The silence bothers me. Originally it did not but know it does, I do not know why. The clouds hang low, perhaps too low yet the rain never falls. Every day I leave the house with a coat in my bag but come back home in the evening with the coat still in the bag. The morning promises rain but the afternoons disagree and the evenings fall in with the afternoons. There is no mist in the morning though, which is good. Mist bring with it all kind of white demons that reside in it. Nobody likes the mist. The nights are dark, perhaps too dark. Walking alone headed home late in the evening I glance at my watch and realize that I cannot even see my hand. The darkness is too much, I wonder what it is trying to cover, what sort of thing lies beneath the black blanket. But the silence is unfathomable. The birds sing but not their usual noisy music but silent noises. The frogs do not croak too, perhaps they realized how ugly their voices are but I prefer them when they croak so that I can know where they hide. The crickets have given up too, keeping us awake and decided to sleep too. It is too silent. The silence that precedes a standing ovation and a thunderous applause. The silence before a storm.
Skuta our cat (we all own a small percentage of her in the flats) sleeps all day long. I leave my house at 10am and there she snores by the main gate ignoring everyone leaving their houses impeccably dressed and in a hurry. Usually Skuta was offended by Jay, my neighbour, because he used to drain himself in a strong deodorant each time he left the house but now Skuta does not give a damn whether Jay swam in that smelly shit. She just stretches and sleeps. In the evening when I head home and get to the main gate, Skuta still sleeps. I do not like her new hobby at all. I prefer when she used to come at me screaming all tones and rhythms of Meeeooow. I prefer when she knew I would buy a kilo of meat for supper during breakfast and would hang around me all day long kissing my ass so that I can save her some meat in the bones. Skuta is no longer the Skuta I knew, perhaps Jay exchanged her with some boring spinster cat that loves to sleep, loves his cologne and to snore wasting no time in making herself pretty for the men. I think I will forward this as a complaint to the landlord, I strongly feel we should not pay same rent when our entertainment has been removed.
Or maybe our gate keeper is responsible for Skuta’s behaviour. He dislikes Skuta with all his whole being. He cannot hit her though I guess it is against the Arabic unwritten law or something. Our gate keeper is Arabic. He likes to sit by the gate opposite Skuta roasting his maize in his smoky charcoal jiko guarding the gate. He and Skuta are like like poles of a magnet. They can never be on the same side. They loathe each other that much yet they spend the cold nights as the only living beings outside. Quite ironic. Our gatekeeper startles me, I once held a conversation with him but it was not at all fruitful. I think he does not like me either, or Jay or anything at all, just his maize. He is funny though. He always has maize to roast even when maize is out of season. Recently he is not lighting his jiko. He is hanging around the shadows like a ghost.
The road feels like home nowadays. The walks are smooth like the perfect jog before a strained ankle. The conductor even gives the balance to the fare right. He does not pretend to forget until you ask him for it. This transformation in character and conduct astonishes me. The boys and girls in blue stand by the road side as they usually do but they seem okay with everything that goes around them. Yesterday the 14-seater matatu I was in had 19 passengers but they behaved like immobile scarecrows and let the conductor collect extra the extra cash with no questions. Perhaps they are tired of their job, or maybe they knew the conductor and his family, perhaps they knew that he needed that money therefore decided to bend the law like a rubber band. Maybe they were just acting sentimental out of sympathy, maybe… Just maybe.
That aside the lady of the house seems happy. She is contented, perhaps too contented. I get home and to find her home 45 minutes before me and she gets the bag out of my hands and put that loving hug all around me. I love it when she does that but it worries me. I like her complaining and throwing wild attack comments all over so that I do not have to speak. You see when she is this happy and satisfied, I have to talk. I do not like talking, I prefer when she does all the talking. It bothers me that she has stopped complaining about her friends, the public transport, the thermos flask, her family, me. I would like her to go back to complaining. She is prettier that way. I enjoy how she sleeps breathing smoothly next to me. Her sleeping is the most beautiful thing this universe has ever made. But I wonder how long this peace is going to last. People like us do not have the luxury of tranquillity.
Perhaps what lies before us is merry. Christmas is just around either way but I do not like Christmas that much these days. I liked it better when we used to ride to Nyandarua in father’s old Toyota. When Grandmother Njeri would make us a big party and I would eat like I had been starving. I liked Christmas when we sat around her smoky wood kitchen and listened to her talk about her age, burning a dead goat’s head and legs so that we could make soup later. Grandmother Njeri is sick now, she does not feel well these days. We visit her often but she cannot remember my name. I hate that she has to be like that. We do not ride in dad’s old Toyota to upcountry on Christmas these days. For one, dad has a new Toyota which has a computer on the dashboard, second, we are not little any more so everyone spends the holiday doing whatever pleases them. My elder brother chooses to celebrate the birth of a holy infant at Club Dimples drinking his liver out.
I do not like complaining about peace and serenity. Everyone loves calmness. All I am saying is that this stillness is questionable. There is a level of mess that has to be there for life to have highs and lows. Playing safe never resulted in anything. Or maybe El-nino is coming. Perhaps The Pope brings with him composure and tranquillity. Perhaps he has cursed out all the negativity while seated in his authority chair in Vatican and prepared the nation to receive his holiness with clean, sanitized and receptive hands. Or maybe it is indeed the calm before a storm, the jog before a stained ankle the odour before flowers burst open during summer, the step before success. Or maybe I have been drinking too much whisky. Maybe. Just maybe.
Photo by Mukiri #MukiriPhotography