A Salary Delayed

I can almost tell what will happen the moment I open that door in the evening from work. Daisy will not come running to my arms, her laugh will not fill my soul with life, fire and desire. Her little smile will have faded and will not brighten up the evening like the fireworks of New Years. Most certainly, her little questions and little-uncoordinated stories will n0t be what she will be telling me. Not that she will not be there but because I know I will have failed her. Terribly failed in one simple task. A simple unwritten agreement between a man and a daughter because my boss decided to keep my salary a little longer.

 

I can almost tell the conversation the next morning before I leave for work. My wife, my beautiful precious wife, queen of my heart and song to my life will not be graceful as she always is in the morning; she is a morning person. When other people wake up with tousled hair looking like bushes below the Nyandarua Ranges in the dry season, she wakes up with a smile like the sun that rises on the horizon of Lake Victoria in the morning. She will squint from the edge of her eyes as she places the tea flask on the table before me. This time, she will try to look cheerful but we both know it will be like starting a fire in a puddle of water. She will smile, not for herself but for me; a forced reassurance that I will have to take and keep because without that, a fire will start. A horrendous inferno.

 

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Rejected

 

People who have not been close to death should not speak about it. Death is an academic Degree; you are only an expert when you have survived it and won the hat. Personally, I know death. I have seen death. I have dressed the scent of death on my body and ground my teeth in its darkness. I have been dead, buried in the unequivocal desert of its nothingness, yet, I am still here, or am I not?

 

It began on a Sunday – I am a church person. Meaning I go to church because I was born and brought up in church. If you ask me about my beliefs, I might stammer a little as I concoct an appropriate response but what you should know is that I go to church. I play the Piano and I have pretty decent vocals. My church congregation loves when I lead the praise and sink into a trance when I lead the worship. I am pretty good, but death does not care.

 

That Sunday, which is like three Sundays ago, I left church midway. I had earlier alerted my piano player intern that I would leave in the middle of the service for an expedition in another county. I was to leave in the company of two others and my girlfriend who was not really my girlfriend because the church does not allow the idea of boyfriend-girlfriend association. It is a law I have plenty of reservation on because I am also a believer in love. You do not stand in front of love and ask it to stay on pause because your church does not allow it. It does not work like that. When it rains it pours, and there is nothing you or your preacher can do about it.

 

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A Stripper I Knew

 

 

I met Maria the second the time in a strip club as she was busy shoving her nice pair of big breasts on my face. It was a club in the dingy dark dreadful streets of Nairobi. She was my sister but I would never have recognized her from the bushy synthetic hair on her head to the little amount of blood in my alcohol circulatory system.

 

 

She was not my sister really, at least not biologically. She was just the nosy girl next door in my parents’ neighbourhood when I was growing up. She was always in our house looking for food and she never went away. This was not the first time I had seen her nice pair of breasts but that is another story I might decide or decide not to tell later.

 

 

The first time I had met Maria was a few days after I was born. A three-year-old girl looking down at my slimy small disfigured face straight from the maternity hospital. There is an old photo of that moment at home.

 

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Name was Eva

 

 

City food is either shitty or expensive. For this reason, I will climb the stairs of Ujamaa Building in CBD to the rooftop. Stairs always, never the lift, this is my ritual. Then I will pull out my carefully packed lunch gazing at the city life below disinterestedly. Occasionally she will be there, awfully close to edge, like she is about to jump, splash her brains down thirty six floors to the hard pavement below.  She always looks ready to jump but never actually does. She does not have the guts to jump but one of these fine days she will jump, I am almost certain about that.

 

 

She also works in Ujamaa Building too, somewhere around floor six. I have no clue what she does or who she works for. I have never bothered to ask. This is Nairobi, you do not bring your village antics here. You only speak when you are spoken to, smile when you are smiled at and hug when arms are spread towards you. In Nairobi you mind your own business, always.

 

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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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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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