When I was ten years old I wanted to be a Lawyer. I was seduced by their smooth and suave ways; they seemed like custodians of justice to me. I went to those primary schools in the mid 90’s where the teachers were underpaid, unappreciated and overworked. These were teachers that would cane you at the slightest whim, neo-Nazis if you may and this brewed my love affair with justice. They were a romantic lot in my ten year old mind (Lawyers of course, not the teachers) the fact that they eked out a living making sure justice was served. But that was before I had pubic hair and thus it does not count.
There is a silver tongued devil I know that hails from my hometown, consequently he is a pharmaceutical medical representative salesperson and he is damn good at his job. He began in the proverbial gutter, as a driver for the same company. All he had back then was a college diploma in procurement and his witty charm; but clearly that was more than he needed. Our friendship is based on the fact that he gives me free samples of supplements and whatnot.
The last time we met he was doing an eastern province run and we were in the same vicinity so we arranged a meet. He had his nine-year old son with him. Henry’s son is a miniature version of his father, a spitting image of the man that can sell anything from dirty iced water to bespoke medical equipment. He rides shotgun in his father’s Toyota Rumion where he fills out invoices for different orders. It is the epitome of a father son relationship; they look like Tom Hanks and his son from the motion picture ‘The Road to Perdition’. They do not split the earnings of course because the son is paid in edible treats like sneakers and Cardbury’s Lunch bars.
What fascinated me the most was the ease to which the ten year old could recite the benefits of their flagship products which were mainly diabetes drugs. He could tell the active ingredients of some drugs and the edge they had over other drugs of same kind. This boy even knew how to search for a drug in the pharmacopeia which is like a little dictionary where pharmacists look up different types of drugs and their generic types. At his age I had trouble arranging words in alphabetical order let alone look them up in the dictionary.
In many ways then Henry’s son is like a personal assistant, and many would argue that the son has a right to be a child. Indeed I agree he should, but he is usually very happy spending time with his father in this fashion. I actually pity his peers who are currently learning useless skills such as reciting the names of rivers in their county and how to tie a neck tie. At least he knows why he would want to be a pharmacist whom he does and he has the chance to find out why he would not fancy that career path. And this is more than I could say for his peers…
Last weekend my Whatsapp status said that I was busy and that I could not take any calls. What it really should have been saying was that I was not busy at all, not in the actual sense of the word anyway. I was in the Rift-Valley house-sitting for an acquaintance in one of those remote places where geo-tagging would mean taking a 2 kilometre hike but by Jupiter was that place gorgeous! The owners of this house are a gay couple from Zimbabwe who I might add are actually friends of my wife. They are a jolly lot, better company than most heterosexual couples we have ever befriended. I have to admit that being gay has its perks; nothing beats the income and spending habits of two men. If I were a keen social climber I too would dedicate my anus to constant bruising and get accustomed to the taste of semen for this lifestyle. This house even had a wine cellar, maybe not as big as puff daddy’s but it is a wine cellar all the same, an outdoor shower head and a hot tub!
It boasts Persian rugs and suede couches because to quote Tracy “Leather is too main stream…”
It is a tastefully engineered wooden cabin that is set on a hill facing west overlooking a vast plain. It is a picturesque scenery, those that are perfect for insurance advertisements. I regretted having been apprehensive when Tracy* and Jude* (*Not their real names of course) presented this opportunity earlier. Jude who plays the role of the male in the union is a big guy, so big in fact that his parents had to buy a wheelbarrow instead of a baby stroller. He is a towering 6’ 2’’ and weighs in at least 90 kilograms. He is a civil engineer by profession and his partner Tracy is an interior designer. They met in their line of work in a romance riddled with the usual bullshit only that it was sparked by a conflict on the size of windows for a house belonging to a mutual client.
Their cabin is about 2000 square feet with real wooden floors for the most part. It boasts Persian rugs and suede couches because to quote Tracy “Leather is too main stream…” The television in the master bedroom is 55 inches but it seems bigger, watching basketball on it is not very dissimilar to sitting court-side in my opinion. The only thing I made sure was that we carried our own bed linen because really there was no point acquiring E coli or red eye from such an amiable experience. (Sorry Trace but i had to slot in a gay joke) The hot tub was heavenly and the outdoor shower was like kissing a pretty demon; risky yet strangely liberating.
In truth, we all suffer from the preoccupation that there exists abnormality in everyone who is gay. It is about 28 hours since I left that love shack from where I made some priceless memories- for free! It is all I can think about when I sit still. That is why I have decided that I shall never publish anything that does not reflect positively on the lives of gay people despite my prejudices. Tracy and Jude are wonderful people who are very human and have an intense sense of other people. They are uninhibited and not enamoured like most of us and that is the kind of beauty that is portrayed in their life and work. Thus some people are either put off or they are enchanted by them. Now I know for a fact that old ways will never open new doors.
The other day I was having dinner with a close friend and his bimbo, yes, you know the type- loud as a motorbike when the open their mouth, pair that with a condescending attitude and an empty mind. I am not one given to the habit of judging the authenticity of people’s relationships and especially not those of their life partners. I am a liberalist who believes that everyone has rights as to whom they choose to fuse their genitals. For all I know, she probably gives him good head and hell knows how important that is in a romantic relationship.
“Maybe it is just me or I am allergic to her strain of daddy issues.”
However, I bear strong instincts that this particular bimbo is not good enough for my friend. For starters she gives off a whiff of desperation and this is surprisingly coupled with the mind of a social climber who is inept in the ways of making it higher up the social heap. She is the type of person to fish for complements on her knock-off handbag or flimsy watch and all I can do is engage her like a child. It is sad really the way she equates having middle-class relatives from posh neighbourhoods to being automatically superior. I used to enjoy meeting with my friend and sharing a meal because he is undisputedly generous and excellent company but since this woman of his became a permanent fixture, I have developed some cold feet to these meet ups. Maybe it is just me or I am allergic to her strain of daddy issues.
Anyways, the conversations were dull as they usually are with these things. Luckily we were in some fancy restaurant; those that have the ambience of a wealthy man’s living room. There was a fire cracking in the corner where a log was slowly making its contribution to the global warming industry. It left a scent of lavender in its wake and I made a mental note to self to make scented fires in my house when I become wealthy. I usually zone out of conversations when the bimbo in question begins to speak of her rich relatives and the brand of champagne that they use to clean their teeth. My mind is only activated when key words are mentioned. In this particular conversation the bimbo mentioned her mother, she rarely talks about her mother whom I have come to discover she disapproves of in one way or the other. The choice adjectives she has ever used to describe her mum in my presence are controlling, petty and disorganized.
Every fibre of my being aches to help my friend because I think very lowly of people who speak ill or their parents (With the exception of Eminem; because he’s white and them folks be different). In this particular occasion she called her mother petty. I have no idea where people get off talking ill about their parents to perfect strangers. As far as I am concerned my parents are saints, up there with the Wangari Maathais and Barak Obamas. I hope my friend not only reads this but also sees beyond the good head and wild sex because in my world any woman who talks ill of their mother has a soul as black as hell.
My father was born in those days when coca cola’s ad campaign simply read ‘Drink Coca cola’; my guess is nobody gave a damn about your feelings let alone how they tasted; the mid-20th century. His father worked as a stableman for a white man named Bruce and they consequently lived in what I would best refer to as the staff quarters. Yet it really was a cluster of mud huts where the workers lived. His mother worked the fields where Bruce grew wheat upon acres that stretched far beyond the eye could see. My father has fond memories of his childhood but I cannot imagine how, all that comes to my mind is the scene from 12 Years a Slave where there are negroes working in the field as a horse mounted supervisor cracks a whip from the background.
For instance he talks about plotting a shortcut through the restricted part of the farm on his way from school together with his mates. This would not only have warranted a beating* from his mother but also being mauled to death by Mr Bruce’s six German shepherd hounds. (*Beating because spanking is bourgeoisie 21st century nonsense, kids back then used to get physically assaulted). It may sound like all fun and games but one of his friends died this way and this only taught them to give treats to the dogs and forge friendship instead of trying to outrun them. It never occurred to them to abandon the path altogether. My father went on to become among the present day less than 160 anesthetists in Kenya.
Meanwhile, my father’s auntie on the father’s side was busy playing both sides of the fence conducting oath taking ceremonies for females willing to join the freedom fighting group the Mau Mau. The Mau Mau was a politically motivated liberation group that was predominantly Kikuyu under the leadership of Dedan Kimathi. She was involved in co-ordinating the preparation and distribution of food rations to the guerrillas. She risked not only death but torture beyond comprehension, however, she was never caught and although the British claimed victory, I think 55 million pounds is a lot of money to quell a force that was out-manned and outgunned. My grandmother went on to live a fruitful life building a reputation of not taking shit from anyone. She passed on peacefully at the age of 94 in her sleep.
My point here is this; I am not a reasonable man. I come from a long line of people who stared death in the eye and offered him a cigarette. People who have weaved their lives around being useful and of service to people. That is the blood that courses through my veins; it is the reason why I never do the speed limit on the highways and foolish pride has been the force that has glued my mind and body together all these years. I hope I grow to be someone that is admired or respected by folks further down the family tree. I hope my epitaph will be written way before my blood clots in my veins. I want to die like a hero going home singing my death song.
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.