Farewells and More Sad Things

No one else knows how to stage the farewells drama like an Arab daughter. Arab daughters?! Nobody. And this is none of those stories of Hare and Chameleon I don’t know Elephant. I spent enough seasons in the flare of the Sahara to earn myself authority to talk about Arabs and their daughters and even Bashir would tell you this if he were a clever person.

We would go to the Khartoum Airport almost every week. At least every week someone was coming into the City of Patience, or running away from God’s wrath. The trips didn’t just offer us the opportunity to get the freshest first-hand news from home; they also put us at the right position in the field when fate’s midfielder would bring that cross of maize floor or tilapia and we would be at the right position in the opponent’s defense to fire the goal home. It wasn’t about greed or even the food per se. When you are in a foreign land you always want to get a piece of anything from home even if it is a piece of shit from your neighbour.

So on such occasions I would see Arab families swing into the Arrivals or Departures. Heavy Arab fathers smelling juneyr notes in their jalabiya and scarfs making staircases to the sky above. Huge bodies from Omdurman or Wad Madani or even Al Dabbah in the north. They would sit with us in the lounge and we would all watch Al Shorook and see Al Bashir issue warnings to Amriykia. All along they would be talking in low tones and sometimes Father would kiss Daughter on the forehead. That is how brutal Arabs were. They kissed their daughters while we stared and prayed that they leave the job to the rightful candidates. But we seemed to have left our gods back in the villages because God never struck their necks. A jealous mother would enter the discussion and pinch the daughter or her father. Then there would be a chuckle, followed by calm and talking in low tones as Al Shorook breathed on the screen.

Then would come the hour Leopard ate her child. Father would rise to leave, and would hug the family before hugging Daughter a long passionate one. (Picture young man gritting teeth). Then he would turn to leave.

He never would leave like that…..

And this is where I will tell you Arabs are beasts, and that small beautiful Arab girls are worse. For when you ask me why I didn’t marry an Arab it will not just be that they were unreachable. They were also small spirits, explosives. These small creatures would coil and turn wild and wail.  They would run to their fathers and grab their jalabiya not to leave. It always was a small Gulf War. Many of them collapsed right before our eyes. Many remained at the lounge hours after the man had gone. Many needed police to help the mother carry them back to the waiting car.

In the Sahara I learnt one thing, that goodbyes are the hardest experience hunger.

For I felt so broken on behalf of the father. I tried but failed to taste how the old beast himself felt leaving behind Yellow Flower with round lips and eyes of Eve.

Farewells have always been tough for me. I think it is because I tend to attach sentimental value to almost everything around. I remember one time I secured a job in another town and so it was a must to move. Yes I went, but I kept paying rent and coming back for pilgrimage. I think it was also the time I had lots of the president’s head and tails. And dung between my ears.

It’s been quite a while since we began doing stuff here. We sometimes stumbled upon sense and made it right. Sometimes we pulled a crazy line and we were happy. Or sometimes a sad one until we were happy that we were crying. We’ve traversed the world and met people. But I’m not sure that if war broke out today happiness and sense would still stand on our side anymore. I think what I’m fearing to say is that this place has become vague. You can’t expect to write boring stuff and then hope to have fun unless the person who bewitched you was also bewitched.

Or perhaps it is just the burnout.

Whatever, we need to go back to the drawing board.




Guys, this is a bachelor’s way of saying bye. For the moment. There is a long literary project I’m working on and I felt Eke the bird will fly away if I shoot with half an arrow. Perhaps you will be there to buy a boring book with my name when November cometh. And who knows, School Girl will be grown already and I won’t need police papers to show her around and tell Arabs to remain with their little beasts. And I will have a phone with a camera; you know what that means?

But most importantly, we are taking this break to breathe back the energy into this page. So roll that frown and make bread from it. (Big Emoji)

Bye (and I’ll miss you, and remain sad) till 7th November. 8 am.



A Story Without Direction

My other sister wanted to be a banker when she grew up. A curious career. Sad too. Spend whole day behind thick and cold glass walls and attend to sad clients who were appointed by God Himself to dress as they please and not even flinch. Work with a sad manager, sad receptionist, sad colleagues and assume there is joy in this sadness. Wake up every morning and believe that the sadness you see in your mirror is actually joy.

I sincerely hate sad. Many people do. Sitting alone with the chin overlapping the eyebrows in an award-winning frown. Nothing sexy about looking at people and hoping they pity you and understand your predicament. So I am wondering how a small child of such good parenting could decide to sit down and choose the noose over life. Such a young girl with a good brother who wanted to be an engineer.

I had my own sadness before I grew old. Maths was it. And my teacher was the messiah of sadness sent to deliver the message of sadness and conquer the world with it. Why didn’t they just take an engineer with distinctions in religious education? Sometimes as an engineer you get tough situations. Metals knock your hands and you need to sit by the road and cry. And pray. And there is no prayer in Maths. It was only later I came to realise that if there is any career that requires religious education, it has to start with being engineering. But Our White Man of Musenda would never hear that.

He was the authority. Children feared him. Parents worshipped him. What he said was the Taurat and it was strictly written on white tablets in our parents’ heads. And having your say involved understanding this.

Why don’t we just make our own world? People who can’t leave us with our choices should all be jailed.

Every time I use the Kayole buses I think about options and choices. If you have never been on a bus screaming that West African noise then you don’t know what respecting other people’s choice is. You have never seen that Indian who smokes at his gas station. You have probably never seen young Nairobian girls out on the streets with dogs.

I don’t mean dogs of hotdogs or dogs that break deals. I mean dogs wu-wu-wu. The parent of a bitch.


By the way, what is this thing I see in Donholm? I don’t know about over there but here things are getting messier. Every evening you will see a group of girls in flimsy tops and sweat pants strolling behind a dog. White and with a belt round the neck and with wu-wu-wu in the head. Sometimes they cuddle the thing. Sometimes they carry it on their lean backs. Sometimes there will be a male fool, doing everything to the animal just to get credentials with the girl. Sometimes the dog does something, and they burst out laughing. Donholm. They don’t wait for darkness. They do it when the sun is still awake. Every evening I alight at Mwea Plaza and along that 200 m lane I see these things. And those young girls are not crazy. Now what is that?

The place of a dog is in the bush, running after squirrels. Or in the home waiting for trouble. And when it does wu-wu-wu we know something is up. Either a thief has arrived or a Chinese is around or a bitch wants food. Or, the canine is just testing its constitutional right and checking out what you’ll do after all. That wu-wu-wu.

So I am always sympathising with the people of Donholm. In Kayole, the pets we know are chicken. When a visitor comes, you can negotiate with your pet and the guest gets food. But a dog! Chinese men must tell us their secret because I don’t think they toss their juice over real dog meat. I read in a book about people who would play gambling and the most expensive part to place a bet on was dog ears. Sweet. Go away.

So every evening at Mwea, when I go to get my daily bread from the Somali mum, I’m uncomfortable. But people here are so deaf they won’t realise this. Or they are playing safe. They must play safe around Tatiana with mascara and polished nails.

And you Tatiana, because I know your name must be Tatiana with a tattoo, Tatiana, what will you say if that dog bites you? You are so small, poor thing of God. Where’s the fun in caressing a guy with four hands and a tail when young men working for Somali moms are around?

Let me not go there. Do what you want. Let people choose what they find joy in. If I bring this dog talk too high, people will say I am single that’s why I am picking this war. That I’m picking a war with Tatiana to try meet the deficit in the word count. Okay. Tatiana you win.

Let bankers be.

Let engineers be.

Let Tatiana be.

It is a choice.

That is my story without direction.

Image Credits

Hell, Welcome


I don’t like Toyota. Even if I were to drown and the only way out was a Toyota boat, I’d still hate it. I’d board but dive immediately I smelt the shore. And I can’t help.

Hate is this emotion where you really have no control. Like you have this workmate whom you have hated from the first day regardless of the smiles he makes around you. You always feel that the lift should fail one evening, the day when he is the last guy to leave office, so that he stays caged and lonely for the night. Better still, you want it to be a Friday evening so he stays there till Monday 8.15 a.m when government cleaners open the doors. Sometimes you try very hard to like the felabut you always backtrack more than you advance.

The reason I don’t like Toyota dates back, back. Taktari was our rogue neighbour who kept disturbing our peace. For every day that had a morning, he played music from an old Sanyo radio that screamed those foolish songs. Each night, the music cut the air like it was war. Then his wives always fought and called each other obscenities, but even that was nothing compared to the green Sanyo thing.

But if you belong to those days you’d know that the issue was not just noise making. That the noise was from a Sanyo meant he was one mile ahead of us in affluence. It reminded us our page and chapter in Maslow’s books of truth. It told the number of meals he could afford. He just had to let it scream and you’d remember that his kids were the only ones who went to school in shoes, who spoke Swahili, who went home to lunch, and who sometimes owned a leather football. Then you’d understand how insignificant your family was. Let’s just say that a family that owned a Sanyo those days could only compare to a family that shops in Dubai today.

So one day, when the Hiace guys were repairing the road at our market centre, we heard loud screeching. Now our market place is so designed that any such drama will be received by almost everyone instantly. We rushed to the spot. Even in that immediacy, word had already travelled that it was a bad accident. Victim? None other than Taktari himself.

I ran. The prospect that we would have peaceful days propelled me to run even faster. I can’t tell what others were going to do. Mine was simple: I wanted to see how the idiot had died. I wanted to see if he had died facing the sky or he had planted his nose into the tarmac. But importantly, I wanted to prove that he was dead as wood.

I remember surging forward strongly and hoping that his trouser be torn and his privates be out just for nature’s poetic justice.

People were crowded. I think I saw some blood stains and the air of death gave me satisfaction. Having passed by Taktari’s second wife screaming, I inwardly nodded and promised myself to be happier once I saw the limb body. There was also this kid who came running and screaming for his departed father. Amazingly, that home had chosen a uniform brand of durable lungs – from the Sanyo, to the last wife, to the kids.

A few metres away from the swelling crowd sat the guilty Toyota Hilux which Sergeant Inengeya had recently bought from his retirement wealth. I was in no hurry and since I wanted to have sufficient foreplay, I first went to the metal to examine the extent of damage. It would be great guessing and confirming how many teeth the bastard had lost before parting with the soul.

The Toyota had smashed its front into a tree in whose shade sat a cobbler on other days. The bumper was completely gone. The tyres still smelled from the braking. Its blood stained bonnet had flung upwards and you could see the sad radiator eulogising the man who owned a Sanyo radio. Now let’s see who will buy the dry cells.

When I turned to go meet the epitome of my happiness, the first person I met was our neighbour’s senior wife who was driving home two big goats. Already…? In her trail walked a proud man in those Taliban gowns and who held his prestigious staff. The story later unfolded of how our bastard had bought four goats at the market and was taking them home when a stray Toyota tried to avoid a pothole and finally ran into them. It killed two goats and missed the owner by a hair.

I have hated Toyota since then. That was justice it failed to deliver. Why miss such a person by a hair? When the Japs (I don’t know who makes Toyota) were making it, did they agree that it should be missing enemies by a whisker? And I pitied the sergeant for using his goodbye wages to buy such a blunt, foolish, and lazy van that would keep missing people by a whisker.

So it is official that I hate Toyota; put it down. I also hate Maths teachers; I hate Maths itself. I hate men with bad manners. I hate job interviews. I hate my landlord.

And apart from hate, my life builds around other hidden blocks about which I can’t help myself either. Fear, love, scholarship, Shotokan, and beautiful women, are all mine.

I fear the female anopheles mosquito, snakes, bedbugs, a cold shower, and a beautiful woman who uses makeup. I read Achebe, Naipaul, Lehane, Chomsky and other liars. I support Leopards, Leopards, Leopards and Leopards. I do mawashigeri and love giyakuzuki. I dislike models who don’t fart. And I still hate our neighbour, his 27 children and the Sanyo – wherever it went.

Now welcome to this space where we rant and rant all day. This is where we say the shit we like and nobody asks a question. We will laugh together, peel onions together, love each other, lie to each other and request that we kindly believe the lies. Who doesn’t lie anyway?

Welcome and let’s celebrate our full site, papawere.com. To (dot)wordpress(dot)com, bye bye Vietnam.


No Story Today

In the morning you are still sleepy. But it’s 49 minutes to 8. The fuckin power is back and since you don’t go to work any longer, you decide to sit in front of the screen and give it one more try. You close your eyes and shut down rationality. You let the hands strike the keys and pour out the flow in your mind. Your eyes are still shut but you trust that whatever your fingers are doing will not let you down. You harass the keys proper. Then when you are through, you paste the text on your ‘Posts’ page. You give it a title you think little about. Then you punch ‘Publish’. You check your watch; it is 7:56 a.m. Some four minutes to pleasure. You even resist the urge to go through and edit the post.

As an amateur blogger, sometimes you go out there and find no story for your blog. You try to engage your muses, even for a miracle; your muses laugh at you. It thus pains you that the reader will today have no shit to bother them. It pains that today your reader will enjoy the cheapness of life and at the end go unpunished. This cannot be allowed. You therefore think of a way in. You think of a fake story.

You are now faking a twelfth story today. You are travelling aboard KQ510 and you are in the yellow rain clouds, which means that you guys are sailing. The yellow has covered your plane that you can’t see outside. It has also fissured into your plane. You curse that you can no longer see the Italian blonde that was on the adjacent seat. So you write about the clouds smelling like the smoke at Grandma’s. But a problem arises. You have never travelled by air and perhaps the clouds bit is the only thing you know about planes. Your story won’t be bought by a toddler and you throw it away.

Then you think, why don’t I write about Diego Maradona? Good idea. Google gives enough of his information. But you want to look like you were in Santiago interviewing him and you are so far doing good. You have asked very tough questions, most of which he couldn’t score home. Your mind goes dry and you cannot any longer imagine anything interesting. The interview therefore hits a rock 376 miles into the sea of words.

But your lazy reader must be tormented by millions of words, not just three hundred. They must know you can write. You conjure something about the Argentines sending a spy into the Samba camp. Here you need some solid facts.

Alejandro will feign Samba nationality and pick the name Flavio. So Flavio is an established doctor living in Ireland but whose native home is Sao Paulo. He’s back home on holiday and would like to watch the boys’ training session and hand over some motivation. He has one million shillings for them. He has a video camera hanging from his neck. Day one he talks to the coach and gives his promise. Day two he calls aside Faustino, the captain, and tells him about his errors on the pitch. Captain laments over delayed allowances. Doc Flavio vows to bring something for the team on 22/06/1999, which is the following day. Shit, this story sounds Kenyan!

You have even forgotten the name of the coach and you are telling Captain Fantastic that the AU is soon deploying you to Sierra Leone to fight Ebola. You have already cursed Uncle Sam thrice for inventing Ebola. You also curse your story and tell yourself that the reader can as well go to hell.

You look at your watch. Seventeen minutes of God past midnight. You imagine night-runners showing their shrivelled nudity to the darkness somewhere around Lake Victoria. You and them have something in common: you are both awake and at work. The only difference is that they are happy while you are a frustrated mass of a loser in the city. Don’t even pinch yourself – it won’t help.

Featured image

Somehow, you admire the story about night-runners. You imagine Oroya being their ringleader and commander. You ponder over this story for so long that you almost start writing it. Almost, until another more appealing idea comes.

It is one, midnight, right? Grandpa used to tell me stories of ghosts from the coast. Why don’t I terrorise the lazy reader with one?

The big ghost walks in the heart of the night, eating the intestines of everyone awake (you change it to ‘everyone asleep’). Everyone Almost everyone is scared. You open a new window and start hitting the keyboard. “He ate raw blood and human intestines, roamed the night and walked without noise. Every rainy night, his diet was thirty three intestines of teenage girls and two pots of blood from old men who still combed their beards….”

The lights go off.

Fwakni! You had not saved the work. And fwakni, the ghosts! You immediately become scared in the dark, wondering whether your beard is combed. The house is scaring silent! You curse the power company. You curse the rain. You curse your neighbours for being asleep when important literary issues are being addressed. You curse the ass of your reader and swear you will revenge. And that’s how sleep finds you.

In the morning you are still sleepy. But it’s 49 minutes to 8. The fuckin power is back and since you don’t go to work any longer, you decide to sit in front of the screen and give it one more try. You close your eyes and shut down rationality. You let the hands strike the keys and pour out the flow in your mind. Your eyes are still shut but you trust that whatever your fingers are doing will not let you down. You harass the keys proper. Then when you are through, you paste the text on your ‘Posts’ page. You give it a title you think little about. Then you punch ‘Publish’. You check your watch; it is 7:56 a.m. Some four minutes to pleasure. You even resist the urge to go through and edit the post.

And as you go back to sleep, you pray that your reader is still alive, and that they find the work very terrible and very tormenting. And you start thinking of another story, perhaps about the eternal punishment to those who do nonsense on the web.