July 17, 2012

The Fly:

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.

The Twig:

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.

The Fly:

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.

The Twig:

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.

The Fly:

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!

Lounge Room


I am dying

Walk away

...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.