Campaign Girls

 

 

 

Elections found me working for an aspiring governor. A big man with a big smile for the crowds and deep pockets, deeper than the boreholes he dug for the locals to aid in their water problems. He knew what to say and when to say and the exact ways to mould it when saying it. And when he said it, even when it was gibberish, the red flags went up high, and the locals pledged their loyalty. He had made his fortune from his family wealth, but when he spoke about himself, which was quite often, he said of how his intellect had made him a successful business person. He gave us tales of his big cup of excellence, and like the dummies we were, we sat by his feet sipping slowly in coveted admiration.

 

The March long rains came and fell with both hands, the water gouged out deep channels and swept away twigs, leaves and the top fertile soil. With it, we marched into the rural areas and dived into the locals’ conscience and asked for their votes in the primaries. We met them tilling their gardens, feeding their babies, taking out urine drenched mattresses from last night’s atrocities by the young boys, basking, and drinking. Sometimes we met their dangerous unwelcoming dogs or abandoned houses, but we never relented. The Jacaranda beautiful purple flowers collected into small groups on the murram roads beneath the intrepid trees and with it, the beauty of Central Kenya shone like the morning star.

 

*

 

I got a job as a Data Entry Clerk for the big man’s gubernatorial campaign. I cannot correctly recall how it happened because it took place while I was under the magnificent alcoholic haze. It was in the club back in 2016; our Governor-to-be was having expensive drinks with his friends on a table close to ours. My friends and I had just completed our final examinations in campus, which was the reason we were draining red wine like we had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Our neighbours were getting louder with each bucket of ice they ordered the waiter to bring.

 

It started out as a dare. The big man thought he could make his way to Parliament and his friends sneered in disbelief. A little later, he said bluntly and insistently, ‘I will even run for governor to prove you idiots wrong.’ That is how his campaign started. He bought drinks for every lady in the club that night and when he approached our table, and we told him our reason for celebration, he instructed us to be at his house 8 am on Monday, he would be the first to hire us. Our salary would be Ksh 30,000. That is how my two friends and I got our first job, on the same day we cleared the last paper in campus.

 

His gubernatorial bid was a dare. But then, a wise man once said, it is not how a race starts, but how it ends that matters. The next day, after the hangover had subsided, I called home and broke the good news that I had completed my four years in school of nursing and at the same time got a temporary job. My parents were elated, mostly because they never had to pay my rent again.

 

We worked from his mansion. He had three, so it did not matter that he used one of the houses as the campaign headquarters. The living room was the size of a basketball court and the bathrooms the size of my apartment. The carpenters came on Monday and converted the living room into an open office, and right there we began working. I would receive massive amounts of money and distribute it to the campaign ground workers to distribute to the voters. Every voter we asked for a vote was entitled to a Ksh 200 note. Most of my days would be spent chasing Ksh 1000 loose change in 200s. In a day, around Ksh 500 000 crossed my hands.

 

My other two friends did other things in the office daily, and as usual, there can never be a group of women without gossip. It started three weeks after we started working. The big man walked in rage and flew upstairs, we all stood stunned in awe wondering what the devil had done. A little later we heard struggling and screaming from upstairs from a lady. What surprised me most is that within those three weeks, someone was living upstairs and we had never seen her. A little gossip later we learned that it was the big man’s wife. It was against the rules for the wife to leave the house. She stayed locked up as the big man made plans and money for the family. I was infuriated and just like that my admiration slowly started turning to abhorrence.

 

It was the mansion’s custom to burst open a bottle of whisky at the end of a successful week. The big man’s whisky cabinet was bigger than his bathroom which was bigger than my apartment, so I hope that can draw you a vivid picture of its size. In those parties, I discovered Hennessy, Platinum Label, and Jack Daniels. Beautiful drinks that cost more than my salary. It was in one of those parties that things started to get incredibly wrong. I was standing by the printer when the big man approached me and asked why I was working on Saturday while I should have been enjoying the river of whisky courtesy of the big man almighty. I was dumbfounded that he cared. Then it happened, he put his hand on my bum and made to grab it like I was his. Part of me was immobile, astonished with despair like those rats that lose hope in laboratory experiments and lie down in the maze to starve.

 

His wife attended that party in particular. She was the one going around serving the drinks. I was even more scared about her feelings about my ass in her husband’s hand than the actual big hand that tried again to grope my unlucky ass. I did not speak, I was frozen but moving away from him. I took a seat and waited for my shock to subside before I took my things and left the ‘office.’

 

When I left I was so sure I was never to come back again. As if the night was not yet done with me, as I waited for a matatu to take me home, which was extremely unlikely considering the neighbourhood it was, the big man’s driver pulled over and told me to get into the car, that he had been ordered to take me home. I was one part resistance, two parts grateful so I got in, and he ferried me back to my place.

 

I could not help thinking about my situation. I was certain that this would never have a chance of a good ending. I drifted back to that moment when he placed his hand on my bum and then tried to do it again. I was so sure that other people in the office had noticed. Even his wife. When I called home the following Sunday afternoon, it was to say that I would be going home. Mother picked the call and could not stop ranting about how happy she was I had not asked for rent. That I was a big girl now, taking care of my problems like a grownup. I ended the call exceedingly sure that there was no going back. I had to make a living for myself.

 

 

*

 

 

Monday morning found me debating whether it was all worth it. At 10.00 am when it was two hours past the time I was supposed to get to the office, I got a text message. It was from the big man according to Truecaller. It was short and extreme in brevity. It was like it was typed in a speedy, careless, go-to-hell sprawl, like something I would write fast before going out to the grocery market. It said, ‘report to work.’ The big man was calling; it would be rude not to answer. So at midday, I walked into the office like a loose girl doing a walk of shame on a Monday morning.

 

The primaries came, and we lost. With it, we became an independent party and even pressed harder for votes. The campaign speeches grew longer, and the Ksh 200 notes increased to Ksh 500 notes. We used land cruisers to get to places young boys had never seen automobiles. We promised electricity to people with no roofs and fertilisers to individuals with no land. We even hired bloggers, and I sent them Ksh 1027 to post nasty, made up rumours about our primary opponent. Still, after all that, the poles still said we were 2% behind.

 

It was a battle to the bone. One that had started out as a simple dare now had become a serious life or death situation. Secretly, I hoped he would not win. He was arrogant, disrespectful and beat his wife. That was enough to make sure he would never get my vote. By the time we got to the final polls on 8th August, he had already bedded my two friends and increased their salary to Ksh 40 000. All but me.

 

The final poles threw him off the gubernatorial seat by a 9000 votes’ margin. A very close shave. He had lost but had made a huge impact on the county. He did not seem bothered by the loss. In fact, even before the announcement, he had me allocate funds to a big party of all his campaign staff.

 

I decided to bring my boyfriend to the big man’s party. Partly because the big man smashed my two friends, they seemed to have grown distant, so I had no friends and also partly because I felt I needed security. At the party, the big man insisted that I was to dance with him and when my boyfriend gave me an okay look I let him take my arm to the middle of the room. It was the longest ten minutes dance I ever had. When I came back, I found my boyfriend already ordered a cab to take us back home. He was furious. These young men and their possession pride (rolls eyes).

 

 

*

 

 

A week after the election, after we had cleared out and our contract terminated, I got a call from the big man. I was curious, so after some few relaxation stunts, I answered the call casually. It turns out, they needed to keep five employees for permanent employment and I had been shortlisted, so he was calling me to let me know that I was being called in for an interview.

 

Before I could make a response, he told me to carry my documents, and he would have the driver pick me up within the hour. This smelt like a distasteful disaster but I had to keep paying my rent, so I got ready in my skirt suit, made my hair look professional and put all my documents in a folder. The driver in a Range Rover was waiting as I left my apartment.

 

I got into the car, and the car sped towards town, then past town towards God knows where. I got unsettled and asked the driver where we were headed, and he briefly announced that we would get there when we got there. Without further options, I accepted my fate and drifted back into a fretful doze.

 

The car came to a halt about 200 kilometres from my apartment. It was a colourful modern hotel. A place where green dominated and nature displayed all its beauty. I now wish I had more time to let the beauty sink in, but my legs trembled and my mouth felt dry. I felt like an anchorless red balloon was floating on my stomach. Quickly I got my phone and shared my location on WhatsApp with my boyfriend and my sister. If I died, I wanted them to know where exactly to start looking for the body.

 

I found him relaxed under a gazebo sipping some expensive German Whiskey. He was in a Bahamas coloured short and a baggy checked shirt. A nasty combination of prints but that was barely within my range of fucks to give. He smiled and stood up to make a handshake with me. I was determined to make this an official interview, so before he even ordered me a bottle of 1800 Italian Wine, I handed him my CV. He pretended to read then threw it aside. In a statement that seemed too calm to be a threat, he assured me that I would get or not get the job depending on what I had to offer him.

 

There are points in life when a woman must accept that she is prey yet besides it, be determined enough to be fierce to level up the predators in the ecosystem. For certain, I knew I would never have sex with him, yet it did not matter, I was in the middle of nowhere, and the choice before me was not even a moral one, more than it was a survival one.

 

I was too engrossed in my thoughts that when he enquired whether I had a boyfriend, I just shook my head distractedly. In plain simple bare and definite words, I opened up my thoughts to him. I let him know that I would not sleep with him in any circumstance even when I needed the job this much. I looked directly at him and told him that I had a boyfriend waiting for me at home. That I love him so much to cheat on him (*rolls eyes, we had only been dating three months). I told him of the family I would want to have with him, a family of three or four kids. All girls. I told him of my accomplishments and what they meant to me. Of my rent and my parents. My fears and my aspirations.

 

I was talking consistently for more than twenty minutes that when I was done, I just stood up and made my way to leave. I did not even know a way out. I just walked. I could feel my heart pounding in my arms. I was certain that in the middle of my pressured outburst I may or may not have called the big man a sexual predator. One part fierce, two parts stupid. The elephant in the room would be how to get home.

 

 

*

 

 

As I type this story, I am home waiting for a call to know whether I aced that interview or not. Otherwise, I am just among the 40% unemployed Kenyans out here.

 

*

 

 

***Based on a true story***

 

 

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The Gatekeeper

 

 

 

They come in a little after midnight. Just about when it begins to get chilly, when the air reeks desertion, and the haze of darkness accepts its fate making the grandeur of the environment look insubstantial and unreal. They are always dropped off by taxi, each time a different taxi. They stagger past my small habitat avoiding my gaze as assiduously as if I was a forbidden fruit they had been warned about. A single look at them tells that they are well buried under the magnificent alcohol haze. They hold each other, always in couples, either trying to keep away the cold, supporting each other from the lack of balance or as a sexual foreplay ritual before the main thing.

 

 
On most days they are four of them. The two masculine figure are not residents here, who I am supposed to stop but I no longer interest myself in the dedication of arguing with drunk people. So I let them pass, I actually think they like me for that. They walk with footsteps slowed to a jarring and unmistakable cadence like zombie footsteps. Past me and into the hostel lobby and later to their rooms and minutes later after the laughing and indistinct loud statements die down, I can hear heavy breathing and low moans. Sex. I always try to create a mental picture of what goes on in that room but over and over, my imagination fails me.

 

 
The rooms are fitted and furnitured for four occupants. Their room particularly has two other roommates when they walk in. Meaning that when the pangs of love can no longer themselves, the action happens in front of two innocent roommates, probably sleeping and another couple who most likely are engaged in the same activity. Somehow, I find myself hoping in between the moans that these two couples have the decency to take upper bunks. I have no idea why that to me assumes the possibility of being more private.

 

 
On more than one instances, I find myself thinking about this situation. My interest predominantly lands on one of the four. I tend to overthink people or situations sometimes. Often I find myself unable to hold back from asking myself about the appearance of circumstances until I am in my humble bed, flipping from side to another unable to solve a conundrum in my head. I do not have much education, you see, I never had a chance for university, therefore, most of the lifestyles people I guard live, are either new to me or coveted greatly in my subconscious.

 

 
Her name is Lucia. A young brilliant tenant from one of the rooms on the ground floor. I find myself under the spell of her plain facial expression when she is sober. A masterpiece of calm, an appearance of strange and dangerous fearlessness. For the two years I have manned the gate since she moved in, nothing appeared to ruffle her or make her upset. When there was a strike in school and students threw stones all over breaking glass and burning grass, she just strolled by me like she was talking a walk in the park. She has a stillness so powerful that molecules and atoms appear to align themselves systematically when she walks into the lobby. This often makes her look more mature than she actually is, older even. However, all this disappears like the sun in winter on weekend nights when she staggers past my watch kibanda. Then, she looks susceptible, open to suggestion and unguarded.

 

 
Yesterday was on a Sunday. She had been out partying with her three other friends and came home later than usual drenched in alcohol like a headless chicken ready for plucking. Her supposed boyfriend held her right arm around himself, half of her weight well on his shoulders. They came in at around three in the morning and after a few amateur moans from room C16 on the ground floor, everything was still and the night went on as usual.

 

 
The following morning, just about when my shift was to come to an end, Lucia comes from the lobby full of grace and glamor in a stripped somehow long dress and make up that must have taken tonnes of patience. My evaluation was that she was headed to church. As she walked past me, she turned her gaze slowly towards me, smiled and waved at me. The usual calm had returned, her ebony oval face revealing a particular kind of smoothness like the bark of a guava tree. This was the first attention to me in two years.

 

 
The other opening day, her parents brought her to school, dropped her off on their usual Toyota Corolla. I have seen her get dropped by her parents each time a new semester begins. They always come in shopping bags and suitcases, walk up to room C16, help her get settled in and then make a family prayer before a series of hugs and goodbyes. That room has seen more mood and moral variations than a husband to a pregnant woman.

 

 
After the parents leave, it is usually not long before her horny boyfriend swaggers past me on the gate. I can almost see two weeks’ semester break dry spell written on his face. They meet in the lobby, hug and kiss passionately before they leave the lobby into C16. The last time he held a small bunch of red roses in his hands. For once, I gave him points for effort in my head.

 

 
Today is on a Monday, my shift begins at six in the evening. I have not been able to let Lucia out of my mind all day long. I should have been sleeping but sleep comes with difficulty these days. I lay in the wake of my distracted mind trying to bring perspective to fantasies. My room is humble, my gatekeeper salary goes to my savings because I do not plan to be one my entire life.

 

 
Financial limitations can only keep a man grounded physically but not mentally. So today, just about the time Lucia comes from town with her boyfriend, a bag of fries for supper in her hands I will do it. Something I have thought about doing for as long as I can remember being a hostel guard. I will request the boyfriend to give us a minute, walk up to her and let myself feel the scent of her presence. It will be the closest I have been to her. I believe myself to be good-looking and a good speaker, so I do not expect presentation to be a problem to me.

 

 
I let her boyfriend past the gate at weird ungodly hours, so I do not expect him to be an issue. He owes me that much. I will let her pretty face reflect all my insecurities and reveal a shine of hope, brighter than the sun in summer. I will have to be quick not to draw a lot of attention from other students passing through. I will be in the best of dressing and smoothness of tongue. It won’t matter how many times I have heard her sexual moans in room C16, or that her parents look as protective as a lioness to her cubs. The only variables will be me, a gatekeeper, and her, a taken a girlfriend standing in the doorway to the hostel.

 

 
This evening will be the day I ask her to be my girlfriend and we will all be here when I narrate to you how it goes tomorrow.

 

 

 

Feature Image of Mukiri Gitiri Captured by Gathige.

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

Moments 2016

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A girl completes a KCPE exam, gets a good grade and proceeds to High School, secures a good college through a decent score. She finds herself on the front bench of a lecture in School of Business, Jomo Kenyatta University. She completes her course successfully.

 

She leaves school, ready for the world full of unemployment, cold-hearted bosses and a paycheck consisting of a figure barely able to pay for decent housing. She moves from Juja to Nairobi, ready to advance her business career by any means possible.

 

The first job is late and disappointing, always is. She works as a secretary for a law firm in the city. The pay hardly holds her life together as it is and after six months, she quits. Her salary had remained fairly constant despite the promise of a gradual pay rise after the third month. Mostly, though, she quits because of the persistent sexual advances of the boss.

 

Again she deeps her feet into the large pool of unemployment, this time with six months’ experience. By the grace of a distant uncle, the girl manages to lie the corporate world and land a position as an assistant manager in a government office. The pay surprisingly rises to triple the number of times at the previous law firm.

 

Now she can afford good make-up, holidays in coast and almost expensive dresses. Her social media profile represents success at a young age to the very detail. The expensive coffee brunch at Java and apartments in Karen can hardly be referred to as anything else but glory.

 

She now has time for boys. She engages in half-baked relationships with a few young men which are often a disaster. Men, like it has been said more than a hundred times, are dogs. She tries a few women too, which also fails terribly, as if to say, women too are bitches.

 

She gives up on her social life and focuses her energy on her career. It takes a short time for her to be promoted to department manager of the same firm. She barely talks about it but her new four wheel drive CRV openly tells the tale to anyone who is interested enough to listen. She buys a piece of land just about the same time that the thirties catch up with her.

 

The thirties are barely any better, pressure from the family begins to amount on her social life. They notice the expensive gifts during Christmas and the new cars but what they want is a man. A man to procreate, and fulfill God’s commands accordingly.

 

He is late. He shows up at Moca Loca Cafe in Nakuru as she is having brunch coffee with her friends after consuming litres upon liters of Italian Wine at Club 64 the previous night. She barely notices him from her mild headache and dehydration but he notices her. He is a fairly handsome tall, dark and handsome guy, with a good car, big soft hands, and a good haircut. The only problem is that he has sunglasses inside a cafe, but since she has been waiting for 35 years, that she can fix. His name is Peters Denis. Denis with single ‘N’ and a Peters that comes before a Dennis.

 

She grows to adore him and rely on him. Nobody even notices the fact her salary is double his when she is promoted to County Business Manager. She however fails terribly trying to make him stop his sunglasses behaviour and in despair, she concludes her attempts. Suddenly, the holidays have more bliss and the house is a bit warmer.

 

Her Denis is more in love with his books and his writing but it never bothers her. She actually joins him in reading his 2016 African favorites like BlackAss by Igoni Barret and Born a Crime, stories from a South African childhood, by Trevor Noah.

 

Eventually, the gods smile upon their union and hand them twins, two beautiful girls. Lee and Dee.

 

A girl is no longer a girl but a mother and a wife. Problems start immediately after this realization dawns on her.

 

It starts with the simple mandatory question of who should quit their job to take care of the kids. Arguments spring up like an active volcano and it is suddenly not a home but a house of politicians where everyone is out for blood. Holidays are no longer done by the family but in secret with secret young male and female illicit companions.

 

Divorce comes around the time the girls turn seven. Our girl suffers and so does his Denis, but mostly the twins suffer the anguish of separation.

 

This was not a happy story, by the way, my 2016 was shit, I don’t get why I should make yours any better. Happy 2017 though, Yes? We’re still friends, No?

 

Happy 2017 people. Dennis Peters over and out.

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

 

 

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Dennis Peters

 

A Letter to a Sister

 

Your Whats App profile says last seen was 3rd September, 2015. Our last conversation you saw me put a selfie of my girlfriend and I and you thought your admired it. I admire your profile picture you said, you two look good. I think your wedding will be before your graduation.  And I said hehehe wachana na mimi and stop stalking. You never stopped, I know you were always in the shadows viewing and downloading my profile pictures and to say the least, those profile pictures were good, some of the good parts that come when dating a professional photographer. This complement was far-fetched though because I knew you, perhaps too well. Initially you had a problem with the fact the my girlfriend was not Kikuyu, you said it out and loud and I hauled all kinds stones at you calling you tribal and you took a chill pill and explained that you just thought couples of very different origins have a lot of problems because of the differences. You were trying to protect me, always have, because we practically grew together, perhaps a little jealous too. Well, sis, you were wrong on that one. It is almost two years now and I am not looking for any new girlfriend any time soon or ever again. In your face!

 

 

Kate is sullen these days. I know what you would say. Something like –But she is always sullen. That would be true, Kate is one of those 90s kids that just loved to cry. She is more sullen these days. She not only works during weekends these days but also adopted this new behaviour of silence for no reason. Like she does not speak at all unless it is completely necessary. It is as if she calculates her words in the morning and signs a contract that the entire day she swears to speak only 10000 words and not any more. I tried to tell her to start playing golf because it cheers people up but these days nobody listens to me because I gave up my working out routine. I will say something I think she should do and she will reply with something nasty about the kilos I have been gaining the past few months. Viona, our smallest sister is worse. This one has no chills. She will say that my stomach is growing big and not even flinch about my feelings. But my stomach is not growing big, I swear. I will go back to my working out routine – I promise. Or not. You left us what do you care anyway?

 

 

But I watched Kate breakdown by your graveside the other day and there was nothing I could do about it. You left her and she looked up to you as did we. So I did what any smart man would do, I put on my dark shades to hide my falling tears and walked away. This one I did not know how to solve. I walked away from home, from things we once shared because the memories weighed on me like the sins of hell. These days I have a new home. I rarely visit our old one because the gaps that you once obstructed glare at me like the sun on January. Mom complains a lot about moving out completely but only I know the demons am tackling. Therefore if you ever decided to stop by in your other life you will not find me in Nakuru anymore. Look for me in Nyeri, I would give the street and the address but dead people do not make house calls, do they?

 

 

Our brother, David is strong. Perhaps too strong. He is a man of God and to him God has a purpose for everything that happens. He lost both you his blood sister and his friend your husband two weeks later. Sometimes I wonder how he still manages us to crack us up in laughter but he has only one word – God. My relationship and church has not changed since you left however, it is simple actually – we do not step into each other’s lives. Church to me represents deceitful hope and invalid promises so I make my own promises and keep them. I find hope in the people I trust and love and live by that. I do not ask no one I cannot see for anything unless it’s a phone call to dad when the pressures of the month have made my rent late and I need money from him.

 

 

Speaking of dad, he needs a new car. Your husband used to have the best car for him always but now I know dad is wondering where exactly cars are bought because you people did it for him each time. The car he has now has hit walls countless times courtesy of people like Kate learning to drive and thinking driving is like Need for Speed. Smh! I adore your relationship though, it must have been love that sent your husband to the grave two weeks after you. He simply could not see a world without you in it. Love to die for. He just forgot to leave daddy a new car before he left.

 

 

But people who just decide to leave should just say their farewells in advance. That is actually my problem, we are talking one moment and we are not the next because you are no more. That’s just rude. It is like a breakup with an abusive cheating husband. Hurts like a bitch. I know you would have loved to personally tell us you were leaving if you could. Knowing you, you would probably have called a party, make a goat or two to lose their heads and amid supper just lay it plain and bare that you were done with this timeline of existence and you were moving on to the next. We would be shocked and sad but we would have time to prepare. Probably prep my heart that loves you dearly by coating it with iron or something hard such that it would not shatter into a thousand pieces when you breathed your last.

 

 

I muse in fantasies sometimes, I see you making Christmas trees for people in your next life like you used to do for us. Last Christmas we had no Christmas tree, Christmas was just fucked up and if it were not for the limiting factors like parental figures I would have preferred to spend it somewhere seated by a table in a noiseless club taking shots of a lethal liquor, something well above 40% and smooth with nothing to chase it because life does not chase its cruelty when it does a number on you, does it?

 

 

I am alright though, as you can see. Still failing in my computer science classes because of changing preferences. But I will be graduating soon and put the damn degree in the lowest part of my book drawers and move on to write stories about people because people are interesting unlike computers. People have these aspects of hope, defiance, love, beauty, ambition, cruelty and life that just needs to be explored. I will join you sooner or later, hopefully later because I have these books I feel I have to get written before my timed demise. Mine I will say my goodbyes and leave an entire bunch of kids and grandkids to be engineers, business people and artists. I am not scared of the unknown because what lies ahead is as simple as mom’s Mpesa pin. It is a simple decision of choice. People have control of their destinies they themselves unless they begin waiting to be surprised and when the worst comes crumbling all around our existence, we put on dark shades shed tears and pick ourselves up.
 

 

I am not going to delete our last conversation chat on what’s app because these bits keep you alive to bring sanity to my mind moments like these.

 

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