Dear Mother. Part One. By Mukiri Gitiri

 

 
Mother, today I would like you to listen to a story that happened many years ago. I would like to suggest that you lose that judgmental temperament you are always carrying around the house, at least until I am done.

 

 

 

What was that mother? You promise? Okay. Now, it was five thirty in the evening. I remember feeling awfully tired but also happy and excited for my first weekend in the University. I had just survived a five-hour lecture on calculus. Math was never my thing, I will not lie, and I only pretended to like it so that I could make you happy.

 

 

 

Mother! You promised you would be silent! If you start judging this early, I will take this story to father instead. Okay? In my defense now that you asked when I applied for a course in campus I specifically signed up for intense Chemistry and Biology. To this day, I have no idea why there was Calculus, Algebra, and Statistics in my unit courses. To be entirely honest University was a disappointment, I had expected to be marveled by the lecturers, the lecture rooms and the students, turns out the lecturers were just old and tired educated heartless morons, the lecture rooms were similar to the ones in Chogoria Primary, only that the seats were sponged and the students were just a bunch of competitive social climbers trying to figure themselves out. That is a long sentence mother, let me catch my breath.

 

 

 

I hated small talk with my classmates. I disapproved a lot of things. Come to think about it; I was probably a sad and frustrated girl doing more observations that associations. On this particular day, I left the class in the company of a girl friend of mine, headed to the hostels. It was a silent walk. I loath silence but at the moment, my inexperience would have had me talk about Calculus differentiation and broken test-tubes, so I held on to my silence like a mother does her child. I did not want to be the buffoon that brings the classroom out of class. This was University, studying ended the moment you swept across the classroom door frame.

 

 

 

Alternatively, I would have started a chit chat about lipstick, weaves and camel toes but I did not even know what a camel toe was.

 

 

 

What was that mother? No! I am not going to tell you what a camel toe is. You can google after this story is ended. Now, as I was saying, I was really bad in conversations. I had stayed away from the close girl to girl friendships because I could sniff trouble and drama from a mile away. Another reason I was bad at this kind of engagements is that my knowledge outside the classroom was as tiny as a teacher’s pension. I could not even tell the difference between Beyoncé and Rihanna. Yes, mother, I could not tell shit!

 

 

 

I am sorry. Yes, I will mind my language mother. I had cool roommates though. They assimilated me into a gang we called the Room 3 divas. We even had a Whats App group. I had always felt that they were to cool for me. I mean, they could rock a thigh long dress and six-inch strappy heels on their second day on campus. Oh! And Rihanna’s signature red hair covering one eye. They were clearly absolute divas.

 

 

 

Mother, correct me if am wrong, but there is a scowl expression on your face. Can you wipe it off? I do not like it. As, I was saying before you rudely interrupted with that damn scroll, I was one of them, not by any qualification, but by the geographic existence in the same room. They would dress for hours as I watched and learned and then they would ask me how cool they looked. My opinion mattered mother, I was important. I was their coolness thermometer, measuring how cool or hot they looked. When you do this for a while, you are bound to pick a few tricks, soon I had to throw away my baggy trousers and flat shoes you bought me, no offense, and I just had to. I started becoming more like them and less like me. We would dress up together for class now, and take selfies later. I would have shown you those selfies mother but my phone mother, my phone was the Huawei Ideos you bought me, its pixels was almost zero mother. Not that I am complaining, but I needed something that would flatter my face and put some beauty filters, something that would paint me to their standards mother. I am not a liar; I just needed to fit in.

 

 

 

Now this particular Friday Evening, most of the people were headed out from the hostels for drinks and stuff like that.

 

 

 

No, mother, the drinks were neither coffee nor tea. Others were strolling chatting loudly in English with some occasional loud laughs hugging, smooching and touching. Yes mother, touching. I was bored, so when I got a call from my cool friends, the ones from the land of fish and English, I did not even think twice about it.

 

 

 

See what I did with the words mother? Fish and English? Come on, you can laugh a little. This is a funny story mother. That day mother, I rocked a 1950’s floral skirt. Its length would have made you kneel before God. Don’t curse mother; I had a pair of stockings inside, everything was well covered.

 

 

 

When the boys called, I was overwhelmed. All my life I had been a good girl mother, a little backward and uncool, but good. Your kind of good. I was a determined uncool girl. It was the first time a boy had called me on my Ideos Phone mother. I love to stand out mother; maybe I got it from father’s side of the family. I hoped back into my cubicle, took off the stockings and put on grey boots. As I said, mother, I was a determined uncool girl with pretty grey boots, a short skirt, a tiny top that would make you ask where they had taken the rest of the material and an immensely adventurous spirit. That day mother, I left my decency in my dressing cabinet together with the rest of the material for the top I was in.

 

 

 

No. No mother, do not gasp like someone just died. I am still here, am I not? Shall I move on with my story?

 

 

 

Okay, mother. Now, I got to the boys’ hostel across the school. You will not believe what these boys gave me; they handed me a FIFA pad! A FIFA pad mother! You know what that means? They did not look at me like the sexual object I had tried to transform myself into, mother. To them, I was a bro. Maybe my grey heeled boots did not make me tall enough, or my legs were not long enough to be sexy, or even I had always overestimated the prettiness on my face. I was disappointed beyond words.

 

 

 

Do not look so relieved mother; the story is still far from over. These boys mother, were not only from the lake but also from Nairobi City. The good side of the city where there are tarmac roads and gated communities. The kind of Nairobi that is green and cool, colored by flowery yards and fences. The kind that they do not have to use Mwi Sacco or MSLs matatus. A different kind of Nairobi where their fathers made collection cabinets of wines and expensive vodkas. Alcohol that was more expensive than the school fees we paid at school.

 

 

 

The kind of girlfriends these resourceful boys had used to put gel nails; you know what gel nails are mother? I too didn’t know. The only gel I knew is that one girls in my primary school would use to force their hair to curl. Oh and silica gel from my chemistry class. I was a sad little girl mother.

 

 

 

When a boy from the next room came in and invited me to the next room for a private party, I thought that it was your prayers mother, which had landed me such an opportunity. I hear you praying for me in the middle of the night mother, make sure you will never stop mother.

 

 

 

So your prayers landed me to a private party. By the time I got there, there was smoke from all kinds of smokable drugs, even bhang mother. It turns out bhang is not only for demented, hopeless people but also cool kids too. The smoke was mixed with the stench of alcohol that made me flinch with inexperience. In the room, there were guys already rubbing their crotches viciously on the behinds of other cool girls with even lesser material on their clothes than me. It was fucking awesome!

 

 

 

Sorry, sorry mother, I got carried away in the heat of the moment, I will not curse again. Well, if you want me to finish the story here, I can.

 

 

 

What was that mother? No, I am not ashamed of myself. Your tone is rising mother, take a deep breath mother. I would like to continue with my story. Now, this guy, that had been sent by God, courtesy of your prayers to save me from the bro-zone, poured me a drink, and another and another. Only the first gulp was nastier than the look you give me when I pile dirty dishes in the sink. The more I drank, the more my clothes felt loose, and the more I became a better dancer. I swung my hips in all kind of angles, and the boys loved it. They loved me, mother! I swear they did!

 

 

 

I was so drunk that when the party ended, and one of my male party mates carried me in his arms to his room and started to work on my clothes, I did not have the brain capacity to stop him.

 

 

 

Tears mother? Really? You are going to start crying for something that happened four years ago? Well, if it gives you any peace, I did not lose my little pink flower. At least not that day.

 

 

To be continued…

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

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The Legend of Cornelio

 

 

 

My grandfather Chief Cornelius Kuria Kahuba always said that age is never about the number of years one had lived but rather the number of lifetimes one had experienced. Seated on the visitor’s seat on the edge of his mud-walled living room with his black and white old portrait towering above my head, this sentiment never made much appeal to me. In line to his beliefs and antics, grandfather always asked for everyone’s opinion in a discussion. To him, opinion from an eight year old mattered as much as one from his age mate. The twist in all this was that he heard all opinions but always came to resolve from his own opinion. Grandfather was chief and his leadership frolics could be felt from the moment you walked into his compound. He had two beautiful wives, Racheal and Rebecca and a huge piece of land that extended to the horizon. To the rest of the villagers, grandfather was chief, not by any government appointment but by merely his status to the community. They called him Cornelio.

 

 

 

 

We all thought heroes need caps and masks, that they live in Gotham, New York and Hell’s Kitchen flying around lazily during sunny Sunday afternoons assuring the people that they are protected. That heroes needed to stick to the shadows like Batman and come out when villains attack the city. That they need to save kittens from tree tops and damsels in distress.  Cornelio was a hero. He did not were a mask, he did not put on a cap, or fly, neither did he have the keys to his village but still he managed to assure people of protection. He was an alpha among wolves teaching people the virtue of love and pure kindness.

 

 

 

 

Cornelio was my grandfather. I never really did meet him because he passed away immediately after I was born in 1995. If I had known him I would have revered him. I would have sat beneath his favourite chair every school holiday and drank from his enormous cup of wisdom. I would have listened to every single tale of his time, and wrote stories of how he grew up and how legends are bred. I have heard tales that he held me once in his arms immediately after I was born but that was not fulfilling, I would have liked more. And last year as we did a memorial service to commemorate twenty years since he left us and I got to experience how it felt to be with him around, the conviction he had to the masses and most of all the scar he left on his sons, daughters and grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

He was a community man and a church head. Every Sunday after church everyone from the church would go to his home for lunch. Cornelio was not a rich man but his will was to keep on giving. His thing was for communism not accumulation of wealth. He did not see the essence of having a lot when his neighbour had none so he shared, gave freely to those who needed his help and services. He worked to solve the problems of his people, social and economic alike.

 

 

 

Whenever mother speaks about him, you can see her eyes go into a delirium, she goes back twenty plus years and narrates to me when father had first taken her to grandfather. Cornelio had asked father if that was the lady that had pleased his eyes above all others and he answered ‘Yes’. I would like to think father was filled with ineffable excitement to have landed a beautiful lady with captivating looks, my mother is quite a catch to this day. Cornelio had then asked again…

 

 

 

 

Njenga ūyū nĩwe ukweda?

 

 

 

 

And amidst self-assurance and determination, he had mumbled…

 

 

 

Ĩnĩ nĩwe.

 

 

 

 

Cornelio had made him promise to take care of his bride through all kinds of situations, live to make her happy and build a home with her. Cornelio had further made him promise that whenever a problem came up they would solve it both of them. And father had heed his words and practiced them daily until now. Mother had made Cornelio’s home her home too and had found the strange lands as peaceful as if it were her own home. That was Cornelio. Pacific and sagacious.

 

 

 

 

Cornelio’s kids grew up, ten of them in total. Four girls and six sons. In no time father, been the oldest had his first pay check and as all sons, father wanted to come home with shopping bags from Tuskys, those old enough know that it was called Tusker Mattresses back then. They had these yellow plastic bags with a lot of letters, ‘Tusker Mattresses’ is not a short name as you can all see. I suppose this was the reason their marketing manager had suggested the chop the wordy name off to Tuskys. So that their plastic bags would be prettier. I digress.

 

 

 

 

Cornelio had met father midway through the gates and made him put all these bags beneath a certain tree in the middle of the compound. He had opened the yellow Tusker Mattresses bags and one by one divided the contents into two each half for his two wives, Racheal and Rebecca. Racheal was the mother of the ten kids meaning that Rebecca had no children. Grandfather ensured that his kids knew that no mother was significant than the other, that biology did not make Racheal more their mother than Rebecca. So, he opened up the bags, the wheat flour bags were divided into two and the sugar too but even when one homestead had ten children and the other had none, to him things had to be shared equally.

 

 

 

 

Cornelio indignation was against insolence. His benevolence ran across genders and age groups. In the course of his memorial his age mates spoke of him at such a high repute. One of them just had few words and they sank in me like ice water on a scorching sun day, I thought through them like my life depended on them. They were simple yet imploring, they were in Kikuyu. He said

 

 

 

Cornelio was a giver, it did not matter if he had or did not have he just wanted to give

 

 

 

 

It took me back to the current world where everything is about grab and keep. Feign giving in form of fake foundations to build you reputation whenever there is a coming election and the cameras and are in an exaggerated frenzy, swaggering past a homeless family on the streets and thank you favourite gods that that is not you and then keep walking in you Ksh 4000 leather loafers.

 

 

 

 

I am grateful for the tenets Cornelius Kuria passed to us. I see them every day in father he has every bit of semblance in comparison to Cornelio historic tales, he is a front-runner everywhere and every time in the estate people want him to head their functions. He is my role model. His brothers alike, each has attained a governance role in their various professional fields, every single one of them. And to my family, my sisters the same, even the twelve year old Viona has indicated this early that she is going to be a leader as our firstborn has been on it for as long as I remember. Me, I just blog here but I am thinking of challenging myself sooner than later, let’s just make it later.

 

 

 

 

Grandmother Rebecca left us and Grandmother Racheal was left to carry the legend, I remember when we were kids she used to come visit us with a bag full of plums during the December holidays. When we went to visit her she made this roasted maize that was just legendary. She used to burn it together with the covers until the entire maize was evenly light brown and when you chewed that maize, trust me, you would never want to leave. We called this maze gara. One glance at her and deep in her eyes you will see the grin of achievement, she has made men and women of mettle to change the society, her legend will never be rendered to ash alongside that of Cornelio.

 

 

 

 

Grandfather’s name was Chief Cornelius Kuria Kahuba and has been laying with the ancestors for twenty two years now. He was a light from a lamp shining bright amidst troubled times like the sun in January. I still wish I would have met him.

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri.

A Story about Stories

 

 

 
I have never had a review of any of my articles by someone in the same field. The reason is not that I have never thought about it, in fact, contrast to that, I have always thought about it more often than not. Some people are just too good in what they do, and you want to have a talk with them and ask them exactly how they do their stuff. There are stories you read and after you are done, you lie there lifeless, wondering about the author, like who hurt him, is he going to be fine, did he type the story or did he handwrite it and then had someone type it up for him, worse is when the author is a lady.

 

 

The truth is, that writing is difficult. There is no unit of measurement when it comes to writing. You create characters from real life experiences, build their attributes and behaviors from your experiences and make them as humanly possible as you can. It takes time to get to people’s heads using text, and that is normally the purpose of writing, being able to grasp a readers mind, transform it into your own and fulfill a certain perception of things. There are no conventions in writing, the only thing constant is that there is always one persistent message that the author wishes to put across all along.

 

 

Recently, I gave one of my articles up for review by two professional writers, people that have been doing this for a while. People I admire, and you will find me beneath the covers of my bed reading their stories, eyes wide open, hoping and waiting that a character manufactured by them finds their happy ending. To be entirely honest, of the two writers, none, whatsoever, ever has a happy ending. Yet like a little girl, I always lay in wait that these two will get a life someday and cease messing up my expectations.

 

 

 

The reason I gave the article out for review is not that I was feeling insecure about the content I write daily, neither was it because I needed some gratification, it was solely because I believe art is expressive in nature. This is the reason it differs from one person to another. While one of them found it entirely romantic with instances of badly placed words, the other found it artistic and intellectually unrestricted. They both agreed that the idea and the characters were well built but differed in the choice of words. The thing that surprised me most is that their analysis and understanding of the 1300 words story was completely different.

 

 

 

And that is when it hit me. There no rules in writing. It is not a science where we have to exert a certain amount of pressure to get some predetermined results. It is an art, and the only responsibility I have is to my audience. There rules are non-existent, and the only limitations are the authors’ imagination. Then I thought of Igoni Barret in the book, ‘BlackAss,’ he transforms one of his character from male to female in a single story, and the reader has to take time off the book and marinate at what it is that just happened. That is the kind of liberty present in art. You create, you kill, you resurrect and create again without having any questions asked.

 

 

 

I think of writing more of an escape from the numerous rules present in life. When you jump up high, it is mandatory to come back to the ground no matter who you are. My idea when writing is that I can jump, up high and do not necessarily have to come back down due to stuff like gravity or lack of wings. However, I am always scared of the content I put out there, sometimes I am unsure about it, and I will write only for the story to remain on my hard disk until such a time that the re-write hits my mind like something publishable. The first responsibility of an artist is to him or herself and if at all the product is not satisfactory to him or her than it cannot be fitting to his or her audience.

 

 

 

However, different artist makes art for different reasons. While others are to inform, others to entertain, I would like to think of my reasons more like the ability to transmute my thoughts into your thoughts so that by the end of a story you and I have the same thoughts. To get to another person’s head is never as easy as it sounds. You have first to get rid of any initial judgment about the product, and after that, the way is clear to infuse your concepts. I remember the very first article I wrote here on dennispetersblog was about 2007 post-election violence and I was trying to create a character who was a boy that had lost faith in humanity when neighbor turned against neighbor because of their difference in political opinion. The key word is ‘trying.’ That was four years ago.

 

 

 

 

Now as I marked four years of appearing on your email, facebook, whats app and twitter notifications blubbering about this and that, I can barely tell who reads what on this website unless they leave a comment. Initially, when I got a bad comment I would get disappointed and even refuse to let the comment visible to my readers, but as the years pass, I have learned to rely on my feelings towards my content. I have had loyal readers from the word go, people who never speak but I can always feel they are lurking in the shadows reading and laughing quietly to themselves. I do not know if my dad got tired of checking out the website occasionally like a boss performing a human resource check, but I know he does not approve the F word (Fudge), and the N word (Nazi) but can never bring himself up to question me.

 

 

 

Someone said that it is fine, most of us are intelligent, but the truest measure of intelligence is the ability to transform thoughts into words to be felt by those that come into contact with them. To other artists, poets, creative writers, the task lies not with the popularity of your content’s extent but by the touch of feeling it delivers upon those that try to understand it. Keep creating, the thing about all this is that it is only getting better and better with time.

 

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri.

Little Ciku. Part Two.

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Eventually, little Ciku and her friend arrived to the destination of the survivors. The number had reduced significantly but the cold had multiplied in hundreds. The destination was a police station where they were received by the men and women in blue handing each of them a blanket. They were then led to a shed where they were to spend the night. Ciku and her new friend combined their blankets and cuddled into the night hunting for sleep, perhaps morning would make more sense. Her friend fell asleep first but Ciku’s mind was with mother, where was she? Was she looking for her? That scream she had heard at Huruma Junction, was it mother? Had the men with spears and arrows caught mother and father? At this point Ciku sobbed uncontrolled not because of mother but because she had lost a mother and became one in a single night. She wondered what the future had for them.

The shed got silent eventually and beyond the shed wall Ciku could hear hushed deep voices of men mostly discussing what had happened. She heard that no one had survived beyond the fire, that they had been slaughtered mercilessly by the strange men in arrows. How Ciku hoped it was a dream but her ice cold feet kept assuring her that it was not a dream. She heard the reason for the attack was the election outcome and quickly she connected the dots to the loud stereo at Huruma Junction, it was the election results. Her mind was too young to comprehend who was fighting who but at least eavesdropping put her thoughts into perspective. Ciku was tired and soon after she was on the teeter edge of a sharpened razor, somewhere in between deep relaxation and unconsciousness.

***

She was not sure what had woken her up, but it was still dark when she woke up. She had been dreaming of the men in cow skin holding long spears and arrows who had been chanting something in a language she could not understand around a bon fire, big as the one in Huruma Junction. When she woke up, her mind was in a temporary state of amnesia and one by one she recollected her thoughts to where she was, what had happened and why it smelled like cow dung where she had fallen asleep. She remembered her companion and ran her hands in the blankets trying to feel her with no avail. She was all alone beneath two blankets. Her pillow had been a black polythene paper with it sukumawiki and tomatoes, the one mother had sent her to fetch at Huruma Junction. She was surprised she had held on to the package for this long. She wondered where her stranger friend had gone and it was then that she realised that she did not even know her name.

Slowly and steadily she lifted herself painfully through the joint aches from running and lying on the floor to an upright position. She veered her eyes through the darkness to establish the doorway until she saw a burst of light through a half open door and came to the resolution of the possibility of that being the way out. Occasionally bumping into sleeping people she made it to the door and took a deep breath, perhaps hoping for a burst of fresh air but what she smelled was the reek of burning. She adjusted her eyes and indeed there was fire in a structure around fifty meters from where she was standing. A horrendous inferno accompanied by screams and the smell of roast human flesh.

She did not even realise when she let out a shrill scream and again and then again. People woke up fast and it was then that they realised that the burning structure was a church where the group from Huruma had split into two when the shed had run full. The church had been set on fire with hundreds of displaced people sleeping inside. People tried to put out the fire with buckets of water and soil all in vain, people choked and fell unconscious, other succumbed to the burns and fell into their painful death.

Ciku stared in disbelief. When she could no longer stand she sat. She stared at death right into the eye as death swept over like a swarm of locust on a cold season. She did not move, she did not even speak until the morning light appeared from the skies. Medical aid came and took the injured to hospital and the rest to the morgue. Death had had a feast under the cover of darkness leaving behind wailing women and children whose lives would probably never be the same.

When it was morning, the self-appointed instructors of the group Ciku had spent the night with explained the insecurity that lay beyond the police gate. Even them, that were supposed to shed light and show the way to young ones like Ciku, could simply not hide the melancholy. They shed tears as the names of the dead were read out by the police officers that had not taken off already. They wailed when it was established that aid from Nakuru was not coming because the roads had been blocked by trees, stones and burning tires. Each one of them stared blankly into the other not knowing where to go or what to do, worse, what to eat.

Meanwhile, outside, the birds welcomed the new day with coordinated rhythms, the sun brought out its smile unaware of the crimes her brother had done in the cover of the dark. Little Ciku still planted by the doorway to their new place of residence felt the morning light fall on her face and she turned away from it, her feet had been cold the entire night but not even the sun could bring a sensation of warmth to her heart. She had even forgot mother and was too busy replaying the horror of the night in her mind such that she did not notice a truck full of people stop at the gate and people come in through the police gate entrance. She was too engrossed in her despondency that when mother came and stood in front of her blocking the sun from her face she did not look up.

***

THE END.

Submitted to the Commonwealth Short Story Prize Competition 2016.

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

Edited by Essy Wanene

Written by Dennis Peters and Inspired by real events.

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

 

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Dennis Peters

 

 

Half Baked

dancing women

These women are dedicated and relentless workers. So they will sing at this gathering and the next, not to amuse but because that is what they do, they welcome politicians in public gatherings. They are not pretentious and aloof like the ones been welcomed, No, they are prescient on the things the government could do to change their lives. They are not circumspect with words, theirs an honest motive antithetical to the Mr Politician. So they sing…

Welocamu guku mucii wa wendo eeee welocomu… welo…

(Welcome Mr Politician to this home of love, welcome)

And Mr Politician will smile sheepishly with a broad face framed with high cheekbones and a strong jawline sitting squarely on a thick, short neck appearing as one with massive sloping shoulders, giving an impression of a man made of concrete block impeccably dressed in a sparkly dark business suit. He will walk with his guards next to him showing off his abilities and singleness of purpose hard earned by convincing these voters. He will breathe the air of superiority his strength evident in his physical bulk. The smile never wipes away as the women dance, No, in fact he might even join them at one instance, perhaps to remind them of what he once was but no longer is.

Gomaga gihoera atogoria atu gioragia muthenya ugakinya re…

(I sleep praying for our leaders asking when the day will come…) The song will go on…

This week on Monday I got a chance to attend an ICT launch at a public park in Nyeri town where we were launching a free WI-FI on a public park. Our country is growing and this is good for business because it means that all of you will click on my website each time seated at the park next to a guy selling ice cream on a cold day and another painting toe nails on a muddy day, but you will click on dennispetersblog anyway. Maybe to pass time, or you are a loyal reader or for free public fast internet either of your reasons. You will then go ahead and clutch your coat tightly around you and bury your hands deep in your pockets as the late afternoon sun drops quickly below the horizon bringing a sudden chill with the central province wind, it’s the cold season.

So after Mr Politician is welcomed, he begins to give a speech and if you are like me, you will constantly curl your wrist and peek at your watch and wonder when it is going to culminate. And it will make you wonder about these politicians. Like a waterfall speaks, each splash that ricochets off a rock looks same as the one before, yet each is an individual separate word, related to but not the same word that came before and then a silence of silent grumbling as the river moves away from this waterfall, soft eerie humming, perhaps each telling a tale of the experience of the waterfall or just bragging who made the most noise. Now, am not criticizing our politicians, mine is just a simple appeal of entirely forthcoming scrupulousness as one displayed by the dancing women. A single reason for not been half-baked!

See, these women are mothers therefore not ingenious of what is going on. Their unprided enthusiasm is enchanted with prospect that a visit to their home land by a big leader with a lot of connections all through the edges of the government could do something to ease their lives. Perhaps domineering insecurity situations, poorly-carpeted roads or wrecked streetlights just to mention a few. Factors that they have been making their sons come home late or not come home at all. They will not hide it in their song, in fact they will incorporate it to the tone…

Na tutireda chiana citu chiage guka mucii… welocamu…

(and we don’t want our children to fail to come home… welcome…).

A desperate plea to Mr Politician that before he goes back to his neoclassic stone mansion seated on an eight-acre park-like estate and his sprawling empire of businesses and land he could listen to this sad yet happy song of the unfulfilled dreams. Do these dancing women get paid, I do not know because I never asked all am certain is there are not half-baked!

I happen to catch Mr Sam Kairu before the day came to chilly terminus and he was excited about the new WI-FI strategy put in place in the park just like everyone, not because he was going to be using the internet, barely, but because he had memories, told or experienced of the town in the early 70s to late 80s. A time that would be defined as stone-age. Next to this park is a vintage ancient concrete hall. Sam is fond of a good informative story so he explains that it was a social hall and there was a single television at the front, a tiny one where everyone from Nyeri town came to watch presidential speeches. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was president then carrying that thing that looked like a cow tail and those funny hats. The crowds would be inspired by their new African president through the small television and it would be beautiful and they would walk back home with grateful hearts aware of this new chance they had fought for. A fully baked leader with charisma and the listening of a mother. Baffling.

Back to the dancing wholly baked women in orange uniform cardigans who sit all through the gathering until termination. Mine is gratitude for your intent and zeal, maybe these politicians come back because you make them feel at home before they fly off to the city or Timbuktu not to be seen again for months. You who make them feel mortified for a welcome they sometimes do not merit. You that draw a thick line between half-baked and baked intentions.

Photography and the Writer:

Dennis Peters

Dennis Peters

Dennis Peters.