k-1

K-1

You are a man. You are 32, you turn 33 this September. You are in your fourth job since you left campus. Or you have been promoted to a cadre in your organization where you enjoy better perks. You are not married. But you do have child-a son-with your long-term girlfriend, who affectionately calls you, ‘my baby dad’. Still things might work out. You might marry her. Your son is a chip off the old block-copy pasted.

You are fairly tall, fairly handsome (some women when they learn the fatness of your wallet often claim you are the hottest man alive), and you do have an active life (means you often bed colleagues and that single neighbor who lives down the block). You occasionally go to the gym, that means you have some admirable biceps and puffed up chest.

Two Weeks Ago

Two weeks ago, your 23-year old, petty, spoilt, entitled niece, Julie, who studies Computer Science at Catholic University asked you to have her birthday party at your rented house  in Lang’ata. You never say NO to Julie. Besides, her mother is your favourite sister and she is technically under your tutelage. Being single you agreed and she picked the keys from you while you were at Rafikiz, having your car washed. And you paid for their taxi fare to your housew. You went on drinking with your boys, having given her all the money she wanted and asked to use the food in the fridge that is on the verge of going stale.

At 10.12 pm, you pulled at your packing with your boy Ndembiso. Ndembiso is Kenyan, but you don’t know where he got his South Africannish name. He is a short character of dubious background and you know that he has ever served time in jail. He has a stud on his left ear and he dons dreadlocks, or are they braids? He is not exactly handsome, but he has a way with women. He exudes a certain infectious charm that often drops panties of 35-years olds sexually frustrated corporate women. They actually let him drive their cars and at least two of them pay his rent in exchange for his legendary bedroom skills. Or so he says. It is hard to tell the truth since women never give their side of the story.  But he is your friend because he knows where every single good deal is in this town. He is the type of a guy you see in some Kenyan music videos from time to time.

His education background is dubious. On selective topics especially those that rely on memory such as football and world affairs, he is fairly up to date, but he seems never to update himself and often can be goofy. You can’t trust him around your more learned, snobbish friends.  He has the mettle to partake in conversation, granted it does not get too cerebral.  You have never met any of his former school mates in a club. Or in the street. He is one of those people who just drop from the sky and start living in your neighbourhood. You have never had him mention where his shags is, though he often accompanies you to your shags in Ongata Rongai, Naks from time to time. He doesn’t work, but he lives large. He has no known ambition. You know he has a sister, his only living relative you know. She stays in Buru Buru and has pierced her whole body, and you have never met her sober.

But Ndembiso is a man’s man. He is telling you his latest escapades that involves him banging mum and daughter as you pull up at your house. Your house is where he also impresses younger women and you don’t mind, though you are a little jealousy that despite your money, he still gets the best.  You don’t mind, since he picks the house clean and no lingering sexual fumes that drives you nuts when you lend your house to other men.

In the sitting room, there are at least 7 or 8 girls, 5 of which are absolutely beautiful and sexy. There are three young college boys, probably their classmates and going by their conduct, friendzoned. One is fiddling with the speakers and acting as a self-appointed DJ. You wonder why the boy is not fiddling with a female in parking or behind the house. Useless boy. Ever noticed that it is people who listen to stupid genres of music like neo-soul or rock who always want to force people in parties to listen to the music in their phones via Bluetooth. There is another boy, trying to help another girl with something on her phone. Other girls are in the pre-party bored mood, because the food or alcohol is taking longer than necessary to arrive. Or they are wondering where they will sleep or how they will get home, especially the one who comes from Emba. One other girl is eating meatballs, wearing a face that tells you it is her first meal of the day.

As you chuck your shoes, Ndembiso has already slid out of his rubbers and said a loud ‘hi’ that gets a slightly exaggerated ‘HI!’ back, from the ladies. The three boys, murmur. Ndembiso, walks straight to Ms Hungry and grabs a meatball, with a deceptive consciousness of someone who knows that their hands are dirty. He throws it in his mouth and says unconsciously,

“Eish, na hizi meatballs ni tamu?” and without expecting any response, he shouts,

“Where is the birthday girl?”

Julie shouts from the kitchen,

“Heeeeere…”

“How old are you now,” Ndembiso says, almost imitating the birthday song…

“18…”

Every one laughs, with some forced exaggeration…And as if on clue, at least four girls shout Bryan Adam’s boring “18-TILL-I-DIE”…And with that Ndembiso has electrified the room. Something these teenage college boys failed to do.

In the meantime, you step into the kitchen where you find Julie and another friend who is seated on the slab, besides the kitchen sink playing some music from her smart phone. You notice it is Wiz Khalifah and Charlie Puth’s tribute to Paul Walker.

By Lord! Julie’s friend is absolutely beautiful. She has long natural hair, darkskin and a long neck that swings her head, quite sexily. She has the calm demeanour of a woman who is sure that she will get married to the man she wants. She speaks less in your presence.

With affected concern you ask you ask your niece if there is anything missing. She tells you that the alcohol will not be enough…

“Oh, lemme call the Wines & Spirits place to deliver…” You take the phone, dial the Wines and Spirit woman, but the woman over there tells you that they are not making deliveries tonight and they are closing anytime. You tell her to wait. You ask Julie and her friend to accompany you. As you come to the sitting room, you ask everyone what they will have…the ladies shout: Hennessey, Famous Grouse and the boys who don’t know better ask for Jameson.

So off you go. Ndembiso who is getting on fine with the ladies opts to stay. At the packing, you are using your friend Joseck’s BMW as he is out of town with your more fuel conscious Toyota. They step in, and Julie being entitled takes the front the seat. The friend goes to the back left. You swing out of your compound into the slightly potholed road, with annoying bumps. You only have one job. To stop Julie from asking you about your son, baby mother or any of your women she knows. So you must steer the conversation. You ask random, rapid fire questions that will provoke a conversation. Along the way, her beautiful friend tells her,

“Jaymo ndio huyu anapiga…”

“Ghrrrrr, achana  na ya yeye…” Julie replies, then they both laugh a conspiratorial laughter. You estimate that Jaymo is her boyfriend or an annoying boy trying his luck. Too bad. You get to the Wines and Spirit joint and you take the liquor. In total it costs Sh 11, 350. Plus your White Cap beer cans and soft drinks, it comes to Sh 12,300. Off you go back to the car. You only have one job, make Julie don’t ask you a silly question in the presence of her friends because Julie has the most careless mouth in Nairobi.

Back in the hood, Julie gets off first with the alcohol, but there is an oncoming car from the next gate and you have to reverse back to give way before the friend disembarks. So you stay with her friend in the car, who is chewing her gum, quite loudly. Once you in your compound, you turn around quickly in time to open the door for her, introducing her to the chivalry.

“Ah, you quite taller than I thought,” you tell her as she hesitates to move…”What is your name?” you ask.

“Peggy,” she replies.

“I’m David,” you tell her,”Julie is my favourite niece, though a bit spoilt,” you tell her.

“Very,” she says, you both laugh conspiratorially. “She tells us a lot of stuff about you…” she reports as you start to walk up to the house…

“Good or bad stuff?”

“Are you a bad person?” she asks, rather rhetorically, “Are you?”

You let her walk ahead. She has one of those bodies that many men hanker after all their lives. The hips are placed in the right place, her ass firm, taut and sure. One of those asses you want to be seen shopping with in Nakumatt Mega on a weekend. She is in a hoodie so you have not seen her boobie game.

So you enter the house and everyone looks at you suspiciously. It is like in the short time you have been out, you have kissed each and done one stupid thing. In the house, Ndembiso is entertaining the ladies.  Presently, they are busy taking selfies and updating their Instagram at a speed of ten photos a minute. The girls are now animated. When Julie places all the alcohol in the table, the girls turn their cameras and start taking pictures, flashes snapping quickly you would think it is a Hollywood celebrity being followed by paparazzi down a corner in Hollywood.

You and Ndembiso take a few shots and you have to leave and let the college kids enjoy. Ndembiso asks all the girls to give him their numbers which they all oblige and you are sure that he is going to shag at least four of them, before they realise and their friendship will be permanently impaired.  Time will tell. Ndembiso is a sex addict. You have always doubted that he has ever shagged Julie, since you have ever found his hand in a funny place in the kitchen and you were forced to look the other way, you have brought it up. Innocent is not the first word that comes to mind when you see Julie. She is quite hot-blooded.

Amidst that, you take Peggy’s number. And you don’t make any commitment of calling her sooner other than ask if they will join you later in the club. Her answer is noncommittal. You leave and go away with Ndembiso, who now tells you how hot the ladies were. Who had the best boobies, who had legs carved off gold. And some did smell nice.  He points out…

“Na hako kengine, si umeangukia man!”

You laugh and off you go to Carnivore, where Ndembiso is to meet one of his cougars, who is lately mad that he has not shown up to rock her in bed. Tonight, Ndembiso is ready to attend to her.

A WEDNESDAY-TWO WEEKS LATER

You are driving down from your Upper Hill and you have just joined the Haile Sellasie Avenue when you see your phone beeping…It is a 072676 number. Quite familiar. And you cannot barely recognize the voice on the other end…

“It is Peggy. Peggy! Peggy!-now desperately, Julie’s friends we were at your place and went to pick al…?”

“Urgh! You say with feigned disgust!!! “How come I didn’t save your number? I actually asked Julie why you have not come to the house since last time…” You lie.

“Really?” she says. Eager that you have at least thought about her.

“Yeah, come on. I am driving, can we have a drink kesho?”

Affirmative.

DATE DAY

You agree that it be a town a date and you ask her that you meet at Java, Koinange Street. She arrives nearly 20 minutes late, since she was caught in traffic. You are seated facing the entry when she walks in and you are totally confused. She is in fitting black pants, and fitting white top. What this does is that all her curves in the body come out authoritative. Accompanied by her walking gaiety, you have never seen a sexier lady. Good heavens, 22-24 year old women are the most beautiful, adorable and sexually inviting women, you think to yourself. You can swear by Dedan Kimathi’s grave.

You hug her, and it lingers on for a few more seconds. She has dropped her first hint. You sit down and you are handed the menu…She studies it not sure what to have. She then says she skipped on lunch.  You advise to try their milk-shake and carrot cake…She obliges…Then you get talking. First of all, she is theatrically furious, you have never called her…

“The whole of last week I was out of the country (true), I only came this Monday. And the first thing I did was to ask Julie about you,” you tell her. She cannot ask Julie if it is true, since she is secretly meeting you given Julie has not been cooperative and setting up another meeting, she had to set it up herself. So you get talking.

In the course of the conversation, she is dropping hints at the rate of three every minute. A sexy smile here, pulling back the hair there, exaggerating her laughter to your lame jokes, talking sexy and sexily. She is all but yours. You do not even have to try too hard. You conclude the evening three hours late. She stays in Rongai and you offer to drop her.

You take her to her apartment that is located a few meters down the road, fenced by a live fence and poorly lit. You are not sure of your safety but you must act like a man. She starts to invite you into her house, but frankly you have a busy day the following day…You get to her gate, and you come out together.

She offers you a hug. And you take advantage of the darkness to taste if you were not misreading her hints. So your left hand (for your are left handed) fondles her ass and out of the blues you exchange a considerably long kiss, that seems to linger on as no one seems to want to let go… You leave it right there but comment sheepishly, “that felt right, right?”

“I know,” she whispers in the bedroom voice. You get back to the car and speed off.

FRIDAY

You call her at around 10 a.m. She eagerly picks your call. Her voice is expectant. You ask her how she slept (well), how is her morning (about to attend a boring lecture), how is her afternoon (busy meeting my aunt in town…). Then you tell her you can have a few and then you will drop her.

That is how you end up at K-1. Because men your age simply cannot drink in town. Not since you bumped into your niece giving a middle-aged man a lap-dance.

You go to K-1 and to your annoyance, they are having a Karaoke on a Friday. Deep within you know Karaokes are places for washed up female actresses and ‘celebrities’ who have run out of favour with the media and their bosses where they try unsuccessfully to resurrect their careers.  You also know that there is a place in hell for those who sing who in Karaokes…boring everyone.

So, you decide to endure adults making asses of themselves and you buy her wine. Red. She is dressed in a short skirt and you have examined her soft and silky legs and decided she is going to be your girlfriend for the next few months. She is genuinely happy to be around you and you are genuinely happy to be with her. She can make a good trophy girlfriend and she fits well in that front seat of the borrowed BMW.

Later you switch to another club but she is freezing, you need to go home. She needs some warmth.

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The Nairobi Toilet Crisis

I have finally figured why Nairobians are constantly in a rush in the evening. You have seen how people walk so fast down Moi Avenue, near Galitos, as they cross the road to the Gor Mahia Square-Tom Mboya Statue and disappear to their various Matatu stages. Contrary to the popular assumption that they are trying to beat traffic, guys are actually rushing home to download the morning breakfast and lunch.

This is a serious problem. Only five-stars in Nairobi have tolerable toilets that you can trust your bare buttocks on for your twos. Even corporate offices and government offices-especially- have mistakes for toilets. Corporates try, but there is always something wrong somewhere. These men and women who walk in suits in town are the culprits leaving skid marks on office toilet bowls. Trust me on this. For I have been to a number of respectable corporate bodies and I have been shocked at how dirty their toilets are.

If I sound rather lavatorial today, it is because this is a grave issue. So grave is the issue that even Harpic decided to be advising their detergents during meal times to remind us the task ahead, and the need to clean our home toilets. Because once you step out, simply there will few respectable W.Cs in Nairobi for your lavatorial needs.

I value the toilet more than my bedroom. Or any other room in my house (apartment that is). It is the top priority before I move in to a new apartment. I like my toilet 100% clean, white tiled, well lit. Comfy. Spacious. It is the most valuable and most private place in our lives where we are inundated by all manner of distractions.

I take copious amounts of time in the toilet and the bathroom. Not just for my ones and twos and the morning shower. In fact those who have stayed or lived with me, have accused me of playing with the soap too much in the bathroom, but nothing can be further from the truth. I sit in the toilet to draw my daily roa-dmap. It is where I come up with some of my juiciest lines. It is where I conceive these blogs. It is where my most original thoughts emanate.It is where I make my most important life decisions.

When I step in the shower, I stand there as the hot water runs over my body. And what an exhilarating break it normally is? Soon as I am done scrubbing, I stand there for at least ten minutes. Sometimes blankly, just feeling life. I suspend all my thoughts. I forget all my worries and debts. I just be. For in life, sometimes we need to catch a break. Just forget about everything and feel life. Feel the blood flow through your veins. Feel your heart beat. Ask yourself why you exist. Why should you care about anything? Think about your mortality.

You cannot achieve this anywhere else. There are rude and careless drivers to worry about during the day. Pesky girlfriends and wives to think about. Useless and cheating men to think about. We live in apartments with neighbours who have sewages for brains. You know the fools who hold house parties in flats inconveniencing everyone. Or those who personalize hanging lines from Monday to Monday. Thieving politicians. Al-Shabab. Sonko. Kidero. MPs. There is so much competing for or with with your mental RAM to give you room to look at yourself inwardly. Thus, toilets and bathrooms offer us an opportunity to self-examine ourselves.

That is why I am mad that virtually all businesses in Nairobi ignore this important aspect of life. Only five-star hotels have reasonably trustworthy toilets. And there are less than ten such hotels in Nairobi. Middle-level hotels have terrible toilets. The top of the cistern is always missing. The flushing system always involves pulling some rusty wire that guarantees to give you tetanus. Inside the cistern there is always some greenish substance, so old, it was there at the beginning of time. There is grime all over the place. The taps where we are supposed to wash hands look so dirty; I suspect they will do the reverse-give you an infection. The soap dispenser too is suspect. Ugly even. Some even give you a bar soap that looks as ugly as nothing ever made in this world.

The lower you go on the east side of Moi Avenue, the worse the toilets become. And the pettier the establishments become. You have to show a receipt that you have eaten there before you can use their facility. And the facility is something that stinks with urea from here to Timbuktu. They are namelessly fetid. The toilet bowl is always ‘unseatable’. You will be forced to squat at a precarious angle, often soiling is inevitable.

Clubs are equally silly in this aspect. Most clubs have only one or two toilets. And let the name and the reputations of the club not fool you. Most restaurants and clubs, especially along Lang’ata Road hardly have water, so you have to use some cut-five litre jerrican to wash down the byproducts of mutura, smokies, samosas and beer down the drain. It hardly suffices. Often the floors are too wet. Most of this establishment always have some poor young men who is forced to wash away the adult piss and poor, with a bowl to take tips from the drunk people because may be the chap or the lass are paid 200 per night. It is a dog’s life, man.

But why such a terrible attitude towards toilets from the management. It basically goes to shows what the management thinks of its clientele. You are not that important is what they are telling you.

Here is the thing. A toilet might be a small room but it is a big deal. It is a very important aspect of a restaurant. When the marketing and PR types talk about the “total customer experience” to quote the Economist’s Intelligent Life, they are referring to how central a toilet is to an establishment.

How the toilet looks is a pointer to how the kitchen looks. If it is too dirty, the kitchen will be dirty definitely. The toilet tells you everything you need to know about the establishment and its management.

At time when there are 207 brands of tissue paper (203 of which are crap, dusty and thin to do mount to much) and a 187 brands of toilet detergents, Nairobi would do with more toilets that are cleaner so as to satisfy our toiletry needs. Trust me, part of the reason, Nairobians are petty, irritable is because most of the time, they are too pressed to concentrate. Worse, they can’t find a good toilet. And like me, they only trust a toilet in their house.

Think for a moment that we even pay to use the public toilets. In the Kenyan spirit of running down anything that looks half as likely to be profitable in order to hand it over to private hands-think of Uchumi-even toilets were privatized. Yet the many street children and homes can hardly afford food and shelter, much less to pay Sh 10 for their ablutions. And worse, most of the public toilets don’t operate at night. Therefore overnight budget travelers often turn into alleys to relieve themselves. Combine that with street families and you understand why the CBD smells shit all the time. And that explains why some alleys down Tom Mboya and Odeon are impassable. There is one alley, just past where the Nakuru folks board their buses-just after the Molo Line stage- that is the longest toilet in public. It stinks from here to Nd’jamena in Chad. What has Kidero ever accomplished ever since he slapped Shebesh into irrelevance?

Think of our sewage system. Satelite towns such as Kitengela, Kiserian and neighbouring countries such as Rongai do not have a functional sewage system. They have septic tanks that are emptied periodically, mostly during rain seasons and then pumped into rivers. The same rivers in turn irrigate the spinach and the dhania you eat.

I suppose, other than Kenyan-Indians who reside in towns, the rest of us grew up using pit latrines and the bush. Now this WCs are too much. Little wonder even those household loos can also be a sticky mess. Blame it on the persistent water shortage in Nairobi. It is the reason I rarely go to house parties. Because Nairobians simply do not know how to use toilets.

Something ought to be done. I don’t care if the establishment has the best neon lights. I don’t care if the waitresses wear bikinis. I don’t care if the it the most expensive DJ on the decks. I don’t care if they sell beer for Sh 500. If the loos are shitty (pun pretty much intended), I am not going back there.

Something gotta give.

Toilets also teach us about something class. Private universities such as Strathmore and Riara, have tissue paper for students. Public University cannot afford such. Hence many villagers who graduate from universities scarcely know how to flush down the dirt. Even so poor people rarely care about hows of toiletries. To them, any can do. It is the middle-class folks who tend to be picky. But all of us need a good place at the end of the day to sit down and reflect on our own mortality. For nothing reminds us of the simplicity of life than the mere fact every human being daily checks in to face their biological products, regardless of the fact if they have an attitude or not. Regardless of their station in life, presidents, kings and other royalty. What matters is that the rich and the royalty afford shitting some dignity. Something that Nairobi can do with.

Private Thoughts

Have you ever been sooo broke, so hungry and sexually starved that you actually question why you were born? Have you ever missed the simple pleasures of life such as Chips, Chicken and Soda along Moi Avenue? If a man, ever had a single pair of shoe, whose sole is about to come off and you have an interview soon? Ever borrowed money from all your friends, there is no one left to borrow any more? Ever hated yourself so bad, you wish your father should have just wanked you off, save you all the trouble. Or your mother should have taken an original P2? Ever felt so helpless, so useless, you contemplate suicide only that you are sensible, you perish such kind of thoughts pronto?

*****
It is a hot and sunny Tuesday afternoon. You are in a matatu along Industrial Area, it is playing some FM station, that has presenters with names such as Mbusideh and Bonokodeh. They are playing reggae music that is talking about ghetto youth suffering. The matatu radio, is tired, breathy and goes off and on, in annoying fashion. The two presenters in the 30 minutes you have been sitting there have sold condoms, yoghurt and bundles from a mobile network YU(sic) thought left the market long time ago. What cannot be borne, must be bravely endured. You sit there, cursing. The traffic is not moving at all.

The drivers are bored out of their fingernails. Your driver particularly tried to escape traffic from Mombasa Road because some dignitary was passing. Because the dignitary is so special and has royal sperms, the rest ne’er-do-wells can wait. You remember that the dignitary is the one who has stolen the money meant for road expansion, or has fleets of matatus that ensure no professional mass-transport unit will ever be established in Nairobi. For the matatu sector thrives in chaos. Any attempt to rein in them and bring some order, costs technocrats jobs, politicians votes and some actually do get killed. So you must endure the rusty, rickety matatu, that its inside smells of rotten egg, and the collective sweat and aspiration of the poor.

You are seated in that seat behind the driver, next to engine and it is hotter it gives you an idea of what hell looks like. The presenters are annoying. The man seated next to you is in a cheap suit, and cheaper perfume, that means it is getting on your asthmatic nerves pretty badly. The lady seated next looks like another ordinary Kenya. She could be an alien, who knows. All the people in the matatu are like zombies, so poor, so disinterested in themselves and everything around the country. They have been given the burden of living, so each day they wake up to chase their dreams. Their dreams like air and wind are unseen, intangible. Stolen by politicians and the mafia, who in the meantime are cutting another deal at a Five-Star. End month, they will notice that NHIF has been increased and they were not consulted. But so what?

So you look outside. Now you are at the roundabout where you take the turn to go down to City Stadium. You look around; there is a girl-for she can’t be anything above 26-in a super clean BMW, coming from the Oil Libya petrol station. It is the dark blue one. Brand new. KBD something… She is wearing a blouse with blue and white stripes. You can’t properly make out her face, but from the chin bone, she looks, very beautiful. You quickly guess; she probably went to Moi High School-Kabarak, joined Strathmore University before her dad fixed her as an accountant in one of the busy industries in Industrial Area.

The traffic eases and you move one metre. She tries to join, but the matatu driver can’t let her. She buys her time. It is more tolerable inside a BMW, listening to Heather Headley.

The traffic eases and you move a significant 7 metres. Now you see guys selling peeled sugarcane. The driver asks the conductor to buy him some. The conductor obliges. You notice they speak your mother tongue. They crack some phallic or scatological joke. You laugh, if wryly.

As the matatu moves down, near City Stadium, you will see a very beautiful woman who has applied the red lip gloss perfectly. She is wearing a scarlet red top, a light grey short and tight skirt that brings the best out of her very round ass. Ass, so good, it can stop a suicide. As in if a man was on a fourth floor roof about to throw himself down and saw that ass, he will think twice and walk down. Life is good. The lady seems to be beautiful and classy, you wonder what the hell is she doing in such a dirty part of the city. You conclude she works in Industrial Area as an accountant and she lives in Donholm. Or Buru.

It is 3.37 p.m. You were to meet your boy Bruce at 3. He calls you and you tell him, you are at Muthurwa. He tells you that he has to be in KILE by 4. So you have to hurry. You ask him where you are going to meet him, he tells you he is looking for parking, you get to town and call him. You can sense some hint of impatience. You want to get angry at him, but you excuse him that may he does not know that some dignitary was using Mombasa Road, and you had to use Jogoo Road.

Now, God is on your side. It moves pretty fast until you get to Haile Selassie roundabout on Moi Avenue. And there you will spend 19 minutes, because you cannot alight, lest a Kanjo chap, earns some Sh 500 from you. The radio is more annoying. The presenters are pricks. The adverts suck all the red blood cells out of you. You look out and there is a sea of humanity, moving helter-skelter. You wonder who they are. What do they do. What are their dreams? What are their aspirations? What do they think of Kidero. Or Ruto.

Anyway, the traffic moves and you get off. You call Bruce, who tells you he is somewhere along Jamia Mall, you tell him you will be there in 2 minutes and you dash there so fast, because the 10K he is to give you is the difference between your life and your death.

You get to Jamia Mall, they are shopping for some computer thingy, you let him finish, since he is in the company of an absolutely beautiful woman who has a rotten attitude, it stinks like the Dandora dumpsite. She barely touches your hand. It is like you are a leper. She looks at your cheap shirt, cheaper trouser and the lousy belt and she concludes that you are not worth her handshake.

Bruce pays, comes and shakes your hand. You exchange that look. You both know that you were smarter than him in class. You always helped him with maths assignments. You got an A-. He got a B-. But now he is doing well, lives in Jamuhuri, Ngong Road, and you live in a bedsitter in Kitengela. He is dressed in an official trouser, definitely bought on the upper side of Moi Avenue. It is dark blue, smooth and pleatless. He is wearing a striped shirt; blue and white.

He asks you where you can sit and chat quickly, you know people like Bruce, never know joints in town. You point out there is a Greenpark or is Greenview restaurant opposite. You have selected the place, because he always buys the lunch. He too knows. You walk in. The downstairs, smell like a lodging that has been freshly used, yet to be freshened out. Because it is the place with the best fish fingers, and the poorest aeration, it smells fishy. You walk in, the lady, who he annoyingly introduced as the fiancé barely disguises her contempt at the smelly, packed place. You wonder what is making her wear her attitude on. Pregnancy? Cramps? What?

You ignore her. You get a table at the corner. You tell your boy, you are hungry and he tells you to order what you please. You have not had chips and chicken in ages, and you feel like if you had that, you will feel human again.

You order that. The waiter looks their direction. He draws his upper lip backwards. He takes off his spectacles. Cleans them as the waiter is looking at him, oozing her patience. You notice that Bruce is really adding some weight. Weight that comes from living large. And well. The lady is scrolling through her phone. He says he is OK, may be mineral water. The waiter writes that down. He looks at the lady. Who says, she is fine, may be Schweppes. The pricks. The chips and chicken arrives. Today of all fucking days, is the day they are serving wet chips. Not dried enough. How wet must be the chefs. The chicken too is dripping fat, and oil. You want to complain, but you remember Bruce and his Attitudinal fiancé do not have all the time in Nairobi. Besides, you are being bought for. So you devour the chips. Annoyed. Why you?

You look on the other table, some absolutely beautiful girl, in black pants and yellow top. She exudes class and has the best bust you have seen since 2009, November. She is leaving her table, but she has barely touched the chips and the fish fingers. You want to tell the waiter to wrap for you what she has left, saying that it will be for your cat. Only that you do not have a cat. But you live and eat like cat, so can as well.

You eat hurriedly. Bruce engages you in some small talk. Tells you that the other day he met Atemba in Westie…blah…blah..blah. Then you talk briefly about the website you are to make for him. Or the report you are supposed to edit for him. Or the proposal you are to write for him him. For you are basically a jerk of all trades. His bitch that he uses to achieve some fiscal orgasms. He has been paying you 10Ks for some small time jobs that earn him hundreds of thousands. Today, he wants you to edit some 120 page NGO report. Scale it down to 36 pages. And he is giving you 10K. It is inherently fixed. You hate him. All along his fiancé has not spoken, but she has the decency, of not using her phone. She sits there. Damn she is beautiful. You cannot point her tribe. She can be anything. She has a good cleavage. The face is scrubbed clean and has she has some very expensive and well plaited weave. But her attitudes stinks.

He tells you he needs the report the following day (“in the a.m”). Arsehole. You say, you will hack it. He gives the 10k, folded. You pocket it. You are relieved. You both walk down and decide to walk him up to where he has packed along Loita Street. The lady walks slightly ahead. May be she is vain. The light blue jeans is hugging her thighs, so recklessly sexy, you notice. She has an ass that can stop thugs about to commit a crime. So good, you want to just caress it. But human rules do not allow that. In that reverie, you did not hear what Bruce just said, so you make him say it again. Anyway, you get them to Loita, you notice he has a new car. One of those new makes that looks like a Premior but you don’t care.

He has hardly pulled out of the parking, when you have step inside an MPESA shop. You must pay Eric his 2k, for which he no longer talks to you about. You load and send to him. As you walk down Kenyatta Avenue, he has not acknowledged receipt 5 minutes later. Screw him. You call him excitedly.

YOU: Naje Mzito?
ERIC: Sema (no corresponding excitement).
YOU: (Sensing it) Nimetuma kale kakitu…
ERIC:I have seen a text, sijasoma. But thanks.
YOU: NKT. ARSEHOLE. only that you don’t say that. You wonder why on earth could Eric be such a prick, over a debt of 2K. Anyway.

From 10K, you are down to 8K. You remember it is 13th, and the caretaker has been more patient and you have to pay the rent. You ask around Which Equity works past 4 p.m. You are told, the one along Mama Ngina. You run there. You pay the Sh 5,000. Tempted to skip on the 500 for the water bill. But you remember you did that last month. You pay. Now remaining with Sh 2500, you remember the electricity units. The thingy has been blinking red for more than 2 weeks, it is hurting. You load the 500 hundred and you buy the units. It is one of those times when KPLC shows you the middle finger and sends you 15 units. You want to take to Twitter. Then you remember you pawned your smartphone at the Shylock and of course it went like that.

Now with 2K, you wonder what life is all about. Being human, means you are foolish, you think of calling Monica. Your ex. She moved on, but she occasionally saves your from the dry spell. She has equally been through worse since you left each other after graduation. But you often console each other sexually. You call her. But you remember that Okoa Kenya-sorry Jahazi-of Sh 100, you have not paid. You hate it. You decide to pay it. Just then an M-Shwari reminder comes.

Speaking of which, MSHWARI have been on your case, threatening you with all manner of threats. To wit, they have sworn to report you to the Credit Reference Bureau (for a Sh 500 advance). They have also promised to cut your bonga points and okoa jahazi privileges. Further they have you called to inform you that they will tell your grandmother and God. But you say, screw them.

You call, Monica. She tells you… ‘still in Eldie’. It hits you that at last she got a job with KCB. Eldie. She tells you… ‘Haki si you come this weekend.” I can send you the fare. That is insulting. But Monica always understood you. You have been through it all together. You know she never went on to see anyone steadily ever since you left each other. You think about the offer and tell him, you will tell him tonight. The two heads must consult each other.

BIG HEAD: Monica is trapping you back into a relationship. Or wants a kid from you.She knows that once your dream comes true, you will be rich and she wants to be that woman who stood by your side.
SMALL HEAD: Obey your thirst.

Mostly small heads win, but you are not sure of this one.

Anyway. You walk down to the stage. It is drizzling, that means it is Christmas for matatu drivers and conductors. Conductors are not begging people. The fare is triple your normal. To Kitengela, it is 300. And a 1,000 people are scrumming into three matatus. You wonder what to do. You remember there is a ka-hotel along Tom Mboya, near Haile Selassie that sells tea at Sh 30 bob. Oh, it is Sh 50 now since Uhuru took over all the milk business in the country. Still fair. You rush there, arrive there drenched and you order tea. You borrow the man in the next table his Newspaper. He gives you, casually disinterested.

You read. 30 minutes later he leaves, taking his newspaper. Now you have to settle for the TV at the corner. From the look of things, it used to be coloured but now it can only pick blue and green colours. It is showing some local channel that is showing some Mexican Soap. It is on mute. The radio is playing in the background. But you can barely tell whether it is music. Or it is just some FM. The waiters and waitresses seem to be bored out of their pubic hair. Everyone is bored.

Anyway. You go back to the stage. The fare has come down to Sh 100. Some people want to stand together in solidarity until it comes down to the normal Sh 80. Screw them. You board. The radio is loud. Playing those Grandpa Records songs. ‘Hayo ni mapepo’. The rap is terrible. The song writing skills…you have heard better from ducks. The Kenyan songs that play lack any discernible lyrical merit. You wonder what we did do to deserve crap music like that. Is it because we killed Tom Mboya and JM? You know, their spirits cannot let us rest.

Anyway, you endure. You get home in time, still raining though. You change into something warm. You want to work, but your laptop yesterday went off and has not come on since. You have turned it on with everything, including stepping on it. It is dead. You console yourself that you will wake up go to the cyber. Now you sit in the couch. Waiting for Kenya Power to switch off your line.

#EdwardObiero : If I Beat Cancer Once, I’ll Do It Again

GUEST POST

This is a worth cause. We need such brilliant minds. If you can spare one beer, forgo that one indulgence, do help out to this young chap.

When half the city is dank and submerged in dark brown water, with floating polythene bags dredged out from the sewers, it is understandable that it mirrors our mood. From cautionary tweets about which routes not to use, tweets rank with despair about the routes that are unavoidable. The occasional “green tweet” about waste management; someone telling the Governor what to do. That is the menu for online conversation when the hell burst at the seams. Every day except yesterday; the 2nd of June.

A different kind of flood happened today – a flood that streamed from the tributaries of so many hearts, flowing and dragging everything in its way towards a specific well. What started out in a WhatsApp group as an idea became more than a reality in just a couple of hours. The hashtag #EdwardObiero trended, with an outpouring of support from timeline to timeline, call to call, WhatsApp group to WhatsApp group. Everyone shared and tagged, went to their M-Pesa accounts and scooped what they could and shared to the PayBill number 317086. Some opened a new tab on their browsers to the Go Fund Me site and sent what they could.

Such moments remind us of our basic humanity – that you should help a brother in need. That we are all descended from Adam, and are worthy to live out our days until we are old and toothless.

First time I saw him after hearing about his condition was exactly a month ago. As his classmates from high school, we had organized to have a mini fundraiser towards treatment in India. You see, Bush (Alliance High School) Class of 2008 lost a brother in December last year and we had made a declaration not to lose anyone else if we could help it. It is sad, devastating even, when someone is plucked away at his prime; when everything is just starting to make sense, when all the investments into books and networks are on the brink of birthing a career, and when the rest of the world has no idea just what you might bring to the table. Limitless potential, never to be set in motion, to forever be a “what if?” question. It is like a flower plucked out just as it is beginning to bloom.

It was indeed a sad affair, but even sadder, we had seemingly lost touch with each other after school. Little did we know that there was something else looming in the horizon that would test our resolve to keep in touch and help each other out.

In the course of the fundraiser, Seth (Edward’s brother) called and said he would drop by with him. It was only after he came that we really saw the extent to which cancer had done a number on him. To say he was a shell of his former self is an understatement. The very sight of him stifled my voice, a different kind of heart break.

Like the champ he is, he made conversation and tried to smile. All through, you could tell he was struggling to keep up. His breathing was labored with sharp pain, his smile was lodged somewhere between a painful grimace and a gasp, and every blink punctuated with a wince of pain. It was the second time he had cancer, and this time, it wasn’t letting up.

He explained how in 2013, he first learnt that he had Renal Cancer and underwent surgery. He was grateful to have lived to tell the tale; his expense, he lost a kidney in the process. A short while afterwards, the cancer recurred and he had to undergo extensive radiotherapy. A shortage of funds forced him to stop the treatment in March 2014, and started looking for alternatives to get treatment. Meanwhile, the cancer was taking a toll on him to the extent of taking a break from his Electrical Engineering course at Moi University, two years shy of graduation.

I could only imagine how bleak the future would look like from his lenses, a life of apprehension and constant pain, feeling like you can’t help yourself.

Then he said something. Something I could not fathom could come from him at that time. A statement that sounded like a roar of a lion, the kind of roar that Katy Perry sings about from a lion that Bob Marley aspires to be in Zion. “If I survived Cancer in 2014, I can’t give up now”.

This guy is a rare air kind of person, the few people whose will makes more than a way. That statement caused a stir, an itch to do something, to validate his statement, to keep his hope alive. We went back to the drawing board and crafted ways of making sure that we fan his hope, because hope is a rainbow after the storm, and if he can see a rainbow, the storm becomes a distant rumble.

The rumble is slowly tending towards mute and the rainbow will be one with visible colour and in bold. I saw it when I saw people tweeting their support, when I saw the paybill amounts rising with the tenacity of the rain on my window. The outpouring of support from bigwigs, smallwigs, guys yet to hatch or prefer to keep it bald and simple.

One photo that caught my eye (and seems to be a favorite for most), he is in captured along a supermarket aisle, goofing around obviously, and drinking from a huge cup. I do not doubt that it is in his nature, the stereotype of Luhya’s and tea abounds here. Something else strikes you, he is true to his nature but not a small time risk taker. He drinks from a big cup because life is too large to be drunk from a small one. His resilience tells me that he has a patent for that cup, that’s why you can’t get it at Java or Kaldis.

As I walk home after hours spent in the matatu, braving the light drizzle, I am drenched. Drenched in gratitude and soaked in hope. Hope that with our donations, prayers and simply spreading the message we will take him to India for further treatment and that his fighting spirit will go the distance. If I have learnt anything in the last year, is that a kind word and a kind action goes a long way. Touching someone’s life directly, even in a small way can change yours in a larger way than you ever anticipated.

After all, aren’t the floods caused by small rain drops that just won’t stop?

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Call to action

Donate #EdwardObiero fight cancer.
MPESA Paybill: 317086
Account: Edward Obiero

Image Credit

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P.S. Kenyan creatives stand in solidarity of #EdwardObiero. See their tweets below;