Mukiri’s Birthday

 

 

“It is going to be a good holiday”, she points out as she walks into the balcony from the living room.

 

 

 

I turn towards her momentarily before I gaze back to the wilderness, thoughtfully, looking at everything and nothing at the same time. She is in flowery short pretty skater sun dress. Her hair is brown on the edges, it has always been brown like the colour of her skin since I knew her. It would be difficult to see her in my head with black hair, weird even. She is bare feet. She will not be having that dress on for too long, I think privately to myself, not because of me and my sexual advances but because of the heavy clouds gathering above the roof. She will have to put on something warmer. I start to say something about this but then I stop and just let out a heavy loud exhale.

 

 

 

It’s a wooden cabin magically placed in the middle of the Aberdare forest. It was my choice for this unplanned holiday which she heavily objected with a beach idea before she gave in. I won a choice for a holiday destination, it was a slippery slope. Therefore, I carefully choose to avoid suggesting what she should wear too.  A man can only win so much. Instead, I say more slowly that I am not even sure she hears…

 

 

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Little Bird

Tell her I am a mummy, living in the depths of my desolate tomb, numb from love, astounded by beauty and terrified by darkness and emptiness. Tell her that her eyes are my conviction, her smile is my bondage and her words are music from a harp, playing smoothly close but beyond reach. Let her know that my heart niggles, my mind flops and my life is a dry pond that once had cool water running deep.

 

 

Give her my letters when you see her, take out your smart phone and record the giggles she makes as she reads. Let her read out the poems I have written for her, line by line absorbing the weight of words and the emotions of the context. If words like annihilate and stimuli confuse her in pronunciation, do not help her through, stay put as she struggles to get the right pronunciation, do not laugh, she hates that and her wrath is legendary among her tribe.

 

 

Give her my love, vast as the Ocean, wide as the Nile, long as Mugabe’s presidential term and soft as wool from sheep. Write it, draw it, paint it, sing it or narrate it, make sure you mold it just right, neither adding out or leaving behind any emotion.

 

 

Let the hundreds of miles standing between us not baffle her. Remind her that the Red Sea once stood between the Israelites and Canaan yet they still got to the Promised Land. And when she bends down in prayer, eavesdrop on her conversation with God, let me know whatever she needs and I will deliver it to her door like Jumia Shopping Mall.

 

 

Remind her of the fights we had, then maybe she will obtain a perspective about this love. Like superheroes create super villains, like the beauty of Helen, led a thousand ship to the beach of Troy, like good inspires evil and like politicians mobilize riots, death and poverty of their own countrymen so do these nasty gruesome fights propel our love.

 

 

Draw her tears when she lies on her bed in the evening after a day’s work when she gets lonely, feeling the desire for something she once had. Make sure the pencil shading does not misrepresent the tight hug she gives her teddy bear while she naps, against her bosom. Leave the room when she awakes in the morning and realizes that Teddy has no broad chest, Teddy has no deep breaths and Teddy never hugs her back like his life depends on hers. At this point, her sadness outweighs the sins of hell and the glory of heaven. Run, run while you still can.

 

 

And when she is bored, amuse her with your audience as she narrates her ordeals. She loves her stories and her stories are often to the very detail. Listen! Please make sure you do. Do not be like me, I failed to listen, I gazed at my laptop while she spoke, I walked out on her as she spoke, now I only have a distant memory of her tales. Her childhood tales in the sloppy hills of Eastern Kenya, her responsibilities in primary schools, her struggles in high school and her wildness in university.

 

 

At this point, she will inquire about me. Keep the details frail and dreary. Lie that I am doing fine, tell her twenty-two is just a few days away and it never looked so good. That I am focused, objective and got my shit in order. Girls love men like that. Tell her that, because I hope to be that soon although it is very difficult to see the stars when my eyes are always cloudy. Still, her memories are embedded in my brain like shrapnel. Love music makes me flinch like it is tinged with bitterness and regret that stings my wounds like juice from a lemon.

 

 

Then walk away, bid you goodbyes and cross the Red Sea back to me, little bird. Bring me everything you got on her. Display it before my eyes that I might see and feel love boiling in my veins and my heart throbbing with ineffable anticipation. You will not have brought her back to me but a piece will have to do just fine, at least for now.

 

Feature Photo: Joe Kimani.

 

 

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Dennis Peters

 

Survival by Esther Wanene

Sometimes you take a long morning jog, longer than the arm of the law, to clear your head, but then you meet a boy called Kaniaru who has been in the streets for three nights since his mother woke up and just left. Vanished into thin air like our tax money.  Kaniaru asks you if you have seen his mother, in long blue dress and a PCEA women council head band and it crushes your heart like soft toffee. You end up terminating your morning jog with a heart heavier than the sins of hell.

Other times you buy a shoe, a classy Kardashian heel that you have been salivating over since forever and you put it on two days, now it has a sagging ass like a sinking ferry in your closet. You will never put it on ever again. Sometimes, you think to yourself that you have been eating shitty food for a week, so tonight you decide to go natural, boil some Nduma, make some Ethiopian brown rice and add a good old avocado. You put the Nduma to cook and because they take time you place your head on the couch. These are the times you fall asleep like a baby and you wake up to a smoking house and brown Ndumas like Satan roasting our politicians in eternal fire. These days you sleep hungry.

At times, you get into a relationship with a tall dark and handsome young man, who charming prince in the streets and a mind stopper in the sheets, then at the culmination of the relationship it is you seated on the same couch, with eyes, red as crimson sobbing of a love that happened but left too much a scar than you would like to speak of. 

Sometimes, most times, all times, shit does not work out. Ladies, Gentlemen, Esther Wanene.

 

Survival

He was nothing like the rest

There was a mystery about him that I longed to unravel

A man who’s face was stone

But deep down a fragile heart surrounded by walls he had chosen to build up.

He loved me, no, not with his heart but with an iron fist.

My masochist self would always want to run, but not leave.

The frustration, the fights…our polluted love seemed to oddly satisfy me

Maybe I stayed because I couldn’t entertain the thought of being alone.

He was a hurricane made of form and habit,

a narcissistic demon in whom I searched for the angel within until the last minute.

I proved my love for him time and time again while

He just stood there claiming love, offering nothing more than his clouded mind, a pocket full of lies and a heart unable to receive love.

I tried to breakdown the walls he built up, but he continued building them up.

With all my effort I seemed to have been feeding his ego day in day out

because he spent his days “reflecting” between a pair of thirsty thighs and claiming to be the ruler of the vaginal kingdoms of many

I stood in the sidewalks carrying all the hurt praying that he’d prove love, profess his fucking adoration.

My heart grew callous from all the maltreatment and months after my departure,

I lay on my bed tonight surrounded by a whirlwind of peace,

as I realize I didn’t need him to survive after all.

© Esther Wanene

Feature photo by Mukiri Gitiri

Victory for the timid.

Gentle silences
Like a snowfall
Soft, hushed
Soothing as a whisper
Of summer wind
Quite as the passage of stars.

Pretty punches
On my chest
Noises I do not fathom
Unaccustomed sounds
Sounds of adoration

Exotic look
Dazzling beauty
Seditious
And movement
Hips leak of sensuous promise
The smile
Oh, the innocuous smile

Red roses
Pink hoodies
Soft music
My attraction to you
Uncontrollable arousals
Blue skies
Christmas mornings

Thrilling dreams
I do not want to wake up
In sleep
I own you
I buy you chocolates
You share my bed
You say
Things I like
But I’m just asleep

Perhaps
At dawn
My guts grow
And like heavy clouds
Drop in the big Q
An arrow on the spot
A bull by its horns
A mountain’s peak

Or maybe
It’s just February
I need to hold on
Until it passes
Goes to bother someone else
Then
Resume life
Unperturbed
Ego still in place
A won battle
Victory for the timid

Then
Silence.

Meet the writer:

Dennis Peters

Dennis Peters

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