The Drug Addict

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“We’re in this together,” They said. “We are more than friends and junkies. We are family,” They said.

…..

 

I hear the sound of ocean waves gracefully swooshing along the seashore in a slow but vigorous manner. The sound continues to duplicate, creating a rhythmic sound, which echoes towards us, mammals of the land. The waves bring with it the breathe of life: A smooth, cold and windy breeze that cools down the extremely humid temperatures. It caresses your skin and removes all the sweat from your body leaving your cool and relaxed. Mother Nature’s cooling system I suppose.

It was midday. At around 1300 East African Time.

The month of February is usually the hottest month of the year. That I can affirm to you with the greatest level of confidence. Walking for a few meters under that treacherous sun will doom you to a period of exhaustion, dehydration and unpleasant odors to the abnormal excretion of sweat from all parts of your body. You then console yourself that one shower would refresh your body and you would return to your normal self. You spend an hour enjoying the cold water trickling down your body as your body cools down like an overheated car engine. You head out of the shower refreshed and ready to face the endless struggles of life. Only for you to begin sweating heavily once more, which leaves you cursing and lamenting on Mother Nature.

But for us, sitting under the coconut tree next to our home did the trick.

There we were, seated in a long bench strategically placed under the tree in such a way that the tree’s long, slender leaves provided the cool shade for all of us. The coconut tree was a rather lucky one. It had escaped being cut for quite a long time despite its fellow trees being unceremoniously chopped down for human capitalist purposes. If only it could speak. The things it had witnessed will remain a mystery to us millennials enjoying its cool shade.

There were six of us. Seated on the long bench. We were the best of friends. Having known each other for more than a decade, we had considered ourselves brothers, much more than friends. But our connection was not solely based on our knowledge of each other from childhood. We had similar interests. Similar hobbies. Similar taste of music.

Similar everything.

Out of all these similarities, one similarity stood out from the rest. A unique comparison only the six of us shared in the whole neighborhood. One that made us be viewed in a totally different perspective by the community.

The six of us were seated there; each one busy with his phone, doing whatever one does with unlimited Telkom bundles. I was the third person to the right. Literally in the middle of the wooden rickety bench. I was glued to my phone concentrating on placing a bet that would secure my account with a few thousand shillings, if all went well that is. I was keenly analyzing the odds, switching form tab to tab of articles and analysis done by various international sports specialist whose predictions were most likely to come true. The level of concentration that was in me, one might think it was a matter of life and death.

Of which it was.

As I was finalizing, placing the bet and leaving the rest to God, the one seated on my left patted my shoulder to capture my attention. I ignored him as he proved to be a distraction as I was “busy”. He tapped my shoulder one more time. I logged out of the betting site and the one seated on my right hand patted my shoulder as well. I placed the phone into my pocket and looked at my friend on the left who was handing it to me. His eyes were bloodshot and sleepy as red veins protruded out of his retina.

“Oy…oy…oya bro..shika sss..ss.sinda..a..aano..o..” He spoke in a slow, stammering manner, evidence of gradual degradation of his cognitive skills. His name was Musa. A long-term friend of mine before I knew my other five friends. He slowly lifted the syringe he had in his hand and pointed I it towards me. I took it from him and pressed the nozzle to release the whatever contents which had remained. I took a piece of paper from my lower pocket and placed it on my laps. I was then passed a cup that was half-full of water by Musa. I opened the piece of paper and in it were the powdery substance we all were addicted to. A white, shiny powdery substance, which had an odor similar to the chemical elements we used to combine during our high school days.

That was what we had in common. We were all drug addicts. Really heavy drug addicts.

I poured the contents of the paper into the cup and it formed a yellowish solution. I used the syringe to stir the contents into a uniform mixture. I stirred slowly and carefully. I had to make sure none of it spilled or went to whatever wastage. A single ounce of that commodity went for two thousand shillings on a good day. If the supply was low, the prices would double or even triple, making it harder for a jobless youth like me to afford. After stirring for a couple of minutes, it turned into a whitish solution, an indication that it had been evenly dissolved in the water. I grabbed the syringe with my right hand and the solution with the other hand. I placed the syringe inside the cup and pulled its nozzle upward, sucking the solution into the syringe. As you all know, syringes are calibrated. I was supposed to inject 30ml of it every day for my normal body functioning. I measured the required amount and then passed the cup to the next person seated on my right.

I looked at him and his state was worse. He was trembling. His hands and feet were shaking uncontrollably. He had gone for two days without his dosage and he was one step closer to mental instability. I rolled the sleeve of my right shirt until it reached the elbow. I took a brown scarf, which I had tied on my forehead. I  clenched my right hand into a fist and tightly tied the scarf on my hand, making my arm veins protrude outwards. I counted the second vein from the elbow which was normally larger than its counterparts. That was where I was supposed to inject the syringe into my body. I placed it on the vein and slowly pushed it inside the vein. It slid in for a few centimeters and knowing it was well placed, I pressed the nozzle downwards with my left thumb, pushing its contents into my vein. I felt a sharp pain as I pressed the nozzle until the last drop was transferred into my body. I removed the syringe from my vein and immediately, the drug took effect. I began breathing heavily and feeling nauseated. I could feel my heart beat increasing its pace and my eyes became blurry. The six of us were used to sitting under that tree which was next to the road. I looked around and saw people looking at us with eyes of pity and disgust. Despite the road being wide open, people resisted passing next to us on fear that we might pounce and rob them of their belongings. School children passed the road while bursting with laughter, pointing at us and imitating our dizziness selves. Then an old man yelled at them, telling them to rush home or we would kidnap them. The kids ran away laughing, as the old man looked at us in a disgusting manner. He clicked and continued walking away. We had gotten so used to the endless mean stares by the public that it did not affect us anymore.

But that was not a good way to live.

I passed the syringe to my friend seated on my right to repeat the same procedure. We had only one syringe, which all six of us used. For the past two years, that single syringe had kept our drug urges satisfied without any malfunction. The syringe was not just given to us on a silver platter. Our desperation led us to break into the local dispensary and steal a packet of syringes. Some of them slipped and fell as we were running for our lives since the security guard heard the commotion and was on our necks. Only one syringe lived to be used by us: and ever since, it has served the six of us up to date.

The drug was finally reaching its peak and I felt my brain become ‘elevated’.

Then a sudden memory flashed before my eyes. The very memory that led to me being in this hopeless state.

The events of a decade ago that completely changed my life. I was in primary school when I received news that both of my parents were involved in a road accident and their lives ended as they were transported to the hospital. That was when my life took a different path from the dreamy, surrealistic path of one day becoming a pilot, doctor or a lawyer. The unbearable trauma connected me to Musa, who introduced me to the drug world. On trying out the drug for the first time, I felt a relaxed sensation and I felt as though nothing had happened. It was an interesting experience.” If this simple dose made me forget my problems for a whole day, then if I used it daily I can get on with my life without feeling traumatized,” I thought as the drug took effect on my body. Musa took me to meet his so-called ‘family’, which were other five users of the drugs who were undergoing or have undergone a fate similar or worse than mine. We immediately became friends as we shared our stories, something that made me realize that my experience was the least tragic compared to theirs.

From that day on, we became the best of friends. We went everywhere together, did everything together. “We’re in this together. We are more than friends and junkies. We are family,” one of them said as he patted my shoulder. Those words became our slogan from that day.

But we had a major issue. We grew heavily addicted and we could not survive a single day without injecting ourselves with the drug. And it was quite expensive. We were more focused on getting the drug than having basic needs.

Then another memory flashed before my eyes.

I saw the old man before my eyes. He was looking at me with eyes of disbelief. He could not believe what had just happened. He was on the ground, eyes looking up at what I was holding. There I was: a stone stained with blood on my right hand and his wallet on my left hand. I looked at him with fiery eyes as I clenched the stone tighter. I had just stolen his wallet after a rough confrontation. I hit him with the stone one more time and he lost consciousness. I dropped the stone, looked around to see if anyone was looking. It was dark except for the crescent moon, which dimly lit the sky.

“Come on bro, let’s go!” Musa said as he came to where I was. He looked at the old man on the ground and looked at me. I threw the stone into the nearby bush and we began running. That was my first time to commit crime: with violence.

More memories flashed into my mind as the drug continued its journey throughout my body. Normally when I took the drug, my mind became empty and void. But this time round, memories of all the bad things I had done in the past returned before my eyes.

I felt a tight grip on my left shoulder. The grip became tighter and tighter.

I opened my blurry eyes and looked to my left. It was Musa. His eyes were bulging outward as his grip became tighter. He was still. Then a white substance began coming out of his mouth. Then his nose followed. I looked at him, trying as hard as I can to think what could be wrong.

Then he fell to the ground and started shaking. Shaking vigorously. With his hand tightly gripped on my arm.

My other friends woke up in shock and observed him. One of them came closer to him and peeked into his eyes. We were all shocked, as they had turned from white to green. His shaking continued as he wet his pants.

“We have to go now! He injected the drug to the wrong vein. He will not survive. We must get out of here.”

When he finished uttering those words, everyone ran in different directions. The bench fell on the ground due to the commotion, making dust rise in the air. I stood there for some seconds trying to contemplate what was happening. Musa was my best friend. I looked behind me and all the four of my friends had vanished into unknown locations. I walked a few steps away from him. I looked at him one more time. His shaking was gone. He lay there still, not moving a single muscle. The white substance stopped coming out of his mouth and nose.

He was no more.

I could not begin to imagine what would happen if I was found there lingering next to a dead body. It was almost 4 PM and soon people would be streaming on the road next to the coconut tree.

I took off as fast as I could. Not looking back at all. I had no idea where I was heading. I just kept running. Deep down I recalled the words we told ourselves each and every day for the past decade.

“We’re in this together,” They said. “We are more than friends and junkies. We are family,” They said.

They meant nothing.

Nothing at all.

 

Fun and Games

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It’s all fun and games until hell breaks loose.

~Anonymous

It begins as a whisper. A tiny speck of reality slowly unfolding right before your eyes, with total cluelessness of what is going on, how to react to the said tiny speck of reality. It then gradually increases its momentum and ferocity upon your innocent self and you are left there: standing with eyes wide open, caught in an inescapable dilemma of whether to escape: by escape I mean the literal direct version of you running the hell away from the crazy, life-threatening situation like the way a little girl would run away from something that looks straight out of a horror movie. The kind of running that would even shame the fastest of species in this cruel world of ours. Or the second option would be to face your deepest darkest fears: face them like the warrior you think yourself to be. A warrior from the ancient kingdom of Mphoko-something (You know those crazy names they give to those outstanding legendary African kingdoms) that our grandparents used to grace us with their long heroic tales during the Christmas holidays when we people from the urban areas undergo the annual mass exodus from our homes in the suburbs and retreat to be with the rest of the family members in the remote areas of our beloved country. Well, this particular incident would put me through one of the greatest dilemmas in youth history.

There’s no greater time of the year in the history of Mombasa than during the Christmas holidays. The sandy beaches are filled with fathers dressed in shorts, publicly portraying their round bulging pot-bellies to be feasted by the eyes of the public while they escort their children, who most of them happened to be seeing the ocean for the first time, into the shallow sides of the beach while tightly holding their hands in fear that the warm, rough waters of the Indian Ocean would scoop their children off their feet and drag them into the depths of the ocean where they would be devoured by hungry sharks who silently lurk around the shores, robbing them of their highly educated infants. At least such rumors serve an important role of ensuring an all-time surveillance of children as they enjoy the pleasure of playing in the soft sands and being washed by the pure white foam of the ocean waves as they calmly swish towards the edges of the shoreline. And all that fun is just the tip of the iceberg. When the sun finally sets and the night breathes its darkness into the world, everyone suddenly exits the caves they have been hiding into and slowly crawl out into the atmosphere. The whole area begins beaming with life as people head to their favorite night spots to “pass the night” with style (Drinking horribly while dancing like possessed people). And the next morning you are greeted with the sight of endless numbers of people lying dead asleep on the roadside, some snoring, others robbed of their belongings while drinking to the point of no return. No one tends to wake them up since the brutal heat of the daytime will soon install some sense into their hangover brains and reality will soon catch up with them of how they went past the limits of fun.

I looked at myself one last time as I headed out of our home to meet with my friends whom we had planned about how we would memorably spend the night leaving us with endless stories to tell our friends when we went back to school. It was the 31st month of December, the last month of the long, the treacherous year of 2013 which was filled with all sorts of scandals and mishaps that rained down on me. But today I would make sure I had the best time of my life, whether 2013 liked it or not. I took a thirty-minute walk towards my best friend’s home. Tony, he was called. I got in only to find that my whole squad was already there, patiently waiting for me. I froze. The kind of freezing that happens when you suddenly see someone whom you had not anticipated to see in due time. She was there. Seated at the edge of the brown couch, Lillian sat there like the angel she was: my all-time crush that made my hormone levels rise abruptly making my judgment vague and impaired. I stood there unable to think and act. Then she looked at me and smiled, displaying those teeth: those white teeth. My cluelessness increased. I thought of the best way to smile back and curved my mouth into a banana-shaped catastrophe which made her laugh hysterically as she placed her hand on her mouth trying to hide the laughter. Tony, after all this time, discovered my presence and got up from where he was sitting. We went outside where he briefed me of tonight’s plan. He was the formation captain after all. This night was all courtesy of his ingenious thinking.

“I saw the way you looked at her,” he said while laughing. He obviously knew but had to say it anyway. I did not comment on that.

“Here, take it and keep it safe,” he said as he handed me a blue backpack. I took it and opened the zip to have a peep inside. I dipped my hand and it came out with two medium-sized firework sticks. They were known as medium-sized but they were really heavy. There were more items in the bag. Two 500ml bottles of William Lawsons lay at the bottom of the backpack together with one whole lemon. “Quite the planner,” I thought to myself as I observed the rather expensive drinks wondering where he got the money to purchase such drinks considering the fact that we were all way underage. “Where will we light these fireworks?” I asked as I keenly looked at the instructions which stated that there has to be a stand for it to be thrown into the sky for it to explode marvelously and satisfy our eyes with an array of colorful displays lighting the night sky. “Hii unashikilia tu na mkono na inapanda juu yenyewe,” he replied confidently, contrary to what the instructions stated. “By the way, we should get going,” he added as he looked at the time. I looked at my watch and it was 11.00 PM. One hour until the annual display of fireworks in the shores of the Indian Ocean. That was where we were supposed to head. Tony rushed into the house and informed the rest that time was not our side. One by one, they emerged out of the house and stood where I was. I didn’t know some of them but who cared. We became connected as we were all about fun. Nothing more nothing less. Then she eventually walked out. Her white dress shone against the dim light of the crescent moon. Her long black braids swayed sideways as she walked towards us. She stood next to me and gave me the annihilating smile. Tony came and we left their house and headed to the beach. She winked at me as she began walking intentionally in front of me.

God’s plan I tell you.

The matatu stage was overcrowded. Multitudes of people were standing on the stage, all heading to the same destination as we were. We stood there for almost thirty minutes with each matatu doubling the price to the public beach as time went by. Lucky for us, one of the drivers happened to be my neighbor and we were quite good friends. He shouted my name and I saw him waving at me. We quickly entered the matatu before all the seats were taken. Luck was on our side as I couldn’t wait to see the fireworks unleashing colors into the sky. There was this particular street which was aligned with nightclubs and the way people were packed outside trying their level best to gain entrance before the night dies.

But the night was young. Really young. And so were we.

So, after twenty or thirty minutes on the road, we arrived at one of the legendary public beaches off the coast of East and Southern Africa. The crowds that were there… Unimaginable. People were streaming in their thousands, wearing all forms of clothing their deep pockets could afford. There was an exodus of people from the comfort of their warm cozy beds towards the cold windy shores of the ocean: all in the name of fireworks. Some loud, colorful explosions in the sky that gave people, me being one of them, a great sense of happiness and content into my young soul. The way they shoot up the night sky making the ocean shine and reflect its cool waters, burst into thousands of colors then slowly trickle down like dust into the ocean: and the cycle continues for the better part of the night.

She came out of the matatu. Then I swiftly followed behind her, following her every step like a zombie. We walked together, the lot of us that is, carefully maneuvering the endless curves formed by people walking in different directions, talking as loud as they can, some yelling about how the incoming year would make them formulate some goals and ambitions, which as usual, would be dumped and forsaken immediately the second month approaches. The sea breeze was blowing in a cool soothing manner as we approached the sandy shore side. People were irregularly seated on the sand, all facing one direction: the designated side for the throwing of fireworks. Tony glanced at his watch and quickly reminded us that it was almost time for the party to begin. He began running slowly towards the area, and so we followed him. I suddenly felt a soft hold on my hand and on looking; it was her hand, soft as silk, holding mine as we began running like the rest of us. She gazed at me with those eyes. &#@$ !!!

She held my hand.

My hand was in her hand.

And so we held hands.

We reached the spot. And it was packed I tell you. People of all races were represented in the upcoming fireworks display. It was three minutes before the start of the event. Fireworks were set on their stands, some were huge, others were small, but they all had one destination: up.

“Tony, where’s the stand bro?” asked one of us as Tony began unpacking the two fireworks we had brought.

“I think I forgot, but no worries my people. One of us shall do the honors and launch them while holding with both hands. Like this…” He said while holding each one with his arm and raising them up.

We looked at each other, hoping that one of us would emerge and unleash the fireworks. We looked at each other blankly.

“I’ll do it.”

And then she stepped forward.

Just like that, she took the two launchers with her hands, looked back at us: at me and gave us/me the killer smile. I watched in amazement as she walked towards the center of the “spot”, held her hands up high, placed her fingers on each of the switches with were located on the side of the launchers. I stood there staring at her white dress as it swayed away from me.

The countdown had begun and everyone started shouting from 9 going downwards.

“…THREE!… TWO! …ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!”

The crowd went wild with wails and screams and chants as the clock ticked 00:00. A new year had begun. The fireworks began being launched as people backed away from their stands as soon as the fireworks were ready to launch. Lillian looked at us as she pressed the ignition switches on. We cheered her on as she smiled excitedly; anxiously waiting for the fireworks to shoot from both arms and splash the sky with all sorts of colors.

The sky became lit with fireworks and it was breathtaking. We all looked up as they shot up the sky making a loud explosion then scattering into tiny specks of colors as they trickled down the sky and vanishing into the atmosphere.

Then we heard a loud explosion. Followed by one of the loudest screams we’ve ever heard. Then another explosion. And soon there were multiple explosions and we were surprised that there were explosions but no fireworks. We looked at the ground and saw her.

It was Lillian.

What we thought were screams of joy as she unleashed the fireworks into the sky was the total opposite. There she was: instead of the fireworks exploding into the sky, they unceremoniously exploded all around her. We watched in shock as the fireworks kept erupting all around her. Her screams filled the air and her beautiful, long braids suddenly caught fire. She vigorously shook her head as the fire quickly spread all over her hair due to the cool sea breeze which increased the intensity of the fire. The specks of fire fell on her white dress and all hell broke loose. She made a loud scream as we stood there, shocked and clueless about what to do. Her screams synchronized with the loud explosions of the rest of the fireworks being launched. I was speechless. We all were. The look on Tony’s face was that of shock: eyes wide open, mouth open even wider, hands on the head. We looked at each other as the horror unfolded before our eyes.

“She’s on fire!” People finally noticed her on the lower side of the dress was in flames which were on the verge of submerging her into their brutal heat. I lifted up my foot ready to dash towards her when Tony’s hand swiftly gripped my forearm. I stopped and looked at him, wondering what on earth he was doing.

“Bro, where do you think you are going? If we remain here and the police come we are all screwed. If she asks who let her hold the fireworks knowing it is prohibited without a stand, who do you think she is going to point at? US bro! We need to leave right now!”

And with that said the rest of the ‘crew’ whom we came with begun vanishing into the crowd in different directions. Tony patted me on the shoulder, a sure sign of “Goodbye bro, you’re on your own” and quickly disappeared amongst the crowd. I was left there, gazing at Lillian as her screams became louder and louder. People were rushing towards her with buckets of water and sand in an attempt to kill the fire. Two uniformed policemen arrived at the scene and desperately began to control the wild crowd which had formed around her.

“Why didn’t she use a stand….It’s against the law….”

I overheard two men speaking as they spectated the life-saving attempt on Lillian. The crowd had gathered so much that I was now unable to clearly see her. I had to make a choice. To run along with my friends and be at least on the ‘safe side’ or stay put and see what happens next. Whether she would be taken to the hospital, whether the police would question her. Would her pretty, angelic face be disfigured from this incident?

Would she know me as the coward who left her while she was in dire need or the one person who stood by her through thick and thin? If I stay will I risk myself or I should just run and be safe with the rest of my friends?

I had to make a choice.

I had to make a choice fast.

Meanwhile, the sounds of exploding fireworks continued echoing in the air as people who were on the far side of the beach enjoyed themselves while chanting the “Happy New Year” word again and again.

Cheap Thrills

mtura1Thank the Almighty. Thank Him fully my fellow humans. I cannot begin to imagine how we would have been without it. The way He created us to his image and likeness; the way our bodies are organized in utmost complexity of which only He knows. But all these complexities, none can be able to match this thing I’m talking about here…The thing that without it, how would we humans be able to enjoy the pleasures of this lovely planet of ours? Located somewhere in these bodies of ours, they can be a great source of pleasure if given what it deserves. And Oh my goodness! If given what it deserves, the sufficient amount of course, it is simply magical. The way your eyes close in sheer happiness as the pleasure slowly cascades from its source, tingling your brain nerves, making you savor each and every lasting moment of that exhilarating experience. I’m taking about our beloved organs located inside our mouths, you evil minded pricks! All hail our taste buds. Yes, those tiny little bumpy things neatly arranged on top of our tongues. Those battalions of pleasure as I call them. The way they make your mouth wet when you give them a little dose of something sugary or anything that your body is totally and madly in love with. Their eruption with excitement when the food of your dreams is swimming all existing styles in your mouth. Everyone has their own different, weird desires and suppose if all of these desires, by God’s grace, I wonder how would the taste buds react. They would probably rupture with over-exposure due to pure sweetness.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let’s go back. Not really that back. A couple of years back, somewhere around 2012-2013, the time of my life when I was just a dumb, clueless high school student whose levels of hormones were levels never witness before in his entire life. He thought he was becoming a man. Little did that dumb boy know that the road to manness was one hell of a crooked, upside down, crazy, stressful, disillusioned journey. And he, was nowhere nearing the beginning of that journey. The time was around 9:00 AM. Moments before that, our school, which we hated dearly with all our hearts despite being forced to sing some ‘school anthem’ which went something like ‘I’m in the best school… .’Bla bla bla, was closed for the second term break which ran from august all the way to early September, when we were supposed to leave the comforts of our beloved beds and wave them goodbye for a very long, long time. To all who persevered the four year ‘sentence’ our beloved 8-4-4 system granted upon us, know that we celebrate you. You are heroes in this great country. Nyinyi  ni mashujaa I tell you.

Anyways, thirty minutes after the school shut its doors and each and every student went back to their homeland, we were now the small town located at the junction that leads to the legendary Machakos town. Makutano if you’ve heard of it. Just a few kilometers away from Nairobi , and thousands and thousands of miles away from the Indian ocean, it was where we, people at the sea level, would take our buses home; I have to say those buses were the s**t man! As comfortable as you were at home, so were you in those buses. Lucky for us, we made acquaintances with an old man who knew all the drivers and management team for those buses, so it wasn’t a hustle for us to secure a seat. As I said earlier, the time was 9:00 AM. And usually, under normal circumstances, the bus would arrive at around 11:00AM after which our journey would begin until sometime late in the evening, around 7 to 8, when we would finally say we have arrived home. Having secured seats for ourselves, and having more than two hours to spectacularly waste in this small town of Makutano, we decided to do what every boy-child could have done. Seek adventure. We started loitering around like street dogs, sight-seeing how our beloved country was faring on after being locked up for years. There was this particular street that we had been warned by some people, even our school had the list of all no-go zones in Machakos school environs, and this exact street was on the top of the chart. But hey! What other way to find out that something is bad without having at least tried it. After all, we weren’t in school. That’s how our naïve brains were functioning back in the days. No reasoning. Just going head on and jumping into dumb conclusions. After thorough consultations with our ‘educated’ brains (If only you knew how chemistry was shoved up our brains making us feel like we were Le Chatelier’s great grandchildren). We decided to head into the street. The beautiful well-arranged shops quickly changed into poorly built aluminum structures. The fresh air before changed into the stinking stench of some illicit brew. We passed by a group of elderly men sipping some weird substances as their eyes rolled unevenly like marbles on a glass container. We went further into the street and then we spotted it. The legendary dish of all times. The Almighty African sausage. Mtura yani. There it was, a few meters ahead of us, being skillfully prepared by a young man with a brown apron, which we could obviously tell it was once upon a time white as snow ,but after years of not spotting some water molecules , it had no otherwise but to adapt, improvise and overcome the harsh conditions it was surviving in. We walked towards him, yearning to have a slice of it. There were some few people gathered around him, conversing in mother tongue as they partook in the devouring of the delicacy. The moment he saw us coming towards him, he smiled as he waved at the other people to give us ,his ‘esteemed guests’, some space for us to indulge. We obliged as we formed a small curve around the man, observing how he turned then African sausage with his bare hands as if it wasn’t straight from the fire, placing it at the further end of the rusty wire being used as the cooking apparatus, ready to place another raw, long sausage into cookery.

‘’Hii ni yenu mabrathe,’’

He spoke as he quickly chopped it into equal pieces, then dipped his hand into the left pocket of the apron which came out with a pinch of salt. He evenly sprinkled the salt onto the African sausage as he simultaneously placed some chopped tomatoes mixed with lemon and some pepper besides it. He was a master of his art. The whole procedure made our mouths pour with saliva, yearning for a taste. Not wasting a single minute, we began munching the delicacy. Damn it was sweet! Not ‘sweet’ sweet, but it did something to your taste buds that made you want more and more of it. Simply magical. The hotness of the pepper made it hot: hot with sweetness. It was unexplainable. We munched and devoured it non-stop, with our mouths and hearts begging for more. I almost felt like licking my fingers. God bless the African sausage. One hour later, we went back to the bus station, our stomachs totally full. It was as though we were being starved to death back in school. The mission was accomplished. We discovered new territories and returned back with our stomachs completely full. We were even lucky enough to be awarded a whole African sausage by the man courtesy of us promoting him. What a way to begin the holiday. With blessings. It was finally 11:00 am and a few minutes passed when the bus finally arrived. The way we had eaten was enough to sustain us through the whole journey until we arrived in the shores of the Indian Ocean. We boarded the bus and comfortably sat as the journey soon began. With the blazing sun of the Eastern region at its full throttle, sleep was inevitable. I soon began sleepy and in no time, I was dead asleep.

What the @#$!

 

I woke up with a strange feeling in my stomach. Remember how your mother folded up and down the wheat flour when she was preparing chapati for you during the festive season? Imagine that happening to your beloved stomach. I grabbed my stomach in pain as I fumbled on my seat. I closed my eyes in pain as I felt the pain slithering form my stomach, going up to my heart, and back again into my stomach and even my small intestines. It was pure torture. I looked around to where my friends were seated, only to discover they were undergoing the same scenario, even worse than mine. I looked at my friend who was seated next to me as his eyes became watery and tears flown out of his face. I was engulfed with laughter but as I even thought of laughing, the pain in my stomach became more and more agonizing. You know how the cycle goes; after poor decisions comes the phase of regrets. I cursed at the man who sold to us, having massive regrets as to why we went to that place in the first time. My stomach rumbled endlessly as the woman seated next to me looked at me with a grin in his face. I looked outside and we were in the middle of nowhere; still some few hours to go before we reach a refreshing joint where I could run out of the bus like a mad person to the nearest washroom. Now the washroom was at the top of my agenda .To hell with the rest. There was no shortcut here. I had to wait until the bus stopped for me to head out. I looked at my watch and approximately two hours were remaining to reach the nearest stop.

Those were toughest, longest, most painful two hours ever. I got up of my seat, walked around the bus like a confused idiot, all this in the name of my stomach to at least have mercy on me. My friends were laughing at me, as though we weren’t sailing in the same boat. I went and sat down. Moments later I got up, pretend to yawn all in aim to calm my stomach. I swore in my ancestors name I would never dare taste the African sausage, ever, ever again. The torture I was enduring would have been unbearable for the common mwananchi. But to God be the glory: two hours later, the bus came to a stop. Even before the driver switched off the bus engine, we were out of the bus, rushing like gazelles being chased by predators, to the washrooms. Everyone in the bus watched in awe as we rushed out of the buses. Experience was delivered unto us in un imaginable ways.

 

 

Cheap Thrills.

 

The Longer Walk

fleet_55pax_inside_back

It’s funny. Quite funny how twelve whole months stream past you without any warning. Swoosh! From January all the way to December. Like nothing happened, seeming as though you were in a coma immediately the year began and somehow, by God’s amazing grace, as soon as the clock ticks 00:00 on the 31st of December, TWELVE whole months later, you mysteriously wake up from the coma, as clueless as you can possibly imagine. You look around, tried to get hold of all the information bumping, entering and leaving your brain. Then reality hits you. With a metallic rod. On your face. Twice. At the same exact place. And you realize that one whole year has vanished from your life. Just like that without any warning. The clock ticks 00:01. A new year has begun and with whatever vague memory you have of the previous year, you try to recollect together the scattered pieces of all the good, ‘positive’, life-building things and actions that you have done to at least propel your life to the next level you endlessly keep dreaming and fantasizing about. After scanning through the whole year, carefully trying to extract all the good stuff. Damn! That’s when it dawns on you that you ain’t s**t! The whole year you did nothing to be proud of, except tons and tons and tons and tons of really bad, shaming decisions, followed by a series of massive guilt and regret from which you are yet to recover due to the trauma it caused unto your life. As manly as you think you are, you bump your chest and begin motivating yourself that this year you will try as much as possible to be the best version of you. But hey! We all deserve second chances right! So, for the sake of moving forward, let this year, 2017….scratch that, 2018, be a year of zero procrastination (something which runs deep in my DNA) and let’s make it a year worth remembering.

So, shall we begin?

Seat number 19. The seat located at the left row. The left row and the exact center of any long-distance travelling bus. And it’s also located next to the window. That, ladies and gentlemen, has been among one of my favorite seats since I don’t know when. I have been travelling from my County on the coastal side of this great country of ours all the way to the green, misty highlands located somewhere in Machakos for four whole years in the name of attending high school. So I have proudly made more than twenty journeys (I hope this word exists somewhere in the minds of great English elites) to and from home to school.

Now on this particular journey, which took place around three years ago, I was heading to school. Those days when the SGR was barely some rumors. So there I was, seated on my favorite chair (seat number 19), wearing my perfectly ironed school uniform; I recalled how I ironed it four times continuously ,especially the school shirt, so that the line;you know that line which appears at the endings of each cloth when you iron; yes that one. I had to make sure it lasted as long as possible and what better way than to iron it until those nice straight lines form as thoroughly as possible. Let’s just say I was unbelievably clean. When deep down you where you are headed to you are going to declare a war between you and water, you must prepare yourself psychologically. And that I did my friends. I had, as always, prepared myself in all ways possible. I was calmly seated on that window seat, enjoying the breathtaking view of Mother Nature and all its glory. The bus was cruising smoothly; typical of all buses plying the Mombasa-Nairobi route. The well-spaced seats, tinted windows, the smooth sound of the engine making you feel as though you are gliding in high altitude. And not forgetting the free Wi-Fi; who doesn’t want to get hold of free Wi-Fi? Plus the surround system on the bus. And on top of it all, the loads of snacks you are given throughout the journey. Home away from home. That was the slogan of each of these buses. My eyes were ever outside the window, watching how the surroundings were slowly transforming from the flat areas of the coast to the hilly mountainous terrain. And as usual, I could feel how the air, which was softer and warmer as we left the coastal area, casually becoming thicker and breathing was quite different. You feel your head becoming heavier, but not for long since moments after your body adjusts to the changes and you’re good to go. We were now past the Tsavo National Park which blessed us with free views of some scattered giraffes, antelopes and some group of lions which found no better place to rest than a few meters next to the road. The speed of the bus made them vanish into the thick grasses nearby as their little cubs were left clueless near the road, wondering why their counterparts left them without any warning. We watched as the elder lions came back to where they were, grabbed the little cubs by their necks and disappeared with them into the thick grass along the road. Family is forever I guess.

Boom!!!

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…My head was leaning against the window, admiring God’s nature, when out of nowhere, we hear this loud blast which rips through the whole bus. I felt a sharp vibration through the glass, and I immediately lifted my head away from the window. The vibration ran through my head as I tried to get hold of what on earth had just happened. I blinked heavily as I looked around the bus. The cool and calmness of the bus was abruptly changed to a tense mood. Children who were dead asleep began wailing uncontrollably as their frightened mothers tried to calm them down, while they too were dead scared. Murmurs filled the bus as everyone was curious to know how things went from 0-100 real quick. ‘Shit!!’ The loud gasp came from the extreme front of the bus. On the right end from the bus in specific. It was the driver. I raised my head alongside other passengers to get a glimpse of the driver, only to see a large, blue truck, with its headlights brightly shinning on us, coming to our direction at defying speeds. I recall very well seeing the driver let go of the steering wheel and covering his face with both his arms. The large truck smashed our bus and I felt a large amount of force that tried to pull me out of my chair. I still have no idea how I had kept on my seatbelt. They literally stopped me from flying across the bus and I was intact on my chair. The screams and wails were deafening to hear. I tightly held on to the straps of the seat belt as I felt the bus overturn. My eyes slowly began to shut down and the wailings and screams which filled the bus began to fade away…

The morning bell rang at exactly 4AM and I lazily opened one eye first, then the next. As I woke up from my bed, I felt a sharp pain on my neck and it grew sorer as the days went by. I touched the bandage around my neck and it seemed to be peeling off. I placed my palm on the front part of my neck and I could feel a large scar running from one end of my neck to the other.

Three years down the line, the scar is still visible on my neck. Regardless of it growing smaller as time goes by, it’s still a clear reminder of how I was in a f*d up situation some time back.

The Long Walk

Let the water wash away your worries.
The sun is slowly setting towards the horizon. I remember the time. Memories never fade they say. They are just stored somewhere behind your already-filled brain, patiently waiting for just a single trigger and snap! The memory proudly slithers from the back of the brains, skillfully meandering through, up, down and round other memories without displacing them even by an inch. It slows down at the front of the brain, together with other memories which have the utmost priority in you. It makes you wonder :Are my getting my priorities wrong or what? But fear not, there’s a reason (it’s what most people say anyway) the memory has suddenly decided to grace you with its presence. So, shall we begin?

Ocean waves. The way they swish to and from the shoreline. A sight to behold. I was there. After the sun was done tormenting innocent civilians in Mtwapa with its brutal thermal energy, it was now time for it to set. It lay on the western side of us, me in particular, as I could feel it’s warm heat a soothing to my brown skin. I was walking….not walking the way my counterparts in the capital city walk when heading to work. That’s rushing for dear life. I was strolling. Lazily if I may add. Yes, I was lazily strolling along the shoreline. With my pair of shoes firmly held on my hands, the sensation of walking barefoot alongside the shoreline was just satisfying. Watching the waves originate from deep in the ocean. From far, you see some whitish substances parallel to each other, coming towards your direction. They slowly increase in size while getting closer and closer towards the shore. A few metres away, they roll together, making swishing sounds. Sounds that simulate peace and serenity into your soul. They roll hitting the ground with a soft force and finally spreading the shores with its blue, foamy waters. The water slithers across my feet as a rather high speed, then slowly cascades back, across my feet again, this time slower. The stress, headaches: all that has been causing problem to your life slowly fades away. It’s like some sort of therapy. A natural one. With each wave passing through your feet, you feel some sort of relief in you. You wonder if allow the worry and anxiety is really what there is on this beautiful planet of ours. Andrew the way the water is warm (courtesy of our beloved sun). It’s waves is enough to relieve you of your burden : now add the warmth of the water. Simply magical. And the sand, let me not even talk about it.

Now there I was, enjoying some free therapy. What a great day to end the day. By the sea shore. Admiring God’s creation at its finest. As usual, that time was the strolling period for many folks. Locals and foreigners streamed to the ocean to catch a glimpse of how the sun sets the ocean’s soul and it’s surrounding on fire. And who am I to be left out. And when you’re walking, there’s no need of looking where you are heading to. Most heads looked down:to the water swaying to and from your feet. That’s the position I was. A group of small fish who got unlucky and were displaced bt the waves quickly swam past my feet and I admired how they courageously swam towards the same waves that washed them ashore. I gazed as they slowly swam past the waves and further into the open ocean.
“Bump!”

You know that bumpy sound that originates when you unknowingly bump into some stranger. So it was heard. I felt a soft bump on my left shoulder and my eyesight immediately shifted from the waters below me to the person whom I just bumped into. An old, frail man was looking at me sternly. Damn. I could tell what was running in his mind. How the youth of today have become disrespectful to the society. Blah blah blah. I said a quick sorry plus a brief explanation of how I didn’t see him coming. His grinned face turned into a distant smile. With a small nod plus an ‘it’s okay ‘, the elderly man turned around and proceeded with his walk. I too continued my long walk to nowhere actually. I was determined to stop strolling once darkness was in my presence. For the night was dark and full of terror.

“Hey there! Stop”

“Yes you! The one with a blue t shirt!”

It was I. I turned around to see who was calling me. I saw a multitude of peole heading towards me. Not lazily strolling as it was the norm. They were rather stomping towards me. I could hear them murmuring as they slapped the water with their feet. I stopped and waited to witness what the fuss was all about. I had no single doubt in my mind, knowing very well the law-abiding citizen I was. They reached where I was and from their facial structures at that time, they were not happy citizens. Before I could even open my mouth to ask “Nini mbaya “,a bearded man raised his voice.

“So you are the ones we’ve been lookin for all this time. You are making this beach unsafe.”

I’ve never been more confused in my life I tell you. There I am, clueless as to what he’s saying . Before my brain loads, another bombshell is dripped. This time an elderly woman raises her voice.

“These thugs need to be burned. How can a young man like him steal from an old man!”

Wait a minute…..What! Now I’m more confused. The sounds of agreement from the crowd and their vigorous nodding further increases my confusion. I tell them that I didn’t steal anything from nobody. “But this old man says otherwise.” Another man speaks while stepping aside. Behind him, he was there. The old man who I had just bumped into.

What the fuck!

He looked at me. I looked back. Cluelessly in fact, while he smiled at me. I quickly spoke”Look guys, this man is a plain liar.” I explained to them the bumping event and how I didn’t even utter an insult to him. “I can even empty my pockets for you,” I said as I quickly dipped my hands into my pockets. I took out my phone which was on the left pocket and showed it to them. I took out the keys and some few notes which were on the right one.”See, I told you” I said as I looked at the old man whose plans had failed horribly.

“The back one “.Came a voice from the crowd. I quickly placed my hand into my back pockets. I felt a huge bulk in my pockets and took it out slowly. The crowd was in shock. In my hands was a golden wallet. I looked at it in wonder,my mouth wide open. I shiftedidn’t my glance to the old man. He nodded, smiling at me. All eyes lay on me as more and more people were streaming towards me. But why? I was asking myself all sorts of questions.

I felt a tight grip on my right hand. A well built man stood behind me, with his face a clear expression of death.

And The rest is history.

The Night Is Dark

For the night is dark and full of terror. Where I’m from, somewhere along the shores of the Indian Ocean, you will never skip a single day in your life without hearing someone mumble about the supernatural. From the old, to the young, even to the extent of the unborn yapping about it. And the interesting thing about these happenings is that when someone says he saw a particular(Song of the year tight there by the way.Anyways let’s proceed before you forget all I’m saying.)thing, everybody else now miraculously gets the courage to speak his own similar story and before you know it, the topic is being discussed by every one, I mean every single person existing at the sea level. There was a time, some few years back,when out of nowhere some fisherman, or so I heard, came from the ocean with tales of how he witnessed ,with his own two eyes, a mermaid that swam quickly past their boat and disappeared into the depths of the ocean. I mean Really??? . From my point of view it was total bullshit. The way his news spread across the coast, the topic was on everyone’s mind. Now everyone was on high alert, hoping and praying to encounter one of those fucking creatures to back up the story. And by the way mind you the one with the original story is a full grown adult human being with a family and a dozen of children and he’s narrating his story to you while he’s scared as fuck. So you have no option but to believe what your brain tells you to believe. But for me, that’s just hearsay. Now to make things worse, months later, another story emerges, this time round of a young nigga, my age mate in particular. So as heard, the guy went for a swim by himself. The water was warm and shit, he was having the time of his life when from afar, he spotted a young girl, also swimming by himself. The hyena in him jumped into action and swam towards her. His goal was to swim underwater all the way towards the girl and startle her suddenly and boom!  Mission accomplished, they start chatting and the rest is history. The nigga takes his breath and dives into the water. Of course your eyes must be open in the water to know where you are going. He swims toward her and in the water begins to see her blurry shape. Then he decides, let me swim between her legs and come out the other side. His hyena mind is thinking at infinity level. As he approaches her, he sees no legs. He looks closely and the lower body is joined together and at the end is some sort of tail. He literally screams under water and his small bag of air in his mouth escapes out of the water. He says he just saw the tail flap a few times and the creature was miles away from him. And he has no fucking idea how he went back to land but what’s in his mind is that the ocean is a no go zone for him . His particular story trended without hashtags. It was viral verbally.  Those who will be lucky enough to come down here to the coast, ask around and the tale will be narrated, perhaps even better. 

Now let’s leave the mermaid crap aside for a moment. They are just imaginations from a bunch of high people. My opinion there. But there’s this story that up to date has given me endless migraines whether or not it is true. I personally have had some encounters here and there. These clean little pets we all love and cherish. Cats. They are warm and loving elsewhere, but here, they are the most feared. It has been reported thousands of times about how cats are some sort of possessed with evil spirits. Some say they saw some cats changing into humans. Especially the changing into human ones. Stories are told that during the daytime, you just see an ordinary human being doing his daily routine. As the night falls, while others are deep asleep, he becomes a cat and starts roaming the streets doing his part time job -haunting peole. Just recently, some fucked up incident occurs. And old woman was found lying naked in someone else’s compound early in the morning. Keep in mind that the compound was surrounded by a ten-foot wall, and on top of the wall, an electric fence was mounted on top. Now someone please explain to me, how the Fuck could a naked old woman have surpasses that wall and electric fence!!. I’ve used all logical means and shockingly, none prevails. In a community where supernatural issues are a common thing, the peole wasted no time. She was roughed up by the large mob that had gathered to witness and out of nowhere, a tyre flew from the crowd and landed right around her neck. In every one’s mind, a witch had been caught. I was there that fucked up day. Remember how I told you in the beginning that when such incidences happen people miraculously gather the courage to speak up, well they did. People spoke of how a cat had been giving them sleepless nights, crying in different voices,how she terrorised innocent children, among other horrifying things. She was unceremoniously burned right before our eyes, her screams and yells seeming like music to the joyous celebrations of the masses.

And  after her death, there was some sort of calm. The incident occurred a few miles from my home and people spoke of how relieved they were, how comfortable their sleep had become and how children who were once dead afraid of playing outside suddenly became playful. 

For the night is dark and full of terror.

The Encounter 

No place I’d rather be than in the calm, serene, shoreside town. My town. My home. Mtwapa.Where my soul is at its best state of rest. No place I can possibly imagine would best replace this feeling I have when I’m there. Anyways, enough of that already. The place is not in heaven or a European country. In my stay for all those years, I’ve experienced some really fucked up stuff, but there’s one: this one that is still in memory and I bet it will stick in me forever. I just remember it and I don’t know whether to laugh, or just pity my sorry ass altogether. 

I remember that particular happening. I don’t remember the exact year, month and date, but I remember my age. I was four years old, about to turn five in a couple of months. So yeah, it’s a very, very, long, long time ago, considering the fact that I’m almost marrying and soon my first born child, a son I hope, will follow after. Wait a minute, I’m just kidding. By the way it hurts like hell knowing that your future wife is currently being banged mercilessly by some horny senior year campus student who has also been fucked up by a cat he had no clue about. Please,  I beg, go easy on her. Damn, life is a bitch right! 

So, as I was saying, I was a four year old little boy. The time was around 7:30 pm and I was just chilling at home, you know,  as any normal kid would do. With the TV remote on my hands, switching from Nickelodeon to Disney Tv : those days when missing your favourite cartoon was a nightmare on top of nightmares. The horror was unbearable I tell you. What are you going to tell your friends when you link up the next day?  The way you will be laughed at,it was just unbearable. And that, my dear friends, was the origin of stress as we know it today. So there I was, watching my favourite cartoon. Then I hear my name being called in the kitchen, My older sister, Lucy. How I used to hate her those days. The moment I hear her calling my name, it’s like if I was basking along the glorious shores of the Indian Ocean, then a second later, a thick cloud full of thunderstorms form above me, dropping hailstones, huge drops of rain, thunder and lightning smashing along my face, all at the same time. I knew she was about to send me to some God forsaken shop to buy a God forsaken cooking ingredient she had surprisingly “forgotten “. So I  angrily throw the remote – not on the ground of course. No matter how angry I was, that would simply be a good way of telling my mother “Kindly beat the shit out me. Please.” The remote landed safely on the smooth sofa and I went to hear what she has to say. I was unceremoniously handed over a one thousand shilling note and “Go give this to the gas supplier guy. The tall one. Tell him it’s me ” were the words that came out of her mouth. Really Sis!  I know you have a crush on the nigga, but must you use me to convey your info! She just thinks I’m a dumb, clueless nigga. Well joke’s on you. 

So I rush out, as quickly as I possibly can.  Deliver the goods and get the fuck back as quickly as possible. That was my motto. Beind the sreetsmart Lil nigga I was,  shortcuts were my favorite thing back in the days. I had the entire map of Mtwapa at the back of my head. I reach the gas shop, give the guy -aka my sister’s crush the money and begin heading back home. I have a cartoon to catch up with for heaven’s sake. It would feel like missing your wife’s delivery of your first born child. Out of nowhere, I feel this tight grip on my left hand. I instantly break -actually the brake was automatic. Iook at the hand. Who the fuck could this be. Probably my aunt who lives around the block or a mother who knows me. I look at her face and my mind simply blows away. This woman, a total stranger whom I have never met in my life, is tightly holding my hand.  And the way she is dressed,  Oh my goodness!. From her hand which is full of bangles, and her breasts which were shamelessly hanging from a thin bra-less top. What the fuck!!! Her face, Jesus Christ!! Layer upon layer of endless make up. I try to break free from her grip buy it was too tight. So I’m there looking at her like ” Bitch what the fuck do you want from me!! ” I’m thinking that, not saying of course. Then as if she reads my mind, she places her hand on one of her breasts and begins fondling it. “Naeza kusaidia”. Those were her exact words, I still remember upto date. She proceeds by licking her lips in a round motion and blinking endessly. You have no idea how fast my heat was beating at the moment. I was in full panic mode. Then it bumped into me. She is one of those women Dad warned me about!  She is a hoe!! Then she’s asking me if she can help me. Help me with what actually. Of all the growe ass men walking past her, she sees me. Me!!. A four year old boy. I even don’t know how my own fucking dick works, and you are telling me to help you! With what. Can’t you see virgin written all over my face, and my body, height, weight, my panicking, my everything actually.Jeez. I slowly slide my hand into my back pocket and slowly grab it. Being the devout Catholic I was, my rosary was with me at all times, and I clearly recalled what the Father said one Sunday morning, “Whenever you spot the devil, it will be your greatest weapon.” True to those words, I was face to face with the Devil’s biological mother. I was wishing I had more rosaries to counter her demonic influence. I try as quickly as possible to recall all the prayers and sermons taught to us and arranging them strategically hoping to unleash unto her one by one until she lets go of my hand. 
And the rest is history…