A Friend and Friendship

I will start it straight. The people of the Kingdom have a saying that omulayi w’ebuwanga ashina mumuse lulala. Dear Gentile, the good one of Wanga dances on the floor once. So I want to dance on this floor once and only once. And quick. Friend, the trouble with dancing is that you are assessed by those whose bones cannot twist but whose eyes are so sharp to pick the best dance of the year. You alone sweat; they alone judge. You must dance well because that is the only dance you will have. Unless you don’t want to be the omulayi of Ebuwanga. So this dance will be Brutus, using the crudest means here and there. It is thus perhaps paramount to state from the onset that I will hit badly “or else the story I am going to tell you will make no sense”.

Life has become difficult, yes. People don’t respect you. Everything is going to the dogs. Now you want God to bring a rain of fortune. Smoked fish, millet powder and iPhone. My friend, the woman who will give birth to the woman who will bear the grandfather of your liberator has not been born.

You sit there complaining about the weather and January. You spend your time cursing this and that. That you are broke. You now forget your laziness and curse January, an innocent month of God sacrificed at the front to open doors of blessings for you. Imagine having to come at the beginning of every year (because you’ve never seen July come first) and having to persevere with curses of people who have no clue how innocent you are.

You sit there gossiping people in Watsap groups and expect life to run smoothly. You gossip that girl in the hood when she passes. You gossip your in-laws when your partner goes to work and still hold you are okay. How? It is legal for people to dream of a Subaru before 30; but how many people do you need to gossip to get one? Last year one second-hand Impreza costed 760k gossips; it must have gone down with the fall in oil prices. Find out and let me know. Gossiper.

By the way there is nothing that demeans an intellectual as cheap talk. Nick went to town yesterday and dash dash. Hey, when will you build your life? I am announcing amnesty for the criminals who slander friends that leave social media groups. Three days amnesty. I’m talking of “any dim-wit with internet connection, rent to pay and a lot of…”. Surrender your gossip tools in three days or we shall come for you. Me and my girls. And boys. Call the people you slandered and apologise over a glass of juice and goat meat. Three days’ amnesty, not four.

And you are the slowest monkey around yet you complain why the people around you are in an unending rush. No hurry in Africa? That’s what the thieves said. Came around, found Africans in a cultural hurry and were disappointed why people with melanin could be so unfair. Then when they were going away, your father, whom you take after, took them to the port. He was lazy and hungry and so he snailed himself on the way. They took B/W photos of him and on their home-bound voyage wrote big books. So you may believe them.

Otherwise Africa itself is a scramble. Virus, an accomplished professor of Engineering and rusticator of students, acknowledges the fact that life is a race for the strong. So if the race is too hot, buy a sisal rope, choose a branched tree and end the misery. Or get bus fare and go back to the village.

The village is a very noble idea. No need to buy an umbrella. Just walk back and those guys will embrace you. They’ll clap their hands and enthrone you. They won’t know you are stingy. And poor. Haha. A poor stingy man returning from the city. And that you don’t honour your debts. They won’t know you are a criminal of life. They won’t know you’ve committed all solid crimes under the sun.

Your mistake number one is that you are a fluent watcher of soap operas and you are also a bookworm. The latter is what you call yourself when you do motivational books once in seven months. For the last 5 years you’ve been waking up at 8 a.m. every 1st January and when Zuckerberg asks what’s on your mind, you’ve always set your New Year resolutions painted in colour and by 3rd you can’t recall what they were. You spend the first half of the year breaking and washing them down the drain and use the second half conjuring up new ones and painting them in air to later respond to Zuckerberg on the next 1st. You amaze. You do.

Selfies guy. By right and by worth. So you have reduced your world to images. Dead copies. And you complain when girls buy buttocks and don 3-ton wigs of dead Indians. When you take popcorn, you selfy yourself. When you buy new shorts, you selfy yourself. When you selfy yourself, you selfy yourself. You selfy yourself at the pub with a borrowed girlfriend and glass. Have you heard us complain? No. We have not even unfriended you. We don’t gossip you. We keep asking ourselves what sort of a guy you are that you cannot take a meal without burdening the selfies stick and running to photoshop for a favour here and there. We ask ourselves what you were doing at college for four years. Like, if you learnt anything else apart from cheating. And failing. You lie even to yourself. Typically that thief who waits till it is dark and then steals their own clothes from the line.

Then when you go to town you complain of the traffic. You complain of the dust and post selfies of your Turkish sandals. You complain of the noise of hooting buses. You even watch those movies and say how backward our city is. Our city, for God’s sake. Issokay. Just go.

Go back to the village because that is where your A-Double-S belongs. Go back home and look after your father’s goats. Just leave us some feet near the gate in case the city cemetery will be full the time we respond to the Call. Demarcate it with thorns (we’ll send the money) and every time you pass there, remind yourself that thereunder shall rest the bones of a stronger inhabitant of Earth.

This is 2015. Hitler is dead and so are Jews. 2016 in fact. Yet you still want things that would make Daedalus and Icarus laugh. Do you even know Daedalus and Icarus, friend? See! Motivational books and Mexican soaps.

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Anyway, you are my friend and the only one I got. I hope you continue staying around and giving me company. No, don’t go to the village. I hope you stay around so we go swimming together and walk to work together and gossip that new tenant – who does she think she is? – together.  The world has changed and we can’t be what our old folks were. We can’t live in their shadows of values.

Friends and friendship.
A Friend and Friendship.

I hope you dwell not on my weaknesses but keep reading this henshit and that you don’t compare me with the established icons. Let’s die for each other. That is friendship.

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My Shoes, Four Girls, and the Money

It’s good I have to remove my shoes before entering this house. Coincidence 1: the girls never leave the house all the time I’m in there. Coincidence 2: they have this ninja for a mother drumming sense into their bleached heads. Now, who’d otherwise waste their respect on a teacher whose shoes are torn?

I remove my shoes at the door. It is one of those painful moments where you have to part with a close and faithful friend. I grew up with friends whose fathers thought we were stray children born to corrupt their good children. So I know how it feels when Vic stops on the way, near their gate, and tells you to wait for him here. I know how it feels to be left aloof so that the friendship may reach a tomorrow.

And so for a whole two hours my shoes remain in the cold, alone, unused and neglected. Those black Gucci hooves that once were an envy in the village. I often taste betrayal on my tongue, yet still can’t help. For two hours I rant inside their sitting room which is our makeshift classroom.

I take days explaining the present simple tense. I spend a few more centuries preaching the spelling of ‘remove’, each decade reminding them that the word does not have an ‘i’ and things like that.

To earn some coin.

I am hoping that I will be rich someday: a stinging rich fellow with 97 cars, a jet, a belly, and a fleet of women trailing my ass. I have this dream that one day I will own a house like this and force people to remove their shoes at the gate while I shelter my clean toes even at the swimming pool.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t know even quarter the IGCSE ESL syllabus. It doesn’t matter that my pronunciation gives them hell (at least it did). Nothing matters really. Nothing should as long as there is money coming this way. Live in this city and you will know what I’m saying. Which reminds me of an old Arabic proverb: Al-rizq-ul-ulamaai fiy yadd-il-juhalaa’. (Visit my bank just in case you want the translation.)

So basically, this thing is about lies, pretension and money. What is not about lies and money these days, anyway? I lie; I get my fuckin pay and go home. I lie more; I get even more. Willing buyer and stealing seller on the bargaining table and the world spins.

But sometimes I feel what they give is not even their money. Last time their ninja mother paid me in notes and I checked: they were minted in 1976. In nineteen-seventy-fucking-six she was still a virgin and not in Kenya. In 1996 she was still a virgin nigger in Norway. In 2006 all the four girls were born, alright, but they were still living under Stoltenberg. So the 1976 notes are by birthright more deserved to me than her.

Or what if we’d all shared the money somewhere around 1977? What if, during Kenyatta’s funeral, Nyerere and Uncle Bob oversaw the sharing of the country’s resources to every citizen? They’d have come from that fuckin Norway and got nothing, poor things. They’d be beggars at Jamia Mosque or somewhere around State House. Or they’d be running a brothel along the coast. Point is, this 1976 money is legitimately MY money. In my next visits I should start knocking, sitting silently and waiting to be given my cash without a word – no parroting. That is before my brother becomes president and they start queuing at my castle every morning to bring to Caesar what the Jew commanded them to.

The first day I came here, they scared me. They put all their English in their noses and forced me to take my pronunciation back into the shoes waiting outside. Only a teacher’s confidence saved me, plus some lies about me lecturing at a college in town and having applied for a PhD at Cambridge ee-of-tee-and-see. They still fear me like a deity.

What else? If you stay in Norway all those years and you come back to Africa without knowing London’s language, what do you want? Norwegians are cousins to Londoners yet they didn’t leave a mark in your grammar; what in the name of the Queen can I do, thousands of miles down the Sahara, to give you the same language?

So I teach them with the attitude of let-the-goat-eat-its-rudeness. I keep skipping topics I don’t like. Like Noun Clauses and Prepositions. I tell them to write assignments I hardly mark. When by accident they ask a challenging question, I dismiss it and assure them it can never come in the exam, and you should see how the four faces beam! Anyway, they couldn’t have understood the answer even if you, you, told them.

The girls! They carry chocolate to class and never remember to get a fifth plate. When they are not chewing, they are talking to each other in Somali. At 19, 18, 16 and 15 they believe they know freedom and rights. Fuck Norway.

All along I pray no one leaves through the front door. I pray that no one becomes curious on what is hiding under the door mat. No one, dear God, should have business there.

My Gucci pets are leather. I bought them when old-school moccasins were just the thing in town (they still are!). Cost me a fortune. But now they are an old pair with a forced smile on the left piece (my mother says my left foot is bigger) and a beaten look like they come from apartheid cells. The soles keep cursing rain. The leather that was originally dark black can currently not go beyond blackish grey no matter the polish. The right piece is comparatively better, only that it has this dented heel that resembles a loose bumper. And then they have this conspicuous rise, just at the fulcrum, where they curve upward like some creepers.

Lonely hooves
Lonely, dejected and very sad hooves. How’d you feel when your friend tells you to wait at the gate?

But shoes aside. Our girls.

My many sessions with them and a lot is revealed to me. They are a bunch of innocent girls whose mother thinks you can buy brains downtown. They believe your grammar can improve through bleaching, watching Meixcan soaps and spending the afternoons practicing American accent before the mirror. They are sweet things sometimes though, especially Riya, 17, who has this sharp twinkle in her eye whenever she smiles. Last time she even told me I have dimples, and twinkled her eyes.

The book we study is supposed to take four years or so I guess. Their mother told me to take seven months because they have some exam around ‘Nofember’. I will complete it by September so she can tip me a speed allowance. Then before she realises what I did to her white girls, I will be gone.

Perhaps to take another job that can give me better shoes. Or perhaps to take one where the Gucci pets can proudly accompany me to any table.