HER NAME WAS BWARI

 

Well, sometime back. my father and I had a father- son conversation. It was a story of his mother, my grandmother. The one who went away prematurely. I was so heartbroken that I slept thinking of the best grandmother who I never had. Perhaps I will meet her someday. Perhaps her life still lives in me. I had to write her story just as I Dr. Nyamongo had narrated it.

I now celebrate her. Much more, I celebrate my father who was my age now when all this happened. 

11225227_10207179110572950_8301372557531795052_n

 

****

Kitui District.

It 1880s.

Kenya has been an independent state for over three decades. We have just seen Mzee go just like that. A flamboyant young president is now at the helm. He has successfully quelled an attempted coup that had threatened his sovereignty. He now rules with an iron fist. Joke and you will literally be swept off your feet never to be seen. You will be last seen at the Nyayo Chambers Basement probably being corporally punished. A whole man being caned.

The world has also seen a lot happen. Margret Thatcher has established herself as not only the first prime minister of Britain but also one of the most outstanding one. She has just won the war between England and Argentina. Ronald Reagan has just made critical steps to ensuring the United States wins the cold war against USSR. Ukraine is an independent state now. So is Romania. Soon, Yugoslavia and many more…. USSR will be no more….

Let me not bore you with my analogy which an average history student already knows. Technology is fast advancing. Radios are now readily available. VOK is fast broadcasting its signal to some red boxes which are only available to the rich. There is one owned by the chief in my village.

Recent developments have also seen me advance from a totally humble background to a class of the elite students in Nairobi. I have just joined KEMRI and man, my dreams are on the verge of being fulfilled. As I report to school and eventually settle in my hostel ready to pounce on the flamboyancy of the City, I cannot forget to give gratitude to God.

6 years ago, I needed a scholarship to gain access to the high school of my dreams. Cardinal Otunga High School. I had been a trickster in getting the aid. You see, the school was at its peak. Being considered a worthy competitor of Alliance High School was no joke. The wazungus were still in charge trying to form brothers out of boys. These brothers would probably go on and become priests, some cardinals and some, who knows, The pope.

Well, for one to be granted a scholarship, he had to accept the faith. I was a Christian. A seventh Day Adventist. My mother had taught me well and I had been baptized into my church. So, when I was being given that condition, it clearly became tough for me.

So, I resolved to my trick. They are Christians. I thought to myself. Why would they deny a very poor boy from studying regardless of his affirmation and faith? I managed to convince my dad who by that time had retired from the Ministry of Agriculture to accompany me. The instructions being clear: He would dress in a manner like a beggar. Tattered clothes were not hard to come by. And so, we headed to see the wazungus.

The trick worked out so well. I had the scholarship.

But then I had seven other siblings. My dad, having retired was never going to give any money to our aid. He not only had my mother but also had my other mother who he loved as well. She had 10 kids in addition to my siblings. Clearly we were too many for him to manage.

Living in a polygamous home was quite a challenge. Being condemned as the lesser family also served to worsened the matters. I remember being told to graze elsewhere by my other brothers. I remember being slapped just like that for nothing. I remember being insulted. Were it not for my mother, I would have probably erupted firing missiles back. But I did not. All because of her.

The little I remember of her was her surety in life. She had been married off quite young to a rather older man- twice her age. She had not objected. After all, it was a taboo to reject a marriage proposal from a renowned man. She was forced to hold the second position in the home. She was lucky to have a me as her first born son and when the second was a girl, hell became a reality. Another attempt led to a girl, and five more led to five beautiful sisters until eventually, a seventh bore fruit to a son.

She was unemployed. Virtually illiterate safe for the fact that she could read basic bible verses which she ensured we memorized in ekegusii. She was an ardent believer who held fast to the promise. Despite the fact that she had been an illiterate, she understood the value of education.

All she ever told us was to ‘work hard.’

Truly, as we grew up, we excelled so well in school. Our brilliance startled our teachers. Our excellence really made her proud. I for instance remember a one term when we all had top most possible positions in our respective classes. All the 5 of us who had enrolled. I remember so well how we gathered outside our hut as we gave her our report forms. She was all smiles.

She ensured she had money for our education. This she accomplished by selling porridge and Githeri. In the area we grew up, her name became mama erongori – (mama uji). Unfortunately, my father would forcefully convert the ownership of the profits at times to suit his own convenience. This being joining other retired men at the local drinking den.

But she never relented.

She had a dream that one day she would build a god house for her kids. She dreamt that one day her kids would graduate from university. She envisioned her kids not having problems in their lives but would simply be happy. Being happy. She would be happy all time. God, I really never understood how happy she was despite the condition she was in.

We as the younger house were definitely limited to the smaller home. A hut that stood out is what we called home. A hut that housed goats, hens and at times (when it rained), the family cow is what we called home. Added to this misfortune was her health condition which had been worsening day in day out.

Hospital visit after hospital visit, doctor after another ,.. She would never get well. She would attempt to control her diet by putting into halt of various delicacies but this too would not help. She was often in serious pain. By the time I went to high school, she had virtually become a vegetarian. By the time I finished high school, eating would be a problem to her. Pain in her gut would ensure we sought further help from doctors. No one seemed to know how to help her.

It is due to this inadequacy in Nyamira that we land in Kitui.

******

 

This very year has seen me report to KMTC. In an attempt to raise my school fee, I have saved to buy a camera. My work has been to capture memories of my classmates as they provide sufficient consideration. Thus far, I have been doing well.

My mother, back in Nyamira is not doing so well. She has been condemned to death but there is a glimmer of hope. At first I brushed off the idea of visiting Kitui to see the herbalist but with repeated suggestions from my medical teachers, I head home and breakdown my plans to her. Money has to be found very fast. I run to may various uncles and aunts but get little or minimal help.

Land has to be parcelled out and help out as a security from a guarantor who aids us with the transport. Then the journey begins. My ailing, weak and tired mother accompanied by his 23-year old son are headed to a world unknown. From Nyamira, we have to travel to kisii first as it was the hub of the region then. Once in Kisii, obviously late, we would get two yellow Akamba Buses. All full but one passenger left in each of the buses. We are forced to be separated from my mum as we begin the long tedious journey to Nairobi.

Once in Nairobi, we would take another vehicle to tackle yet another long tedious journey to Kitui. Sure enough we finally arrive there. Sure enough we finally find the herbalist and sure enough, a deal is struck.

She would commence her medication as I head back to school to dig into my second semester. I would check on her after two weeks to see her progress. The plan was that once she gets well, we would go back home with her feeling quite happy. You see, no one except my sisters knew where I had taken her. No uncle of mine knew of her whereabouts as they had not been concerned anyway. She had been a burden to some having spent most of their money in hospital. But to me, she was everything. Hope drove me. Hope for a better future.

***

I would soon be summoned by my dean of students to go to his office. I would find police men armed. He would say that they had a message for me. A signal from Kitui. A telegram from Kitui Police Station that read- “Come Fast.”

My poverty would curtail me but a quick fundraising facilitated by my lecturers and classmates would ensure I have fare to Kitui. I would leave immediately. On that very same day, I would be there.

Inside the office of the OCPD, I would wait. My thought definitely troubled. “What has my mom done? Why am I here?”

When he finally arrived, trouble arrived too.

My mother had passed away.

She had been knocked down by a negligent driver of the police force of Kitui.

I was totally devastated. Totally dumbfounded. Totally out of words. Totally heart broken. Totally distraught. Completely heartbroken. The minutes that followed that moment were not real. I could not explain why. I could not imagine that this was happening.

I sunk into a seat as my mind ran completely out of ideas. I could not cry. I could not frown. I just sat there. Mourning from within as I saw the reaction of my sisters who had entrusted me with mom. I saw my father collapse. I saw my youngest sister, barely four asking for her mother with no success. I saw our home without mom. A dull home, filled with darkness. I saw tears. I saw divisions, I saw reluctance. I saw everything turning from good to sour. I saw everything bad until I was unable to think further. I sat down as I stared into nothingness. Blurriness dominated. I could literally hear my heartbeat as it sounded do hard.

I never heard the officer say anything but I remember myself in the morgue confirming the identity of my deceased mother. Sure indeed it was her.

How was I to transfer her body yet I had no money? How was I to tell my family? How was I to do anything? How was I to think?

News of her death would soon reach home. The news would travel as wild fire and the whole locality would know of the misfortune that had hit our homestead. But then, there would be a lapse in the communication. Where was I? People would ask. At that moment, all I could think of was life without her. She had been a pillar on which we stood. She had been the foundation that sustained us. My sisters would cry like never before.

In Kitui, the OCS knowing my predicament would quickly seek for a constable from my locality. They would quickly form a team that would ensure my loss is not borne alone.  But later on, a case would be open in the Chief Magistrate’s Court Kitui. Daniel Nyamongo v The State. The evidence would so plausible. The coincidence and circumstances so fantastic to be rebutted. Later on, the driver would be held negligent and he would be at the fault to having caused the death of a civilian. Nut the case would remain open forever never to be closed.

You see, you are loved when you are born, you are loved when you die. In between, you just have to manage. Well, I can attest to this, I vividly remember seeking for money to aid my movement from Nyamira to Kitui. I remember how people blatantly hesitated to aid citing a harsh economy. My own very aunts would not aid. My own very uncles…. But news had reached me that a funeral committee had been set up and plans had been laid down.

The final journey of my beloved mother begun in Kitui in a GK vehicle and ended late in the day. She had traversed miles seeking medical aid but she met her death. Tomorrow, I would see her being lowered down and she would be no more.

*****

The day itself was a sunny. Equinox was at its prime. A huge tent had been hired and for once, a generator had been seen in our homestead. I do not quite remember how all these things happened but then, they did.

The turnout had been so overwhelming. Everyone wanted to utter messages of condolences to the terror stricken family that now faced the ultimate uncertainty of life. I do not remember much of what was said by the selected speakers who were avid in reading out their speeches. Some said she cooked good uji. Some said she made the best githeri……I don’t recall much……In fact,  I don’t remember how I felt. I kept glancing at my mother hopelessly hoping that she would get up and tell me to go read as her custom was. “My son, without education, you will not have a future.” She would say. How I hated those words then but now, I wished I could hear them again.

When the Eulogy was finally read and prayers offered, she was condemned to descend unto the depths of the ground. When the last song was sung and soil heaved on her, my heart literally broke into several pieces. Soon, she would be a feast unto the maggots who in our unfortunate misfortune had gained a fortune like no other. I watched in unbelief. My sisters firmly clung by me. Serious responsibility now beckoned.

That day, I realized that indeed, people act strange around death. There are those who talk about everything but the person who died. Those who talked about only the person who died. Those who try to cheer you up. And those who can’t help but make you cry. And then there are those who say nothing at all because they don’t have to.

Gradually the crowd begun to diminish. The reality that now seemed so real, we would be alone now. My sisters too, knowing that the dead are nothing also begun to wander away numb. But for a time I stood still. Staring fixedly at the spot where my beloved had descended.

The future was so dark, so blurred, so unfathomable, so unimaginable… How was I to make a step to face my new status?

Distraught. Heartbroken. Lonely.,.. I stood still.

A familiar tap would finally bring me into reality. Then words that would emanate from her would bring in a glimmer of hope.

download

“I am sorry for your loss Dan. I know it will be hard for you but we have a future to build.”

My mother had met her a few weeks before and she had been endorsed. My future wife. My dear Jane.

A warm hug gave me a relief that I had yearned for a long time.

“Indeed. We do have a future. But it will be hard. The future is for the living.”

“Don’t worry, I will be with you wherever you go. Your family is now mine too. Your burdens mine too and your sorrows mine too. If God wills, three kids will be born out our union. I have a feeling the first will be a girl. Her name will be Bwari. Among the three, one would be a doctor. No ailment would ever bring our family down like this. Another would be a lawyer, no case would we ever loose. Maybe, he would retrieve the lost file from the CM’s court in Kitui and finally end the suit against the killers of our mum. Then Engineer will ensure our home has electricity. Hush, do not worry, we have a future.”

***

As we left the site, the coldness had vanished and I could feel a sense of peace that had slowly begun reigning.

A future without my mother would begin and I would brave it strongly.

But my kids would miss her. They would hear stories of her being narrated by me as they gain momentum in life too. They would wish they had met this pillar. This cornerstone. This lady who inspired me to study and bring light to a forgotten, despised and ill-treated family. They would respect her when they learn that they study all because of the motto that had been imparted in me….“My son, without education, you will not have a future.”

download

Her name was Bwari Sophia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A BOY’S DILEMMA

dilemma-clipart-thinkingboy-outline-md (1)

 

There is this guy I sit with at the office. A dark guy of medium height. He wears pull-neck tops and runs a smooth line along his pants. Loves loafers and wears them to work every day. Likes his hair short and trimmed at the edges. Prim. No beard. He gets to sit with the largest machine in the room, the photocopy machine. A spanky big machine that eats up most of the space on his desk. The men and women who run things around here thought it cute that with all the Math and Economics he does in school, for his attachment, he will be the guy banging papers on the photocopy machine. He is our photocopy guy, mostly. Other times, he is just the errand boy. He carries folds of important white documents in his hands and shuffles them between rooms, all occupied by the big boys and girls. And sometimes, he is the little boy they get to send for tea and biskutis. Attaboy!

When not pressing buttons and banging papers on the photocopy machine, he sits in his chair and balances his right arm at the edge of his desk. He uses this arm to rest his head. Then slides out his phone from his pocket, bends his head and starts browsing through the notifications he has on his facebook and WhatsApp. He kills time like that.

This one time, slow afternoon, when everybody else was feeling clumsy and reading newspapers, I decided to go up to him and talk. Have a little chit chat to throw time away. So I pulled my chair close enough to where he sat, his phone still in his hand, nudged him on the shoulders and started jabbering in low tones.

At some point in our little convo I remember asking myself, at the back of my mind, what kind of things do guys like him, guys in pull-necks, read. So I rubbed my chin twice and posed,

“Do you read?”

 

His mouth moved a little as though something soundless and brief was coming out of it.

He took his phone from his hand and squeezed it down his pocket and then turned to gaze towards the door. He stared at the door for a while. Silent. Motionless. But looked thoughtful. Then his lips clicked apart and said, still facing the door, that every time he sits to pen down his cv, he includes reading as one of the hobbies he does. Says that he writes he likes to read books on various topics. That he reads newspapers and magazines to keep himself informed. I imagined reading for a guy like him, in a charming black pull-neck, was the kind of thing he did to blow off some wind.

Like every day when he heads home he finds a raised balcony overlooking some lush garden somewhere. He sits down there, takes off his loafers and socks and slowly pushes them to the side. But keeps his pull-neck top. Then he finds his reading socks because I imagine a guy in a pull-neck is the kind to tuck reading socks in his wardrobe. He finds his favourite reading socks-the blue ones with red stripes-and puts them on, playfully flexing his toes in glee. That glee of warmth. He sits himself cozy with a book on business or politics in his hands. Or something cheesy like a romance novel. Or even something geeky and nerdy on Africanism and History. A drink strong in caffeine will be brewing beside him. And he would delve into his book and sit there till late in the night when blackness had creeped in and the sky was embellished in several stars shining silver.

I thought that of him.

\

He lied.

 

Says he is not into reading lots. He reads yes, but reading is not exactly his kind of thing. It is just something he puts on his resume to sound sophisticated. He explains he does not have the patience to read anything longer than two pages. He can’t bear it. Large books scare him. They make him cringe at the belly. He says large books cast cold waters on him. They put him off. Like purple lipstick. Yeah. He looks at a large book and sees purple lipstick and now he will never want to open that book. But as if to counter, he tells me that he loves numbers. Loves crunching numbers. Loves their twist. And would not mind reading anything that has numbers on it. Just not Africanism and Kinjiketile’s legacy.

Our eyes cross paths, fleetingly. I still wanted to know more.

‘So uhm, what about blogs? Do you read them?”

“No.”

 

 

I was relieved. At least this guy knew what a blog was.

“But I would not mind reading one, as long as it is something…”

 

So I gave him the links to this blog as well as this post and pretty much everything that followed later was just pure boys’ banter.

 

Next day morning, just when the bees were checking in, first thing he did was to stop by my desk. And after exchanging brief greetings he tells me that he had gone through the links I had given him the previous day. He had read a number of those posts and kind of liked them. He says they were not bad. He thought they were nice. That’s the word he used. He tells me he recalls this particular story that Clinton had run here, in this very blog; A girl’s dilemma. He loved this one. But in a rather tongue-in-cheek kind of way asked me what would be a boy’s dilemma.

The secretary walks to where we are. She is this size 8 bird with curves to kill. Curves smoother than melted honey. She is in her early thirties, I think. With just a short smile on her face, she holds out her right arm in a stretch and shakes our own in turns. Then she walks away, just like that. As she does our guy here,the guy in front of my desk, turns his head. Slowly. Aptly. His eyes fixed and religiously following the trail her arse plants. Just when that mind-boggling thingamajig vanishes out of sight, he exclaims something profane then turns his head back to me. He bends in a little then in a very very low voice he asks,

“You guy , would you tap that?”

“Tap what?”

“Come on, the sec…”

We laugh. He stands up straight and swings his body to the left. And just like the secretary, he aligns his steps towards his station, where his big-ass machine awaits. He crouches and flickers on a switch and the largeish machine hums to life. It hums and beeps. That beep of life. Then he starts pressing buttons and doing whatever he does with his machine.

 

As I perched on my desk I thought about what he had just asked me. Not whether I would tap the secretary, gaii! Goodness, no. About a boy’s dilemma.

Why he would he think of it in the first place? I wondered if he had thought about that the previous night. If he had slept over it. Had this guy thought of a boy’s dilemma as he scratched his back, and turned and tossed in his bed that night?

 

 

His name is Alphy, this guy. Short for Alphayo, he is Kisii (hehe). He will be bending 21 yrs in a few months. A young horse, youthful and all. He has a lean belly, slender at the hips, lanky arms and hard on the shoulders. Deep voice. Square jaw. Just no beard, not even wispy ones. God does not give you everything.

Energetic. Alphy is at that point in life when he is full of hope and everything seems so possible, just with the right amount of hardwork. He is highly motivated, leave alone that he is just the guy who bangs paper on the photocopy machine. This guy has the gusto for just about anything he is put to, even fetching biskutis. He says he sees himself at the top, one day. He will work his butt off to get to the top. There is no stopping for him. He will kiss as many arses, as many as they can get, just to get to the top. Drat, he will even kiss a frog if he has to. And he will buy himself a sleek German machine. No Toyotas for him please. A mighty fuel guzzler with nice speakers and sleek wheel rims. He tells me he always sees himself cruising down Naivasha road on a weekend with Franco and Tabu Ley crooning ‘Kinshasa Makambo’ off his powerful stereo. It is his stereo. He worked his back off for it so he can play whatever he chooses on it. Hell, he will even choose to play ‘Yesu ni sponsor’ by Jimmy Gait and there is nothing anyone will do about it. Oh, and he will not be driving alone. He will have two chicks ride shotgun with him. It’s his car. So if Alphayo wants two birds with him, on a Sunday, down Naivasha road, he gets that.

No babies though (hehe). Alphy does not see himself as a father, or dad for that matter. Says he does not know how to handle kids. Can’t stand them. Si I told you God does not give you everything.

He is still in his university years. Cleared his second year and is now set on joining his third year some time this September. Right now though he bangs copies here in the office. His folks hail from Kisii, that’s his home. He does not have his own roof here in Nairobi, yet. He knows a couple of friends and relatives around though, he crushes at their places. Truth is, and he told me this one time, he does not have a comfortable place to go to every night. Most of the time, he sleeps on peoples’ couches. And if he gets lucky enough, he will lay himself on a mattress spread on the floor of the self-contained apartment rented by one of his friends , or cousins. Sometimes his neck will hurt, sometimes it is his back that will be doing the hurting. But you will not know that. No one will. He is a young man. He will sip it all in and bear it. He is a man.

Sometimes we walk each other in the evening. We walk and feel that light burn of that sinking sun on our necks. He will sigh, click his tongue and say, “Lakini Nairobi onge min ngato.” He laughs, I laugh. I agree. That evening and many evenings alike he is expected to chip in and contribute something towards buying supper. Nobody feeds you in Nairobi. Courtesy fades as fast as a hard-on does. It does not matter that he does not have a salary to look forward to every month. Or that he is a man and so he will find it hard and embarrassing to borrow his poor folks some cash. Nobody gives a farting pig that he only lives off meager allowances. That’s not their problem to deal with, it is his. Nairobi onge min ngato.

I have never known if Alphy has a girlfriend. Never seen him with a girl really. I don’t know, do guys in pull-necks have girlfriends? But there is this time I remember he was hitting on this girl. Some girl by the name Christine or Cindy, a name starting with a ‘c’, can’t remember exactly. But I remember he was chasing after her skirt. I never met her. All I knew about her was simply what Alphy himself talked of her. She must have been beautiful, this Cindy or Christine girl. Every time he talked about her his face glowed. And Alphy does not glow. This one time he took her to one of those dates they were having, at some posh restaurant in an equally posh mall. He adored this girl, and so for their dates he would never settle on anything less. Always picked the upmarket restaurants. Those that have men talk about business and landing containers at the next table as you sit and sip your cup of highly overpriced double espresso. This time he took her to Ruby Deli and lavished her palette with chicken burger together with some exquisite chef’s choice salad. But after that he came back to me beseeching me to lend him fare back home. He even used a word on me to get me to help him, he used ‘kiubrathe’. He had nada in his pockets after that. And Cindy or is it Christine will never know that. She will never know of the sacrifices he makes for her. She will never know how tight he pulls his belt so as to take her out on a good treat. She will never know he used ‘kiubrathe’ on me. No one will really. He is a man. He will cover it all up from the rest of you, and her. He will wear his pull-neck tops and walk the streets, straight-faced.

 

But forget his pull-necks.

 

Strip him of these and you will find that deep within lies a regular guy. Does regular guy things. He has also been caught up in this recent wave of unending betting. Mind you he knows only pitiful lot of football, leave alone playing football. He is not into sports. He has never swang a bat for anything. But he is into betting. The guy will bet on anything and everything. He says it’s purely just business. He is like an investor, he explains. You look at the business, analyse your costs and benefits, you look at your risks, then you take that leap of faith. You put your money where your mouth is. And here is the thing, he never misses a piece of paper folded in his pocket. Every day, during lunch break, he pulls out his piece of paper then sits at some lonely corner. Takes out his phone then furiously scribbles down tens of game fixtures. Notes down their odds and does the math (Told you he loves numbers). Then when he is cool with his choice, he writes down a very long string of hash tags, enthusiastic over his possible kill. He even starts planning for the money long before he sees it.

Every time he says, he will use some of that money for his upkeep, and some will go to support his education. He will buy himself a full roast chicken one day and take Cindy or Christine for another pricey date. Just anything for the lucky lass. Oh, and he will buy himself a dapper fitting brown suit. The problem is, Alphayo has never bought one.

This is a boy’s dilemma.

 

By Ondari Hillary

 

 

THE GUY IN THE MIDDLE

new guest post

Ambassadors of Christ, that sensuous singing group from Rwanda. You have heard of them, right? You walk along one of those jammed streets in town and the air is thickened by the melody that stirs from their throats. A woofer tucked somewhere along the street is playing one of their songs. Or you walk into one of those quaint Kenyan homes. Those modest living rooms that have sofas neatly spread in sheets in melodramatic green or purple colours. You walk into this home and as you browse through the CD collection they have there, you run into a DVD by the Ambassadors of Christ. Surely you must have heard of them at least.

There is a guy I know who has a crush on one of the chicks in that clique. I have never gotten around knowing her name but I do know that this guy likes her a lot. He shines a moon for her. May be he likes her smile. Her voice may be. Sometimes he just sits down to think about her. He finds peace and joy when she crosses his mind and his hapless heart melts with lust every time. I do not know what really stirs in him when he thinks of her. I do not know what kind of fantasies he feigns with her. Does he think of her at night? Like every time when he goes to bed and closes his eyes, does he imagine her rubbing her tender hands round his neck, caressing his shoulders? Does he think of that? Or does he think of her silk-soprano voice crooning in his ears putting him to bed? Does that kind of thing put him to rest? I like to think that maybe he sees the two of them being together. He imagines them standing on this field full of flowers. He sees himself bend down to pick a flower and tastefully tucking it above her left ear. He sees the two of them hold each other’s hands and hearts and together they walk into the sunset at the horizon. Shit.

But I do love the Ambassadors of Christ. Really. They have nice dresses and some of the tallest ladies I have seen. I like their music too. They pacify me. They are the sexy-cool when it comes to SDA music.

I also love Saturday mornings.

There is something about Saturday mornings. And they never find me clumsy. When I wake up, I step out of my room and find a spot where I can bask in that morning sun. And I like my morning sun shirtless. I like to stand there and feel the sun fall on my back. I like it to soothingly burn me until I can feel the follicles on my back dance. And the sun is never that strong. It is just right. The air is also just right. It is refreshing. That smell of nothing.

Saturdays are also the day I am to go to church. And when I do, I like that short morning walk from my hostel-room to church.

The thing with SDA churches is that they are never really a place for jeans and sneakers. You can wear anything you want any other day. You wear your corsets and fire the lusts of men but not on Saturday. You will have to be dressed up in a certain way. It is implied. Not that you will meet standing at the gate a cranky elderly man with stubs as thorny and as white as old to tell you that your dress is too tight or that the slit up your skirt is way too up to be appropriate. No. There is just a certain social decorum in dressing that SDAs have.

So you pull out a clean shirt and trouser from your wardrobe and spend the next ten minutes running an iron box over them. You do it so meticulously. You want to get the lines and creases just right because it is a Saturday. Not long, you will be dressed up and ready. You step out of your hostel-room and begin the descent downstairs.

The other thing about Saturday mornings is that they usually come with memories of the previous Friday nights. These memories are as bare as the truth. They are as evident as pregnancy can be. And Friday nights are nights are a vigil especially in campus. A whole lot goes down. And it all becomes bare on Saturday morning. Many things are lost. Money is lost, phones are lost, senses are lost, dignities are lost. Even people get lost. Like the random chick you will run into as you make your way downstairs. She would only be wearing a t-shirt. Just some loose fitting male t-shirt. No pants. Nada. She would be slouching and her eyes would be weakened by sleep. Her eyes would appear as weak as her dignity. She would be heading to the washroom. She might have gotten a bit too drunk and lost the previous night. The poor nude thing could not figure her way back from wherever she came from.

Occasionally you would have to jump over circles of dried-out vomit. Gingerly, you would have to walk past several shards of broken beer bottles. You may spot a couple of open sachets of condoms. They would be lying there on the floor. As open as the legs that opened them. And it’s all normal. It is a Saturday.

You will find your way out and ambling down Lower State House road. You make it past that roundabout along Uhuru highway and cross over to University way. And as you walk down University way, the sound of revving engines will swash past you on your right. On your right also would be the spectacular Nairobi Safari Club. You will look at it and admire it as it rises up in white into the sky. From outside that place looks lifeless and empty. Though it would still hold its ambiance of elegance and remain picturesque in that white of starch. This walk does not last long though. Soon you find yourself at the entrance to this church.

It is a different kind of ambiance altogether as you step in. And as you walk in several heads will turn towards you. They will look at you. They will look at your hair and the creases in your shirt. They will look at your shoes. You are late.

It is a young congregation mostly, this church. Most of them would be students. Young men and women wearing shimmering faces and lingos. Do not let the lip balms and bow tie you’ll see deceive you though. Each of them would be coming from a village somewhere. In fact, what you see here is a conglomerate of villages. Some more far-flung than others. Each of them has come to this city to seek an education. They hope to smoothen things for their folks back in shags. They wear hope on their foreheads.

You find a seat somewhere near the back. Someone would be at the podium or ‘altar’ as SDAs like to call it. The someone would be a she. The she would be in short hair and would be leading the congregation in singing hymns. Sometimes she would close her eyes as she sings. Some people in the congregation would also close their eyes. You would close yours too. And you guys would sing and sing.

At some point six people would walk in gingerly. Gently. They would be walking in a line. They would make a bee line for the altar. They walk holding Bibles in one hand and reverence on the other. And everyone would rise up and the place would be quiet. The real shit….sorry. The main service is about to begin.

Looking at the six you can tell the preacher for the day. As SDAs would have it, he would be the guy who sits at the centre of all those six before you. He would be the guy in the middle. Usually he or she would be in a suit. The guy in the middle would be the one who remains quiet and pensive most of the time. He would be in a muse. He would sit their quiet and nodding his head sometimes. Sometimes he may make a wintry smile. He would be the guy who makes the long stares at you the lost sheep. He would look at his sheep and silently ask for guidance from the Guy above. He would make short prayers and say silent Amens and nod his head again. It is easy to pick him out, the guy in the middle.

Then you see this young lady. She sits next to the guy in the middle with her legs folded at the front. She is wearing a black coat over one of those kitenge crotches. Her kitenge is red and yellow in colour. Colourful dress. And this dress of hers is long wueeh! She looks like she is wearing a robe. You look at her and see that her face is plain. No make-up. No frills. And she has her hair richly oiled and pushed back in a knot at the back of her head. She looks lovely. She flashes no cleavage before you neither are her warm thighs peeking out anywhere. But she has the kind of beauty that sirens for attention. She puts the beauty in natural beauty. Demure and all. She looks descent. And she sits there tight and almost motionless. Like a glimmering trophy. You look at her and see the mother of your children. Shit.

At some point this lady would stand up and talk. At some point the guy in the middle will also stand up and do his thing.

By Ondari Hillary

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU

You don’t know me that well. Yes, you don’t. In fact, I could be certain by claiming that your knowledge of this man called me is sort of nil. Anyway, it is not all your fault. It is nature. Nature defines everything. Nature brings in moments that forever go down as memories to be forever encrypted deep down in your mental apparatus. But for my case, you never even remembered me. I was just there.

This is how I meet you.

You are this girl who would make any man cease blinking simply to stare in amazement. Your height is just perfect- not too tall, not too short; your hair, especially when let down would swing by and by aided by the wind. That itself invited more stares. You were the epitome of beauty. The way you smiled, lips spreading and consequently forming two dimples right at the very end of the smiling horizon; your smile then generated into a soft chuckle which would seemed to wield life. A life that would ultimately fill whoever you deemed.

Call it love at first sight or should it be infatuation… well I don’t care what you call it. This is just a story of me, so you would do well to just follow and ask your unfounded questions later. Haha…back to the story….

I see you and instantly know I have to approach you. I falter not. I hesitate not because I know you would be gone in the next minute.

Then a conversation would ensue.

“Hi, my name is Omulamwezi. But they call me Om.”

“Oh really, do they?”

“Yes indeed. I would like to take you out.”

“Why? Do I look poor to be taken out? Why don’t you take yourself out first?”

“It is just a good gesture. Please say yes.”

“Look here, Omo…or what did you say they call you? I am not your type.”

“Who said anything about type here? May I know your name at least? I would insist.”

“Do me a favour and just leave me. Okay?”

A man would not just give up just like that.

“No, am not leaving you. In fact, I am with you from this moment. Thank God for this moment. You will live to remember it. I was sure of it.”

I knew that line was perfect. Little did I k now you had a counteracting line that would simply shut me off.

“Om, you seem to be a good guy. But believe me; you are not in my league. Where did you buy that orange OLX branded t-shirt? Gosh, who wears an orange t-shirt? Give me a break. Let me guess, someone gave it to you, for free; and what about the jeans?”

I would keep quiet, dumfounded. She would keep talking.

“Didn’t you buy it at a throw away price in that market they call Gikomba? Oh, and your hair, please comb it first, you are a thug…. I am waiting for Jake, he drives………………..”

I knew my battle was over. My mind shut off as I watched your lips yap yap around about this Jake. I think you said he drove a Benz, lived in Runda…..I could not take it anymore.

And so, I do what an honourable man would do. Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo did it. Even the worst villain did it in that action movie which I remember not its name. Giving up. If only you knew who I was, you would not have had that perspective.

Heading towards my black Aston Martin, I know you would be left in amazement once you see me flipping my car keys to open the only Aston Martin in Kenya. I know you will be in regrets. I wish I knew, I wish I knew…..Hahaha….. Now you know.

images

Just before popping into my exquisite machine, I would turn back and exclaim, you are indeed beautiful, but for Heaven’s sake, THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU.

download (11)

*THE END*

THINGS DONE TO GET RICH

download (8)

The things we do will always be recorded in some tabs either hidden within us or open for the whole world to see. Eventually, when time rolls on to give birth to history; the acts so cherished or so despised will soon be a forgotten memory- a part of an unending history

Whatever the world will remember me of; the things that I did; my success, my failures; my friends, my so called enemies; my good deeds, my otherwise deeds; Whatever people choose to say about me, what I did, who I was; a husband (in 10 years’ time maybe), a lawyer (very soon I tell you), a servant of God……., may it not remember this ordeal:……

******

Long holidays came as a shock. Having been in 2nd year for just one semester, it was just, fair and reasonable for the University to allow us finish our second year in peace. Our wishes would however not be heeded to. We would be sent packing to our homes. Clearly we would spend quite a long time before we could actually be called learned friends. In the meantime, we would simply masquerade as learning friends.

Being at home meant a lot- Idleness being at the top of the list. You know, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Having to wake up at any desirable time and sleeping in the ungodly hours of the night would be the order of the events; Waking up to experience the same order of things: eating, watching, finding occasional moments to read the bible and other books and eventually sleeping. At least that would be my day. A change was needed. Very fast, I tell you. And the only welcome change would be a productive one- A JOB in the City, Nairobi ———

Nairobi City is so sort after. It all started in 1900. It was a cool place with a clean river that would pass flowing unceasingly. The waters presented untold hope which would save a lot of people. A rail would soon pass right at the heart of the small town thereby establishing the place as a transport joint. With its perfect climate, people were soon to flock into the fast growing town.

images (11)

Fast forward to 2015.

No city in Kenya boasts of having the tallest skyscrapers as Nairobi. No city could be said to have virtually all major headquarters of all companies in its heart. No city would be said to have the two only stadiums of international recognition- am talking of Nyayo and Kasarani. (Well, I know right now you think I am drifting from the point. That is not the case, Nairobi is the main story.) Most importantly, no city in Kenya can provide you with the many jobs Nairobi has.

With my neatly written resume clearly outlining my successes and achievements with Professor Kameri Mbote (the best female lawyer in Nairobi) as my referee, I was sure I would not miss a job. And so, out I went to face the world.

I ensured I sent as many resumes to different companies, law firms and even individuals who I trusted would connect me. I hope you understand how this world works, if you know someone who knows someone who also knows someone, then my friend, you are safe.

I knew one Bob Oyier; A zealous classmate of mine who had earlier recommended me to some sales and marketing job with OLX. Of course I worked there for a week before calling it off. It was a seriously tasking job. This time round, I received communication from him informing me of an opening to a hot job from a group called PMS (honestly I do not remember what PMS entailed).

A Monday morning saw me take a long trip to town. I would meet with a friend of mine popularly known as Magawi before proceeding to Railways to take a mat to Jamuhuri Park. In all my 13 years spent in Nairobi, I knew not where Jamuhuri Park was, nevertheless, I believed I would find the HQ of PMS. Amidst us was Oyier. Three men, masquerading to be lawyers were hunting for a sales and marketing job. Their motivation- Love for Money.

The sun was quite at its best. Its rays penetrating the troposphere and defying the ozone layer to hit us with untold vehemence. That would not deter us. We would find the HQ with little difficulties and soon, our task would be to request for a job. Specifically, the standard chattered marathon data entry job.

“Who arrives for a job interview at noon?” A man, eloquent in his English and sure with his words would discourage us. He would however explain to us that there was an opening for another job- A direct sales job entailing bank sales. He would explain more about the job but we would not be interested.

“Tunataka job ya Standard Chattered.” We would gallantly declare.

“Then am sorry my friends, the ship has sailed. You came late.” He would declare with a harsh tone of finality.

We would leave the place dejected.

But hustlers never give up. One of us would go into the offices to find more about the job we wanted. One of the ladies would tell him that there would be an interview the following day at 600hrs.

We would leave that place with our eyes fixed on Tuesday- the following day.

****

By 9.00 am, I would be there. The line would be quite long. Approximately 200 people would want the same job. And I would be right at the back. One person would be interviewed and then another. An interview would take 20 minutes. Simple math would tell me that at that rate, I would be not be interviewed. So, I had to be wise. He who is wise would be rewarded.

Cutting the queue would not be hard. I had perfected the art during the long queues I made back in my primary school as I heeded my hunger call. God knows I hated the cafeteria system. Nevertheless, I found my way at number 32. That was quite reasonable for me to wait. However, I would be in a position to witness the interview itself for the first time.

There were three  interviewers: A stout lady with geekish glasses whose appearance alone scared the wits out of me; a dark lady who was clad in a dark dress that declared her love for doom and lastly, a very slender lady who seemed quite young, she seemed so full life. What they did to people is what actually left me surprised.

As an interviewee, you would enter and sit tight. Questions would start streaming in fast. You would be tensed of course because it would be your chance to show the potential employees what you had. Then, after all is said and done, music would be put on. You had to dance in order to get the job. Not just dancing, but the three ladies had to be satisfied.

If at all you are a TDH- (Tall Dark Handsome), then you are lucky. The three ladies would enjoy. If you would be otherwise, then you would be unlucky, the slender lady would stand up and dance side by side with any tune she asked you too. She would ensure you became humiliated and helpless.

Surely, what kind of organization does that? Who forces poor young students to dance in order to get a job?

My mind would be full of questions.

I would desire to just give up and leave but the far I had come, I was not going to give up. I had seen my classmate Oyier dance with absolute sureness. It is as if he was sure of the moves and just finished his turn. I on the other hand had not even thought of dancing. Maybe I was raised in a conservative family or I subscribed to my conservative nature, whichever it is, I had never danced before. I was not going to try it, period.

In due time, my turn came and in I walked clad in a broken suit which simply looked magnificent. My hand firmly held my resume which I handed over to the stout lady who skimmed through it within 20 seconds. She would then allow the others to question me. Questions would come in quick succession and I would answer them with sureness. All seemed well until the slender lady would ask me to dance.

”Sasa dance ndo upate job”simply translated, dance to get a job.  

A conversation would then ensue…..

Desperate times call for desperate measures and a lad will do various things in times of desperation. This day, I had to choose between being employed and lacking a job. And to be employed, I had to dance. But would I?

*******

It is now 21st October. 2 months have since gone by and the job has never presented itself.

Looking back, I am just amazed how desperation had hit. I now know too well that this world is full of all people; People willing and able to take advantage of you with excessive malice. They will even go extra miles of blackmailing you to do things you never dreamt of doing just to get simple favours which would just be but for a time.

Surely, the bible clearly asks this solemn question chronicled in Matthew 16:26- What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet he forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? The same was in the question…dancing to get a job- Oh God!!!

I now know too well not to be desperate. And if a job is acquired through dubious means, I’d rather be jobless for good. In my father’s houses, I will find all I need.

I have no words for that PMS Group. Shame!!