To be Poor

beggar-sitting-by-the-roadsideI look all around the TV stations, switching between them, looking for something concrete to feed my mind. I have started to dismiss all the other types of so called news headlines because all there is purely a game of checkers, like amateurs. All I can see are people throwing stinky oranges and rotten bananas to each other. Therefore, when I began to listen to more sensible stuff, like podcasts, I became intrigued by them, I felt so new in them. Such that everything else is just a whole load of crap. But people want this crap. People crave this type of crap. Because this type of crap is sweet. I mean, how can you convince someone to listen to a TED talk when they have such sumptuous gossip stories to follow. When all they can talk about is: “Ulisikia venye Baba1 anadai? Ati huyo msee anataka kukuwa prezo bado”

Yet, they forget that they have their own lives to live. They forget that in the end, all they will do is fight not for their freedom, but for the selfish causes of other pigs. Yet, they will go back to their homes, with no food to hand over to their wives, and that day they will sleep hungry.

I realise that this weekend I won’t be having a pizza with a friend because I have no extra cash. And when a beggar stretches his hand out for me, all I can do is to touch my empty pockets as a gesture that I have no coin to spare. Yet, I don’t consider myself poor. What is to be poor? I am not poor because I have no money. I am not poor because I don’t have enough airtime to call my chiq. I am not poor because I have to kopa2 some cash from a pal in order to run my errands.

Poverty is a totally distant place from me. But why?

People say they are poor when they have nothing to eat. But I say that people are not poor because of lack of something. I say that people are not poor because of their current state of living. No, this is just not it. And it isn’t right to relegate somebody to the state of being poor just because of not having something to eat, or feed his children. Poverty is something else. Poverty is the inability, the disability to get yourself out of that state. Poverty is not having any idea of how things can be and how things should be. Poverty is not being able to know how. Poverty is not finding the beauty and grace in what you can do. Poverty is not knowing that it can be better and not giving yourself up to where life has put you. That is to be poor. That is when one is in poverty.

Footnotes

1 Baba- a nickname for the famous Kenyan politician Raila

2Kopa- The Swahili translation of ‘borrow’

Beats by Dr. Noise


I could feel the tissue of my eardrum vibrate within my ear, as the sound pierced through my head and into my skull, into my brain and into my veins. I hold my hands to cover my ears at first. Then I press them onto my ears in order to block out more of the sound. It’s so freezing loud that I’m almost crushing my skull in an attempt to diffuse the loudness with my hands. I feel strange at the moment. And the person next to me is seemingly asleep. A man, whose head is covered with a hat that is also extended to his face, supposedly to cover his shame of tiredness at this not-so-late hour. To me, it’s impossible to sleep in that environment. In that madness.

Lemme describe the madness for you. It stings. It hurts, and my eyes seem to pop out of their sockets with each beat of the speakers. It’s not music. It simply isn’t music when all you hear is a constant bass from the speakers, and it’s as if the driver of the bus is feeding off the roughly tuned sound system. I’m fucking telling you that all you can hear is bass. Do you know such busses, where it’s not music you are bobbling your head to but plain beats that make you feel sick? Yep. A sweat has broken off from my temple and is snaking it’s way to my eye. I want to wipe it away but I cannot remove my hand from my ear, or shit will happen. I thought music was beautiful when you could hear the change in highs and lows and you could flow with the lyrics like a singalong. But this monstrosity is driving me mad….. Arghhh… and I can feel … every cell in my body vibrate … like a freaking bell.

It suddenly stops. It suddenly all stops and all I can feel is the bus moving on the Tarmac. It stops and now all I can feel is a ringing sound. A harsh but constant ring through my ears. I smile. Because I wish I had a gun to shoot up all those fake river road speakers that turn music into some piece of shit.

So, please look down at your dashboard. There is this little thing called the equalizer.

Entanglement


Uniqueness, Anton came to discover, is a fallacy. Anton did not believe in being a person of himself. Otherwise, how would he live? Otherwise, he wouldn’t be who he was. He wouldn’t have gathered the guts to get Karen, his bae. He wouldn’t have mustered even the slightest of nerves to ask her out. They were in the same Civil Engineering course. And from the first day, he noticed her, how she would keenly try to follow the lecturer in class and how she would take notes in her purple or pink or green colorful pens. And he would look at her, at how Karen would walk in class and sit. And then Anton would look at himself. How small and tiny she made him feel. And she would look away and pretend he wasn’t guilty every time she looked at him after noticing that Anton was staring at him.

To Anton, he believed himself to be a collection of people and voices. A sort of collage inside his head, all tuning to the different occasions that presented themselves to him. A collection that he had gathered over the years. Anton was humble when he remembered and imitated the humility of their CU leader in high school. That soft, patient and listening voice that the CU leader spoke with. Anton was elaborate when he mimicked the school captain and how sureness oozed from his voice when he spoke. How immaculate the flow of his words seemed to capture attention and hypnotize. Anton was stylish when he copied the walking style of Jay-Z on television, and his sense of elegance in fashion. Anton was funny when he taught himself to laugh like the YouTube stars do on the Internet. How, with even the slightest comment, they would turn it into a hilarious piece of comedy, laughing their ass off and falling to the ground, wriggling in giggles like a caterpillar. In essence, Anton filled the empty spaces, those deficiencies in his life, with the voices and surpluses of other people. Until, in reality, Anton was an empty shell without them. Seemingly morbid and lifeless. He was so permeable to other people’s attitudes and expressions that he ceased to become a distinct organism. Every time Anton looked at the mirror on his bathroom, he saw a different person. The person he wanted to be- some celebrity or someone he admired.

Anton believed that he had to do this because the illusion of himself was no longer real in him. Or how else would he have scored Karen? When one day, she asked him “ Are you gonna ask me out or not?” Anton looked at the thin air between them with bewilderment, with such sharp focus that he started feeling light headed. Before he mustered the voice of the most confident person, that of the funniest gait and that of the most animated characters.

He has found himself entangled in a web of inner hollowness, and forcefully filling that with mirrored extensions of others. He is no longer his own but a multifaceted mosaic of others around him.

Psychologically Deranged

The-catalyst-single-cover-500x500

The wind would blow hard against their shirts and carried with it, a smudge of dust that would settle on top of their white, wide-open pages of their exercise books. Shaffi looked at the particles of dust- the tiny brown free and spiritless specks-as they uniformly arranged themselves on his English book. With one hand, he swiped across the page, cleaning it. Then he rubbed his palm onto his grey shorts. He had done this plenty of times today, until his previously clean shorts were now discoloured with brown patches.

“Al-Qaeda! Stop daydreaming!” The teacher, Mr. Onyango, blurted out. He looked at Shaffi with piercing, non-blinking eyes, until his eyes were too watery and he had to blink again. Mr. Onyango was their only teacher, of English, Mathematics and all the other subjects. He had a bald head that looked slick and glossy, like a mirror, against the Northern Frontier District heat-that merciless blast of sunrays that rendered the place arid. Mr. Onyango liked calling Shaffi the name Al-Qaeda. From the first day that Mr., Onyango saw him, he noticed Shaffi’s war-like stance; how his unkempt hair had collected into bush-like bundles. And his brown, unaligned teeth, that maybe was the reason he never fully closed his mouth. And Mr. Onyango’s mind quickly shifted to the images of Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda that he saw on TV. He didn’t know Shaffi’s name, and he called him the first word that came to mind: Al-Qaeda

“Wewe Al-Qaeda, tomorrow I don’t want to see you hair untidy as it is today.” Mr. Onyango smiled to himself as Shaffi turned away to go home. Mr. Onyango looked at how indifferent Shaffi was to the heat of the ground against his bare soles. But the next day, Shaffi came to class as if nothing was said to him and Mr. Onyango called him to the side again.

“Al-Qaeda, why haven’t you done what I told you?” Shaffi stared at Mr. Onyango blankly, like a corpse. Mr. Onyango learnt with time, that with the kids, things they were told rarely stuck to mind. Their minds were hollow, thoughtless spaces. They had learnt how the passage of time could be accelerated by pushing away their thoughts and emptying their minds.

And therefore, Mr. Onyango kept calling Shaffi the name Al-Qaeda, until he forgot that Shaffi had an actual name. What Mr. Onyango forgot was that names are powerful. They have the power to compel and possess. They have origins and stories. Shaffi had heard somewhere the names al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab, but never encountered them in first person. He heard it was where his friends such as Moha, Abdi and Yusuf were taken to. They were his friends who had gone missing one by one. When Shaffi investigated and asked to where they had disappeared to, is when he began hearing the stories. That is when he began hearing stories of the war. The war that was being fought. Shaffi had never heard of a war, and so it intrigued him. He heard and saw how everyone describing the war, told it with much awe, with much longingness, desire and passion. The war in the quest to eliminate the ‘cockroaches’. The cockroaches that had invaded their space, their homes, their bedrooms in their sleep and the toilets as they peed. . The cockroaches that ate their food and left them to starve. It was a war that everyone said they had to win. Shaffi dreamt about this war, some much so that he even wanted to be in the frontline. But no one told him where the war was being fought because no one knew.

Some nights, when Shaffi felt his dick itch, he sneaked into Rukia’s room, across his home, where she was sleeping alone in her bed. Shaffi came through the window and landed on top of Rukia, robbing her of her sleep.  She called him Bonbon- her little nick name for Shaffi. And Shaffi would laugh. It was their little world.  Sweet young Rukia, who was a couple of years younger than him, caught his hard dick that now felt like some piece of dry wood, and she would let it in her, as he thrust it slowly at first, picking up pace, until she felt her whole body light up like fire, and the little bed would creak for some time. Then he would pull up his shorts and leave her to continue sleeping. Shaffi had never clearly seen Rukia’s face. Because the only time she saw her was during those little rants at night, on her bed, in her tiny room.

However, since Shaffi had heard of the war, he began to feel a kind of incompleteness in his heart. A kind of pull towards the stories. He wanted to experience it for himself.  He began having those nightmares that kept him up all night. And even awake all day, such that he turned into some sort of zombie. His mother began to worry. This was how she heard are the sins of kids soon to disappear; they don’t eat, then they become distant and then they go like the wind-Poof! She tried to follow him, but when she did, her husband complained. So she stopped. And when Shaffi didn’t come home one night, and the night after, she knew for sure, that he had gone looking for the war. He mother begged he husband to look for her, but it was as if he never knew that Shaffi was gone. So, she looked for him, in the mosques, in the hospitals, in the school, until her tears dried from her face and she went back home.

***

A stray shadow appeared from the horizon, a tiny skinny figure, walking slowly from beyond the eye’s vision. A lone mother, winnowing the grains, stopped and squinted her eyes, trying to map out the figure. She suddenly let go of the winnower, leaving it to drop to the hard ground, as each grain bounced off the ground, a testimony to the months of rainless skies. The mother grabbed her oversized buibui , with her hand, so that she doesn’t trip on it, and she moved towards him. With both hands, she grabbed the skinny figure, and with a rare smile on her face, she hugged him. . Her son. She was glad that Shaffi had returned. Each day, for the past two years, she would look into the distance, to try and see if Shaffi had returned.

No one knew why he had come back. Or even how he was still alive. Because people who disappeared rarely came back. So, they prepared a skinny goat for him; the most they could do, to feed his skinny bony body, in order for him to feel at home. Or it was dangerous not to welcome someone who had returned; otherwise they would soon go away the same way they had come.

Shaffi returned to class. He sat, in that open-air room, and looked at the teacher. And at the queer subjects that he now heard-Chemistry, and Physics and Geography. He didn’t even catch the other names. The teacher was new. In truth, every term, there was a new teacher; they never lasted more than one term. For fear would creep upon them, day by passing day, in that distant land, so far away from the rest of the country, that they did not consider the place as part of the nation. The fear would manifest itself in the shadows, and in the deep dark nights, and it would fill up their hearts and souls. It would gobble hem up until they became paranoid, and they wouldn’t have it any longer.

Shaffi was happy he was home again. Home to the place where he could sleep a peaceful night. Home to the place where he would once again have a warm meal and not go a week without clean water. Home to his mom and dad, to his brothers and sisters. Home to Rukia, his beautiful Rukia. When he crept up to Rukia for the first time since he was back, he could feel that her breasts had grown bigger and more provocative. He could clearly trace the more sensual curves on her body. Rukia whispered into his ears,

“I missed you Bonbon.” Shaffi smiled again. Wildly, he held his laughter this time. “Bonbon, promise me… promise me that you will stay this time…” Shaffi could feel the tear in her voice, “…please Bonbon, stay… for me…”

“I’m here now,” Shaffi whispered back to her.

Days, weeks, months passed. It started to dawn on Shaffi that he was happier, and the war was something distant that he should have not been part of. Evilness. He smiled and closed his eyes as he felt the morning sun on his face.

But what is it with war? Eventually, it caught up with him. He began to miss it. The need to go back. Back??? He would remember the connections he formed, the brotherhood, and the belonging that he got nowhere else. He had become addicted, to the togetherness in combat- The brothers in arms.

Shaffi recalled what he felt the first time he wielded an automatic. How the cold hard metal met with his hands. How the trigger conjoined with his finger and the blood in his hand coagulated for a moment. He remembers the sensations of power that he felt erupt from his sub-system as h exercised his muscles. The inertia and the sheer force of pull back from the reaction. He felt his mind wobble in and out of consciousness, like a drug. He would count the bullets, from the first, until he lost count:

            One, two three, four, five, six, seven…

His could feel his cheeks slap against his cheekbones, like a thin piece of cloth. But after a month or two, they became sturdy, and rigid, fixed to his face and indifferent to the action.

Murder. The first time he shot someone, he looked at his victim, a fairly old man, how his eyes remained wide open, and how he fell to the ground. They didn’t call it murder over there, at the war. They didn’t want to, because murder was a little too bare, a little too raw, and a little too personal. They preferred calling it killing, or even better, ‘putting them to sleep’.  Murder, in itself, changes people, and it did change Shaffi. You learn to take, like a god; at will. And the feeling you get is insanely electric. They called it a Killgasm. Shaffi wanted it again. He had become broken inside, broken into hundreds of pieces, and he had to reconcile himself.

***

Shaffi woke up one clean warm morning. And as usual, he went to school, but never came back home.

Night Shift

6ec18993d8e0dee4fd89ba831b573036

Manda closed her eyes as she lifted her face towards the sky, feeling the warmth of the tropical breeze illuminate her smooth, moisturized face. Her tiny grey shorts squeezed under her but as she sat on the bare slick boot of Rickoe’s convertible just outside their house. Manda could now feel the conducted heat of the aluminum body snake its way into her body and she felt like lying there on the car, to feel all the warmth. Her kinky hair made her look more provocative, and her tiny pink top was just the perfect fit for the day. Before she could divulge on sunbathing, out came Rickoe, Mustee and Josh. Mustee wore only a silver lingerie while both Rickoe and Josh decided to match outfits- grey shorts, a sleeveless t-shirt and red canvas.

Rickoe’s eyes were all lighted up when he saw Manda. They had been seeing each other for a while now but every time he saw her, Rickoe seemed to blush himself silly. He moved towards her and gave her half a hug before jumping into their white convertible. Josh took up the other front seats as Mustee and Manda sat on the back.

It was time to tune their gears and shift into auto pilot. As Rickoe started the vehicle, he could feel Manda’s hands all over his chest, caressing his neck and shoulders. He smiled to Josh, who looked at Mustee and they all laughed. Rickoe started the wheels. Josh got some rolls of weed and the party had begun. With some deep trap and afro house beats, Mustee and Manda couldn’t help themselves. They danced all over the car, waving their hands in sync with the beats.

***

CJ was the mastermind of party planning. He knew one or two things about how to get it down. So, that morning, when Rickoe told him to arrange one, he was up for the task. He always had a shopping list

  1. First he needed to know where the party would be. And that wasn’t a problem. His old house would do the trick. It was in the outskirts of the city, right in the thick of modern housing installments of high rise apartments where there was no particular time where anyone would be busy sleeping. For in the outskirts, even the cops were the party gurus. So, his little bungalow, which was a bit out of order was the obvious choice.
  2. He also needed cars. Cars to move people. The babes and the dudez. He had a good network of friends so that wasn’t an issue.
  3. The people. The people make the party. So, here, CJ had to be very choosy. He couldn’t invite people who would come and dance alone on the dance floor like lone rangers while babes looked at them like spectacles. He couldn’t also invite hogs who would be drunk and pass out in an hour. He needed hard core party animals. A.K.A mafisi.
  4. The ‘good stuff’. A good party can never have sane minds, and so, people have to blow their heads out in high statelessness. And so, the drugs would be in plenty.

***

Night sneaks in

Rainbow lights. Blaring speakers. Rolling heads.

Hands on buts. Hands spanking buts. Hand wobbling. Hands having minds of their own

Smoke moving. Like a wave of wind. From one nostril to another. Smoke being breathed out like air. And being sucked like vacuums.

Booze changing hands. Booze wetting hands. Booze falling on chests and breasts. On the hairs and faces of dudes. Like rain.

The lights were off such that the only lights entering the room were lit from outside, as it seeped through the holes of the walls and the windows. Creating a sort of after-life immersion into limbo. This life. This moment in time where the lives of everyone in the room is suspended. Whether their spirits roam free, where they get a chance to get out of their bodies. They now feel every touch, they now see everything, so clearly-crystal. Manda is now skin to skin on some guy, who is touching her breasts. Fuck. She pulls away from him. At least she has her senses on her, but she needs them turned off. Completely. So she grabs another bottle. She doesn’t know where the other guys are. For they must have been devoured by the crowd’s hungry souls. Manda feels the trance hit her body, like she is being possessed. She grooves to the beats. They are slow, but fast all the same. She lets her hair move behind her in a shadow, mimicking her movements. She feels the heat.

People are now using glow sticks to illuminate the scene, and glowing paste has been plastered all across their bodies so that they look like they are on fire. They are on fire. It’s all over their faces, on their lips, chests and hands.

Rickoe finds himself with Mustee. She has now moved to him and grabbed his body. She wants him close to her. So that she could feel his strength as he rocks her body. Rickoe cannot refuse because by this point he is too high to know anything about it. Mustee’s lips are lit with glowing paste, such that they look oblivious. Mustee, in her wet, booze drained body, wraps her hands around Rickoe. Rickoe falls back onto a chair close to the wall and Mustee is on her. At first, the kiss comes slow, then, Rickoe is so tuned up that he can’t simply stop. It was sweater than heaven. And now he can feel the rush of adrenaline in him, and his face is glowing all over with kissing stains. They were electrifying and so hot together.

How does he do it? Manda wondered. How does he make all the girls feel so alive with him? Manda feels a drumming sound inside her head. She could hear it get louder and louder as he watched them make out. But Manda knew that Rickoe was off today. He must have been off today. That is why she felt him not circle his hands all around him when they hugged. That is why, when he looked at Mustee, she bit her lips sinisterly, and she ignored. He must have been off today. So, deep down, Manda convinced herself that Rickoe still loved him, that Rickoe never meant the kiss he was having with Mustee, that all was well. Because to Manda, she had learnt that sometimes, love is like a piece of cloth that you wear and take with you everywhere you go, lending it out to everyone who deserves it. You take it all over until its gets dirty, faded and torn. And that you have to wash, and keep on stitching with different strands of string. – Black and white, Pink and Blue, Purple and Yellow, Black and Green, until in the end, you love becomes beautiful and colourful.

Ice and Flow

hUSTLE n Flow

Rickoe. He holds his pen in hand, looking at the sketched lines of rhythm, that have flowed into conception. His hands are all stiff and rigid by now. Rickoe has not had even a sniff of sleep all night. He has been cracking and banging his head all night long, trying to get this done. On the floor, under his chair, little blue cans of red bull, squashed into flat despicable pieces of aluminum lay there. He had the moments, when he needed them, when he would grab one from the fridge in the other room while he put on some heavy trap music, that would tremble the doors, windows and walls of his house, and he would wave his hands all around, bobbling his head, and feeling the energy engulf him in a trance, then, with both hands, he would place the empty can in between his palms, and have no mercy. It would fall out of his hands flat, and roll into one of the corners of the room. Then, he would sit down, with his back straight, in his orange vest, grey shorts, and socks, Rickoe would draft some more lines-rhyming and flowing. While he fell into his groove, Rickoe would try hard not to stop, because the seamlessness of the lines is what made them genius. The way his muscles moved -the way they tightened and relaxed on every word noted down, on every line joined together, seemed to be part of his biology. The way he would bite his lip when he holds the next line of rap in his mouth, and the other one in his heart, as if he was pumping them out, breathing. He had to write fast. Sometimes, when the flow got really fast, he had his mixer next to his bed, with the recorder. For then, he could let the words pour out like water.

But now he was upbeat. Rickoe felt himself drift away, and his mind slip away from him. He had stretched himself to get this done. But he was used to it. So much so that his pals would find him sleeping there every time they came in for recording. Manda, Mustee, CJ and Josh, would all put their heads together to craft something special, and indeed, their music was special, it was beautiful. Rickoe’s house was the studio, so they always found him in his little man cave.

But that day, they had something in mind for Rickoe. While it is true that dreams would not occur more often for Rickoe, but they made his sleep deeper and sweet. When he dreamt, Rickoe would smile and talk in his sleep, sometimes even laugh.

Rickoe knew he hadn’t willed himself to wake when he felt a thundering sensation fall on him. It was cold. It was icy cold, he jerked up and fell in the process. He felt the cold water that had hit him freeze him to the core, he was frozen, confused, and wet. Fuck. He was now angry.

In the studio, he heard Manda and the rest of the guys laugh his lungs out. Oh, those niggaz are dead now, this was the third time round. They had gone too far.

….

an Unpeaceful Purchase

an unpeaceful purchase

He wielded the sledge hammer tightly enough that the sweat pores on his palm began to suffocate and his grip was loosening every passing second. Eshiwani had had enough. He waited long enough. He had looked at his precious television set with much pride. With much amazement of how he came to have one of those. After this night, he would revert to the very old radio set. That of which would not entangle his mind and twist him into the person he had now become. Because with an old radio, comes the detachment of embarrassment. To his kids and family.

 

***

Eshiwani’s wife looked from the doorstep with awe and a subdued smile as Eshiwani arrived from the electronics shop. It was not just any other day. Eshiwani had been surveying for a while now. Surveying the latest brand of television to go with the new house and the large empty sitting room that was so huge. Sometimes Eshiwani wished that he had bought the thing earlier. Because the echo of his thoughts bounced of his mind and onto the empty walls where the contractor had set aside for a large enough TV. At night when he was alone, he wondered whether his other friends were enjoying their TV sets. His friend had told him of how the large screens in his house were so large and clear that he could even see the football players sweating through their pores on live television. This made Eshiwani hasten his search. But now he had found a perfect one. A friend had recommended him to a store nearby where he managed to get Eshiwani a discount of three thousand shillings. That was a lot of money. At least for him. He thought he could do plenty with three thousand. Maybe buy some nyama choma and beer for his friends to celebrate his new status of owning his own flat screen. Or even buy something for his wife. Maybe those local cheap fifty-shillings earnings that he keeps seeing in the streets and that his wife loves. After all, she has been whining for a while that their anniversary was near and that she wanted some jewelry. That would suffice. 😄

 

As her wife, Vivy, watched from the doorstep, with their little five-year-old boy, Mitch lay within her grasp. Eshiwani struggled to pull that huge box out of the back seat of the vehicle. Vivy giggled a little and covered her mouth before Eshiwani could hear her. Mitch looked at her mother before turning back to his father.

“Look Mitch, you father brought us a new TV.” Mitch smiled with amazement at how big the thing was.

“You look like you need some help Esh!”

“No, I’m okay, I can handle it. “Well clearly he could handle it. He always handled things, heavy things around the house. But Vivy always asked her so that she could show him that she cared to ask. It was the way things worked. The way they rolled🤗.

Vivy could clearly see that things were sure to change. No longer was there to be that pin drop silence that bathed the entire evenings at their house. No longer was she going to have to bear the silent talks at the dinner table because they could now talk about the news that they watched. No longer was Mitch going to get bored with the old toys because now he could watch cartoons.

 

Eshiwani placed the TV on the stand that was already wiped off by Vivy. He delicately placed the device careful enough to break a sweat, that finally dropped off his temple when he was done. He aligned the screen in line with the couch that sat directly opposite. That night, they didn’t watch television. It wasn’t ‘ready yet’. Eshiwani said that they had to wait till tomorrow. 😒. While in bed, Vivy joked with Esh, telling him that he was carrying the TV like a baby. They laughed and tickled and teased each other, until they kissed each other passionately. After a while, they lay together, Vivy’s head on Esh’s chest, and smiled, looking at the darkness. They were so happy.

 

That night however, Mitch itched🖖. He couldn’t sleep that night. He tried but he just couldn’t seem to close his eyes. So he waited. He waited till after all the lights were out. Till after he heard dad stroll past his room and jump into bed, till after the noises from his parents’ room went silent. Till after the stillness of the night would take over the place. Now, he could get out of bed, and go to the sitting room. And look at the TV. And touch its glossy screen that shined brilliantly against the moonlight. He touched it, and felt its smooth edges. He remained there for a while, before he could hear the lights turn on in his parents’ bedroom, then he could go back, with stealth.

 

The TV was good for them. They could mingle and surround Eshiwani during the evenings, and he felt warm in their midst, watching news highlights and Churchill show. They laughed and laughed. And cuddled with Mitch in the middle. With a TV, they could see their house as complete.

 

It wasn’t until Esh started to invite his friends over that he noticed that he didn’t have live streaming games on his TV. It wasn’t until he invited even more of his friends that they told him he was wasting the TV’s potential by not connecting it to the Internet. He started to wonder about these things. And a week later, he had connected DSTV premium HD with Zuku and Internet. He now felt complete. Now his friends couldn’t tell him anything. They laughed with him. When they began watching matches with his pals, Eshiwani didn’t notice that they had beer with them, and they drank off until the morning, when Vivy would wake them up with slaps on their bottoms. As his friends rushed out of the house, Esh laughed at their arrogance against his wife. But Vivy wasn’t smiling. She started fearing. She started watching. She knew. She knew that he was falling away from her. But still she hoped, that it wouldn’t spiral out of control.

 

But one day, Esh’s friends, Pato, whispered that it was time that his wife be chased to her room. Because they wanted to talk man matters. Eshiwani politely asked her to give them space. Then, Pato opened a webpage. Suddenly Esh felt his dick go hard, and he changed his seating posture. His friends laughed, wildly as they got excited.

“My friend, are you new to this things, 😆” Esh looked confused a bit. “How do you think we know how to fuck our wives until they get disciplined?” Their laughs broke out into the entire house, reverberating into every corner. They watched with curiosity, the bare images, in crystal clear HD and surround sound. In that space between them, the sex on the screen sounded so real. After the men left, Esh headed to bedroom, he wanted to feel his wife but she was asleep.

 

This went on for a few weeks, but no one told him. No one told him about the porn, about the excitement, about the rage, about the thirst. Until one night when he was alone, and he couldn’t sleep and he turned on the website on the TV, and played one video. No one had warned him until his wife was woken up that night by the loudness of the sounds. She froze on the hallway, holding her hands on her mouth until he saw her. Eshiwani looked at her, for a moment, then went towards her. When he saw that she was moving away from him, he rushed towards her and grabbed her. She shouted for him to let her go but he tightened his grip around her, and stripped her. He forced his way into her like in the video. For the first time ever, he felt total control. Tears rolled from her eyes. Mitch watched, helplessly, from the doorstep of his room. Esh had become a demon. He was possessed. Vivy knew now that her hope was blinded, blinded by his lust for approval by his friends and by that wretched TV that had so brought the happiness.

That same night, when Esh was done with her, Vivy lay on the floor, shattered, and distraught. When Esh woke up, he didn’t see her again. Here’s listed that what he so much desired had now tied its tentacles around his spirit and overcome him. He didn’t look at the TV that week, he never let his friends in, he had to make a choice.

 

***

 

He felt the weight of the instrument multiply, as he lifted the sledge hammer in his hand as though it wanted to go down with him. His lungs were bursting out of his chest and suddenly that felt like the heaviest thing he had lifted. With his stance poised in front of his TV set, he dropped the thing with a sigh. He looked at it as his muscles relaxed. As the tip of the hammer met the black, glossy screen, it seemed to torment him as the first little broken piece of glass gave way to the weight of the hammer. Like a sinister laugh, that lasted a few milliseconds, he saw the screen topple under the weight of the force, shattering the screen into fragments, fragments of his pain, and fragments of his freedom. This was how his freedom had become. Fragments that he had to pick up. Piece by piece. As delicate as they had become. In order to restore peace within his mind, his family and his lovely wife. He knew that he had to try.

Them Freckles

Prison Bars

Mr. Omondi, the interrogator on duty, otherwise known as Omosh by his fellow work mates, could feel the cold, hard dew drop on the table in that small windowless room, in that cold lifeless morning. He hadn’t anticipated such an early call to work that day, but the nature of the case on the spotlight made him rouse himself from slumber, quickly wear yesterday’s clothes and leave his house without so much as glancing towards the shower or at his toothbrush. It was still really early but with a job like his, it sometimes became difficult to distinguish the earliness and lateness that comes with a normal daytime job and fixed working hours. Mr. Omondi was juggling a coin in between his fingers, moving it quickly, as his fingers struggled to catch up. Meanwhile his gaze was intently at his hand, as if he had put himself into his own trance.

The observer to Mr. Omondi’s movements looked from the other side of the table with hand cuffs to his hands. The police had just brought him in. He was a man in his early thirties or late twenties, judging from his rugged-looking face with stained teeth and an unkempt beard. His strands of hair that hung from his scalp were filled with dust and some of them had fallen off leaving some patches of skin peeping from his head. His torn t-shirt exposed his tight and delicately split biceps that probably came out of several years of tangles and struggles with life in the darkness of the streets.

Before every interrogation, Mr. Omondi used to recall his memories of how he used to convince his sister to do something for him. His sister, Mimi who was a few years older than him and who occasionally brought him sweets and chocolate whenever she was sent to the shops. So, whenever his sister didn’t bring him anything, he would hide behind the seats in their little house, and wait for his sister to appear and get into his range. In his hand he would wield a rubber band and in his pockets, he had kept several pieces of twisted paper. He would wait and wait until she came close enough for him to hit her but not too close for his breathing to give him away. In this way, only one strike would be lethal. Like a bow and an arrow, he would place the piece of paper on the rubber band and aim it at her temple, where it would be the most painful. Omosh remembers the one time when it really got out of hand that her sister chased her, out of the house, and into the streets until Omosh disappeared out of view. He remembers clearly that that night, he hadn’t eaten supper because he couldn’t enter the house. If he dared to step in, he knew clearly that his sister would slap the guts out of him. So, he watched from the window as his sister ate the piece of chicken in enjoyment while she showed it to him. Omosh salivated outside, begging his sister for forgiveness because he madly wanted a taste of the delicious looking fried chicken. It was a funny memory now that he remembered it

“So Mr. Apolo, why did you attack the man?” Omosh asks asd Apolo looks down. As if he is trying to recall properly why he did what he did. Yesterday, as the darkness grew into the night, Apolo was with his neighbourhood gang, laughing off loudly… That’s all he remembered doing, before something overtook his will…

The Source Code

Back this week.

Sometimes I think that the best way to grow as a writer, as far as I know, is to read, and read and read some more. Which is very true. But there are also some other ways in which one can seem to get in touch with stories. Podcasts, I have found to be an invaluable source of information. This past month, I have taken time to really listen to some of them, including Ted Radio Hour, Modern Love and The Stuff of Life.

When I listened to them, I gained so much insight into another world, through listening. Listening again and again. Lets see what I can dissect out of them.

See you on Friday

Back & Forth 10 Seconds

101219002344_86

Yesterday, Mumo doesn’t clearly remember exactly what he did. He did something, but for him, yesterday has become just another piece of his continual living that he can just brush away like dust. His mind is not tuned to live in the yesterday but to actually preside in the moment of now. Here. An now. Yesterday is part of a memory that has faded. Faded into his deep valleys and shadows of his mind. Mumo has no need to remember what he did yesterday. Why?

Yesterday, Mumo sat on his chair, in class, just after lunch. That is the time when the mind is still fully awake in the moment and neurons come rushing forward into his mind with new ideas on the latest prank or trick. They gush out in his mind like a stream of consciousness that give him goose bumps. Mumo looks on to Nduati’s desk. Nduati. Oh Nduati. Such an innocent guy. Nduati was a huge plump guy, who, to many, was never hated. However, his tiny shoulders made him look awkward compared to his size. He was always talkative but never tempered. The perfect victim.

1:46. Mumo is staring at Nduati’s desk. It is so tempting. So unoccupied. Because Nduati has not yet arrived to class after lunch. Perhaps he is somewhere else. Not in the dining hall because its too late for that. Maybe in the toilet or in another class somewhere else arguing about Messi and how he is the greatest player of all time. You know, such people existed. Such people who would stand before each other and discuss European football like it was their lifetime job. Discussing it with such verve and vitality that they would find hard to install into their books or into their sports. They had mastered all the tactics and dissected the game until they had all the info at the back of teir heads. Those people, most of them, were big mouthed. You couldn’t end such arguments because most of them were really stubborn. And besides, who would ever give in to another. Concession is weakness. So Nduati was somewhere, but not in class.

1:53. Mumo walks over to Nduati’s desk, which is at the front of the class. Yes. He was one of those guys. First, he peers to his classmates who are very mush uninterested in what he is doing. But as always, they soon will be.

1:55. He stretches out his hands to grab the bottom of Nduati’s desk. It is quite heavy and the veins on his head seem to give away his effortful ambition. Mumo is quickly followed by Mario, who grabs Nduati’s chair, as if he had read Mumo’s mind. Together, they quickly move wiith precision out of the class, taking the furniture somewhere else. By this time, the entire class has stopped pretending that nothing is going on, and they are looking at the unfolding events.

1:58. Nduati strolls in. Even in this heat, he still has his sweater on. With his huge legs that drag him along as he walks, he suddenly stops midway. He stares at the class.He looks back again at where his desk was supposed to be. Looks at the littered floor, with determination, above which was his seating position.

1:59.”Wasse, wacheni ufala!! Desk yangu imeenda wapi?”Guys, stop the madness. Where has my desk gone.As if the thing has legs and ran away. The whole class bursts into myriads of laughter. Like an explosion that hits Nduati’s face with a bang. He now holds his waist, all serious. The expressions on his face turn to desperation as he walks all over the class trying to identify his desk but notices that the teacher is almost coming in.

2:00. “Nyinyi watu mna utoto!!”You guys are acting like kids. Nduati mutters to himself as he realize that no one would give away what happened to them. Meanwhile, Mumo has adopted an indifferent look on his face. So classic.

2:01. Kiswahili. The teacher is now seconds away from the class and everyone is settling. Nduati looks into thin air. He is angry. Angry at himself. But he jolts into himself when everyone is laughing in the background and the teacher is gazing at him. That teacher. So old but cool. Looks to him until he notices and looks around for what to do. Confused.

2:04.”Nduati, kaa chini!” Nduati, sit down. More giggles. Nduati now looks on what to do, but all the seats in the class are occupied and he has no explanation on what or where his things are. The teacher is silent. Looking at him. Waiting for him. All eyes on him.

2:05. “Wapi dawati lako?” Where is your desk?

**Yoh, Nigga, I don’t know!! Some mother fucker stole it from where it was**

Nduati would say that if he knew that he wouldn’t receive some lashing, and possible suspension. Clearly, he had no explanation for all this, and so, he has to make up one, pronto. They were all good at this, making up stuff. It was essential to survival these days. “Mwalimu nilipeleka itengenezwe.”Sir, I took it to be fixed.

”Basi kaa na huyu.” Then sit with this student. Mumo smiles, then scratches his head because of how well this has played out. As the hushes die down, Nduati squeezes himself with Mike to the tiny seat. He hides his face in a book, saving himself the embarrassment.

Later, after the double lesson, Nduati will find his chair, and desk, after much struggle, in the toilet. Neatly put in the corner. He will click and frown, and kick and sputter at the perpetrator of this prank.

 

Today, really, is the fallout. Mumo feels the crushing weight of yesterday’s events wield his mind and condemn him into self-absorption. He cannot seem to weave himself out of his sense of statelessness. He does not feel his self, able to suck him out of the vortex that is  his mind-jungle. And he has not found a way into limbo. But he will

Melly has found a way of noticing things. And always craved the process that Mumo would go through. He would see him, looking, staring blankly at anything, at everything. Was it a conscious process? And even though the world revolving around Melly and Mumo and high school was a cluttered piece of haywire, Mumo seemed to have this ability to empty his mind. Simply, to trash out all the contents and sub-contents of the world and simply look at something for minutes, hours and even the whole day. And Melly would see him do that, with ease.

Yet, to Mumo, he has these moments. These moments of ‘revelation’. Moments that come to him unexpectedly. Today, they begin while he has taken his plate of lunch. Today, it is a plate of rice and beans. He takes a spoon ful of food, but before he gobbles it all down, he notices, the subtleness of them all. How they transform into one-eyed talking beasts. They laugh at him. They mock him. But Mumo looks at them, knowing he would crush them in seconds if he has to. So, he takes a closer look at them. How they feel so full of themselves. How they dance on his spoon as if the world is coming to an end. These pesky little creatures.

“Niaje msee,” Hey man. A friend taps him on his shoulder. He nods

As Mumo looks at the teacher in class, a certain Mr. Onyango, who teaches Chemistry, he sees how the rest of the students are so engulfed in his class. He looks at him to see what is so intriguing. Suddenly, the teacher has turned on him, he is pointing at Mumo and is now approaching him. Mumo shudders as the teacher grabs his neck, and pushes him to the wall. Mumo is now chocking under the sheer brutality of the teacher’s grasp. Mumo coughs. He struggles for air.

A fly lands on his cheek and he slaps himself. He slaps himself out of whatever he was seeing, and rubs his eyes again to see the teacher, teaching at the front, drawing some configuration. His mouth is wide open with bafflement. Of himself.

He bows down at his open Chemistry book. Perhaps he will find some peace and drift away. But he looks at the page and the words on the page are suddenly so bold. So huge and conspicuous. They were turning, into figures. Turning, into things. Turning, into his deepest and darkest desires. He stared at them. Then, angrily, he thumped his book to close.

He tries not to get himself sucked back into these whispers that trickle themselves into his conscience. He tries not to get warped into normalcy. And that is why he tries to free himself by the emptiness that he attains. His mind has become this plainness that he has mastered. Mumo tries not to think too far behind or too far ahead, because after that, they are of no consequence to him. His ideas are raw because his brain is not a devilishly entangled collection of cables, but a neat alignment of free flowing thoughts. They were clear, and concise, and precise.

Tomorrow. Well, tomorrow he doesn’t know what he will do. But he will do something