Thursday, 29 September 2016

After the Winds of Change...


The deal was done when I put my signature on the lines on the paper. I was now a full status employee. A telephone, a calendar and a computer were meticulously arranged on a desk that would henceforth be mine. Then a black chair was put behind the desk. When everything was done my new boss gave a brief tour of the premises and introduced me to the people who were now my colleagues. Everything was fine. This was my first day at work, well… half -day considering I had arrived at 11pm.

When I sat down, the Human Resources officer came to my desk and informed me she would allow me to go home for the rest of the day to prepare for the following day. A part of me wanted to politely refuse in a somewhat innate effort to show that I was hardworking and ready to hop on the job. But that part was quickly beaten by the other part that was a bit lazy and just wanted a few hours of a movie and may be sleep. With calculated politeness that would not sell me as a lazy bone, I accepted the offer and hissed several thank yous’ for manners sake.

Change whether good or bad petrifies me. I know one sure way to remain afloat in this world is to adapt to change. If you don’t your story will end with a loud defeatist thud like that of ‘Kodak’; an end inevitably louder than the beginning! In one of my physics classes we were taught about ‘inertia’- that a body in motion when suddenly stopped lurches forward and one at rest continues to do so even after the element of rest is withdrawn. (I know my knowledge here is rusty!! mind you I scored a B+in that thing so even though am not an engineer today, at least I can drop few quotes here and there…oh! My physics teacher would be so proud of me right now.) But the point is the urge to continue leaving in a given state is tempting especially if change takes a lot of effort.
Just like the law of inertia (…wait! is it even a law?), my mind was inadvertently resistant to change. I was a little worried of the unknown, of doing what I was not used to- and questions streamed in my mind- how would I fit writing in my now tight schedule? What time would I have to wake up to be at work on time? How would my life change? But you know what; the best thing to do with such thoughts is to talk back at them. So my friends when walking home that afternoon I was a mad woman. I kept taking to myself, assuring myself that I could handle the new responsibilities. After all what other choice did I have?

That night I went to bed a little earlier. I had read several articles on- how to be a successful employee? And ‘a good timekeeper’ has always top in the list and I needed to be the successful kind. But there was something else, that disturbed me more than the thorn of change. One that I somehow did not want to address because I felt I didn’t have the solution and if there was one it would take a lot of sacrifice. The thing was money! Have you ever heard the story of elephant and hare? You have? Good. Now my financial needs were the size of an elephant and the financial resources, the darned hare. The hare in my scenario was meant to carry the elephant! With the job came new financial responsibilities; I now had to pay fare on a daily basis and buy food while at work.

My solution lay in intently reducing the size of the elephant, chopping chopping off a few unnecessary expenditures here and there. But how does one reduce something that has been reduced hundreds of other times and can nearly no longer be reduced? I will tell you how- more forfeiting! The first to be scrapped off the list was 10 O’clock tea, at that point I defined it as an ‘unnecessary luxury’. (You still don’t believe that necessity is the mother of invention?) But you can imagine my exhilaration when I later learned that the company management paid for every employee’s 10 O’clock snack. The trick however is what we eat at that time is solely their decision and to establish consistency and perhaps avoid surprise demands from the employees they have prepared a ka-timetable.

Tuesday Thursady and Saturday- Three slices of bread; Wednesday- one chapatti and Monday and Friday- one chapatti. Anyone who feels philanthropy can’t fill their stomach is free to dig into their pockets. Me…I’m more than contended!

The good thing is their chapos are not serviettes, they are respectful chapos, not the kind that you can just fold, lurch into the mouth and finish in a single bite. They are honorable, perhaps more honorable than our honorable members. They are not like the ones we ate in Maseno hotels that could so easily be folded and fit into a three year old’s fist. A disturbing but interesting thing about Maseno chapos was that some were sold at 15/ and others at 20/ and the funniest part was; there was no visible difference in their size and thickness. It was just a clever way of robbing students from Kileleshwa and Milimani who didn’t care about running out of money because more was at home and could be transacted via M-pesa. Between you and me- I always went for the 15/ bob ones. I have always loved getting the value for my darn money.

And I can state without fear that Mondays and Fridays are my favorite days at work- you can guess why.

My most vexatious quagmire though was ‘lunch’. Even folks with king kong hearts, when left in the office while everybody has gone out for lunch can sting a little; especially when it’s not by choice but circumstance. In my survival guidebook while on student attachment, I would read a book over lunch to distract hunger pangs and display a cool rather than a broke character which ironically scored me free lunch coupla times. But now I’m a quarter a century old so creating false impressions is officially out of the book. Not even plausible for consideration.
The cheapest meal in the cafeteria menu was valued at 100/. Only? You ask. Lemme explain the meaning of 100 shillings in my life; it’s my fare to and from home, it can also be 7-day 140MB from Airtel, it can my offering in church and it’s 25 minutes talk time with my mother on Safaricom. So when I squeal at lunch worth 100/ don’t raise your eyebrows or pucker your lips because this would translate to 500/ per week on food (btw have you crammed Daddy Owen’s song- Vanity, no?; you should! You will squeal with me at this maths).

Crossing fare out of the list was out of question,… well unless I wanted to hatch ambitions of participating in marathons and decide running from work to home and back would be my piece of exercise. But am quite lazy when it comes to physical exercise, in fact my exercise regime entails; thinking about creative stories, typing, false punching the wall with my tummy tucked and not more than five squats. So running to and from work was not an option for this and a variety of other reasons relating to hygiene.  

Mindful of all the options I had; only those that would match the strength of my financial muscle I resolved to have heavy breakfast and carry a snack from home to munch over lunch hour. And with that I was ready for day two at work.

When other disciplined taxpaying Kenyans were delicately biting slices of bread the following morning, I was digging into ugali, cabbage and a few pieces of meat, readying my stomach for a tough day ahead. Soon afterwards while riding in the matatu to work I begun to feel uneasy. Quick sharp pains would shoot from all the corners of my stomach and die away during which am pretty sure I made faces that left any passenger who might have been looking at me perplexed, trying to figure out what drug was running through my veins. When the weight of discomfort weighs heavily on your shoulders, a minute feels like eternity; and my ride which was about 45minutes long felt like it had taken ages. Am even surprised I remembered to disembark at the right place.
I knew my boss and many other people would be watching me that day in an attempt to guess the kind of person I was or even gauge my competence. It’s normal when you are new, everybody watches you and attempts to write a story about you. So I had thoroughly comprehended the need to put my best foot forward and put up a show of a lifetime. A lot of things in the future could be determined by the words written about me that very day. As I sat behind my desk, the storm stirring up in my stomach was nearly tangible, I felt my intestines tie themselves up in notes and tighten up overtime. I attempted to distract myself with paperwork and aimless typing, but every single nerve in my body was responding to the excruciating pain from my stomach. I made a short prayer and asked God to take away the cup of suffering from me, couldn’t even get to ‘Amen’… At some point I looked around the office to find out whether there was anyone watching me. There wasn’t, everyone was busy clicking their keyboards while others walked from office to office for consultations. Everything in the office was normal. I sighed with relief that nobody seemed to notice my rather dark episode that was unraveling; which by the way was a very stupid response from my ego.

I needed to weather the storm. I was the new girl in the office and I had vowed to conduct myself with royal manners. Being new in a place is much like going out on a first date, there is always some weird pressure to be the best version of you. You hold back all your ridiculous behaviors and present the best cover page. When someone near you sneezes you tell them ‘bless you’, when you sneeze you hiss two ‘excuse mes’ and when you cough you pull out your handkerchief and carefully cover your mouth as if you had rehearsed for the darn cough. The problem is as time unfolds you can’t keep the other pages about you closed and they are inevitably flipped open for reading in the relationship stage known as ‘kuzoeana’. It was the same for me. All my etiquette antennas that day were up. I was suffering deeply but I had to do it with dignity. But I would later discover the hard way that a running stomach knows no dignity. It doesn’t give a darn about etiquette; it doesn’t even know that you need to be decent in the presence of your boss or the cute guy in the office. It’s like that piece of beans or sukumawiki that sticks on the tooth after lunch; so outlandish and carefree without a thought of the impact it has.

So I put on a brave face. If you look up the meaning of a ‘brave face’ in the dictionary you will see that it means-to behave as if a problem is not important or does not worry you. It’s exactly that, behaving as if there is no problem. The weight of a brave face is pretty heavy and requires more of everything even from the most brazen human beings. When the demon facing you grows in strength; that face can only be up for some time. As it faces the test of the moment it eventually begins to thaw at the unthinkable heat of the reality at hand

In that moment of unthinkable desperation, of fighting a battle I was not winning my dignity was rudely ripped from me. When my boss came to my desk to inquire of my progress my stomach or the shit that was cooking in there decided to get my attention and my boss’s too, growling fiercely as if it wanted to leave me and live an independent life of its own. And could I have done? My boss excused himself and I was left there drenched in sheer embarrassment.

A few minutes to tea time; I knew that if I didn’t visit the washroom things were likely to take an ugly turn. I thought I would weather the storm. I thought I would ride the storm like freaking Tarzan…, that was the plan. Hey! Am sure even Abduba Dida had plans to become president. Plans are just plans they are not definite outcomes! The storm was killing me. I was gasping for air that was fast running out while facing the imminent danger of drowning. As people walked out for tea break one nice lady was generous enough to walk to my desk and invite me to join her for tea.

All I really wanted was just to rush to the ladies!

No no no!!, am a heavy breakfast person”, I replied with an intense sense of urgency and clarity to ensure she did not persist with her offer.

When most people were out of the office, at lightning speed I dashed to the ladies, which thank fully were not too far from the office. By this time I had already stripped off all illusory nobility, dignity and pride. I was just a mortal human being in need of the glorious service of a toilet! In that instant, only two things existed; my need and me; there was no crush to impress, no boss to hold in high regard and no colleagues to gossip about my unprecedented predicament. At the ladies section there were only two doors-two toilets. I knocked on the first one with a sense of deep desperation. Honestly I did it out of normal courtesy and I never imagine there would be someone on the other end. The moment became so perilous when I heard a faded response and a knock to show the room was otherwise occupied. I can’t remember lucidly, but am sure when I learnt there was an occupant I let out faded guttural sounds of defeat. The few seconds that followed were, a melting pot of feelings and emotions that I absolutely have no words to articulate with precision.

My legs and my mind functioned with incredible synergy as I scrambled to open the second door after a quick knock. I opened that door as though I had vendetta against it. The door’s hinges squeaked in protest of the vigor I applied, then I banged it behind me closing it instantly.
In the split of a second I loosened my trouser and luckily the occupant in the other room flushed and left. I didn’t want to sit on the toilet so I balanced in the air but it didn’t matter what position I was in, things left my alimentary canal violently, voluntarily and loudly; if you ask me I would say they were eager to leave my system more than I was ready to let them go.  The smell was obviously awful but I couldn’t care less. I continued to balance in the air and soaked in the reprieve. The trick though was I really needed to leave fast before another person entered the other toilet. I didn’t want anybody to link me with the odor that thanks to diffusion had spread in the toilet area. But before I could leave, I heard some footsteps outside the door. I froze for a second, worried about the pace I would set for myself as the new girl and the description drivers of the office gossip mill would label me with.

“Mmmmh…huku kuna nuka aje leo?”, a voice exclaimed in total disgust.


My eyes twitched with shame and embarrassment. And a few minutes after she left I walked out. I noticed that as I walked into the office some ladies at the reception threw me weird glances. May be I was just paranoid or there was indeed something behind their glances. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Winds of Change


After the graduation hullabaloo was over, just like many other graduates you were faced with the hardest challenge of finding employment. You were not lucky enough to secure one while still in campus. Luck hates you, she always has and you have evidence to show that. But other than that we all know how the Kenyan job market is. It’s just dreadful, one application letter after the other and the outcome is usual- no reply, nothing but disturbingly deafening silence sometimes broken by two sentence regret letter. You turned to the world’s most illustrious aide and information spring, Google and searched- ‘how to write an application letter’, ‘How to write good curriculum vitae’: Google brought you a hoard of samples and you clicked on the one written by an Economic professor from Harvard. ‘This must be the trump card’, you thought and resolved to read the document with the keenness of an evangelist. Exhilaration was running in your veins and you were a little over psyched that you made short notes and swore to emulate the foreign style, but no. It was not enough. The application with all its imported elements ended up in a shredder at the corner of an office or in a cold spam box waiting to be shoved to oblivion. Disappointment stack up as silence reigned as if you never even attempted to apply for the job.

Your tunnel seemed to grow darker with every rising sun; so your dad went to his phone, and began recalling his old contacts and networks that he envisaged could elucidate your rather bleak situation. It was hard to recall all of them; after all it had been a long time since he last contacted them. Notwithstanding the setback, he found a couple and proceeded to call them hoping to help you get a job or just about anything of value to show for the degree you sweat for for four years or more. Some of the contacts excavated from the dusty phone book archives were kind enough to pick his incessant phone calls. They promised to get back to him the moment an opportunity would surface. Their words however were like a politician’s promises; rife with award-winning promises, mouth whetting pledges, that turn out to be nothing but words. Void words whose ink inevitably fades as time goes by; with every passing second they mean less, becoming nothing more than nouns, adverbs, conjunctions, syllables and adjectives meticulously put together to be heard and never executed. Like a seed put to the ground and cover with condemnation by the sower to never grow!

Some of these contacts somehow left you and your father hopeful. They managed to shine a flicker of light in your rather dark tunnel. But it was just an illusory flicker. And soon, maybe four weeks down the line, when you made a follow up call, four missed calls later, it dawned on the two of you that nothing was happening. Nothing nothing at all. And just like that, you were back where you started.

What was left of your trust in networks and godfathers was eroded. For you they were just wanna be prophets who forever prophesied of an imminent apocalypse year in year out. And year in year out no apocalypse was in sight. You now believed nothing good and most importantly true left their mouths. Nothing worth a toast could out of godfathers unless of course something came out of you first. You know like few thousands…from you to them! And you had evidence! Your friend Peter and your ex-girlfriend (who left you because you were becoming a church mouse and she is not a fervent worshipper) got their jobs through such means. Unfortunately papa has never believed in paying for your education and later having to pay- *bribe* for your employment. There are a lot of things he does not believe in and you are okay with them: But this particular one annoyed you and you wished you could slap some sense into him but you wouldn’t dare, he is the only person on earth who can house and feed you without asking for a fee.

Job application became your daily job. You frequented the cyber caf├ęs and dug into job sites and applied for those jobs like you life banked on them- although to be fair they almost did, to a good extent depend on them. Your life was at a place you didn’t like, you needed cash to give you the confidence you needed to bounce back to hanging out with Peter and the crew and getting a hot girlfriend who you hoped would burn your ex-girlfriend by the heat she would be radiating. In between all that, you became an ardent church goer. The one thing you loved about the church is it unfailingly resonated with hope and you needed it. Every Sunday the preacher interceded for; the sick, the heart broken and most important to you the job seekers- “Wanaotafuta kazi inueni mikono tuombe pamoja, Mungu afungue milango”, these words struck a chord with you and you would get emotional and lift your hands up high, as if you were keen to ensure your hands got into contact with the blessings first as they flowed from heaven. Sometimes hope would be elusive like peace in South Sudan, and it appeared as though the dark journey would never end. You would sulk for a few hours then get back to steel character. Because giving up was not even close to being a plausible option. Every job application came rich with expectation that eventually died like a dinner candle in a windy balcony.

And then one day, while you were asleep; heaven was a beehive of activities as God ordered angel Michael to come down and open your doors- “My child has cried for far too long Michael, go help him” God commanded. But you were just there, unaware that the heavens were working out something for you. When Michael came down, he went straight to the boardroom, right there where two men in dark suits and red ties and two women in short tight skirts sat, twirling on their gigantic leather seats, sipping their tea as they mulled over who to shortlist for an interview. There were four slots,…well actually two because the manager had sold one and the Human Resource officer another; the money had already exchanged hands in a bar. So two slots needed to be filled. The lady wearing sexy glasses picked your letter from a hoard of application letters. Michael was in the room so nobody objected. They went through your application and boy they loved your presentation (Oh!! Bless you Harvard professor). The devil peered through the curtains (he was on a mission too!) and attempted to corrupt the mind of the fat guy who sat at the window, but Michael was way ahead of him. He puckered his lips and gently blew air on satan, he fell down like a sucker! Head first and is unconscious for the next two hours. By the time he was up, the deal was done and you had been selected. Michael was on his way to help another brother and sister on his to do list and the recruiting officers were drinking ridiculously overpriced coffee at Java.

Seven days later, you still had no idea that God had answered your prayers; but you had grown to become a fervent Christian so you had faith. Even though there were high chances it was much smaller than a mustard seed, it still counted for something.

One day as you went about your daily chores, dusting off the couches while soft music played from the radio, your phone rang.

A new number was calling!

‘Could it be my ex calling in a different number to reckon that she has come to her elusive senses and admit she couldn’t live without you?’, you thought.

“Halo am I talking to Abednego Musembi?”

The English was so good, the voice so well ironed. No it couldn’t be her no chance in hot hell for one simple reason; her English was so bad. So bad that even if the Queen of England donated her blood and tongue to her, nothing much would happen; she would still put ‘H’ where it did not belong and pluck it from its rightful place- (haddress to mean address hair to mean air). Her Kao accent could not be fixed. You had tried, and every attempt fizzled out into oblivion like a suppressed fart
***
In various aspects, my story is just like yours… save from few aspects here and there.

You see, for the longest time possible, I desired something fresh in my life; new opportunities and challenges too. Daily, my heart bled for that. Sometimes I was optimistic and others I wasn’t. What I was waiting for took long to arrive but it finally did couple of weeks ago when I was lucky to be called in for an interview and knocked its socks off! Now on my hands I have new responsibilities since my employer expects me to deliver. Whether my new job met my expectations or not is a chalk and cheese story for another day.

I will now be writing proposals- lots of them and once in a while wear a gas mask (I’ll explain later the use of the mask). I will also be around sometimes annoying colleagues, and I will stare at a computer for the better part of the day.

The winds of change are always blowing and they have blown past me, they have brushed against my schedule, my time, and I have chosen to rise to the occasion. And you know what they say (who? I don’t know who?)- That the only thing that is surely permanent is change. This is quite true, change is the only thing that happens and can’t be stopped. The first thing in my life to be affected was my sleeping schedule. Today I woke up at 4am. There before, I used to go to bed at 5am; that is after a long quiet night of writing. Now my former bed time has become my time to rise. No longer will I spend my entire day around my fictional stories, words and ink (at least not full time).

But hey! this is not a speech to tell you I’m writing my final story. In fact I think when one day I will arrive in heaven, God in his audit of my life will be very keen on what I did with this amazing gift he has allowed me to have. This gift is the third nerve center in my life, yeah after God and my heart. So ain’t no way I’m going to turn my back on it: Especially not now that my relationship with you is starting to bud.


The winds have now passed, and am here to write, to make you laugh, maybe cry a little, to inspire you, to spark a conversation, until I draw my last fleeting breathe.  

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Shy Girl Lands a Friend



I wonder whether you have noticed that nowadays life has become mostly a show. A freaking reality show, at that! The ‘glorious’ culture of expenditure has found a nice warm permanent place in our society. There is only one prominent way to go; spend and display it to the world. If the number of reality TV shows cropping up every dawn and the number of posts on Facebook and Instagram laced with crude opulence is anything to go by then our is a system now founded on materialism. You have seen it, maybe you have even typed and posted it. The shopping bags scattered on your bed, the shoes in your closet, the fancy weave and snapshots while at diner in exotic places. If you can’t afford it, then photo shop it. By all means show you have more.

Yeah, that is the system our materialistic selves have created: Where everybody wants to be perceived as the richest, the coolest and most pertinently the biggest spender. Do you know what such a system does to us? It makes us pretenders. Editors of our own lives bearing the hope that we can sell a redacted image to the people who follow us on Instagram, those who are our friends on Facebook and those physically around us. Using #hash tags, make up and filters to selectively expurgate our disappointments and dissatisfaction, to attain picturesque for presentation to the world. The problem is the pretence monster gets addicted after the second and third bites. So we become serial revisionists of our very own real lives, literally living double lives. Wearing costumes to present ourselves to the world and only taking them down behind our shut bedroom doors and under our heavy blankets. When you take time to think about it, you will be startled by the silent honesty that lies behind closed doors, the truths that are silenced at the rise of the sun and only find life when the moon and stars become visible in the sky. As if this truth only trusts the moon and stars to keep its secrets.

That is our world. It is the society we have built. One with an insatiable demand for more. They say pretenders are worse than murderers, what’s worse in this world than being behind the line that separates murderers from other averagely good people. But you know what? Even in this crazy ass society, it does not have to be so bad.  And for this reason, when you have someone (s) in your life who doesn’t care whether you meet the shows standards or not you should thank the good Lord for them, love them and hold tight to them. If you have a friend whom you can hangout with without feeling the need to masquerade in a costume, then that is your gold in the town and you ought to guard it zealously. A person who doesn’t think when you are broke you are suffering from an alien disease, which has a sponsor at the top list of the cures. An individual who tells you-“my dear friend this race is freaking tough but let’s keep running.

As a person you only have a pair of eyes which can only focus in one direction at a time. But when you have a great friendship with you, you get an extra pair. This means you have a clear front and back view of life. It means you can beat the chameleon at its legendary monocular vision advantage. You become a goddarn superhuman! A monocular vision comes in handy in this town. Opportunity is everything. Sometimes it’s the peculiar line that divides the haves and havenots. When an opportunity is behind you, you’ve got a friend to tap you on the shoulder and whisper to you- “go get it!”

The converse is true for threats and dangers. You can’t see all of them in variant directions at the same time. You need someone to watch your back.

By now you have figured am talking about a great friendship. No, am not talking about your drinking buddies whom you only meet at the end of month and avoid each other when you descend from loyalty to being a church mouse. It’s not your girlfriends who together you have created a Whats-App group going by the name of- (Bitches Rule This World!), where you share news about the latest acquisitions in your closet before you rip off the price tags. This is not about a Facebook acquaintance who likes each of your posts including the lame ones, far from it!

Am not even talking about will-o-the-wisp kinds, who text you so you can avoid the Acoblow gatekeepers. Or the girls you went to Twerk School together.

This story is about people who show up when it’s thick and thinnest. People who can’t keep mum and watch you head down mistake Ville. Instead they will do everything in their power to pull you back. They are never afraid of pointing out your gaffes, not so that their hearts beat when they belittle you but because they care too much about you. They always correct you with tough love.
The kind of people who will drag you out of the house on a Saturday morning so you can attend a Centonomy event together! Yeah, those are the kind!
 I don’t know how many great friendships one can have, but I’m a believer in the proverb- ‘good things come in small packages.
***
The shy girl lands a friend

When I joined high school, I had short hair. In fact if I wore a pair of trousers anyone would be excused for thinking I was a boy (yeah, it was that good/ bad). I was admitted to a girls’ school and most of them were brought up by parents who were modern and kind enough to allow them to grow their hair. My parents parental guide book lucidly stated that long hair was a distraction from the pertinent goals a young girl should have for herself. You know, like straight As in class and staying away from boys lest they infected you with a pregnancy at a young age and worst out of the wedlock. You would think that my peculiarly short hair was the queerest thing about me that set me apart from most if not all the girls. But no, it wasn’t. Rather, it was my introvert nature and shyness that highlighted me from a crowd of girls. Meeting confident and beautiful girls who spoke good English with exotic accents didn’t make my situation any better.

For the longest time possible I was a lone wolf-who followed the popular students desperately riding on their glory? Every friendship I invested in was driven by a sheer need to belong. To be part of! I ended up feeling like an outsider, irony ha! I never experienced true and solid friendship until I was two years old in high school.

You see just like normal teenagers, while we were in form two our hormones were on fire. Some of us became unruly and stubborn and when it was time to cross over to the senior class the teachers decided to make some major changes in our classes. So after a teachers meeting with the prefects an agreement to reshuffle the students was arrived at. The decision was received with mumbling but the wheels were already in motion; some students in West class moved to East, some in the North moved to South and those who remained in their former classes were paired with new desk mates. The idea was to break the amity that had been created between the students which according to a teachers+prefects consortium was the key precursor to unruliness.

Being an introvert my flaws, were carefully tucked and packed in my pockets so I wasn’t moved. The outspoken trouble makers were most affected. You know.., those guys who a minute could not pass before they tapped somebody’s shoulder and begin telling tales of their boy crush, or flashy lifestyle or just nothing! Those students who hopped from one class to the other while it was a quiet night prep! The folks whose names incessantly appeared on the noise makers list. Yeah, those people, they are the ones who had to labour to carry their desks across corridors headed to their destination, a new class.

The rumpus saw me get a new desk mate. It was tradition to rebel a new desk mate, a cold protest of sorts to show allegiance to your former desk mate whom you laughed with and dodged punishments together. Normally, the mutual rebellion would fizzle out after a few days, a week tops. So after a short lived rebellion, I began to notice that my new deskie and I had so much in common. We were introverts who opened their extrovert pages only when absolutely necessary, she too never received any love letters from boys in our brother school (lemme clarify that I had no idea why she didn’t receive any; at least not then. For me it was because after writing a couple and not receiving any reply my teenage heart was weighed down and I just gave up writing.) The icing on the whole top however was the fact that both of us loved writing.

Over the two years we built a great friendship. One that survived the distance life in higher education put between us. A friendship that has stood for eight years: In victory and defeat, good and bad times and in hope and despairing moments. A friendship that I have ceased calling a ‘friendship’, instead I refer to it as a blessing. Because that’s what it is- a blessing. Blessings bring out the best in a person, you shelter under blessings in raging storms, blessings do not push you to camouflage to hide your true self in exchange for acceptance; no! Blessings help you change your negatives with patience and love; and sometimes they make all the difference in these crazy ass streets.

Dear reader I wish you something bigger, something that the word ‘friendship’ can barely describe; I wish you the best blessing (s).



Tuesday, 6 September 2016

ABOUT A DREAM


'Honestly, I had no idea how we got there. The first thing I saw was a group of us standing from the balcony of a house that clearly took aim at the sky. We were so far up that when I cast a glance at the ground below that was nearly thousands of feet from us I got squirmish. The balcony had strong rails around it, which seemed purposely put in place to protect people who stood there from falling off. Being kind of terrified of heights, I stood a few steps from the rails and leaned to a wall that made me feel safe and carefree enough to savor the view from the top. Everything that below us was amazing to watch from the top. First the grass! It was neatly cut and each strand stood firmly next to the other and was eagerly sprouting. Some of the long grass swayed lazily in the direction of the wind. There were a few trees, each planted few steps from each other. No matter how eagerly tall the trees were, they were beat hands down by the height of the building, but they were professedly content with their height. Their leaves seemingly delighted to be growing there, clapped gently in a celebration of sorts as the winds blew. Birds, Locusts, Grasshoppers hopped from the trees and the grass each making its own sound whose combination created a tranquil harmony. The view from our vantage point was purely one to behold.

I had the feeling that I was around strangers because none of the faces of those people was familiar. Even if it was clearly our first time to meet each other, we vividly enjoyed each other company. We laughed and made fun of people who were acrophobic, occasionally one person (the most courageous in the group) would start a song and the rest of us would join in and when we ran out of depth of the lyrics some of us hummed and the others lip synced- Britney Spears style! We were not professional musicians so we didn't mind being musically incorrect. Our unfamiliarity had been quintessentially dissolved by one common desire: someone who looked at us from a distance would have presumed that we had been friends for ages. That we were of different nationalities nobody could tell except ourselves and the people who had brought us there. Our differences had simply faded out at the face of our passion and camaraderie. We were comrades in the world of creation. Our love for words had brought us from different corners of the country and the continent and assembled us there.

One of us (most likely a Kenyan) suddenly made the comment- "it's time for the next session!" Those who had wrist watches glanced at them and agreed and those who didn't checked their phone and nodded as well. In a nearly straight neat single file we trooped to the room where teaching would be taking place. The navy blue curtains had been drawn and light rays pierced through leaving the room so bright. Despite this, some light bulbs were still on! The tables in the room were orderly arranged to form a semi-circle and had chairs placed behind them. They were also were classically covered with navy blue clothing that matched well with the curtains creating a relaxed ambience, perfect for learning. The walls were painted white and had figurative and evocative paintings hanging from them. One painting showed a Kenyan Masai who stood on his left leg while his right was folded resting the entire body weight on the left. He donned a leso that had black and red stripes which was intricately tied on the right shoulder and dropped all the way to the knees. He supported himself with a thick rungu which I had read that was sometimes used as a weapon at the imminence of danger either threatening them or their livestock.
The largest paint and perhaps the most significant, was of a woman who sat on a three legged stool facing her two children whom she fed porridge from a calabash.

Just like the two children in the painting drunk from a calabash of porridge, all of us were eager to drink from the calabash of wisdom and experience of the speaker. The paintings accentuated the beauty of the room, it was warm and welcoming: But it was second to the aura of the woman who was intently working at the front setting up her presentation. We gushed at her presence and some of us who were overwhelmed by excitement walked to the front to say hallo. When we were settled down, she introduced herself; not that she really needed to seeing as we knew her fairly well. She was a media queen who had climbed the highest rungs of the international mass media ladder. She was a bestselling author of two books. She had initiated a platform where budding African writers could share their content for the continent and indeed the whole world to read. She was a perfect woman with a crown of knowledge in the world of writing and we couldn’t wait to hear from her.

I sat a few step from her, my face beaming with excitement as if I thought I could siphon some of her knowledge through osmosis. I was right where I belonged, surrounded by hungry writers and with a woman I looked up to right in front of me ready to share her knowledge with me. My world at that moment was perfect, even problems that so often hung over my head were at bay. In fact if God was to speak to with a still voice and ask-‘my daughter, what do you want?’I would reply- ‘God I love this moment, I can’t think of anything thank you for the moment’

When our speaker was done setting up, she faced us and begun to talk…’

Then I abruptly woke up.

I had arrived from slumber land. There was no shred of reality in all the beauty I had seen; it was all nothing but a dream!
Jesus the Messiah! I was on my freaking bed having a darned dream. What a deuce!! I simply sat straight up, overwhelmed by the sadness that there was no icon, no writers around me and no exquisite paintings; and wished that it was real, I wanted it to be real, I needed it to be real. But we all know the saying- if wishes were horses…every dreamer would turn their beautiful dreams into reality within the snap of a finger!
***
People have different kinds of dreams: There those that unfold and make you pull your sheets as you shiver in horror. They cause you to perspire like Kipchoge Keino dealing with the vexation of the very people that once cheered him. There is neither brevity, nor speed there. If you try to run, you end up running fast on the same spot. Their constellations are not made of stars but of scary blood thirst monsters with you on their dinner radar. They are so bad ass that they have earned a special name, a name that paints in bold the intensity they have on their victims, a name that accurately punctuates their reputation of scaring the hell out of children and adults alike!- nightmares!! They shake you, terrify you and you really begin to question the integrity of your friends who say you are brave. If the gods have a bone to pick you, and choose to embarrass you, they ensure you scream so loudly that you shake the very foundations of your voice box leaving you with a reputation of a sissy adult.

But it’s not all bloody and scary. There are also beautiful dreams which take themes of; love- the watch men of slumber land see to it that you meet your dream man/ woman there. They don’t stop at that; they take you to exotic places, Paris, Maldives… (you name it!) Where you delight in each other’s company. Marvelous dreams also present themselves as accomplishment of an arduous task and solution to a quandary. The kind that when you wake up from, and you are engulfed by an urge to go back to slumber land where it all went down. For a goodbye, they leave you with a desire to make your bed your office, yearning to recreate the moment and this time perhaps make it permanent.

My dream was beautiful. It was a manifestation of a dire need I have had in my heart since I started my journey in blogging. The need to learn! If there is anything of great value I have grasped through my writing journey, is the need to learn! The surest way to run aground in this race is closing all doors that have opportunities to learn behind them. When you learn the chances of falling drop drastically. Why? Because new knowledge opens your eyes to failures that you wouldn’t otherwise see. It allows you to see hidden fresh opportunities and imminent threats.

But no one can permanently reside in slumber land, at least not when you have not bid this world goodbye for good. And again, one of the golden rules in the adult guide book cautions against leaving in a dream. So whether the dream was the sweet kind or the freaky ones you have to kick the blanket and step out of slumber land to make the good ones come true and slay the dragons in the scary ones; while wide awake!


Don’t slumber for too long, stay awake!

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