Yours Faithfully

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Ask any man, their mother is the most important human female they will ever know. It matters not whether she is as sophisticated as Michelle Obama or as simple as your local mama mboga. Mothers remain men’s most treasured emotional assets and I would run at a paucity of words if I plunged into these details. This here is one such story of the relationship between a mother and her son. It is not in my best interests to be sharing this with the world especially because it involves my landlady and her son. I already owe her a month’s rent and i have defaulted on my garbage collection fees for a year now. It goes without saying that our relationship is that much strained as it is. However I do this for lack of a better idea, because the story aches to be shared and having a roof over my head is far outweighed by my need to share my gossip, but that’s none of your business.

My landlady, let’s call her Oga Madam,hails from Nyeri county. I know this because she sports a serious speech impediment when certain consonants are combined, as in ‘CH’, ‘SH’…you get the drift. She is in a mid-fifties at least and probably a widow by my observations. She lives in the lofty apartment at the top of the two storey building. I use the word lofty with much confidence citing the fact that she has her own designated water tank complete with an electric pump.

This is a far cry from the central tap located at the ground floor that 15 apartments share which chiefly means she gets to flush her toilets as I prioritize between doing the dishes and brushing my teeth. I have inadvertently become a master at recycling water; or resource conservation rather. I cannot help but imagine the late Professor Wangari Mathai smiling down on me from heaven.

Oga Madam’s son, whom I have nicknamedMr. Faithful, is the icing on the cake. He is a blossoming man in his mid-twenties. I heard once that a man is immortal at that age but judging from his appearance, this fellow fetched from the shallow end of the gene pool. He is trapped in a petite frame which awards him an average build of about 57kilos at five foot eight inches in height.

He is a mercurial man whose mood remains as enigmatic as the sea. My girlfriend says he makes her nervous and in a moment you’ll begin to see why. Mr. Faithful is a university student, that is to say it remains his primary profession. However, every morning he is his mother’s chauffeur, driving her to the work place in the wee hours of the morning probably so he can beat traffic and make it to his lectures. Oh, did I mention what makeof car it was? It is a milk white Toyota Probox. Yes, I know it is cliché in a fashion but in my landlady’s defense that car boasts about the utility of a Swiss army knife. I need not go into the details of how thrifty a kikuyu can be; that is the story of another day.

My girlfriend and I have very strong opinions as to what make of a car a woman of Oga Madam’s social class should drive.Yet as a rule of thumb we never talk about that car past 2100hrs. That’s primarilybecause we live on the first floor right below her pent house suite and we cannot vouch for the thickness of the walls. At 2100hrs the activities on the floor above us reduce and so do our jokes about the Swiss-army-knife-utility car. Every evening upon chauffeuring his mama home, Mr. Faithful parks the car outside the apartment complex and dutifully gets down to getting rid of the grime that may have collected in a day’s runabout. He does so in a somber mood wearing the history of his predicament like a make up on a socialite’s face. It is also a common sight to find Mr. Faithful wielding a broom in hand, cleaning the apartment’s common areas. If ever his mother was fond of him, that fact eludes me.

One thing that always intrigues me is his whistle. I am no music expert but I can tell you for free that this guy’s whistle emanates from the soul. It is asoulful melody, so profound that itseems to waft about the air around him as he performs his duties. I find it uncanny that it alludes to a Maya Angelou poem; ‘I know why the caged bird sings’… so I find my mind begging the question, do I?

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The Couple Next door

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There is a couple that lives in the bed-sitter right next to mine. They are a regular couple in more ways than one and there would be no reason for me to notice them except the aromas that waft from their house always manage to find my nostrils. The cockroaches in my house have also acknowledged this through their exodus from my hospitality. This again would not be an issue except it not only shows that there is no treasure in my trash but also belittles my kindness to animals efforts given I am a trained environmentalist.

They are a young couple, which goes to say I am slightly older by half a decade or so. They remind me of my late teens when I was made of rubber and magic, when the validity of my dreams knew no bounds. The girl in the relationship is a tall girl of about 5’ 7’’ who wears a smile that tells you she has not yet had her heart broken. She is pleasant although the skimpy shorts she wears leave little to imagination. And imagination is good, for the male mind in the village I raised from. Her boyfriend however, is of a skinny frame. A matchstick man of sorts, the type that would need to carry weights in their pocket if they lived in tornado prone areas. This strikes me odd since from my standpoint I do not see what a girl like his would be doing with a guy like him. This is college though; my prejudices are a candle in the sun.

They always wake up a good hour before dawn to make love, just like I do…only I live alone. The rhythmic banging of their headboard against the wall is evidence to their youth and this also drives me insane. Quite frankly, I do not like this couple at all, despite the fact that they never seem to tire of my visits to borrow their mop. Yet this is not new, it is normal human nature. I realized we all hate on people who have what we cannot have. It dawned on me too why middle aged folks hate on 20 and 30 year olds. It gave me a first-hand experience on how easy it is for we the youth to be insensitive to the plight of middle aged folks.

For instance, it makes perfect sense why every motorist I overtake on the highway gives me that look when I zoom past them in my rented Toyota Probox. The salty looks I get from women my mother’s age when they see me add 200 shilling Durex condoms onto my shopping basket. It is a look borne of lost contours, added weight, problems associated with age generally. We deserve their wrath because we sleep less, look better and have more sex. Thus, it would behoove people of yore (like you and me) to treat older folks better for this is where we are headed.

A Pound of Flesh

meat842For those who live in leafier suburbs, this may come as a surprise so brace yourself, hug your Chihuahua and look at the time on your Rolex. I am about to tell you something that will not only shock you but also throw some perspective into your life. And by all means do not pity me, I love my life…I really do. Here goes; At my local favourite butchery you can purchase 100 grams of meat and this will set you back a mere 50Kenya Shillings. I know, it amazing, that’s less than you spend on breath mints isn’t it? My favourite butchery goes by the name Honest Butchery.

Its proximity to my apartment block is the reason I frequented this particular butchery. That and the fact that Ken, the chap who owns it has this reassuring smile each time I make a purchase. Not to sound gay, but I like it. I like that he says thank you each time I buy and that makes me feel significant. Vanity is one of my chief vices as you can see. Oh, and did I mention? Ken has this habit. Each time the scale tips over to mark the 100 grams I always buy; he goes ahead and cuts a separate piece of flesh and adds it to my 100 grams. That has had me hooked to his butchery for the last two years and eight months.

However, it remained an enigma to me how this particular guy has stayed in business for so long seeing as how he is charitable and all. In fact at some point I was including him in my night time prayers so he could stay in business for longer. Another thing I have never wrapped my head around is the way he does not extent the same charitable ways to my girlfriend. My girlfriend is a beautiful lady, voluptuous (as only ladies from upcountry are)but she never makes it home with a 100 grams of meat. Instead she makes it with 50 grams of meat and 50 grams of impermeable bone much to my dismay. This has led me to the conclusion that either his sexual orientation might be somewhat different from mine or she is simply not his type.

Last week I bought my regular 10 kilos of maize flour, I borrowed a kitchen scale from my neighbour, I began the painstaking process of subdividing, and packing it into one kilogram polythene bags. Sometimes I like to think am a drug dealer preparing product for transport. Thus I do it properly, in my underwear with a face mask on, like Walter White would from the hit series Breaking Bad, only I have better looking abs. All peculiarities considered, it makes the activity less mundane. My girlfriend was coming over and I made it to Ken’s place for the usual 100 grams. Upon getting home, I found my girlfriend already in the house. I was a bit disappointed since I planned to impress her with my culinary skills. She took over the business of preparing the evening meal as I entertained myself to a computer game and coffee. I was enjoying the perks of cohabiting when suddenly she let out a shriek. I was sure she had chopped off her pinkie only to see her holding the scale in dismay with the meat on it; it read 85 grams.