I don't even know what i want to say. Which is ironic because there is so much to say. I haven't been able to write. Every time I push open my laptop, open a new page, I cry and shut it down. The last time I blogged was for you. The last post was about you. And that time, you called me immediately after. We talked. We laughed This time, you wont be calling me. We won't talk. We won't laugh.
We do not have childhood memories.
Me and you.
We did not run bare-feet across the corn fields, chasing butterflies. And even if we did, you would deny it, at least the butterflies part. Because you would hate to think that that admission might cost you the smile of that cute girl sitting across from us.
You did not pull my hair and put bugs down my dress as a way of showing me that you liked me. You did not pinch me and ran away, leaving me crying, but inwardly happy that its me you picked to pinch. Twisted, I know. You understand, though, don't you?
We did not sit next to each other in class and steal glances at each other books hoping to catch the answer to the question on the blackboard. We did not even sit in the same class, passing notes, making fun of the teacher, making fun of other students.
We did not walk home together, playing 'It'. Nor did we even race home, the winner gloating for hours.
Our parents did not have a hard time making us do things separately. Nor did they have to make us finish our chores first before we rushed off together to lawd knows where.
We did not fight because when we started dating, we stopped spending time together. I did not hate your new girl because she was more special than me. You did not want to slap me because I was dating an asshole you wished I would just dump.
We have no memories from before.
When I met you, something shifted. What we did not have, we somehow did. In a crazy alternate universe. Because everything felt like we'd been there before. Nothing felt foreign.
You joked with me like you'd known me since I was a cat's height. Two minutes after we met, you teased me without caring if I would take offense. I did not not. And you somehow knew I wouldn't.
We knew. We felt it. This was bound to happen. We were destined to meet. To be friends. Forever
You were lying on a hospital bed. That first day. I made fun of you. You laughed. Hard. You looked beat, yet your spirit... It was the spirit of a guy I did not grow up with, but I would definitely be having around for a long time.
We talk. Endlessly. We never run out of things to say. It's been a month. Yet, forever does not even compare.
It kills me, that sometimes I call you and despite the pain, you will pick, just to say thanks for calling, I miss you, I am too much in pain to talk. I hang up and try not to cry. Because you would mock me for crying. And I would feel bad.
And I cry. Just a little. Because my one wish, is to take that pain away. And kick it's stupid behind to the Great Wall of China. And hang it there. Naked. For all to see. Because you know you can see that wall from the moon and that means that the whole universe can laugh at it.
Then I get the text. One word.
And I smile. Because I know that despite what you are feeling, the pain you are in, you want to talk. And I can't wait to tell you useless things. And complain about the man in my life. Well, the one that used to be in my life.
You patiently listen.
Before I remember, I am going on and on about a silly non-relationship when I should be going on and on about your chemo. And you find ways to change the topic again. To the fact that I 'friendzoned' you. Then I laugh and tell you for the millionth time, you cannot break up with a friend. It's the best zone. And you laugh. And I hear the pain in your laughter.
I am still planning to sneak into your hospital room and hide in the toilet. You know, as we planned. Then play monopoly or some silly game on the iPad till we bore each other to death. Though, I have a feeling you would rat me out just to watch me get in trouble.
I miss you, bad.
You see those memories we did not have up there? I plan on having them. No you cannot pull my hair, but you can help me undo braids. Yeah, that's what friends do! You cannot put bugs down my dress, but you can refuse to kill a bug just to watch me pout. And you know how I am the queen of pout.
I plan on bringing my kids over to yours to play with yours. That is me telling you to get married quickly. Which remind me, you must be the only one who gets that many women visitors. No way you have convinced the nurses they are all family.
I hate it that I can't see you. Because you.... you are my heart's sun. And it's kinda hard for me to see that sun now that you have it hidden in some room in some hospital that won't even let us in.
Time for me to call you, Bakari.
I have been here before. Writing about rain. And always, my rain goes with tears. Not today. Today it rains outside, it pours like a punishment to earth. The soil cringe and dread the next rain drop. It prays that the next one will not hurt as bad, will be a tad bit gentle. Yet, it hurts more. And as it pours, helplessly the soil is taken away, to lands unknown.
That has been my life for a while. I have not been in control of what my life has turned out to be. The raindrops have unhinged me, carried me away. Not anymore.
Today, from a coffee shop, I watch the rain. And do not identify that feeling. Instead, I see the beauty, the clearness of colours that seems to appear after the rains. The earth has been washed a new. And so has my heart. I am content.
I have made mistakes. Those that have made me question my sanity. Because I walked into them eyes wide open. Even peptalked myself as I headed deep into them. Then I cried. Then I hurt. Depressed. Stressed.
There is this praying mantis that loved hanging out at the door to my laundry room. This mantis is so huge, I was convinced it was either a drone or a Martian. Or a Martian drone. I can never bring myself to kill bugs, no matter how much I hate them. My solution has always been to pick them up with a stick or toilet paper. Throw it into the toilet, then flush. This is where you're allowed to form an opinion into the kind of mother I will make. Because I shall give birth to bugs. Moving on...
For some reason, I think that's less painful. Like, the flushing happens to fast, they have no time to contemplate whats about to happen to them. I guess that's how I'd like to die myself. I only extend that to them bugs.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, this mantis. I did not want to kill it. I took pictures of it. I posted them on Twitter. I complained about it. But every morning, I went there to look for it. There was another bug hanging around. No idea what breed that is. But it was always close to the mantis. For a week. These two bugs camped at my door. There were remnants of what looked like food. Or it could have been an accumulation of dirt. But it looked like very tiny dead leaves and ants heads etc., I chose to assume it was the food these two were eating.
One day I go downstairs to the laundry room to check on them. This is becoming an obsession. An unhealthy one. The mantis is gone. The other bug is still there. I search. Imagine walking up to me at that time and asking me what it is I am looking for. Nowhere to be seen. There are no green spiky and spindly legs remains to give an indication that Bug#2 ate the mantis. Or maybe it did, its a just a very clean eater.
I am kind of disappointed. I kinda liked the mantis.
Following day, I go to check. Bug#2 still there. Day three, bug is lying on the ground. I am not a pathologist, but I can tell when a bug is dead. And this one is pretty much so.
I choose to go with a romantic story as to why it died. It could not live without the mantis. The mantis upped and left. And instead of Bug #2 living on, going out and enjoying bug life, discovering more doors in my house, it chose to stay there. And die.
There I was. That was me. I am afraid of being alone. I either always have people around me, or the TV, or something. Anything to keep from being with myself. I am a relationship addict. I love being in love. I love having someone.
Then it hit me.
I am that bug. I will die, if I do not learn to live and be okay without the mantises in my life.
It's early. Too early. But isn't it always?
I park my car and get out. It's the middle of nowhere. The sun has just risen over the hills, the thorny bushes just beginning to stir. I have always wondered if thorns go to sleep. Like, do the sharp edges soften with the cool air and the rising of the moon and the twinkling of the stars. Do the tips get caressed by the soft evening breeze, gently coaxed into acceptance? That sometimes, just sometimes, it doesn't hurt to be soft.
I want to touch that thorn before the sun hits it. Before it has had a chance to remember that it is a thorn. So I walk towards a bush. I spread my fingers and let a couple of them graze the palm of my hands. They prick. I lift my hand to a neat cut that is now bleeding. I fell the pain. I bite my lip. I asked for it. I wanted to test it, I wanted to know.
Now I am bleeding. Now I am in pain. Now I know.
As I watch the blood trickle, I gasp. At the similarity between this moment and my life. Especially the past few weeks. I do not wipe the blood. I do not wince. I welcome it. I hate pain. I avoid pain. This time, I sit on the a stone and watch as my blood decides its not worth wasting itself and the bleeding stops. It does stop, eventually. The bleeding.
I wanted to experience . I was told, like the thorn, it will always have its sharp edges. But the thorn, oh the painful pleasure I longed for. I touched, I experienced. It pricked. I touched some more. I bled. I watched the bleeding, and hoped that the thorn would soften one day. That the touch of my hand, the gentle kiss of my lips, would convince it to, if only for a moment, not hurt.
But i loved the hurt that came with the pleasure. I loved that it hurt as much as it made me happy. Until my hand had no places left to poke. Until my hand was the picture of Dorian Grey. A shameful representation that was my careless abandon and shameless indulgence. My hand cried out to my heart. To stop. The heart experienced more fulfillment as my hand hurt. My mind? It was torn. Both such beautiful experiences, both so ineffably sublime. One more destructive.
The thorn had to go. It did not become soft with the evening breeze. Or I had to walk away. Walk away I did.
With my bleeding hand. The thorn, still as majestic. Still luring. Who gets lured by a thorn? Me, that's who. I see the whole in ashes. I see the the beauty in destroyed. I see the flower that was the thorn. And that's the softness i try to coax out.
And my hand, it still bleeds. But the bleeding, it does stop.
I woke up grumpy. Now this is not news to anyone who has to deal with me soon after my feet have touched the ground. My grouchiness is such that it annoys me. I will be angry that I am angry. Yeah, go figure. I have found out that two Redbulls will wrestle to the ground that feeling.
Someone told me I ought to get my thyroid checked. And given that the other health issues that plague me do have something to do with that gland, maybe I should. Chances are I will never. People tell me too many things.
I am sitting at Java. With my MacBookPro and a cup of tea masala. How bourgeoisie. How very 'I am a creative who gets inspiration from sitting in coffee houses and looking too busy to notice that you're watching me pretend to type something important'. I am as pretentious as all of these people in here. With their suits and newspapers and blackberries and tabs and Caran Dache fountain pen imitations that they never use because no one writes shit anymore.
This one woman, at 12 o'clock has been sitting here for a while. She found me here, still typing. From the corner of my eye, I saw her trying to hide the fact that she is asking the waitress what I was having. Why do we do that? Why can't we just point at the food on the next table and shamelessly say we want the same because it looks so darn good? Good manners, we think. But we are full of it. We apply manners depending on where we are. Who we think might be watching. He will shove you at a bus stop with his suit and briefcase that probably just carries photocopies of his waterbill. He will politely ask you to pass the salt at this coffee shop. Because out there, you are not important. You are having breakfast with an iPod touch in your ears and a MacbookPro infront of you? He will lower his voice and smile. Pretentious little *censored*
Back to Woman.
She decides against the full java breakfast I am having and settles for toast and eggs. She oscillates between her fork and her phone. Signs of a person uncomfortable being alone in a restaurant. Another thing that irks me. Why do we get or give, funny looks to people who just want to have a meal by themselves? We think they have no friends. We feel bad for them. We are the ones who deserve that pity. The ability to be by yourself is a gift. You are not trying to hide behind fake laughter at a dry joke your colleague just made. You are not trying to disguise your loneliness.
She is done with her toast and eggs. She did not order a drink. I wonder if that little detail will bother me all day today. Why did the woman at the cafe not order a drink? Because bigger questions I would rather avoid. I will dwell on the mundane.
Look around the cafe. This guy behind me. Why is he reading the obituary page? I will get back to him. One day.
Back to woman
Woman just left. Even before I finished analyzing her. Oh well.
Cup empty. Now they will clear away the cup and leave my table devoid of any proof that I purchased anything. People who walk in will look at me and think I came here for the WiFi and cannot afford a cup of anything. The vapid things we worry about.They don't even have WiFi.
This day. I am stuck in traffic. I look out. Watch people. As I always do. One day, I will get arrested for it. This street guy. Pacing up and down on that middle section that divides a one way highway. I am sure there is a word for that. I am sure I am not interested in knowing what it is. He walks about 100 meters. Comes back. Walks again. He is crazy. I think. Because according to my cultured mind, only a crazy person would do that. Judgmental little thing I am. So are you. Comes back. Picks a piece of paper. Looks like a page out of magazine. It could be Forbes top 100. Who cares.
Glance around coffee shop. It's 9:25am. It's emptying out. Where do people go? I should follow one person one day.
He looks at the piece of paper. Intently. Gives the illusion of reading. He drops it. He walks. Comes back to it. Walks again. Traffic moves an inch. I don't. What difference does moving an inch make? I will move when there is space enough to actually move the equivalent of my car's length. Someone will hoot at me. I will ignore with indignation. I am that petty.
The sun is out. But its the sort of sun that is just bright without the warmth. I could write a whole post about that. Warmth-less sun. Like most relationships. How lucky I found parking right in front of the cafe! Every now and then, I get to look at my car.
He comes back. He stops. Glances at the paper again. With great annoyance, he picks it. Shreds the piece of paper. With such vigor and purpose, it shocks me. I want to roll down my window and grab the pieces. Save them from scattering on the road and disappearing forever. Like catching tears of a loved one. I swear I can see his pain with every tear he makes. Tear the paper. Catch them like tears. Tear. Tears.
These two Caucasian women have just walked in. Each with an African baby. Go ahead Dark Angel. judge them. Next time. Too busy. They put the babies down. One starts screaming and running around the cafe.
He walks away. Resolutely. And doesn't come back. The pieces are now scattered all over the road. Discarded. Punished.
I should probably order water. I want a Redbull. I need to go buy shoes for a dinner coming soon.
What was in that piece of paper? What was the pull to it? Maybe, I think, it represented to him what was wrong with his world. It was bothering him. By how it was just sitting there. With no care in the world. While his fell apart. Something needed to take the blame. That paper. That was the culprit.
But why didn't he just walk away from it the first time? Because that's what we do? We keep going back to the source our problems?
Or maybe, because, he is crazy.
I have to pay the bill.
Head and tail. That's what makes them. The epitome of non-complexity. The exact opposite of what our lives are. What we have made them to be. Tadpoles. The beginning, is what they symbolize.
Our beginnings. Simple, unmoved by the shark that is life. Head and tail. The beginning and the end. That simple. Yet it never is. The head calls for eyes. Eyes want to explore. See. Visions need to be processed.
Thus starts the decline of the simple. Into questions, rationalizations, explanations. Wanting to know more. Wanting that more explained, examined. Always more. The need to touch, to feel. Because the eyes cannot convince the head. It need the fingers to touch.
The tail always being chased. By ourselves. By others that are within ourselves. The demons are that us, that we have made into sharks we always swim away from. Chasing our tails, scared of ourselves.
Like fish out of water.
We gasp for air, for a bubble that will burst to release that precious oxygen. The head will turn, the tail will flip. A communication. You are running away from me, screams the tail. I am saving you, shouts the head. I am you, interjects the shark.
The sweetness. That comes from knowing that you can always outlast, outswim the shark. Like a pot full of honey. Your fingers dipping. Feeling the warmth, the slickness, the smoothness. That warmth. Envelopes you, consumes you. The texture. Like a tadpole. Swimming round and round. Looking for that spot. That with a bit a roughness, yet smooth. Like velvet. Dark velvet. With secrets. That place that is home, but so elusive. That place that is your heaven, and your hell. Because the existence of one creates the other. The darkness and the light. The head warns the finger. But the finger knows. It's been to the gutter. The filth of it is the reason it appreciates the honey.
Darkness has not given way to the light. Darkness has mixed with light and their union is the sweetness. The tail flips. Shark is chasing. Again. Head and tail. Head no longer warning. The fingers have convinced. The warmth is real. The shark is chasing. Tail stops. Time slows. Everything in motion. All at once. The realization that the shark might be real. The shock, the the pleasure, the awakening.
She skirted around, her light feathers gently teased by the breeze. It loved to tease her, that breeze. Blowing with just the right amount of strength. Not too strong, but not too feeble. Enough to caress her. She focused on the twig. Brown. Signified defiance. Of elements. Seasons had come and gone, the sun had shone, burnt it, and given up. It had retired dejectedly. Each morning it rose, determined to burn off the twig. Each morning the twig bowed, took the challenge. Each evening, the dance came to an end. The twig smirked. The sun darkened.
Many rested upon his head. Many moved on, many hang around, hoping to get more of him. He was not looking to be owned. He loved the games the sun played with him. Everyday, he shook dew off his head and smiled. Another day for a game of death. Then he spotted her. He had spotted many of her kind. The kind that loved to hop without purpose. The kind that flirted. The wind was playing havoc with her delicate wings. Ever so slightly, her body shivered. Yet she fluttered on. At a distance. He sought her face. He loved faces. Eyes especially. Hers, he couldn't read. See, that is how his kind communicated. Eyes.
She had been watching him. She was intrigued. He consumed her. This defiant twig. He was looking at her. He was bent towards her. She wanted to assume that was the wind. The wind here was bewitched. It made her do things sometimes. Like now. She felt a tremor. Started as a tiny shiver at her antennae, and grew gradually stronger as it moved to her chest and down to her thorax. Cursed wind! He was wise. You can tell. By the harsh lines on his face. The remnants of leaves that hang loosely by his side. The pride, the glory, the pain, the victory, the loving, the losing. All in lines like blood veins on a muscular hand. She edged closer. Intoxicating.
He wasn't sure he wanted her close. She looked like the type of fly that attracted trouble. The one that made birds swoop and grab. The kind that made men approach with weapons. Beautiful trouble. She was not like the rest. She was…what was that word? Captivating. Yes, that was it. He forgot the sun. Forgot that it was near midday, when the sun called for reinforcement. He was exposed. He felt the heat was coming. And for a moment, he basked in that heat. Something felt different. The heat was not from the sun. He looked up. She was right on top of him. Her heat was stronger than that of the sun. More potent.
She had lost the will to fight it. He beckoned. His very being summoned her. That need to connect. She was hovering. He was yearning. She wanted. He craved. She longed. He desired. Her wings became weightless. In her mind, the world collapsed into a heap on the ground next to her. How was that possible? If the world had just collapsed, what ground did it land on? Nothing made sense. Only the pull towards him existed.
The Dance of the Fly and the Twig:
She landed. He buckled. Not at her weight. At the feeling. She was home. He was complete. She belonged there. And as the sun got hotter, and he begun to wither, his life seeped out of him into her.
They were one.
This is not just a title i pulled out of my black behind. It's was not at the back of a Christmas catalogue or a Watchtower magazine. I'm a dark person. With darkness so dark the light is scared washing it away. The thoughts that run through my mind give me shivers, literally. I look at myself in the mirror, and sometimes i want to remove that person from me. But the realisation that that is truly me is what makes it even more scary. That dark person has created the angel, so that to be able to live with herself. A darkness that is you and yet it scares you is blood-chilling. When you want to run away from yourself and there is no where to run. Because as cold as it inside, it's the place you spend most of you life in - inside yourself.
Do I love? I don't know that yet. I once told an ex that sometimes I look at him and I feel nothing. That scared him. Let me explain 'nothing'. It is when you look at a stone on the sidewalk. You don't hate it, you do not fear it, you do not love it. There is no emotion. The only thing more dangerous than hate is the absence of emotion. When you love something, you want to do good things to/ with that thing...or person. When you hate it, you want to get rid, hurt, dispose of...in other words, in both of these emotions, there is the being prompted to action. Acting on something means you care about that thing to want it either in and out of your life. Not caring means it is irrelevant to you what happens to that person / object. I do not choose this state. It comes in tidal waves. When someone will say something to me and my mind goes blank as to who they are in my life, why I have them sitting next to me, talking to me. It's like coming to the realisation that you have a dead branch in your hand. The obvious reaction would not be to debate the advantages of keeping it, but to discard it.
I have this desire to save. People, mostly. I even date to save. How twisted. I hate failure. And sometimes, when a relationship end, the ex will always confuse my angst with a feeling of rejection. I do fear rejection yes, but mostly, its the feeling of failure that haunts me. Failure to keep the relationship, failure to keep the person in my life.
Back to saving.
I told someone I do not see my life past 30. That is true. I have envisioned my life since I was a kid, right until 30 years old. Beyond that darkness. I am selfless to a fault. I give too much. But I discard too. Completely close some people out.
I was a happy child. Too happy. With time, this happiness has developed into shelves that I can only access at some points in my life. I will access those shelves and stay there a while. Sometimes, my mind moves those shelves. And there is a vacuum where they used to be. That is when I grab on to the darkness. Because my mind needs to larch on to something. I do not despise those moments, despite how much they scare me. I draw from them, like a thirsty man drinking dirty water at a creek. Knowing the full implications of his action, but the need to quest his thirst being greater than his worry for disease. Quench the thirst, even if it kills you.
And that is how this angel fell.
Thought #1 - The cold bites.
It's too early to be awake. It's insane that the cold thinks its okay to bite this hard. The cafe is full. The warmth of mixed with the chatter envelopes our table. It's a gentle hum, one that could put you to sleep.
It's me and a girl I just met. A girl whose earrings I noticed before I noticed the colour of her hair. She has this questioning look. A learning look. It's the 'observe and learn' one. I like her. We will get along just fine. Meet Kari.
He walks in. His hair, it's the first thing you notice. I know that hair. I have worn it a couple of times. It's a statement. Judge me from it, if you are that shallow. He is in a hoodie, grey. Like the weather outside. He has that face. The kind that you want to look at twice. He hides a lot. Shows a lot too. You want to sit him down and give him a paper. Tell him to write the first thing that comes to his mind. But he doesn't do words. He speaks in pictures. He is Karue.
I know her. From a long time ago. She is defiantly pretty. Her smile is infectious. There is always one playing at the corner of her lips. Daring you to extract it. Once in a while, she drifts of. She is a writer, you see. They do such things. Ignore you, disappear into that beautiful hell that is their minds. You cannot get angry at her though. She springs right back. Before you notice she was gone. I get up and hug her. We have not seen each other in a while. Hello Serah.
She reminds me of a cat. Lean and lithe. She is fiery this one. Feisty even. We know each other too. Her features are hard to ignore. The kind you want to capture in a photograph. The kind you know there will always be something hidden underneath. I suspect she is the never unending onion. Nini is her name.
He is restless. You would be, if you had six people to take care of. He is cheerful. Has this voice you do not forget soon. He would be a charmer too. If he tried. I wonder if he does. He is trying to relax. But he will not, until his crew is comfortable. Have you met Kevin?
He is tall, dark and handsome. He has those eyes. The ones that look like they are brewing a storm. He is ramrod straight. Does not slouch to hide his height. He is a man comfortable in who he is. He has a fleeting handshake though. Maybe its the cold. He has worked hard to warm those hands, I think. He likes to take charge, you can tell. John, he says, looking straight at me.
He is sitting helping us load the bags into the car. He looks like someone's beloved uncle. The one that entertains at family gatherings. The one likely to get into Santa's costume. He has stories to tell. Of journeys, adventures. Mbogori is our driver.
Thought #2 - We can meat here
It is easy to walk past Kamaki's Palace. Because it doesn't have a moat and a draw bridge. They do meat. And meat we eat. It's our first pit stop. It's on the Eastern Bypass near Ruiru. It's supple, succulent. The meat, that is. I miss out on lots of it. I am always on my phone. Bad habit. I learn how not to get my fingers burnt by hot Ugali. Always check out the toilets. There are behind the establishment. No toilet rolls, but passably clean. The sitting area is spacious. Service is quick. You will have to wrestle a fly or two as your fingers move the meat from the plate to your mouth. But if you win that fight, it is worth it.
Thought #3 - You bar-come your beer.
He was a writer. And an avid fisherman. I would have loved to know why a tavern tucked away in Embu bears his name. Izaak Walton is who I am talking about. Toilet stop for the girls. Top up fuel. We do not get into the main Inn. We have no time. Plus, we cannot afford it. This on their website confuses me -- Although the Inn was built in 1930s, it did not accept its first paying customer until 1924. Go figure. This trip is not for spoilt travelers. Explorers. We settle for the Tavern at Kenol & Izaak Walton. This pub has a multiple personality disorder. It feels like it was grabbed from an old English village and dumped there. You half except them to offer you blood pudding. It's interior is full of patrons photos, taken with their favourite drinks. Mostly beer. Interesting how the beer on the table on those pictures look like their owners. How they belong to the drinker.
Thought #4 - Do not even reply.
We are a lively bunch. We laugh a lot. I introduce a website to the group. That has us laughing uncontrollably. The road is perfect. You know how good a road is by how well you can read a sentence on an iPad. We are going to cook for ourselves.We will be staying in a self-catering guest house. Nakumatt Meru is the obvious stop. Nakumatt's are like churches. Once you've seen one, you've seen all. I volunteer to cook. Dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. We shop. The boys are awesome at this. They will make some women happy someday. Some already are. It is fun watching 7 people shop, without a shopping list. We pull it off. The chemistry between us is awesome. This will be a fun trip. We thought we were close. A few more hours, the driver says. We get worried. Maybe we should have eaten that meat faster. Maybe.
Thought #5 - Oh My Self!
It's night when we drive through the gates of Meru National Park, our destination. Takes a while to figure out our accommodation. Even the happy do get tired, and that we are. The boys sort out the mix-up as the girls sit in the car and compares notes on how we are better at planning than our boyfriends. Accommodation sorted, Kina Guest House it is. Chopping starts. Cooking washes all exhaustion from my body. There is a relaxing feeling that sweeps over me when i turn bland into edible. Chicken with Oyster Sauce, Rice and steamed veggies. Dinner is served. Like a family reunion, we sit at the dining table and talk. Oh, talk we do! And laugh. I regret not going out of the house that night. I missed the night noises. A hyena in the distance. An owl trying not to seek attention. Crickets mocking it for being too naive. The house has 3 en-suite bedrooms, each with a bed enough to fit four if you decided on a slumber party. Two small bedrooms with single beds share the bathroom with the 3 giant rooms. There is a self-contained room outside the main house. And a fully furnished kitchen. As the night wear on, our eyes grow weary. The table was growing quiet. I was watching a time-lapse. Where in a movie, the people start to disappear. I was the last girl standing though. And that day, I walked with with my thoughts.
Thought #6 - Kenya believe it?
A pearl hidden from prying eyes is the only way to describe Meru National Park. I will skip the parts where we had scrumptious breakfast and awesome Spaghetti Bolognese (If I do say so myself) for lunch. There is something about cooking your own food in the wild. Fast forward to late afternoon. A lot of antelopes and antelope family animals , many many birds later, we ended up at Hippo Pool. We wanted lion. We saw elephants. We yearned for a cheetah, we saw buffaloes. We wished for a rhino. Zebras crossed. Shy, these animals of this park. That, or our timing. We saw their noses. Lifted them up at us and blew streams of water and air. Mocking us. In good stride, we took it, and kept driving. Remember John? The tall, dark... you definitely do. He was on kitchen duty. Boy, does he take his duties seriously. Chicken drumsticks, rice and whatever he did to those veggies! We were tired. A game drive will do that to you. Less laughter, but still good cheer. Power is alternated between Solar and Generator. Solar for when we want to charge phones and light the room. Generator for water kettles and hot showers. We went to bed early.
Thought #7 - If a Zebra falls in the forest...
Morning game drive because we wanted to see more. We saw paw prints. Follow them we did. Find nothing we did. Then this Zebra. She ( I choose to make it female) sat in the middle of the road. We stopped a distance away because we did not want to scare it. We thought her cool and daring, sitting there all by her lonely self. Until we inched closer and she made to stand up. Then we saw it. He back left leg was gone. Well, it was still there, but hang lifeless. She had been thought a fight, one for her life. She had escaped with it. But now, it was slowly ebbing away. 'Does she realise she is dying? Can she feel it?' I asked Karue. 'She knows, he said, pausing from his picture taking. 'She knows she is game right now ' 'That not what I mean,' I insisted. ' Like, does she understand the concept of death?' He leaned back on the seat and looked at the limping Zebra. I never got an answer. We discussed her fate. We hang around, feeling sorry. And secretly wishing a predator would appear just about now. I felt guilty for that thought. We decided to drive around then come back. And hopefully find a pride of lions devouring her. I know, I know. She was still there. I swear I saw the sad look. Her life was seeping between her mangled hoof. We drove off.
Thought #8 - Facts Please
The caretaker of the guest house is a lovely chap who loves to help. He keeps the place pristine. I am hating myself for not remembering his name. Info on booking the Guest house is on the KWS website. For those with deeper pockets, check the website for other options. If you love a place with history, you'll be delighted to find out you can stay at the location where the movie 'Born Free' was inspired, Elsa's Kopje. There are various camping grounds, all info on the KWS website to. Call to book in advance though. Note: Meru National Park is heaven for birdwatchers. You cannot get enough! There is a birdbath outside the Kina Guest House. Breakfast is more interesting if you are watching them groom and drink.
Thought #9 - More than 1000 words.
John and Karue took amazing photos. So amazing I couldn't bear to mix them up with words. So they get their own blogpost. Next. Except John is yet to share his.
|A Meru Sunset|
|Dance of the Fly and the Twig|
|Watch me walk away|
|I am famous. Grouse!|
|I am dying|
...is the title of the song I am listening to right now. It's a song by Staind, and its got nothing to do with this post. I am typing this as I try so hard to ignore this dude on Facebook who i am regretting why i added him. He is telling me how much he has been looking for me, how he loved me (what?), and how he went to my former college to look for me and was told I left the country, and how that made him lonely to the borne (sic). So we worked together once, on one of those jobs I have stopped (actually never did) put on my CV. You know those inconsequential jobs that borders sales and hawking. Yep, I said it, I used to be a hawker. Something that made my mother want to lock me up in the house and explain to her what I lacked. I was 19 and rebellious. I packed my bag and left home. I was a grown up, I was tired of being told what to do, tired of wanting to do stuff and couldn't because my hometown is the kind that nothing happens. Don't get me wrong, Nakuru is a beautiful town, but its where people go to retire, not where ideas get bounced around and young people thrive. I mean, my parents built a 2 bedroom house, own compound and stuff for rent and they could only get KES 4,800 from it then! If only they could uproot that house and move it to...I don't know, Hurlingham. Then I would never feel the need to want to work. I lie, I still would. I wanted to do things with my life. My father wanted his girls to do nothing. Sit at home and wait for him and mom to provide. He used to say 'You have the house, a huge compound, TV, movies, books, what do you need to get out for?' He meant well. He had 4 girls. And if you had us 4 girls, you would want to leash us. We got our stubbornness from mother, and it was hard to reign us in. So one day, I ran away. To the big city. Like all rich girls do. We were not that rich, but we never lacked, and went to the best schools. You could say I was a bit spoiled. Not Paris Hilton spoilt - I had to do my laundry and share house chores with our housegirl, hard to work hard, but I did not know what 'not having' meant. And I thought people were stupid for saying there were no jobs. The newspapers classified section was full of them! By then, I had a few years of working experience. I had taught IT, worked at a CyberCafe, Executive Assistant-ed some Artist...who in his right mind would refuse to give me a job? So I started job hunting.
Lesson no.1 - I had to pay to attend interviews. And I did. I know what you are thinking. I paid cash. I was 19, shut up. After a while, I discovered that there was a reason why many people were not clamoring for these pay for interview seemingly abundant jobs. There did not exist. I was running out of money. I made one final call. It was marketing company, they said. Earn and get trained. I went for the interview. I passed. Anyone could. As long as you could talk, you could work there. The job was simple. The company gave you a merchandise, you went out and sold it. You kept 10% of the sales. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Except they gave you things like 'Thermo Coolers'. And they looked something like this
They are not small, trust me. They were 10 litres capacity. As if that was not enough, they came with their 'young ones'. 5 litres capacities that could fit inside the 10 litre one. Which was a good thing because we had to carry the damn things around!
Reason why I said hawkers. We would meet in the office, start off with inspirational / motivational talk. You know, those ones that show you an image and ask you if you see an old woman or a young beautiful woman with a hat...power of positive thinking....easier for him(our boss) to say, especially since he was always sitting in his cozy office as we too to the streets. I digress. We would then pick our products and head out. I was new to this thing. There were veterans. I had no idea where to start. So I got into a matatu to the city centre. Did not sell to anyone. Then I took another matatu to the neighbourhood I was living at. Walked around for forever, stopped for lunch, dropped by home to change from the high heels...Yes, I had gone to work in high heels. They never said I was going to spend the whole day walking! Did not sell in my neighbourhood either. In the evening, I took another matatu back to the office. Few of us had not sold, others had sold and even gone back to get more. Three times! Second day I decided to follow one of the highest selling people. They did not like the idea, but if you know me, you know I can charm anyone into anything. I was determined. This girl could sell a fridge to an eskimo. I watched her in action and knew my future was not in sales...or hawking, whatever you wanna call it. She sold her thermocooler, and left me to go get more. We had a name for going back for more merchandise, i forget what it was. I sold the big one, was not able to sell the little one. We had been warned again selling the small one first. The price of the big one was 1000, the small one 500. But we were to sell both for 1,500 and give a 'discount' by 'throwing in' the small one. But sometime, if you met a really interested buyer, who only had 1,000, then you sold the big one only. I broke the rules once. I was easier to sell the small one, after all, people could afford 500. After 1 week, i was getting tired. I was running out of money--I was not selling, but was still spending on transport. You see, what I did not learn was that no one took matatus to their hawking areas. They walked. I soon learnt why when i completely ran out of money. I would leave the house- spend 50shs on transport to work. Get to work, pick my stuff. Pick an area in Nairobi get into a matatu- 20 shs. Assume I sold both thermocoolers, that would be 150 shillings for me. To go back to pick more product, pay about 20shs in busfare. Would take forever to walk to the office, pick more product and chances are I wouldn't sell as it would be too late in the day. Go back to the office to return unsold product, pay busfare - 20 shs. Drop off product, go home - busfare - 50shs. Morning go to work 50 shs. If you are doing the math, you can probably see this is not a very clever business- for me. So I stopped using matatus during the day and walked everywhere. Boy, did I grow thin! I was not eating either-- I was never hungry anyway. My appetite seemed to know there was not money anywhere, so decided to keep away. I would only pay the 100 shs to and fro work. Challenge then was that I had to sell atleast one one thermocooler a day to get 150, then spend 100 of that on transport, save the 50. Sounds easy, huh? Would be, if anyone was buying the stupid thermofuckers.
The sales pitch went something like ' Hello, My name is so-and-so from XYZ Marketing. Today I want to talk to you about blah blah, just arrived from China...If you put hot water it stays hot, if you put cold water it stays cold.' Over the weeks, I mastered the sales pitch, and even added fake stuff like, if you put cooked food, it worked like a freezer, would not go bad. Oh yeah, some bought that line! We had to dress as if we were going to an office. Boss always said that if we looked good and presentable, people would want to talk to us. Except we would be lagging giant plastics around in business suits....
***I found this in my drafts. I cannot be bothered to finish it. Maybe one day I will finish this story for you. Maybe.
I rarely post songs here. But this one is speaking to me right now.
Lyrics below the video
I work better at night. Not with a broomstick. My brain. It comes alive. Inspiration seeps from the cracks in the walls and fill me up. The sounds of rats scurrying in my pantry, roaches biting at morsels on the kitchen floor... wait, that's for my other personality.
One minute to 4 am and I am not alive with creativity. I am just awake. I have been reading. Something I am afraid I might forget how to soon. See, they invented audiobooks for me. Times like this, I would get into my car and drive. With an audiobook playing. Or Andrea Bocelli'a Con Te Partiro. (A song I know all the lyrics to yet I speak no Italian). Yeah, I am crazy like that. Tearing down Lang'ata Road at 3 am is pure bliss. Not on a weekend though. Unless I am Florence Nightingwhatshername. And my car was an ambulance. Though I must admit there were a couple of Friday nights I have just driven at 2 am to see the many stupid ways people get into accidents. I do not stop to help. When your car ends up hanging off a bridge at 2 am when you're all by yourself, you were asking, nay, demanding for it. Other times I stop to help. Like this time.
Driving calms me. And cooking. Since I am not going to start banging pots and pans at bewitching hours, Nelly and I it is. Nelly is on a break though. Not consensual. Someone decided her behind looked better with a dent. So we are getting that fixed. What that translates for me is (a) Walk - Live 20 mins walk to work, (b) cabs, c) go nowhere. So far (a) and (b) are working fine. (d) is taking matatus. I hate them as a motorist. I detest them as a passenger. Last week, took them all of 2 times.
So I can't get out and drive. And I can't cook. And I am not feeling particularly creative. And I don't want to waste my GBs on Slutload. or Porntube. Yes, I know the sites. I go to look for stories, bite me. So I read. I decided I wanted to know more about something I know only fleeting information on. And my brain zeroed in on Stephen Hawking. Yeah, yeah, I know. At 4 am, reading on a theoretical physicist who communicates using some speech device. So now I know how not so smart he was in written examination, the bet he had with Thorne and Preskill, and what his favorite food is. Okay, last one was a bad joke.
This post was a waste of your time.
She sits across from me. Her eyes will occasionally meet mine, then travel. At first, they will look at her feeble fingers wringing on her lap, then to the side as her head cocks as if to listen to a voice far away. Like a weary traveler, those eyes that have seen more than language could ever express, finally rest on the notebook in my hands. I follow those eyes. They beg to be followed. They promise to tell, promise to show. It's a nondescript notebook. But in it holds questions that reduce her life to a series of answers. Suddenly, I want to throw it away. It seems to generate heat, too much. It's a Moleskine. Nothing much. But as I look at it through her eyes, its the window in which her past is displayed. It's the epitome of all things evil, all things inhuman, all things she has been working so hard to forget.
I find my hands putting the moleskine down. I am surprised by this move, more than she is even. We both look at the object of her disdain and my new-found bane.
I have been asking her questions for the past 15 minutes. It feels like we have been talking forever.
Talking insinuates we have been discussing how healthy her goats are, or how fat the chicken are becoming. Talking makes you think we have delicate china in front of us on checkered table cloths with steaming tea and biting on finger sandwiches.
I doubt she even knows how to make finger sandwiches. I doubt she ever owned china. Her cups are old cylindrical tins that have hints of the colour they were when she first got them. That is what she offered me tea in. I do not like tea. Yet, norms dictate that I never refuse such an offer from a woman such as this one. Now my tea sits on the ground next to my chair, flies covering the rim of the cup. I see them fight for a spot on that rim. I assume that spot is the least hot for them to stand on.
She clears her throat. I look up. Those eyes again. Now they are imploring. Asking me what I am thinking. If I am judging her. I hold her gaze, trying to push back the current thought. Which goes like this - 'I am stupid for shifting my attention to flies, instead of what you are telling me. I am sorry.'
I pick the moleskine again. I have forgotten what my next question is. Shameful really. Because I have been asking the same questions to women in this area for a few days now.
'Are you afraid of dying?' I ask
Stupid question. Who isn't?
Eyes that speak answer me. No. I don't know what I expected. I ask her.
The cameraman who has been quietly filming this interview interjects.
She did not answer...
I sit up. Of course she did not. Her eyes did.
I ask her again.
She bites her lower lip, and chews it slowly.
The woman in front of me is 40 years old. She looks 70. She is frail. Too thin. She is dying of AIDS. Because she was raped during post election violence. She has 6 kids,no husband.
I seek out her eyes. And hold them.
No. She says.
It's July. This month for me has always represented depression. Not in an 'need psychiatric' help kind of depression, but the 'nothing seems to make me happy' and 'I am too cold' kind. This started when I joined high school. Limuru is cold. I always suspected that if it wasn't so close to the equator, it probably would be snowing. It is where my crazy obsession with scarfs begun. Crazy I call it because I will scarf everything I wear.
As right as rain, this month has started with depression. Sadness. Emptiness. That word. That last word. It's such a beautiful world for such an ugly feeling. Empty. The caress of the E, the sweet moan of the M, the pure silence of the the P, the majestic T, the defiant Y. I have been that for a while. Then came the hint of a fill. A delicious feeling of being. That will probably end today. That started the fateful decline yesterday night. Oh how I was getting full. How deliriously happy I was about to be! Then July.
It has been 7 months since my last post. And it hasn't been due to lack of content. If anything, what's happened in those 7 months could probably be a new blog. It has been chaos. Work, family, health, life, love life, social life. Everything. There has been so much going on, so much that have brought me to that point of defeat. There has been good news. I have been acknowledged for the work I do. I have been celebrated by the people I work with. I have opened this blog so many times, stared at it, willing my fingers to click ' New Post' and I have lost that battle. A seven month long battle is not an easy fete. And when you have been beaten for that long, the scars do begin to be part of you. And you loose that identity you so embraced.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend invited me to join them on a trip that required bloggers. I had been recommended, he said. I laughed. You see, I believe you give yourself a title that you are true to what it entails. That was no my identity anymore. Given my non activity, I felt like piece of trash compared to the real bloggers out there.
I was driving to a meeting last week. I was driving to a meeting. I saw this truck ahead. Very slow it was. And I wanted to overtake it. Because I am such an impatient human being. There was another car approaching on the 2-way road. My impatience insisted that I could overtake and get back on my lane before the other car got close. So I stepped on the gas. Just when I reached the truck, the oncoming car decided it was time to accelerate too. Common sense and that instinct to survive made me slow down. So I did. The car drove by. Then another one. And another one. And another one. I was now stuck behind this truck. I drive with my windows rolled down, music loud. It hit me like a bitch-slap.
This stench. Strong, heavy, like a blanket dipped in shit had just been thrown over my face. I looked keenly. I was behind trash truck! And I was not going anywhere soon. I was stuck behind it. For a good 10 minutes. I started thinking. This is my life. I end up getting stuck behind trash trucks a lot. Why? Because I am impatient. Because I cannot just hang back and let it drive away. My first instinct is to overtake it. Well, sometimes, trash trucks just can't be overtaken. I am learning to hang back. To wait.
A friend is killing himself in Zambia. Looking for money, he says. He describes deplorable work condition. A few days ago he sent me a text that said he thought he was loosing it. But that's not the story I want to tell. The story is about a post he did on his facebook.
He was talking about shitting. How he had picked a spot to shit everyday. And since he is a very private person, he wanted to keep his shitting place secret. So he checked his excrement every time. He learnt his shit. He knew its colour. It's texture. Then one day, he comes to relieve himself. And there is unfamiliar shit next to his. And he is angry. Why? because he knows his shit. And that got me thinking. How many of us know our shit? How many times do we have to deal with shit that is not our, simply because someone else dumped it next to ours and we couldn't tell the difference?
To know my shit. To hang back until the trash truck disappears. That is what brought me back from Bedlam.
Its 2.30 am. Once again I am awake. Once again, I hate it. I made new year resolutions about this. Sat myself down one evening and told myself how much we were going to start spending more time with sleep. We shook on it. Me and I.
Insanity is…Except, this is not a choice. I am not doing this over and over again expecting different results. Wait. I am. I come to bed daily expecting to fall asleep. Given that this is a function that my body has to perform, I can hardly be expected to expect anything else, now can I? But those are not different results. They are the same results. So it might not be insanity after all.
Chances are that this post will not make sense. But then again, you do not come here for the immense intellect I disperse.
I watch the sun rise, take the journey with it through the day and bid it farewell. It winks at me, just before it completely abandons East Africa for the US. I always think. There goes the sun. It got its visa. It doesn't have to go through cavity searches at airports. No one asked it if it intends to come back. Or how many dependents it has. It just ups, across, downs and goes. What if it never comes back? What if it finds a better life there? I look forward to its return. Well, not that anxiously. I like it when its around but hate that it comes to remind me that I have not slept a wink since it left and it expects me to just get up and be jolly along with it.
It was a very hot day today. Today I saw my very pregnant friend. Her belly looked alien. And she kept scratching it. I asked, Are you itchy or is it the baby. She said go away. I kept staring. At her her distended belly. It was beautiful and ugly at the same time. Beautiful in the way it filled her out, making her look so ripe. Ugly in the way it just sat there. Like a huge boulder in the middle of the road when you are in a hurry. An obstruction. I did not tell her this. She would not understand. She would have thought the sun was getting to me.
I interacted with a street boy afterwards. Street young man actually. He was at the park watching my movie. I asked him what scene stood out to him. He told me the one where the little boy dies. I asked him why. He said because he had no one to look out for him. But he knows that he is now happy, now free. The little boy he is talking about was a street boy who gets killed in the post election violence. I wondered if that boys death stood out for him because of the age of the boy, or because he identified with him. I joke around with him more. Asks him to say something for the camera. He asks if its going to be on TV. I say no. It's not entirely true. Neither is it a complete lie. I am not going to put him on national Tv. But he might end up on our online channels. I ask him what he is holding. He tells me its his ID. To me, and to the rest of the world, it's a bottle half full of cobblers glue. I ask him to let me try it. He gives me a look. One that a parent would give his son if he ask to try a spliff. I understand not all parents would find that shocking. I am talking about a parent like the one in whose house I grew up in. The one I have never seen alcohol pass through his lips, or even a whiff of cigarette smoke. I insist. I try to take it. He kind of relinquishes his hold on it. My workmates, all of them who work for me scream my name. I don't know what they think. Actually, I know. I was going to try it. Was I? I don't know. I don't think so. I wanted to see if the young man would part with his ID. I know I wouldn't part with mine to a complete stranger with cameras and natural hair that has not seen a comb in months. Come to think of it. His hair looks like mine. Yet mine is artistic, a statement about my personality, my daring to be different and stand out. His? His is a street-boy who doesn't bother with grooming. Reminds me of the stupid movie by whatshisface. The one where there is a line of clothing called Derelict. And the inspiration is are the homeless and street-dwellers. they are tattered, worn, dirt, smelly. Filthy is a word that comes close too. Yet when put on the runway, they are the shit, pun very intended. I say goodbye to him.
I have a bed, a very big warm comfortable bed. Yet that has not guaranteed me sleep. I am sure that park we were at was his bedroom. I bet he is fast asleep. I bet he is dreaming of paradise. Cue in Paradise by Coldplay. I have wanted to sneak in that song somewhere in a blog post since I heard it.
In the night, a stormy night
She close her eyes
In the night, a stormy night
Away she flies
And dream of para…paradise
It is not a stormy night. My eyes are not closed. I have flown nowhere. I love that song