The dusty television


Everyone stares at the television with paramount scepticism. The government did this, the government did that, who stole from who, who was unfounded during a press conference and who cut what in Nyeri. You see, Nyeri has become the Kabonyi of every headline. While the country insists on making good headlines we, the Nyerians show up with all kinds of tom foolery and shenanigans all sexually related and it is like a car crush you just cannot look away! But Nyeri is home now, no outsider can understand the language of the ridge. All you hear is raucous sounds yet what we the people of the ridge gather is a simple cry of for help. I digress.

The father clears his throat and spreads his legs on his favourite couch. A couch no one else can dare to sit on because it is labelled ‘DAD’ and it kind of looks like him. The mother sips her tea and clutches her sweater calmly her eyes an epitome of deep thoughts and experience. The kids sit, on the seats directly next to the television, two boys and two girls. Sporadically the teenage daughter will get a text or a call from a prospective boyfriend and the father will glare at her from the corner of his eyes. These boys trying to steal his daughters from him before they are even done with puberty, he utterly resents this and would literally necklace them with a nylon rope if he could but he tries to keep calm and look cool. He does not want to be the old-fashioned dad but the sparkle of indignation can barely be concealed. Then everybody watches on.

It’s the president’s time to speak on the television. He is furious about illicit brews, he just cannot fathom why his subjects are so irrational when it comes to getting drunk. These young people will just drink about anything to get drunk, formalin and methanol combined. He will not say that though, his PR advised against this. The dad turns again uncomfortably in his seat perhaps it reminds him of him in his young ages when he was quite fond of the bottle. He wonders if his sons will be drunks too, definitely not Alex the second born but Jim the last born will definitely be a drunkard, he looks like he will take a lot of whisky. He brushes this thought off and makes a critic statement to his wife about the way the government has been handling this issue which sparkles a discussion for about ten minutes.

In the ten minutes, Larry Madowo continues to read other news. He gets consternated at the number of deaths he has been reading from his touch-pad, the car accidents, the murders and accidental terminations of life. It’s a dark day at the newsroom. The guy who did his makeup tried to brighten his mood and face with powder and lipstick but the only thing bright in that newsroom are the lights. So many deaths and Madowo gets infuriated by the government’s response. There must be something the guys at the big offices could have done, why then do they have that big salary? But he tries to keep his mood unbroken and informative to his dear viewers. At some point he thinks for running for a public office and make change himself or just immigrate to the United States where life is perfect. Larry reads on.

His camera guy and behind the scenes crew is not having it easier either. During a commercial break, they lean on the studio walls and engage in a devastated conversation about a recent fire in Gikomba Market where a number lost their lives and millions of stock was ground to ash unapologetically. Was it the Al-Shabab? Are we doing right broadcasting military information or will they revolt to a revenge attack in an equal measure. Nobody understands the desolation of news people because they are not offered an option to turn off the television when the news aggravates them. The government! The damn government should do something! The commercial break comes to an end and the timer ticks ‘ON AIR’.

Mother disagrees with Father’s sentiments every little bit but she knows she cannot win so concedes to what her husband says. Her cup is almost empty, she reaches the thermos flask and pours more content to her cup. Somehow she wishes she could have something stronger than caffeine.

Everything is not okay

This is not how we were brought up

Are the kids going to turn out okay?

She battles all this notions in her head. The eldest daughter Susan has a boyfriend already at fourteen, Alex is not doing any good at school, Eva is good, at least for now and Jim listens to no one! He has his father’s comportments foot to toe.

Must be this new technology that is spoiling them, our days were never like this.

She declares out loud but her husband is busy watching the sports news to notice the distress in her voice. She goes back to her thoughts.

The schools! The schools are even giving them laptops! They are the ones spoiling our kids.

She concludes. She yawns. It is almost ten and the news broadcast is almost coming to a terminus. She asks the kids to go to bed and tucks Jim in but not before she sings a song she got from her mother to him. Within no time Jim is asleep. Eva takes a minute to scribble something on her pink diary. I cannot see what she writes but with that smile plastered all over her face it is definitely about a boy. Susan does not sleep of course without a call to her boyfriend.

Lights out in ten minutes!

Mother shouts. And the lights go out after four minutes. She walks back to the living room to find her husband already off to bed. She is distraught by the disparity growing between them as time progresses. One more cup of tea and she turns to go to bed but first she turns off the television now showing commercials, she pauses midway. It’s a durex advertisement, she stares in disbelief at the sexual advances been aired to advertise a condom.

See… This is what I am talking about! The stupid government should do something about this!

Affronted she shuts down the telly, then the lights consecutively and walks to her bedroom. Dad is already asleep with a light snore, an embodiment of how overworked he is at his civil-service job. Mother gets to bed and turns off the lights. It is dark now, utterly dark. There is no moon and the stars can hardly been seen. The dogs moan louder today and the cats run on the roof probably mating in the cold. The wind blows unapologetically to declare the level of unrest outside the house. So many logs on the teary eyes of outsiders but inside, nobody looks closely at the television. The speck that dominated in the eyes of the insiders.

So many watchers but nobody takes the time to look at how dusty the television was! Will someone dust the telly tomorrow?

The Writer:

Njenga Wa Njenga

Njenga Wa Njenga

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