grateful for the gift of true friendship and let it go. Other true friendships last for a lifetime. Those are the best. I have obviously not exhausted my life but some of my friendships have the promise of a lifetime. Well, I am alive to the fact that not all of them will last up to that time and that is in order. I’ll be grateful anyway.

We need some deep soul searching. Real introspection will help us determine whether indeed we measure up to the mark of true friendship. True friendship inspires others to be true as well. Let us, like a ripple effect, or those forward whatsapp text messages that you risk dying if you don’t forward (haha), make true friendship a norm. A thang’…sorry, THING.

In doing so, we can embark on searching for the answers, as we navigate the calm and sometimes treacherous waters of life. As we follow the Nothern Star. Pointing us to our lives’ purposes.

WHAT IS

What is

What is love, when hate roams so freely in the atmosphere

What is oxygen, when all we breathe are lungfuls of fumes of conflict

What is freedom, when we are bound by the shackles of sycophancy

What is meat, when the only butchers we know are those specialized in human flesh

What is intellect, when the folly we spew from our mouths stinks to the lowest hell

What is knowledge, when ignorance truly is bliss

What is happiness , when all we feel are the brittle pieces of sadness blistering our souls

What is peace, when that exists only in the pockets of our imagination

What is democracy, when we trash all the tenets that make up one

What is independence, when our actions are dependent upon the circumstances surrounding the circumstances around us

What is valor, when all we have is the fear and cowardice that keeps us company by day and awake by night

What is honesty, when lies present us with safety and longevity of life

What is life, when the brevity of it is a guaranteed assurance

What is normal, when all we have to show for it is abnormally after abnormally

What is straight, when what we see is crooked in all ways, always

What is hope, when hopelessness is the worn out blanket that keeps us wan

What is calm, when the anger simmers restlessly beneath the indifferent facades

What is satisfaction, when that which keeps us sated is the occasional handout dished out at intervals of five years

What is education, when we have the deep seated bigotry and misogyny to show for it

What is health, when what ails us is incurable and will always be recurrent

What is security, when our thoughts are utterly insecure, and macabre killings are the order of our days

What is poverty, when we don’t have anything left to lose

What is anything, when we don’t understand a thing

What are answers, when we have not formulated the questions in the first place

       

                                                                                                                   _Becca of All Trades

 

 

 

 

 

THE PROMISED LAND

rongaiI travel home every day. Travel. Not catch a bus ride home. Needless to say, I enjoy my journey home. What with views of the graciously long-necked giraffes nibbling away at leaves atop the trees. Shy warthogs munching dry grass by the roadside. The strong buffaloes grazing around in herds, casting wistful glances at their cousins the cows grazing just outside the electric fence.

On this fateful evening, the skies are grey. Grey and heavily pregnant. I can make out the subtle signs of a prolonged labour. The delivery of rain will not happen until after midnight. I laze around the bus stop. Pretending to be utterly uninterested in boarding a matatu. This is a ploy I have devised in order to pay less bus fare. It usually plays out like this: I retrieve my phone from the bag. Pretend to ‘haha’ and ‘hehe’ at those whatsapp messages I have studiously ignored the entire day. A really desperate tout whose matatu is empty or half empty approaches me. ‘Tuskys mia‘. I cursorily look up from a long forwarded message and ask so calmly. So inaudibly that the poor guy has to bend to catch a word of what I am saying. Then right there, I go for his jugular…ha ha no. I go for the kill.

Utanilipisha eighty?

The man looks around. Refuses to budge. He goes on hollering at people to board his matatu. The Kenyan rule number 1 of boarding matatus is : Never board an empty matatu. In case you are tempted, walk over fast, to the sooty lady roasting some Mexican maize a few metres from the bus stop. Buy half a cob. Then wait. Wait for a matatu that only needs one or two passengers.  As you munch happily on some Mexican happiness.

As you must have correctly guessed by now, the tout will come back and whisper conspiratorially.

Ingia na eighty. Wewe pekee. As he slips a twenty shilling coin into my palm

Whoever still thinks I am not street smart. Please go and sit at that corner over there. And think on your ways. Then come and pat my back. Touch your heart/hat…ha ha and say, “I accept. You are street smart. Very street smart.”

Only that this evening the touts refuse to budge. Not even after I have removed my glasses and employed my pleading eyes to convince them. After a while, a middle aged bespectacled man riding shotgun in one of the matatus beseeches me to board the matatu and save them all from the agony of waiting. A metallic walking stick sticks out above the window. It reminds me of mom. I smile and walk over to the front door. He lets me in. I am sandwiched between this slightly big man with a walking stick and the driver who has no cardigan to brave the cold. We start the  long awaited journey…lol.

I pull my headphones over my head and listen to some good old gospel music. Eyes closed. I soak in the love in that music. Music so warm it feels like a warm embrace. The man beside me shifts a little. I open my eyes. The driver is busy looking for a contact in his tiny winy black phone. I cannot close my eyes after this. I want to tell him that whoever he wants to call can wait. Or I can do him the honours. However, I do not voice my thoughts. This blog is one of the safe spaces I can comfortably voice my thoughts. Suddenly, a turquoise blue Nissan Note in front suddenly brakes. The driver notices too late. We are on high speed. He risks braking we risk overturning. So he risks less and moves to overtake the Nissan Note. Another matatu misses hitting us by a whisker. Can you visualize that. A whisker. The other matatu driver shouts obscenities at this driver. I assume it is obscenities since I can read his facial expression and the movement of his hands. An expert of non verbal cues, you would aptly call me.

Surprisingly, I am not moved. I do not feel scared. The music pouring through my ears still feels warm and sweet. I sense the eyes of the man on me. At some point, he cannot take it anymore. He speaks. I notice the movement of his lips. I slide off my headphones and listen to him.

Mimi na wewe tungekufa. He says.

Hapana. Siku yetu haikuwa imefika. Mungu hangekubali tufe kama kazi yetu hapa haijaisha. I reassure him. Calmly.

We get to a point in our journey when we are forced to make a decision. Both in life’s journey and this journey home. The driver asks the passengers which route to use. A number of them choose a route that runs through palatial homes and some equally palatial schools. The woman seated directly behind the driver shouts at the driver in strained nasal English. Opining about how she hates indecisiveness. Why the driver is asking for the passengers’ opinion. I feel a retort boiling up in me. I slide my music over my head to avoid listening to the pent up stress of angry and hungry Kenyans. The driver decides to take the route dotted with all things palatial.

A quarter way down the way, trouble starts en-route Canaan. A massive build up of traffic can be spotted from where we are, all the way to the bend until oblivion. The shouting woman resumes her rant. Now she has a helpmate in form of her seatmate. The female battalion continuously berate the driver.

Shortcuts are very wrong. I told you. Now turn back and get us back to the main road. This is a very wrong choice. I warned you. Turn back. See, everyone else is turning back. Do you think they are stupid? What else do you want us to tell you. The lieutenant starts.

You cannot hold us hostage here. Give us our money and let us find our way back. The private 2 quips.

Since I cannot take on this battalion heads on, I tell the driver loudly. Calmly. Authoritatively.

You make your decision calmly. Soberly. Devoid of pressure. Either way you will have to take a risk. 

The seatmate looks at me apologetically. He says he knows I blame him for convincing me to board this matatu. I feel a strange sense of calm and responsibility. I reassure him that I am comfortable with the decision I made. I do not blame him. I tell him, loud enough for the other disgruntled passengers to hear, that my wise father once told me that everything happens for a reason. Perchance we might have caused a grisly accident had we followed the main road. And caused scores to die. That is why we are stuck here in the middle of a posh neighbourhood. He nods appreciatively. Joins me in reassuring and shielding the driver from the bullets raining on the driver courtesy of the female battalion.

Passersby give contradictory accounts. Most of them come bearing negative news. The road is blocked by a huge lorry. There is no hope. A few are positive. They tell us that the lorry is being moved and very soon we will be out of here. The negative feedback fuels the bullets which continuously shatter the driver’s calm. The calm is completely shattered when a few others join hands with the battalion. He hits back. I  cannot take the tension anymore. I hate tension so much. I calmly and loudly tell everyone to relax. All is well. We will not achieve anything by throwing words back and forth. This placates everyone for a little while.

After about half an hour, the vehicles in front of us start moving. The female batallion resumes firing almost immediately. Do not rejoice yet. They tell us. The seatmate tells me that the imani we have has come to fruition. I want to pull both the seatmate and the driver in for a group hug. I do it in my head.

A few minutes later, we come to a stand still. The naysayers are more energetic than ever. Asserting that they were right. On my end, I am absolutely sure that come what may, I will get home in time. Nary a worry in my soul.

Soon enough, we resume our journey. I get home( promised land) by 7.pm. As I alight, I thank the driver sweetly. I have had my fair share of rough days. I know how it feels. This is one of his. The female battalion might have had a rough day as well. I say something witty to the lieutenant who also alights while laughing.

Following this arduous journey, I get an epiphany.

Such is life’s journey. You have this clear goal in your head. It drives you crazy. You visualize it. You dream about it. You make your well informed decision. It is a risk. The naysayers battalion fire furious bullets your way. Sometimes this battalion is in the back of your mind. Others are in the form of friends. Relatives. Mentors. Peers. Learn to discern between constructive criticism and sheer negativity. Do not be afraid to dream big. Maintain a positive attitude. Take risks. Stick by your guns. Keep the faith. Just like that driver and his tout. It won’t be long before you get to the promised land.

Believe in people. I am fortunate to have a positive battalion of people who have such faith in me, it has taught me to have faith in people in turn. Whoever you meet. Be it a matatu driver. An old woman in the brink of giving up in her dreams. The child with the lowest score in class. Give them a nudge in the right direction. Forget your own struggles for some two minutes, and help lift someone an inch higher in life’s broken ladder. We will all get to the promised land. Some earlier than others. Others later than some.

THE ANSWER

I have intentionally avoided answering a question for quite some time.

The big question is;

Becks, are you going to vote?

The equally big answer is a resounding NO!

There it is. I know. This might mar my chances of employment in some quarters. Some of you might look at me in new light. Or better yet as the epitome of what is wrong with our society. Yet I owe it to myself to be true to myself. That sentence sounds weird. I do not possess a voter’s card. I do not want to vote. Tell me I will be voting in a bad leader by not casting my vote. My vote my voice and other entertaining fables.

The crux of the matter is, I would feel like the ultimate failure if I voted in a leader, who by some stroke of luck sailed through ( those I would vote for would never see the corridors of power anyway), and went on to become a spineless, manner less and everything less of a leader. That shit would haunt me at night. And every waking moment. To know that is my vote. My voice. My choice.

In response, you might point out that no single human is perfect. We take chances on people. Well, I choose not to take chances on politicians. Appreciating the fact that a majority of Kenyans with functional minds, wake up really early. Walk briskly to the voting centers. All the while clutching the voter’s card or  their identification card close to their chests, and confidently vote in the crop of leaders we see around. Then they will walk back to their homes. In the evening they will be glued to their TVs. Others will walk to market centres and crowd around a screen, all the while sipping some thin, over sugared lukewarm coffee. The crowds clustered around these screens will break into jubilant songs and celebrations as soon as their tribal leader, son or daughter of the mother to the cousin of their great great grand uncle is announced as a winner. Then they will go back home, with a quarter kilo of meat and maize flour to celebrate the victory of the son or daughter of the mother to the cousin of their great great grand uncle.

I will not vote. I cannot vote. Can’t vote. Won’t vote. Until I have a reason to.

The voter’s card is now perceived as the proverbial magic wand. You wave it and bam!! Things change. As you go to vote in August. As you wave that magic wand, ye people of Kenya with the “VOICE”. Ye who possess the vote and the magical power that comes with it. Ye who shall ensure that thy voice is heard. I beseech thee, take a moment. Heck, take moments. Several moments. Think. Think again. Reflect. Who did you vote for during the previous elections? Why have you been complaining for the past four years? What is this Kshs.200 in my pocket from Aspirant KY going to do for me for the next five years? So Mr.Nturia comes from my ancestor’s clan. How will that help Kenya. And whoever you vote in, ye powerful voices, I will accept and move on. I will wish them the best that power has to offer. I will pray for them. Sometimes.

I have not lost hope. That is the last thing I’d lose. And if I lost that, I would lose myself too. Get completely and undoubtedly lost. However, my hope is for something greater. Greater than voting. Greater than anything this world can offer.

I’d rather refrain from voting rather than knowingly, unflinchingly vote wrong. I am sure that my uncast vote, unheard voice, will not make a huge difference in the midst of the rest of the 19 million or so other voices. You can take that to one of those saccos, put it into a fixed account and wait for six months. Then you will tell me that my 1 vote, 1 unheard voice, 1 unexercised power, voted all the bad leaders. I will take that lying down. Since it is the polite thing to do anyway.

 

 

THE ART OF FALLING.

I did not know what the title to this post would be. Well, what did you expect. I simply cannot know everything.

A week or so ago, I descended the stairs in a certain building. That is normal. Descending stairs. What was special on this occasion was that I did the descent on my butt. I missed one stair, as I have done on a similar occasion. I rose quickly, looked around to ascertain that no one had seen me and would be whispering behind my back every time they saw me, and continued on my way. I giggled at myself despite the dull ache coursing through my behind. For some reason, it was funny.

Yester evening, on my way home, I noticed everyone around me staring at a person or object of interest. It was raining. Like any other typical Kenyan, my curiosity had to be fed. I stopped and followed the direction of the stares. A man was trying to rise from a ditch by the side of the road. He had a huge suitcase. He painfully scrambled to his feet, and rescued his huge suitcase. The man could not look up. I know he felt a million eyes on him. The idlers, pedestrians, hawkers by the roadside and the motorists and their passengers were all gawking openly at him. On another occasion, this would have been a bit funny but there was nothing funny about that man, drenched in dirty rain water and embarrassment. My heart went out to him. I wanted to run over to him. Pat his arm. Tell him it is okay if you fell. It happens to anyone. Some in secret, and some in the open. What matters is that you rise, nurse your injuries and embarrassment. Cry. Giggle. Laugh. Whatever. Just never stay down in the ditch.

Later in the evening, I found a man lying by the side of the road. Near the gate. Motionless. I went on my way deliberating on the options I had. On my way back, he was still on the same spot. Young. A faded marriage band on his finger. I thought of his wife and kids, who  probably did not know where their papa was. Or maybe he had lost them all and was simply sad and miserable.Probably divorced. Could be, he had fallen from being a well meaning and well to do man, to being a man who could not provide for his family. And now his only solace was the cold rim of a tusker bottle, frothing at the mouth.I caught a whiff of brew on him. I tried to wake him up without touching him. Nairobi is a strange place. You might innocently touch such a man and the next day some gutter  press will splash your face on their low cadre newspapers under the headlines; “Woman attempts to steal from an epileptic man”, worse still,”Young Woman tries to get Money for her Services from a Drunk Man”, and the worst one would be, “A Woman Performs a Strange Ritual on a Dead Man”. Sigh. The depths that gutter press will sink to. Well, this man at last blinked, and his chest rose and fell.  That assured me he was still alive. Owing to a power black out, I went back to the house and simply hoped that the rain would jostle that young married man back to sobriety. And that he would rise, and beat life at it’s game.

What is my point?

My point is, it is okay when you fall. Not in love, though that is still okay. Wait, why do they say ‘fall’ in love? People fall down every time. Some bump down the stairs on their behinds. Others fall and die. Some fall in private. Others in public. Babies fall. Old people fall all the time. Pretty women fall. Big men fall a lot. We get hurt. Sometimes we get off with nary a scratch. Falling in  this sense is not just limited to the physical sense. Falling is manifest spiritually. In business. Socially. Economically. You could be on a pedestal one moment and the next, you are struggling to get up, embarrassment written all over your face.

By all means, when you fall, rise. Rise young man rise. Old woman rise. Rise baby rise. It is alright to be a little embarrassed.Dust yourself, check for injuries, both of the heart and the body. Attend to them. Cry a little if you want. Laugh hysterically if you must. Giggle a little if it  will help you feel better. And then walk. Walk!!!! Get back to the drawing line. Find a way of not missing that one stair. Scream a war cry and charge back into the battle field! And as you rise, rise with others who are fallen too. That is the rule of the game. Life is that game. We win sometimes. We learn other times.

SMITTEN.

Friday, 3rd February 2017.

Let me introduce you to Le Gang. This almost illegal outfit is made up of a plethora of craziness. Crazy people. I bet they have a glass of unleaded petrol every morning for breakfast. That and some khat to ease digestion every night. I am afraid of this gang. The moment they read this nondescript blog an execution will promptly be arranged. It has to look like an accident. Starvation. Or a suicide. They will say.

Cumulatively, they project the kind of energy that can raze negativity and self pity to the ground. A pretty cool gang. Way way cool. I hope this is enough to derail that execution plan. No?

Friday, 10th February 2017.

Do you guys remember MKK? MKK is a crucial part of Le Gang.I secretly suspect she is one of the masterminds of past executions. Le Gang executes plans. Not people. They execute plans that culminate into birthday surprises, random treats and other such things. The latest execution was a farewell party in honour of MKK. Ideally, MKK was effectively executed. A classic case of pwagu hupata pwaguzi. MKK boarded this big Emirates bird and flew off. It is courtesy of this strange creature, MKK that I found myself in one of the most breath taking spaces my fat feet have set foot.

This day, I leave work early. One, I do not want to get late to see MKK off. Secondly, the later it gets, the more the bus fare I will have to fork out. And since these adulting shenanigans began, I learnt that 10 shillings a day come in handy on a rainy day. Literally. I get a jav to Mombasa Road at 20 bob. Playing in the background are some hard Kamba hits. They are oddly intrusive. Oddly since I manage to block out other kinds of music in javs most times. Yet this one intrudes into my brain and keeps dancing kata kawaya in front of my medulla oblongata. My medulla oblongata is tickled.

I alight at Cabanas and the tout keeps shouting Mayakos (Machakos) ni mia moya. I approach this yellow yellow lady with such chubby cheeks I want to ask her whether she hides secrets and terror suspects in them. Instead, I ask her for directions to the airport. I insist that I want to walk. This elicits a loud gasp from her. Like I just declared I am immortal. Resignedly, she directs me and I start my long trek to JKIA.

Here is the thing. I love walking. To an insane extent. Not just to save bus fare and lose fat, but also to clear my head. Stare at the rails by the side of the road. Breathe in. And imagine I am alone in the world. Right here. Right now. I am in my zone when this uniformed figure steps into my path of vision. He is fondling his gun. Many thoughts cross my head which is still reeling from the Kamba music. Have I tresspassed the government’s property? Did I pray in the morning? Am I going to be a guest of the state the day that MKK is going away? I stop, smile with all the innocence I can muster. He is also smiling and fumbling for words in that way that guys do when they are talking to a girl and are afraid of saying something silly. I am touched. That this young, cute GSU officer, hardened by years of training. Used to pulling triggers. And obeying orders. Can fumble for words because of the Grand Resplendant. He finds his tongue and asks whether I’m traveling. I lie. Because I want to brush him off. Immediately I repent and say no, my friend is flying out. He looks behind where a muscular vehicle full of other officers is waiting for him. He says if it was not for that mass of metal he’d walk me to the airport. He looks undecided. I decide for him. I thank him brusquely for stopping to check if I’m alright. I pray he does not ask for my number. That kind of shit would be scary. He gets into the vehicle, and as they pass me along the way, he waves spiritedly. Smiling shyly, I wave back too. His colleagues pat him on the back. Others fist bump him. He looks happy. I feel happy too. At least I made one person happy today. Probably I eased the weight of his gun off his shoulders by simply smiling.

Still smiling and feeling good about myself, I trudge on. The looming airport gate greets me in wonder and awe. I walk a little timidly. I am afraid the security will claim I have carried a colourless bomb in my lunch box. As fate would have it, nothing of the sort happens. My father calls. I tell him I am at the airport. I walk a long way whilst talking to him. I do not even realize that I have covered a lot of ground. A yellow cab slows down and the driver asks if I’ll make the entire distance on foot. Smiling brightly, I wave him off. This feels dreamy. I have not set foot into the airport before. I’ve only admired photos of plane wings by my friends on instagram as I drool over their captions of “headed to Egypt” and ” those duty free shops at the airport are life”. MKK flying out has presented a lifetime memory. And renewed zeal. I pass by the KAA police post and get tempted to go in and make another officer friend. Having police officers as your friends is akin to having the law on your side. Always.

The excitement is palpable. I feel loved. By the airport. I want to sit down and just soak it all in. The beautiful moon in front of me. a glorious sunset behind me. The rushing automobiles on the clean tarmac. The air feels clean. Unpolluted. Pure. I walk slowly up to Terminal I-B, the international departures to wait for MKK, her family  and Le Gang. I wonder how Le Gang will make it past the airport security. Surprisingly, they do. We suffocate MKK with hugs. Unshed tears and brave smiles all around. There is nothing but pure love flowing all around. From MKK. From the family. Even Le Gang.

MKK, here is to greatness you sweet sweet creature. Go conquer. I will aways be rooting for you. Le Gang will always be ganging up for you. Not against you. Your family? Oh, they love you so much. I see it in your mother’s eyes. Your father’s smile. I hear the love in your sister’s voice. I feel it in your niece’s embraces. Memo? you will always be in her memories. Toon person, will always be your crazy person. And others’ lives you have touched far and wide. You, MKK are like the proverbial magic wand. Soar high!

And my awesome friend Edu, I wish you and your lovely wife nothing but nuptial bliss. You have been a constant fan. Blessings my brother!

 

Now and always,

Becca of Almost all Trades.

 

 

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