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.

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