You know my heart better than I do. I’m not afraid of dying. I’m only afraid of not completing the work you sent me to do. It would be a shame to come into this world to such pomp and celebration and to exit quietly having not made any impact. So I am here to remind you of my wish list as I have done every day since I was 5. Every breath out always feels like I’m blowing my birthday candle. In my heart I always make a wish that gets to you in a prayer. I know that I always ask the same things every time I pray, but I know it never gets boring for you. You’ve always listened and come through in the nick of time whenever I have needed something. I have developed a habit of asking you for the impossible because it is what you’re good at. Remember that dry dog year when I wanted to know if I should quit my job? I dared you to gather a storm and send down heavy rain only in the area where I worked, knowing full well that the whole land was experiencing drought. I was shocked and surprised in a good way when you drenched me in rain that afternoon. Quitting that job was the best thing I ever did. You have always stood by your promises even when I have bailed on you. I have done some bad things expecting to wake up in the absence of your eye but you never change. You always are by my side. By now you’ve already memorized my wish-list. Of course there are those items we have crossed out together over time but the list is ever growing. Sometimes I think I sound like a broken record stuck on replay. I ask for the same things every time; health, wisdom, family, friends, contentment and life. I want to be the best at what I do because it’s only then that I can pay you back and be sure to sleep at night. So far, you have given me everything I have asked or needed but I want more. I am at a stage in life where I need you to honor my list now more than ever. I need you make these, the first of the best days of my life. And for the record, I need you to respond urgently. I have always been okay with your ‘no and wait’ style of business but I would like you to make an exception this time. Just say yes. Show me my calling. My sleeves are rolled up and I’m ready to work. Show me the job and let me get my hands dirty. Put me on a wage per work basis. Let me work, see the results and get paid by you in full for it. A little heaven down here would be very welcome. That house on a grassy knoll would really make me and my girl happy. Help me to surprise and show her my heart every now and then. May we enjoy every moment with our families for many years to come. May we live to enjoy the blessing of old age and the miracle of watching the children of our grandchildren prepare for their first date. You know I love what I do and I am thankful for it. Please add more spark to it. You know how badly I would want to help those in need. Can you add that spice to this game too? I would sleep better. You created us equal and I would like to take care of your children. Like a spoilt child, I sometimes forget that you hold my future in your hands. I worry and I try to control everything in my life instead of letting you order my steps. I have tried to be a good person and I still do but you know how flat I fall at times. I still smell of the stench of my folly but that never seems to put you off. Guilt. I have hurt more people than I have healed. I have crashed many a dream and disappointed the trust others bestowed upon me. I’m not good enough but there’s peace in acknowledging weakness. I am stronger because I know I am frail. I am hopeful because every time I come across a challenge I know it’s just another fat candle I need to blow out. … I haven’t written in a long time and naturally, my heart would not sit still. In my silence, I have found my voice. In my absence, I found myself. I hope you do to.
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.
Earth Day 256, somewhere in the land between two rivers
He drifted into a deep sleep. When he awoke, he felt like he had been asleep for a hundred years. Something was different in his body. It felt as if he’d been torn apart and sewn back together again. He had wandered for many days and hadn’t found what it was, he was looking for. He couldn’t describe what he felt. At dawn, he started feeling something strange. He was used to the sounds and smells of nature so he was sure this[what he was feeling] was something different. Something much more closer to him than the rest of the animals. Then he saw her. Her hair shone in the light of day and her perfect form eclipsed the rising sun. She was disarming and beautiful.
She looked lost and forlorn. She was seated along the brook gazing at the butterflies and lilies in a trance. She turned when she realized she was not alone. Their eyes met and they sat still and stared at each other. The world stood silent and still. It was as if they were lost for a moment in time. He opened his mouth and breathed one word. Eve. He wasn’t sure why he’d called her by that name, but it felt right.
She smiled shyly. She felt hot and ticklish at the back of her ears. For some reason, she felt like she’d known him all her 3 days of her life. She looked at him and placed her right hand on her left rib. She didn’t know why she did it but it felt like the perfect thing to do at the time. Adam did the same. And immediately, he understood. They both understood.
Earth Day 1654, wilderness of Chalbi
Ayek’s eyes stung from the sandy winds. He pressed himself harder on the boulder, afraid that another arrow would strike him should he move. Dusk was approaching fast and he had to act twice as fast. He was wounded seriously and his enemy was still at large. He struggled to remain conscious as he was losing blood fast. If only he could see the enemy’s shadow or at least catch their body scent.
Conflicts for hunting grounds were common place in this part of the plain. In fact, an encounter with wild beasts was more welcome than a clash with the savage tribes that ruled this unforgiving wasteland. His day had finally come. With nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, Ayek kept still and waited for his death. He believed in Ekniak – if it is the maker’s will, it will happen.
The spear sliced through his tired ribs in a deathly-slithering silence and he fell in disbelief. And as if nature knew, the howling wind died out and all that remained was the sound of his blood clogged breathing . Then there was a silence so sacred in the universe, that he could not feel any pain. As his sight faded to mist he saw the figure of his enemy. Slender. Petit. His nose caught the sweet smell of perfume made from wild flowers. Then the darkness took him.
When he opened his eyes, he was in a place he couldn’t recognize. He struggled to get up but was restrained by a hand. He turned and saw her; his enemy. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. There she sat looking at him with the sharp eyes of a deadly serpent. The two ‘foes’ held each other’s gaze. The knew they were meant to be here.
Earth Day 2010, Nairobi
I love Mish-kaki, especially the ones they serve at Steak & Ale. The bar is full and the music is great. I’m meeting up some friends who I haven’t seen in a long minute. I motion to the waiter to serve our table. As we wait, I look across at her. She hasn’t changed in the last two years that she has been away. She’s my good friend. Virtuous and honest. You can tell a person’s character by their friends. She has nice friends who are constantly smiling. Come to think of it, the all look alike! Well… save for one. This one is captivating and sassy.
I look at her and she looks away in response. I am excited. I can’t really tell what I’m feeling but I can swear she knows what I’m going through. She is magnetic and I fear she might have some cultic connections. For a moment, I’m compelled to ask her to show me the leader of ‘her cult’. I would like to join it. I smile at her and she smiles back. The butterfly tattoo on her neck seems to come alive in excitement. We know. I excuse myself from the table. I have this nagging feeling this is the first day of many to come.
Love is a silent language. It starts without warning. It is selfish and doesn’t waste a moment to consume. You will know it when you see it. You will feel it when it is near. It appears anywhere it pleases and doesn’t care who you are or what you have. It is the equalizer of men. What good is a wealth without love? Be warned though, love never makes mistakes. Next time I will report on why Love Lacks Expression in Poverty. Will you be there?