Once in a while, I get obsessed with a song. Actually, that is not true. I tend to have a song for every season. That one great song that speaks to you alone and no other. The one that picks you up from the dark holes and gets you back to your feet. Or the song that allows you to grieve, because sometimes you just want to lie there in your sadness, and the music covers you like a dark blanket. You don’t want a pick-me-up or any form of encouragement; Sometimes it is a song that reinforces your fears. The one that calls you to resignation saying ‘yes am not gonna be all I can be.’ And there are songs of courage. Of Hope. Of moving on and taking you in your strides. Looking back now I have been stilled, held, moved, and loved through songs.
So here we are.Exactly 6 years 6 months and some 25 days later or even better put Two Thousand Three Hundred and Ninety-Nine Days (2399) since I put down my pen on this blog, I have come full circle. Or am I simply at the beginning of another one? I have lost and won. Cried and Laughed. Loved and had my heart broken. And these moments needed their own melody. I have to say though,picking my words again feels like mothering a grown child. You are back to them but separated with missed experiences and lost time. My own words feel and sound foreign. Deep down I know that they are mine but so much time has passed, everything I do feels forced and unnatural. No word comes out without a tinge of guilt that I had abandoned them for so long. And somehow they are not very right. I am hoping we can extend grace to each other. That my words and I can be friends again. That we can talk to each other with empathy and candor.
As I write again, I begin to feel the hum. The music in my mind as I type, the rhythm of scribbling on my notebook, the scent of paper and the hymn that is getting me lost in my own world. I start to feel like paperweight. I begin to remember this song, the sounds of my youth. I remember how beautiful I felt then, how uncumbered, how mystical. I can feel the hum weaving in the weight that the years have brought, intertwining with the guilt of mistakes done and filling it out with learned wisdom. I can feel like am becoming me. That I am finally at home with myself.
There is a way I want to spend my valentine’s day.
I want to wake up at nine am, between silky sheets, snow-white pillows, and next to a warm body. I want to canoodule myself and snuggle into a tight embrace. I want to be kissed until my lips get full and my toes curl.
I want breakfast in bed. I want the smell of coffee to fill my room. I want it to be professionally brewed with a heart shaped barista art. I want grapes and melons cut into lovehearts. I want to feel their smoothness as I swallow. I want pink strawberry yogurt in long drink glass, with red cherries splashed on top.
I want a scented bubble bath. I want to soak myself in warm water sprinkled with rose petals. I want him, to kiss my delicate feet with love. I want him to wash my hair with a designer shampoo with a name I cannot pronounce.
I want a bouquet of sweet-scented white roses mixed with white tulips. I want to have lunch with the finest china. I want forks and knives, placed in a Ritz-Carlton kind of arrangement. I want champagne flutes and expensive red French wine. I want a sunny humid afternoon, so I could rock my white shorts and sunglasses. I want to go swimming in crystal blue waters. I want hot sand to touch, really touch my feet.
I want a ride in a private helicopter just when dusk approaches. I want to see the city under me. I want to be on top of the world, close enough to touch the skies. I want a candle lit dinner. I want a Luis Vuitton gown, one that clings to my African hips and sweeps the floor despite my six-inch heels. I want to walk into the room and turn every eye. I want to make every woman green with envy. I want to not be invisible.
I want be driven home in a sleek black convertible with red interior. I want to show my red-bottomed heels when I get down. I want to be carried up the porch in strong arms. I want a chaste kiss on my forehead even as I insist he comes in. I want a promise of forever after.
I want soft music wafting in the cool night air. I want to watch the full moon through my bedroom window. I want the moon to illuminate my room walls. I want to fall asleep, sleep soundly, and not dream. I want…….I want my valentine wish. #Sigh.
he was a young man,with dark curly silky hair with a perfectly snow-white complexion.he was tall,lean and his body well-built. he was wearing a green cap, white t-shirt and some baggy shorts with lots of pockets. he stood way far away from the rest of the pack, looking in, getting impatient. once in a while he would turn,look towards the bus, then he would nod his head turn right around and stare into nothingness. the rest would continue laughing, taking excess selfies,group photos and for minutes unending it looked like there was a small party going on.
the groups quickly formed. the girls only clique clearly overdressed for hiking complete with make up. they stood in circles giggling laughing and eating. and even against all advice they had their food-stocked bags faithfully on their backs.in the end, they were wiser than the rest of us. they were dressed to kill and you could feel small if your ego wasn’t to match. then there was the anxious fellas,people like me who wanted to prove a point. we were going to take down this mountain,literary if we had to.we were to afraid to say it loud though,so we were preparing psychologically, doing push-ups and jogs internally. we were going to show the rest of humanity what we were truly made of. steel and titanium.and of course there was that group that was made of all football fanatics. they were probably in it to prove that arsenal is better than Manchester, i know coz that was all they talked about, argued?debated? well it was one of those.
By the time the 3km hike started, the morning sun had lost its comforting warmth. it was large and ominous, glaring down at us, almost daring us. the clouds were quickly disappearing to the other end of the horizon.The wind was gentle though.armed with bottles of water we commenced. and we were the trend blazers.leading the way,others following.meet Njoro. team leader/motivational speaker/comedian/entrepreneur and a lot more as we discovered while we ascended. he gladly took the pacesetter role. he would go and the rest of us would practically try to keep up with him. then he would wait with us as we caught our breath,and in the meantime, he would take the opportunity to inspire motivate and keep our heads in focus. he talked like my high school coach,throwing in words like “we can do this,we will do this, we are conquerors and some other biblical stuff… i doubt he goes to church though,he would definitely make a good pastor.
3km took us a good two hours to go through. i think it was Wangeci and i that dragged the men behind. by the time we were half-way,we were deadbeat.we had to be pushed and pulled up that terrain.going up was tricky,especially climbing the rocks. it wasn’t easy,not the way i thought it would be. we sang when we gave up.but we didn’t stop,not even when the top appeared to be further and further away. as noon approached the scorching heat of the sun almost killed us, the dust from the beat up terrain almost suffocated us. the water was running low. and then we started talking about pollution and forest conservation. you never miss the water till the well runs dry,we harshly found out.Now meet Ken. he hadn’t been nothing much as we started,he was rather too quiet.the kind of guy you would bully and feel guilty almost immediately.he was our designated camera man,he wouldn’t say much,just a very loaded joke that Njoro would take a century to understand. he spoke in sarcasm. only him understood exactly how the crater was formed. he tried to explain. we all zoned out at the big bang theory and i nick-named him big bang the rest of the hike. he would take Wangeci’s hand(very sweet puppish girl) and we watched first hand how this romance brewed..actually,there is nothing romantic like a mountain-inspired love. although am yet to fully figure out if it was love or knight in Armour saving damsel in distress.
apparently getting to the crater,as events turned out wasn’t such a big deal. even a bunch of 11 year old from some international school could do it. from the top we could see lake Naivasha, which Njoro called Bogoria..yeah,when you are 2545m above the sea level,geography can elude you too. the scenery was to die for.it was something out of ‘Travel Diaries’. the light poured onto the lake making it glimmer.the trees below seemed to formed a canopy.to the east of the crater was the peak,200 meters above where we stood.the ultimate challenge was to go round the 7.2 km circumference round the crater.
Njoro,Obed and I soon left the lovebirds alone.coz that mushy stuff aint easy to swallow,and it was hard to watch without a tear falling.by the time we got round the crater,it was sunset.we headed down the mountain,took a record of 30 minutes.yes 30!tired,dirty,hungry and thirsty,we went for any type of drink we could find.i sat in silence in the bus, stretched my legs on the seat,a newspaper in hand,i watched the suns yellow light fade.the others trickled in silently from the mountains. the strangers and the groups formed in the morning had disappeared. the mountain had brought some sort of unspoken unity. we ended the day with nyama choma in one of the butcheries in mai Mahiu.then we came back to the buzzing,bursting traffic confusion of the city.
I have a friend. We have agreed he loves nothing else more than the way he loves his drink. Every friday is get wasted day. Its there, in his list of rituals, and its marked weekly in his calendar. And every week, he will drunk dial me and complain about his ex. Then he will cry, and every monday, he will have me swear on the bible, i wont talk about it to no man, not even Jesus…..
You have had a good day. No.you have had a splendid day. You slayed that presentation at work. You heard your boss say you have a great future. You feel so confident about yourself. You are an overflow, a cornucopia of positivity and energy. You would run a marathon, you would even write a book. To top it all, the last Friday of the month is looming. Your bank account is bursting with all your hard earned money. Your life is perfect. Surely, it can’t get better than that. So you gather your Bros, coz you not a selfish man. You wanna share your blessings. You call them, one by one, each by name and you are like.
“Hey yo, my nigga my man, say we hit town…I lipia you a couple of rounds..”
You know they won’t say no. You feel the joy in their voices at the idea of free drinks and research of EPL games. You feel like a saint. You are a proud man. So you hit your usual joint. The bartender knows your name. He likes you today. He forgives you for the wrangles you caused the last time you drank too much and went to overkill. He fills your shots. You make so much noise, the club comes to a standstill. You got the DJ attention. He just keeps unleashing your best tracks. Your buddies make the group look like a dance crew from stomp the yard. You know you are drank when you finally say… “Kila mtu apewe. Nalipa. I got money…” People shout like fans in a stadium. You notice your talent to be a politician. You blurt yourself into a speech. You say something about Obama. You call him ‘Cuzo’. You promise some dumb girl you will get her a lift in the beast. You scream how you will be young forever.
But the night can only be young for too long. Soon you staggering home. You crave for a bitter crisp frozen water. No you crave for a place to lay your head. You feel it there, something heavy at the base of your neck. You know you are gonna pass out. And you do. Right after you promised you wont drink again.
I have been almost mugged only twice in my life. The first time was by an amateur thief who followed me for over thirty minutes. I had made him out five minutes in. When he finally summoned his thief courage, I was well prepared. He came to me and I gave him a preaching of a lifetime, he almost gave his life to Christ. We actually parted on good terms and he promised he would polish his trade.
The second was not so pleasant. I was coming down Muindi Mbingu Street carrying my very new laptop bag. At that point, it was the most expensive thing I owned. Well, Hp Bags screams Hp Laptop so loudly. Any way this person presses a cold knife to my lower back and says. “Wachilia” I understood. Removing the bag from my back, I let him have it. To his shock, it was empty and light. So he looked at my scared frame and handed it back to me. He did not say anything. Just a cold stare, one that said, “You are killing me” and walked out. I went to my room and for a whole year never carried that damned bag anywhere.
I want to believe I am very good at personal defense. I know how to throw a punch. A kick. I have had enough of my fair share of catfights. Plus I have watched enough Ninja movies to understand how Ninjitsu works. But nothing really prepares you for a real Nairobi Mugging.
You have had a good day. No. You have had a splendid day. You slayed that presentation at work. You heard your boss say how much of a great future you have in the company. To top it all up, it is the last Friday of the month, and your bank is bursting forth with that salary waiting to be consumed. You feel so confident about yourself. You are a walking ball of energy. A cornucopia of all good things. Your life cannot get better than that. So you call your girls. Each by name and you are like…
“Hey, love. Long time. You down for girl time?” you know they cannot say no. So you hit town. You talk about life, and work and boys. (Coz eventually it always comes down to Boys). Maybe you give chunks of advice. Or you plainly cramp up in a tight hug and cry over ice cream. You feel so in touch with the world. And when the night stops being so young, you are craving for a warm blanket and solid place to lay your head. You have a bad feeling. Deep down in your stomach. You cannot explain why. So you ignore that feeling. You brave the midnight cold.
It is dark. But you are in a crowd. There is safety in Numbers? Right? Wrong! You know you are doomed when you find yourselves in the middle of a bunch of guys. There is a knife. Maybe two. You are not quite sure. They look built, stone faced, red eyes. They are probably stoned or intoxicated in some drug. Your first instinct is to flee. The road behind you is dark lit. The one before you, well, you can’t use that either. Someone gasps. Another screams, or maybe it’s you. There’s massive confusion. All you want to do is get away. But you don’t.
You always know when you are about to die. You feel it. It’s like a dark cloud hanging over your head. You become restless nervous, thoughtful of kinds of things. You look at your life critically. You wonder what you have been doing with your time. You think of crashes you should have pursued, of friendship you shouldn’t have destroyed. You think of your mama. You should go home more often. You think of money. You wonder how much is in your Mpesa. All kinds of thoughts go through your mind. All in a fraction of a second.
Let’s say you don’t die. You escape with just your life. And all those Ninja movies don’t really help you.
(For a writer I once knew, and a teacher I couldnt stand.)
A lot of things scare me, but this one thing scares me most. That one day words will fail me. See am a talker. My mother can attest. There are stories,quietly being whispered around. Every guest who walks into my mother’s house is delightedly regaled these so-called ‘chronicles of Tshiko’. Rumors have it that I used to ask so many questions, my grandfather called me and I quote ‘wacha kihehere Kasuku’. I talked about everything and questioned everyone. My teachers loved me for it, my classmates silently loathed me. And for my grandmother…. Well it was something like Me: shosho si uko na kwako? Grandma: mmmh Me: Mbona unawacha kwako unakuja kukula kwetu?
I saw the end of a caning stick that day and started what became a serious conflict between mother and mother in law. So when it became apparent that I can’t just say whatever I wished, I decided I was going to be a judge when I grow up so I can talk to people, without anyone shutting me down. My mother agreed with this dream. And oh! she made me read! Something about being a ‘learned friend’ and all. I Read the dictionary, read the newspaper read parents magazine… if it was printed it was readable. This was my first addiction. Now I can’t sleep without placing a book under my pillow. That feeling I get, comforts me. The scent of paper when you turn a page, or just watching the paper yellowing and dog-eared corners. That there comforts me. Creepy? Well let us agree the world needs weirdoes like me.
I read Aminata and Oganda in “The rain came”. Tales of strong women! They taught me courage and sacrifice. So creatively crafted, I knew that day I wanted to be a writer. My mother’s heart was crushed. However, once in a long while, she would read my compositions to her class. Then she would mark them and once she wrote ‘nincompoop’ as a comment. I did not know what in hell that meant. I wrote, till now I don’t know how to stop. So yes, the idea that one day, I will breathe no more, and I will not have anything to say about it shakes the wind out of my system. Words mean control. They mean that am actively engaged in my mind with the environment around me. It means am god. That in the confines of my brain I can be a character in people’s stories and even better, I can see and design those stories to whatever I damn well please.
we wait for the Bus till 12, after I woke up at 4.00 am to pack!!! So we have Lunch in the Bus!!! A comrade never travels hungry aye!!
Then we threaten to strike if the driver—-(This guy) does not start moving and then we got a Puncture and we went to picture moods.A stopover for overpriced meat and Biriani. Then sleep…oh sweet slumber with the engine roving in the background.
breakfast… academics #buildings #construction Site Visits but again most of us were hardly listening. We could hardly wait to hit the BeachBut first….Fort Jesus… fun fact:The architecture of the fort represents the rough outline of a person lying on their back, with the head towards the sea… Meet our tour guide. A scary fellow,he knew his history well though see me laughing at the way those Portuguese died… sad!!
then of nature trails and walks in Bamburi Haller park..and I caught these guys on camera
when we finally hit the beach, all my roomie wanted was a full cup of porridge!! I disowned her that day….and I met this 14 year old selling ornaments. we agreed on 1 anklet for a picture.. then we came home, where the heart and laptop is.
On a warm Saturday evening at the A.D.D garden of University of Nairobi, Halisee organized a teaser Valentines photo shoot for an event known as The Rendition. Acclaimed for crafting unforgettable entertainment experiences as well as availing a platform for emerging performing and visual artists, The Rendition is where Kim and I began offering our photography services as a team. We covered the event every first Friday of the month and this time we tried something different- a promo shoot.
Our models that evening were the beautiful Kendi and the talented finger-style guitarist, Sly, better known as Acouslyk. To those who know him well, he treats his guitar as if it were his girlfriend. I wonder whether it was jealous of the chemistry he had with Kendi. Love does not envy 🙂
We set out to create a simple yet extraordinary date for the two “lovebirds”. Acouslyk serenaded…
It was a day of heavy clouds. As evening approached though, the clouds lifted just in time for a spectacular alpenglow sunset, with puffs of snow pluming off the tops of the mountain peaks, like pink cotton candy as the waterfall spilled over the glazed granite. Five thousand migrating butterflies stopped to rest, their peppery wings adorning every tree with shimmering translucent orange. And right there, my heart smiled. A pulse of joy passed all the way down to my toes. There was no disappointment, only peace. That One perfect moment I felt totally alive.
It’s astonishing how his features transform when he gets drunk. Gone are the handsome proportions, the heroic cheekbones the sensual yet masculine mouth, the kind thoughtful eyes. Instead his face seems soft, unformed, his lips full and blubbery, his eyes unfocused, misty small. His body too is different; his stance is less upright, his paunch more noticeable, his shoulders hunched. He has inconsequential bubble. I listen. They are recriminations, accusations and loud declaration he is right. The seductive, capable, charming all seems to be drowned by the alcohol.
the events described below is a true story,experienced and witnessed…
Sunday morning. There was a chilliness confused with some warmth from a sun that was really trying to sneak its way out of the heavy grey clouds. Their battle was apparent, for one minute it was sunny and the next,there was showers of rain. personally, I didn’t mind the Sun-shower but it was apparent the Nairobi lady did not. Not many were in the city, but the few that could be spotted wore those black polythene bags.the city was not fully awaken though. Most stalls were closed.the usual traffic confusion or the music blaring from the matatus and shoe stalls, hadn’t been stirred up yet. The only loud music I could hear was Rose Muhando’s nibebe. On this morning we were silently saved,even the makanga was a little nicer. This Sunday mood was not new to the 10 of us though. this earliness was a weekly routine for all of us. We made our way through Nairobi streets,jumping puddles, stopping to laugh and catch a breath. Finally,we stood outside Naivas supermarket.
Peter rolled in at exactly half past seven.
“Semeni…. ” the greetings,the complements, the teasing, the jokes and the normal chatter of friends. He loves his r n b. We listen to a playlist of Keysha Cole, Faith Evans with P square thrown in once in a while. He was in a good mood… This sun shower was definitely rubbing off on everyone. When we got to around Bus station, the conversation was almost dying out,except for *Dave who was saying something about cars and metals. Everyone,albeit one by one,was retreating to their smartphones and earphones.
(now time out)
I am an avid fan of 1000 ways to die. I believe that the human body is remarkably resilient.Think about it,everyday we fight a new war against germs, toxics,illness and catastrophes. The fact that we survive it all is a miracle.Everyday we live, we face more than 1000 days to die.But that reality has never really hit me. Ironically though, in recent years I have lost and buried quite a number of friends and family,but I wake up every morning and someway somehow, I never realized that being alive is not our control.
It happened fast. The driver of Embassava in front of us put on an emergency break, forcing Peter to either overtake or stop.
He was closing in too fast,overtaking was probably a long shot. Then that moment happened. When the clock stops ticking,when you register you are gonna hit that vehicle hard and there is no avoiding it. When you wanna call your mama and apologize. When it hits you that you still have money in your m-pesa. Then you doubt you will ever spend it,When you wish you hadn’t walked away from your bed that morning. It Is a short moment. very short. And before you scream, the car is skidding and the next twinkle of your eye(if you lucky enough to do that) there is glass shattering, metal cracking then crumbling like paper in fire.
But we survived. We walked out of the wreckage that was once a car without a single blood shed. We did have to pull the dashboard in order to remove Peter…. and while he was writhing in pain, he didn’t believe (like most of us) that he was alive. I went to Church that day,and am planning to go faithfully every week to come, because in the moment of true danger,there is only one who can save your soul…..
*Dave– name changed and is not to be related to any Dave you might know
1000 ways to die– reality show
nibebe – a very danceable song by Tanzanian artist Rose Muhando