Sunday, October 7, 2018

Old trees and Book spines

I like old trees
I like dry trees too
I like walking in between many high trees
I like to smile at dogs, and cats
I believe they understand
I like old people
They are more content in life
They see no need to hurry
They have seen too many people
They have been to many places
The know the limits of life.

I like to sing with my friends
I like to walk into my house and feel it embrace me
After a long day my house is my friend
I like to look at the sunset out of the kitchen window
I like to look at flowers growing outside my door
And watch the rain dripping at the corner of my house.

 I love the sound of the night
 When the moon is bright and the stars dance
I like to meet new people who smile
I like to watch shy people talk
I love when two people fall in love
And do not realise it.

I like to look at book spines
Because books are my friends
I love the sound of soft guitar
And the smell of brewing tea
I like listening to honeybees in the morning
Most of all I like to listen to people
When they share their hopes and fears, their dreams and histories.
well, almost.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Embracing Vulnerability

What is life?,
If help is gotten,
From the rear,
And oneself,
Sinks into a deep ocean,
Never to be recovered,
A rare commodity,
Bought by the fearless,
Sang by the high,
Mighty ones,
Dream it,
If pushed by inheritance,
Then I guess my heritage so poor,
For all I know,
When they seek to aid themselves,
I scheme to get the aid,
On my side,
If only walls could talk,
I'd let them know of my dire need,
To secure a place with strength,
If only windows could see,
I'd show them my vulnerability,
Standing up for myself,
I just cant,
Maybe my world is cursed,
The choice to be otherwise,
Is not an option in my book,
With the world in my case,
I am nothing but
If this is not perfect timing,
Frustrations coming in,
I dont understand,
When is,
If I go on,
In this way,
The battlefield maybe clear,
But the vineyard,
Just a saying,
By the successful,
Where there is a will
There is a way,
Where there is grumpiness,
There is a roadblock,
Where its gregarious,
There is a deep surface,
I need rescue,
For I know where I will it
I can have it,
The strength,
The power,
The courage,
To do my own,
Without owning,
Other soul's power

by MaryAnn Olalo

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Socializing the introvert: Hugging

My classmate in high-school had a big sister so she was already well socialized by form two. I wasn’t but before I decided to move seats and be a back-bencher (one term before I tried to quit the whole education business) she gave me two pieces of advice. She said:

“If ever a boy asks you out on a date, you must not order chicken no matter how tempting it might be. How will you work that chicken with a knife and fork you have never used before. My sister told me you only ask for a samosa. You can eat Samosa without getting it all over your face, but remember t take small bites.”

 The second piece of advice was;
“My sister told me, if a boy hugs you, you should bend forward so that his hands go on top of your shoulders and nowhere close to your boobs. Boys just wanna feel your boobs.”
I don’t come from a hugging family but when I got into high school I learned that people hugged their parents instead of the handshake I had grown up with.

When I wet home and tried to hug my shush she said;
“Aii.Ni kii?”
 And when I tried to hug my aunt who is very short she asked me ‘kai uratuikire wa idi?(Independent church of  Kenya)
But we made a shoulder dance out of it and she said  ‘tukundereza’.
My mother gave me a look that said- ata usijaribu.

 Back in school, we were given the lesbian lecture. Any closeness between two girls was thus uprooted from us who were ironically only just interested in Nyeri high school teenagers. So I really never got to practice hugging.
When I became a young  woman other young women started to peck my cheeks, I didn’t like it. I would submit to it thinking like the kid in….diary of a wimpy kid when his aunt kisses his cheek and all he can think of are the germs now spreading all over his face . Especially if someone with thick make up on.

 I developed a firm handshake
 But then again in college I met the sweet sweet Motswana people that take body contact a little too far but oh well it felt really good to be held for a few seconds by someone you like, both men and women.
“Come here you Kenyan girl, one classmate used to tell me when I tried to wriggle out of a hug by stretching out my hand and pretty soon I would be enveloped in a crushing hug.”

Years after this, I found out that I had actually changed the way I relate to people.  I was initiating highs and even expecting hugs from people I see every week. My workmate surprised me one day by asking can I have a hug please? I didn't know you could let yourself be as vulnerable as that, knowing and letting a third person know that you need a hug (cringe)
 In 2017, someone gave me a groping hug that left me feeling quite defiled like, well, it was like what next after all my senses are now awake?

I told my friend I had just been groped and the disgust in my face told her everything else I didn’t need to say. This catapulted me right back to the beginning, handshakes and waving people from afar and Faith’s word coming back in my subconscious… ‘boys just wanna feel your boobs’
So I googled types of hugs.

The London bridge
This is the awkward one when you guys didn’t know you are expected to hug so you just kinda lock arms

The dead lock

The rag doll
This is kinda cute, it’s a big brother giving a hug to his sister.

 The pat
I dread the pat. It’s the kind of hug someone gives you when you are at a funeral, which is alright but when someone gives me this in any other setting I start to wonder. Kwani how bad do I look today?

The pick pocket
This is for people who are very tight, like your boy bff that you grew up together but don’t have feelings  for each other?

The sneaky hug
This is on a different level of cuteness. But only ifnyou are very close to the other person.

And the floating hug
This is a Girlfriend boyfriend hug. The one on the left.

And I will add my own

The chest attack
Ever met someone you know but haven’t seen in a while and, speaking from a woman’s point of view, the next thing is you feel your chest has just crushed onto a man’s chest and you would like to scream and tell them off but this is supposed to be a happy reunion  so you just thank the heavens that you are wearing a padded bra? Yeah.
The opportunist
I think people who give this type of hug didn’t grow up hugging like myself. So now that the opportunity has arisen they take it in full force? Laying on your chest a few seconds too long..?
The facial approval
I’m not sure if this counts as a hug but many times people will grab me and put their cheeks too close to mine, then end up by putting my face in their palms and shaking me approvingly. I’m not six! But it’s ok

Friday, July 20, 2018

moving on and so on and so forth

I’m I here for the long run?

Before I give my opinion, I have an announcement to make: every human being should have an opinion, and if you don’t have one, make one up and run with it until it becomes yours.
But now I have a question. What keeps two people together, in a marriage, in a friendship, in a prison cell? What keeps three, or more in a family together, what maintains these ties. Is it love? Or something higher.
What could be higher than love?

What makes two human beings want to stay together after five, ten years? And if we said that is true love then what do you call family ties? Principled love or are we just being responsible and maintaining the family circle intact, in case raiders wanted to capture us we got strength in numbers? Or are we just putting up with each other until the children turn 16.

Drifting apart. How does it begin? How do you stop it in its tracks.

I remember after highschool. I went off to work, and my best friend from highschool went into Campus. And one day she had this thing going on, so I rang her for directions. I was leaving work at 6pm but that was the time she could pick me up from town, not the 7.30pm when I would have arrived into town.

‘My friends are taking me out to dinner.’ She said and didn’t say wanna come?
And I got the point.
She had moved on.

It was a blow. In my youthful life, I had not yet experienced that to a huge degree. Later on I would also move on from relationships, and friendships and even drift away from family members.
I am clingy I admit, but ironically I will gladly give a person that desires space as much space as they need.  
Do I love my family?
I come from an extended family of uncles, grandparents, aunts, cousins, mothers, family friends who are now family by right of years.  (I attended this family friend event and when they said cousins to stand up I almost stood up.)

They’ve known me and  I would say yes I Love all of them but then again to me love is an abstract concept. Love is the stuff that makes a grown up man find an excuse to lay on a shrink’s couch for many afternoons repeating phrases like- my parents don’t love me, I’ll  kill myself- dude grow up.
Love can be pretentiousness, I love my family so much I would die for them, so I’m going to send them 25k a month, za matumizi but only pass by for fifteen minutes every other half a year.
I donno,I could be wrong and people give and accept love in different ways.

Though I realized that I actually like my family. Like. No all of them, a few I like, the rest I love philosophically, like a good daughter should, a love buttered in exhausting politeness.
It could be that the family members I like are a bit like me. Free souls who don’t work too hard to conceal who they are, curious beings eager to learn and experience new things. They also stopped trying to change the strange person I am, they now accept that I am “different.”
They are people I would introduce to, say,(insert famous writer here)

And tell them, stay here, they won’t bother you.
Well, that’s after introducing the individuals, and then their teeth.
Gosh the story has escaped.
(One week later...)

“This is the first set of dentures granny got,, as you can see they are a size larger than the second pair. This is the second pair, the bottom got lost. We suspect a rat carried it away to nibble on the bits of food stuck between. Damn the blasted rat, may he choke on fake enamel..this is my uncle’s set of teeth, they are, well, the few left can still chew soft food, yes, yeah, well never mind what shade they are. These here are my cousin’s set of teeth, they don’t like to be compressed to grow in the old direction. These are my aunt’s set of teeth, she did try to sip a bit of a battery acid in Chemistry class, well, I donno, she was curious. Yeah it was a long time ago. These here are, oh well never mind let’ s just sit here and watch the fog rise from the Aberdares OK?”

Back to couples, I sometimes wonder, had I accepted the first marriage proposal I got, would I still be enthusiastic about the person.
I guess for marriage it’s a bit harder in comparison to friendships. If a friend decided to move on, there is no signed document to remind you of commitment. The commitment you made to this human being now standing by the stove frying himself two eggs at 10.00pm because the book his wife is reading is too unputdownable, to make him fried pork rice but all she has done is stare at two pages back and forth wondering why can’t he get into bed so she can find an excuse to sleep on the couch?
My opinion thus espoused, I think we must make allowances for the unpredictability of the human species.
Be prepared for change. If the glue that stuck you together no longer works, try selotape, if that doesn’t work then..I donno I’m not an expert in human behavior.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Plot Diaries: I think I don’t like people

Bae and bibi ya Bae
My neighbor on the right has a five year old  daughter who sings things like- bacas bacas this gal you wan-

But would you expect less from a house that plays Vybez Cartel in the morning? They have exactly three dj mixes that they play every single day of the week. One is a gospel mix that the wife will put on on Sunday morning. 
The other two, a rough 105 matatu mix that is just someone shouting obscenities in dancehall lingua franca, and a bongo mix which the man of the house plays when he is cleaning his Probox, doors to his house open wide while I’m trying to respond to facebook comments on a client’s page without being rude, or smug like Safaricom.

My house vibrates when this music is playing. The mirrors on the door make a crackling sound you would hear if there was an earthquake  happening in Moshi Tanzania. I get a drumming in my ears, and my heart beat rate increases. I have  had a peep at this family. Vybez Cartel, the husband has a head that has a shape, that explains a lot. The wife calls him bae in a slay queen's voice. I’ve had a look at her too and my opinion is she doesn’t qualify to be calling her husband bae, maybe baba Shanaya or baba Tamara. But if that’s ‘what rocks their boat’- I hate that phrase but I need to use a phrase like that to spell out my disgust.

Bae’s wife has a clothes’ line that goes across my door.

She hardly hangs clothes on it but her neighbor does. This neighbor has an obsession with clothes washing.  She has two women that come to help her with washing every week. Two women that have marital problems so they go for church prayer meetings every day. The washing is then hang everywhere, the wet shoes go on top of my shoe rack, and the rags too, but I remove them when I am feeling like a warrior.

So last week the line was really sagging and it got to me and I decided I am done, I cannot watch this and do nothing about it. I know Biko Zulu said to be a good writer, don’t be part of the story but whatever, I climbed on a stool and redirected the annoying Kamba. It was Madaraka day.

Anyway, Sunday morning I woke up to various sounds. Vybez cartel and his wife and the laundry obsessor. They had gathered to put back the line across my door. They talked about how they were gonna buy a washing machine that washes as it dries..'you don’t even have to keep checking, it rinses the clothes out itself’ says he. I roll my eyes. The wife is singing loudly to the song playing from their dj mix mp4.

I’m smiling, thinking of all the confrontational scenes I could make.
Me, a single woman
A single woman who they probably suppose is in her 20s.
Me, a single woman that lives with a cat.
She, the town wise sharp tongued woman in her twenties with a bae for a husband. A bae that drives a Probox and listens to dj mixes at night.

Me, the infp whose body produces tears instead of words in confrontations.
Me, the recovering anger management strata.
I have managed to stay out of Langata women’s for this long.
But I had to do something about it.

After a whole day of deep thought I knock at her door and tell her the obvious. 
'Your line sags too much, find a way of raising it up from my door.'
-Oh okay, the clothes are not mine but that’s a good idea- and she squints her eyes like she likes my suggestion but I know and she knows she will do nothing of the sort.

'Coz you know, it might break one day,' I say.
( I will snip it with scissors or light it up one evening when my pms is not tolerating crap is what I mean)

She has a good singing voice, is what I was thinking. She could get into Tusker Project Fame and be a second runners up or something.

The Mrs.

The laundry obsessor has baseline beauty. Beauty that you could draw.
The kind you would use as a model checklist for a model sheet when auditioning for cooking fat models.

Nose: Tick
Eyes: Tick
Pigment: Tick
Teeth: Tick
She has a no nonsense aura but her voice betrays her. It undulates and has a gaagaa undertone to it. She would win an argument but he would not win Who’s smarter now?

With a teenage daughter and an adolescent boy, I kinda pity her.

But her boy is alright, he has a cat too and when I moved in and was doing my best to ignore everyone, he smiled at me and said sasa?Are you the one moving into that house?
Have you brought your things?
So I open my door and my cat peeps out.
Oh you have a cat? What’s his name? I have a cat too.
He runs into his house and drags out a fat cat.
The father says in a sullen voice- shut that door-
You cat is very beautiful. I tell the boy.

So of course, line or no line I cannot start fights with the mother of such a pleasant kid, because he reminds me of my kid cousin.

But Happy doesn’t like their cat.

He has become bffs with this pure white rogue of a cat. It belongs to my neighbours on my left.  I call the cat George, he has a long spout and looks like a George.

He used to come and eat and then go. But now he checks in for a meal, uses the litter, humors Happy with a bit of horseplay then falls asleep on my bed.

He is not well mannered though. He will climb walls to bring down the bag of omena, breaking glasses in the process, but if Happy likes him who I’m I to refuse them a friendship?
And I like George’s family though I wouldn’t recognize them on the street. They are very quiet and prefer to be unheard.

The Maids

I have always felt it was unfair to give Househelps names like Mboch and Maid but I now understand the derision. There are two such beings in this plot. They live on the second floor. Boisterous beings that bring the house down with their noise and gimmicks. When they have done their washing in the morning, they pour down the water down the stairs and it comes cascading down like Victoria falls followed by the kid one of them looks after.I think she is always trying to run away.

After washing they lean on the balcony railings to gossip in screechy loud sounds. Then one will realise the child has ran away and will come down calling on the child, stopping by Vybez Cartel to flirt and complement him on his wonderful music collection.

When they sun comes out, they go outside the gate with the radio singing from their kabambe phone and make everyone coming in uncomfortable with their staring.

The cat

There is  a cat too. It lives under the stairs where the communal bin is and sleeps on one of the motorbikes packed close by at night. He is a brownish color, long fur with half a tail that was either bitten off by another animal or nipped by a human. It twitches unorthodoxly.

But he is alright. Has a very tiny voice and runs away from people, Happy invites him and trys to play with him but he’s too old. If this wasn’t July already I would try shave off his fur, but I will brush him someday if he’ll let me.
He’s a sight, which makes me wonder why Happy doesn’t like the laundry obsessor’s cat which is well taken care of.
So I’m holding up, until I snap.