There are times I have taken a matatu and sat next to a stranger. A big man with broad shoulders and even a bigger smile. A man with an atmosphere of graciousness all around him. A man who looks like he plays part-time Santa Claus in December. A man who would be readily adored by kids. Just about when we are making a turn at Laikipia University on a journey from Nakuru to Nyeri, he turns to me, and I look away from my phone reluctantly. Then he exclaims about the school and how he studied there forty-seven years ago when it was just a kindergarten. When the entire region was a forest, and the number of trees doubled the number of people. In a half-baked attempt to be nice I put on a fake smile like the joker in Batman. I nod my head to show concession on how much it has changed. Then I stick my face back to my phone screen and plug in my earphones deep in my ears to avoid any more conversation.
Other times at the highlight of my melancholy I have cried in the bathroom. Days I have had my heart contract in indefinable fear of the future. When reality has unravelled before my eyes, and I have reluctantly plunged into depression. I have had a long shower and let my tears join the trickling bath water. These have been times when I have been engulfed in a loneliness so vivid that everything thing inside me has held, yet the insistent throb of my heart has pounded with both fists like a revenge mission. Tears just flowed and left a glum to sign off the fact that I could not be with the people I loved.
Then there are those times I have clung to a man’s arm all night long calling him pet names like babe and hunny. These are times I have found money so enticing and the love of a man fundamental. And then, just like all men, he has fed me and boasted of my beauty to his male friends before ripping my clothes off at the end of the day in a guest house. A guest house with a bathtub. Then I have found myself dreaming of a future with him. Of prosperity and love that angels would envy. He must have had been having a different dream because when I wake up the following day, he is usually gone. They are always gone. Off like the wind and I to bear the atrocities of the previous nights.
I have also looked at my strange, unfamiliar friends photos in my gallery before uploading them to my Instagram. Then I have tagged them and took time to craft a friendship caption that would battle the one David made for Jonathan in the good old book. The familiarity, in reality, has been no real than the Jehovah Wanyonyi’s sanctity. Friends who have pretended to care for me and all I have been doing is returning the favour. I barely recognize them anymore. Their struggles have all been alien to me and their time too wasted on unimportant things according to my opinion. To be honest, I have found them plain and just annoying, but Instagram has had to tell a different tale altogether.
I have spent money I do not own. Taken massive loans from anything that can lend money. Sometimes these loans have sourced from sheer pressure and the need to fulfil enticing luxury. That way I have driven across the streets of Nairobi and like a good fisher, fished all the good quality ladies for my bed cars can get. Those have been high moments before the reminders by my lenders came to my mailbox every week. Some of these reminders were more than just reminders; some served as threats. Threats of bankruptcy and complete humiliation by the Credit Reference Bureau.
Other times we have waited in a nightclub until 4 am in the morning for the DJ to start playing hip-hop music. Then we have formed a circle and did the hip-hop Dougie for two hours before sitting again and drinking even more until the sun came up. This has been fun. When an entire night has been spent on alcohol and dancing. The necessity for such nights has been justified and preceded by a terrible week when nothing has appeared to go as required. The problem, however, has been that somehow, such a night has served, not to diminish these issues but to postpone them for Sunday 2 pm.
In the office, I have sat there in the darkened tomb of impending failure, the low light from a desk lamp has cast a ghostly shadow of my being on the wall. Then I have marinated on the job I have been doing for three years. A job I hate, workmates I can barely stand and a boss I detest. I have been stuck to that sit because of a salary gracing my accounts each month. Like all the other lies in life, I have convinced myself that I had no choice and clung to the office like a sickly cub does to a lioness, who eventually devours her. Those have been extremely low moments.
I will not stand here and lie that I have not lied too. There are times when a lie must stop covering up other lies. Lies of passion just to experience the warmth of the thighs of a woman. Lies of embezzlement in the smallest volumes. Lies of propulsion of corruption through bribery whenever it suited me. Lies of closing my eyes during a kiss while the fact is, they were wide open like mines after a successful excavation. Such times I have not been too proud.
The least is when I have inflicted pain. Sometimes from sheer malice and others for vengeance and because it made me feel strong and powerful. Those are the times I have gone to my Facebook comment box and made comments that not even the devil would be comfortable to read out loud. They have been tribal and racist, sometimes even chauvinist. I have done this in full recognition of the causal effects of my action towards the victims, but still, I have done it anyway. It has made me feel good because one thing they will never tell you is the satisfaction and bliss that amounts from the strife of others.
Most obscene is when I have celebrated holidays that meant nothing to me. Human holidays, yet in full recognition that I am an alien with neither gender nor originality. Sometimes it has been to break from the conventions of life and sometimes to mock who held value to such days.
I have tried to smile when life weighed heavily on me. When I have been overwhelmed in distress so strong that my belief that life could be anything but that, has reduced to utter nothingness. I have issued kindness without intent. I have lived among strangers and made no effort to achieve fondness.
I have been living in a world that is not mine. I have been an imposter in a strange land full of strange people with strange behaviours and even stranger dispositions. At moments I have sat on my nest and observed, ridiculed, derided and despised what I saw but few scattered moments I have gathered inspiration from the same people. Life has not been a crystal stair, and sometimes I lay in a cold, thick despicable plot where no light or warmth seemed fathomable.
I have just had to keep moving.
Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri.