LIFE

VILLAGE CELEBRITY

Has someone ever promised you something and they never kept their word? Sucks. Right? It’s a terrible feeling to wait for something then not get it. I am saying this in relation to this post coming late. I remember hyping you, that we will be meeting here on Wednesdays. Then, like a rogue boyfriend, I failed to show up for our “date”. No calls. No apologies. That’s enough to make me a villain damn quick. It would be easy to just dive in. Ignore you. Start writing and act like I had said nothing. I would give technical hitches as an alibi for my lateness. But there is nothing technical about it. So this is what really happened.
So, I stayed up late on Tuesday reviewing the whole thing. Correcting a mistake here. Adding some juice there. Unfortunately, the gods and the people working at Kenya Power must have conspired to have me in bed before dawn as the lights went out prior to clicking publish. I had to show up today. Late but apologetic. Pardoned? Yes? Thank you.
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Murang’a
By Murang’a I imply Kabati. A place that goes by that name. You cannot mention Murang’a and not evoke a nostalgic feeling in me. A feeling of excitement. A feeling of resilience. If Murang’a was a person, it would be a man. A hardy man. A family man maybe. A man who comes home at 2330hrs after having a business meeting at his favorite local. Who sits at the table of men and they talk money while sipping whiskey. And once in a while enjoys a throaty laughter. This man gets home carrying a packet of oreos for his youngest daughter but finds her asleep. Murang’a would be the kind of man who strokes his belly once he is sleepy and lets out a loud belch after having a sumptuous meal. You know, the typical African man. Who would never be seen in the kitchen. He sits in the comfort of his couch as his food is prepared by one of his many daughters. The kind of man whose word supersedes your opinions. He makes the rules. You take them. He values his family and takes care of his children and probably those of his brother who was wiped out by some illicit liquor.
Growing up.
Murang’a has been kind and harsh almost in equal measure. I grew up here. In this part of Kenya, you grow up not having many advantages available to you. The environment mocks your vision. Dreams of becoming a doctor or a pilot are but only a mirage. The dreams you nurse in your heart are those of having something to eat. Something to help you survive. Three meals are only for the posh. You only have one meal then wash it down with water. Lots of water. And off you go to school. During lunch breaks, you sit under shades and chat with your friends who finished their meals in the course of the lessons. You know, those chaps who have uncontrollable pangs of hunger. They open their lockers while the teacher is in class, slightly lean in and bite huge chunks of ugali. Then swallow them whole.
In the afternoon lessons, you can’t make a head or tail of what the teacher is saying in class. Hunger nibbles on you. As your classmates are assaulted by sleep after a lunch break of indulgence, you are wide awake. But psychologically absent. There are mandatory duties you have to attend to before leaving school and this further sucks the energy in you. You complete your assignment prior to leaving for home. Home is not the best of the places. You have to fetch water, feed the animals, if you have any, and somehow squeeze time to play-all these within the limited time you have after school.
Darkness crawls in and everything quietens. You all gather in the smoke-stuffed kitchen. This doubles up as the place where goats stay. You eat amidst your mum’s scolding because you are dozing off instead of taking your time to enjoy your meal eat. You then hastily wash your feet after which your mother says a long prayer. She mentions all of you and sometimes some members of the extended family. Mums are good people. If you still have pending school work, you struggle to attend to it through a weak lantern that forms thick soot.
Nairobi People
In the mornings you have to take bland tea apparently because the sugar available is for visitors. The ones that reside in Nairobi and only show up when there is an event. These people from Nairobi go to shagz and are treated like they just landed from a far off land. Magically, the key to the big VIRO LOCK on the cupboard appears. Mugs that are slightly covered by dust are unleashed and carefully washed. A whole kg of sugar that lay waiting for the visitors comes out. Neatly folded vitambaa are spread on the couches sofas. Couches are for the posh. Visitors have to be impressed. On the day of the visit, you get to enjoy the sweetness that is borne by tea. It even shows on your face. When people from Nairobi are visiting you in the country, you don’t just wash your feet. You go the full way. You shower. But as my friend would put it, it’s not really showering when you are using a basin and water is coming from down low (he he).
If these people from Nairobi are coming for a certain occasion, they are served first. The village folks are instructed to wash their hands after which food is poured on their hands. People from Nairobi sit under tents and eat from their plates while those from the village stand in the full glare of the sun and eat from their hands.
From Nairobi, girls are married and forced to live in houses that would easily pass as shanties. Their breadwinners then leave for the city. For the cliched greener pastures. Girls with accents from Nairobi, gradually morph into the language of the village. You ask for their number and they start “sero sefen…” Makes you wonder whether the sun still rises from the east. They are forced to farm. Blisters assault them. But they stand the pain. No more weaves. Instead, the barber now becomes their friend. They don’t get their Maybelline make-up kits anymore. They no longer make visits to the pedicurists. They need not to have their nails done as they wake up and head to their farms. Murang’a changes them from girls to women. Women who withstand all the hardships. They receive erratic calls from their significant others but nothing is romanticized. The conversation revolves around harvests, children and number of piglets delivered.
New Murang’a.
I visited Murang’a over the weekend from Nairobi and glad the place is slowly waking up. Once you approach Kabati, there’s an air that envelopes you. The air associated with affluence. You can even see it. Better houses are mushrooming in the place. Kabati doesn’t sleep early. It has been lighted up. I was happy to learn that kids no longer throng a visitor from Nairobi although they stare. A sharp stare that you can feel from the side of your eyes. You almost feel like asking for a paper and a pen to sign autographs for them. You have a moment of being the village celebrity. Nowadays, the fields we used to play in are abandoned. Kids now have play stations. Before they can even spell SKATE, they are seen on the streets. Skating with unmatched virtuosity. People now have cable TV unlike in our times when we used to all gather at Mama Waithira’s to watch her black and white TV. People nowadays buy Tissue and have abandoned the traditional maigoya leaves that were planted in close proximity to the toilets. Three meals are not for the posh anymore.
What am trying to say in these many words is that the narrative is changing. Nairobi is shrinking and people are going back to ocha. It’s not as harsh as you left it when you went to take a 4-year course but have been away for 7 years. There are salons for your wife. There are good schools for your kids. They even sell Martini in the locals but the traditional muratina is not going anywhere. There are better houses which you can buy. Businesses you can invest in. The city is like a flirtatious woman and will only blind you.
I hope reading this will convince me to go back to shagz.

Mwaura Is Dead

What would you be doing up at 0121 hours? Watching Power? The series. I hear Ghost is dead by the way. Having a repartee with your friends maybe? Enjoying some raunchy time with your significant other? I use significant very loosely here? Deep asleep or losing your sleep thinking about property you spent sleepless nights trying to accumulate? The youngies  will probably be on those whatsapp groups saying “aki nimekumixx xweetheart”. You know, putting the queen’s language on its death-bed.

It’s eerily silent. Save for the occasional barking of dogs. I can even hear the sound of coffee am taking working its way down my gut. Am up at this time to bang some 1500 words. I earlier on in the day drafted something to post here but inadvertently deleted it. I have to rewrite at this time.Here we go.

graveyard

January was here just what? Three minutes ago? Right? I still remember how I braved the blood-chilling cold of the wee hours of the morning at KICC to usher in 2015. I specifically singled out the TSO event as that was the only place I knew I would start my year sane. I believe how you start greatly influences how you end. It’s just an intrinsic belief I have. . Clubs were crazy. Clubbing then would mean that I would not be able to cut off the habit. At this time I would probably be imbibing some harsh liquor. (My pockets don’t have much to say. Don’t think in the lines of whiskey or some 18-year old scotch.) January is gone. And here we are. 200 days into 2015. It’s already August.

August is a month dreaded by most, if not all Kenyans. It, sort of, opens a Pandora’s box. Brings back memories people would rather not remember. The woes that come with the month would rather be discussed in hushed tones. As if August would hear and inflict more pain. This is a month that is perennially viewed as  not-so-good. It’s characteristic of the grim reaper. It has taken away many lives. Lives of people that were well known to us. Memories pains are forever etched in our minds hearts.I coincidentally write about death in August.

Lately, thoughts of death have incessantly pestered me. They seem to have grabbed a seat in my head, sat down and refused to leave. I now have to let them out. Death comes, takes people we love, people we know and walks away. As though to show it’s superiority over men. Mortal men. It shows neither remorse nor mercy. We cry. We buy tissues. We hold memorial services. Heck, we pray, sometimes all night long (the attendees of night vigils can understand this) to escape the cruel hand of death. Despite all these, it comes back. Unannounced. Takes people who are even closer to us and this proximity is enough to alarm us. I have always thought of it as something that only happens to “those other people”. Those who have clocked a certain age or are so sick that death is almost obvious. I flip through the obituaries section of the dailies and most of the times do not recognize a soul. This gives me a false sense of hope that the monster is not aware of me. Maybe I am ignorant or biased. Or both.Let me digress

I have not lived on this earth for a long time. Am on the last year of my first half of my third decade (feel free to calculate my age; it’s a matter of public knowledge anyways.). I have my fears. I fear anything that has life except human beings. I can’t keep a pet. I find them creepy. I am afraid of flights, which probably explains why am not fascinated by private jets and only take a bus down to the coast. I also fear hell. Like the real hell. The bible only makes it hard for me. There’s a terse statement in the good book that describes hell as a place of “Fiery furnace”. My worst fear though is that of death. Not the actual monster, but the activities that follow after death. I shudder at the thought of being lowered six feet deep. Soil shoved on the coffin I will be put in. That can only imply that I CANNOT come out. In my sheepish thoughts I imagine, even if I resurrected minutes after my burial, no amount of knocking at the coffin would be heard by the very people that buried me.

After I die, people will flood my social media platforms, with RIP messages. My village ex-girlfriend will hear the news that “Mwaura Is Dead” and come to my burial with a kid or three. Her husband will possibly be that man who flogged me one day after he found me stealing mangoes from his farm when I was a kihii. My friends will mourn me. Others will pretend to mourn me, especially those that were enemies of my progress (Those after reading this won’t share, he he). Slap-up meals will be aplenty at the funeral and people will eat to their full. They will drink and laugh, some pretending that they are trying to get over my death. Fake people they are. Presumably I’ll have cleared from THE university (I know you know it’s UoN) and my former school and class mates will learn of my demise while going about their activities. A committee will most likely be formed to contribute for a fallen former comrade and not all of the people will contribute ofcourse. Worse still, not everyone will attend my burial. Few people know who I am. I am still a “smallwig” in this field. Not like kina Bikozulu and Magunga.

I can imagine the blanket of grief that will cover our home for days, probably years, after am gone. My family will mourn the loss of a son. The ONLY son. My mum will no longer have any son to pride herself in. She will go to those chamas she goes to and when other women brag of how their sons are making it in life, she’ll remain mum. Her son will be long gone. He will have taken her voice. Annually, she will visit my grave and light a candle in my memory. Hot wax from the candles will pour on her fingers and her face will contort in pain. But this pain will be nothing compared to the loss of her son. Tears will cascade down her cheeks but she will make no effort to wipe them away. My dad will try, in vain, to comfort her. She will be inconsolable. No parent wants to bury any of her children.

My one and only will undoubtedly miss me the most. I was all romantic like some Alejandro in those Mexican soap operas. Random hugs from the back and little gentle kisses on the neck. Dinner dates at some candle-lit private bandas. Road trips down to the coast. Game drives in the Mara. Coffee dates at café Helena. Movies at IMAX (Okay, romantic is relative). She will not bring herself to imagine that she will have to spend the rest of her life without me. The near perfect relationship will be no more. (Disclaimer: This story does not necessary represent a revelation I had about death. That I will die. Soon. Or any time.)

Where was I? Okay, August. This month alone I have seen people, my age or younger, prematurely die. At UoN, one Ezra Momanyi succumbed to cancer. At Moi uni, one Dorothy Nyariki died after involvement in an accident. Closer to me, a pal, Patrick Ndung’u was hacked to death after he was allegedly caught stealing from his relative.May their young souls rest in perfect peace. They all are people I can relate to.  This refutes my thinking that death only happens to ‘those other people” or people who clock certain ages. Prime ages. Succinctly put, I am astounded by the brevity of human life.

What I would like to say is that there’s no age that is right for one to die (at least from the perspective of most people). There isn’t a specific manner of how one dies. It’s everyone’s wish to die peacefully, neatly tucked between their sheets. But we all know what they say about wishes.

You wake up in the morning and hope to go back to sleep. You make plans and hope  you’ll be around long enough to achieve that. By the way, Youngies don’t have plans. They have bucket lists. Plans were for their grandfather’s uncles. They are sophisticated.

Be a good dad. Do not brag about how you take expensive cognac but can barely take care of your family. Be a good mum (mums are always good though). Don’t fleece people when you get a chance to.Care for humanity. Read more books.  Write. Start a business. Do all you ever wanted to do keeping in mind that you do not have forever. There isn’t a guarantee of your life span. Only death and taxes are certain to be there. If you haven’t started doing it, start. In the words of Lewis Caroll, “It’s best to begin at the beginning.” And this is that beginning.

This is the beginning of my blogging. I hope to see you on Wednesdays and probably Saturdays.

Every day you have is your life. Live it.

vanity of life