Writer’s Last Log

…I have remembered an ancient story by my grandfather of a man lost in the green savannah grasslands of Africa in the 19th Century. A man trying to find his way back to his wife and kids. Then in his search for directions, the man encounters a lion, that springs up from nowhere and stands defiantly before him ready to attack. In dismay, the man has recalled an article in the Nation Newspaper of the murderous man-eaters of Tsavo. The man with all determination to survive and get back home to his loved ones takes a moment to examine his options. There was no tree, no cave, no bush or rock that could have come in handy in the situation. The man stares directly in the eye of death and came to terms with the impossibility before him. At this point, we would look up to grandfather to tell us how the man survives the ordeal but he would end the story abruptly saying that the man went back home and his family and they were very happy to see him. We would demand an explanation on how he got away from the lion and grandfather would casually shrug, He found a tree, climbed it and waited for the lion to go away. You said there was no tree, no cave, n0 bush or rock, we would reply impatiently. And grandfather would easily make the lesson of the story that there is always a tree. Given the right motivation, there is always a way to get what you want or get something done…


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.


There are times I have taken a matatu and sat next to a stranger. A big man with broad shoulders and even a bigger smile. A man with an atmosphere of graciousness all around him. A man who looks like he plays part-time Santa Claus in December. A man who would be readily adored by kids. Just about when we are making a turn at Laikipia University on a journey from Nakuru to Nyeri, he turns to me, and I look away from my phone reluctantly. Then he exclaims about the school and how he studied there forty-seven years ago when it was just a kindergarten. When the entire region was a forest, and the number of trees doubled the number of people. In a half-baked attempt to be nice I put on a fake smile like the joker in Batman. I nod my head to show concession on how much it has changed. Then I stick my face back to my phone screen and plug in my earphones deep in my ears to avoid any more conversation.