To attend a birthday party in Nairobi’s Westlands you need car keys and a good neck tie. Especially if it is an Indian home. A nasal accent and a wrapped gift are added advantage, though the tie and car keys are the thing. On weekends I have walked to these parties without my yellow tie and still the feeling didn’t change. Continue reading “Your September Guy”
The reason I did not tell you where I was is simple: that you’ll laugh at me. You’ll laugh that I can know I have no papers but still have the guts to wake up early, take a loan from my Jew and reach the interview venue ten minutes to time.
Boss, that interview required no papers. The only paper you required was perhaps some tissue paper. Otherwise, people like we who had no stomach issues were okay attending with just our two hands so hold on.
There are many people running home to avoid the rain. You see, even rain knows what you don’t know! They run around you’ll think there is something they are running back to. A woman drags a child here and there through the mass of humanity. A man running knocks down a speeding motorcycle and does not look back to shout idiot. A campus girl hops on her high heels, each time stretching her skirt down towards her knees. Whatever brought them to the town centre is over and it is now time to go bolt it behind the landlord’s door. What a good reminder rain is! Let them curse but they will bless it when they realise it helped take home the booty before scavengers took control.
So I enter the large Nailab hall and find all the tables occupied. At first I can’t tell whether it is a cyber cafe or the newsroom for my employer-should-be. It actually takes me an hour or so to conclude that these are some IT geeks assembling rent or electricity bills or money for their girlfriends’ perfume. Hell, why do IT geeks always dress funny? 100% of them have wrinkled shirts on khaki trousers. And their fingers are always fretting. They always carry a black bag bought in the August of 1961 as second hand and look at you that sad look like they see an emptiness that scares them. Their life is sad. They cough sadly and smile sadly. They fart sadly and make love sadly. They are always scared and so you will not fail to tell them on a 4th floor of a Bishop Magua Building after one hour. Nailab.
But Nailab is also the venue for our interviews. So when I enter and ask for the person that has been sending me emails, I am shown her. Her table is way alienated from the other tables having computers and sad eyes. She gives me a paper card written number nine, smiles, and asks me to write my name on a sheet of paper. Then she shows me where to sit. Here I find eight other well dressed guys, two ladies and six men, all glued to their phones. Either I’m not audible enough or their witches told them they won’t get the job if they greet fellow contestants. I also sit and wait.
The interviews start one hour after the scheduled time. The guy with a paper marked ONE goes first. By now we are quite opening up to each other and the guy with EIGHT is even giving me stories of his girlfriend.
By the time they call TWO, it is more than half an hour later and we are wondering what a 40-minute interview can be if it doesn’t involve boiling beans for the panel. We are even complaining why they called a whole ten of us to subject us yet they only want one person as editor.
2pm. A fairly dark lady comes smiling at us. I can read a good omen one mile away and this isn’t one of them. She tells the remaining three of us that we may break for lunch and come back at 2.30. Since this is the other quarter of the city, we take the lift down and walk to a nearby tree to lunch on our words. I learn that EIGHT just completed studies in June though his strength is, he did Journalism. I don’t get much from candidate number ten apart from the fact that she looks religious and polite.
2.30pm. We are back. Ten minutes and the guy is called. His interview lasts about three minutes. Ho! He walks back to where I wait and sadly announces he has a train to catch to Eastlands. Three minutes? I’ve seen worse interviews but not one of three minutes. Then I am called.
I enter. There are two ladies; one is that who’s called me in. They confirm my name. A question about my job experience in online writing and editing. These souls look tired. The lady to my right looks sleepy. A third panellist joins us in the middle of the show. I’m now wondering why he wasn’t here in the start.
As I answer his questions, this guy looks at me like he did a bachelor’s degree in interviewing and other sad things. I don’t know if Nairobi Aviation College and Kampala International University were already minting degrees when he completed high school. He asks me if I have ever visited their website. I say yes, last time yesterday. Any memorable story I saw? I think. I doesn’t come. I read it knowing they’d ask; now they’ve asked and the sexing story is lost. Satan, I’m buying red pepper, rat poison and a gun! The story is gone just like that. The man gives me an impatient look and I surrender. Next question.
The sad guy finally asks whether I have a question for the panel. It is at the same time I discover I just dislike the trio. I look at them and feel like the guy who goes to launder his duvet at 1500 when a new one goes at 999. Why would they interview others in 30 minutes and now they are seeing us in only three? Why is it in the morning they were interviewing people downstairs and now they are doing it amidst the sad faces of the Nailab? And why have the panellists reduced from I don’t know how many to only one man and two ladies. But I don’t ask if spitting in a man’s face is allowed. When they say they’ll get in touch, I just coil my tail and walk out dejected.
Now I’m back in town and I’m looking at this bill board at Nation Centre. The opposition leader and his deputy are smiling. Then the Man at State House and his deputy are laughing their asses out. Swear, these guys can afford such a laughter in the middle of a city, in the middle of a month! I cannot be on a bill board. It will fall and harm me. Then I will frown in the picture. Yet Nation Centre and the governor want us to see people smiling and laughing in the middle of the city. Issokey.
Issorait. Time to smile. We may just find our asses on that board.
But I’ve just flopped a ninth interview this month and I know you are laughing. I’ve read many stories of people who began small and ended big. A certain president began as a cobbler and another as a newspaper seller. Celebrities say how they began in the ghetto and rose the ranks through perseverance. But I’ve also seen other people born in misery and whose ends were more misery. Google the name Simon Makonde and defend this thesis. Now which story do I take?
The first thing I’ll do when I get home is to find out why exactly I attended the interview.
Here cometh another opportunity for emerging writers. I think it is important to go out there and do things. Plus, they’re looking for the unpublished writers, meaning that only fellow small people are in the race. In fact we are applying already.
Source: 2016 Writivism Creative Writing Workshops Call for Applications
I have been seated here, thinking shit. I am not sure for how long, but I know I have been thinking. I can’t even recall everything I have thought. I must not remember it all, must I?
Well, the fact still remains that I have been thinking. Thinking about this four letter word; life. My life to be precise….
Where was I the other day before yesterday? What is it that I did not do yesterday? What have I done today? What am I doing now? I can tell that that is not important because the answer to all the named questions has not changed. But where will I be tomorrow? And what do I hope to achieve the day after tomorrow? Now that looks important, promising and encouraging. Because I believe in change. Though not very encouraging as such. It’s my life and I have been living it since as far as I can remember. No one knows the misfortunes and malls of the other day, the hustles of yesterday, the pains of today, the struggles that tomorrow carries and the mysteries that are to come with the day after tomorrow.
But I know about all of those predicaments. I know them very well because this is my life. I lived through the other day and enjoyed pushing through all of yesterday’s happenings. I am managing today’s woes comfortably even if they are not worth telling. I will see tomorrow by God’s grace and I have always been optimistic of the day after tomorrow; of the future.
I remember the other day as if it were just some seconds ago. I went home and got the room I call my house the same way I had left it. It seems as if this room has a moth of its own and a stomach much more bigger than my own. Why then did it always have no food in it? These small hungry pets you call rats and cockroaches are starving. With an extremely hungry, angry and a complaining stomach, I had sought the comfort of my bedding at the corner of the room. It had not been surprising when sleep adamantly refused to be my companion and left me at the mercy of the rats. They had given me no peace; biting my toes in an abide to revenge for starvation. I’m not even complaining of their movements and I have never figured out how they manage to be that big with all the hunger in my room.
Yesterday seemed a much better day than before. Unlike the day before yesterday, I managed to pinch a few coins from the rich. Those that had passed by my begging spot and thought it a wise idea to spare a farthing for poor me.
Only that it wasn’t a farthing as such .It was something next to a dollar or two if am not wrong. Okay! Okay! I’m not sure about that because I have no idea what amount in our native currency amounts to a dollar. But I know that yesterday was nearly overriding my best day. It is yesterday that saw me beg seventy two coins in assorted values of one, fives and those tens that I forever envy; a total of one hundred and eighty two shillings in our native currency. There may be people who envy notes but I’m not that lucky to own notes, not even the twenty shilling coin that can buy a cup of tea.
Back in the room, the rats had for once noticed the presence of a human being in the house by the food wrappings on the floor. Having bought a full loaf of bread, I had hoped to share it with my dear friends-cum-pets even if it would have been a slice. I can’t tell what happened but I know I galloped everything including that bottled soda and left the wrappings for my dear friends. And I really did sleep peacefully. What I’m not sure is whether it was because of a full stomach or because my friends were busy gnawing at the wrappings.
When I woke up today, I was in a jovial mood. That happens when you sleep on a full stomach and couldn’t make out the movements and disturbances of rats. I’m not used to checking my pockets in the morning because I’m always sure of finding nothing new in them. Today, I couldn’t help but burry my fingers deep in the pocket immediately I stepped out of the door. With two coins in the pockets, my smile couldn’t have been much bigger. At least the coins were proof that just the previous day, I had been rich. And I was still rich in the morning. Fifteen shillings in the pockets; two coins – was I not rich?
Only that with all my riches, I could not afford a cup of tea and that’s the saddest part of my poor riches. So today in the morning, I did what all rich people like me do, keep the coins for supper. I don’t even know why the word breakfast managed to get into the English dictionary.
Now this hooting car interrupts the line of my thoughts. Wait a minute; is this a car or a bus car? Who even cares to know the difference anyway? But this locomotive is much longer than the cars am used to seeing. It is like five meters long and the tinted windows are not a common figure to me. It’s true I have never seen a bus-car but I have this feeling that this is it. Otherwise what is it supposed to be? A car and a bus at the same time? I don’t feel it is so and I conclude this is what a bus-car looks like. If it were just a car like the others, I would have seen it long ago. I sit at the parking lot of the park, remember.
So what does this bus-car want with me? Does the owner want to drop an extra buck from his pocket? My hopes rise at this thought. I stand up and move towards it only to hear a voice, I don’t know from where.
“Get off the Limo!”
I am surprised. Limo? What was that, again? I look back at where I had been resting my back. It is a sign post with the simple words: Reserved Parking. I curse myself for parking on other people’s parking and move five meters away. That’s when I first notice that people are laughing. I don’t figure out why but they are laughing and pointing at me. Do I care? I am used to their jitters.
I see this small boy picking up something from where I have been sitting just as the metal parks. My hand acts on first instincts and goes to the pocket that is my bank. My face goes a little pale, just a little because I know I have two more torn pockets. After my fingers explore the pockets to their satisfaction, it is evident that there is no difference between my bank and the torn counterparts. My riches are no more. There are tears coming out but I’m not crying. I look at the boy enjoying sweets and jumping in the park. Sweets that I have never tasted but my riches have acquired them. What is fair in life?
I fall back to my thinking. So it seems like today is not going to be any different from the day before yesterday. And tomorrow?
I never think a shit about this thing called tomorrow. I live today and when tomorrow comes, it becomes today. They are as same as I see; two days but they are both today. Was today not yesterday’s tomorrow? You surely know there will be no difference at all. I only hope for the day after tomorrow. It is not tomorrow and thus a consolation to me. A hope for better things. A vision of dreams. Dreams of riches. A better future. Yes, future! The day after tomorrow is my future.
GUEST POST BY Prince Henry Waswa Jnr