Thick and Thin 

The sounds of machines continuously beeping throughout the room.  Those white walls, ceilings and floor a constant reminder of my current situation. I turn my head after a painful sting in my head. The endless rows of beds on my right side. People moaning in pain, twisting and turning in their small beds not sure if they would survive to see the next sunrise.  I turn my head painfully to my left. The situation on that side is worse than I thought. Men, women and children were all in those beds. Some could move while some lay still on the beds: Long gone from this world. 

Now I was at the centre of all this: all this chaos, foul stenches of death and despair looming around the white-walled hall.  I took a deep breath and exhaled through the large, transparent ‘thing’ placed on top of my nose and mouth. It was supposed to aid my breathing: or so I overhead from one of the heartless nurses who roughly stuffed it on my facial openings thinking I was unconscious. On the upper part of the ‘thing’, there was a narrow tube which led to an oxygen tank at the corner of my bed. On top of the tank was some kind of a measuring gauge which clearly, from the position of my bed, I could see its pointer stuck on the red side of the gauge. The oxygen levels were depleting. And the nurse seemed not to care after all. To them, my death would mean a reduction in burden to them. I faced in front of me and tried feeling my legs. Nothing. There they were. My once active, strong, functioning legs were reduced to feeble limbs dangling in bandages. They were supported by dirty ropes which were tied on the roof‘s wooden ceiling. I did not know what to do. My hopes were slowly beginning to drift away. The endless speeches by the doctors that I would be able to walk after two months time proved totally contrary to my expectations. My legs remained numb, for the fourth month. My senses ended at my stomach. I only had a vague memory as to what had conspired leading to this. My memory was distorted. Distorted in such a way that I was not able to think straight. But deep in my mind, I had a certain feeling. That feeling of assurance. That feeling that I still I had a shoulder to lean on despite all this hell set upon me. 

I felt it. Just as I was thinking about it. About that shoulder to always and forever lean on.I felt it like an electric spark running through my body. It slowly started from the tip of my left finger, then as if increasing in momentum, I felt it pretty well at my elbow all the way up to my shoulder. I felt it. I had never really quite felt something since that” day. That Friday the 8th on a Saturday evening. The only thing I could remember from my vague mind was my sleek, black Range Rover breaking through the barriers of the smooth Thika Superhighway at the overpass in githurai. The few-second glimpse of the heavy traffic below me which I was soon going to ram forcefully was the last thing I saw. Next was a loud crash at the front of my car. My eyes shut tightly as the fragments of glass attacked my face. Then came the hit. One huge bang on my head and I felt myself slowly drifting away from own body. And the next time I opened my eyes, I found myself here:in this place: soaked in endless pain and anguish. 

It was her. I looked at her after struggling to turn my head to her direction. It was her that for the first time, I could feel again. If only I could speak. Or rather just show her a sign. But I was positive she knew it too. She knew what I was thinking of her. In all this confusion and chaos, she was here. Hopeful, atleast that one day I would go back to the good days. The days before everything overturned in this life of ours. Her tight grip on my hand told it all. For once, I ignored the constant beeping of the machine next to me. The machines that held my life in their hands. Their wires actually. But the nurse was wrong. The wrong that back in school, all your classmates got the answer of a question to be 144.485 and your genius self got you -0.005821. My life was not held by some beeping thing. It was not the reason for my optimism that I would live to see many more sunrises and sunsets. And how I deeply promised myself that once I would get out of here I would live life accordingly and not work my ass off at work. She was the reason behind my life. Deep in my sleep, or a coma as it was called: I overheard them. My friends, or so I thought, were busy whispering to each other how I would soon fade away from this world. Even my family members were no different from them. But her: amidst all this, I did not hear even a single word from her. She was just there, always there. Still here.

My thick and thin.

Memory Lane 

Two . The number that comes after one. The number that is neither an odd nor an even number. It seems just like it was yesterday. Or a few hours ago. The day we were all brought to our knees and our palms touched the soft ground beneath us. On that day, the whole country was shaken. Shaken in a way that each one of us would remember that day for ages to come. Or will we?

I’m talking about the 2nd of April 2015.Our beloved nation was once again gripped by the deadly jaws of terrorism. On that day, I was somewhere in Machakos County, at the main Nairobi-Mombasa highway waiting for the bus to arrive and take us to Mombasa-my home place. It was around 8PM and the cold on that day was unbearable. I was seated on the cold booking office metallic seats, with my high school results in my small bag which was dangling on my shoulder. I had absolutely no clue that a major catastrophe had occurred. Then these two middle aged men came into the booking office.”Students! They were just students! What could have students done to them to deserve that…And they say they are doing God’s work…”Their conversation struck me. I sat upright, beaming with curiosity, to get every bit of detail on what they were talking about. I eavesdropped their conversation as they booked their tickets to Kisumu. Surprisingly, people started contributing to the story of the two men. The quiet booking office, within minutes, was turned into a chatter room.  And there I was, a clueless teenager who has no idea what was happening in his own country. I immediately took my phone, whose low Battery red light was beaming unceremoniously on my pocket. I didn’t care. I had to know what was happening. I switched on my mobile data and clicked the Google icon. ‘Students attacked ‘. I typed just that. I mean honestly, was I supposed to ask around what had happened. People would be amazed how one has not heard such hard-hitting news. No need to look stupid, right?  So anyway, the Google results came and Boom! You know that feeling when you are punched on your stomach and you suddenly become numb and you are left in shock. Reading that 147 students from Garissa University were brutally massacred by militants made me breathless. And it happened in the wee hours of the morning. All this time I had no clue at all that a catastrophe had befallen us. I was just lost for words and thoughts. Reading the survivor’s accounts of events in that morning and trying to imagine how horrified they were and those they would live with that trauma for a very long time. It was just hell. 

My journey that day was off mood. There was nothing I could do but still I felt it. As each and every Kenyan felt it on that day. The news was on everyone’s mind for the better part of that month. Condemnation followed soon. Promises of swift justice to the perpetrators of the heinous act were heard all over the media. Tight security measures were implemented all over the country. It was on each Kenyan mind that the national ID was to be your companion and soul mate for the better part of the days to come. I was on one of the days travelling from Malindi to Mombasa. The way our vehicle was scrutinized it was as if the terrorists could be hiding inside the car’s tyres. But as it is said, time heals all wounds. Soon after, the levels of security reduced with time. Two months later, I headed to the coastal town of Malindi once more. Contrary to the normal security routine, we were greeted with waving hands by the uniformed men. It’s just the way it is. 

Two years down the line. We will always remember the 147 of Garissa. May you forever rest in eternal peace as we recall that bloody day. 

The Sword 

There I was. On that sunny Saturday afternoon. Seated on a public bench somewhere in Nairobi county, with my phone at hand, slowly but keenly skimming through my facebook page:somewhere I can get even the most breaking of all sorts of news. My earphones were intact on my ear-canal, contemplating the Afro beats and deciphering the lyrics to Runtown’s ‘Mad Over You’ .One hell of a song right there I can tell you that. I was just an ordinary human being connecting to social media. Then I spot a video posted by a concerned citizen. I click onto it and it begins loading. In matter of seconds, the video starts playing. It’s a rather clear video, of a person one or two storeys high, overlooking the road which was overcrowded by passers by. There is a dead guy on the road and another one is soon after sprayed with bullets and the video unceremoniously cuts to an end. I then read the caption given by the concerned citizen, only to be shocked :I go back to the video and watch it again, this time in complete disbelief. They were two suspected thieves gunned down by the Flying squad. In Eastleigh . That was when it hit me real this time.

Of course after watching it, the minute-est (if there’s such a word) of thoughts, and God forbid, that one day I will ever think of stealing, quickly evaporate from my head and vanish to the outside world. That feeling was one of my immediate reactions to the video. I could never imagine myself (and all who watched) being a law breaker or a menace to the society. I’m pretty sure if someone was planning to steal on that day, then sees the video, whether he’s within or without the scene,he would think he’s decision over and hold back. 

Second of all, I realised the two people gunned down were not some aged men with decades of experience in the crime. They were young guys. The youth. In my age bracket shockingly. So it got me thinking. What could have gone wrong? Then it hit me. I looked at myself, my thinking. Thinking of a typical guy in his 20s. We all have things in common. And as I read somewhere that we have the most of energy, the plentiest of time, but unfortunately, the least of money. Yes, we all have that burning desire inside each one of us -getting money. That feeling : doing whatever you must to get it. To earn it. Y’all get it, right. Which brings me to one thing I realised we in that age bracket lack -Patience. We youth have none of it in us. We are the masterminds of shortcuts. Not that shortcuts are bad, but choose the right one. You see all your friends swagging their designer shoes or rolling in flashy cars and you think “I must be like them. Really fast” . That’s a bloody wrong shortcut. Stealing ain’t hustling. The video can clearly prove how short life is. I looked at the other thug being manhandled by the flying squad. He was constantly looking at his dead ‘comrade ‘ lying in the middle of the road with bullets all over him. Thinking ,in his mind, his chances of seeing the next sunrise have reduced to almost impossible. That short period of time before his demise: The thoughts of regrets. People spoke on social media that he was a hard nut. One of those thugs with no humanity. But it was his fate and he knew It. His ally dead. Him next. Crowds chanting for the police to end him. Their mission failed. Terribly in fact. If only what he was thinking he could do in case he survived, I hoped it would not have been a decision he would regret afterwards. But it was nowhere near what he was expecting: soon to be rained with bullets at point-blank range. The officer was just angered by them. You are dead but still bullets are penetrating your lifeless body to annihilate any slightest hopes of survival in you :even if there’s none. It’s joke. He was one frustrated man and I also read that the gang killed an officer back then. So I saw where his ruthlessness came from. Not distant from the moment Pablo Escobar was gunned down after his endless mischief and tactics came to an abrupt end. His dead body being added bullets long after he’s gone. 

So for all of you who think of doing something that is not worth it, THINK. H_art the Band best put these words in poetic form for them to sink deep into your minds.

Nolstagia

Ah, yes. When you rewind back time to those particular days that you did something rather odd:something you only come to realise now, a decade later and once you meditate upon it, you realise it makes perfect sense. It was something that shaped you to be who you are today. You try and deny it and just say ‘whatever ‘ ,but deep down you know it is the truth without any benefits of doubt.That single thing that happened in that particular day. Damn, why did I take so long to realise that. Or why did I just ignore it and ‘moved on ‘ instead of embracing it. Now let me take you through the events of that particular day.

Well, like eight years ago, way back in 2008, I was somewhere in primary school in the suburbs of Mtwapa,that ‘famous ‘ coastal town. Don’t act like you don’t know it. It was around 2Pm and the classroom was steaming hot from the January heat. With small windows on each side of the classroom letting in small amount of that soothing ocean breeze, sleep was inevitable. On that day, fortunate for us, the teacher who was to come for Kiswahili lesson, a Mr John Omula :one tall black stone-faced man with pimples all over his face. We dreaded him like a plague. And to make matters worse, he was fond of giving us lots of homework, I mean lots of it, and the next day coming to punish us for each question missed. Today was another one of those days where you get thorough and merciless beating. But we were serving a living God. For some reason, the class prefect, with the proud task of being ‘responsible’ roaming in his veins, he had gone to’ summon the witch ‘ to ‘cast a spell ‘ on us :really heavy spells with his long thick bundles of wands, only to come back and report to us that he would not come for the lesson due to unavoidable circumstances, or whatever it was. We were just happy. Today we would go home with our body parts intact without any malfunction or abnormality whatsoever. That feeling of hope ,relaxation filled us all. Now all that was left was to find a way to pass time. Story telling ,which was mistaken by teachers for noise making, was one of them. We each began sharing our stories, most of which were stupid, but no one cared. The aim was to skillfully ‘waste’ time till the bell rings for heading home. It was now 3Pm. Stories were told during that half hour period. We laughed till we were exhausted.Now there was only one thing remaining. Our favourite at that particular time. How I wish we would have started with that one. Which one? You ask. Well, sleeping. An afternoon siesta in Mombasa. What more can you wish for. One by one, my fellow classmates went to slumber. Starting with the noisiest ones of course. Sleep called on to us like soothing jazz music. There was now silence in the classroom. Except the snorers. They sure know how to snore. I was still awake, seated at the back left corner of the classroom. I ran my eyes through the room. Heads were down facing the locker. I was left with no choice but to follow my peers.

I placed my head down onto the locker in such a way that only my forehead was on my locker while my eyes, nose and mouth were facing the floor. I fidgeted my legs back and forth while observing them. Hopefully waiting for sleep to invade me. My deskmate was dead asleep and I had no one to talk to. I looked down the floor, and around me. Then my eyes spotted this orange-looking book. Hmm..I lazily stretch my leg towards it and pull it where my hands can reach. I grabbed it with my right hand . This orange book was titled ‘Life of Pi ‘. On the front cover was a young boy seated in the middle of a boat surrounded by the ocean, probably sea-locked. I looked closer at the picture and there were some wild animals with him in the same small boat. There was a zebra, a tiger, and some other animal that looked like a chimpanzee -ish. I flip the book and read the back cover preview. That short preview of the novel totally, I mean totally captured me. I felt as though I had read one of the most epic stories ever-just that short part. My mind was awaken. The description of the young boy stranded at sea with wild animals filled my mind. The thirst for wanting to know more gushed in me. I felt a certain feeling- trust me that has never happened before. My brain wandered away from my body and I could feel the burbling of the ocean waves hitting the boat in which the boy(whose name was Pi) was. In the cover photo he wore only a short. I imagined the cold he felt. Wow! The author of this novel must have been…well..a f****ng genius in his way. I was craving to place my eyes onto that masterpiece I had just realised. Immediately, placed the book on my locker and began reading from page one. I looked at the number of pages..1245 pages! . I began reading that novel. There and then, my love for novels was unfolding. The novel drifted me away from class into the ocean. It being set in an Indian environment, I felt my mind becoming familiar with the Indian culture -I felt Indian. I didn’t know how time passed till the bell rang. My classmates woke up from their sleep and took their bags as they went home. I hardly noticed their commotion as my mind was deep, deep into the novel’s world. Until a friend of mine bumped my shoulder telling me to stop reading and head home. I came back to my world(a cruel one)  ,placed the book into my bag hoping no one would ask for it until I was done reading. I quickly rushed home with the fastest pace I could afford. I didn’t even greet anyone when I arrived home. I rushed straight into my room, took out the novel and started reading. It was like a drug. 

Anyways, that was my first novel, ever, to read,something of which I am proud of till date. Life of Pi. I may have forgotten the author but the book, one of a kind to me. I finished reading the novel the following week and I felt I had achieved something, however small it seemed. I realised the ‘sweetness’ of novels and since then, I have carried the enthusiasm with me and trust me, the creativity that comes with it is overwhelming.

Oh, and by the way, they did a movie about it  a few years ago and honestly, it’s just as great as the book itself. 

Dark Valentine 

The 14th day of February. As usual, he wakes up at five am, leaving his wife in between the warm sheets. He realises he forgot to switch off the radio the previous night and switches it off. He washes his face with cold water from one of the two basins he and his wife have. No breakfast in mind, he gulps a glassful of milk he bought the previous night. He quickly grabs his black helmet, puts it on his head and walks out of his single roomed house. His motorcycle stands outside his door, ready for a whole day’s work. He wipes the dust from the motorcycle and seats on it. He roars the engine and races of towards the motorcycle stage a few kilometers from his home. It’s the day of love, he tells himself. I must surprise my wife. 

It’s now noon time. He rests under a tree away from the scorching sun. He smiles all by himself for making a ‘good amount ‘ of money. He stares at the road and almost all couples are dressed in red. Two by two, they walk chatting loudly and laughing. He rests for a few minutes and goes back to work. He’s lucky to get a customer :a young man and his beautiful companion. “Take us to moonlight hotel ,” says the man. It was a popular hot-spot for young people and particularly since today is Valentine’s Day, it was a must go place. He carries them and they race towards the hotel. 
Evening approaches. Tired but grateful, he heads towards his home. He makes a stop at one of the local clothing shops. He looks around and spots a nice pink dress. ‘I’d like to buy that one.’he tells the shopkeeper. ‘That’s two thousand shillings, “the shopkeeper replies. He quickly removes the amount from his wallet and the dress is bagged for him. He leaves the premises, crosses the road and enters the butchery. ‘2kg meat please ,’ he tells the butcher. The meat is chopped and he pays the man and now heads towards his home. Nothing matters to him more than his wife. He finally reaches home and a smile drew itself on his face. His wife was about to be surprised in a way that she has never seen. He parks the motorcycle next to the door, switches off the engine and removes the helmet. He rotates the doorknob and enters,with one hand holding the helmet and the other holding the dress and the 2kg meat. ‘Heyyy, I’m back,’ he shouts while holding the pretty dress with both hands for the wife to see. ‘Oh my God! You’re back! ” the wife was shocked, surprised :you name it. She breathed heavily as she scampared her hands to grab her clothing from their bed. “Who’s back.. ” Suddenly, another voice was heard from the kitchen. An elderly man emerged from the kitchen, bare chested, with a towel around his waist, holding a cup of hot coffee. He looked towards the door to see the husband. They looked at each other, clueless. The dress fell on the dirty ground followed by the meat. He clenched his helmet tightly and stared at both of them. His eyes were wide open and his face was written with all sorts of reactions: betrayal, anger, revenge…all in one. 

What he was about to do would forever change his fate.

Landlord Affairs 

I must say , this month, March, I have pushed someone to the limits. He has had enough of my never-ending excuses for far too long. Always coming every day with new threats and still I don’t respond to them.

I’m talking about my landlord. Yes him . The old, angry man who walks in a slow pace. When it’s mid month he will great you with a smiley face like those whatsapp emojis you use to show your crush when she says a joke to you although it wasn’t that funny. But woe unto you :The second day of a new month arrives. When you leave your house for work in the morning, he would give you ‘the look ‘ :The smile is replaced by a mournful grin. No greetings or any exchange of pleasantries whatsoever. In his hands, he arranges the huge bunch of keys according to the house’s numbers: And the padlock he uses…one large padlock which is almost difficult to get a spare key. His main weapon in his armour: his final one actually. Which is our nightmare. You can imagine arriving from work late at night. You are dead exhausted, hunger is eating your stomach alive. You struggle to climb those steep stairs which are straining your already-tired leg muscles till you reach the second floor. You reach your house, dip your hands into your pockets and take out your keys. You insert your hand into where the padlock is, only to find another, much bigger padlock seated comfortably next to yours. That’s when you remember the rent is due payment. There and then, you are defenceless against the landlord. No weapon formed against him shall prosper.  You are doomed. Totally absolutely doomed.

Anyway, let me share to you what happened some few months ago. Since I’m a huge fan of the Vampire Diaries, let me call this one “Landlord diaries”. It was one Friday evening, at around six pm. I was lucky enough to get out of job early, and it was on a FRIDAY so you can imagine my feeling at that moment. I removed my tie and dropped it at the back of my car. Destination: Stella’s house. Stella, Stella, Oh my? She was…she was just Stella. I’ve been literally hunting her for some few weeks and now she has finally accepted me to come to her house. She was just wow!…I have to say this.. I was proud of myself. Have you ever gotten that feeling of great accomplishment ,whether small or huge?  That satisfaction that comes with it. You feel yourself relax to levels best known to your soul. Yes, that’s the feeling I’m talking about. So I drove towards her estate after staying in traffic for half an hour. She was a media personality who worked with one of the huge media service companies. So yes, she was living it big-for a single woman. I drove into her estate and slowly drove toward the last house on the road:her house. I parked my car outside the house and as soon as I got out, I heard the door flung wide open. It was her. Wow.. She was in a tight black shorts and a white,stomach-cut top. Damn she looked amazing. And her eyes-those blue, unique eyes.  She was the first girl I had seen with blue eyes. Can you imagine. Those eyes were like magnets to me. Just a single look and poof!  You become a zombie who has seen flesh. And no, I’m not one the zombies incase your asking. Mine was legitimate. 

So, I went into her house, and found out she had prepared one hell of a supper for me-yes for me. I,  I mean we,  we devoured it until I was full . God I had missed being cooked for. 

Two hours later..The movie was almost ending. We were watching some animation :Moana I presume. Not a huge fan but I watched however. And honestly I loved it. Then shit happens. Just when you know all things are going well, the devil himself sure knows how to turn things around. Just as we were enjoying that awesome meal,  blackout happens. The lights go off suddenly. I just curse in my mind:loudly in fact. Really? Of all the days blackout could have occurred, why today? 

Then an idea bumped into my mind. All this time she hasn’t stepped into my house..now’s the time. “I think we should go to my house, this electricity nowadays it can stay for days ” I said.  I was eagerly waiting for a negative response. She was kind of a ‘no’ girl.  

”That sounds nice. Shall we go now. I’ll go change” She took off into her bedroom and I stared at her in surprise. She fell for it. In five minutes, she came back with everything she needed in her bag. We went into my car and took off. It was around 11 pm and the road was totally clear. I cruised my car through the highway and in five minutes time, we arrived in my home. I drove past the main gate and parked outside my house. “we’re here ” I said as we got out of the car. We climbed the stairs as I dipped my hands into my pocket-where I usually keep my keys. We walked two floors up the stairs and finally reached my house. I took my key and inserted it into the padlock. It didn’t open. I placed my hand into the opening only to be shocked. A huge: I mean huge padlock was closely locked next to mine. Mine looked like a shadow of it. 

‘Is everything alright ‘ She asked as she stood behind me. I was actual speechless. The landlord has decided to torture me like this. I thought. Then there was a loud cough behind us. I looked behind, only to see him: The old man, our landlord whistled as he walked past us. He directly looked at me as he smiled. He knew he had gotten me:pretty well in fact. There I was, with this amazing woman, house locked: I was locked out of my heaven. 

…And the rest I’ll leave it to your imagination. 

Gone South.


I was there.

Yes I was there.

That evening at around seven,, PM. 

I watched in shock:in horror in fact.

He was standing in front of the kitchen entrance. 

His face was sweaty; his hands were shaky: his somehow swollen feet stood anchored to the ground. 

In his right hand, a knife was being tightly gripped. 

The knife; a classical knife which only was used as a showcase in his bedroom. 

The knife was tightly pressed on her back. 

My mother’s back. 

“Why did you let him in here” His stern voice roared. 

She looked at him in fear and moved her face down. 

I was there. 

Just four years old and I could feel my world crumbling into pieces.

My own father is threatening my mother..with a knife?

Is this what four year olds should see?

“I have no problem with him” He said pointing the knife at me. 

My mother watched helplessly as the knife slowly was moved away from him. 

He walked away from where we were. I was speechless :just watching what was happening. 

He went to my brother’s room.

Within a few seconds, my elder brother came running out of the room in disbelief. 

He rushed towards the gate and rushed out. 

I could hear commotion inside the room:tables overturning, rumbling of things, stuff breaking. 

It was chaotic : I was shocked.

“Your father has gone crazy” My mother said as he pulled me further away from where he was causing chaos. 

Could it be true? Is he losing his mind.

Then he emerged from the room. 

He was heavily breathing; with his classical knife still on his hand. 

“I have a stupid son! In fact all my children are stupid ! Where is the silly daughter! ”

He shouted as he looked around.

He grabbed hold of one of the empty buckets of water and hurled it towards where we were.

It hit my mother’s back and she let out a soft painful yell.

I was there.

I looked at her brown face.

The pain was written all over her face. 

I was there.

She quickly grab hold of me: we moved towards the back of the house and reached the fence.

She raised me up and moved me across the fence towards the other side. 

“Move back so I can jump as well. Your father wants to kill us”

Those words. Her words. Forever scarred my heart. 

She climbed up the fence and managed to climb down the other side. 

She grabbed my hand and began running.

Running as far away from there as possible.

Running away from home.

We could still hear my father smashing things in the house while yelling my mother’s name.

My mother desperately took her phone and dialled a number.

“Hello..Hello…your brother is going to kill us…”She began while crying.

There and then I knew who she had called; My uncle John who lived a stone throw away from us.

For a few minutes, she talked to him: in vernacular language and I was not that sharp in our mother tongue.

She then hung the phone and stood suddenly.

“Why are we stopping now ” I asked. 

He has just told me its not his business. He doesn’t care at all .

It was there that I realised something.

Not every one in your family is actually ‘your’ family. 

We walked to my mother’s friend’s house and took refuge there. 

I quietly watched as my mother narrated to his friend the ordeal we had just witnessed.

Tears were streaming from her eyes. 

I shouldn’t have witnessed that.

Not at that age.

But I was there.

Those moments.

Unfortunate moments they were.

My father, years of successful and happy living.

Only to end up in pieces.

Something was definitely wrong.

Either his past was haunting him..

I don’t know.

But I made sure that one day, I will find out the truth.