(Dis)honorable scars…Dos

“Hi…Is it okay if I said thanks for the add? Or do you consider it a cliche? :-)”

Is a weird way of hitting on a lady. Atleast i thought it was. I found myself smiling as the subtle soft edges and cautious tennets of this message sunk in. “This is an interesting one,” i thought to myself as i reread that message. I couldnt call him out on how weird it is when someone says ‘thanks for the add!’ Because the way he puts it,he has made known the waywardness of this lazy way of chatting anyone up by asking if it is okay to say thanks. 

Photo obtained from pinterest

“Since you have already said it,i guess i will have to be curteous enough to oblige, no?” I chimed away on the keyboard and hit send as i opened his profile on another tab to see who he is.

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When you are a mother of one child, a son, who your baby daddy had left you to freeze in the cold with, you see men in a whole different way. Mostly you are bitter about the whole lot. You even secretly want to tell them as they try to hit on you (yes. They don’t stop even when your are full and expectant and don’t care one bit for a single thing they might have to say) “hey papi,I know you! Your ilk and all your intentions. I saw you from a mile away.this warehouse is closed for renovation. Go bark down  another rabbit hole.” But you can’t.I can’t. There was something gentle and subtle about this guy in my inbox. He asked these questions about me with the genuine curiosity of a child. And no, its not that that was what I wanted to hear. Trust me,the person who came up with ‘once bitten twice shy,’was a woman done wrong and left in the cold most likely by a guy she would have died for.

Okay. I promised.No sob stories.

When I was approached to write this blog post, I was confused. Robbin had told me that he could write the story but it wouldn’t be credible.that to another single mother out there,this story would just be another mans attempt at telling a woman how to live her life. Its true. As a single mother,you experience a lot of setbacks. In between raising an infant on close to nothing but peanuts received from shitty jobs,you have to contend with the shade that’s thrown at you. The mama mboga who used to be pals with you now only sells stuff to you with a plastic smile and keeps asking you questions in a bid to find facts to make her gossip of you juicier. Sadly, it is only the very few genuine men you meet who will offer to help you without insisting to know who the father is. God bless your souls. All the women you encounter will almost demand to know who the father is before they can give you a helping hand. And its not like they will do anything about him even after knowing who he is. Its almost like they want to know or determine the reason why you would go so far as to have a kid with a man who cares less. I mean, was he a rich guy whose money you were after? Was he a famous guy whose personality clouded your judgement? Were you just plain naive and stupid? Were you raped? 

Different single mothers have different stories. My name is not important, but I will try and tell my story and possibly that of other young single mothers. Keep it here.

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(Dis)honorable scars…uno

There is this beautiful Lady who keeps popping up on your feed on face book. “Add friend”, facebook insists, each time you log in.She is all the beauty of four clear night sky constellations, but, without the mediocre pretentious aura a woman with remotely the same beauty and age has. 

No. She doesn’t post photos of her dressed to impress ,striking a pose that accentuates her gluteus maxima with a caption like, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all righteousness’ . You know that type? The One that somehow, in the confines of this life and universe, finds a correlation between a quote in the holy book and the magnanimity of her derriere.

There is a silent promise in her eyes.She wears glasses and that makes you wonder if, for some reason the universe aligns and, you ever get to meet her whether you would be able to hold eye contact with that silent burning fire in her eyes.Like there is wood being choked by fire silently…patiently waiting to be the finest specimen of charcoal in the market.

Have you seen how charcoal is prepared? Did you know that the finest charcoal is the one choked for longer with little or no air under heaps of soil?

In bouts of curiosity, you prowl through her timeline. Casually, you try to construct her life from her Facebook feed but you cannot do much without sending her a friend request.

You send it. Flash forward. Three days later you receive the notification that she has accepted your friend request. For some reason you are filled with joy.You realize that you have been anticipating this silently and subconsciously, but it doesn’t disturb you a lot. A few minutes later you are knee deep into her profile.

About. You scroll. Check her age. Nothing. Just a day and month of birth.No year. Places she has lived. “Hmmm…she is well travelled’, you think to yourself.

Photos. Now you have access to most of her photos.You scroll through her albums.You pick a few info bytes here and there, and with those you are able to deduce that she is at the edge of her mid twenties if not on the onset of the second half of her twenties.

Moments later,you see a photo of her and a sweet kid.Immediately, you head to the comments and you determine, she is ,indeed, a mother.

Just like that, your ability to seek out for her truth sips out through societal crevices constructed in your perception process called prejudice.

You figure, “no wonder she is humble! I knew it…no Kenyan woman this beautiful would have this calm disposition without having been knocked up with a kid or two” , your thought process has already bagged and tagged her.”damaged goods”, the tag says.


Photo credits : suzanne McCorkell

But, you take a step back from the auto pilot setting societal constructs have built into these eyes you used to see her. You figure,”but I know that she has a story behind those firey  eyes.” 

You set out to know the truth. Her truth. Her story as told by her. You refuse to be the same as that mama mboga who ,probably, sees her at the market with a child and no husband and immediately says,”ona mwingine! Afathali Malaya analipwa….” Which translates to, “look at another one! At least prostitutes get paid…”

And so you set out on the journey to establish her story.

You begin the conversation on her inbox with an open mind…

“Hi…Is it okay if I said thanks for the add? Or do you consider it a cliche? *insert smiley face*”

a story of (lost) love…3

”Have you ever been in love?” …silence. It was raining in the streets of Kampala. There was this golden evening haze the sun let out that enveloped the city, it was magical, as though the clouds were amicably telling the sun that they can share the space…that it doesn’t have to be ‘either’ ‘or’. Men on bodabodas were hurdled up together in sheds weathering the storm all the while making fun at damsels in distress as it drizzled away. “They are all the same anywhere you go,” I thought to myself. Just close by was a guy going about making Rolex, completely oblivious of the drizzle. He was a jolly chap this one. He would make six chapos at ago on one pan and omlette on another.” Ogamba chi sebo?…dis one is very sweet bambi! should I give you and the madam one each? Straight from the fire, good for this cold sebo!” I looked at Z seated right next to me snuggled up in a black jacket, one that was not so long ago covering me from the cold. She looked indifferent; like it was an unwelcome interruption. “thank you sebo…may be next time,” I said to the guy.

kampala-rains

“robbin…I asked you a question…have you ever been in love?”

Fam…I didn’t know what to tell her. There we were, in the rain, in the laid back city of kampala.i was waiting to head back to Kenya and she was waiting for her aunt to pick her up. I sighed. I wanted to tell her everything. I wanted her to know that I have been in love from the first day I set eyes on her. I wanted her to know that the world could be ending right there and then but right there with her was where I would want to be.

”yes…I have known the fuzzyness of love.once. a beautiful torturous feeling that one”

“how did you tell her?”

“I didn’t…”

“Do you regret it?”

“no…”

“why not? Are you sure it was love?”

“is love…its still there…and I still have the chance”

“well! Unangoja? Firimbi? Mimi sitapanguza mtu machozi hehe!”

I pondered for a while.

“its you…I have fallen in love with you.”

“ sebo forgive me  eh? nothing expresses love like a hot rolex straight off the fire!” this guy! As if on cue. I nodded and he handed us two  neatly rolled rolex with serviettes to hold. Our eyes met as I handed her piece to her and she flushed. We ate. Silently.

rolex

”nipatie phone yako,”she said, looking up to me. I handed it to her and she started to punch the keys.

“unado?”

“nakupatia  number ya MTN, sitakuwa natumia ya saf for a while. I will be in kampala for a week or three.” And then she gave me this warm smile as if to say, ”its about time you confessed! I could see it in your eyes…I feel the same way about you.” or…atleast i hoped thats how she felt.

A toyota harrier came into the bus station and parked a few yards from where we were. that was her ride. She stood up, as if to leave but I held her hand and she sat again.

“sa umesemaje? I just confessed my innards to you and all you gave me was a warm very reassuring smile, but, I am not one to draw conclusions. What is your truth?”

“well robbin, I cant say I didn’t know about how you feel. but, my aunt is already here and she doesn’t like to wait. You have both my numbers now. We will talk about it, I promise. I like you too…a lot. “

Honk! Honk!

We stood up.

“baby steps?” I said, as I drew her in for a hug.

“baby steps!” she said as she gave me a fleeting kiss on my nose. She went into the car and waved as her haunt drove off.

Fam! Have you ever been kissed by someone you love? A crush even? on the nose? sigh! If two wires were tied to my ears, I would have effortlessly given the Ugandan national power grid a run for its money. I was charged. It felt like I was living. Like I now had found purpose.i could write a whole book on “how to find true love”.

“sebo…nice pick dat one. Very beautiful girl!which region does she come from? She looks like a Muchiga. very good women dos ones!
“kare sebo…she is my muchiga,” i said, as i paid him for the rolex we had eaten.

the  journey home was going to be a happy one.

Zuena nopima nola la kwagala yani….” radio and weasels song churned in my ears from the stereo in the bus.

i checked my phone. there was a message from z.

” 10:32 pm : goodnight you shy sweet thing you…xoxo”

i was headed home for the 2nd term holidays of form 5. our holidays were , on average, 2months long. this meant that i would be around long before Kenyan schools had closed, and long into their new term.

this holiday was different.i was in a relationship!

we soon found out that making calls was expensive. so we would constantly talk on Facebook. our inboxes were filled with sweet nothings and discussions on assignments we had been given for holiday. yes. we were nerds like that.

but the moment of reckoning came when everything just fell apart. it all started with my dad.

my phone rings.

“hello? how are you gentleman?…”

“Dad…i am fine”

“i just got informed by a friend at JAB that you have been selected for a course at Moi University. please check that out, halafu we will talk nikikuja jioni. sawa?”

“sawa…”

that evening, things happened that changed everything. i was, quite literally, put between a rock and a hard place. i had to chose between heading back to Uganda and proceeding with college in Kenya.

of course, i chose continuing with form 5. but, in a family where you are given all your options, their merits and demerits and a day or two to make a choice and “die with it”; i was in for a struggle.

naturally, i shared it with Z.

in the end, i enrolled for campus in Kenya. what i didn’t know was that, it was the end of my relationship with Z.

why? well…she went back to school for another three months, and i wasn’t there. everyone else was.including the Rwandan guys who were baying for her attention.

sadly…with time, any communications i tried to make begun to appear desperate (even for me…hehe).

right now?

well…like i said. she is in India finalizing on Med school.

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that’s it folks….sorry to have burst your bubbles. i have left out a lot that i didn’t feel was necessary. for instance we had had a few arguments here and there over some things. but feel free to comment and share widely, i would be eternally indebted. if you would love to know who Z is, interact with me via whats app on +254789521512….don’t worry…its a business line, so i will reply in due time. thanks and cheers to a good year ahead!

 

a story of (lost) love 2…

the Ugandan country side is one full of life. you travel there for your first time and you immediately fall in love with the people, their music, their warmth…everything about them is just humane. i remember crossing the border in a Kampala coach bus. i had only recently received my KCSE results and i was convinced that i wouldn’t qualify to uni for engineering, which was my dream profession as at that time. so my old man,(have you met him? find him here), in his wisdom, sat me down a day after results were out and gave me three options. But, being the adventure seeking young Turk i was, back then, i chose to travel to Uganda and take a jab at a form 5-6 education.

Image result for welcome to uganda

you get to the border and immediately you cross over there is an immediate shift in culture. you will find these fine mannered gentlemen seeking to change all your Kenyan money into the Ugandan currency but don’t be fooled, cons are real even in a country with a people as warm as Uganda. then there are these guys selling mishikaki only now its a quarter or a half chicken hanging from those stick tips.

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its a day after i am registered in the school and i am beginning to get used to the glances from my classmates. i was the only Kenyan doing a science combination and that meant that i was picked on in class to answer questions just so they could gauge how (not so) clever i was. but more than anything, i hated the preps. we would wake up early and be in class by 5am. i never used to look forward to those mornings.

but all that changed the day ‘Z’ came to school. all of a sudden, i started to look forward to preps. i remember, i would wake up very early and clean up really well; even to the point of ironing my uniform.

i remember her first preps. she came to class like 5 minutes before it officially started and scanned the room for a place to sit. the second our eyes locked, she casually strolled over and sat immediately next to me and said, ” niaje Robbie!”

fam, you may never understand this feeling. let me give you context. imagine you are stuck right in the middle of the north pole,  with nothing but the Eskimos to talk to and they treat you okay, but you come across someone from Kenya and they just greet you in your local slang! home has never been that close. i felt like i was at archives and a long lost  friend just said hi. sigh!

from that point on, school became fun. we would go to classes pamoja. crack kenyan jokes and laugh at how clueless our tanzanian,Ugandan and rwandese friends were. the most fulfilling of all our classes was Kiswahili, mainly because their form 5 and 6 syllabus is class 4 to class 7 work here in kenya so it was childs play. we ridiculously aced all our swahili exams and it felt good, considering none of us were able to write home about our KCSE kiswahili results.chemistry was a bother ( sorry Cation). even in Uganda, chemistry was just a headache waiting to happen each tuesday morning and thursday afternoon. we would struggle to understand the exchange of ions every tuesday morning and relentlessly watch as our group members schooled us seriously on how a practical is done. i remember this guy called Mandali, he would titrate and suck those weird fluids into those tubes with such accuracy that it made me wonder what i was doing with my life.

anyhu…so ‘Z’ and i had a really awesome time acting so Kenyan away from Kenya. Sunday afternoons were particularly interesting, we would meet in the hall and watch telly  with our friends, of course, and listen as they basically misspell every single word in the Kenyan lyrics that we loved and sung along to much to their awe.

fam..the point is…i had fallen helplessly hopelessly in love with this fine mami and, i figured she knew. for some stupid reason, i figured i didn’t have to say it out loud and that, si “actions speak louder than words ?”

the sad truth is that, we never really got to make it official. we were just another quasi influential ‘couple’ who everybody assumed was together because the chemistry was breathtakingly ‘Titanic-ish’.

and where is Z right now? well, she is currently finishing up on her medical studies somewhere where elephants are friendly and spices are in everything, including tea.

 

 

 

The Man…The Boy…Their Shadows…

a young lad, may be in in his early 20s; he is anxious, sweat drooling down his temple standing in line with atleast 15 other twenty somethings infront of him and a few hundred more behind him. his eyes. there is a fire about them. liike he is waiting to be discovered. like he has a secret about him that many will soon know and find him to be a not so ordinary guy.

he looks ahead as the line slowly reduces towards him. first you write your name…then you open your mouth and they peer inside and examine your teeth…then they tell you to stand on one foot at a time as they examine the soles of your feet shouting at you saying things and asking questions that you either shouldnt answer or shouldnt be indifferent to.

this is Kiganjo…yes it is the police selection process…no…its not his first time…its his third time.

his name is Nehemiah. a young man with a young family and no job. he has a sweet wife. she is in college too; studying to be a nurse. they have a son. sweet small thing. he is lactose intolerant. plumb and his smile can warm the northpole into a lake of warm water.

finally they get to him…he opens his mouth and lifts his feet one by one as they scribble things on his examination sheet. they mumble for a bit and send him with his suitcase to a tent and just like that he knows he is finally in.

the year is 1978 and its a good year to be a policeman. you get to call yourself ‘the government’ and that comes with freebies everywhere you go with that court of arms sewn on your shoulder badge.

that fire in his eyes…remember that? it kept him going…going like he wasnt enough with just having a stable job and secure income…going like he didnt want to be the servant for the rest of his life…it kept him going into the ranks…Constable…Officer Commanding Station…and then…he quit! quit like his job wasnt worth a thing…like his dreams and ambitions for himself were larger and better than the highest ranks in the force could ever offer him. quit like he had more value for his personal time and his family than his job would ever accord him. he wasnt interested in ‘utumishi kwa wote’ like he was interested in building himself beyond the safe catch of a government job.

now?

now he is a real estate mogul…earning in a day what he earned in three months for less effort and time spent at work.

he has a son…remeber the plumb bundle of joy that could melt the north pole with its smile? yes! that one!

see…this boy has grown up cushioned. his firey eyed father made sure he never lacked a single thing. he was loved and provided for ever so abundantly.

but now he is a 2o something year old too…now he has the same fire in his eyes but his feet will not move from the cushion under them to the uncertain surface of the world that promises him a surprise with every step he takes.

he feels a fire within him. his ideas boil within him and spill into his mouth and they taste like greatness. like there is a fountain deep within him that is aching for him to set the valve free but he just will not budge! he knows he is afraid. scared of the gruesome world he sees on his fathers tv each morning after he works up from his (fathers) bed and drinks his (fathers) tea. he struggles with the idea that the world could offer him any better than what his fathers house can confer him. he feels like he should hold on for a while longer…a month more…may be till his 23rd birthday…or his 25th birthday…may be he shouldnt put a timeline on it…you know…

he is passionate about alot of things this one. if you listen to him speak, wisdom and knowledge spill from his mouth; its like the seagers of old held a baraza on his tongue and dipped it in the elixir of their wisdom.

he knows he will do great things. inspire many people young and old. he knows that he will walk the length of the world and share the fire in his eyes with many who need it to burn the fear in their hearts.Image result for greatness

but…

he has to move…make a step…dare to conquer…its his first step that troubles him. he doesnt know how to make it and make it count…

he is a man…he was a boy…and now he is stuck between the shadows of both…

help…

a story of (lost) love…

i remember her vividly…her curly natural hair on a well formed skull with such immaculate lips and a baby face with eyes that could put stars to sleep. She was beauty in all its meanings and i was smitten silly. i listened to her. saw her. drowned in her ambiance. if i had the guts i would have tattooed her face on my chest so that my heart would know that its been whipped, but…

her name was ‘z’ and she was the most remarkable woman i have ever seen. she was four foot eight tall and i could tell that if we hug we would fit just like a jigsaw puzzle.

she was my first love and she will never know it…

she will never know how her smile made poetry froth in the recesses of my love bloated mind. how each time she said hi to me my innards melted so much so that i was an internal mess of mushiness.

she was a beautiful lady oblivious of her beauty and that made it all the more torturous. you know how you would love somebody so profoundly and you just shudder knowing that the second you profess it they will sink into a shell of weirdness? have you ever had so much emotion bottled up in you that it freaks you out more than you imagine it would anybody else ?

‘Z’ and i met in Uganda. i remember i was the only Kenyan in my form five class doing a science  combination. you would hear the acronyms “PCB – math” being whispered everywhere i passed.

when you are a Kenyan in Uganda doing a science combination it is a big deal. first there is the fuzzy feeling of supremacy that comes with you being Kenyan. its like the proverbial white man syndrome only you aren’t white…you dig?

anyway…so i was in my small island one afternoon on a friday when the headmaster interrupts our pure math class to introduce a new student from Kenya. he went on to call her Z****h….but for this post we maintain her name as ‘Z’. i was smitten. senseless.

“Robbin…sebo…be kind enough as to show your colleague around the school after class so that she gets acquainted with the environment…” he said in that unique Ugandan accent that i will never be prepared for…ever…

and so there goes the story of how i met ‘Z’…

 

Meet Stella Maris…

beads…white beads…conjoined by a string that looks like sisal but feels like plastic. these beads are arranged systematically  in groups of ten. she hums a prayer along each one in silence. her eyes were closed and her tone seemed to seek to sooth the pain of someone only visible to her closed eyes.

each day she would hold her rosary and go on her knees oblivious of anyone around her and just pour her heart out to the mother of Jesus who she happens to share a name with. Mary. that is her name.

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she is gentle on the eyes. ever adorned in an aura of simplicity and silent seriousness at the command to live life righteously. there are a few white hairs at the edges of her scalp. her eyes are slightly dazed, they have this slowness and assured stance about them that tells you they have seen a lot.

she will tell you of the times of her youth. how as a child she was continuously confused for her twin sister. how their mother always had a rosary at hand and insisted on prayer to them. she will recall in vivid details how many times she has witnessed the saving grace of prayer in her life.

she will recall ,with pints of nostalgia, how she has kept the faith and how she has never regretted a single bit of it. she will tell you how dark these times are in comparison with the splendor of her youthful years; how the devil is on a clock and he is not leaving any stone un-turned, and she will finally tell you how all hope is not lost and that you can always come back to Jesus. she will make it  very clear that that is a choice you will have to make and only you can make it for yourself because that’s the way it is.

such are the chronicles of my mother.