“I can remember the beating as if it happened this morning. He kicked, slapped and dragged me on the grass and for a moment I thought he would go on forever. To be honest I didn’t even understand why he was so furious. I also didn’t understand why he [a stranger] was beating me. I was more in shock and confusion than I was in pain. I kept on screaming for my mother to save me from this ‘visitor’ who has decided to turn violent on me. She just stood a safe distance pleading with him not to kill me…
Earlier that week when he arrived at our home, my mother had introduced him to me as my baba. I didn’t think much about it because where I come from all uncles and distant uncles are considered ‘baba’ pronounced ‘fafa’ to mean father or sometimes lesser father. So this man (the visitor) who looked antisocial and was always staring at me silently as if he knew me from somewhere, was just a relative coming to check on us. In the first few days we didn’t talk much and I avoided making eye contact as I found him scary. He and my mother would speak in short sentences and most of their conversations were one way with my mother doing most of the talking. He seemed different from all our relatives who I had by now come to accept as irritatingly noisy and somewhat obnoxious. He definitely was not one of ours.
On this fateful day he motioned me over to where he was sitting under the shade of the granary’s thatched roof. He reached into his coat and produced a couple of ndururu (colonial era 10 cent coins) which he instructed me to take to my uncle next door to pay for a long standing milk debt. I took the money and hurried off to my uncle. I was seven years old and as you would guess, I quickly got distracted by my childish curiosities along the way. I got to my uncle and threw the coins into his giant hand and waited for him to confirm that it was all there.
“Is this all?” he barked.
“I gave you the money as I was given by fafa” I responded as I played with his puppies.
He waved me off impatiently and instructed me to tell fafa that he would come to see him later in the day. Little did I know what would follow that afternoon would change my life forever.
I was playing in the dirt when I saw my uncle charge into our homestead mumbling incoherently with his fists clenched tightly. I could tell he was very angry. He shouted for my mother asking her where Mwangi (fafa) was. My mother came out of the kitchen visibly surprised by my uncle’s tone. In a rather calm tone, she tried to inquire what the cause of his anger was and whether she could help but my uncle was taking none of it. She pointed to the direction where fafa was working in the farm planting cassava and helplessly watched my uncle march there like a raging buffalo. My mother and I were silent for the next few minutes as the two men’s interaction spiralled into a huge argument. All I could hear was fafa saying something about being sure he had paid the right amount and my uncle shouting back that fafa was lying to him. After what seemed like an endless shouting match, there was silence and then I heard fafa calling me.
“Did you give fafa (now uncle) all the money I gave you?” he hissed.
“I gave him all the money you gave me” I replied.
“How much did I give you?” he asked in a suspicious manner.
“I don’t know, I didn’t count” I responded in a shaky voice.
” Did you stop to play at any one point on your way to your fafa?” he asked the trick question in a low tone.
My reaction gave me away. I couldn’t lie and by now I knew I was in deep trouble. I wasn’t sure if and where I had dropped some of the coins but something inside me told me that I had been careless. In a flash of lightning, Fafa descended on me with kicks and blows like a dog as he interrogated me to know where I had lost the rest of the money. I had been beaten before by my mother who was an outstanding disciplinarian but there was something different about this beating. I felt I was being beaten by a total stranger while my uncle and mother looked on. At some point the beating got so bad that I started screaming that fafa was not my father and that he had no business beating me. Immediately I saw my mother cover her mouth with her hands in what seemed like a mixture of fear and astonishment. It was also the same instant when all hell broke loose. My father beat me until I was numb with shock. We spent the night cutting down all the bushes along the path I had taken to my uncle’s house in a bid the lost ndururu. In the end we never found the money but that is how I knew fafa was my biological father and in the years that followed we became best friends until the day he died.
You see my father had been detained during the emergency just around the same time I was born; he was released after seven years of hard labor in the worst conditions imaginable. A lot of men and women in that period were tortured in detention and their experiences changed them forever. In the emergency period many mothers were left in the reservations with young children to look after and they had to take up the roles of fathers as well. They were tough and resilient because that was the only option they had. This meant providing, caring and disciplining their children who were growing up without father figures. Many of my age-mates also got to know their fathers after the emergency years; many still did not get their parents back as they died in the camps. We still turned out alright do you agree?”
This is one of the many stories that my father told my brother and I on a road trip last weekend. I filled in some parts creatively to give it a little kick. It feels good to be writing again.
“The stench of rotting flesh filled my car as we rolled down Waiyaki way looking for a spot we could dump the black garbage bags. Every time we thought we had found a spot, headlights would appear from nowhere and we would abandon our plan. We had been driving for 3 hours now and we feared we would be stopped by cops at any time…”
A few months earlier we were sitting in a restaurant planning on what we thought was the best money making plan ever. It would be short term and best of all, the proceeds would be tax free. We held our meeting in hushed voices and wrote out a sketchy plan on some white serviettes.
The project was going to take 4 months after which we would cash in and move on to other bigger things. The partnership was made up of myself and my long time friends Jimmy and Muba. We felt invincible and we were confident that we had explored all possible scenarios of the plan. Little did we know our venture would end up with lives lost. It would also turn out to be one of our most memorable business lessons ever.
We set into action by ensuring our finances were okay. We asked around and carried out due diligence by gathering successful case studies. To cap it all, we already had a willing buyer who I had gotten connected to by a credible source. The buyer was specific; every ‘package’ had to conform to a weight of 1.5 kilos, no more. Otherwise it would raise a red flag with his boss and the whole deal would be considered suspicious and eventually cancelled.
We wrote out a plan and swung into action with the vision of a handsome profit burning brightly in our minds.
We bought 600 birds with 100 of them as insurance against the unpredictable. In poultry farming you have to account for losses, some stemming from negligence by the handlers and others just from random acts of God. We carefully followed our plan and not before long we started to see our project grow into the most promising venture. The birds grew big so fast that they crossed the 1.5 kilo mark on the third month, even our farm neighbours could not hide their envy. We had opted to feed the birds with the highest quality of chicken feeds available and the good thing was, all this was still within budget. We had estimated that we would break even with the first batch of chicken and start making profit on the second batch.So I called up my guy the buyer and explained to him our weight problem. He brushed it off saying we needed not worry as he’d ‘sort’ it with his boss. The only condition he gave was that he wanted a cut from our sales. We gladly agreed.
So finally the day came for the slaughter and our my guy gave us the green light to deliver the chicken at his boss’ hotel by 8PM that evening. So we enlisted the services of this giant of a man who had a reputation of being the most efficient chicken executioner in Nairobi. He was this 6 foot hulk with the most scarred face and the coldest eyes we had seen. He always walked around with his tools of trade; a set of knives, string, a sheet of polythene (which he wore to to prevent blood spatter) and a pack of cheap cigarettes. He looked like a morbid serial killer. Anyway he looked like the perfect person for the job because it takes a lot of cold heart to slaughter 500 chicken.
He filled a drum with water and started a fire under it. Soon he was snatching birds from the chicken barn, snapping their heads off their bodies like dry spaghetti and throwing them into the boiling water. He made short of the work and in two hours the chicken were hanging upside down dripping a mixture of water and blood; all ready to be delivered to the customer in the next two hours. Now it was time for the delivery.
The load was almost a ton and I could feel Iris my old station wagon groaning under the heavy weight as we flew down Kangundo road in the open savannah towards the city lights. We dropped ‘the executioner’ along the way after paying him [much to everyone’s relief]. It had been very uncomfortable riding with him at the back of the car just staring into a crazy trance. All the time, he never said a word despite our repeated attempt at having a conversation. We couldn’t stop fearing he would go crazy and snap our necks from behind, then bury us in shallow graves on a lonely stretch by the road.
As we edged closer to the city, I called my guy to tell him we were almost there. That’s when everything went south. He pretended not to remember that we had spoken about the birds being overweight. He also indifferently asked whether we had a signed order from the hotel which obviously we didn’t. He then delivered the final blow saying that they had already gotten a delivery by their usual supplier and therefore they wouldn’t take our stock. It took me a while to process the whole conversation and at some point I thought I was having a heart attack. As I broke the news to my partners, I could see Jimmy almost tearing up the steering wheel in frustration and I could hear Muba laughing in the distance as he usually does when he can’t comprehend what just happened. We pulled over to the side of the road and took a moment to feel sorry for ourselves. This was turning out to be a really bad day.
After brainstorming, we came up with our first idea for mitigation. We would ride into town and sell the chickens on the busiest highway in the city. So we drove to Uhuru highway and parked on the side of the Nyayo stadium round about and went over our preposition for the millionth time; a chicken worth 700 shillings at a price of 250 shillings. We were sure it was an offer customers wouldn’t refuse. We targeted to sell at least 50 birds each between Jimmy, Muba and myself. The plan was to offload as much as possible and sell the rest to a restaurant owned by a sister to Victor one of the friends in our circle. Little did we know this would turn out to be the hardest sell ever. Motorists would roll up their windows whenever we tried selling them of the chicken. It never occurred to us that selling chicken stupidly cheap (and on the highway) was suspicious! Someone in a matatu even told the rest of the passengers that we had slaughtered the marabou storks that are usually perched on the trees along Nyayo stadium, and that’s why our chicken were too big! We got so desperate we even offered them to motorists for free. In the end we had disposed only 10 fat chickens with 490 to go!
We packed up and headed to Victor’s sister and sadly, she would only take 5. By this time, we had even bought ice blocks because the executioner had warned us that after 24 hours the chicken would start going bad. It was almost midnight when we got the idea of asking our friends and families to assist with storing some of the birds in their refrigerators but they could only take so much. We still had 400 to go. At 2AM we gave up and decided to leave the remaining chickens in the car hoping the ice would keep them fresh until morning.
The next day was a work day and as we left the house we couldn’t help but catch a faint familiar smell as we walked towards the car. This is when our real ordeal started.
The Thika superhighway hadn’t been built yet and so the traffic usually started on our doorstep. We had opened all the windows and we could see everyone on the road sniffing and trying to investigate where the foul smell was coming from. I had never felt so defeated in my life. As usual, Muba wouldn’t stop laughing and Jimmy eventually joined the laughing band. I personally was just in a daze. Clearly we were having one of the worst days of our lives. As Jimmy dropped us to our workplaces, each person went into their office carrying two chickens for ‘advertising’. To date we all agree that Muba had the most hilarious experience of all that day as he was suspected of murdering his boss but I’ll tell you about later.
Jimmy went ahead and parked the car under a tree at his workplace hoping the shade would slow down the decomposition of the chicken. By midday he had called us saying his workmates were reporting an overpowering smell of death.
That’s when we all spoke on phone and agreed that our business had gone bust and it was time to pull off the final act. Disposal. We decided we would buy garbage bags and wait for midnight to find a discreet dumping ground. We also enlisted one more accomplice in our circle Naito who would help us with pulling it off.
At midnight we headed out into the dark. At first we tried finding dumpsites along Thika road where we used to live but the mayor had done his work well that year. We couldn’t find any. So Jimmy suggested Waiyaki Way as the perfect place since he had grown up there and knew the dumping sites like the back of his hand.
The stench of rotting flesh filled my car as we rolled down Waiyaki way looking for a spot we could dump the blag garbage bags. Every time we thought we had found a spot, headlights would appear from nowhere and we would abandon our plan. By now we had been driving for 3 hours now, and we feared we would be stopped at any time by the police. That’s when it hit me that we had committed mass murder because thanks to us, more than 400 chicken had lost their lives for nothing. As morning drew closer we decided to go back home because the situation was getting risky and out of control. We were tired and sleepy and as we turned into the last street home, Naito made a comment about dumping the whole thing on the roadside just before our gate. Little did she know what she had just said was the best idea we’d heard all week.
The next morning we woke up to chaos in the neighbourhood. Somehow stray dogs had managed to rip the bags open and strewn the carcasses all over. The stench was overwhelming. Good thing no one knew who was responsible. We quietly slipped into our car which was still reeking and drove out to work. We had gotten away with murder. But we wouldn’t eat chicken for the rest of the year let alone look at it rotating on the grill behind the Kenchic joint window.
The whole event taught us some hard and important lessons. Firstly every business idea needs a proof of market before one invests their hard earned money. Secondly always have a backup plan to your backup plan because anything can go wrong. Lastly, always be cautious when someone offers to hook you up with a contact while saying “I have a guy”.
Once long ago there stood a giant tree where there now sits the great stump. The tree was magnificent and could be seen from far and wide. It’s branches were strong and it’s roots ran deep through the earth down to the rock beneath. Towering over the whole forest, this was certainly the tallest tree in the land. So big was the tree that it cast a very dark shade underneath it and not other tree would grown under or near it for many miles.
This tree was home to many birds who were ruled by an old, evil, giant eagle. Every bird feared the eagle because of his sharp beak and powerful claws. So terrifying was the eagle that it was said he had eaten his own family. He also had a reputation of killing any bird that defied his orders. The tree was his kingdom and the old eagle guarded it and it’s inhabitants fiercely.
To keep the birds submissive, he would eat their eggs and their young to his fill whenever he pleased. The birds were unhappy but there was nothing they could do.
Since the tree was the only home the birds knew, none of them had an idea what lay beyond the thick mist. The birds lived a miserable life and wished that one day the old eagle would die. Eagles live longer than most birds, so sadly the inhabitants of the tree knew the evil eagle would outlive them all.
One day, the birds saw many humans on the forest floor milling around their tree. They were making great noises and moving about in a disturbing manner. One of them stood in front of the tree and was shouting to the rest of the humans. Afterwards they moved on and it was peaceful once more.
Two young weaverbirds [a male called Loki and a female called lulu] that had been observing the humans became very curious as to where these strange creatures had come from. Since no bird had ventured outside the tree except the eagle, the two weaverbirds were filled with an urge to find out. They became very restless and as they discussed the strange creatures they had seen, they wondered what else lay yonder. They hatched a plan to fly in the direction the humans had gone. They agreed to turn back if they felt they had gone too far and could get lost. So there and then they made a deal that they would start their flight at first light the next morning.
Anxious and excited, the two weaverbirds could not sleep that night and at daybreak, they started their journey. Following the path they had seen the humans take, they flew into the dense mist until they could not see the great tree behind them. They flew on despite their fear of getting lost. They had never flown this far from the tree and were terrified; but something about this trip made them feel free and excited. After a long flapping their tiny wings,they got tired and were scared that they had gotten lost.
Lulu started crying “Loki I’m scared! I’m afraid we are lost and we may never be able to get back home!”.
Though scared, Loki gathered his courage and tweeted encouragement to Lulu,
“Push on, we’re almost there”.
And suddenly without warning,the mist opened up and they came to the most beautiful sight they had ever seen since they were hatched. A breathtaking forest with the most colorful trees they had ever seen. There were sweet looking fruits and insects on every tree. This was nothing like what they had anticipated. They flew into the trees and danced around the branches pecking on the sweet fruits and tasty insects. This was heaven! They wished they had made this discovery much earlier.
Without wasting time, they ate to their fill and set off for home to tell the others what they had found. At first, no one would believe their fantastic sounding tale but eventually some birds did and went and came back to tell the others.
In the end all the birds moved from the evil eagle’s tree leaving him weak starving and starving since there were no more eggs and nestlings to eat. The birds had also discovered that the eagle could not fly as he was too old and his feathers had fallen off.
As the old eagle perched on his [now quiet and lonely] tree staring into the horizon, he felt sorry for himself. He had no friends and now it dawned on him how miserable he was. He thought the tree was his greatest possession but without the birds it was just a cold and empty place.
A few days later the humans came back and cut down the tree. Initially they had decided not to cut the tree because they felt sorry for the birds but now there were not birds living in it. The old eagle was killed as the great tree came crashing down on the forest floor. As for Loki, Lulu and the rest of the birds; they went on to thrive and live happily ever after. The forest had everything they needed and they also knew that they could always fly into the unknown if they ever got unhappy again.
You will never discover new forests until you gather the courage to lose sight of your great tree.
Dedicated to you, the person stuck in a place or situation that you can’t seem to get the courage to get out of.
His face shows that he died a very shocked man. It is now 8am.
Sit back and I will tell you why Kimani is lying dead in a trench right in the middle of Africa‘s largest slum.
Yesterday at 8 am. Valentine’s day.
Kimani got to work a very happy man. It was Valentine’s day and his wife was finally coming home. He had missed her dearly and after six months the least he could do was wait a few more hours till she showed up. He greeted his boss happily as he passed to collect his scooter and begin the day’s deliveries. Among his first assignments on the log was a letter to deliver to a Mr. Shah in Westlands and another one to a Udi Djembe at lodging house in Eastleigh, 1st Avenue. This would be an interesting day. The lodging at 1st avenue was famous for infidelity escapades. It is where old men and women took their ‘sidekicks’ for ‘meetings’.
And so off scooted a happy Kimani to Mr. Shah in Westlands. On his carrier was Shah’s letter and Udi’s huge-heavy-suspicious package. On his way, he stopped at the supermarket to buy a present for his wife. A red and white teddy bear with the inscriptions ‘I Love You’ embroidered in the little animal’s shirt. He only had 200 shillings to spare and so this bear was top of the range. It was the first time he was going to buy his wife such an expensive gift. Now he only had one more item to buy. Flowers. The colorful plastic flowers. All his adult life, Kimani had always wondered why you’d buy a woman you love flowers that would wither in a day. Plastic ones were cheaper and long lasting. One could even wash them if they got dirty!
He found Mr. Shah’s address easily but was disappointed when no one answered the bell. he knew what it meant; he’d be forced to come back later. That was going to ruin his plans. Kimani decided to go round the house to the back of the house assuming that Mr. Shah would probably be in one of the inner rooms. There he was on the patio with a group of suspicious looking characters. It looked like they were in an argument but they all went quiet when they saw him. Kimani introduced himself as the delivery ‘guy’ and proceeded to hand the letter to Mr. Shah; evidently the only asian in the group. On opening the letter, Mr. Shah’s face turned into a red and angry knot.
“The letter is blank!” He cried. ” Where is the letter you were supposed to deliver?” Now the attention was on Kimani.
“That’s what I was given to deliver to you” whispered Kimani in a scared voice, “Is there any problem?”
Mr. Shah now rightfully refered to as ‘The Shah’ ordered one of his mean looking goons to accompany Kimani back to the parcel collection point to sort out the ‘issue’ and make sure they come back with the ‘letter’. Now Kimani was really scared. He’d done everything just as his work log had stated and now this? He couldn’t understand. Before they left the compound, Kimani requested the Shah to allow him to deliver the Eastleigh parcel enroute to the office. He obliged. So off went Kimani to Eastleigh, behind him was the goon following in a dark tinted car.
When he reached the lodging house, Kimani untied the parcel and proceeded up the stairs. It was heavy. Hanging in the air was the heavy distinctive smell of sex and damp-unhygienic-space.
“This must be the most vile whorehouse in all of the city” said Kimani to himself as he reached the fourth floor. He knocked lightly on the door assuming his client would be in the middle of business. It took a long minute before the door was answered. What followed will never be understood clearly. There standing naked in the door was Kimani’s wife! In the confusion that followed, Kimani dropped the parcel, breaking it and spilling the content therein. A white powdery substance. He slapped his wife the same time a heavy fist shot out from within the house and caught him in the temple. Ude Djembe. A huge beast of a man with the bloodiest eyes he had ever seen. Kimani ran down the stairs in terror and shot out of the building screaming with Udi and the goon hot on his heels.
Later one witnesses would tell the police that it must have been a drug deal had gone sour, while another swore that Kimani had been found with another man’s wife. Rumour, heresay and confusion.
It is now 8am.
It is raining and onlookers in the sprawling Mathare slums are puzzled why a man tied by rope on a scooter, is lying dead in a trench. It is even more peculiar that his face is still twisted in shock. One couple in particular (seemigly in love) can’t seem to piece together why the dead man is still clutching on to a teddy bear. I personally think God made rigormortis to freeze one’s final moment in death so the living can learn from it.
Kimani’s wife could not live with the fact that he was poor and couldn’t buy her nice things. Her plan was to dissappear, make enough money then go back to Kimani and make his life better. Now she can’t live with herself. That is why she is hanging from the ceiling of room 4G of Gituamba lodging in Eastleigh’s 1st Avenue, dead by suicide.
Love is denied expresion by poverty – Wallace D. Wattles
No one knows what was supposed to be in Mr. Shah’s letter. No one has an idea who Udi Djembe is, or why a box full of cocaine was to be delivered to him. All that, doesn’t matter. It’s the dead delivery man and his dead unfaithful wife that matter.
This story is dedicated to my sister and partner in crime Marcie Mugendi whom I love to death. She says I’m a good story teller. Well here’s a story for you little sister.
By Michael Ngigi
Laughter doesn’t necessarily mean someone is happy. A serious face doesn’t necessarily mean that one lacks humor. A crooked leg does not necessarily mean one cannot run. Neither does a colorful snake mean it does not strike. Why then, is Nelly is crying as she walks towards the alter on her wedding day? One would easily say it is because she is overjoyed that the day has finally come. She looks gorgeous in that ivory gown. Delicate and surreal. This day looks like a dream. The little girls look pretty too as they throw confetti on the bride and her guardians. Every single woman is jealous. The men are hiding their faces and it is evident that this bar has been raised a bit too high. The man who is about to marry this beautiful woman has scored a high ten.
Nelly is crying because she is about to die. She knows it but she chooses to walk on.
Nelly and Kim had been engaged for two years. She’d met him at her friend’s wedding about five years earlier. After talking for a few minutes she decided she wanted to know him more. He was interesting and funny. Kim had a way of making her feel special. It was no surprise when he proposed one evening in the middle of a highway. He was arrested for obstructing traffic, but he had already made his point. Nelly was blown away by his courage and she said yes. After that, they couldn’t stay apart. They started planning for the wedding immediately.
Days flew by first and during the last two weeks these two gave each other space to bid farewell to the single-hood. Kim went first, to his ‘drink’ with the boys. That night, he didn’t pick her calls neither did he answer her messages. Only the next day did he show up with yellow flowers with a note to say how sorry he was. He claimed his phone ran out of units and battery charge. The event was quickly forgotten. After all, no one wants to fight with their fiancé a few days before their wedding.
Then it was Nelly’s turn to attend her own bridal shower. Kim was having a headache and preferred to stay home. So Nelly made sure she made him some food and packed it in a dish so he could warm it when he woke up. She also left him some pills and drinking water on the bedside. She had offered to stay home and nurse him that evening but he would hear none of it. It was her day, he said. He wanted her to be in the company of her best friends. She felt sad to leave him but it looked like he’d be okay. She kissed him goodbye and drove off to meet the girls.
At the bridal shower, Nelly was treated to a hearty applause and tasty cocktails. She was thankful that they’d stood by her most of her life and what’s more, they had finally approved her man. Almost every girlfriend she had was present at the party. What would life be without friends? She was enjoying herself until her friends decided to throw her a surprise. Out of nowhere, there appeared two male strippers. She hadn’t seen this one coming. In the confusion that ensued, the strippers undressed and were completely naked. The women went into a frenzy like canines baying for blood. Nelly was stunned beyond words. She picked up her purse and ran out to her car. This was not who she was and for a moment, her best friends were her worst enemies. She cried and felt guilty as she drove home in the rain that night. She wasn’t about to mess her relationship by participating in what seemed like the beginning of an orgy.
When she got home, the lights in the living room had been turned off. She took off her shoes and coat as she headed towards the bedroom. She opened the door slowly as she didn’t want to wake Kim up. Then she saw something that made her knees turn to jelly. There on her bed, lay a naked Kim in the middle of two equally naked women who were busy arousing him. It was obvious that they’d been having sex. The smell was distinctive. Still trembling, Nelly slowly shut the door and and ran out of the house. The next morning she came back and acted as if nothing had happened. Kim acted extra happy to see her and wanted to know all the details about the party. She wanted to cry but what to do? A wedding is a girl’s ultimate dream.
Nelly cried through out her wedding day. She hated the way her world had changed. Surprisingly, Kim turned out to be a good husband. He was caring and always near. He brought her gifts and supported her ambitions. At some point, Nelly even forgot the ‘incident’. Everything had finally worked for good. She was doing well in her career and marriage felt like the best situation to be in. Bliss.
Six years later, Kim got very sick and died. The doctor said it was meningitis. As Nelly tried to come into terms with his death, she got more confused and weary. Something inside her kept telling her to probe deeper. Memories of that fateful night came flooding back and she decided to confront the doctor.
Kim died of AIDs. Nelly has HIV. Kim had kept it from her all along. She had seen the signs but she chose to ignore. Now the wedding is over, only the end awaits her.
If you see a sign. Take it seriously.
I shed tears for the infected and affected.
February 8, 2011 at 11 am
In the dungeons below the city council building there is a man who has been locked up for the last twenty days. He has been denied trial and the council officials even deny that he exists. He has not been logged in the offenders book. He was accused of jay walking. That is, crossing or walking in the street unlawfully in disregard for approaching traffic. This man has not been charged nor has he been given access to a lawyer or even a phone call. The council refuses to consider his plea for medical attention.
January 12, 2011 at 1 am
It’s two hours since it started raining and she still has not showed up. She knows I’m waiting for her. I know she can’t wait to see me. I am a lucky man. What are the chances of a girl of this calibre falling in love with a guy like me? Thank God for small mercies. Thirty minutes. She’s probably held up at work. Let me head on home and wait for her to call me. No, I’ll walk to her house and wait for her at the door. It’s almost three in the morning. It’s not safe for a young woman to walk from the car to her front door all alone. I will wait. I wonder how she’ll react to see me waiting for her. She will be too excited! She’s lucky to have me love her. She knows it.
I’ve been happy the last few days I think. I think it was the meds that were the problem. The doctor says I’m crazy. I say HE’s crazy. I mean, don’t crazy people walk naked on the street? I felt insulted when he told me I had a psychological disorder. He says the voices in my head are not supposed to be there. What does he know anyway! They (voices) tell me things. Important things. I would die without them. I feared they had left me when I was taking the meds the doctor gave me. Now I’m convinced that the crazy doctor wanted to kill me. That is why I’m never going back again. How can my own family conspire with a doctor they hardly know to kill me? Their only son?
My life has changed since I met Sarah. You see, Sarah and I have a bond. We have never spoken but we understand each other. I like following her wherever she goes. I know every place she visits in a typical day. She likes the shawarma at the mall. Red is her favorite color. She owns thirteen pairs of shoes. She has two best friends who I happen to hate because they point their fingers at me whenever they see me near her. They also think I’m crazy. If they only knew how much Sarah and I love each other. One day, we’ll get married and I will propose to keep these vexing friends out of our lives.
The watchman at the building where she works doesn’t like me. Her workmates don’t like me too. They claim Sarah told them that she’s scared of me. They’re just jealous. That won’t stop me from waiting for her. It will not stop me from loving her. It’s the least I would expect froma beautiful woman. Every man would die to have her to himself. In the end, they will realize it is me she loves. You’ll see.
She hasn’t been picking her phone lately. But it’s ok, I know she’ll call me back when she gets the chance. You know how busy people in the media are. She must be working hard at the station. One more reason why I like her. She does her job well. I never miss the news when she’s on tv. I like how she matches what she wears with her underwear. Private joke. I think I’m the only one who knows the color of her underwear. I watch her laundry dry when she’s at work. Through her broken window, I have watched her dress and undress countless times. It is the reason why I quit my job. It is funny the things that love can make you do. Being a manager in the biggest software company in the country didn’t give me as much happiness, as falling in love with Sarah. The headaches were a sign that there was something else out there for me. Sarah. they voices told me that our love was pre-destined. They were right. I can see it in her eyes when she looks at me. Other people would say she looks scared but if you know her well, you’d know that’s how she looks when she is excited. I would lay down my life for her.
It’s been two years since I met Sarah. It’s been hard to keep up with her lately. She’s always walking with a man. It must be her brother. Why else would a man hold a woman by the waist? Then there are these city council askaris who keep chasing me from my spot. They say they will arrest me for loitering aimlessly. They should know I am a man waiting for the love of his life. She knows i am waiting for her. She’ll show up I’m sure. Then what will they say? Because I am a good man, I will accept their apologies. For now, I am willing to stick around until the day she talks to me. We’ll get married immediately and have beautiful kids. Dad will be proud of me. Mum will love her. I love my life. I love my woman. I hate doctors. I hate medicine.
I know she’s thinking about me wherever she is. I could be with anyone in the world but I choose to be with her. What a lucky woman!
Erotomania: a delusion in which a person believes that another person (typically of higher social status) is in love with them. It is also characterized by excessive sexual desire.
As life gets harder in the third world, more and more people are exposed to mental challenges that prevent them from living as normal human beings. I thank my friends Kikata, Muba and Yoram for reminding me of these misbegotten people.
I dedicate this post to persons suffering from erotomania. We call some of these people stalkers. In a society where mental health has not been taken seriously, these people continue to suffer in obscurity. For most of psychological disorders arise in childhood. Maybe it’s time we raised our children better. It’s time you treated your siblings with care. It’s time you got your stalker some help.
After the struggle, they sat on opposite ends of the room panting. How it had come to this, none of them knew. Sex had become a chore. No satisfaction. No feelings, just more hurt. Anna pulled up the sheets to cover her shoulders. She felt rejected and unwanted. It was just three weeks before, that Nesta had proposed to her during a romantic dinner. Now he looked at her as if she had left a bad taste in his mouth. Funny how things change in the blink of an eye. Deep down, she knew this was the end. She would never see him again. She could feel her heart bleeding. She looked at him as he lit his cigarette and took in a long drag. She felt sick. Men are monsters…
A man can be vague in describing what he wants, but he can effortlessly state what he doesn’t want with confidence coupled with the fewest words possible.
Nesta’s first girlfriend was called Allen. A virgin. She was the nice ‘my mother would love you’ type. Pleasant, faithful and caring in every way. She would call him everyday and tell him how much she loved him. At times she would invite him over and cook for him. She had no fault. Their love was a dream especially since it was the first time in a relationship for both of them. Nesta was ever thankful that he’d found a woman who felt right in every way. He didn’t even mind that Allen had made him promise they’d only have sex once they were married. He didn’t care, he loved her with his heart.
He would often surpirise her with nice gifts and thoughtful messages, just as a good man should. Two months into the relationship, Allen started acting different. She became busy and all over sudden, she was angry at everything. She was always complaining. Then one day she called him up and gave him the familiar ‘you’re a nice guy – it’s not you, it’s me speech’, and their relationship was no more. Nesta later learnt that she’d met someone else. He came to understand why later. He was 22 and she was 19. She needed someone older and more mature.
He was 25 when he met Shisha who was 23. She was a sassy career woman who looked a bit too mature for her age. At 6 feet tall, she was dark, sexy and composed. She blew his mind the first time he saw her at the grocery section of the supermarket. It was a mixture of awe and lust at the first sight. He asked her out and a week later they had sex. It was spontaneous and addictive. She was experienced and he was eager to learn. She became his ‘good’ friend and that was it. He avoided asking her out because he had noticed something peculiar about the way she behaved when they were in public.
She was always overdressed even when one would expect a woman to be casual, say on a loose day. Shisha knew a lot of people especially men. She claimed they were business acquaintances. At one time it was her former boss, another time it was her colleague. Nesta always wondered why her eyes were always darting about whenever they were seated in a public place. She would zone off looking at men every now and then. This was very uncomfortable for Nesta. In the end, after complaining for a while, he decided to let her go. True enough, she immediately found herself a man who looked like a character from a luxury yatch commercial. Rich and carefree. She calls every now and then asking for a second chance. Nesta will hear nothing of it. After all, even though he is comfortable financially , he still doesn’t feel worthy of her.
For the next two years, Nesta would chase after women, lay them and chase them off early the morning after. At least that was his lifestyle until he met Valerie. She was also a career woman but a bit different. She liked to party and had many friends. They had so much in common that they could spend hours talking and arguing. She seemed to know a bit on everything. Val also happened to be a great cook and an equally outstanding partner in bed. She also didn’t seem to be in a hurry to be in a relationship. He liked it. One thing he noticed however is that she was out partying too often. He hated calling her because she’d most likely be in a noisy place. This didn’t change even after they started going out. Nesta tried to hold things together in the relationship and day by day she became distant.
She was shocked when he told her he wanted out. Val clearly hadn’t seen this one coming. She cried and felt she had been wronged and misinterpreted. All Nesta could tell her is that he still couldn’t feel like she was his girlfriend.
After Val, there was Sue who at first looked like the perfect woman (they all do!). She played him from the first day. He only got to know about it two years later. And then there was Anna and now there is none…
A man is never a man unless he has been passed through fire. We learn from experience, simple logic, trial and error. Nesta plans to ‘hang around’ for a very long time. Long live the jackal!
You went out and did everything
Made me stay at home
But all the time while you were out there girl
I wasn’t always at home alone
– Double You from the song Who’s fooling who
By Michael Ngigi
Nothing moves at the right pace. Your lunch is late. Your boyfriend, too early. Just when you needed a few more minutes with the girls. The baby wakes you up in the middle of the night just when you have the interview of your life early in the morning. The urge to run to the toilet always tortures you at the wrong time. And your stomach feels like a storm; just when you’re in that crucial meeting.
Now you feel like passing air. Too bad you’re in the elevator.
“Go on do it!” the small pop-up devil at the side of your head urges. For a moment you feel like you’d take the advice and run with it.
Did you just send her roses early in the morning today with a birthday note? You just made a stupid mistake! Read her text again. It read she was having a ‘bad day’ not BIRTHDAY you idiot! Furthermore her birthday was last month dummy! You forgot didn’t you? What the hell is wrong with TIME?!
Do you know why Kate is smoking weed at the back of the house during her birthday party? She is worried about the question of time and pace. She feels like everything is moving too fast. She can’t seem to catch up. Peete is entertaining her friends inside the house. At least that’s where she left him. She looks at the bracelet Peete just gave her for a birthday gift. Her stomach feels unsettled. She can’t help noticing the ‘Happy 25. I love you – Peete’ stamped clearly on it. She takes a long drag. As her head goes lighter, her heart grows heavier. Something doesn’t feel right.
Kate and Peete met two months ago at a friend’s party. Kate had just broken up with her boyfriend and so Peete came at the right time, of course as a shoulder to lean on. There after they met for coffee and a few hangouts later, Peete suggested they take their friendship to another level. In the heat of the moment, Kate agreed. At first it was bliss for these lovebirds and Peete would often outdo himself. He hopelessly loved Kate. She loved him too but could not shake of that feeling of falling helplessly into an abyss of unknown nature. She hated that she wasn’t in control. Everything was moving too fast. For her it didn’t feel like she’d had enjoyed enough time as a single woman. It felt more like this ‘new love’ was too rushed. She realized she didn’t know him well enough.
Then there was this other guy called Theo that she’d met the week before at the gym. They spoke for a few minutes and exchanged numbers. He seem interesting and had this magnetic mystery around him. He promised to call her before the week was over. She felt excited at the thought of seeing him again. He is two days late but she still has a strong feeling that he’ll call her. With this in mind, she knows Peete wants her to devote to the relationship. She is in trouble. She is has been possessed by the Delayed Devotion Demon. Don’t get her wrong, she thinks Peete is a very good guy. Caring and loving. It’s just that she needs more time.
The party is getting louder and everyone is excited except Peete. He pretends to be enjoying but his mind is overloaded. He is thinking about how Kate reacted when he gave her the bracelet. He knows that look. He’s seen it before. A few months before,his then girlfriend had broken up with him citing that she needed time off. She had that same look. He knows he can’t handle another breakup. Not now. His head feels dizzy.
As a friend, there are things I’d rather Peete knew that would save him a heart ache. You see, Kate is like an empire that you’ve set out to conquer with limited resources. You have to do it bit by bit. You should know that before you came along, she was doing pretty well by herself and that she didn’t need saving. kate has many friends, both female and male. She likes partying and having fun and goes out almost two times in a week. She loves the attention she gets whenever she goes out. She is beautiful so why not? She likes the freedom and the spontaneity.
When you met her, she liked you because you seemed like an interesting guy. You also looked a bit distant. She is used to men kissing the ground she walks on but you did the opposite. You sat in the party by yourself and seemed to enjoy your own company. Women love that. She felt like a queen when you made your move on her. Now two months later, you have changed. You are hopelessly ‘in love’. You’ve become a wuss, something very different from the macho image you had projected. At first you used to wait a day before you could reply her texts, now you call every minute of the day. Too much love and attention can be choking.It is making her uneasy.
Understand that her feelings for you have to be allowed to develop over time. The men who were in her life didn’t just fall off when she became your girlfriend. They fade out slowly. You have to conquer her bit by bit. It takes time. You want her to love you? Let her go. Give her space. She knows you are a good guy so don’t fret. Act like the cool guy you are. Don’t be afraid to lose. After all, what use is it for you to be with a girl who doesn’t feel for you as feel for her? When was the last time you had a drink with your boys? Pick up the phone. Call them. Let her breathe.
Don’t smother her with the kind of affection that screams you want to marry her, have ten kids and move upcountry to a farm house. It scares women away. Take time to learn from her. How to treat her. How to love her. Only in this way, can you be successfully cast out the Delayed Devotion Demon.
Too bad, we can’t talk such things man to man. So go ahead and mess up Peete. A man learns from trial and error.
Thank you Catherine for giving me the idea for today’s article. You gave me a note telling me to talk about the Delayed Devotion Demon. Well, here you are. I have to hand it to you though, your handwriting is awful 🙂
Robo was seriously nervous and anxious. Every now and then he would put his hand in his jacket to make sure his gun was still at his side. For some reason, he knew this day was different. Colors seem brighter and it felt like something big would happen on this day. He had been driving in circles for an hour now, and couldn’t help noticing the white SUV trailing him. On the passenger side, Kim sat still as if in a trance. He appeared calm and ready. But that was him, always a risk taker, dancing on the edge of adrenaline and death. At the back, Fela had his eyes closed as if in prayer. In his hands, a picture of the woman he loved and the daughter he would kill the world for.Tension. Robo looked at his side mirror again and this time, the SUV was nowhere to be seen. But still, he could feel they were being watched. He was fully awake now. The car was beginning to feel like a trap.
The lights turned red just three cars to the exit lane. A second. A minute. It seemed like ages. Kim opened the glove compartment and checked his gun again. He had sensed something. His instincts were seldom wrong. Being the oldest of the three, he had done more ‘jobs’ than he could remember. He was sixteen when he first killed a man for calling his sister a slut. He had gutted him like a fish using a cut-off lid from a can of preserved beef. This became his life. He didn’t have any parents or brothers. He was born to this life. It is all he knew.
As if by instinct, Robo noticed three men approaching the car silently; three cars behind. He reached for his gun but caught something from the corner of his eye. There was a gun pointed at him from the passenger side. Kim and Fela had already raised their hands in surrender. They had been caught. And they all knew what was about to happen. In seconds, the car was surrounded and they were ordered out with hands raised. Robo was scared. His knees felt soft and he could taste bile in his mouth. They had nowhere to run.
They were ordered to lie down on the tarmac as the plainclothes policemen held the morning traffic on the red light. Kim lay still with his hands tied behind his back. Fela’s prayers were growing louder. He had wet his pants. The picture was still tightly clutched in his cuffed hands. The three were made to lie facing each other. And when Robo looked at his friends, he saw the scared eyes of boys not men. Without warning, the first shot blew open Kim’s head. He died instantly. The second one split Fela’s temple and for almost a minute, he lay there jerking as blood sputtered from his wound. The whole street went silent as blood from the two thugs formed two streams that ran into each other to form a bright red puddle. Robo struggled to hold back tears of fury and hopeless loss. He wanted to die. He felt the pain. This was not how it was supposed to end.
He was thrown in a waiting police land-cruiser together with the lifeless bodies of his friends. On the street, the crowed watched was still in shock and disbelief having watched an execution in broad daylight. A few women wailed loudly as they cried justice. At the far end of the street, stood an elderly man who seemed to have taken pictures of the whole saga. As he lay in between the friends he had come to love, he wondered if God would ever forgive him. He slipped into a deep sleep.
He awoke in a place he couldn’t recognize. There before him stood his boss smiling and going about how heroic he had been.
“We need everyone who works with us to be loyal and never forget who calls the shots” his boss boasted, “They thought they could get away with our cut!”
Robi felt sick. His head spun and he could feel vomit building up in his gut. He looked around and saw his gun lying on the table beside the bed. Silently, he asked his boss to leave him alone so he could rest. And as his boss closed the door behind him, Robi took his gun and put it to his head.
Before he pulled the trigger, his life flashed before his eyes. He remembered Fela’s beautiful wife and blind daughter. He recalled how Kim had stood up for him in times of trouble and treated him like the only family he ever had. If only he had known he was being set up. He only felt a slight knock when he pulled the trigger.
They tell us crime has gone down, but has it really? Every year, young Kenyans are murdered in cold blood without the chance of a fair trial. We say they should be dealt with harshly. What about the innocent who are dragged from the arms of their wives and children, only to end up murdered in the bush? Who gives these orders? I have taken time to ask why people do what they do. For some, it is because of fear. A fear driven by the bad things they’ve done in the past. Afraid of their greed, they sleep with one eye open. They do not know when their victims will take revenge. When the wives and children of their victims will know the truth. They say that it is a vicious cycle. Does that mean it will never stop? How about we all get armed? No? Then can we be protected?
I commend the men and women in the force who struggle to uphold the law however hard it is to do so. May their families find pride in these everyday heroes.
I dedicate this article to the families of the men who lost their lives on a highway a few days ago. They could have murdered. They could have stolen. Still, they deserved a trial. We will never know what really went down, but maybe that’s the whole point of a society heading for a breakdown.
There is a small village called Aberer on the shores of Lake Langano in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. It is about 200 kilometers by road in the south of the capital Addis Ababa. In this village there lived a young couple who loved each other very much, atleast that’s what everyone knew.
The young man’s name was Kefela, a local fisherman. Orphaned at an early age, he had learned to work and depend on the sweat of his brow to survive. He had learned the ways of the world by trial and error. He grew into a man of character and virtue. He was honest, reliable and always kept his word. All the children in the village were his friends and almost all young women, his secret admirers [for it is in wrong in traditional Ethiopian culture, for a woman to publicly show interest in a man].
He had met Nazret (his lover) in the fish market five years earlier. She was this calm, composed and gracefull in her stride. She had a long neck, shapely and tall physique that amplified her confidence. Flawless skin and neatly arranged teeth behind her sunrise smile. She was very beautiful.
Kefela had known many beautiful women but Nazret beat them all. A ‘bird’ had told him that she (Nazret) had been from a violent relationship. The culprit, a man from the neighbouring village of Geret. Kefela worked hard to win her heart and they became lovers. Their love was like no other. They basked in each other’s company. Kefela made her laugh and she cared for him like a child. Everyone in the village acknowledged that this love had been made in heaven. They used to go everywhere and do everything together. When they had be spend time apart, each would suffer a serious heartache and often become physically weak. They felt like they would die without each other. Atleast this was the situation according to Kefela.
You see the Langano happens to be the only fresh water lake in Ethiopia that is free of Bilharzia or Schistosomiasis. This makes it a very popular destination for tourists. People come from all over the world to see it’s magnificence and wallow in its splendour.
One day as Nazret was going to the market she was greeted by this white man who introduced himself as Rob. From her limited command of english she understood that he was asking her out on a date at the expensive italian restaurant by the lake. Rob told her he found her beautiful and that he wanted to marry and take her with him to his country in Europe. A simple request, yet it troubled Nazret for many days. Not because she was interested in what Rob had to offer but the fact that he came off as different and curiously interesting.
In the days that followed Nazret met him several times. She was intrigued by the tales of his visits to distant lands [She had wanted to travel and see the world at some point in her life]. The way he treated her was also different. It was delicate and caring. He opened doors for her. He would serve her and ask her every now and then how she was doing. It was something she had never experienced before.
Back at home, Kefela had noticed a change in her behavior. He missed spending time with her and couldn’t understand why everything had changed suddenly. He wanted to raise the issue but was afraid that he would look insecure. They used to talk and laugh late into the night but of late Nazret was always ‘tired’. He started blaming this twist of events on himself. Could it be that he was working too hard that Nazret had started feeling neglected? Or had she grown tired of his promises that one day he would take them out of poverty? He had been saving up for a year to take her to Addis for a picnic. Had she grown tired of waiting? Then it hit him hard. Maybe Nazret was seeing another man! His stomach twisted into painful knots.
He was almost sure his fears were about to be confirmed. The way she was behaving lately was abnormal. They used to make love every night but now it had gone down to once a week. She was ever ‘tired’. He decided to wait it out a while for Nazret to reel back from her trance. After a week he decided to confront her.
Meanwhile, Rob and his newfound ‘friend’ were enjoying each other’s company. They had too much to talk about on almost every subject. Every now and then, Nazret couldn’t resist feeling guilty for not being there for Kefela, but she couldn’t help it. One day in the middle of a joke, Rob leaned and kissed her. She tried resisting but gave in a few seconds later. It was the most sensual thing she had ever experienced. Not that she didn’t like how Kefela kissed but this was a kiss from a person who was experienced. One would welcome a change of diet every once in a while.
That night when she got home, she found Kefela waiting in the dark. On asked where she had been all day, she replied rather rudely that she wasn’t a child and that she was safe where ever she was. Kefela was deeply hurt and decided not to pursue the matter further. A week later, he got home and found her gone.
Kefela still wakes up early to fish.He has his own boat now and business is looking great. He bought a piece of land along the lake shore and is planning to put up a lodge when he saves up enough money. Life is great. He also has a new bride whom he married from the hill country of Selah Dingay. The love they share is magical. Last month he took her for a picnic in Addis, this December he is planning to take her to the Maasai Mara in Kenya.
How about Nazret? Well, Rob didn’t take her to europe as he had promised. He left her stranded in Addis Ababa after he excused himself to make a ‘phone call’. She was pregnant with his child at the time. She has not seen him (Rob) since. Yesterday she got her first pay of 10 birr. The man she serviced made her do things which made her sick to her stomach. Times are hard. With a young child at home, who can blame her?
The grass will forever be green on the other side of the fence. A bird in hand will always be worth much more than the beckoning commotion in the bush. Are we content with what we have? Did you at some point wish you were born in your rich neighbor’s family? Do you wish you were lighter in complexion than you really are? What brats of a generation we are! But again, life is meant to be lived right?
So today as you call your man, ask yourself if you’re with him in the meantime as you wait for the perfect stranger. Ask yourself why you keep stringing this innocent girl along with the plan to hit on her best friend.
Have you met the perfect stranger yet?
I thank Mr. Yonas whom I met in the airport as we waited to board the flight to Ethiopia last December. A complete stranger, he told me that the most romantic place in the world that I could take my woman happens to be Lake Langano. I appreciate how you were patient enough to explain to me in detail the culture of the beautiful people of Ethiopia.
In the same breath I would like to dedicate this article to my dear fellow writer Carol. You wanted to hear my thoughts on this issue so there you have it.
stranger |ˈstrānjər| |ˈstreɪndʒər| |ˈstreɪn(d)ʒə|noun a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.