A guide to worrying

So, you are worried about a thing? Are you? Maybe a bill you can’t pay, maybe a job interview, might be your career falling apart, whatever. But the best thing you can do in that situation is just to think about it as much as possible. Don’t do anything about it, just make sure that you keep worrying, because that always makes problems go away.

Look at people in a bus, in a market, in a church, in a club. Whatever you are worried about must be a million times worse than anything they can imagine. They definitely had never faced something like a personal crisis. I am sure they have never felt lonely, been sued, lost family members, spouses, children. They probably never been fired or been in love with someone who didn’t love them back. Or panicked about their career or anything most humans go through in a lifetime because whatever you are worried about is definitely the biggest thing that has ever happened to anyone ever. 14 billion years ago.

No one has ever been to war, so they won’t understand what you are going through, never been approached from the top, never been trapped in a spacecraft thousands of feet above the earth and running out of oxygen, no one has had to face constant bombing from the air that turned up without warning. But you. Only you.

Somehow, whatever it is recently you’ve got in your mind, that justifies you losing your sleep and being a total idiot to yourself. Just keep worrying. Well, luckily humans live forever and never age, so dont worry, you’ve got infinite time to hold yourself back with doubts. And actually it’s worse than that, you know.

If a bad thing does happen, or you don’t get the job, or you embarrass yourself somehow, we are all gonna be laughing at you, all the 7 billion of us. We don’t have our own lives, or relationships, or children or career, we are just waiting for you to fuck up! The entire planet is will turn up into your house and write LOL on your door. And even after you are dead because of worrying, we will erect a shrine on your grave that says, this person here never made a mistake, worried so much and he is still worried about us down there, up here, we will then place flowers and not even the nice ones but the ones we found on a bin by the road side.

And don’t even think about taking any creative risk, that project you are working on, that book you are waiting to write, that movie you are planning to shoot, or video, or whatever, if you screw any of them, we gonna laugh at you because we are busy not worrying about our lives but yours. Beethoven, Tolstoy, Kafka, Da Vinci, Michelangelo none of them ever worried over their careers but you.

Just keep sabotaging yourself because you feel that you are not doing something original. That’s the safe path. Same with doing what you love. Actually no one has ever taken a risk before. You are the first one to do it ever. And I am sure the universe cares if you screw up, or take a risk, it definitely isn’t busy regulating the speed of light or keeping the galaxies safe from colliding. In fact the entirety of creation was designed to watch you fail personally. That’s what we are all doing here. That’s what gets us up in the morning, to watch you fail.

Maybe just spent the rest of your life fixated and worrying instead of ever doing anything. Instead of maybe becoming the best possible version of yourself and being kind, emphatic and compassionate to people and taking wild and bold risks that scare you and will probably pay off some other time leaving a lasting legacy to your great grandchildren, so that they can say one of their ancestors was undeniably unbelievablly, unequivocally, a quintessential great person. He stroke she did something brilliant. Or maybe he was a half decent human being who decided that the point of being alive was to worry as much as possible before the lights go out. And just to be nice to other humans. And better just to keep his head down and not rock the boat because he couldn’t risk embarrassing himself.

But none of these really matters, but your worrying, just keep worrying, because what you are worrying about is really important and no one has ever been in a bad situation like you before. And I am sure whatever it is, it is very important and won’t never go away, just like all the other things you used to worry about before and now you can’t even remember.

Go on with worrisome life!

Instructions to a (happy) life.

  1. Take a long walk now and then.
  2. Eat several servings of fruit a day.
  3. Don’t drink caffeine before bed.
  4. Attempt to sleep at least 7 hours a night.
  5. Accept he/she is never coming back.
  6. Accept that the past is irreparable and dwelling on it will change nothing. Dwell on it anyway and then move on.
  7. Travel, alone if you can, avoid traps, learn 1 to 10, please and thank you, in the local language and you’ve already surpassed 90 % of all tourists who have ever been there before you.
  8. Acquire new talent for the sake of acquiring them, if you are young learn an instrument if possible, you will never have this much free time ever again.
  9. Exercise atleast 3 times a week vigorously.
  10. Buy clothes that fit properly, you will notice the difference in your dating life.
  11. Accept there will be whole weeks when you will understand nothing and everything hurts.
  12. Accept that stupid people get lucky and that smart people never make it.
  13. Accept that girl in class likely isn’t going to strike up a conversation first but if you do, it would probably go alright.
  14. Accept that just because it’s weird, doesn’t mean it’s clever.
  15. Accept that there is a set point in the future, after your death, when you’ll be thought about for the final time by a friend or family member and then forgotten from history forever.
  16. Spend more time with your parents if they are alive even if they are no bends, there will come a time they will be gone and there will be no one to phone home to, no more hugs, no more bickering no more memories from your childhood.
  17. Argue about politics, if you must…but accept the other person won’t change their view if you stop being a dick! Besides being nice is likely to persuade someone anyway.
  18. Accept that expensive whisky is almost always worth the money.
  19. Accept that running shoes are not always worth the money.
  20. Accept online personalities are often people who couldn’t get into the field they wanted to. Do not take their word as gospel especially pretentious advice like this one here, from disembodied smart ass bloggers whose life is probably, considerably duller than yours.
  21. Attempt to tolerate meta humor.
  22. Come to terms that there’s probably no absolute truth that you will grasp in your lifetime. However, if someone at the party tries to tell you everything is relative, invite them to exit the building from the fifth floor and see if gravity is also a social construct.
  23. Do not be intimidated by people who use long words, they are likely more insecure about their own intelligence than you are. Instead afford them your most effervescent magnanimous approbation.
  24. Before tiding up, make the bed, and certainly everything else will seem easier.
  25. Visit the dentist on regular intervals.
  26. Do not purchase cheap stuff.
  27. Embrace your own eccentricities, if you were a freak as a kid it will likely make you an interesting adult.
  28. Try to eat less salt, try to eat more vegetables.
  29. Try to accept that happiness isn’t a constant state nor does it come for free. It is a chemical reward for hardwork and if you need more of it, one has to do more hardwork. This applies to careers, relationships, friendships and so on.
  30. Diet if you want to, but acknowledge that all diets however elaborate are all variations of eat less, move more.
  31. Keep a journal if you have time, it will serve as a snapshot of how silly your life decisions are right now. And you can read it in ten years and chuckle and write some more and then you can read that in another ten years and have another chuckle.
  32. Attempt to locate your passions, when you do, see if they can be monetized, if they can, congratulations, you’ve just discovered your career.
  33. Prepare for crippling failure, it is the ultimate character building and no one successful has ever avoided it happening multiple times.
  34. If something terrible befalls you, and you think nothing as bad has ever happened to anyone ever before, remember… has, was, happened repeatedly and to almost everyone has to go through it. Some of them are probably going through it right now, they just have not told you. You will almost certainly be fine.
  35. Resist the appeal of depressing nihilism, if everything is pointless, you may just be in a good mood anyway.
  36. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books don’t fuck them.

P.s. Ignore all these instructions. This was just me having fun.

Extras for those who will read up to the end.

  • this post will acquire the least viewership than your death.
    -if this post had, was accompanied by a beautiful pic of a lady it will attract more views, less than your death.
    -being born in the first place is ridiculous, we are born without our consent and it’s an insult to injury to work out what you are doing here in the first place.
    -for those in art, you will face a lot of critiques but they will be forgotten as quickly as your failures.
    -it took 14.5billion years to create the first human and it will take you, me, just less than a a hundred years to waste it.
    -you, me, are another version of your sibling, offspring distant relative.
    -it took a pandemic for human to learn basic Hygiene stuff like washing hands. You can imagine how else disgusting the world is out there.
  • you will never do anything remarkable.

The Future we will all miss out on

Let’s say, you are parent to two children and the human generation cycle is 30 years, by 2080 we are 2 generations down the line. You are now a grandparent and six humans have inherited your DNA.

2110, another generation later and assuming that the average human has two children, your children have grandchildren now and you have 14 descendants. It’s quite possible they attended your funeral. Don’t worry everyone got smashed at the pub afterwards and said nice things about you. The world’s population is about 11billion having jumped by 4 billion in just a century.

The 2140s, 4 generations later, all things being equal, 30 humans now carry your genes.

2200s, and we are in the 5th generation, Halleys Comet has just reached its perihelion, you have 62 descendants.

The mid 2200 hundreds, 6 generations later you have about 126 descendants.

At by end of the century, still at 2 children per human, you now have 2050 descendants, we can longer even speculate  how culture and technology will look like.

So, year 12000 AD, 240 generations later, if sex is still a fashion, you have several millions descendants. The star Antares has just gone super nova and is now visible from the earth even in day light.

Year 52000AD, 1500 generations later of your progeny and the earth has slowed down a bit courtesy of the moon and we have to add a leap second so as to preserve time keeping.

Year 100,000AD, 3000 generations later, you might still recognize the constellations but they maybe a bit altered, the handle of the big dipper or the plough getting a little relaxed at the back, for example.

Year, 250,000AD, 7500 generations later, Loihi, currently the only submarine volcano in 2019, has exploded and now it is a volcanic island in the pacific.

2,000,000AD, the great riftvalley has sunk and split Africa into continents and thousands of islands in between. The Congo River has become the African Ocean if there’s still a Congo river left.

50,000,000AD, Eurasia and Africa collide, forming an entirely new mountain range.

5-600,000,000AD, it’s possible the earth’s continents have fused back into a single super continent. A day on earth has atleast gained an hour, the moon is now so distance, solar eclipse no longer occur.

1,000,000,000,000AD (1bn AD), The sun is now 10% more luminous meaning the oceans have began to evaporate, plant life is unlikely. We can’t even speculate how many of your descendants there are.

4bn AD, the milky way, our galaxy and our neighboring galaxy 2.5m light years from earth, Andromeda collide forming a Milkomeda.

10bn AD, the sun is now 256 times its current size and has most probably swallowed mercury, venus and earth.

1trillion AD, it’s possible the Big Crunch has now began, the remains of the universe falling back on herself, galactic clusters will begin to converge, stars will collide resulting into an explosion, illuminating the heavens nearby, eventually, the blackholes of the universe will collide by themselves ammersing into a single super massive black hole, consuming itself.

1 quadrillion AD ( 1,000,000,000,000,000), it’s also possible no Big Crunch will occur, and the universe will continue to expand indefinitely. And if it happens the current universe will have achieved its final resting energy, uninhabitable, uninhabited, barren, perpetual limitless dark with no recourse to the fecundity that once beamed within the boundaries of creation.

P.S. The world is just as fantastic as it is horrific, and it is so arbitrary to lose hope as to find it. If everything was forever without anything changing be it 80 years or a trillion, beer would still taste the same, wasps will still be pricks, and maybe tomorrow we will have to kill time and stay the same. But because we have no such power or science yet, God fearing or not, we have to find something to make peace with. For you it may be religion or spirituality, that’s fare enough.

For me, what works, is when I am asleep and can’t find sleep and the abyss starts whispering how I’m gonna go in the dark one day, I keep in mind that whether I like or or not, I am part of something bigger; an experiment conducted across the entire planet, across all history called us.

Just to have been anything, it is a weird honor. We won’t last forever but what a silly decision it would be to waste our day out in the cosmos; that brief period of time when matter woke up in a world as interesting as this one, with all the other talking carbon units (humans) around us, that we can hang out with, and be fond of and talk shit to, to keep the abyss at bay. 😉😉😊

If tomorrow starts without me

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me…

If tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not here to see,
If the sun should rise you find your eyes all filled with tears for me;
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things we didn’t get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you
And each time that you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too.
But when tomorrow starts without me please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name and took me by the hand.

He said my place was ready, in heaven far above
And that I’d have to leave behind all those I dearly love.
But as I turned and walked away a tear fell from my eye.
For all my life I’d always thought, I didn’t want to die.

I had so much to live for, so much left yet to do.
It seemed almost impossible that I was leaving you.
I thought of all the yesterdays the good ones and the bad.
I thought of all the love we shared, and all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday, just even for a while,
I’d say goodbye and kiss you and maybe see you smile.
But then I fully realized that this could never be,
For emptiness and memories would take the place of me.

When I thought of worldly things I might miss come tomorrow
I thought of you and when I did my heart was filled with sorrow.
When I walked through heavens gates I felt so much at home.
God looked down and smiled at me from his great golden throne

He said, “This is eternity and all I’ve promised you”
Today your life on earth has passed but here life starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow, but today will always last
And since each day is the same there’s no longing for the past.

You have been so faithful so trusting and so true.
Though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do.
You have been forgiven and now at last you’re free.
So won’t you come and take my hand and share my life with me?

So when tomorrow starts without me don’t think we’re far apart,
For every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.

-David Romano

BORN INTO THIS

Born like this
Into this
As the chalk faces smile
As Mrs. Death laughs
As the elevators break
As political landscapes dissolve
As the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree
As the oily fish spit out their oily prey
As the sun is masked
We are
Born like this
Into this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes
Born into this
Walking and living through this
Dying because of this
Muted because of this
Castrated
Debauched
Disinherited
Because of this
Fooled by this
Used by this
Pissed on by this
Made crazy and sick by this
Made violent
Made inhuman
By this
The heart is blackened
The fingers reach for the throat
The gun
The knife
The bomb
The fingers reach toward an unresponsive god
The fingers reach for the bottle
The pill
The powder
We are born into this sorrowful deadliness
We are born into a government 60 years in debt
That soon will be unable to even pay the interest on that debt
And the banks will burn
Money will be useless
There will be open and unpunished murder in the streets
It will be guns and roving mobs
Land will be useless
Food will become a diminishing return
Nuclear power will be taken over by the many
Explosions will continually shake the earth
Radiated robot men will stalk each other
The rich and the chosen will watch from space platforms
Dante’s Inferno will be made to look like a children’s playground
The sun will not be seen and it will always be night
Trees will die
All vegetation will die
Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men
The sea will be poisoned
The lakes and rivers will vanish
Rain will be the new gold
The rotting bodies of men and animals will stink in the dark wind
The last few survivors will be overtaken by new and hideous diseases
And the space platforms will be destroyed by attrition
The petering out of supplies
The natural effect of general decay
And there will be the most beautiful silence never heard
Born out of that.
The sun still hidden there
Awaiting the next chapter. – Charles Bukowski 1993.

Reflections 2019

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There were million light years away before now, there were decades and then there was the two thousand tens decade and then there was 2019– a year that will be remembered but not for all the right reasons.

A year that got me devastated by loss and grief. Unending sorrow. Cursing and banging the steering wheel, endless clicking, sleeplessness especially when the image of him comes alive when I lay facing the roof making me feel like I am rehearsing how to die. Slapping the pool waters at Mtwapa Garden braving the heat of summer. An exaggerated case of  PTSD-post traumatic stress disorder. Because it is the year I lost him. I lost my brother. This time for good. I had lost him to his demons which I hoped and knew at some point he will overcome them but this time he was gone. And to imagine that I’ll never hear from him again, his charming humor, poignant jokes, his ensuing optimism awash with self-delusion, is wildly sad. And as I reflect my take on 2019, I thought posting it here might be an apt sendoff for 2019 – and the decade behind. 

It is also the year I lost  mama winnie. Auntie who called me one cold night in 2006 and told me that my mother had passed on. And the calls came upon her demise. They all came to me in an entire family of tens and tens of people. Because they thought I was better placed to handle and orchestrate her send off. Little did I know I was being prepared to orchestrate my childhood friend’s burial towards the close of the year. 

Then Onesmus Machira died! He died in a horrible car crash so horrible that, (in a shared video) one moment he is seen driving leading a convoy draped in a baseball cap, smiling big, Robi on the passenger seat and Lucy on the back left and in a split second he’s gone. They are gone. For good. Those three uneventful deaths hit me hard in that order. So when the clock turned 0001hrs in 2020, I whispered an inaudible f, followed by the word, it’s gone. And hoped that we should have skipped this year if at all that ever makes sense. 

Before the deaths life was effing fine, inane and insane. Chasing paper, work and school. I enrolled for my masters so reluctantly that later I wished I hadn’t only at the dire need of help to realise that this was the perfect time. The buddies in that class came through to me in a way family never. Man!

A few months later I saved a young man’s job by buying his former employers job and he has remained one of the most true employees of the year. It satisfies me to be able to feed an extra family by creating a job for one however little the business is making.

It is also the first year I drove atleast every so often that my brother couldn’t imagine I afforded to. How? He always wondered. I was thrilled to tell him it can happen, even for him. He only needs a bit of will-wille zur macht. Those words are inscribed atop the windscreen of the car. 

Talking of family. The girl grew out of the walker, to crawling to walking to one word phase. She also grew so beautiful and has been able to kiss me every time I ask her to. She has mastered the names of her immediate cousins so well, that when idle, you will hear her mention their names one by one and then ends with, ‘mimi‘, herself! Inasmuch as I feel like a loser, these kids are my wins. My small wins. 

The boy has kept growing and opening up, for the record, he has been a shy little man, who only speaketh to me. His competency skills have grown tremendously. He is ranked EE-exceeding expectation. He watches skill videos on YouTube. He makes stuff using YouTube instruction while alone and there’s nothing better I would wish for. He understands the music I listen to and the other day he asked me to play ‘My heart is Inditing’ by Handel. He likes the song so much that I got sympathetic one day when he told me he has a racing heart. I saw him hold his left side of the chest at the color run hosted by Plascon in August. It ate me up and I got afraid that I was born from a weak family and it was showing itself in my small family. And like other times where I have talked of these genetic conditions, it has alway been triumphant.

He suffered through his uncle’s death that one day while we drove to the house he asked me, Dad, ‘sasa wewe ukikufa nani atakuwa baba yetu?’ I interjected fast and told him I am not gonna die. We will grow old together. He told me when Baba Mutuku died he got so scared and shuddered when he saw his potrait atop the casket. He went on and asked me why Eric had died and I explained to him amid pauses. He is so sharp and cunning that he said if only the transport that was taking him to hospital had arrived sooner he would not have died and also if Eric had gone to hospital the day before when he had been helped to his feet along the path to his trading shop, he would still be alive. I would hear him click at the end of each statement and I couldn’t help but cringe in grief. He would go on and ask me what happens after death and whether Eric could have been saved when we took him to the morgue but I explained to him that at the morgue life is no more (Click). Then he ended with, Baba Mutuku alikuwa anatununulia kitu tukienda huko Syanthi’. (Click) God! I almost burst. 

At school, there’s no joy in visiting like hearing the soft tiny sounds of strange kids calling you Baba Jabez. And kids telling Jabez that his dad is talking to teacher. And thinking that I almost changed his school, and the guilt that came with it, is just horrible. And that his best friend is called Nathan by sheer coincidence is again profound. 

Then the family increased. I became a Father to seven. My brothers kids are four and good or bad I am their guardian. It’s a family I look upto and a family I am capable of taking care of. All factors considered. The seventh is Jose, my sister’s  kid who asked Jabez at Eric’s funeral where his dad was because he could see me and Mutuku’s dad albeit dead but not his. 

I also got to watch a few oldies – movies by Kevin Spacey in the titles, Usual Suspects and Se7en. Two very psychological movies that challenged my thought process. The FBI files TV series also gave me mind-boggling insights. That it is not what it seems and that with meticulous efforts no evil would ever go unresolved. On music, Memories by Maroon 5 and You are the reason by Calum Scott made my emotions rise terribly. 

It is wrong that a person who labels himself a writer has talked of movies before books. I didn’t read much in the last one year but the few that I read, When Breathe Becomes Air, ranks up there. It left me with a serious book hangover that I hated living and anything associated with it only for Eric to die and to realise how life is so precious. I read Nausea by Satre, The Art of War , The Three Mistakes of my life by Chetan Bhagat, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy among a few others.

I also quit social media for a record seven months straight. I only used whataspp for obvious reasons. My life was so much in shape during that period, to the realization that there was little or no value these sites add to ones life. I sufferred fomo and found myself back, this time with little or no update at all. Just scrolling and pausing and scrolling. 

There were  disappointments in 2019, the online interviews, the unacknowledged applications, and being left out in the census jobs inspite of my university papers. There were work related disappointments and there were regrets. Regrets that make me feel like a loser. That I was born from a genetically weak lineage, lost so many of my nuclear folks and when I thought I had shot the devil in the back, Eric dies, so I had missed. At a time when I am chasing jobs and not getting them and my sister also losing her job of half a decade almost at the same time all these shit is happening. 

In this blog, I sporadically wrote. Wrote when I felt threatened, scared and nostalgic. Not when it socially mattered. There were so many social stuff I thought of writing home about. I wrote to Sartuday Nation and like most of the articles, it was never cut chase. I wrote Betrayed, which only got a visit too late in the year. I wrote, Help somebody cross, only after Tyler talked about it. 

I wrote a two part blog on my 35 years of living which I struggled through that they were mostly biased on one part of my life. School life. I got carried away by the school life because it was more detailed and structured unlike life beyond school. 

With age comes wisdom no matter how little it is, with experience comes the ability to balance life. With interactions we get to appreciate the uniqueness and ubiquity of humans. With age we also realise that our time is thinning, limited with so much to do yet too little of living is left. We begin to realise the true meaning of living and start learning how to die. To die because we chase life and medical premiums, we get into panic buying of useless and senseless assets, getting into debt trying to beat the odds against us and being crippled by the same. Trusting haphazardly and losing our souls and money to dubious dealings all in the name of trying to be rich. But too little too late. It therefore calls for sobriety as you grow older. I think I am a little sober though I miss a double of fine aged whiskey. 

My philosophy to life still remains relevant that we owe nobody an explanation and the world owes us no explanation, it was here first. So in living, live cautiously because life is so precious, live with sobriety because emotions solved no human problem. Strive to solve human problem rather than create one or wealth for your insatiable hunger. Quit instant gratitification because it lasts as much, instantly. Be the person people will always say I want to be like him. He is a very good person.

Speaking of which, we checked into an Airbnb house on 30th Dec past 9pm only to be confronted by a group of Ugandans alleging that they had booked the house earlier than us. My guys were tired and inebriated, after the long distance. The Ugandans felt despised for being in a foreign country and so the heat rose and there was no light. Words were spat to near blows. There was only one sobre person, yours truly. I separated the two groups and we dealt with the problem  chronologically and a few minutes later both parties were shaking hands and hitting shoulders. The Ugandan group congratulated me for my humility and pure sense of control. They went away saying, that man is good man. I have never felt so validated once in my life. 

So basically what I am saying is, become the person to stand out of the crowd, not for validation but for the good of all humans. 

*****

Those were the bitter-precious moments that over the past twelve months helped me counter Bertrand Russell’s tendency to despair at ‘the unwillingness of the human race to acquiesce in its own survival’.

Gratitude to all of you, readers. Those that I know and those that I don’t. You are all awesome. 

Thank you very much. And may you experience life this year and the next decade. Happy New year 2020.

©Nathan 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then his breathe became air.

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The morning he died I had woken up earlier than usual. And what I do when I wake up at the devil’s hours is grab a book or the phone and begin reading. I had read about 10 Charles Bukowski’s poetry by the time light found its way into the blinds. Then I went through my LinkedIn profile for any updates. I clicked on an update for over an hour going through a painful online interview before I got a reply of not suitable. I had gotten used to these replies and it didn’t twitch a nerve. Going back to Bukowski, I screenshot one of his tenfold comments and shared it on my Whatsapp status. It read, ‘THINGS GET BAD FOR ALL US ALMOST CONTINUALLY AND WHAT WE DO UNDER THE CONSTANT STRESS REVEALS WHO WE ARE’. Unaware things were really getting bad for me as the status was going live.

My only brother was in utter pain, his legs were wobbly, he was having a sharp pain in his diaphragm going down, and he was hardly breathing. But he wanted to live, that’s why he sent the boy he worked with at his barber and phone charging shop to my home to ask for help to be taken to hospital. Then the calls came, as I was entering the shower. I returned the calls, took a quick shower while I trembled telepathically feeling that this might be how it ends for him. And it was. The second call came as I drove through the gate and the guy on the other side said nothing only that my presence at home was important.

 Denis sat on the passenger seat and he had noticed how gloomy I had become all over a sudden. He asked why I told him Eric was seriously sick and I was afraid he might have just died and that we are heading straight home. He hardly believed it. I threw a hundred clicks and a million F. I trembled behind the wheel. I was devastated. I shuddered that I had lost another of our diminishing nuclear family. I was angry that Eric died. He shouldn’t have died. More so the way and manner in which he died, gradually. He felt it and had constantly spoken of his impending death long before he died. He had at some point jokingly told my farmhand that he didn’t think he will make it to Christmas. I had intervened and told him that if he felt that he was losing his soul and he knew it, the he still had a soul left to lose. He grinned. He knew we were a small family and couldn’t afford to be any smaller. I was bitter he died out of his ignorance but mine too. He had mentioned his resistance to drugs and I had given him a manly lecture on why he had become resistant to drugs. It was smoking and alcohol. It was his disappearing appetite. But I didn’t want him to die.

 I knew he would die, someday but not before noon on Thursday 28th November this year. But he did. Five days after he asked me if I wanted him to die and I told him no. I talked to him through and through reminding him of the importance of living and that he mattered only when alive. Cornered, he would smile wryly. Then, the present continuous tense became past perfect ‘he is’ became ‘he had been’.

 Eric died at the arms of his sister in law in transport to the hospital, he had a palm of breaths remaining. Shortly after – maybe – at the count of ten, his breathing became air!

 He died and left a trail of memories for me. Memories of my childhood and a brother so trusted there was no other. There would be no other for there would be no other childhood for me. Only memories to cherish, memories to share with my kids and his. Memories of the funniest man albeit stuttering twice as much when high. A man with an underutilized brain. A man who had given up long before it was his time. A man who died with so many secrets that would remain that. [F word]. He died with plans for his future, one evident was the pile of construction stones he had purchased to extend his house that lay at the far end. Now, that foundation against his house and those stones are a stack reminder of how vain life can be. We plan our lives but life has other plans for us.

I hardly imagined that he was no more, nobody does at the death knell. I couldn’t imagine I would never hear from him again. Ati, just like that he was gone, invariably for good. [Another F word!]

Beyond me lay a short project, that of seeing him off in the shortest time possible. Being almost a project manager, I made plans ahead of seeing his lifeless body. Summoned my uncle who processed the death permit by the time I arrived at Eric’s last known residence. I made two calls. One to my mother’s home and another to my father’s home. Those two calls were the most important for now.

At his residence, a distraught crowd mostly made up of his friends and neighbors milled in small crowds in soft pandemonium. The men sat under hedge shades and the women crossed their hands in evident grief. I hardly noticed a face I know, I was hell-bent to confirm Eric was breathless, motionless and lifeless. And there he was, his head facing to the right on the bed he spent last night alive. His lips closed in a manner that looked like he died happy. Finally the disease that had ravaged his body, his lungs, and his liver and eaten up his muscles leaving him skinny had nothing more to feast on. His Adam apple protruding as it was always evident. His stomach sunk. I watched it for movement, but nothing! [F word]. I touched his torso, rubbed his head as if saying, go well brother man, he was a bit warm. I carried the warmth of his forehead in my palm until I felt the cold of it as he lay smartly dressed on his casket. I had to confirm twice as much that he was really dead. And he was. [F word]

Then came the long distance to the morgue. I carried him at the back seat of my car, two men, his last known friends, we (four of us) had worked together during the planting season, holding him in their laps. Careful that he won’t fall, come to think of it, fall from what? Driving to the morgue felt like I was taking my brother to be attended in the hospital. Like he was unconscious. I felt so close to him yet between us was life.

The two men, placed him on the stretcher to the morgue as I watched closely. Then the mortician took over and pushed him away from us. From life. I watched as his lifeless hands fell on the side of the stretcher, his feet, shoe-less and white and motionless. [F].

Knowing that I would never see him again, I broke down inwardly, I called my friends and acquaintances, I sent pings to my closest friends and asked them to pass the information across. And that I shouldn’t be called, I didn’t want to break down. But Biko called immediately as I signed the morgue ‘admission’ register.

The mortician called from inside but I told him I had seen enough of my dead brother and that seeing him again would be the worst of a sighting. We left the morgue. Without my brother or his body.

What followed was a series of activities and I was able to meticulously plan for Eric’s final destination almost single-handedly. My classmates from the postgraduate class were very instrumental led by our class president and Wanja. My Alma mater college group, led by Steve, the Masterclass led by Moses, and the ball club led by Karen, all came in for me and our family in a way I hardly anticipated since it is always too difficult to be on the receiving end. Not to forget the outpouring presence of Dennis from the first day to the laying of my brother. To all of you who came through for me, I am greatly indebted by your generosity, kindness, presence, and words of encouragement during this hard time. Because death is difficult.

I am still reeling in grief, I am still throwing those hundredfold clicks. I may seem okay but deep inside I am full of guilt. I imagine that there’s something I would have done to prolong his life. I have thought this before, but it has always been too little too late. When my mother died in Kiambu General Hospital, I was away in college and I felt if she had been in a better hospital maybe she would have lived. When Winnie died a day after she had a bout of pneumonia attack at night, I felt guilty that we would not have waited for the dawn to take her to hospital. That had we taken her to the hospital that night she would have survived. The same guilt is eating me up about Eric, that had I been proactive enough about his illness, this blog post would not have seen the light of day.

Eric, my brother, that boy who always had the heads up in school. You who had the textbooks new and I second to them. You with whom we shared a bed, you who we fought to the ground when you sold the cart and oxen, you whose outfits I coveted, you who came to visit me on visiting day, you who took me back to school when I was suspended from school, you with whom we got lost at the ASK show in 2000, you who called me Kabro during your last days, you who couldn’t believe I bought car, you who always bragged you had a rich brother with a huge gas company – oblivious of my struggles and frustrations with the job-, you who asked the person who bailed you from police cell after being arrested for drinking at the wrong hours that you didn’t ask to be bailed out for you had a brother. You who taught me how to cook, you who cooked so well.

You had your faults, demons that were a constant reminder of who you were, – human too human-, well, you will never know it, but the world will know who we were. And your kids will be proud when they hear your name.

Rest well Kiki as dad called you. Rest well Mchora as your friends called you, Rest well Bigger as I called of you in this blog and saved you in my phonebook.

 It doesn’t make sense that we will meet again. I think it ends here. I know it ends here.

*************

To the reader, this blog is part of my healing process, pardon me where you find it hard. Drop a kind comment down there. It will help.

 

@Nathan 2019. 

Death is too hard for a living until we die. 

 

 

35 years experience – Part 2

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Most stories begin with a description of the environment. The weather of the day, the noises from creatures, the mood the writer is harboring and so on. Because the immediate atmosphere bears an intimate attachment to us. It makes us what we are – humans. And here I go. It’s insanely sunny. The kind of sun that heats the ground below and the Stratos above. The noises around me are not of creatures but humans talking in vernacular. Cars hooting, sand stones licking knife blades. A bespectacled man across the street conversing in symbols, signs and sounds. A man sleeping on a sack flunking the wall.

I turned thirty five this year against all my wishes. No one wishes to grow old but time got us. Our greatest adversary is time. You must have seen how Celine Dion looks like now against what she looked like when she sang ‘my heart will go on’. Horrible! Emanciated! But her heart went on. No matter how wealthy she could be. You have seen Arnold-terminator, for the fear of writing his other name that begins with Scha- ; Sylvester Stallone- my role model from his Rambo movies. Their muscles are a jumbled up pieces of flesh. Their faces a burnt offering. Well, I am yet to get there but I feel I have lived half life if the life expectancy stats is anything to go by. I, rather coldly and fearfully feel I am closer to that age my dad and mom died, 48 which means the worst.

My hairline is rescinding at a speed only light can compare. The skin on my face is no longer that of a young man with an erectile future but that of a being which has seen shit and all. I once asked a twenty year old out for date and she told me it will be awkward hanging around me! She felt she would be hanging out with a reincarnation of her ancestors who died before her mother was born! My six pack muscles are melting into a single pack ball of fat. My toes and fingers are becoming stiff. I am officially old.

We pick it up from where we left in the previous post, 1998.

It feels like a thousand years, miaka alfu lela ulela. I was determined to do well and join Machakos School. I selected among many others schools the school I would eventually find myself, Kangundo High School. I also wrote for leisure my first long story. That of my grandpa whom I take and I am named after. He had died the previous year and for the first time in my life death had hit home. His was the first funeral I attended perhaps it was indicative for the next decade for in that decade, I buried four of my nuclear family. It was KenHarris who inspired me to write. He was my deskie and the only one I have never met for a thousand years. My grandpa was said to have fought the British during the mau mau uprising. He was a freedom fighter. Later a Mason and at his death a building contractor. He was a silent drunk. A man I can hardly remember his voice. He had appetite for family for he had nine kids among them my mother. So I wrote the little I knew about him placing him in the middle of the mau mau freedom fighters. That article never went beyond my palm.

I was in stream 8 south. The furthest class in the block and the weakest class academically. Weak because whereas I was between position 2 and 5, I was position 15 in the whole class. Not bad though. I was a chilled out boarder who bought syllabus books with his pocket money. I groomed extremely fine. So fine that my shoes shone like a glass reflector. Girls really admired that. I was greeted with wows and aahs upon entry in class. I was shy, timid and naive. Adolescent had kicked in and hormones were rebellious but still I nubbed them. Relationships were struck and slangs thrown across the class with abandon. Breasts were squeezed behind class doors and loins kicked. Letters flew across class and hearts were broken. There’s this boy who had joined the school two years earlier and perhaps had seen the most beautiful girls this side of the sahara for he wanted all. He betrothed Miriam. I had known Miriam for all the schooling years and had never had an idea of having her for a girlfriend. She was beautiful. Chocolate beautiful with sexy eyes beneath her dark brows. Her teeth was sparkling white and her scent was fine. She was slender and her tiny breasts pierced her sweater like a gimlet. Let’s call this boy Mwatu, he loved her it was evident. He was not so bright. Miriam was always position 1or 2. She was a nonsense girl. Then Mwatu pissed her. She called him a m**f. He took it literally and cried for close to two weeks. He had taken those words literally and he couldn’t imagine what they meant. He was the first man for this case a boy, I saw cry for love.

There was Trixie. She was blunt. She used to call our penises, sausages between our legs. I strongly felt she had let alone known, but felt that sausage do something nasty to her. And she must have enjoyed it like she would enjoy a sausage.

There was King’oo Musyoki. A big box headed boy bright at maths. He wrote like a girl. He was mean and that’s why I remember him. When he was position 3, I was position 4. He went to Machakos school.

Then there was Maria. She was Maria Peter. She was the brightest girl in the class. She held position 1 with obsession. I had been in the same class with her for all my schooling days. I had accidentally held her shoulder while in class 2. The same class I had defeated her for the first and last time. Since then we were unintentionally branded lovers or would be lovers. I would have loved to but I was focused with my studies now that the girl I wanted when we were in class 5, Ruth, had left the school and the country to join her folks in America.

It happenned that I fell seriously ill and would convulse at the slightest fever attack. So this Saturday after doing my general cleaning I took it upon myself to go to class and spent that afternoon doing some personal studies. I sat at my desk as Maria and her friends did the final touches to the assigned duty of cleaning the class. Fever descended upon me and I fell on the class floor with a thud while I convulsed and rolled my eyes like a dying  corpse. Maria screamed so loudly the world stopped. A scream for a dying loved one! There was no way I would convince the world that she was not my girl. She cried and called out my name as I was told later when I came around. Some said she attempted to resuscitate me by breathing mouth to mouth. I believed that part only because I wanted to have been alive to have her kiss me. She was mine and not mine by default for the whole of that year. Fortunately or so, that was the second last time I convulsed. The gods of fever never wanted to let me down again or rather give me a chance to be kissed by Maria. I have never seen or heard from her for a thousand years. Miaka alfu lela ulela.

Together with KenHarris, we were the greatest acclaimed artists of the class. Ken was good with the freehand pencil and I was good with the pencil and ruler. We drew the class charts for Craft joints. We drew the Mortise and Tenon joints like a laser printer. The dovetails and the box joints. We were the shit. Plus we were lightskined, disciplined, handsome and well groomed. The ghosts of Mbaya the dorm patron and Abdallah the dorm prefect had long left me for I had stuck my ground that when I told Mbaya he’s steady, I meant despite him being drunk he was steady whereas I meant he was erect from the energy of the alcohol.

Days flew, I wrote my first and last letter to my father and  posted it directly to his office in Kitui. Unfortunately I got the address wrong. Instead of 329 I wrote 392. It however got to him since I had gotten the title to his office correctly. It read:

MR. PATRICK MUTUKU MUSYOKI

DISTRICT LAND REGISTRAR KITUI

P. O. BOX 392,

KITUI.

In that letter I had told him how school was my position in the latest exam. I projected to him what I would score in my final exam and wished that he would pay for me to attend the ASK show later that year. I never asked for pocket or shit. I told him when he gets home over the weekend to greet Mom, Sisters and Eric. I promised to see him when schools closed. All the above happenned save for the projected KCPE score. However I scored 507 marks out of a projected 540. He was extremely pleased. In another school I would have set a record.

Beyond my class I was a target for my humility by room mates and those who word reached them that I was good with the pen and ruler in Art and Craft and extremely good with the needle ND thread in Homescience. I was contracted for these assignments by lazy rich kids. I got paid with homemade food and hot chips and pork sausages which was an envy of many. The contracts were carried out throughout the course of study upto the exam period. We hacked a plan on how to assist each other during the final exams. The plans sufficed. Each one kept part of his deal to the end of the contract. One of the boys I assisted during this period out of my selflessness would later get into crime and robbery and serve years incarcerated. Strangely though, I always meet this guy in Tala. He has since become an evangelist. The only people I would have wished to meet are Ruth and Maria.

It would be unfair not to mention Eric Cooper Kilonzo. A selfless boy from the adjacent stream who would share his meals in visiting days when our folks never showed up. We are still in contact. Then there is Steve Kimeu, another brilliant boy who I ranked amongst my inner circle. My uncle had married Steve’s aunt and that hit closer home. There was also Teresia, index 14 while I was index 15. We were of help to one another during that exam period only for her to fly away to Canada after her high school. There was the late Alex. Brilliant boy, mean though. The founder of Mshwari credit platform.

1998 came to an abrupt end. Things flew away fast. We packed our laggage and left Tala Township after a decade. It was worthwhile, brutal and inspiring. It fills me with a desire to go back, but only or maybe through my kids.

As a kid, I spent three quarters of my life in school. This explains why little of my village life is prevalent in this story.

Over the next decade, life jumbled up. It only got harder and vain. I shall tell you how next.

 

@nathan 2019.

One memory is good until another one is told. I am the memoirist. Human too human. 

 

 

 

 

 

35 years of experience – Part 1

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In June 2019 I turned 35 years old against all my wishes. I wished I was younger, 19 just out of high school and spoilt for choice of a career. Handsome without a paunch and a bald. Full of energy and sporty I can eat a whole loaf of bread without getting worried of overweight. Still believing in love. Being that little prince charming every lass wants to lay. Going for trials for football and having all these ideas money can do such as owning a Ferrari and a Lamborghini cruising the world with a model like girlfriend with the waist of a wasp. A teetotaller because alcohol is for the ill raised kids. A loud sin.

A life well planned out such that by 23, I will be out of undergraduate, at 25 with my postgraduate and having proposed to my high school girlfriend. Marrying her in a garden wedding with invites only cards and taking off to a month long honeymoon to Seychelles, Malaysia culminating in a fortnight stay in Maldives. But life is –

Rough.

In 1989, I joined Muslim Nursery School at the edge on Machakos town an institution that fills me with nostalgia when I happen to pass by. This is where it all began. This is where hope bred. This is the place where life was roughly borne. This is where I first saw a boy’s eye gorged out by the sharp edge of table it nearly fell. That an eye was like ripe fruit, fragile and ready to fall at the slightest disturbance. That is the only memory I carried from that school. 

In 1990 aboard a canter truck I bid the hilly side of Machakos goodbye for the last time. I carried with it childhood memories. A disfigured third finger nail tip from a stone crush, the sight of a boy who had rubbed the itchy caterpillar all over his body jumping on top of an anthill calling his mother. The nights at Muthuna ithei butchery where we hovered around for empty bones to chew, no wonder his name. The nights spend watching factual films, ikusanya, and going home rotten from the rotten eggs that were thrown from the crowd. The evening spend counting the last of my mothers cabbages and potatoes at the market stall while she counted her total sales then tying them at the tip of her lesso.

The sight of Gitau the neighbor who locked his keys in the house daily and had to crawl through the opening between the roof and the wall to pick them and ask any of us around to open for him from outside.

The huge wooden black and white TV of Benard the mech who was my godfather during my baptism at Machakos Cathedral a church I only remember going there once with my father. Ben, whose kids we schooled together and his first born son the smartest boy to ever live, becoming a doctor and dying in a horrific car accident while working in Turkana a few years ago. Smart because that boy scored 617 marks out of 700 in 1992. I remember it because it is a long standing unbroken record. I remember it because I saw him get awarded so many gifts, I envied him. 

We left Machakos, our three roomed corner house at the farthest and perhaps the darkest part of the plot. We tagged along Lota, our househelp and her son. We loaded onto the truck our spring beds and tiny velvet clothes and spiderman jump suits and our green Avon bicycle. A bicycle that took me to Housing Nursery School in Tala in 1990.

Tala where I would spent all my schooling days. Carrying bread soaked in tea in tiny plastic container and half an exercise book. Tala, where we passed by the local bakery to hover around like we hovered at Muthuna ithei butchery in Machakos but this time for rejected bread. Rejected because it was burnt toast which we were given for free and ate it with our saliva throwing away the burnt parts. Getting so full on the way home necessitating one to take a nap by the road only to be startled by passersby who would accompany you to your home. 

Joining Tala Township a year later after an interview of joining dots to make a picture. A school where I was among the few who started year one to year eight without changing schools or repeating class. 

In 1992, the only memory is that of becoming position one for the first and last time in my life and being head over it. Back at home, the memory of a tractor driver being given a thousand shillings by dad in one hundred shilligs notes for delivering construction sand. 

In 1993, back at school, and in class three, reading the stories by Pamela Kola and Barbara Kimenye. Being whipped mercilessly by the man who today leads that school, with whip made of hippo hide and yelling our lungs dry after yelling for being dismissed too early to go home. 

1994, the feeling of joining upper primary and joining the school choir to sing a vernacular set piece that went as such, ‘riwo riwo ndoyo, chakum gun nyonenyi ka’ I don’t remember what language this is. Uncle John taking me to face the cut and instead of tying a lesso to heal, I wore a long jacket for two weeks during the August holiday. After untying the tiny penis exposing the pink tip nevertheless feeling man worth impregnating a girl only that it couldn’t cum no shit. My only favorite tee from this year is the promotional Hedapan painkiller tee which I wore days on end. 

In 1995, struggling with reading the hand clock and addition and subtraction of time wondering why time had to end at sixty and start at 0000. That night when Elisha told Ruth that they had come from drama festivals at midnight and some pervert interpretted it as let’s meet at midnight sparking a beating on accusations of being love birds. We were only 11. It is then I also had identified Ruth as my girlfriend and never telling it to no one. I wanted to kill Elisha too for wanting to meet my girlfriend at midnight. I also met George, a man who has always been my friend for 24 years now and counting. 

In 1996, I identified Yvonne as my girlfriend now that we were separated by streams with Ruth. Cate was also beautiful but her mouth was deformed to one side. Viola was dark, tall and Luo. Gloria was humble to a fault but she wet her bed. I can’t remember a damn boy. No, I do, Eric, noisy as a hornbill. Got me in trouble when we coined the luhya folk song sang at the drama festivals in our Kamba. Ms Kamwanza the drama teacher spared us a beating but begrudgingly held the coining such that she used it against me when I was caught stealing bread from Cates locker on visiting day when my folks failed to show up. Mr. Ngati coming to my rescue and taking me to the kitchen to get served with the staff meal which we all coveted. Mr. Ngati rests in peace. Boarding was the worst choice I made in my life for I envied how boarders always had hot spiced githeri with a touch of blueband for lunch while we struggled with cold ugali from yesterday’s supper. Sometimes stale for overstaying. Sometimes we had nothing to eat for lunch. So I boarded, washed my own clothes and had hot meals. At first had sugar, blueband and quencher orange juice, and cocoa. With my first tin of blueband finished, I asked Rachel, the only person who knew where I came from, to pass by our home and ask mother to give her another one. My mother giving her butter filtered from sour milk. Yellow but tasting awful with an odor that flew to high skies. I regretted for once, only for Japheth, a pitch dark abagusii boy, feeding on it with school meals like a starved hyena. 

It is also in 1996, that we opened our shop. And the first person to buy from us was this boy who came for cooking fat that went for three shillings. I was there when those doors opened for business perhaps the reason why I find myself still selling at a shop at 35. 

Back at school, my sister(she rests in peace), our househelp, Nzilani, and another neighbor Rosalia came to visit me unofficially on a Sunday carrying delicacies now that they didn’t make it on Saturday being sent away by Mrs. Wambua, the coldest teacher to ever grace the face of the earth, with all the food they had come with, making me dejected seeing my sister and Nzilani walk away. 

Not to forget this detail that it was Mother and Rosalia who took me on my first day to boarding. On a Sunday afternoon, Mrs. Mwangangi held guard that day and she handed me to Mbaya, the no nonsense ever drunk patron. 

A patron we would later catcall in sheng that his manhood was erect hence getting ourselves in flying elephant shit when Abdalla the dorm prefect sold us out. We were beaten to a pulp, to near death and guess by who, Ms. Kamwanza, the drama teacher! We were physically assaulted with twigs that our tiny asses took weeks to recover making it so hard for us to seat on the metallic chairs, this is in 1997.

We pilled sweaters on the seats and some girls kind enough would offer us their sweaters to add on the seats. This again was so horrible making my decision to board the worst ever. 

1998 is full of memories, why can’t I continue from the next post? 

 

Nathan @2019

One story is good until another is told.

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Help somebody cross

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What happens when the sun shines after a long period of rains? The land brightens with the lurch greenery of foliage. Water pans dry out leaving behind a cracked earth. Small valleys sink where the rivulets from the rains flowed. There is a new hymn from the birds of the trees. A hymn I have heard before but it feels new at the turn of seasons. The sun burns like it burnt before the rains. It picks from where it left. This is the metaphor of his life.

******

One early muddy morning as I manned the entrance to the school as the master on duty, I saw him running barefooted and sullen. His sunken cheeks and protruding cheek bones evident of how sun beaten he was by perhaps something else and not only the sun; poverty. His lips dry an indication that he had hardly taken any meal that morning. The hems of his torn short  khaki pants undone to make them hide his ashy knees in vain. An old overused green nylon PIL bag carried his books and probably his soul. The threads of his sweater  falling off on the elbows and his shirt, clean, had a button, sewn with a thread color that completely mismatched the white shirt, holding the two parts and his body.

A humble boy of no measure and brilliant at it in spite of being pulled down by indigence. He looked destitute. Not the poverty of mind but a physical impoverishment that bit him hard and refused to free him.

But one thing made me admire him, his unceasing pursuit of excellence and his pinched smile. His down to earth and submissiveness when he talked to me made me weak. He slant his neck with resignation written all over his face and reverberating within his soft words.

When not in school, he spent his time in coffee plantations picking berries at thirty shillings per bucket of seventeen kgs. To fill a bucket that size took upto two hours. The berries were delivered to the factory before midday and that meant he would hardly pick two buckets. The little money he could make went to buying a meal for himself and a packet of flour for his mother. The flour would last them three days and they had to wait for the lorry on Saturday to ferry coffee pickers to the plantantions. It was not an outright casual job but that edged on luck. Sometimes the farms would be invaded by human souls as early as 4 am marking their territories and by the time you got there, only a few bushes were left to be picked. Or if unfortunate enough, you were assigned to collect the fallen berries.

His afternoons and Sundays were slow and empty. He would spent his time in their wooden two roomed rustic house working on some homework. Some of which I had given them in class while I on the other end spent these afternoons in Keg drinking dens watching football matches and when not, listening to the stereotyped local music and when not,  darting at the nearby church hall.

I would meet him again on Monday with my language books tucked beneath my armpits, nursing little hangovers while he nursed the wounds of privation, hopelessness and indignity.

I thought I was poor from the pittance I earned but he was poorer because he couldn’t afford a regular meal, a proper meal, proper uniform, proper stationery and little shit.

Insolvency had robbed him his dignity but not his resolve. I don’t know who was to blame for his situation because I didn’t want to find out. You see, when you are poor somebody is responsible for it just as when you have a ballooning bank balance. It’s the law of cause and effect.

So Ngugi, worked hard in class. He was always position two and the worst three. He scored every sum in a maths paper, that which he didn’t score, he appealed and often he was right. His performance in language was outstanding, I hardly found grammatical mistakes in his compositions neither spelling mistakes. Every composition was unique and with newly acquired vocabulary meaning that he read widely.

Like any other school during that time, no one had time to implore the social lives of the students. Whether you had supper or had breakfast bothered no one indeed. It was about your appearance in school and cooling your horses in class when it was class time and breaking them outside when it was breaktime. And good enough obeying the school rules and regulations among which, each student had to bring twenty shillings on Saturday for additional tuition. I hardly saw him on Saturdays that meant he and his entire clan were piss poor that they couldn’t afford the twenty shillings. What else on earth could they afford?

His brilliance drove me to pity. His fate hung on a balance and he wasn’t sure whether he will register for his final exams. He was sent away over and over and when I couldn’t take his absence anymore, I broke my wallet, I owned no bank account, I wanted Ngugi to sit for his final exams and excel and maybe fate would have mercy on him and take him wherever it so wished.

I paid the exam fee and all outstanding balances for him and the joy in his eyes was palpable. He couldn’t believe that finally he was going to sit for the coveted exams. I went on and assured him that I will share my little wages with him. That he should never go hungry as long as I was around.

However, I didn’t tell him that it was a burning guilt of my time to payback, that drove me to him but I wanted to help him cross. I wanted to pay back to the help of one Hellen, the Chief Principal at College, who, having heard my predicament when I lost my mother and the only fee provider when I was in my last semester in college, sent for me and as I sat on her office narrating my story of how my family had crumbled down into smithereens within a short span of time, I could see tiny drops of tears dropping down beneath her spectacles. She pulled a drawer on her left and drew a cheque of the fee balance that was standing between me and a future coveted. I couldn’t hardly believe it. She footnoted the voucher with the words, ‘pay and keep it to yourself Nzioka’. 

That piece of paper lies beneath a pile of some other papers in my repository as evidence that the world once had good people.

And with that, I felt indebted, I had to give back and help somebody else cross. I helped  Ngugi cross and I told him the same words, but in a different arrangement, ‘don’t tell the world who did this’.

His case was one too many in this school. Perhaps the reason no one else felt obligated to help him cross. The old staff with an experience of no comparison would have come to his assistance but I felt they must have seen it all and their hearts hardened. I, at 23, and freshly from college, had a soft heart and the fact that I made it out of college, I owed it to a stranger I was never going to meet again.

Days later I extended to him my traveling bag to use it for his books since I was no longer traveling and even if I wanted to travel, I didnt want to go to the haunted home notwithstanding that all my earthly belongings fit in that strap bag.

His dignity was slowly getting back into its feet and when I later handed him some shirts that I had outgrown but were still new, I saw that boy’s smile change. He had such an infectious smile that made me well afraid of blinking because that would have shown my weak side. I would stare away from his smile and gaze at an empty space and plead with my eyelids not to shut. I always lost that battle.

From henceforth, I never met Ngugi in any other outfit on Sundays where we both worshipped. I hadn’t had much in life at that age but I was contented I had touched a boy’s heart. Ngugi always came to me after church service while other students he schooled with shunned away and only pointed at me with their snouts. He had become a personal friend.

As time would have it, Ngugi cleared school and I never saw him again. I never left him with my contacts but I was convinced I had altered the course of his life. He must have excelled because when I asked of his whereabouts I was told he had joined Kanunga High School. I had left the school where we had met and only went back to visit my folks who lived in that region after an eternity.

Days turned into months and into years, my frequent visits to my folks in that region sufficed and eventually stopped. I went on my own and started life. I moved jobs and jobs until I finally dropped the white piece of dust into oblivion.

Got into business and rekindled my old age dream of acquiring a University degree and ran with it.

It is at the university while I took some rest on the concrete benches one dull afternoon that I was startled by a familiar voice which I couldn’t register instantly. It called me teacher in a slang almost shenglike. I turned and there stood Ngugi. I was dumbstruck by his appearance, his towering height and that infectious smile. All other attributes had left him apart from his smile. A backpack stuck on his left shoulder and he had a phone in his right hand.

He joined me on the bench and it was then that I learnt he was in his final semester pursuing a degree in economics while I was in my first semester pursuing a literature degree!

However from his deep soft spoken voice, he had some remnants of the indignity poverty had slapped him with. His outfits were not all that good and he didn’t have a scent of affluence. Life hadn’t been so good to him but he hadn’t lost his resolve to make it in life.

We sat on this bench for about half an hour on an eight year palaver when he stood up to leave. He looked at me straight into my eye and I stared away again into that old emptiness I had stared at eight years ago. I knew what he was about to tell me, and when he did, I blinked.

Thank you teacher for helping me cross. I will forever be grateful to you. Then he left, I stared at him dissappear into the young human traffic along the University corridors and felt a sense of self actualization. If I was ready to die at that point I would have done so, but I wanted to help many more people cross.

This story is my story, maybe yours is much better but it would be best if told. I chose to tell this story because I believe we all can help someone cross. It could be that poor kid in the estate block who doesn’t go to school. That man at the far end looking for anything called work. That woman sitting by the roadside hawking her wares. But we can’t help everyone, you would say, the world is so cruel and cold that everyone minds his own troubles. Help one person at a time. Don’t t expect they will return the favor but that is the ultimate goal of being human. There are genuine needs cases around, don’t go looking for them, let them cross your path and help them cross. Somebody may help you cross one day when you cross their path. It always comes back.

Last, I found about Ngugi when I wanted to meet and interview him for this post, I was told he works for a certain supermarket as an attendant but time and other deadlines couldn’t allow.

This story is inspired by Tyler Perry’s acceptance speech for the iconic personality of the decade during the BET awards 2019. When he says, ‘Help someone cross, there are people whose life is tied on your dream.’ 

The major theme of Perry’s 4½-minute sermon-esque talk perfectly summarized the guiding force of his career: to “help somebody cross.”

Perry has spent the entirety of his career being intentional about creating opportunities and offering aspiration for Black people. Whether it was hiring celebrities like Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis and Idris Elba when they struggled to get jobs in mainstream Hollywood, or opening his studio in one of the poorest Black neighborhoods in Atlanta, “so that young Black kids could see that a Black man did that, and they can do it too.”

“While you’re fighting for a seat at the table, I’ll be down in Atlanta building my own,” he later said.(Chicago tribune, June 24th, 2019 )

Help somebody cross.

@Nathan 2019

One deed is good until another one is done.