There are only two ways to find unconditional love in this world. The first is to charm the masses in an intimate way. To command emotion from the human beings at a primal level, like Fidel Castro or Nelson Mandela. This would call for tons of character and charisma that boarder that of the Biblical Moses. In any case, this calls for a lot of personal input in the way of time and/or personal sacrifice. If you happen to be a regular slob like me and like things easy and quick please pay me undue attention for the next 300 words for I shall be handing you pearls here.
Get a Dog.
Have you seen that movie ‘Marley’ starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson? No? Well, that movie is the inspiration behind Bobby. I named him Bobby after Bob Marley the Reggae icon; it was a no-brainer because I couldn’t call him Marley as that would have been too cliché. Bob was purchased from my friend John of Shujaa Dog Breeders and Trainers for KES 19,000 which is roughly the equivalent of USD190. I felt it was a steep price for a five month old puppy whose only promise for a bright future was the fact that he was the healthiest at birth relative to his four siblings.
I took him home to my parents who live in Murang’a which is in Central Kenya. My parents are middle-aged folks with a nurturing spirit that is only rivalled by that of Florence Nightingale. I knew Bobby would be in the right hands. The only problem with my parents is that they have a way to spoil anything they nurture with too much love. Yes, there is such a thing as too much love. For instance, Bobby was raised on Dog food for most of his puppy years, thereafter; he was introduced to beef which is only served boiled and cold. Occasionally when the beef is not present he is served with Ugali made from maize flour that is fortified with blended fish. That may not mean much in first world countries but it is definitely champagne life for a dog in Kenya where a dog’s main diet is left-overs from the master’s table. Thus Bobby is spoilt in that way.
In many ways Bobby is similar to Marley from the movie. He occasionally chews on shoes and he has destroyed at least one pair of my favourite moccasins. There was a phase where he would pull on all the clothes from the clothes line and my parents had to re-do their laundry. Then came the dip-in-the-mud phase where he would find the nearest puddle and douse himself in some red mud all over his fur. However, do not mistake Bobby for the cuddly canine I describe him as. He may be clumsy and may sometimes venture outside the line but on the right command he can easily maul your heart out.
We live in a beautiful time of jealousy envy and greed. My parents live in the snobbiest part of the town where almost all households own a car and nobody uses the pavement. Seeing as how I have no car, it is in that light that I keep a regular schedule walking Bobby whenever I am at home. Nothing says I am better than you to a fellow social climber than a healthy looking, well-groomed canine pulling on a leash. I am addicted to the marvel of security guards and the motorists who lower the tinted windows on their Camrys and Lexus RX300s at the speed bumps to have a glimpse of my canine companion. The ogles drive me crazy and I feel like Franklin from Grand Theft Auto V complete with the cargo pants and wife-beater to match. I couldn’t think of a cheaper way to harness the rock star experience…
I don’t date fat women. As crass as that may sound, it is the truth. I can be friends with them though because unlike skinny women, they are very warm individuals in most cases. I also do not care much for short women because most of them are short tempered and ruthless in their dealings. Indeed short and fat are relative terms, so to put that into perspective; in my world any woman less than 5’ 7” is short and those weighing a gram more than 65 kilograms are fat. Citing my dating history, my sample size may not be large enough to satisfy a panel of snobbish college professors, but my personal prejudices are dearer to me than my own genitals. Thus I shall stand by those controversial sentiments.
That notwithstanding, I had a girlfriend in my starter years that I could not go beyond second base with. As usual as it is with these things, I could not tell why despite the fact that her frustration was mounting exponentially. Many a time I found myself mulling over the issue wondering whatever it is was the matter. I even questioned my own sexual orientation and began toying with the thought that I could have been gay. I imagined how disappointed my father would be, and the way it would worry my mother (her husband’s depression that is, not my men love). I combed the internet ceaselessly for answers, Reddit, yahoo and some creepy Google groups that I am ashamed to mention. Than romance fizzled out primarily due to the fact it was not consummated. The mounting frustration was slowly growing into resentment and thus I kicked in and severed that union. I was a gentleman about it and never quite disclosed what really the matter was. I did manage though to do what a typical teenager would do; I projected my inadequacies into my relationship and made her feel like it was all her fault.
In truth, most the women I had seen naked in my teens were centerfolds on playboy magazine and pop stars like Beyoncé. I was conditioned to expecting that the female human body was for the most part hairless. I also thought pot bellies were a reserve for new mothers. They say that hindsight is 20/20 and that could not be more true than in this case. When I come to power in the year 2030, I shall make pornography legal to match with the moral decay of the time. However, not all types of porn will be allowed. The only type that shall be in circulation will be the unedited versions of homemade couples with pot bellies and hairy pits and pubes. The same standard will be mandatory operational policy across the board for the advertisement industry. The crew for National carriers both rail and air will be under strict instructions to show preference for qualified women with acne and other physical blemishes that are otherwise frowned upon by the plastic society of present day. Last and most important, body shaming will be an offense punishable by death and/or life imprisonment. I am the future embodied; Vote Masharia Kanyari for president 2030!
In high school, I was a day dreamer. I used to fantasize about many a thing; breasts and cars were my primary objects of fascination. I had some self-esteem issues because I was a late bloomer. I was a head shorter than most people my age and in an all-boys school size does matter. These were private struggles that in retrospect were petty given that some of my peers were dealing with real issues like acne or their parents’ divorce. In my case I had little emotional or physical scars to show for my turbulent teen years. I remember I hated chemistry; so much so that I finished Mario Puzo’s book The Godfather during an organic chemistry class. In the end, one thing that stayed with me was the PH scale that was useful in the determination of the acidity or basicity of a substance. The knowledge was however, never was useful except in a chemistry class anyway.
At 19 came college, and girls and the so very coveted boobs. I fell in love and realised that every woman had something of beauty about them. Loving made me look, and inhale, and look again. You notice the texture of a hand, the turn of a head, the way of a walk. When you first love, you love blindly and you see the woman all as the glorious, beloved whole, or a beautiful sum of beautiful parts. But when you see the one you love as pieces, as why dos and why nots, you learn to love those parts too, and it’s a love at once more complicated than complete. This where I noticed a great big injustice women subject themselves.
Girls hardly know what they are packing in the looks department. Most of them base their acidity or basicity on the opinion of a boy they fancy. They sit back and adopt trends that may not even favour them in the hope to draw attention. I suffered a similar predicament, but I dealt with mine by asking a female friend. She was very objective and since then I never sought anyone for a different opinion. Each morning before I left the hostel, I would look at my face in the mirror and repeat these words to myself “I am a smart, good-looking, sonovabitch…”
Women need to stand in front of a mirror every once in a while. Naked as the day you were born preferably after a shower. In the morning of course, before the lover boys taint your mind with patronizing compliments. Identify your strong points, your flaws and ways to accentuate your body. The goal here is to be objective, really look at yourself and arrive at a solid number that is authentic and you believe in. That way there is not going to be a man that can successfully build you up or tear you down. Be a stable element, an acid or a base. Being a woman is powerful business but only when done correctly. Yes, I know I give good advice, you can thank me later.
I like living, probably because I have never been dead. This is all I know, but I love it with every fiber of my being. I love waking up to a headache from a night of partying. I enjoy sipping my tea in a dingy restaurant with blue collar men doused in their football banter. I savour the time spent in grossly overpriced restaurants that put raisins in their salads. Places where ladies with bottomless underwear compare the size of their engagement rings over double lattes and no-cream muffins. I love my dad and his sarcastic jokes and my mother with her absent sense of humour. I love my duo core Lenovo that I christened ‘Florentina’, she is a sturdy and reliable partner from where these words are weaved. Yes, I like living because even though I have never experienced anything else. Living is sensational.
My mother, as all good mothers are, worries about me. I bet my dad does too but he does a better job at hiding it. In this regard, she loves to repeat one piece of advice that I bet will serve me for the rest of my life.
“Do what you have to do,” she always says each time we part ways
My mother is a radical realist. She is the kind of person who absorbs the reality of any situation with an impartial eye. She is all brain, with some heart. It begs the notion that that is where this philosophy was coined. I like to think that my mother appreciates the fact that I am a man. That in more occasions than one I may be required to do something that sits outside my comfort zone in order to champion my interests.
These words have been the ethos I have live by for most of my adult life. They have been the beacon of light in the dreary and dark trenches that encapsulate petty wars. This has inadvertently become my philosophy as well; I do what I have to do. That varies from severing unproductive relationships to toxic hobbies or improving my posture. I always ask myself the important question of whether I have to do whatever it is that I am doing. The magic in these words is that they teach you to impose your will upon life which in turn makes it more productive. The scorecard always shows you as a winner and even when life manages to throw you a low blow, you manage to walk with your nose in the air.
The knowledge to accept that which you cannot change becomes more profound because you accurately established it as a fact. My actions are deliberate and less tainted by the pussy-foot brought about by having multiple mind-sets. I cannot help but think myself lucky, because of having had such great advice to live by. I have learned to walk the tight rope, with a bulletproof mind and a smile on my face. My life is going to be spent jumping off cliffs and learning to fly on the way down…
Ever since I viewed my grandmother’s body at the morgue five years ago, I drew two conclusions. That viewing the body of a dead loved one is impolite to put it delicately. It is also senseless since the last image you want of the loved one in question, is not of some shriveled shell that is being held together by the coroner’s chemicals and makeup. The second inference I drew that day was that there’s no way I wanted to have a boring death.
Modern day life is plagued with imagined fears propagated by the media to sell papers, draw traffic to their blogs and so forth. That being said, we all get pent up anxieties about the future. We fret over whether our partners will love us like they swore to in that expensive wedding ceremony that you are still paying for six months later. We worry whether we shall afford to give our children the proverbial better lives that we idealize in our parenting fantasies. We fret over things that never happen eventually and this robs us of the ability to enjoy life. This means that most coffins are not only filled with shrivelled decomposing human remains but also the stench of regret. Regret over fights you walked away from, cars you did not buy, relationships that you held onto for too long and any other vanity that you may have denied yourself of.
It is an accepted fact that people have different value systems. For instance I have no care for soccer or a carousing like most men. I also believe in cremation and aging gracefully. My woman however does not see the point in cremation. In fact she detests it in the same fashion men detest women with more brains than them. As somebody who is not new to loss herself, she says she would like to know that a loved one rests in a certain grace inside a coffin all intact and peaceful. I think it’s shallow and pedantic but I would not like to delve in that opinion because she is one of my life choices and I like to think I made the right one.
I have a cousin that I am very fond of albeit from afar. She is very smart and conniving; she possesses the kind of sublime self-awareness that I have only seen in Walt Disney antagonists like Megamind. She takes no advice from anyone and it is evident from the course her life has taken as opposed to the one it was projected to take. Despite this fundamental character flaw I know she will have a long life as all psychopaths do. She is truly the stewardess of her own life; one of the few people who can comfortably call themselves ‘self-made’. This is because she owns her successes and failures- the CEO of her life. That’s because she unwittingly stumbled upon the fact that the opposite of life is not death- but a regret-filled coffin.
I turned 27 today. I have never quite learned how to make my bed and I have no hopes of honing this skill. That notwithstanding, I do not look nearly as old and neither do I feel it. In fact the only thing I have to show for is an impeccable beard I have been allowing to invade the lower part of my face since last Christmas. It is not as magnificent as I would want it to be. I know this because the only attention it has drawn is some snide remarks from the in-house mean girl in my class- Grace.
Twenty-Seven; This is that age where the legends die and immortalize themselves in the lyrics of a song or the title of a book after an overdose in some obscure downtown motel. Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse just to name a few. Thankfully, I am not nearly as famous and my poems are less popular than a broke dude’s Facebook status updates. Besides, my experiences with drugs and motels are archived in my early twenties. It is safe to say I am not anticipating attaining that legendary status since the most epic thing I have accomplished thus far is raising a cat and climbing Mount Longonot in the rift valley. Thus my future is not nearly as bleak.
The unique thing about my birthday this year is the fact that I did not care anymore. My woman was all excited and she sufficiently made me feel like quite the diva since she relentlessly kept asking me ‘what I wanted’. I kept repeating the same thing over and over that I didn’t want anything. My brother Dennis is an awfully sweet man, he called me yesterday, and the poor dude thought it was my birthday. He was a day earlier than anyone else and the intrinsic value for me in that was priceless. I do not recall much of that phone call except that he wished me well, which made me feel some increased gravity in the greater region within my thorax. Call it what you may but that’s what it was.
I went to the city to run an errand for my sister and I had a cold coke. It was not as cold as in the advertisements although I paid twenty shillings above the recommended retail price. The restaurant where I took it from looked like a fine place to fetch a food borne disease in the event of an outbreak. Heck it seemed dingy enough to warrant a closure but I comforted myself, citing the fact that my coke was bottled in some hygienic ultra-modern facility on the slopes of Mount Kenya. I perched onto a high stool and sipped my lukewarm drink as I watched a newly hatched cockroach try to find its way into the inside of the tomato sauce dispenser. I made no effort to stop it because I am not one of the stiffs that imagine that roaches are necessarily dirty. They just dwell in dirty places and that list does not have unmade beds among them.
It is not easy to have siblings, if you are the first born you set the bar, you are your parents protégé and you get more attention than is necessary. The result is you live under so much scrutiny that you end up not living at all in a bid to meet some conceptual standards that you parents idolize. The primary benefit of being a first child is you have infinite resources in the form of parental attention, clothing and toys.
Any child born in the middle is usually planned for and unfortunately that means your parents approach you with some cockiness that is born from the fact that they are no longer newbies. This inadvertently lines you up to pre-conceived notions and standards that you should either surpass or measure up to. This means that you either grow up to be a rebel or a wanna-be. Either way, you get to live your life. That is just about the only perk that comes with being sandwiched between siblings. The downside is that most of the things which you get are either pass me ons or second-hand because you parents are no longer inept enough to think that new toys will make you a better person. You end up developing a taste for vintage and classic items and life in general.
Last borns are sent from hell with one purpose; ruin everything. They usually show up and blaze a new trail in the realms of parental patience. Transgressions that would have earned you a severe beating are brushed aside or let go with a stern warning. This is primarily because the parents have grown weary of the rigorous activities that involve spanking and would rather use passive aggressive means of discipline like curfews. In Kenya that would qualify as the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. This makes the last born somewhat of a misfit, primarily because the parents adorn the last born with new stuff and toys because they have finally realized that they shall never have the pleasure of rearing kids again.
In the end, having siblings means that you have all these human beings that you share a great deal of DNA. People that know you way better than you’d wish anyone to; people that steal your Safaricom Bonga points and break your phone; but you love them all the same. You love them unconditionally and if you are lucky they love you in the same fashion. Sometimes they leave for some country five time zones away and only then do you realize how much you took them for granted. The end result is a wide array of characters that share in your experiences and never get bored when you narrate a tale from the archives that is your childhood.