Monday, October 26, 2015

Kindrend Souls

My history and upbringing sways my current life. I spent a lot of time alone as a child. And the three of us, how did we cope? How did  we ever?

 Grandma ensured there was food and tea in the house, and uncle  ensured I remained in a controlled environment most of the time.
Meaning, the three gates were kept latched, the farm chemicals were on a high shelf, and if he would be too long he took me along to fence.

Mother  supplied a steady flow of story books and candy. So in my own world I was not even sure what was real and what was made up for a long time and since questions were not well entertained, I made my own conclusions.

I had gone through the book of Matthew and read a great deal of the gospels by age 8.
I said to my grandmother one day that we should build our house on a rock. And the newly married neighbour who was visiting asked if the child was alright.

Low human interaction made me more introverted than I was meant to be, but not a recluse. I soon discovered writing. I spent  much time in my  mind, so when I spoke they either didn't hear me, or didn't understand what I was all about.

But there was aunt Beth.
I asked her one day, we were eating  barely ripe plums off a tree.

"Tata Beth, if I was never born, would another me be standing here now?"

She thought about it for a moment and said.

picture from askmissa
'I also sometimes wonder the same Soni,' she always calls me Soni, or Son.'I wonder would the other person be called Beth?'

We silently mused about it for a few minutes, and that was the first deep human connection I ever had.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I don't celebrate Christmas; never did, really.
Christmas in our homestead was mostly sarakasi(a circus)
When everybody came together and old grudges  resurfaced, and the differences in opinions become quite distinct.

By 26th December all had found different exit routes.
 I can't account for for everybody's emotions, that would be based on mere observation.
 What I can describe with no trouble of recollection is my own reactions to the going-ons.

 See, my mother works in the hotel industry, for as long as I have known her. That means holidays are busiest, and a divorcement from social life. But a single mother doesn't have too many choices.

When in the city, I watched TV all day long, Scooby Doo re-runs on Cartoon Network.
When at plot 65, I would be in a murderous mood.

One Christmas day, me and sister had been scrubbing dishes all  day long, interspersed only with running errands for our visiting city relatives.
In the afternoon, different people got invited to different homes and some went to sleep.

We took a bath, brushed our hair and decided to take a walk  about the village.
I must add here, that any ventures out of plot 65 were limited to the school route and the church route.
We returned slightly after 6.30 to find cũcũ arũrĩte ta igi (grandmother ready to sting like a wasp). I remember wondering what Christmas was all about then.

Another Christmas went by in a similar manner. It got to me, and I had a bright idea to have some fun by raiding the Christmas goodies and hiding them until the last guest had left. About 30th December I woke up sister in the middle of the night to have a biscuit and juice party.
 As you can imagine, I didn't look forward to holidays. The last one I acknowledged was the year after high school.

Someone had boiled a chicken.
Grandmother had been invited by her brothers to eat a goat; and she left about mid-morning, with strict orders that she would like to find work started on the foundation; for the extension of her sitting room.
I was feeling stressed, and under pressure to prepare family and friends that I wouldn't score an A in the K.C.S.E. I was dropping subtle hints.

We sat in the compound after eating the chicken, mentally wondering how do get out of digging the foundation and still have a place to live the following week.
I declared:
"Next year, I'm gonna study Spanish and be a model."
"You cannot be a model, you have no boobs and your teeth are brown." Brother  communicated his viewpoint, which lead to a shouting match.
Our older mother tried to break us up, apologising on behalf of his son.
Sister was saying "Aaai, that's mean." 

All the pent up anxiety came out in the manner of "the coward of the county."
Uncle, too embarrassed by this turn or affairs took a hoe and spade and we heard him start to dig noisily behind the house. 
It was about 2p.m.
Someone got the wheelbarrow. Mwingine akatafutana na magunia(someone else found and passed the gunny sacks around) and we started to move soil.

Birthdays were no better. Mother would bring a bag of candy the weekend that followed.
One time, I must have been seven. I decided to cook chapati for my birthday.
 The concept, however was not mature in my brain yet.
 I boiled water in a sufuria then poured in a kilogram of wheat flour and  stirred. Yeah.

Uncle rescued the disaster and we had chapos about midnight.

I later learned kumbe these holidays don't even have christian origins. And the two mentione in the Bible had someone killed(too much for a celebration of life).

No wonder we were all so joyless
No wonder laughter only came after.

Good riddance I say.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mr. Fong,Get out of the kitchen I’m cooking

My Fong was the landlord. We were three tenants.
Tanya, from Uganda, Charlotte from Oman but with Tanzanian Origin. I was the strange Kenyan that didn’t have much to say to either.
I only met him once. He didn’t know which one of us was which. And since he never followed us up for rent, our conversations went like this.

“This is Cecilia, I’ve deposited the rent.”
“Okay, thank you, are  you in the medium or the small room?”

He kept a fine house, with pre-installed gas, every kind of kitchen appliance and red leather sofas.
Tanya rang him whenever the bulb went out, when keys got stuck. He would send someone in 24 hours. He never complained about us and when I chose to move out, he gave me ideas to make my stay longer.
I liked the way the sunset shed light on the furniture when I came home.

Charlotte cooked once a week, she would  fill the kitchen with flavours and scents and you didn’t need to be told to get out and have your nasi goreng in the mamak stall nearby.

Tanya was studying Business, at Limko, I always cheered up whenever we met at the bus stop coz I somehow thought she was in a different college. It was hard to bring business and Limko together. She sort of kept the house, made cleaning schedules, sorted the bills and had Royco in her cabinet.
 They were really cool girls. Tanya had steady friends, they would go to shopping together.

Charlotte was intriguing, a dancer too. She later went into NewYork Film School and is and an actress. We went swimming and once for a meeting, which is a lot for  housemates.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

pole sana ma dam

Kenyans speak in coded language a lot.
We also hardly ever use the phrase- excuse me-
Unless it is in sarcasm.
We simply nudge, wiggle, squeeze and the other Kenyan gets inspired that,
 You wish to pass through.
Unless you went to Braeburn or Hillcrest schools.

There is an unwritten code
You take a cab, he is nice,,,
 I mean you rent a school bus (how often do we take cabs?)
So you rent the bus to go on a trip and the driver is patient and entertaining.
 He joins your party, eats, plays with you.
He will charge you less, you took note of him.
So anyway, I came home the other night and wore out my eyes writing about my obnoxious neighbours. It was gonna be a powerful well thought out article.
 Power was out so I didn’t post it, then I allowed it time to ferment a little,
The next evening I found my neighbor crouched by his chicken houses. He handed me two kienyeji eggs;said I could eat those.
Two; one would be strange, three would be obscene.

"Thank you," I said.
And I came in and silently laughed very very hard.

Two kienyeji eggs =  full apology.
And the matter is closed.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I miss Ghari

The nice ginger tea place near G.P.O.
But they have moved to  a suburb somewhere. It took a year to discover Ghari and their moving makes my tea experience in Nairobi difficult. I used to have another joint, deep in River road- I think it was called South Tetu Restaurant-
 They made good tea and had a conversational setting to it. I could write there. And between four and 6 p.m there would be light from the sunset.

Until they  converted the front to a pub. So my friend and I went in once or twice to eat a samosa and giggle.
Finding a tea house has been a hobby. I have another joint, in Ngara, next to sarakasi Dome. I honestly donno what it’s called. But it has brown chairs. Used to go there when I was in college to do my assignments.
My tea place has to have comfortable chair, moderate lighting and not a hint of old frying oil or meat or beer. The clientele has to be- business people too busy to notice you assigning roles to each according to their posture or dressing.
-That one has a round wife and three daughters-
-That one drives a probox-
-That one is a mechanic and had to really scrub himself before coming to this meeting-
It is not a place where some fella might ask to sit opposite you, or a family with children sitting next to you trying to decide whether to have the combo chicken with fries and a burger or just burgers. Or somewhere the lady waiters come over to shake your  kettle or take away your cup before you finish.
It is also not a place where I expect to meet anyone I know. They don’t go there.

Artwork googled, thank you very much.

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