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.
This is going to be my year. Nobody says that about the year they are going to die. I will not lie that I haven’t the vaguest idea where my life is headed let alone the meaning of it all. I grope in the dark like most people, fighting my demons and pretending to have a bearing. However, I enjoy this shit, the universe is generous such that there are things and people I have lost along the way that I may have thought were irreplaceable only for the void to be filled.
We all have high hopes at the wake of every year’s beginning. Which drove me to thinking what would happen if I died today. For starters I would owe in excess of 2000 USD in debt. Half of that debt would be a student loan that I would be glad that I made away with. In Part this is because I will have saved some poor youth from making it out of campus with a pointless degree and a mountain of debt like myself. The rest of the money I would owe to my siblings who lent it to me in the form of soft loans that I have been too poor to repay.
My laundry basket would have at least two pairs of socks and a pair of light grey corduroys. My bed would be in what my mother calls a ‘sorry state’ which is to say it would not be made. My pillow case would have 2000KES that I stashed in there a couple months ago so I could ward off nightmares.
On the bright side I would die in clean underwear because I make sure I wear crisp fresh boxers every day, it is one of the few pleasures I allow myself. I would also die in pristine physical condition, with the ability to run three kilometres in 16 minutes flat and the kind of muscle to fat ratio that my beer drinking peers had when they were in their teens.
The only regret I will have will be having people talk about how pure my heart really was which will be a blatant lie. In truth, I have great big conflicts inside my soul as all human beings presumably do. They will not tell you about that or the fact that death didn’t really faze me; just the fact that I shall have all these unfulfilled fantasies and intricate vanities that I allow myself when I am daydreaming.
I really do hope that in heaven (which is where I pray my soul reports) there is nothing vaguely similar to Twitter. I cannot tweet for shit to date and quite frankly I do not know what it was for, I hear people have handles there. As far as I am concerned a ‘handle’ is a derogatory term that is used for belly fat that settles around the sides of well-fed human beings. I hope there are no taxes too and that there is an endless supply of motorcycles and roads to ride them in.
Seriously though; I hope that today is not that day.
Everything I have ever really wanted in my life, whether vital, vain or trivial, has found its way into my possession. I can say this because I am above the age of 25 and thus it shall not be confused for conceit. However, if I am truly honest, these things have not come to me when I thought I needed them the most. In the recent past I have been coveting my friends’ and those of my partner who have daughters. Lord knows how much I would want one myself despite the knowledge that it may not always be rosy. I have spent countless hours brooding over these romantic imaginations of how much better my life would be as the following picture montage will show.
Sit back, relax and humour me.
She shall be christened Alyssa Masharia, the first of her name, the mother of ambition, daughter of the seeker and the rightful ruler of my realm…
I know she will be the most beautiful thing in my world. Since Beauty is not caused, it just is. We shall take private walks on Saturday mornings while the mother sleeps in. We shall be having private conversations about politics, family and other interesting things.
I will teach her how to walk. Most importantly how to run because Lord knows a lady needs to know how to run. In the hope that she will learn the subtle art of knowing things to run from, people to from and what to run for.
I will take her to church on Sunday mornings and convince her that God indeed does exist and that she was gifted to me by God. I will buy her chocolate and teach her that the root of Christianity is love; and hope that she will grow to be always humble and kind.
The mountains of life shall be scaled in leaps and bounds with tears and smiles. Whatever losses I will make in hair and stature she will be adding up to herself. She will grow so fast that I shall have a hard time figuring out when she out grew morning hugs as she left for school.
In the words of Chris Rock; “A father’s highest priority should be making sure his daughter does not end up being working on a stripper pole.” A lot of truth is told in jest, and the message therein the joke is universal and understandable. Campus will come; with its partying and social pressure. My preference would be she stay chaste till death only I am a realist so I just hope she learns the difference between sleeping with someone and sleeping with someone she loves. Meanwhile get a Uni degree while at it preferably from an Ivy league campus.
Since there is a last time for everything; with a doctorate in philosophy in her pocket I shall be in perpetual bliss knowing that she went as far as the road would go academically. Not much will be left of my hair or my strength to keep up, except that I will worry constantly as parents do, whether she will be happy.
Indeed at a time such as this, I will be introduced to some guy. He may have a poets soul and the heart of man’s man, but I will remain unfazed by how strikingly similar I was at his age. I will ultimately accept him because I want my daughter to be happy. Show him love, mostly in the form of money but in my heart I will always feel that she could have done better.
Eventually, I will be left hoping that she is equipped with the tools that her generation may need to get to the next frontier. Plaguing my mind will be memories of what in my heart was and will always be…My little girl.
We are all waiting for something; life is a waiting game of sorts. Take random individuals in a supermarket for example. The lady in the corner is standing at the cosmetics aisle looking over overpriced skin products. She is keenly reading through the content which is silly because she is really a political scientist by profession and chemistry has always eluded her. What she is really doing is waiting for a man, her lover who is by far 18 years her junior to get to town. She is also waiting to see whether he will be willing to spend on her for a change since she pays for everything- with her husband’s credit cards.
Then there is the guy in the corner with his headphones on, his hairstyle suggests that he is a young adult, a Uni freshman or an unemployed youth with hereditary income. The chap is clad in those long camisole-like vests that Kanye West loves and jeans that serve as second skin. He is waiting for his phone to beep, for a client to credit his Mpesa account. He is actually 28, a trained masseuse eking out a living giving private massages with happy endings to clients of both genders. What he really is waiting for is for his life to begin; or at least he likes to tell himself that.
His girlfriend is standing so close to him in a bid to mark her territory. She is in her early twenties and you can tell by the perky breasts under her see-through top. They are having a private conversation while standing over the fresh food stand overlooking the luscious black forest cakes on offer. She is waiting for him to agree to buy the whole cake which she is almost sure he might. However, she worries about her incessant cravings that have lasted a fortnight and the fact that her monthly friend is yet to come. She is waiting albeit impatiently for a chance to find out.
Now an attendant is cleaning the floor, he has been working for the last 10 hours straight and he is silently cussing under his breath the people who are deliberately stepping on the wet patch. His shift should end soon because he needs to pass by the hospital and check on his ailing mother. The bill is climbing steeply and his siblings have not responded to his plea to chip in. He is waiting to speak to his supervisor to allow him to make a no-show the following day so he can settle his personal affairs.
All these people are lumped into one pot and they are all silently hoping and praying. They are in need of their situations to even out; especially in their favour. I love the waiting game, because we all get what we want and thankfully not what we deserve. The waiting game is fair because like a Ferris wheel, everybody gets to be on top every once in a while. After all, there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
Ikigai; I like that word, it sounds like a kikuyu name for a girl, no? An athletic, light-skinned girl with a humble bosom and child-bearing hips. You know the type that act coy when you compliment them on their nude lipstick. However, it is not the name for a beautiful girl from the slopes of Mt. Kenya. It is not even the name for a girl and it is definitely not African. It is the name of something more beautiful than a girl could dare get- it is the name of a concept. This concept was born from the land of the rising sun; Japan. Ikigai literally means “reason for being” and everyone according to the Japanese has one. It is not something you stumble upon like I did my talent in hairdressing last year but instead requires of an individual to engage in deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is given paramount importance in the Japanese culture and it is believed that discovery of one’s Ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning of life.
I do not trust nice people especially those with a past full of turmoil, I keep my distance till I know what they did to survive. Nice is a gear I only engage when all else including downright violence has no chance at getting me what I want. However, I like assholes, not so much that they are obnoxious and not so skittish that they are simply lunatics; mildly asshole- that’s my kind of people. I believe that people are just what they are; gender, creed and race notwithstanding. It matters not whether you can successfully pee while standing or you worship the devil. People are just whom they are, some are chronic liars, some are self-pitying wussies, others are naturally generous, naïve or smart. There are many adjectives that can precede an individual and all of them legitimate because everyone is entitled to an opinion.
Most people above the age of 21 are usually in their final adult form. If you are a lazy, comfort-loving individual, no amount of distress can change you. Occasionally you may have bursts of energy that are prompted by circumstances but soon as the storm is over and the dust has settled you shall to resume to your hibernated normal state. Au contraire when you are busy body who hardly has time for people to finish entire sentences during a conversation, you probably will not be slowed down by anything for long. The bottom line is; whoever you are, whatever you eat or wherever you are from hold no intrinsic value.
The problem is there are a few individuals out there who believe the shit that the world peddles. This is a classic case of getting high out of your own supply. The number of guests in your party doesn’t mean you are significant in the same way that the number of your teeth is irrelevant unless of course you are a slaver and you need healthy workers. Murder your ego and pack a bag; go find your Ikigai, she knows where you should hide the body!
The truth is, by and large, that 2017 has been a great year for me. I have grown in considerable ways and my status among certain individuals that I care deeply about has been elevated. Maybe that is why its demise has been something to mull over and accept slowly as in the death of a loved one. For instance I discovered that I have knack for hairdressing. I can cut, style and dye the crap out of hair to the scale of any decent professional and I am trying to be humble here because my skill has been tested on both genders. I never knew I could do these things and it meant a lot to me to learn that I could.
There are a few great souls in my life, people I look up to when I want to arrive to the proverbial home that Maya Angelou ever so often talked about. These people have also grown I leaps and bounds and our relationships have been modified irrevocably. Human relationships are strange, one day you are sitting with them eating and laughing with them and then it stops. I think this is one of the saddest things I have learnt about life this year; that without grand betrayal or death that two human beings who were very close can be reduced to strangers.
The highlight to this year was Valentine’s Day when I was fired from my last job. It was living proof that God indeed does have a sense of humour. I took at that situation with a sunny disposition because that is what that degree of irony demanded. Laughing; that is how I rid myself of the stench of daily living; and this year I had a few that I can remember. Like this time a belle seated next to me in the matatu sneezed and farted simultaneously; I laughed so hard I almost farted myself to the dismay of the girl who was probably having a really bad day both inside and out.
Folks, I believe that when words touch minds; that is how galaxies are made. Thus I try to give a dose of dopamine to every reader that makes it here after all you deserve good things and I try to be one of them. I have tried as much as I could to share everything I could without living out a single detail. However sometimes it was not enough and sometimes it was too much; either way you never stopped visiting, the Kenyan folk, the Norwegian folk (led by Normabob) and our illustrious brethren from the Republic Of South Africa. It has been a great big privilege to matter to you, especially seeing as how English is not my first language. God bless you abundantly this year and may you live long and prosper!