Monthly Archives: June 2014

getting there

Most days I wake up at 6:30 and as soon as I do the race begins, the clock starts ticking, the sand begins to run down the hourglass, the deadline starts approaching and all the other 5 word phrases that signify that time is running out.


The rat race can be literal and I know that some of it is my fault because of the high wire act that I pull every morning. It can be counted on two fingers the number of times that I have been in the office by 7:50. Most days I stroll in just as the clock hits 8:00. Its impressive if I do say so myself that I can be this timely.


However it means that every second counts. The alarm rings and I snooze it. It rings again and I snooze again. There are levels of explanation for this, the first is that the two snoozes are built into my daily routine. The reason they are is I’m tired when I get up in the morning. Sleeping is tiring and at the end of an eight hour effort I need my 20 minute nap. I finally began watching True Detective and one of the characters says in the first episode, “I don’t sleep I dream.” That’s how I feel sometimes. I dream and I dream a lot. They are tiring excursions to other worlds where nothing makes sense. Let’s be honest if I someone from anywhere else made it into this world they would wake up shaking and moaning from the nightmare being inflicted on them. Only with dream logic can it make sense that mpeketoni was attacked a third time.


My dreams are vivid and immensely real then I forget them. Except when I have one that confuses me about reality. I lost my water bottle and then I remembered seeing it by my bed. So when I woke up I reached for it and it wasn’t there. I looked under the bed and it wasn’t there. Then I realized that I must have had some bullshit dream about a world not too different from this one and in that world I still had my water bottle. Then there are these canyons between the dreams. Times when I fall into a sleep so deep and real that its scary. Blackness for what feels like seconds and then I wake up and my heart is beating so fast my chest may tear apart because there was something there I needed to escape. Anyway sleeping is hard work and as soon as I’m done I need my nap. I need my two.


I jump into the shower and it has to be a quick one. I remember long, languid showers. I remember steam coming off me like I had been raised from the depths of hell. I remember 30 minutes going by as water washed away my dirt and in some way my worries and stresses and troubles.  That does not happen anymore. I can be in there for 5 minutes tops. 3 minutes after I’m in I begin to freak out. I’m not balancing on the high wire the way I should. I’m almost falling off, extremely late. Then I’m out.


Throw on a shirt and on the good days yesterday’s trouser. That’s the best. I hate the process of changing a trouser. I don’t like looking in my pocket for change and putting it in the other trouser. I hate knowing just how little money I have. I dislike the process of threading my belt through the trouser its another form of confinement. So the days when its yesterday’s trouser are the best days.


Put a cup of water in the microwave and press one minute then I polish my shoes as I wait. High wire acts are about  balancing. You have to hold that pole and look around you, step carefully and feel the wind all at the same time. That’s why I can’t wait for the water to warm before my shoes are shined. As soon as the water is warm a dollop of honey is put into the cup. Stirred, mixed and drank.


Then I take my shit. I love my morning shit. A good book is necessary company and a nice ten minutes blocked out. I sit on that throne and I’m as patient as a king waiting for supplications. No problems at all just let it all out slowly and professionally. This takes up a lot of the time. If I could excise this then I would never ever be late. But who would want to excise this, its beautiful and important.


There’s so little time I don’t even put on my clothes. I throw them on my body and hightail out of there. The shirt buttons are closed at the stage. The  shirt is left untucked and tie unfastened for as long as I can. Then the wait for the matatu begins. Kilieleshwa matatus also known as the takers of the scenic route fill up in the morning. As long as I can get one in 5 minutes I’m fine. This is not always the case. The other day I saw a mat driver and he ole lenkud so much I knew getting in was a bad idea. But I value my uhuru and I did. This guy had stopped for a cigarette. Nothing wrong with a cigarette but if you cannot smoke and drive at the same time there is a problem. He then went on and drove ever so slowly to the stop. It was clear that the matatu driven by this guy would take a ridiculously long time to get me to the stage and it did.


Prime bank I get off and walk to westlands. My,my, my are there beautiful women walking the other way. I’ve really studied my favourites till I know their gait. There’s no time for a chat because I’m always a minute off of being late. Notwithstanding all this I will stop at the bridge for a gaff. I love it. It cools everything down. It prepares me for the office, its at the borderline between work and home and once I do this I can begin tucking in and tightening noose. I walk the rest of the day and get there between 7:57 and 8:02.


Every day. It’s a well oiled machine calibrated to perfection. It serves me well and I know I can depend on it. If only I worked somewhere that gave me the leeway to be justa few minutes late. Instead there is this bullshit fine at the office if people arrive late. 300 shillings of bullshit. I can’t figure how anyone agreed to this. On the days its enforced even being one minute late means you hand over that 300. So there is a reason for the highwire to be better oiled.


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birthday post

I have a tradition, every year on my birthday at exactly 9:30 a.m. which is the time written on my birth certificate as my entry into this world I go out and I look at the sun. It’s been a year so the sun god is exactly at the same place as the last time I gave him a nod. I let him know that I am still down here and that I appreciate the fact that he is still up there steering his steeds like the world depends on it. Well, at least I lie about it.


I’ve been writing these birthday pieces for years. I like to think that this way I can know how I felt about the year in general and the day in particular. Every year the day when I sit at my computer to copy-paste the opening paragraph seems to come faster and faster. Life whizzes past us without us knowing or realising. All of a sudden you are no longer what defined you all your life. I’m not a student any more or a person taking breaks between studies to work and travel and laze. That part of my life is irrevocably over for a while at least. And with that comes the working world.


I imagine this has been the biggest development of my life so far. Working. It’s strange that people give up so much of their time for this. To sit in an office and do some work that has no real relation to food or shelter or clothing. All it has a relation to is the little pieces of paper that humanity decided should rule their lives. All day long for week, months, years and finally decades we sacrifice the most important thing we have, our lives and our time to this god. Most people do not enjoy their jobs, the lucky few do. And so for most it’s a real sacrifice. It’s the kind of sacrifice that allows people to blow themselves up, its important to realise that for money we give up everything else, our time and sleep, our friends and relatives, our hobbies and passions. Because this god has so many adherents he gets more powerful year by year until he has left in the dust all the others that once gave competition. Only a handful of religious people are willing to give up for their god what we all give up for money and when they do we think they are fanatics. That they took it too seriously and without a second thought we go and give in all this for those little pieces of paper. Still its life and like I was told very hurtfully by someone that I deeply cared about clichés are clichés for a reason.


They are aren’t they? People do grow up and conform to the world. The craziest people you know put on the straightest suits you ever did see and contentedly let the outer edges of their personality get worn away by the need to conform. And betrayal catches up to people sooner or later. Someone who google does not want me to find without a search that will take me past its first page of results wrote that for trust to exist there must be a possibility of betrayal. I believed for the longest time that these pieces would give an overview of the year but its probably most in tune with how I felt throughout most of june the 22nd. I know this because I feel betrayed on this day.


I have been betrayed before because human beings are careless with the trust put in them. They are very rarely worthy of all that we place in them and we esteem our compatriots too highly. We give them things that we should keep to ourselves. We give them our god, money. We give them our time and we share with them our secrets. We give them the keys to our happiness and we loan them our hearts for safekeeping and then when they do the human thing and fail we get royally fucked up. The worst thing about that kind f betrayal is it changes you for a time. It makes me able to write what came in the above paragraph and mean it. Really mean it until I remember that most people are not like that they do not purposely go out to hurt and destroy and many people realise that they can’t be happy if they spend their lives making other people unhappy. Except for the ones who forget. It makes it easy to forget the benefits of being a good person, of trying to be as good as you can. It makes you have people in your life who you wish hadn’t entered and who, for the time while its still raw as fuck you wish struggle and difficulty. A better man, a stronger man would have found it in his heart to forgive people but I’m not a better man and I’m not a stronger man and I realise this.


Events of recent times seem to have overshadowed the whole year and I realise that no matter what I wrote about I would have written about that. If I had been writing about the need for Ole Lenku to resign and allow Kenyans peace of mind and a minister they can trust I would have couched it in terms of betrayal of the trust placed in him by the people.  I would have written about how selfish it is for him to go on in this post knowing that the country is greater than an individual, knowing that his presence fails to reassure Kenyans and that the irresponsible remarks he made, which were further backed up by our president drove ethnic fever sky-high and made people not trust each other. If I had written about what is probably one of my favourite things to write about, the rain I would have said how hard it hits the earth loosening soil and carrying it away. Flooding the world with wet and water making it impossible to move and difficult to be cheery. How this thing that we depend on for everything makes so many of us miserable that we forget how important it is and that when we bitch about it in our weakness and love of convenience we betray the need we have of it. And when it comes too hard and causes mudslides and accidents and all those other inconveniences that city-folk ascribe to it it betrays us too. Making us angry and pissed not just at it but at each other too.


There really is no general overview of a year. Too many things happen, too much change, too much consumption, creation, destruction. Too many people walk in and out of our lives in a year. Too many nights out, too many good days and too  many bad days. Too much for me to sit here and think that in an hour I can churn out a post that captures how the year was for me. A birthday is a lot like any other day but humans need to be reminded that their time on this earth is limited. Another year gone does that. It reminds me that very soon it will be another and then another and then a decade and that they can all get lost. Lost in the fog of life with nothing to hold on to, nothing but pieces of paper who we worship but is as impersonal as the other gods rarely granting your prayers and not giving you happiness.

Another year passed and yet another one will. I’m usually more optimistic about things than today but that’s life. There are things that you can’t forget no matter how much you try. Next year I hope to read this and feel very different than I do now. I hope to read this next month and feel different. 


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