Three years ago I had a decent job and a rotating chair. My office was at the furthest end of the block on the top floor and so, yes, privacy and majesty were my portion too. I was fresh from two places, college, and the village. This must be the reason I used the lift up and down the office, took photos taking tea and kept a small secret in the staff kitchen because I had a phobia for electricity.
I used to travel to and from the CBD every working day. If I was not accomplished, I was on the right train. Coming straight from college to a tie-and-suit five-figure job in the heart of a city was not what one would consider a feat for the small. You had to have a muscle flowing everywhere, and when you achieved it, you needed to pat yourself on the back.
What I did.
But even Babel fell.
Now I sit at the balcony near my window and look outside. My small room overlooks the bush where street families, they of a forgotten fate and importance, always throng to perform the simple biological exercise language alarmists call calls. Right now there is a girl, I’ve put her at about thirteen, squatting. For more than ten minutes I’ve battled the temptation of looking directly at her. But nobody wants to see fresh steaming shit from a juvenile delinquent who spent the whole week stealing food from worms, insects and rats. And just in case you get the guts, it is a taboo where I come from to look at the buttocks of a woman because you will grow a hunchback and your eyes will swell and you will die a bachelor. So to sort the conflict I’ve settled on watching her only from the blurred corners of my sight. If the corners of my eyes want to swell, they may as well help me see the numerous blessings of God.
When the girl in the grass stands up, it is almost the same time my patience has run out. But instead of seeing a thirteen-year-old rise from the tall grass and leave behind an anthill, I see her and the hill altogether, only that the hill is human today. The man buckles back his belt as she clears grass blades and dust from his backside. And even before I understand what is happening, they are already winding past the bend into the oblivion of the city. My phone reads 12.33 Peeing-Moment, the hour of the devil.
You saw what those two just did? Their simplicity is legendary. Aim, then take the shortest route that is safe. Their simple action makes me think that perhaps I should give myself another chance. Maybe things will iron out. What if life in the grave is even uglier?
Life could be such a simple thing. Meaningless conventions have spoilt the party. But maybe that itself is what life is: a futile search for meaning. And what else can it be if to live is to battle that which will defeat you at the ultimate?
As I go through the nonsense my friends have written on Facebook I accidentally bump into the profile of Edna. It is a photo where she is clinging onto her husband, and their son sits on a stool before them. A perfect family. The bastard looks big, the son. The bastard is obese, the husband.
Without knowing it I find myself opening the message thread between Edna and myself. I’m curious to know who sent the first shot, and what it was. I use more than five minutes finding it through rolls of pages enough to make a library. God, is it me who was writing all this? Three and half years of writing. And then she left me! She didn’t even leave, she was never there in the first place. Dating online for three years and two weeks, and then, as Bukenya says, she went high and south and now some ugly idiot somewhere is it that eats the fruits of the battle. Very few men will see the Kingdom of God.
I have decided that in my next online escapedes I’ll be more direct. Sting like a bee. Fly like a bee. There will be no sugarcoating.
“Hey Girl. I think you can be a good fucking mate. I can never imagine of a better sex experience after I saw your thighs today. The selfie was exquisite, the one you were sitting on a wooden stool at the salon with your legs slightly apart. As you can see I am so good I was interdicted as a teacher when they discovered primary school kids fighting for me. By the way my name is Were, Papa Were Snr of Khushianda, and I’ve sent you a friend request.”
“Mary, I’ve been stalking you for the last three days. I’ve seen how that idiot Kamau oppresses you and treats you like trash. I don’t know if you are trash. What I know is that you and I can be great at making love. We can lie in bed and have sex all weekend if you want. Then Monday to Friday I’ll treat you like a queen ahead of another weekend. And if that guy continues to harass you, just tell me. For now, send me some of your best nudes as I wait for your reply.”
Before she got married, Edna was Medina. She was fond of swearing in the name of Allah. I know that Allah has made CIA peace-men to stalk me countless times, tracking my calls to see if I ever wire Ahmadinajjad or Allepo or Kabul. Round-table meetings were conducted to discuss how these two could be plotting to ground the world. The man on my case is an old guy respected for unearthing high-profile mysteries in Africa – he was part of the team that pulled the trigger on Lumumba. He knows the three names of the first African AIDS victim and the day he contracted the disease. He knows Ebola too well. So he takes them through boring talks of a man talking to his swearing accomplice Medina. God, what have I gotten fathers of children into?
Anyway, they really needed this so they could compile weekly reports and go back to pay rent and shop every month-end as they wait to die.
Then she got pregnant. I was a thirty-one year old virgin and I asked her what was happening. She told me her parents were working on our wedding. And your body, baby, you’re eating size? – I said. Your legs are swollen, aren’t they? And these days you don’t text much, are you okay?
The next weekend, I saw on facebook photos of her colourful marriage. And there was that long message she wrote to her family and friends for making her what she was. It hurt me so much that I wasn’t mentioned, even as a villain, so much more than the realisation that I had been duped. Or maybe there was no space to write about a man who had catered for her college finances and upkeep; and dragged on the dirty rag of chastity just for her.
I hate what I’m doing. Right now I should be asking my son to help his sister with homework. I should be asking workers why they didn’t do what. I should be guessing who will win the war between New York and remnants of the Soviet. I should be doing more meaningful stuff instead of harbouring the nostalgia of a shallow past and thoughts of suicide.
What if I get into the grave and God kills me again?
The problem with those who defend God is that they think everything is good. Even when a person dies a second time. So they will come with crazy ideas about patience and perseverance and tell you God loves you. Which part of hunger is love? I am hungry for the last three days and I know none of this is a blessing, go tell God. A hungry man will kill for food. Second day he’ll eat you. If it goes to the third day he will sit at the balcony and plunge himself down to end the ugly life.
I was once a man. Days I put on suits and the world followed me to my office with the swinging seat. Hunger and suicide were nowhere in my thought. Now the miracle I’ve seen is how swift I’ve descended to understand the language of being broke and at the mercy of life itself.
Life is structured so that there are those who rise from grass, as they say, to glory. There are however those who start left and move the opposite way into darkness. And then there are the confused lot who don’t know where they are. Those who spend a big portion of their boring lives chasing after girls who paint their faces to look like an undone rainbow. The crop of young people with an illusionist approach to the world. After school, it is time the world pays for all the trouble in books. Then they get themselves into the rhythm of life after school hopping from joint to joint. They chase gold and glory day and night. If you have to find them, knock at the doors of lavish two-bedroom suites with running water and fast internet connection. Find their official names in car loan books. Find them at pizza shops in town every Thursday evening, and night clubs Friday. The enlightened chaps who use words like fathom, buddy, pretty cold autumn and gotcha. Yes, and damn kickass too. Find them in their kitchens in aprons trying out a Chinese recipe. Consumers. That is how they have sculpted their chase. By the time they hit 60 and the orange sun is setting, they realise the foolish part of life, and that they have exhausted the elephant’s share of their breath chasing themselves.
Here stands one such chap.
One who was worshipped in his day, and who now stands tired at the balcony unable to blame life for what it has done him in the last thirty-seven years he has been a member. One whose life sheet has two parents, eighty-two abortions, a thousand heartbreaks, millions of unfulfilled dreams and lies ad-infinitum. Here stands him for sure, and there, on your end, where you sit, sits another, thinking to be safe.