For this to make sense, you need to understand something every woman knows. Your body is a marvelous thing. More than that, it is like your currency in this world. And most of all, it is a delicate thing. For Diana to have gone completely into the business of catering to the needs of gentlemen callers she had to decide what she wanted for herself. If she wanted to go back home and pick coffee, there was a price. If she wanted control over her life or boundless freedom, there was a price. She knew that the price varied in degree but its existence was unquestionable.
The thing is she said that if you wanted to make a living whoring, the greatest challenge is acknowledging the fact that there existed a real danger of ending up dead in a ditch somewhere in a godforsaken slum. A nice face is good, in the same way that a moustache is important to a teenager buying alcohol. You need good clothes to accentuate the face and these call for some significant monetary investment. Language classes are important; a Swahili accent is excellent at getting rid of any previous accent from the Mt. Kenya Region. It is also vital for one to polish up on their English so as to mask any deficiencies in formal education.
The internet is a wonderful tool because Diana learnt her etiquette and dining formalities from various websites. It is the proper thing to do because she was going to make a trophy out of herself. According to her there are only three types of women in this world; the wives, the daughters and the trophies. The wives work hard and they are very well worth their weight in gold, the daughters may find themselves in the will but neither of them gets the holiday to the Maldives. That is a reserve for the trophy because only they can facilitate a fantasy.
If you are going to be a whore you need to do it smart, not some Red light district drab, you want to be a queen. You want men to court you, send you gifts and buy you cars. If they pay, it makes them feel like they own you. Gentlemen callers are charmed to a stupor if you turn out to be as interesting as you are pretty. They will want to spoil you with material gifts as much as they would want to take you to bed. If you know how to listen they will want to cater to your every whim. Then you have control. Nobody makes a queen pay for her cab fare or take her to a 30$ motel in town for a quickie.
I walked her back to the parking lot where she had her Lexus RX300 parked in some obscure corner. I watched as she loaded in the shopping and strapped her son onto the back seat. She gave me a parting shot that has been making cartwheels in my head for a month now,
“I never lied to myself since those days of living in that dingy slum packing meat for a meager wage. I still hold myself in that regard. I know that even the fanciest trophy woman is still a woman. That means sooner or later I’m going to be old and I shall need to switch careers. Open up a restaurant or something!”
Back when I used to live in Kahawa West, about six years ago, in a slum called Congo, I had a neighbour called Diana. Diana was not really my friend but rather the antagonist to my then budding romance with my wife. She worked at the meat packing plant but she used to run her own charade at the end of the week where she’d go clubbing and attend to some gentleman callers who would supplement her earnings from the meat packing job.
She vaguely used to remind me of Eddie Brit from the hit TV series Desperate Housewives. Every night as it was my routine I would go the communal bathroom to take a shower and brush my teeth since there was no way I was willing to queue in the morning. It was in this time that she would show up to hang her underwear or brush her teeth conveniently clad in a skimpy little nightdress. My girlfriend hated her guts and in many ways I understood why.
Anyways, last weekend I was strolling in a Thika road mall looking for an Xbox controller when I bumped into Diana with a baby stroller that contained a boy who was a spitting image of her. The boy who was about four years of age was addressed only in English and she had that freshness about her, you know, like most nouveau riche Kenyans do. The sort of freshness that comes from working in cool and dry environments away from direct sunlight. Diana was wearing a light blue dress that contrasted sharply with her hazelnut complexion. It had a long slit that exposed a scandalous amount of leg.
She offered to buy coffee and this was fine by me partly because she made it clear she was paying and partly because I needed to know the source of her new found well-being. Of course I was secretly hoping that there was scandal of National standards because there is no better thing than a scandal on a Thursday afternoon way before the media houses gets wind of it.
Honestly I was nervous, I did not know what to expect and I was really not in the mood to sit and talk over some overpriced coffee laxative. I took my seat full well knowing that if her story turned out to be windy and cliché; I would fake a headache or even menstrual cramps just to escape a boring story. I would rather have my nipples pierced than put up with an insufferable bore who feels it is her right to have my time because she is handling the tab in a restaurant.
Turned out, it was not a boring story. In fact far removed from that, it was narrated with such extravagant and meticulous detail that I wondered whether she was not making it up from a soap opera she had watched. This story was not made up…
My youngest cousin Gloria whom I am extremely fond of is now a teenager. This consequently makes me feel so old, like I should have life or death priorities like my peers. She has grown to be a smart witty young girl who is an independent thinker with the ability to draw humour from just about anything. I completely adore her partly because she is the only single individual in my extended family who strongly reminds me of my favourite grandmother. And partly because she reminds me of my sisters; there is so much of them in her.
My cousin used to tell me when she was younger that “I was not a Big person” which is direct translation from mother tongue to mean I was not yet a grown up. I can understand why, since we would play house together when I was in the mood or kickball in my mother’s backyard during my holidays in college. The other day she asked me how old I really was, and I had trouble answering that question.
” I have simpler tastes now like a comfortable couch or my woman’s bosom; those really are my drugs of choice.”
I have it on very good authority that I have the mental age of a nine year old with ADHD. It doesn’t bother me though because I have come to realize that the people who matter don’t mind and the people that mind do not matter. My age can only be described from a philosophical view because it injects the spice into such boring topics as age.
I am at age where most if not all my problems can be solved by a more cash. But at present I have no machinations to advance such interests if it involves infringing on the well-being of others. I know for certain what brand of whisky, vodka or beer I enjoy most but I could care less since I am on an alcohol boycott since January this year. I have simpler tastes now like a comfortable couch or my woman’s bosom; those really are my drugs of choice.
I travel as much as I can. I endure boring people and cherish new friendships. I have even been learning how to sketch and I am pretty decent at that. I have better problems than those I had in my early twenties; like people I admire needing that I love them as well and people I love demanding admiration. With me you either get love, respect or admiration never two of those things at once. I have at least attained the age to discern that about myself.
More than anything I have attained the subtle art of conversation that could be used in long stretches of idle chatter to glean blog-worthy information from an unsuspecting victim. I have a white friend from Florida who I met from an online mentorship program. We chat sometimes about this and that, he is really a safer option to talk to seeing as how men in this country gossip as much as if not more than women these days.
Sadly, I am still not an adult like most of my peers. How I envy the way most of them took to it like sailors to a brothel. But I don’t care about that, the only thing I want that money cannot buy is an old man in his sixties to play chess with and he can ramble about his age and mock my youth as I subject him to numbing defeats before he ranks to my skill…so Gloria sweety, I am only 9…
I am not one given to eavesdropping but the maker gave me a sharp pair of ears. Seriously, this is like a natural superpower, I should be included in the next Avengers franchise. Great power comes with great responsibility and that’s how I came to know so much about Brian and the havoc he has wrecked in his wake. I forgot to pack my headphones the last time I traveled; I braced for a session of gritting my teeth and spend a span bored and anxious without music to calm my nerves.
First of all Brian, your sister is somewhat scary, see in my world any female of her height with knockers that big is a potential hazard. Maybe that was a cheap shot but it is the truth besides I did not take it lightly her use of profanity in the presence of a minor. Which she did the entire journey from Eastern province to Nairobi. I rarely mind female banter but your sister and the scrawny little bird they were talking with bordered being an insufferable bore. The matchstick girl must have been one of your exes because I remember her futile attempts to mask her fondness for you by garnishing your asshole nature with pet peeves from your failed romance.
“I have met many a girl with her brand of daddy issues and trust me on this one, the only reason she put up with that is because she is evolving too.”
Had I not read the book Assholes by Aaron James I would have not dissected you as impartially as I do now. I am a practical man to the point of idiocy and that is a well-known fact. Maybe you too should have a glimpse at that book because it sheds light onto the many of your kind that have the world by it lapels forcing it to yield to their tyranny.
I picked up from the matchstick girl that she was never at liberty to enjoy any male company if it was not your own. Maybe she laid it on a little thick when she said that you blew a gasket when she told you that she was passing time waiting for you to show up on a date with a male friend from Uni. I have met many a girl with her brand of daddy issues and trust me on this one, the only reason she put up with that is because she is evolving too. One day when she turns 29 and she is in the house baking pastry for her husband while clad in a t-shirt only on a Sunday afternoon, she will hear a song on the radio that reminds her of you, and she will be ashamed to have ever known you.
Your sister on the other hand complained about you hiding her passport, in a bid to deter her from a work trip abroad (which I later learnt was China). What was that about? The funniest part was that she took you to the cops and filed a complaint. The cops in their wisdom saw the matching surnames and opted out of the charade and asked her to use other channels. In the course of my life I have been the victim of too many middle-class ego trips to feel much empathy for your sister. Government resources have better things to do is my overriding assumption here my brother.
Thankfully the matatu ride ended after about 2 hours and a lukewarm Red bull. The problem with Brian you ask? I do not claim to know despite how equally entertaining and dreadful it was hearing about him. But since all the truth in the world is held in stories, I think he is a classic asshole.
Every birthday since I grew facial hair has been a constant source of disappointment. I am constantly pelted with the need to be the best version of myself. When the ideal is a big juicy creative life of uninhibited imagination and radical silliness, I am doomed to the adult life of faking smiles, avoiding eye contact and patronizing conversations. It breaks my heart and it is a constant battle not letting this happen. I took up an art class, to keep the child in me alive
I marvel at the ease at which one of my close friends can get in and out of a relationship. It is seamless and sublime like the way a chicken swallows a whole grain of maize without batting an eye. I have never quite understood whether the friend in question is apathetic to human interactions so much so that contact or lack thereof leaves little or no emotional bruises. In many ways I admire this skill especially how it helps my friend transition smoothly; I admire this skill because I am in no way equipped to do that.
In contrast, when I love, I love: wholly, thoroughly, completely, drowning in everything. Every glance can be a conversation, eyes just playing and saying what needs to be said. Silence is loud, and the air becomes heavy. When I want you; I want all of you. I have been fortunate in this aspect. I may not have as much money as I want, or the career of my dreams. But I have someone who accepts that sometimes I can be a warrior, a wild child or a volatile mess. Yet every day she is there loving me.
She has taught me how to fall in love with life and realize there is more to life than my books from writers that I hardly remember after two days. I taught her how to swim in water and in return she taught me to swim in the depths of my soul.
It pays to know with absolute certainty that at least one woman in this world has their favourite mug to drink their tea out of each morning. That someone thinks of me when Dolly Parton’s Great Oak Tree comes on the radio. I sleep better at night knowing that she only reads the books I recommend and that sometimes she holds in laughter in office meetings over some silly joke I made.
I may not be what I set out to be just yet, but my life is rich. I have begun recognizing that real happiness is not something large and looming on the horizon ahead but something small, numerous and already in my hands. It takes the form of a woman, her smile and her tiny palm in mine during breakfast in a cheap out-of-town motel. Thus for the first time in many years, this birthday, I shall uphold myself not in a position of inadequacy but that of grace. I will reward myself with gratitude rather than negativity.
The adage ‘Life is a long lesson in humility’ has been used so often that I find it trite. I fail to understand the humility part because humility is a lesson only learnt by weak willed human beings who live on ivory towers. Mostly it is second generation middle-class Kenyans, who have been bred to believe that they are actually special because they had Weetabix for breakfast while growing up. Be that as it may, I think life is a long lesson on loss. Loss is the all-encompassing factor that we all share as human beings. We all lose things in the course of our lives, in the worst of times we lose people to death, social class and ultimately we all lose our lives.
I am not new to loss, last year somebody pinched my TV and I tend lose socks every other day much to the dismay of my partner but mostly it is because she moves things. I have lost entire nights that I would have spent in bed having luscious explicit dreams about hammering an Audi S3 sedan through the winding B-roads of Murang’a County. These nights were spent exploring the vast world of GTA V.
We are all dying, some slowly and gracefully thus society deems it fit to call it ageing. Some of us go about the business of dying rapidly; people call that ailing. It is a splendid thought however, that we are all bound by the same fate in this life. The facial features that you are so proud of will one day droop and your skin will attain the texture of an iguana’s and that is only if you are lucky to make it to old age. Nevertheless, there is no need to hasten this natural process.
One of my new year’s resolutions was absolute abstinence from alcohol. I followed keenly in amusement as Europeans marked the end of ‘dry January’ earlier this year which was a campaign (if I may say so) where people opt to abstain from alcohol for that month. The funny part to this is that Kenyans inadvertently joined in this campaign too seeing as how every New Year approaches with new and exciting ways to render them bankrupt. I am no exception, thus, and I am being thoroughly honest here, part of the reason I have been off alcohol is the fact that I am tinkering on the brink of vagrancy.
”I like to think it is my steely resolve and disciplined mind that have brought me this far..”
However, I like to think it is my steely resolve and disciplined mind that have brought me this far. I am fearful for the immediate future if my poverty status takes a wild turn and changes; will I keep up with abstinence or will I succumb? I know of a few lives that have almost been lost because of alcohol. I can name effortlessly close friends and acquaintances who are slowly dying from the indulgence of alcohol related recreational activities. It is a gradual death though and it is self-inflicted so nobody pays it any mind; not even the victims.
I hope that by the end of this year, having maintained an impeccable slate on abstinence from alcoholic beverages; I shall be in a teetotaler focus group preaching abstinence and how sobriety heals everything since sobriety is all there really is. Besides, there are far, better things ahead than those we leave behind. It is still a beautiful life.
I hope they do not call you Matt, in school at home or anywhere. I think it is silly and quite frankly it makes me think you are a bubble headed goon who goes around vomiting sunshine. I hope you developed my level of sarcasm and borrowed a pinch of your mother’s sense of humour. The fact that you are reading this means that something about our parenting was right and you can at least read one foreign language (English obviously, sarcasm is universal). I am also of the opinion that if you are reading it from a Mac Book Pro you should be thankful too. We your parents, had to do this from a crappy Chinese make that we had to share between us, the very machine I am typing from right now. However, it is not the lifestyle discrepancy that is important. What counts is the fact that you learn to appreciate what you have because, someone worked very hard to have it. It’s a curse or a vicious circle; one time you’ll go out on a limb to secure something for someone who will in turn take it for granted. It is a special kind of pain that; and I pray to God you do not have to experience that.
I was prompted to leave you these memoirs since a budding young man needs pointers if you may. Guidelines as to who you are, where you are from and then you can figure it out from there. I hardly think that I would require leaving you a manual on how to live your life. That would signify that you are a spineless human being and I a parenting failure. This is an insight into who I am and life through the lenses of my eyes. There is much from me you could learn, some of it bad, some of it good but all of it useful. In this world you will need a mentor, someone to shine a light on your path. For the better part of your life, that beacon of flight will have to be me, but there is only so much I can do. In some ways I am afraid I may come up short, this is not something I may not completely agree with but I have come to accept. In these here memoirs you shall find ways to identify one such mentor and in a timely fashion so that you may grow to be all you can be.
In this life Matthew, you can only be either one of two things; you can be real and loved or you can be shiny and admired. I hope you choose a little bit of both. Just you make sure to have the love of your family and the admiration of both friend and foe. This as you shall discover is the most sought after balance in this era of social media. Welcome to my life son, do not ape me, just take what may please you and give back what you can.