Bachelors, Onions, Invitations

There is a big problem for a man hitting thirty or thereabout. Especially if the one we are talking of is a graduate on his ninth job that isn’t what well-paying is defined at Oxford. No promising job invitations. No sustainable cash flow. At this age, you have already become what you wanted to become – a man. But again you are not so sure if that was the best thing, and you sometimes spend your evenings facing the ceiling and mulling over the years you have stashed in your knees with little to show because you have also become what you did not want to become – a loser. A shell. A semi-man.

So you spend your evenings studying your ceiling. You will find comfort in looking at the dots and lines left by the careless painter. If your house is like our houses then there will be a cobweb or a hill of dust near the lamp. An image will develop slowly. The scratches that once were artistic errors will now connect to create the sketch of an ogre. And like poverty, ogres are naturally ugly.

In those stories, ogres were African. Even had the tail. Sometimes you wonder if it is an ancestor forming up there to remind you your sins in the evolution history. As you lie there thinking weird things you will try picturing if your grandparent ogres are responsible for the hustle you go through today. You can’t afford anything, not even your own poor soul which you rented to the Indian long ago.

Today you arrived from work early. The first in four months and one of those moments. Now the door is locked and you are standing in the HQs of your Ministry of Food and you can even say your government isn’t doing so badly. You are at least better than Greece. Though your citizens are tired and famished and beaten by the winds of life, they will soon eat. In fact, once you are through with cutting these onions everything else will be just fine. A good evening.

Random thoughts have taken you to the grocery woman. How she keeps sympathising with you every time you buy her stock. Like today she was so full of sympathy she sat you down and offered a banana. Then she mentioned Stacy so very much more well. You learnt that Stacy is not her daughter but a niece. She is at the university and is not selling today because she has exams next week. Mama, for that is how you call the grocer, even gave you Stacy’s number so you could always book groceries when you delayed in the jam.

Stacy. Stacy is a good person; you are not. How she can deliver groceries at her aunt’s orders does not enter your curriculum well. You look at your past and you don’t want history to start repeating itself. But you decide to mind your own business anyway.  

Now you are about minding your business when the phone bleeps. The sudden sound frightens you at first. It is a message. Since your hands are wet, you decide to check it later. It could even be that WhatsApp group where people send 2000 texts every evening discussing only sex and feminism without knowing Butler or the other woman. This is a good group to leave. But the guys are always online the entire night. And the way they discuss anyone who leaves has kept you scared. 

The phone bleeps again. Then the call tone comes. It is a strange number. You wipe your hands in your hair and decide to pick it. Someone, mum, could be in trouble.

But the ninja was only beeping. Cuts the call just before you press the green thing.

You have no alternative. You call.

Halo Sadik. WHY aren’t you picking the call?

Sorry. I was in a meeting.

A meeting? At 10pm?

Umh, er, yes. (Eff lies.)

And which job is that? Don’t they release you at 4?

Then the guy starts giving you reasons why he can’t do such a job. All along you want to ask him who he is but you feel it too selfish. And so you are relieved when he brings it up himself.

Do you know whom you are talking to?

(Like you are the governor’s daughter?) How can I fail to recognise your voice bro?

How is Zanzibar?

Er…. I am okay here.

So what do you say?

I think we should visit Tanzania one of these days.

Not that. I mean what do you say about that text I’ve sent?

You sent me a text?

Some minutes ago. You didn’t see it?

No. But is it something we can discuss directly?

No. Read it first and give me your feedback.

HIGH CUZ. AM DOING A MINIFUNDRAISER 4 MY PRE-WEDDING NXT MONTH. AFTER THE FIRST MEETING, AUNT HAS SET 20K AS THE MINIMUM 4 FAMILY MEMBERS. WE ALSO NEED SOMEONE 2 HELP WTH TRAVEL ARRANGEMENT 2 N FROM MA GAL’S PLACE. CAN U MANAGE 2 FUEL THE BUSES?

THNKS LOVLY CUZ AND GOD BLAZE.

I put the knife down and lift myself onto the sink slab. I go through the text again and again until the words make an imprint at the back of my mind. Yet I still read it several more times my eyes become sore. I read over and over in anticipation that tears will be kind enough to come witness this covenant with fate.

Jealousy is like a cough and I can’t fool mine. I can’t veer it off of all the married people I know. I think of Eric and Edwin and Ahmed. Sam and Eunice. Donald and Melania Trump. All married and swimming in the ecstasy of love. Today they ate a good meal. Put on clean clothes. Had a hug. A kiss before and after work. For years they have had organised life. And look at me here! Spending lonely evenings peeling onions and sitting on sink slabs to read text messages with spelling errors. What a tragic story of an innocent African. A graduate, for everybody’s sake.

I wonder what I would be doing now had I been born white or red or yellow.

Perhaps I could be making love to a Saudi woman at a cabin in my oil well. Or coming from my rice fields and shouting to the Good-One in Maori. Or I would be lying in a shallow grave in Ghaza. Or I would be an aborted sperm in the drains of Florida and would by now have turned into a ghost sperm making noise in the pipes….

Isn’t the ghost idea a superb one? Though anything else would still be so good considering that the alternative is to spend a life with fake people.

But my cus’s girl must be a catch. I can see it in the upper case. The last bit, though. I think of the girls that I have had. What if I dwelt on reminding my cousins to send something for the proposals and marriage dreams that somehow met an ugly shocker afterwards? I hope theirs will not be the big thing that fails slightly before the first anniversary. I’m no pessimist. People should just learn to stop playing with us.

When you are a man and you identify a woman, the thrill that carries you should sum the pains you will suffer trying to maintain it. Think of the blue outings and golden rings and candle dinners. Think of the bills and how in return you will still have a disgruntled citizen who regards you the stingiest beast. Think of the fights and demands from that first greeting to the day death doeth you apart. If the summary is glamour, take home your bride in silence. If for some reason you see it tough but still think you should give it a try, get a witch by your side, not us mere mortals.

The case of a man marrying a woman through fundraisers should be a spiritual affair. It must be a matter handled by experienced intercessors who know how to pray well. Organise it at an open field in the heart of the night. Give it enough publicity on TV and then parade the two at a stadium so that after marriage, everyone can see the marriage certificate signed and sealed with a SPONSORED sticker done in red.

After all, we helped you when you couldn’t afford the nail on her small toe.

Men, telling us to fuel a bus to your wife’s place is a great disrespect to humanity. You will not lease her to come cut onions for me. She will not be my wife on contract till you refund my fuel contribution. You even quote the minimum amount we should bring, but during child making we shall not be invited to also induce children.

WE ALSO NEED SOMEONE 2 HELP WTH TRAVEL ARRANGEMENT 2 N FROM MA GAL’S PLACE.

My evening now smells fermented garlic. What do people gain by piling cow shit in their heads?

But maybe he is right. I should look for the most beautiful girl and take her to my uncle’s neighbour to deal with the expenses. Get some subsidised messaging service and text all my imaginary and real friends and specify the colour of suit they should wear at MY wedding.

Everything around me finally turns evil. I descend and walk to the bathroom. The man in the mirror is defeated. I need some water to mop my face. Then I remember the fools cut my water connection last week because of the bill. I check the man in the mirror again and he is sad. But can carry on.

You cannot simply decide to start life on the wrong foot and expect us to look and cheer on. And then when you die we shall be asked to buy a coffin for the coffer. And since you taught your model wife how to throw away wealth, we shall each be issued with papers inviting us by the gate to fundraise for the suit we shall bury you in. Then we shall be shocked that you even sold your land to pamper your wife, and like the good citizens we are, we shall all come together to buy you a place at the cemetery. At least your kids will go back to your mum who must then be responsible for raising an arsehole.

bachelors
Bachelors, onions and Invitations

 

What happened to good manners and sense the chaplain used to tell us?

But we take our fate. We accept that the world is no longer a world of men and women who think beyond the warmth of their beds. We accept to live with mediocrity. We don’t even want things to change. We want our walk in this damnation to be so quick so that we can meet our deaths and run away from stupid men. The special caste that thrives on illusions and an imposed feeling of self-worth.

God blaze them for us.

He even called me Sadik. Sadik is my brother. And it is my sister who was staying in Zanzibar; she came back three years ago.

So how normal this pre-wedding fellow is I can’t tell. Does he walk with two legs and smile at people? Does he fart in a toilet and pee when taking a shower? Or maybe he is the Akond of Swat history has been seeking. For who, what, and why he is, I also don’t know.

IMAGE

And Then You Meet Your Angel

If Hippopotamus comes to the shore and tells you Crocodile is pregnant, will you believe him?

There are many stories we believe, and there are many more we refuse to believe because they are just lies. But others lie between the lie and the true, and it becomes the task of a bad story teller to convince you to take a side; to point out to you that hey Lazy One, take this stance. Like the stories I tell you about our city. The girls, the robbers, bedbugs, poverty and priests all fused together in a tale that could be true or false. That is the reason you have to listen to me.

Take for example partying. The culture of partying has never been into me. But city life knows how to waylay such characters as myself. It identifies the protagonist in the narrative, well decorated, well developed, then smiles and waits to pounce. We all come here hoping to get a piece of the national bone and send it back home but it is the city that captures and turns us into slaves. You find the tall buildings fascinating, a definite pointer to employment, money and women (men?). Little do you realise that in their silent gaze, the KICC and Times Towers are predators plotting a way to manipulate your ignorance.

Last Saturday I attended a birthday party. My cousin had been invited so I tagged along. Then luck happened.

I saw her the moment she entered. She wore a sky blue dinner dress that left out her left shoulder and overflowed to the ankles. Heels. No much makeup, simple and alone. At first she stood by the door, scanned the room and proceeded to occupy the only empty seat in the far left corner. As people competed the blockbuster in their chit chat, I sat in the far left corner and the seat opposite me had been empty the whole time.

She wore the softest smile I’ve ever chanced upon and displayed the most welcoming of manners. Five feet, sparkling dark and with a figure that Angelina Jolie would feel uneasy in her company. All the time she sat there, there is no minute I did not look at her. There was something magnetic in the way her lip-gloss lips reflected back the light in the ceiling. A dark skin that radiated and compelled the beholder to make conclusions. Her face was young, around twenty four. Not to say that she was beautiful would be grossly corrupt.

What could an angel possibly be doing in such a gathering! We understand parties, but this was no ordinary girl. Her frail beauty breezed under the blue dinner dress. Ethereal. Once or twice she looked at me and found my stare fixed on her nose, which sat lazily on her face stealing the illumination of the night.

Then came time to dance. Even the president knows I have two left legs and a steel waist; but this was this girl. I shot my look across the table once more and extended my hand. Swear, that girl flowed on the dance floor like water. She understood the music. It was an Italian or Spanish song that kept repeating a soft Pun-che-ree-ro chorus, whatever the word was.

Now, people talk of love at first sight. This was love at first sight.

Come on. Love at first sight is not infatuation. Hillary Clinton caught Bill staring at her breast; that same breast gave milk to the offspring of Bill. Back in the kingdom, an uncle to a friend says he sweet talked his second wife from a dance floor. When the first song was over, they were some kilometres away going to the man’s home to start a family. They have nine children and she is pregnant again. Yet I know many more who got married by building on this first impulse. There is nothing wrong with that.

Then introductions began. You stood up, said which estate you come from, your job, family, blah blah; anything. My gaze was still on her nose all this time. She looked back thrice and smiled. The first time she did, I maintained a face. The last two I smiled back and she blinked her eyes when the second smile came. Wife.

“I’m Tabby. I live in Emba. Done Catering at Utalii College.”

Then she sat down and while others were still introducing, I picked the thread.

“So you’ve done Catering?” I asked, pressing my glass between the thumb and the index finger.

“Yeah. And you?”

“Education. Though I did not complete college.”

“Haha. You already talk like a teacher.”

“Perhaps. And you talk like a,” how do you flirt a beauty who did Catering – a cook? “You talk like a star. I had a friend who did Catering and,” oh God, “his style was bad news. You guys are blessed.”

“Blessed?”

“Best chef near pilau.”

“Imagine I don’t know how to do pilau.”

“Don’t take me for a kid. Look, this is a beard.”

“Haha. You don’t believe? I don’t know how to do any African food.”

“White rice?”

“Nope.”

“Matoke?”

“Nope.”

“Ugali?”

She smiled. And I wish she’d have just ignored the question and brought up a new topic. Something like she was having cramps or even a fuss about the weather.

“I can’t. I don’t know how to cook any African food.”

I didn’t wait. I couldn’t wait. I returned the glass to the table, pulled my chair and walked across the room to the door. Once on the street, I exchanged between jogging, running and striding. I wanted to get as far away from the scene of crime as possible. Oh God!

How does fate play with the mortals? How does such a beautiful girl end up not knowing how to cook ugali? Has she been living in a sisal sack all her life? Why Tabby, God? Why her?

Diseases in this city spread like the cliché bush fire and I didn’t want to contact such a dangerous disease. You never know if it is a curse from a grandfather or a common disease you could buy medicine off the shelves.

Not knowing how to prepare any meal is a great taboo in the kingdom, leave alone ugali which is the interview skill for marriage. Mothers with daughters who cannot cook a meal enough for ten working men will always walk with their heads bowed down. No, don’t bring me your feminist jingo because Butler and de Beauvoir still understand that crime is crime and criminals get punished or shunned. A girl not knowing how to cook and declaring it in public – at a birthday party – with a smile!

Brethren, it is true the world is ending. Heed your priest: repent and wait for the Lord.

So what does she know, a woman who does not know how to do ugali? She is the kind of woman you get into the house and after the honey moon, you realise you’ve been duped. She knows only how to boil water for a bath. And this as long as it has not rained. Otherwise she heats water that will remove your feathers and your in-laws will not refund the dowry. Not even an eye of a goat. Seen that sadist father of hers with a lead chest?

I walked and ran. I didn’t care where my cousin was. I didn’t care the security on the streets at such a manly hour. When in danger, you cease to care. You just keep running until you reach Kayole, which is your home, and bolt yourself in the safely of your house.

The House of Apedneko

If you still think marriage is hell, ask Apedneko.

Apedneko, the one with several scars, will definitely tell you marriage is heaven. If you wake him in the middle of the night and ask the same question, the answer will be the same, unflinching. If you chain him and hang his neck over the cliff, the answer will still be the same, that marriage is the biggest paradise. Even at gunpoint, Apedneko will swear that marriage is the biggest blessing from the lord.

Because Apedneko is a chronic liar.

Six years ago, when he still smelled fresh city currency, he organized with the elders and poured eight cows in the homestead of Mzee Akuriba. That was the most decorated thing in the village and was spoken of for a long time. Mean, who still pays dowry nowadays? And not one, not two, not even four – eight walking cows, a bull and several chicken tucked in the hairy armpits of talkative aunts.

If you still think marriage is hell, ask Apedneko.

Apedneko, the one with several scars, will definitely tell you marriage is heaven. If you wake him in the middle of the night and ask the same question, the answer will be the same, unflinching. If you chain him and hang his neck over the cliff, the answer will still be the same, that marriage is the biggest paradise. Even at gunpoint, Apedneko will swear that marriage is the biggest blessing from the lord.

Because Apedneko is a chronic liar.

Six years ago, when he still smelled fresh city currency, he organized with the elders and poured eight cows in the homestead of Mzee Agripa. That was the most decorated thing in the village and was spoken of for a long time. Mean, who still pays dowry nowadays? And not one, not two, not even four – eight walking cows, a bull and several chicken tucked in the hairy armpits of talkative aunts.

And for six years Apedneko has had to add scars to his face. And don’t start hating scars yet. Wait.

If you have money, go to any nearest bus station and say you want to go to Kakamega. Then when you alight, take a taxi to the general hospital. Insist that you should be taken to gate three. From gate three, you can walk all the way to the wards, of course after the security checks (as if people steal sick people). In ward five, take a lift to the first floor. On bed number six-ten is a man who wishes that his wife should have added another scar this last time.

But I think Cherida added another scar, only that Apedneko is in the madness of anaesthesia. She cut it so well experts said she would have made a good circumciser. But women don’t circumcise, so she will have to go to the grave with her fucking talent. Even when she made such a century’s operation.

Featured image

Last weekend I took a vehicle to Kakamega and told the taxi to take me to gate three. I found Apedneko asleep, so the doctors told me to wait. When he woke up, I was allowed to see him. Man, facial scars are better than what I saw. The thing was cut like you cut the tail of a cow. The doctors had just opened the wound for freshening before dressing it again. It was a bit shrivelled, lost, and lonely. It was sad. Upon Cherida I conferred the powers to read and do regarding circumcision.

I made one conclusion: Apedneko, son of my firstborn uncle, married a Nazi. And paid cows and birds as aunts cheered and felt proud.

Fortunately the knife was a bit mean and did not remove what it was asked to remove. And the hope of Apedneko lies in the narrowness that the muscle will at least heal through the few veins that were spared. There must be hope every Sunday the doctors come with scissors to undress and re-dress the wound, though I cannot pretend to think what Apedneko thinks every time the nurse makes the scissors near his thing. Every time I looked at him, I felt the moment absurd.

“I came home late,” he said, which was another lie.

The wife had caught wind of her husband smiling too much at the daughter of a local brewer. If women do not visit magicians, how did a feared woman like that get so accurate information? All she needed to do was go to the house her husband was rumoured to be spending most of the evenings behind closed doors. And man and woman were caught, as talkers say, in the act. Cherida did not have time to wash and anaesthetize it before the operation.

In our chat, I offered a condolence thing (to his thing). I gave him five thousand shillings. I don’t know mathematics but I think each shilling represented a sorry to each separate scar. It is a thing we have raised at our clan meetings though the elders say that a whole clan getting in to defend a whole man before his wife is demeaning the clan. And no one wants to be the laughing stock of the villages.

So he took the money, smiled, and tucked it under his pillow. When we eventually exchanged byes and it was clear I was leaving, he stopped me in my prayer and handed me five thousand shillings.

“Take this to Cherida. Tell her to clear he debt with the shopkeeper, pay seventy shillings to the brewer and use the rest for upkeep. And tell her to look after the maize harvest well.”

Mean Talk

On his door was a sticker that said he hated idiots, but the guy hated anything on two legs.
This one was the meanest. There are days we never talked because she was a sadist too. She swore never to cook nor serve anyone food in the house because, according to her, that was demeaning women. But I never came to understand how she wholeheartedly washed our clothes.
Marriage is planned in heaven, right? You need to quit smoking.

https://writersversion.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/marriage-rings-wedding-bands.jpg?w=300
How do mean people live together? Two hard-core mean adults masquerading as husband and wife, or whatever relationship that be. Do you feel scared the whole night or you wake up in the morning and smile that the mean person beside you is the best thing that ever happened to your life?

Google defines ‘mean’ (adj) as “hard to cope with; difficult or troublesome”.  So how can two or more “hard to cope with; difficult or troublesome” people live together under one roof?

Imagine a Hard To Cope With; Difficult Or Troublesome telling a Hard To Cope With; Difficult Or Troublesome that the kids are very hard to cope with, are difficult and troublesome and that “I don’t know where they got this behaviour from. Nkt!”

Perhaps you don’t know what it means to be mean.

I also thought I knew mean people until I entered my second year at campus. Krevin, the asshole you all know, was my neighbour three doors down the corridor. I don’t mean to sound like the hare who decided that all the grapes were sour, but how do you describe a man who the whole afternoon locks himself in because his girlfriend has brought him minced meat? Dude plays scary music the whole night and will not smile at you when you meet along the corridor; won’t tell you what assignment prof gave; won’t allow you to copy in the exam room; dude just mean on everything. On his door was a sticker that said he hated idiots, but the guy hated anything on two legs.

Okay. I’ve just received a call of good news. Or is it bad? An old friend says she is marrying an old friend. Cool. Problem is, they are both mean. I mean, very mean.

You see, I have no problem with people marrying. As the joke goes, no man in this world deserves to go unpunished. I have no problem with marriage because I believe in the fallacy that marriage is the right-dose medicine to stupidity – for both non-women as well as women. Marriage is divine. Marriage is this compulsory calling of misery from beyond the human self. As a friend to many married people, I think marriage can therefore be a good idea sometimes. But whom you marry, bwana. Whom you fuckin’ marry!

We’ve seen marriages where the wife works and the husband works, yet children are ever back home because of school fees. We’ve seen homes where the parent is healthily fat and wears expensive perfume while the kids chase flies that want to hide in the holes of their clothes. We’ve seen all these and more. And we thus acknowledge the need for the right choices.

When I first came to the city, I stayed with a cousin. That was long, long ago. This cousin had a friend, and the friend would often invite a girlfriend to spend a week or sometimes a month over. Well, let’s just say my cousin was Tenis, his friend was Akri, and the most regular girlfriend to Akri was called Mweni. Now Tenis, Akri, Mweni and I stayed in one house.

The room we shared had walls made from Shanghai. It had one door, one mattress of three inch comfort, two bed sheets, a blanket, a kerosene stove, two spoons, two sufurias, two plates, a mug, a pail, the four of us, a bulb, a switch, a dump floor and almost a window. Nothing more.

I hadn’t noticed at first. With time, I started feeling some abnormality. Every time we ran out of provisions, the guys would start coming home very late and some of our guests would become total absentees. We would beg each other to contribute and buy salt, or to refill the stove, or to tip the landlord’s son to add us some more grace period. Members would become moody and members would become so very unwell that the only question you asked them was if they were feeling any better.

I remember one particular night when all of them almost slept out because there was no matchbox in the house and we were all broke. This night it poured. My uncle’s son came at around one. Shortly after, Akri and Mweni followed. They’d been hiding somewhere, watching out for Tenis. Mweni had even come along with another girlfriend and the house smelled like a brewery. Mweni, despite talking much, bailed us out the following day.

There is something I need to tell you about Mweni. As they say, alcohol can call someone and she heeds the call. That was Mweni. But her friend, whose name I keep forgetting from that first day, was worse. She was the kind of woman who could sell an earring for a pint. Not a surprise that first day she had only one shoe and her phone’s battery was missing. And not a single day after that did I ever see her complete as a girl: either the phone’s been pawned; or the ID card is missing; or she needs to go to the shop to get back her wallet (wallahi, WALLET) etc.

Mweni was mean in every sense of the word. If we asked that whoever received a favour from Mweni should raise their hands, and that if these hands be more than ten Mweni should enter heaven, Mweni would still go to hell. If we lowered and said five hands only, in the entire world, Mweni would still be Queen Mweni of Hell. Reducing the number to one would be the most unfortunate thing to heaven prestige and human understanding of the unseen, yet still Mweni would not see the gates of heaven. But we still liked her, anyway. At least she was better than her friend whose name I cannot remember.

This one was the meanest. There are days we never talked because she was a sadist too. She swore never to cook nor serve anyone food in the house because, according to her, that was demeaning women. But I never came to understand how she wholeheartedly washed our clothes. Girl had an obsession with being clean. We would be woken up in the night to give way to the mop rag, and at weekends we would be inconvenienced finding our shirts washed and wet without our consent. She fixed the electricity switch whenever it malfunctioned and hammered nails into our wall to give strength. I must say I liked her fashion of being mean, sadist and thorn in the ass, though I always made it clear to her that I didn’t like her.

Image courtesy of http://idealwedding(dot)info
Image courtesy of http://idealwedding(dot)info

So today I received a call and I am asking myself how. How can Tenis and that girl safely share one roof alone? Nature should have a better joke. How do you even trust that the house will not be ablaze by morning? The laws of genetics are very clear about such a case. We will have children who are afraid to walk out because someone will benefit from their shadow free of charge.

Marriage is planned in heaven, right? You need to quit smoking.

My cousin says it is coincidence the wedding is on the same day as his birthday, then goes ahead to ask if it isn’t a good thing that every year he shall have to only use one stone to kill the birthday party and wedding anniversary birds. Then he informs me that I’ll be his main man that day, that I’ll act as his guardian now that I’m the only kin available. Tells me to put on a good kanzu and nice shoes. He then asks what present, and how much, I will present as the wedding gift.

About how much, I tell him I’ll take a hundred times all the money he’s ever given me, which is still the one digit number. For the gift, I say I will buy each of them the Book of God and a motivational book on how to quit being mean. I hear his brow muscles twitch. The burger!

Anyway, this is a world of miracles. So I will be travelling all the way, back to the Royal Kingdom, to witness the start of a new generation of mean people.

Hehe.

Happy birthday cousin…..x2

Happy wedding Tenis and Amina….x2

Pay your debts….x3

Have many children….x93