Damien

 

 

Moved to Nairobi last week and found a journal in the clothes cabinet of my new apartment. I am as pleased as anyone would, to find out that the previous owner of a place I now call home, was contemplative and took time to write a journal. Other people find possessed dolls and hidden cult caskets, I found a journal. Reading another person’s life in their own handwriting, to a writer is like discovering treasure. They are honest, vivid, raw and bare. It might be against the law, but if the law was a little bit interesting, we would all read the constitution on vacations.

 

 

Well, we are a family, let me share, a little for everybody. No gluttons please, there is enough to go round…

 

 

March, 2013; Protective Parents.

Mother will not let me leave the house. She has been going on and on today ranting about discipline and responsibility. All because I left piled dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. It is a bunch of bullshit. They wanted me to pass my final high school examination, and I have given them a clean 75 points KCSE certificate.

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No Witnesses

 

 

 

I was born in 7th March, 1987. The day I was born, it rained hard, a storm that brought down trees and houses. I was born in my mothers and fathers house by a midwife. My father hated hospitals, he said that they reeked of weakness and infection. So my mother pushed without anaesthetic, cried and cursed until my head popped out. Outside, lighting struck followed by deafening thunder as if in protest to something. The midwife with really rough hands probably from harvesting tea in the fields, pulled my small body in the world.

 
My father worked in the armoury where he tended to the army’s weapons. I can remember him cleaning more guns in our living room than I saw him shower. He held himself on high regard constantly claiming that only a man of great responsibility could be accorded such an important task. Before I could stop pooping my pants, I knew how to hold and clean a gun.

 
On the evening of 27th January 1996 as I came from school, I found my father’s body splattered around the floor like a red carpet on Christmas. He had blown himself to kingdom come on his favourite seat in the living room while tending to his guns. Poor guy had taken his wife with him without even asking. Asking was not his style, he was a dictator, issuing commands and hitting mother on the head was more his style. Now, standing on the doorway, all I could see was brains and decapitated limbs of both him and mother.

 
I shed a few necessary tears for mother, collected the remaining guns and set foot on my way. Let the dead take care of themselves; the Bible says something like that, I think. His guns were now my guns. I remember vividly packing no clothes or food, the only thing I packed were the deadly guns father loved. To this day I do not know whether father blew himself up by accident or on purpose. Maybe it was mother who got tired of him and shut him up by blowing his brains, whatever happened, I was not staying to find out.

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

I loved blood. I made acquaintance with the butcher in the place I moved to. He supplied me with raw blood from the cattle they butchered and I would put in a cup in the secrecy of my wrecked house and sip it slowly like Asian tea. A cup in the morning and a cup in the evening, sometimes even more when the spoils from the slaughter house accommodated. I lied to the butcher man that I used to make mutura. Stupid dumbass believed me.

 

 

 
A usual day for me was working out and cleaning my guns which were often dirty from hunting hare in the Aberdare forest. I ate a lot of meat. My body was more meat than brains but so is everybody else’s’. My body was curved like a sculpture from the workouts with all kinds of vein patterns on my arms. Strength was mandatory, that was one thing I had picked from father. I was hairy, very hairy all over my body like a caveman. But I was a caveman of sorts, living on the edge of the forest and hunting deer and hare for meals.

 

 

 
At the age of seventeen, as I lay on the grass a scorpion climbed up my boot and chewed my left heel unceremoniously. I barely survived the poison but the living were not done with me so I survived day after day until the only thing left to tell the scorpion story was a limp. This limp stays with me to this day.

 

 

 

 
At nineteen I began working on contracts. A man and his wife were walking home when an armed guy in a hoodie approached them, pointed a gun and promised to put bullet holes in their stomachs if they did not hand over their phones, wallets and jewellery. On ordinary circumstances, I would have kept to the darkness and watched the free film before I went on my way. The two victims handed the thug everything they had and begged for their lives. Cowards deserve to die, so I hoped that the gun the hoodie guy held would get to be fired. Then it happened that the man threw himself in front of the lady and asked the hoodie guy to shoot him and let his wife go in peace. In my mind, I quickly resolved that this man was not a coward. He was brave he did not deserve a bullet after all. I snuck behind the bushes stealthily and silently like a serpent and struck the hoodie guy on his back, disarmed him effortlessly, cautiously and swiftly, just like hunting deer before I put bullets all over his body. The first bullet on his left foot, second on his right knee cap, third on his belly button, fourth on his left eye, sixth on the right lung before the last bullet put him to eternal sleep from the forehead. I would have shot his groins too but the bullets ran out.
The man and the wife rewarded me heavily even though I had not expected it with six thousand shillings and that became my first contract.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

When I met Maria, I had just come from the Rift Valley. I had been there for three days, working. This assignment was special. It involved a very important man. My contact, the person who had handed me the assignment also sounded important but identity was not any of my concern. So on a misty Tuesday morning, as a helicopter sailed an important person to the plains of the Rift Valley for an occasion, I lay flat on a raised ground one eye shut to put all the juice on the other one that was looking on a tiny aiming hole of my father’s M21 Sniper Weapon machine. I shot three times; at the pilot, then the choppers propeller and finally just as the chopper begun to spin, I shot one passenger. The last shot was unnecessary. The chopper landed on a hill and blew up like the fourth of July. The job was not done until I walked to the crushed site and shot the remains gratuitously. No witnesses.

 
I was paid twenty thousand shillings. I met Maria on my usual visits to the butcher. She was barely dressed. All she had were pieces of cheap fabric covering her private areas seductively, I assumed it was fashion. She stood by the butchery calmly as if waiting for someone. I had never spoken to a girl so I was specifically surprised she talked to me first. It was a quick hello followed by a question I did not have a response to. She asked me whether I had seen anything I liked. It was a weird question but one that demanded a response. I threw my eyes to her hair, artificial but so beautiful, her body, the way it graciously made a figure eight and the waist, the tiny waist held me captive that I only murmured a yes.

 
Maria must have been a very free person because while I expected her to turn away and move on like I did not exist, she simply asked me another question. She wanted to know whether I had money and food because as she put it, she was starving. I explained to her patiently that I had had good luck that morning and caught a gazelle that was lying waiting to be roasted at my place and yes, I did have money. With that, Maria held my arm and we walked talking about everything until we got to my house.

 
This had been the first time I had company at my place so while I stayed nervous, she eased the mood by constantly holding my arm. I liked the way she held my arm and looked into my eyes. Instead of roasting the meat, we boiled it as per Maria’s suggestion. She served the meat on a plate and we ate while she went on and on about different things in her life. This strange creature amused me but I let it.

 
When the meal was over, Maria said that she would teach me something new and I gladly accepted. She took her clothes off until she was completely naked. The lamp shone on her nakedness like the sunset of the Tsavo. The she cautiously got my clothes off too while looking deep into my eyes like she was looking for approval. I let her have her way. A few minutes later, I had proudly had my first sexual encounter.

 
I did not have much use for money so the morning Maria left, I handed her ten thousand shillings and told her to use it since we were friends now. She accepted gladly and did that naked thing for me another time before she hurriedly left. We made plans to see each other later in the evening where she promised she would teach me something else.

 

 

 

The same day, I got another contact from a woman who wanted her husband gone forever. As usual I was not concerned about the reasons why she wanted her husband dead so I asked for details like where he would be, an image of him and all that shit. I was determined to finish this assignment fast and join Maria later in the day. When I got to the location directed by the wife who wanted her husband gone, it was a function. The husband was launching his new flats that he had built with his wife and now they were ready for tenants. It was an easy job, I let the function terminate before I met the husband in the restrooms, told him that his wife had decided to let him join the dead and put two bullets, one on his head and the other to his heart to make sure he would never wake up and left him face down in the toilet bowl like he was hugging it and left. Let the dead take care of themselves; the Bible says something like that, I think. I was paid four thousand for this job.

 
I was late for the agreed meeting time with Maria, so when I got to the butchery, I was not surprised that she was not there. I asked around but nobody around seemed to know her. I decided to head home and see if she was home. It was dark when I got home and unluckily she was not there either. I blamed myself for getting late and fell asleep immediately. I had a very nice dream about Maria and her naked body which made me so happy.

 
The next day went on slow, too slow. When it was evening, I left the house to look for Maria. I was determined to apologize for the previous day. I wanted her back more than anything. I got to the small town centre just in time to see Maria vanish to a turn with another accomplice. I ran as fast as I could to get to her but eventually I decided to just follow them like I did with gazelle, deer and hare before pouncing on them unawares during hunting.

 
They walked to a house, which by the fact that it was Maria who opened the door, I assumed it was her house. It was tiny and spoke a tale of limited resources but still better than mine yet I felt sorry for her. I would have liked to give her everything good this life had to offer. They walked in with the man and I waited for about twenty minutes. When they did not come out, I decided to walk in myself and explain everything. Explain the reason I had been late for the hook up the previous day. I had it planned out in my head, everything I would tell her, yet cautiously leave the part about me killing people for a living.

 
When I go to the door, I could hear Maria’s voice, she was screaming all kinds of words beginning with her maker followed by all kinds of curse words. She kept screaming and I thought she was in trouble so I stormed into the house to the biggest disappointment of my twenty one years.

 
There she was doing out thing with another guy, both entirely naked and worse was that she seemed to be enjoying it more. They stopped the moment I stormed in. I could feel my anger rising like mercury in a thermometer. I could not comprehend why she was doing our thing with other people. Maria started to say something but stopped the moment I held the man’s neck with both hands and lifted him up like he was a cup of coffee.

 
He chocked. Maria begged. I was not listening to either of them. He spoke, he said something about Maria being a prostitute but I did not care. He had to die. He writhed like a worm until his legs relaxed. Maria screamed her lungs out. I threw the lifeless body away and headed for her neck too. When I caught her I felt something inside me, I hesitated. It was something I had never felt, not even when I watched my mother’s body lifeless on our living room. It was a weird emotion.

 
She tried to reach for something from the table, a kettle which she threw to my face missed and it landed on the floor splashing hot water to my left foot. The scorpion bite hated anything hot. It was painful too painful, I let her go and limped out of the house and ran.

 
I had never left any witnesses. She was the first one. I had to go, I had to leave the Central region to another region. I did not even bother to go pick my father’s guns. From now I did not need them, using my hands to finish my work had felt more gratifying. I ran into the forest to an uncharted region where Maria would not lead the police.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

My clients still reach me. If someone wants you dead then you will die by my hands. I will not use a gun. Guns are too quick. I will use my hands and watch life escape your body like a treated plague and then leave you dead. Let the dead take care of themselves; the Bible says something like that, I think. I will get paid as low as four thousand for your life. One day I will get Maria. I know now that she is a hooker but she is still mine. I will let her body do things to my body and then I will kill her slowly and respectfully. No witnesses.

 

 

*

 

 

END

 

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

Old Fossils

You were excited about a Facebook account, I was, President Obama was, hell, even Charles Darwin would have. Facebook was a game changer. It was a stone to a foundation of a new civilisation. So, like everyone, late July 2009 in a Cyber Café on a Saturday morning you did it. You broke your virginity and opened a Facebook account. That day you went home feeling like you had accomplished something. It was not as much as the degree you were struggling with at the time or the small paycheck you were living on, but it created some kind of warmth in your heart to know that you had a Facebook account. Yes, yes, Al-Qaeda was still bombing the United States, Greece was still struggling to get back on her feet from the global economic crisis, but it was no matter, you had a Facebook account. For that moment everything was perfect and when you prayed at night before bed, you asked God to bless Mark. You prayed that he should never have to struggle with a small paycheck ever because to you Mark Zuckerberg had discovered a new planet. He was the messiah and he was leading the world to a new civilisation. God bless Mark.

 

Then came in the urge to jolt a little bit of something each time. The pressing urge like the one to use the bathroom after the fourth beer, to tell people what you were doing, what you were dressing, what you were thinking, what you loved, what you disliked, who and what you wanted and how you wanted it. You did not realise that your life was changing as gradual as the ten tabs that were loading on your Compaq desktop you were staring at past midnight each day of the week. In the office, nothing was the same either, you got to work, hang your coat by the door, switch on your computer and immediately it was on, you loaded your Facebook. You just could not help it, you needed to know what your high school former classmates were doing, what time your girlfriend slept and what she was thinking about when she slept. Nothing was private anymore, not even the sacredness of the bedroom. Well, it was not long before your company established a ‘No Facebook Rule’ in the office which only meant one thing, if you had to do it, you had to do it in a separate tab behind the office work. Mark had indeed decided to mark some changes around here.

 

I don’t know how being hooked on a drug exactly feels like but I would like to imagine it is what you felt when you went two hours without the internet. Facebook addiction, drug addiction, both alike except where when the drugs do bad things to your liver and disrespect your lungs and kidneys, Facebook just sits there and smiles at you slowly messing up your brain such that you would never notice you were hooked.

 

Everyone’s eyes were opening up now and even Charles Darwin lying in his grave turned and exclaimed…

 

If Mark had been timely, then I would have shared the old bones I discovered in Africa on Facebook instead of writing long manuscripts no one would read.

 

That was then, today, you scroll down your Facebook timeline down the years. You are seated somewhere outside probably on a balcony or under a tree and suddenly you decided to go down, down and down. You click ‘Load more’ more times than you can count and suddenly you are on a page with the heading ‘Posts from 2012’. A time when you had lost your job and Bae had just stuad you via Facebook messages that she had missed a period and all you wanted was to ask her to head back, trace her steps until she found her period and consequently retrieved it. A time when everything was wrong such that if you sneezed, then you sneezed wrong. Nothing was right about 2012.

 

Your posts were sad, almost psychotic, and you were pessimistic who saw death as the only redemption. You look at yourself through Mark’s eyes and you cannot even put a face to what you posted then. You continue scrolling and reading and you realise how much you had lost but that does not scare you, what scares you is whether anybody else saw this. You are about to be nominated as managing director of your firm and a council has been asked to look into your history for validation and establishing your reliability on the task the people are about to hand you. You wonder if the Vetting Committee would sink this deep into your life and then shrug, who reads Facebook these days anyway?

 

You take the steps deep and deep into your memory and the more you scroll, the more you realise how different life has made you through the years. You somehow wish you could keep these memories as a reminder of what you have through but then the vetting committee is on your ass and there is nothing you can do about it. So, you delete post after another, rubbing off the year 2012 from your life completely.

 

I was young and stupid.

 

You declare silently and once you are done with 2012, you delete 2011, 2010 and 2009 too. You are a new man now, you do not need these demons to haunt you into your success road. The vetting committee is done now and before the people, they declare you as the new Managing Director of the firm. Your job is to manage and direct. Your job is prestigious and lucrative with a lot of privileges and glass offices that do not come easily to everyone else, particularly, people who have been through 2012.

 

It is not long before the Country’s Executive Office recognises your determination and hard work and before you can say the word ‘Zuckerberg’ you are being vetted again for a cabinet secretary’s position. You have no worries, you took care of 2012 and the likes of 2012 from your life.

 

Who said the devil takes a nap? It is not long before a blogger discovers a post from you former Bae on a page about deadbeat dads where you denied the responsibility of you own child in 2012. The blogger somehow also has screen shots from your inbox telling your former Bae that just because Charles Darwin found big skull bones in Africa, doesn’t mean Africans have big heads. It is there, plain and blank with even photos of you alongside a small boy that looks exactly like you. It is 2012 all over again but this time, you did not post it on Facebook, someone did for you on a blog.

 

The headline news the next day read, ‘Deadbeat Dad cannot be trusted with the lives of Kenyans’.

 

Mark Zuckerberg, you hound, I’ma kill you.

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

The Writer:

 

InstagramCapture_51ae2f42-6453-4b96-839b-5e65680bd0c1

Dennis Peters

 

Electricity

Midnight? At least they try to be poetic about it. They try to sprinkle poetry as if to wash the guilt off their hands, they try to make a loaf of bread sweeter by spreading margarine all over it, but a fact is a fact, it is an execution and I am the condemned. I sit on the electric chair awaiting the order from up high, the final word comes from the president of the republic. He is the one that gives the holy word during a war and so does he in the execution chamber. Through his word a life can be spared or a life can be cut short. For my case, I do not expect presidential pardon, I want it all to end, if it were my choice I would have opted for the guillotine but we are civilized now, we use electric chairs and lethal injections.

Sitting on the death chair, my thoughts are far away from the pain I will be experiencing by the minute, my thoughts are with my Daisy. Daisy my little bird, my redemption and my gift to this world. Daisy my daughter.

First day at school, my daughter learnt the alphabets and could not shut up in the house. The alphabets were here prayer in the morning and late after supper. A… B… C… D… My little bird went on but always forgot between M and N which came first. My pretty princess was just four years old and already obsessed with the alphabets, the sounds, the rhythm their teacher taught and I often told her mother, she was going to be a writer. My baby would write things that would move the world. She would make the poems smart people make and the world would listen. She would be a very smart girl.

Aaaa bbbb kkkk dddd eeee ffff gggg hhhh…

I would listen to her beg her mother to recite it all before she slept and they would fight before her mother apprehended that she had no choice but recite the whole alphabet sequence by their sounds. Sometimes I would join them, and it would be a choir…

Mmmm nnnn oooo pppp qqqq….

My little princess always made sure that her presence was recognised and her absence felt. In the evenings while my wife made dinner she would come to my seat and stretch beside me and I would try to ignore her intrusion and continue watching the news but my girl could not give in. She would fill me up with stories about Tony, a boy in her class every girl wanted and I would put the news on mute and ask her whether she wanted Tony too and she would nod mischievously and I would feel a sting of jealousy that she wanted another man in her life. I would pry, and ask her what she wanted Tony to do and her pretty little eyes would go deep in thought and come out beaming.

I want Tony to my friend, then we can have lunch together and sit on the bus together.

Such innocence and beauty, did all that come from me? I would hold her up and kiss her on the cheek and ask her what would happen if it worked out between Tony and her then I would have no one, but my angel was smart, words could not confuse her and neither could emotions, she would snap…

You have mom already daddy.

Yeah, I had everything alright, the most beautiful woman in the world and a little angel with eyes beaming brighter than the stars. This was my life. This was the reason I got up in each morning to make my honest living and make sure that my daughter had everything she needed, that she had her storybooks, her toys, and cartoons but most of all, she had her diaries because I knew I was training a natural born writer, a poet, and novelist who would have my name as her name. That would fill me with bliss, I had done something good to this world, and I had given it a petal, more beautiful than the sun that would shine on many lives. She was my petal and my life.

The phone rings, it is the president and my thoughts shift back to the execution room. Two guards, a masked man and a priest. Why does he have to mask his face, taking life is supposed to give him strength like God or something. The guard gets off the phone and no mercy was coming from the president. The president wants me dead, out of this world where I would not hurt anybody else. He had a country to run and I was the tree standing in his way so let the tree be cut down with no mercy and get it over with.

No need to waste my last final thoughts on these idiots, I want to remember my Daisy, how she dressed, how she smelt how she had her mother’s lips. I want to hear her last words before she was mercilessly sprayed with bullets from a machine gun as she did her yoga on the balcony and her mother standing beside her recording with her phone. I want to remember her blood as I held her lifeless body on my arms as she took her last breath. I want to see her mom fall down like a tree as the bullets made holes on every part of our house. I want to remember the shattering glass all over and the deafening blasts from the gun, how I wished they would stop and how I wished I was just dreaming. I want these to be my last thoughts.

The priest moves closer and begins his sacred rituals praying to his gods that my soul is pardoned by the heavenly jury because the earth one just wanted my head on a spike.

I begin watching my life chronicles flash before my eyes piece after piece. I see the emptiness and destitution that came when I butchered the politician who ordered the hit on my family, his eyes as he begged and begged for mercy for his life, his confession as he admitted having paid gunmen to scare people away from a piece of land he desired so much, the excuse he made about it, that he had told them not to kill anybody. It did not matter, I slit his throat with a kitchen knife and everybody he knew, twenty-seven men in total to pay for the blood of my Daisy and her mother and after it was done I felt the desolation creep into my bones and cloud my eyes like a lethal mist.

And now here I was, a priest praying the gods for my forgiveness, God would not listen, he would not care if I the pope prayed for my soul, and my sins outweighed the sins of hell. Daddy was too tired, daddy just wanted to see her Daisy one more time, feel her tiny breath over his beard one more time, just a single time, to see my baby, my girl, my little writer.

‘A disaster on humankind’, that was the name the people at the press had given me and I could hear the chants over and over as people waited for a new world, a better one without me. I did not feel anger or guilt, I stopped feeling when I saw my daughter’s eyes fade into eternal darkness and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt nothing as her mother’s blood created and artificial dam on the balcony floor and turn everything red across its path.

Sssss ttttt uuuu vvvv wwww xxxx yyyy zzzz.

I was a disaster that had only one mission – vengeance. The executioner could turn on the chair now, my enemies lie on the ground and my daughter and her mom lie in paradise. I was done.

The seat goes on, and I feel it once again, guilt, pain, mercy and love. Maybe the only thing I needed was electricity but too late, a new world was born, the disaster on humankind lies deep in the seven hells.

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

 

InstagramCapture_51ae2f42-6453-4b96-839b-5e65680bd0c1

Dennis Peters

 

The Verdict

 

The women of all Kamuyu had heard it now. No one would lend that Wambui wa Njoroge any money whatsoever. They were tired of that begging piece of a woman with no respect for personal dignity or other women husbands. Wauru repeated her speech now clearly and with a lot of words her voice shaking with bare agitation as her eyes grew redder by the minute. It was time for her, time to put Wambui wa Njoroge down where she belonged with the termites and pieces of shit. The women of Kamuyu had to know what kind of woman Wambui wa Njoroge was. Wauru made a pregnant pause as she let her insightful words sink into the skulls of Kamuyu women, it was time for a change. Women would not only have to think with their brains but the ears too, so Wauru made certain that what landed on the ears of Kamuyu women was that Wambui had to be terminated, hanged out dry and locked out with no mercy.

 

Wambui wa Njoroge stood planted on the ground, the was a light shower that was escorted by a thick mist. It was on a Sunday, a day to praise the gods, little did she know the women inside her house were busy roasting her demons like Christmas barbecue. She had called the women there because she had felt that she could obtain the help she needed.  She clung to the walls of the earth walls of her house wondering what the women of Kamuyu had asked her to walk out to discuss. She waited outside her own house patiently watching as the now heavy rain made tiny holes on the ground. Weird for the rains to come in January, thought Wambui wa Njoroge. She stared at the brown loam soil that now smelt fertility and expectant with germination. This was the same fertility she had poured all over her husband Njoroge a few months ago, wet and heavy and her eyes and heart had flooded with melancholy and precipitously today she felt that kind of grief too. The women of Kamuyu had continued to sing the hymn that hoped Njoroge’s soul was at ease and that God would preserve it in a peaceful world.

 

That had been the last sight of her Njoroge, lifeless, in a box, fertility being poured all over his lifeless body as if he would germinate later in the year with the millet and maize. With that Wambui wa Njoroge had simply fainted out of grief but mostly because with the song that those Kamuyu women sang, Wambui wa Njoroge had lost the Njoroge in her name, the Njoroge she had had since she had first shed her woman blood. Having shed blood, she had looked for someone to make love to and make her feel like a woman and that person had been Njoroge. Her parents ‘sold’ her immediately for marriage to Njoroge the moment her tummy had started showing, perhaps to protect themselves from losing respect from the community of Kamuyu for harboring a pregnant girl without a husband.

 

Since that day, Wambui became Wambui wa Njoroge. Since she first shed that woman blood Njoroge had become her life. She had held him on her breasts like a delicate egg and pledged eternal loyalty. Till death, Wambui had thought presumably rationalizing that death was busy bothering Wanjiku, Wanjiru, Wairimu, and Wangeci. That death would be so busy to turn around and see Njoroge’s family and decide to make a quick stop for dinner or a quickie.  For thirteen years she had been right, death had been busy dealing thoroughly with her parents that it barely recognized her family living happily making love, millet uji, and sorghum ugali.

 

When death had finally turned, it had come with her scornful sisters and their in-laws. Njoroge had died and his brothers had claimed all their land. Wambui and her son had been left homeless and foodless. The party had been too anxious to become a funeral. And the Njoroge, the only Njoroge Wambui had known, had been planted deep, deep down into the ground where he would not germinate. She turned her face away from the ground. The door had opened.

 

The women of Kamuyu had come to a ruling.

 

On a certain clearing in a small forest at the edge of Kamuyu, a group of five boys continued to play pebbles unperturbed by the growing rainfall. They were dirty and were it not for their sudden movements and loud exclamations, you would confuse them for the very dirt they played their pebbles on. One was Ngori. Ngori was thirteen years old, younger than the rest four but the loudest. He was winning this pebble game making this game his fifth win out of the sixteen games they had played. He hoped that his counterparts would not suggest one more game after this was done in order to see if the winning tally would change like they had done in the last six games. These ones never accepted defeat. Well, the tally did not change after that game or the next after that Ngori was winning and stayed that way. His counterparts were growing livid by the second.

 

Most irritated of all of them was Maodo, Wauru’s first born son and the pride of the community, particularly Wauru. Wauru was the community and the community was Wauru. The community’s will curved to her desires through her coquettish smothering and other times vehement ideologies. Maodo had become her mother in traits and to her mother, he was her life since her husband, the man that used to be her life, found the bottle and the two married and made a till death pact  to fuck around until one of them spent the night in the gutter. Often, it was Wauru’s husband that slept in the gutter, not his drink. His drink always found a safe spot, comfy and warm, in his gut.

 

Maodo could not understand why a small boy like Ngori could beat him in a game of pebbles. Half intentional, half a co-ordinated response – borrowed from her mother, he declared aloud to Ngori.

 

At least am not stupid like your mother or dead like your father.

 

These words slung into Ngori like a Samurai Japanese sword. For a moment, he could not breathe or feel his arms or legs. He was used to hearing all sorts of insults about his family but never did it hurt him like it did then. His jubilation moment died quicker than a burnt-out candle. He immediately shoved Maodo to the ground and to his surprise he fell down. Fights amongst boys were common and the worst that could happen was a broken arm or foot or a permanent scar. This time, however, Ngori was tired, tired of the sneering village, tired of death, tired of spending sleepless nights hungry because his uncles took away all they had, tired of school and exhausted from being tired. He felt the world owed him and he had to claim his deserved share. He did not think again, things happened first, he jumped on top of Maodo like a charging bull in a bull fight. He grabbed a stone next to Maudo and placed it on Maodo’s head with all his might. First slowly then first, the blood jumped from Maodo’s skull and the boys all knew things had just taken a nasty turn.

 

Meanwhile Wauru read out the charges against Wambui wa Njoroge calmly but sternly giving her space to respond but not explain.

 

You took money from this chama and have never given it back, niguo kana tiguo? And the response – Niguo!

 

You took my husband from god knows where and took him to your house to do god knows what the whole night like a prostitute, true or not true? And the response – True!

 

The medicine people could not identify what killed your husband. Only witchcraft cannot be deciphered by medicine people, true or not true?

 

And that was when Wambui wa Njoroge had realized that this congregation was not gathered to help her chase out her misery but take her to Lucifer himself in the darkest parts of hell. Her face darkened but more, her soul became darker than hell’s soot. She did not even bother answering the questions anymore. Why tell these wise women of Kamuyu that he had found Wauru’s husband lying on the gutter hungry as fuck and decided to offer him some food? Why explain to these people that her husband has obtained a type of new disease which was incurable and that she too was beginning to experience that disease that left one skinny, with yellow hair and barely able to hold their bowels. A disease from Satan that did not have a cure and humiliated his husband until he was begging for death. How would she explain all of that when any cent she had, she was using to pay  these new drugs the doctors had suggested she start using that would prolong the time she had left to live so that she could leave when her son was able to fend for himself.

 

She would not bother with all these pieces of information that Kamuyu women had decided to ignore when she had asked them for a loan. She would not. She swore to herself. She would find a way to sustain herself and her son. They would be fine.

 

The women asked Wambui wa Njoroge to step outside again. This time, she was in tears as she walked out, she thought about chasing them away, every single one of them out of her house but halted herself, she was a calm one. She pulled herself together and walked out to where she had stood earlier bubbling with utter anticipation thinking that the women had turned out in numbers to lend a helping hand to one of their own. Those bastards!

 

It was not long a commotion grew from the outside and Wauru got this impulsive feeling that everything was not okay. She paused on addressing the women and they walk out quickly to see what was happening. On reaching outside, Wambui wa Njoroge and her son, Ngori, stood by a lifeless body lying on the ground. Ngori’s shirt was drenched in blood from carrying his pebble mate from the fields to home. What Wauru saw, made her drop to her knees as she tried screaming but nothing came out. The women glared at the Njoroges  as if they could read the murder story written on their faces. Nobody moved, nobody dared, nobody could. The rain stopped, the wind took over and the mist thickened. The air was fresh and clean smelling of the fertility that lay beneath and blood, red as crimson. It was silent, too silent.

 

 

The women of Kamuyu lead by Wauru finally had a verdict for Wambui wa Njoroge and her son.

 

Feature Image: Mukiri Gitiri

 

 

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Dennis Peters

 

 

 

Find Your Love

 

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Find Your Love

 

 

It is just another valentines just like the last three. Her scent in the room has faded to imagination. Her T-shirts and pants lost the scent too, wearing out due to the changing fortunes of time. I still sniff her garment more often than not then put it back and make a silent prayer that the scent remains. What has been scaring me recently is that her scent has started disappearing even my memory. That scares me out of my own black skin. Her scent is the only personalised possession I still value and once that is gone I have nothing. I hold her T-shirt and squeeze it hard with my fingers until her scent comes back to my nostrils. The scent is no longer really in the T-shirt but in my mind. It just cannot disappear, I will not let it.

 

Valentines used to be no different from the rest of the things we used to do daily. We felt that if we overexpressed our feelings on that day then we would be no different from the rest of the world trying hard to prove how much they knew love. How much they could curve love like those loose rubber and mould it into whatever they wished. How they could tell the world how much love they were in as if they could measure it using a thermometer. We laughed at those people. Most of them were out friends so we only did it in private. She always laughed harder, which makes me wonder if she really was comfortable with that arrangement. Maybe I should have shown the world how much I knew love too, perhaps I had the ability to curve love like a loose rubber and mould it into whatever I wished, it could be, the amount of love we had could be measured using a thermometer. Now it is too late to find out, isn’t it?

 

I remember the private jokes we would share frequently and giggle like little kids especially when out friends could not understand. She loved doing that and I played along just like she carried along with a million of my comportments and reactions. She had owned me from the best sides to the worst, dirty and cursed. She wore my attributes like a good dress and showed it off so that I would not be ashamed. She was the one whose fingers the makers of life designed to fit perfectly in between mine. She was everything I could have asked for in this life and the next one. Come to think of it, if there was a parallel world, we still could have ended up together. If there was a parallel universe I would sneak in and drag her back here.

 

My imagination has been vicious recently, I have imagined all kind of ways to bring her back. I have imagined her hand on my face, I have felt her smooth lips on mine in darkness, I have seen her light skin glitter in the shadows and I have seen her expressive smile beyond the mist. At times, she tells me to cross the bridge and join her but I always wake up before I make it to the other side. She looks peaceful in my dreams, perhaps too peaceful. She was not that peaceful, she loved to ruffle everything up until you could not remember the original situation. I like her like that. I liked her when she would mess up the entire house during a weekend and not clean up until Monday. I hate the order of the house after she left. The kitchen is always sparkly clean and my clothes are always ironed. I do not like this at all. She could never put her clothes in order. There were always her clothes in my wardrobe and mine in hers. If we dressed up to go to a function, the situation that would be left behind in our closet would be a massacre. Like a grenade just exploded in the closet. That type of disorder made cleaning worthwhile.

 

I remember our arguments vividly, I talked and she would be silent. I hated talking. Especially when I talked more than she did. But she never talked when it was an argument. She would listen to me yap and yap like a frustrated puppy and after I was done I would shut up and walk away for barely ten minutes and when I came back she would make fun of how I was almost crying and we would laugh. I always came back. She always received me back, I guess that was why our arguments barely lasted fifteen minutes. I would get angry in one minute, talk for four, walk away for ten, come back and make up. She never would apologize using her mouth, her apology was rare than rain in the Sahara. She made her apology about her actions, she would do something that would register as an apology in my mind. We understood each other that much.

 

We were two totally different wild souls bonded by shackles stronger than iron. Our differences made everything we were. She looked out of me and I for her and together the world would roll on into seasons and nothing else would matter.

 

Of late I have started to wonder if there are two people out there right now who have run out of fucks to give since they met each other. I have started to hope that there is, that those two people can have what we had, that they there are two people walking home from work not because there are no cars but because they want to explore each and every possibility in life. This two people will switch phones the entire week and respond to each other’s’ messages just to see what will happen. Like they expect the network police to drop by their house and arrest then for fake identity or something. These two people are not out for the show but to live life and make a mark in each other’s’ lives.

 

It is the simple things that make life worth, not money and not your car or your house.

 

I’m old now, I have seen a lot of decades, perhaps enough decades. I have buried my most of my age-mates yet managed to stay alive and tell their stories. I have written my story too, I have to use my granddaughter to type them for me, poor girl sits here all weekend listening to my wallows. I have seen a lot and I have lived long to know about valentines and Christmas. Mostly valentines. I have learnt that true joy can always be found but the task comes with maintaining that joy.

 

Celebrate all holidays, go for swimming on Labour Day and make good food on world AIDS day. Have as many holidays as you can because you will not have that chance your entire life. Go hop in the bouncing castle with your kids. Skip job and do not even ask for permission. Life is not for those that follow the law to the letter but for those that make each moment count. Therefore, stop playing safe, the money will never be enough. Loose a race today and laugh about it tomorrow, leave your phone at home tomorrow and see what happens. I have had enough of this world and looking back at the decisions I have made, I can say with as sure as the inevitability of death that I was a happy person. Maybe I should have celebrated small achievements more. Held an open bar party when my son learnt to walk, made a toast when my website became premium (thank you to my followers). Break glass  just to feel freedom. Kissed her on the streets so that people could sneer, walked shirtless and allowed her to put on a shorter dress. Made typos in a post and ignored the grammar nazis who tried to make the whole post about the typos, but over and all aimed tooth and nail to be happy.

 

I cannot possibly tell you what to do or what not to do, after all, I am an old man with no sight who forces his granddaughters to read Jeffrey Archer’s novels to him on Sunday Afternoons. But today evening I will fall asleep and dream. She will ask me once again to join her on the other side and since I cannot even remember her scent anymore I will gladly join her. I will not come back like she never came back but listen to me, it is valentines, find your love!

 

Photo by Mukiri Gititi

 

 

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Dennis Peters

 

 

 

Just Maybe

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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

Dennis Peters

Dennis Peters