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!
Fact: If you are Kenyan, a vast majority of laymen among the international community probably think you live in a Savannah surrounded by the perils of jungle life. This is further complimented by the fact that our precious Nairobi National Park sits so close to the Nation’s capital that you can see giraffes making love from the KICC rooftop. They probably think slay queens emerge from Manyattas to hit the spa for a detox session. Let us imagine Kim Kardashian looking for a holiday destination on her Mac Book air and suggesting Kenya to her chisel jawed husband.
“I was thinking you, me and the kids should go on a Safari to Kenya”, says Mrs. West
“Kenya? Isn’t that where Obama traced his dad?” Mr West retorts absent minded groping at his wife’s ass.
“I dunno, maybe…Obama was like the president right?” Mrs West is now getting confused, thinking seems to do that to her.
“No Baby, let’s go somewhere people actually wear clothes…” Mr West exits the room mid-haste probably to tweet a troll on Taylor Swift.
Now imagine an average English bloke sitting in front of his Telly somewhere in Birmingham, profession notwithstanding, watching that distasteful movie ‘Eye in the Sky’ that showcases a shanty wasteland in Nairobi called Eastleigh that even has Alshabaab controlled zones. He probably thinks Kenyans are either Maasai living in the vast grasslands or city dwellers that are downtrodden by terror groups.
In truth, I have never really been anywhere myself, I have lived the entirety of my life within the confines of Kenya’s borders. I may have crossed the border once at Busia into Uganda which is similar to saying I can speak Spanish; while the only things I know how to say is compliment a woman with a great rack. (And most Spaniard women do especially those in Spanish Soap Operas). However I do not judge America based on the Grand Theft Auto franchise which is an action-adventure video game that is loosely based on various cities within the USA. Otherwise I would be given to the bias that the society in the USA is white, paranoid and ready to shoot at anything that is different.
Meanwhile back in Kenya we are busy fighting among ourselves. We are a divided lot on the basis of tribe and menial things like the presence of a foreskin or lack thereof. There is little love lost between the fanatic followers of concerned political blocks. Yet from a distance the rest of the world is oblivious of our differences and indifferent at best. It does not matter what political block you belong to or whether you are circumcised or not. It holds no meaning to them that we do not all speak the same language. They know nothing of the so called historical injustices that some politicians are so quick in pointing out at various forums. To the untrained, average and impartial eye of the rest of the world; we are simply black; nothing more and nothing less.
Thus it is imperative that as we work towards new and exciting ways to make our already shitty existence unbearable for each other, to remember in the immortal words of Jay-Z; “You still a nigger…”
My wife is a feminist, my mother too and her mother before that; I am attracted to feminists myself because they have no feeling of inferiority although Mother Nature gave them fairer features. Au contraire, they feel empowered as they actually know for certain that being a woman is very powerful business if conducted properly. Maya Angelou was my all-time favourite feminist and most of her work is stupendously insightful into the world of the feminist.
Popular belief has it that feminists are man-hating lynch mobs that are fuelled by the ideals to establish a matriarchal society. Yet this is very far from the truth, unless of course you hail from those misogynistic societies where women have as much rights as a dairy cows. Feminists are not even the opposite of male chauvinists, they are rather simply human beings who above all else think that the thing that is most wrong in our society is the injustices that their gender in specific is accorded. It is a just cause in any case but I question its legitimacy like Thomas did The Resurrection.
I met this 24 year old at a funeral recently who was in a desperate need for a husband, it was in the colour of her eyes the span of her hips and the length of her arms (Hehe see what I did there?). I pitied her a great deal because for starters she was too easy on the eyes to be in her predicament. She was a graduate of a local private varsity and she held a position of repute as a procurement officer in a firm. She hails from a well put together nuclear family which is to say she has the right blend of daddy issues. It puzzled me so because from my stand point a girl in her shoes should have a waiting list for dates as long as Kelly Rowland’s legs.
Last week I watched a girl with albinism get applauded after emerging best pupil in the National primary school examinations. It was a feat worth recognition by all means seeing as how she was from a medium income home which means the odds were stacked high against her since she was born. Somehow she seemed oblivious to what this meant for the girl children her age. What struck me fancy was the lack of conceit in her demeanour which feminists need a dose of.
However, I may have unwittingly stumbled upon a pearl of wisdom in my alcohol induced poetry. There is a better way to raise a girl. You show her that she is beautiful and intelligent and make mirrors of your eyes and pray that she believes it. It may take a lifetime and divine patience but success lies in the event that she believes you. Then the story she tells herself in her head will change and she will transform into the ideal feminist; a woman who is not only seen as beautiful and intelligent but intelligently seen by the present day patriarchal society.
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.
There was a time right after Uni that I was living in single room in Kahawa West Nairobi; that was what I told everybody (women mostly) to blow smoke up their faces because I really lived in a slum called Congo. I thought Kawaha sounded better especially because my job then involved hoping through malls that were cleaner than my house. I was piss poor, I used to live on Ugali, kale and chewing gum.Yet somehow I had shitloads of hope in my pocket and the self-worth of Mufasa. Those were romantic days that I now reflect with nostalgia. I had a TV that I had bought for KES2000 that sounded like simmering onions on a pan while it was on; it had been dropped at least once. The picture quality was so poor sometimes you had to listen in to know what program was on. I had a tattered green carpet where upon I lay my mattress which was as thick as my thumb.
My worldly possessions were meagre and pitiable but I loved that house. It may have been as cosy as a stable but it spelled independence. It was by far the most daring thing I had ever done in my life and for the first time I was living. I even had real neighbours, mostly blue collar women working at the meat packing plant. There was a lady who lived in the house next to mine who had by far the saltiest stare in the entire slum. She had a daughter of about twelve who looked like she had been on a straight diet of fish and chips since she was weaned. Our rooms were separated by a door that remained permanently locked and barricaded from the madam snake eye’s side. The door maintained the autonomy of both rooms for the most part, except for Juma whom came and left as he pleased. I came to develop affection for the anarchy he stood for.
Juma was a rodent. Contrary to urban myth, vermin have standards too. Juma never ate from my cache of maize meal that I stored on the floor. He used to dine at madam snake eyes and then make his way to a burrow in one corner of my house where he would get some shut eye. Strangely my first instinct was never to poison him because I figured that he had rights too since he lived there first. Besides I did not want to enter into Karma’s little black book this early on in my life. Juma and I were roommates and a mutual respect was our governing bond. For instance, he never chewed on my prized brown leather shoes that were my most valuable possession then. Never once did he show face in the presence of my guests who were mostly men until I began dating.
My then girlfriend, now wife (see here) spotted him once during a cleaning session one lazy Sunday morning. She tried waking me up to help her with killing the rodent but I would dare not. I did not know whether her scope of understanding would accommodate the fact that her new boyfriend loved a rat. I woke up three hours later only to find the lifeless body of my beloved roommate huddled up among the garbage. Death by house slipper…