Writer’s Last Log

 

 

Today is on a Monday, a busy day for people with dreams to chase and money to make. To me, it is just a usual day, not different to a Thursday or a Saturday. It has been the same for close to three years now and as we slowly draw closer to the end of the year, I find myself in a period of self-reflection and evaluation of choices I have made so far. Outside, young women and men the same age as me rush up and down to find their calling. Young men and women who will once be referred to as fathers and mothers by future generations. I have found myself constantly inspired by their energy and ravenous hope for the future. Despite the prevailing economic and social difficulties I have tried to remain optimistic and objective. It is hard not to in the face of such beauty of life. I have constantly reminded myself the needless purpose of self-pity and sadness and the magnificence that could be born from chaos and destruction.

 

 

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Fatherhood

 

My mother once threw a shoe at my face. It was a nice sneaker, she had bought it for me as a birthday present from town together with the cake, but when she got home, I was nowhere to be found. My friend had invited me to an adventure to the forest, so without the permission of the house help, I disappeared not to be found for the entire Sunday. That day when I came home with a dry skin and filthy clothes from swimming in the river, I saw the freak on my mother’s face, and I could have almost sworn she had been worried sick to the level of tears. She could not even speak to me, she just gave me a blank worried stare and there the shoe came flying to my face. The house help took me to the shower before she threw the other shoe or the cake. The memory I hold on to from that day was her the expression on her face, scared and resigned.

 

 

 

I have a son now. He is seven years old. It is just him and me now; his mother left when he was five. She said something about feeling unfulfilled in her life. That motherhood was not going to be her eternal task. She wanted to travel, discover and build her career.  Before she left, she took a piece of my sanity away by dragging me through court hearings with regards to the custody of my son. She said she wanted to keep him and that he would be better with her because I was always working and the judge agreed.

 

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Rape

 

 

I am sure you have previously heard stories from grown-up women like me speaking about rape. Mostly we lie. Make it sound like we fell on our backs and our knees trembled in fear the second it happened. Nobody ever speaks about the fight we put up before these marauders let themselves unceremoniously into our thighs. Truth is I remember being scared stiff barely able to hear my voice above the sound of my heartbeat. Mostly I remember the aftermath of the whole unpleasant ordeal, my heart contracting with indefinable fear, and I lay there motionless, looking at everything but nothing. I remember hiding in my bed with my head deep under the sheets, and it was then that I heard her speak in an interview on the television. That voice, assertive and sure taking my fear, unit at a time and turning it into a fighting spirit. She was a rape victim and had survived the worst. She was a prominent American figure, and she spoke so fiercely, and for the first time, I shed tears, not in weakness or in memory of his spiteful breath panting on and on at the nape of my neck. They were tears of jubilation, tears of conviction that made the memories fade, tears of strength. I now knew that I did not have to hide, I now knew that a rape victim could speak out and have people listen to her.

 

 
While it is said that a beautiful day begins in the morning, I can recollect that regrettable fateful day starting like any other day. It was graduation, and with our smiles, the class of 2015 tagged along with their gladness with feelings of accomplishment and raw expectations. The joy of a graceful end to four tiresome years. The Vice-Chancellor declared us graduates at the graduation square, and we threw our hats in the air ready to be productive citizens of the nation. To cement the memory of this day, I took all kinds of photos with family and fellow graduates before we excused ourselves for a final class BBQ party in the evening.

 

 

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Hidden Thoughts

 

 

She pants a step ahead. You follow closely behind as a dog does to a master. Her pace is slow, too slow and you secretly hope she was faster. You cannot outdo her speed for two reasons; one, you do not want to be an overly competitive moron and two, you like how her ass bubbles up and down before you as she jogs. She is exhausted. She signals you for a break, and you oblige. She places her palms heavily on her knees and breathes fast and heavily. You are scared she could pass out. You stop a distance away from her and observes her with eyes full of pity, like a sympathiser in a slaughterhouse. Unsaid, you quietly envy her determination.

 

 

Running three kilometres has never been a problem to you but today is her first day. She is not accustomed to such kind of resilience. You want to be helpful; you do not want to look like a self-gratified arrogant buffoon. You do not want to be the guy who sneers at her effort. You ask her to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. She squints at you from the corner of her eyes as if what you are saying is Calculus. Regardless, you persist, breathe in using your nose and then breathe out using your mouth. Nice and easy. The look she gives you makes you sure that that gibberish is not going to cut it.

 

 

You let go, give her a couple of minutes to make her breathing comfortable. When she finally let’s go off her knees and lifts her eyes to yours, you can tell she is ready to keep going. You ask whether she is okay and she ignores you and makes to start running again. She prefers not to speak when she is running, maybe, it is scientific as one of the way to conserve energy during a morning jog.

 

 

That last look she gave you before she started running settles a little longer in your mind. It is as if she is angry and the jog is some punching bag for the angry emotions. For a moment you think it is a look you have never seen, not once, in the last three years, you have dated her. Strange. What could it be? Is it something you said, something you did not do, something you did? That last one shreds your serenity like an electric guillotine. It is always about something you did.

 

 

Unknown, you start replaying your activities the past few days in your head vividly. It has been a while since you brought her flowers, red roses. She loves those. You make a mental note to correct that as soon as you can. There is no record of foul play in your head the last six or seven days, so you move on to the past two weeks. Still, nothing. You give up. Truth be told you do not, you just get distracted again by her bubbly ass. You reach and smack it playfully, but she does not even turn to look at you. You are disappointed.

 

 

You put your mind back to the jog. You like the vapour your breath causes to the air in front of you in the early morning breeze. You try to make some fun shapes with it like an expert smoker. She glances at you a little and then back to her front path. You can almost swear she gave a little fuck about what you are doing. One small little fuck.

 

 

Just past the river when you are about to make a turn to start the uphill track, is when you first see him. He is cold, he has been crying, and you can tell he looks very unsettled. He is a small boy. Barely eight years old. You turn to the lady who by now has also already discovered the boy. She slowly comes to a halt very close to the boy. She loves kids. She could leave you to play ball with the neighbours’ kids. And from the window, you can hear them chatting and counting goals like they are age mates. Kids dig her. Kids do not dig you.

 

 

This one time, you had an argument, and she stormed out of the house, and went outside for ‘fresh air.’ Moments later, through the window, you could see her seated with one of the neighbour’s small kid by the stairs as she poured her heavy heart to him. The boy was only five years old, but from the expression he had while listening to the conversation, you could tell he understood everything. To this date, whenever you meet the small boy, he tells you not to beat Esther again, or he would tell his father who is a policeman. Once or twice, you have tried to explain to the small boy that you did not actually ‘beat’ Esther, but your defence is always treated with absolute contempt. So you walk around knowing that you are a branded enemy of the neighbourhood’s five-year-olds because you ‘beat’ one of them. The other day he had a new water toy gun, and as you walked home from the grocery market, he pointed it at you with the gun and sprayed water to your face. From his look, if it were a real gun he would have shot you. You know better than to cross Esther now as she has a battalion of five-year-old guards with guns.

 

 

Today, however, is a different story altogether. She squats next to the boy by the roadside and begins an interrogation in a calm and concerned voice. The boy’s name is Kaniaru. He had been roaming the streets for the past three days. His mother woke up one day and left – no goodbyes, no nothing. She just vanished into thin air like the NYS funds. Since then, Kaniaru has been looking for his mother. He inquires on whether you have seen his mother, a woman in long blue dress and a PCEA women council headband. Of course, you have not seen his mother, but you somehow wish you had better news for him. Your heart melts down like a toffee candy in the mouth. You could swear by your good eyesight there are tears in Esther’s eyes.

 

 

In situations like these, she always comes up with a plan. She asks Kaniaru whether he has other relatives and he says he has a grandmother in Murang’a. From Nyeri to Murang’a is a comfortable one hundred kilometres. She turns to you, and a single look confirms her decisiveness. You have to get him to his grandmother. She says, and you agree. You both terminate your morning jog with hearts heavier than the sins of hell.

 

 

Esther and Kaniaru walk a little ahead, and they go on chatting about where he studied. The subjects he loved and all that. They become fast friends, and before you can say Usain Bolt, you become a third wheel. She brings him to the house and tells him to take a shower as she excavates for clothes that could fit him. All this time you make pancakes. That is all you can do; she has the rest figured out. She makes calls, to the police, to the chief (you never even knew you had a chief). At last, she tells you that the both of you have to get Kaniaru to his grandmother personally. You do not agree with this because you had other fun plans for a Sunday but you do not want to be the Satan in this whole situation.

 

 

Kaniaru eats breakfast like it is the first meal he has had in days and both of you watch him. None of you touches the pancakes. You just sip coffee a little and off you leave the house to Murang’a. None of you has been to Murang’a, but Kaniaru says he can remember the way to his grandmother’s home. The matatu ride to Murang’a is a silent one. Kaniaru places his head on her lap, and she puts her head on your shoulder, and they are both fast asleep. You stay wide awake thinking about the activities in the past few hours.

 

 

There are moments that your problems must cease to matter and put other people ahead of your needs because that will not only be a kind action but evidence that humanity has not lost all its goodness. You become an advocate for the 7.5 billion people on this planet.

 

 

Two hours later find the three of you in a small dusty Probox headed to Kandara town in Murang’a, then Kigumo village where Kaniaru’s grandmother lives. His memory turns out to be a perfect compass, and you find the grandmother just as she is about to leave for church. She is overjoyed. She tells you that Kaniaru’s mother has a mental problem and she has been praying God to have her grandson back. She welcomes you and spits on her chest severally, a custom of blessings among the Agikuyu. She gives you tales and tells you that she had to go to church and thank God for bringing her grandson to him.

 

 

All this time, you try to explain to Esther what is happening. She is Meru. She only knows greetings in Kikuyu. After tea, Kaniaru and grandmother are headed to church and you are headed back to town. It is late afternoon when you get to town, and you dive into Unity Café for lunch.  Mukimo and fry meat makes the long journey ahead manageable.

 

 

Again, you travel in silence. An uncomfortable silence. You can tell that there is a lot in her mind. You can never dig for information from her. The only way this works is to make her comfortable to want to open up to you. Do you want to lie on my shoulder? You ask, extremely determined to lift off the weight of her troubled thoughts. She does not respond she just places her head on your shoulder, and you consequently place your head over her hair. No one sleeps, you just cuddle like that in silence occasionally adjusting your position to get more comfortable. The scent of her shampoo fills your nostrils, and you fall a little deeper in love with her.

 

 

Eventually, you get back home. She stops momentarily for a small chat with her kid friends by the stairs and then joins you as you get the door. She walks in, and you follow closely. She loves to kick off all her clothes away after a long day, but she does not even remove her shoes this time. You walk to the bedroom throw away your trousers and shirt such that you are only in your vest and boxers. You let the cold house air of to bring back sanity to your mind. After a while, you decide to join her in the living room.

 

 

The moment you walk in, she just races into the kitchen and disappears behind the kitchen door. You do not understand what is happening. All over sudden, she breaks down unexpectedly as you try to convince her to open the kitchen door for you so that you can speak. She sobs uncontrollably, and you approach the situation like an alien lab dissection. You had felt this was coming all along. You had only hoped it did not have to be this heavy.

 

 

Ultimately, she opens the door slowly and lets you in and after a long hug and hot chocolate; you are both seated on the floor of the kitchen opposite each other observing each other cautiously trying to pick cues from each other’s expression. At this point, there is not much to do, but to sit and watch her tears flow quietly from her face. She looks like she has some serious weight holding her down but to avoid saying the wrong thing; you just hold on to dear silence.

 

 

She finally opens up abruptly, like an unpredicted hail storm with a short statement, I am pregnant.

 

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri.

Beneath a Suit

 

He gets to the office a little after eleven o’clock on a usual day. Usual days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Monday and Friday are special days, do not even get me started on Saturdays and Sundays. He puts on a suit but what intrigues me is what he has beneath that suit.

First is a smell. A lethal stench that appalls anyone within a twenty feet radius. It is the whiff of fermentation, staleness, anger, hate, boredom and crises. It is the scent of something unwanted and displeasing. A repulsive scent that suggests laziness, bad relationships, failure and neglect. It is the highlight, rather, a drift of the middle age. The smell of last night’s mistakes, arguments, unfaithfulness, overspending, disorganization, chaos and wastage. It is obnoxious.

Then there is his piled up paperwork on his desk. A desk that is accustomed to underutilization. The seat behind the desk stares into space, waiting and anticipating for something that never happens. The computer placed on the desk has its network cable disconnected and the power cable switched off. It is supposed to be processing files, serving customers, fulfilling the company’s mission and vision, instead, it just sits, disconnected from the global village, alone and isolated, feeling odd amongst its peers. The support stuff often dust the desk occasionally but the paperwork is not their jurisdiction so it breaths in all kinds of brown dust.

The first thing he does in the office is to send the guard for the day’s newspaper which he sits in the office for an hour going through. He likes being up to date with current affairs, one would think it is for the noble reason of being informed but a closer look reveals that the paper gives him arguing points amongst his mates in the course of the day. They sit by the office kitchen talking about history of politics and politics of history. Discussing trends, presidents, testosterone and girls.

After lunch is usually the peak of his day. He loudly boasts of the number of beer bottles he poured down his gut during the lunch period. His workmates listen in silence, the scornful ones responding in murmured silences. Deep down they know that he needs help but all of them are either to restrained or solely apathetic. He then engages the office ladies in a heated discussion accompanied in uncanny flattery. He boasts. He loves doing that shit. He thinks of himself as a personality infused with charisma, little does he know how many enemies he creates in every gratification he declares upon himself.

By the time the office clock stops at four, it finds only an after-scent of a combination of his inexpensive deodorant, his ego and his fermented lunch snack in the office. He has managed to get an intern to do his work as well as recruit a peer for an evening politics discussion over two or three. One turns to two then to three and four. By seven o’clock, the peer workmate leaves for his family just about the same time he asks for a half-litre KC vodka to spike his beer.

Eventually, it is only him, a table full of empty bottles and a lot of stories with no one to listen. The clock hits ten and he staggers out to the streets. He heads home to a family he rarely sees or speaks to. He eyes are red as crimson, knees weak as a fig tree, stomach empty as a temple on Friday night and a gut full of toxic death. He gets home on motorbike, barely holding on to reality.

On Fridays, he leaves home directly to his favorite seat by the beer shelves. He never goes home on Friday evenings, On Saturday he comes home, hungry and moneyless reeking of whatever girl got paid to do a job that must never be spoken of in broad daylight.

On Sundays, he is nowhere to be seen while on Mondays he lies on his bed until midday nursing a three-day hangover, occasionally quarreling with his wife or his children who lost trust in him. The people that once looked up to him but now look down on him, waiting and wondering when he will choke on his drink and give them peace because they lost the patience for change. Change is a mere mirage, mainly an outcome of false hope or pretense that never lasts long. People never change. Situations change, relationships too but people hide their wickedness burying the reality behind their dark pupils, but deep deep down, the devil reigns playing catch ball with his horned allies.

Tuesday is the start of this story.

He is a friend, workmate, brother, uncle, dad, cousin, grandfather, follower or ghost follower. We all have someone that needs to slow down on his drink. We don’t want him to do therapy, therapy don’t work on no black man, neither do we want him to join a support group because that’s a Western thing, yet we don’t want to lose him because as much as we have fangs and serpent poison on our tongues, we are still humans before we are anything else. Our cynicism is proportional to the number of times we have been disappointed hoping and praying that he will get better.

He never does, God hates alcohol so he even ignores all words that end in ‘hol’, he spams such prayers and it is then that we have to be little gods ourselves and show that our humanity goes beyond faith and hope. The popular and Iconic writer, Bikozulu, once said, “What they need is simple acts of love from people they care about”. Shove an alcoholic on your bosom and show him love and the alcohol will find the exit on itself. Get him a gift this Christmas that is not a bottle of whiskey or a bible and you will have planted a yearning of sobriety in him.

We all start drinking because it is fun in high school or in college. Turns out it is fun. Eventually, when college is over, a girl walks out on us, a job becomes too hard to obtain, a scar becomes too tough to rub off and life shows us utter callousness and we think to ourselves, maybe we need to have fun like we once did. Maybe we need a little inebriation so that we can reach our fun nerves that make the world soft like toffee and the music fulfilling as paradise. We set on a course that becomes difficult to abandon.

Now we drink when boss man fires us, when girlfriend leaves, when laptop breaks down, when the day becomes slow, when the day was too fast, when we are hungry, when we are full, when we have a lot of work, when we do not have work or any day we find ourselves alive. The scary part is that we cannot stop. Soon we have no any real human connection, yet a lousy job we hate, a toxic relationship, a minuscule salary and a lot of stories with no one to listen.

We are 45 years old now, life is no longer ahead of us but behind us. That is when we get to the office a little after eleven o’clock on a usual day. Usual days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Monday and Friday are special days, do not even get me started on Saturdays and Sundays. We put on a suit but what intrigues me is what is going to be beneath that suit.

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

 

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

Dennis Peters

 

 

What they tell me

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The doctor tells me that I cannot give birth. He says I was born that way and explains it in some complicated rocket science bullshit that I do not like to listen because I know what happened, I know better. Impotency is my curse in this world and I put it on every morning as I head to work like a good suit and every evening like a nightgown. I confess it to all my sexual partners like a testimony and put it on like a condom. Sadly, all these sexual partners never take things to the next stage, it always starts and ends with sex. This has happened twice now, I like a guy, he likes me back and I start to think of a relationship or perhaps even marriage but then these lovers of mine grow indifferent the moment I reveal my curse. They often still want sex but then only sex. Eventually, I get bored of being used and move on to solitude. Now I have no desire to humiliated again, I keep to myself most times listening to the sounds in my head.

 

I am not different than any of you in any way, I was born and brought up in the countryside by a loving mother and father. They both worked in a flower factory. Neighbours often used to tell me that how I had survived birth was a miracle because my mother had been sick in the chest. She could cough and the guy in front of her would turn back thinking that she had whistled. Her chest sounded like an empty tank full of bad gas chemicals. My mother had asked for leave the moment she had learnt of the pregnancy but her Hindu boss had convinced her to stay and she had readily agreed with the boss’s line of thought that she had to make extra so that she could provide for her baby the moment she was born. While my mom handled pesticides and chemicals to prevent small animals from destroying the boss’s flowers, my dad packed and unpacked these flowers and sometimes went to the fields.

 

My mom had died shortly after my birth and my dad followed closely after. Mom died of sickness and dad of his love for mom. I was left alone in this new wild world having achieved my first activity of killing both my parents. Auntie brought me up. We are not related in any way but she is good. I am not one of those people who imagine that had their parents being alive their lives would have been perfect so I love auntie even though she used to beat me up and make me do all the work. I love her despite the fact that she denied me the chance to attend high school. If it was not for auntie I would not be here, she gave me the best of life I knew. So I grew up and developed lady parts just like any other girl. At fourteen, I had my first period and cried a lot. I did not understand the blood, no one had warned me of blood keeping my pants wet all week. I was later to learn that it happened to all girls then I became excited about it.

 

Shortly after my first period, I decided I was woman enough and moved from auntie home to my own place. I got a job in a food chemical industry and handled chemicals but this time not like mom, No, this time, I put in protection, I put air masks and head covers. The boss liked me very much and often complimented my looks. I used to arrive at work early in the morning by 7.30am and leave work as late as 6.30pm. The extra time I spent with the boss in his office talking about various things. One day he even drove me home in his KAA Toyota. Life was good and I even moved to a bigger house with sofa sets and a TV. I bought auntie a dress and she loved it. I had my life in order for the first time and I loved the thrill. Boss took me out and we drank wine. Of course, it was not long before she got into my pants and I let him. He was my first.

 

This relation continued for a while, I even no longer had to work, my job was now to stay pretty for the boss. One morning however on my way to work I felt an uneasy tingly feeling on my stomach which was followed by throwing up in the office. I tried to clean up the mess really quick but the boss found me halfway and demanded to know what had happened. He seemed alarmed and the next day he brought me a device that looked like a thermometer and told me to pee on it and bring it back. When I was done I walked back to the office and brought it back. It had a plus sign. The boss seemed devastated and angry and he explained that we had to make sure that his wife did not find out. I had no idea he had a wife!

 

He took me to some weird town and told me that I needed time alone with the doctor so that I could get rid of the pregnancy. I instantly agreed because he knew better he had read a lot of books and it was also rumoured that he had flown with an aeroplane to weird countries to study. Therefore, he knew everything and I knew nothing, it was the way this world had moulded us.

 

After that what happened is still blurry. The boss left and his wife became in charge. She sent me back to the factories and did not even give me gloves or head masks. She is mean. I work more now but the pay is little. Recently I have been having these weird pains in my chest, what is even worse is that after a year in this factor I no longer have my periods, they stopped completely. So did my ability to have kids.

 

The doctor tells me that I cannot give birth. He says I was born that way and explains it in some complicated rocket science bullshit I do not like to listen because I know what happened. I have not told my doctor I once had a baby in my uterus and consequently expelled it like a bad demon. I have not told the doctor I work in a food chemical industry with neither protection gloves nor breathing masks. I keep that to myself because these are my transgressions. My doctor thinks he is smart but not even science can redeem me.

 

The preacher tells me that I can give birth if I believe. He says God does things for a reason and prays in some complicated tongues I do not like to hear because I know what happened. I have not told my preacher I once had a baby in my womb and consequently expelled it like an evil demon. I have not told the preacher I work in a food chemical industry with neither the Holy Ghost’s protection nor the holy water. I keep these to myself because not even baptism can cleanse the curse that this world gave me at birth. The preacher thinks that he knows God but I have known him from his mean side since I was born.

 

Auntie tells me that mom is responsible for my infertility. She says that mom passed these gases to my system. She thinks that the health hazard mom exposed herself to while carrying me in her belly are hereditary. I have not told her I had a baby in my uterus and consequently expelled it like a bad spirit. I have not told auntie I work in the same kind of factory as mom, with neither the ancestors of old nor the gods of the hills to protect me. I keep these things to myself because not even the wise medicine man can rekindle my dying spirit. Auntie thinks she understands this world but I have been born and brought up with by this world’s cruelty.

 

Meanwhile, I wake up early in the morning and head of to work. I have no social life and no kids, therefore, sometimes I wonder why I toil. I am dead yet I can still feel the hurt, disappointment and pain. I am dead yet I go to work every morning, do my laundry every Saturday and sleep all day on Sunday. It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting yet I do not dream. I will sneak to pesticide control and steal the most lethal pesticide they have in the factory. I will make a nice meal for too with expensive wine. I will eat twice and then I will spike my wine with pesticide. I will drain myself with the very chemicals that screwed my life and lie on my bed and smile while taking my last breath.

 

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Dennis Peters