I genuinely thought until recently that being overtaken is a sign of weakness. I love competition and I do anything and everything that gives me an edge in any competitive activity that tickles my passion. This of course means that winning is embedded in my primal instincts, it is not just an indulgence- it is a necessity. I cannot explain how many times I have raced a car on the highways after being overtaken in what I would regard a lesser car. It is serious and life threatening but it floats my boat and the car is always borrowed or hired. Just last week, I had a stomach upset that ran on for days after losing a Fifa tournament to my millennial cousin that ended with my team harnessing a miserly two points by the end of the league.
Back in high school, there were a myriad of opportunities for competition. Being an all-boys school, there was a little game that was played every Monday evening after supper. We were fed a dinner of chapattis and green-grams or ‘Ndengu’ as they are popularly known in Kenya. It was simply one of the most coveted meals of the week because it not only served as a meal but also as a trade commodity.
Anyway, I have no idea why the meal gave just about everybody a bloated stomach, and I mean everybody even the teaching staff although I have no way of verifying this. Mondays nights were characterized with methane strung classrooms that were potential fire hazards. During the Monday night prep as everybody was busy fighting their study demons, an individual would let out a fart if the deemed it fit.
Nobody would pay any mind to the inaudible ones or the shrill ones that sounded like a chocked cat. The loudest and most boisterous sounding however, got a round of applause lasting about five seconds before everybody continued with their studies. It was a mundane game but it still brings tears to my eyes in laughter because most of these characters I mention are now fathers, lawyers and other persons of repute in society. Yet, I still remember the guy who used to fart loudest. He was the Michael Schumacher of farting and in a that regard we held him in high esteem as far as farting was concerned. The only reason I remember this is because it would have mattered to me if I was the one that held that title.
This is my bone of contention; the other day as I watched re-runs of the show Top Gear from ten years ago, I watched Jeremy Clarkson tactfully weave an interview of Usain Bolt. I realized that competition mattered to him too, maybe as much as it does to me. He was among the top half of stars in a reasonably priced car and only failed because he is a big chap who weighs a lot and cars do not like that. Which drove me to thinking that Usain Bolt recently, at the IAAf championships in London 2017, let Justin Gatlin an American win. It is a despicable thing to do from my stand point despite the fact that it was very kind gesture to a lesser sportsman. Mr Bolt is indeed the bigger man, his size notwithstanding.
There is a woman in your life that comes to mind each time Sia’s hit song ‘Unstoppable’ plays on the radio. She may probably be within your circle of friends, or she sits in the pew next to yours in church. She is prim and perfect but you are smart enough to realise that nobody has it easy here on God’s green earth. She could be a celebrity or a corporate monster that exists in climes beyond your cruising altitude. One thing is certain though; whether you are male or female; some lady has cropped into your mind.
For the most part, these women are normal, they lead somewhat normal lives. They have faults like silly celebrity crushes; they might be pigeon toed or bite their nails to the cuticle. They may wear those humongous weaves that present fire hazards in restaurants or worse even not know who Kendrick Lamar is. Depending on how well you know these women, their husbands and/or boyfriends are nothing near super human much to your dismay.
They are red meat eating, beer-drinking, prostate-exam-needing average Joes. Except maybe in some cases they seem like the blokes who iron their boxers and floss their teeth. They cheat too on occasion and you know this because maybe you share a mutual friend whose mistress is his mistress’ second cousin (ha ha). Yet they seem to ride the waves of life in the same fashion a hot air balloon rides over the Maasai Mara; effortlessly in sublime grace.
The biggest problem or fault with these women is that despite the feathers they seem to ruffle in their lives, they deem themselves ordinary. They genuinely have no idea how very special they are seen from your standpoint. In my world, these women exist too- all four of them. I am not at liberty to name them because I think people like those are best admired the way stars are viewed- from the cover of a telescope in the purity of the night. However I will share the attributes that make a woman ‘cool’ to sub-zero degrees in my world.
The coolest women make being female look cool. Not in the way lesbians do, but with an outlandish yet subtle flair. They make being female look like it accords them some unknown liberty which is evident in the swing of their hips and the rasp of their voices after a day out with their girlfriends. In some backward cultures women of this sort come short of being stoned and are labelled whores or atheists. However, this neither dulls their spirit nor banishes the spring from their gait. These women are infallible- literally. Instead of flesh and blood they seem to be made from some alloy of expensive rubber and magic.
In my case, I was fortunate enough to get married last Wednesday to one such woman. It was a civil ceremony that ended with 27 carats of silver on both our ring fingers. We had spent our entire budget detailing them having our names engraved. I remember immediately after being pronounced husband and wife, I asked her where we were headed since all our money was spent… not knowing fully herself, she smiled and replied “…in the right direction”
I honestly believe that the most comparable thing to an opinion is an asshole. Everybody has one and they are all the same in that they serve the same purpose, they show us or at least give an insight as to what goes on inside us. In the case of opinions it gives an insight into our souls while the latter gives an insight into our bowel habits. That being said, I find it a tad bit primitive and utterly distasteful to flaunt your opinion because you believe in its superiority. It’s a lot like walking around bending over backwards (Naked) claiming the flawlessness of your asshole. Thus we can successfully draw the inference that opinions are like assholes, everybody has got one but none could possibly be better than the other.
It is a political year in Kenya, and opinions are a dime a dozen depending on which political preference you are skewed towards. The nullification of the presidential election did not do much in the way of easing the tension that plagued the country like a dark wind. I am politically apathetic and I rarely engage in political banter, I’d much rather have my nipples pierced as than talk politics. Unfortunately this is just but a front; I care deeply about the future of this country. I care so much that each time I switch on the TV and watch inflammatory speeches it eats me away. Each time I refrain from political discussions I secretly realize that it is the only thing I care to do even in my head. Yet I constantly lie to myself that I don’t just so I can get through the day.
It is a trying time this, because I know of relationships that have been strained and ties that have been severed courtesy of the political stand-off in the country. Kenyans living abroad have all these idealistic opinions about how the country should be governed and they too care enough to share. Those within the country are divided into the candidates with whom their allegiance is tied.
I completely understand those Kenyans fasting and praying for a peaceful election because I feel the same way too. I feel that we as a people are losing interest in what is really important. We do not care how each other’s day was or which group of people we are waging meaningless 140-character warfare on Twitter. People are not showing much interest in conversations other than politics. People are slowly backing out of living and it breaks my heart because there is nothing you can do but keep smiling politely and pretending you do not notice.
The most critical thing to appreciate is even if we cannot agree politically; we are inevitably part of each other’s lives. Remember that your opinion is the asshole of your mind, please refrain from thinking that it is superior to any other that is divergent from your own! Be smart. Be Kenyan.
There are two things that my father absolutely dislikes about me; the first is my high school mathematics grades. If he had it his way I would have remained in high school till I mastered that crap. The second is my asthma, I think he cannot bear the thought of having sired a son who cannot solve algebraic problems and is constantly out of breath as well. I used to beat myself up about it in my early twenties when I found this out for certain. As life would have it I developed a sense of humour as I found people who had fetched worse traits from their parents’ gene pools than me. Like laziness or animal protein food allergies. I am of the opinion that having protein intolerance in Africa is like having a pork fetish and you reside in the middle-east.
Anyway, while most people walk around minding their business, we in the asthma team do too albeit with more caution. In truth an asthmatic person is normal in most ways, except when they are exposed to their asthma triggers. In my case, exposure to cold temperatures, cigarettes and dust will pretty much get my allergy going. Contrary to urban myth, asthmatic people do not collapse from shortness of breath gasping for air like those big breasted bimbos in porn. It is more of a gradual process that may take anywhere between a couple of minutes to a couple of days.
Asthma is for the most part a private condition, like gonorrhoea or a monthly period. It gets in the way of your mood and triggers spectacular migraines but you are not in any way required expected to complain. This strikes me odd because on the other hand smokers get breaks in between working hours to indulge in their habit. It is very rare to find an asthmatic individual brandishing their inhaler or using it visibly. The stigma is so strong that I have had friends who confess that they would not date an asthmatic man for the fear that they- and I quote- ‘could die on them’. I do not blame them because very little in the way of asthma is knowledge is available to the general population. Like I said, it is like gonorrhoea or menses- nature’s very own private mean joke. Talking about your misery would be frowned upon by the society that we so much seek validation from.
Countless times I have had to seek the refuge of a dingy washroom to puff on my inhaler. This one time I was even approached by a drug peddler who asked me what product I was inhaling from my canister and whether it produces a high. Asthma has allowed me to appreciate the little pleasures that life accords me every day, like going a whole week having not used any medication. For me every breath counts, I do not need to snort cocaine or ingest copious amounts of alcoholic beverage to attain a respectable high. Best of all, it has granted me the serenity to stroll through life without losing the proverbial ability to smell the flowers.
I lost my virginity in a strawberry scented room with a Barak Obama poster on the wall to the sweet mellow night time music of KBC English Service. It was cold and the blankets seemed to weigh down heavily on my skinny frame as I wrestled with my then girlfriend; an equally scrawny bird with a great big ass (or so I thought then came Nicki Minaj). I was confused to say the least and I desperately nursed a semi seeing as how The Backstreet Boys were playing their hit song ‘Drowning’. I remember the anti-climax of never quite managing what we had set out to achieve that night and sitting there dick in hand (literally) wondering what the fuss around sex was all about. Many years have passed since that night but unfortunately that memory remains as vivid as they come. I shelve these things in different parts of my brain in the hope that I never have to revisit them yet the slightest provocation triggers them. People seem to have one-night-stands ever so often or entire relationships and forget them entirely. I am physically incapable of doing this.
I kept a journal in my teen years and sometime into my early twenties. I read it today as I cleaned out my room and ended up taking a two hour plunge into my pubescent mind. It was awesome, my outlook of the world and the way I believed in absolutes. In a way, I’m still idyllic in some ways but the core of my being never quite changed. I retained my cynicism and an untainted love affair with words since clearly this is how best I express myself. I also avoid getting too involved with people because the end of any relationship however trivial leaves me feeling like I did that night I lost my virginity. This took me to some shit I have been dealing with lately.
I lost a cousin in the recent past; he was as close as they come. His death was untimely, the details to which I shall choose not to share out of respect for him if no one else. I have memories about him taking me to the mechanic’s to fix my bike on a hot Saturday. He had on those half-coats and a tucked shirt, black leather boots with the laces undid and round rimmed shades to match. I remember him showing me how to sharpen a knife and how to do a proper push-up. He loved reggae music and was himself an artist to some degree before his demise. Last night I found myself thinking of him as I played my reggae playlist. It is surreal to think that he is no more let alone sad. The problem with people is that God produces one of each despite there being seven billion of us.
There is all this residue information about him in my mind. Like the way he used to smile when he blushed, the Scooby Doo branded tie that he gave me in 2011. I remember his flawless round chapatis, his graceful ways and open mind. The tragedy is I cannot recreate his presence even with all this information floating in my mind, and that’s what gets us all in the end…
First of all, I want to admit that none of this is cold hard fact. No scientific methods of research were employed in the compilation of these findings; better yet you are not obligated to like contents of this here post. Capiche?
Now that we have ousted the elephant in the room, let us take a jab at the issue. There are only three men in any woman’s life. This as I have come to establish is not subject to the place this woman comes from. It stands unaffected by her race, hair colour, number of sexual partners or the colour of her eyes when she has too much to drink. These men are namely, Father, Husband and The One that got away. Let us look at each one.
In every woman’s life there is a father. It matters not whether she knew him or not. Either way this man sets the tempo upon which all men in the said woman’s life are expected to dance. Most women have a father they adore or utterly despise and/or hate. There is no middle ground with the poor men that have been placed on this podium. The father figure cannot alleviate his image if he is despised and little can be done to lower the lofty position that fathers who are adored enjoy. In truth, every woman has such a man in their life. Some visit theirs occasionally, some hardly ever think of theirs and some marry the man (read Celine Dion). The beauty about having this title is that you are enough- absolute in every way.
The One That Got away
There is the guy that every woman thinks about when you talk about heartbreak. He was your whole galaxy but to him you were just a single star. You occasionally have erotic dreams about the two of you together and you regret even having liked, heck, loved this man. The guy she thinks about during roof top dances, forehead kisses and beach bonfires at the movies. This is the guy that inadvertently taught the woman the difference between somebody who loves them and somebody who would do anything to keep them. She learnt that she could miss someone with every fibre of her being but not want them back. Any woman reading this has someone in mind…and I did not even have to say his name!
A woman’s heart is a chamber of secrets, throw Harry Porter and his magic wand. One of these secrets is the fact that she is hung up on someone. However, we all are and thus this evens out at some point. The husband’s sole purpose is to fill in the time; the stuff that life is made of; between Mr wrong and the present. This is of course because women never really forget The One that Got Away but they certainly release him. They stop allowing their history to have any meaning for them in the present.
The main perk of being husband is that the bar is set incredibly low by the asshole that preceded you. You are allowed to grow fat and unattractive; you even get the right to bore the woman in question. All you need to be is reliable. Mr Husband should be available for family outings, fund baby showers for friends who she admits are not really friends and many of the trite activities that married life consists of.
All in all, the wisest woman of all agrees that men are just whom they are and this is life. You are best taking them as they are and better yet accepting them for the form in which they exist
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…