A DAY IN THE SPA

When you hear Nairobi you think traffic jams, Kanjos, live theft, and many more issues associated with our beloved capital city. Somehow even with all it’s bad reputation, there is still that thrill that comes with being in Nairobi. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the city. I don’t like congestion and it is a congested city. I don’t like the traffic jams. And don’t get me started with the Kanjos… (story of another day). I avoid the city by all means. There is the busy traffic which makes people like me (those who fear crossing the road) have a hard time. There is the noise. I am yet to walk to a part of the CBD that is actually quiet.

I arrived in the city on Saturday afternoon. I should have been in town by 10am but it just wasn’t my day. I had missed my appointment. And was very disappointed. All I needed was some consolation; the only place I know how to get that is a Spa. A treat for myself, from myself. There is this really wonderful nail and facial spa in town just near  Ambasadeur bus stage. They do quality work. They are just beside Lazarus’ Inn.

I walked in to the salon/spa. Casually said hi to everyone. Few minutes later this lady friend was working on my nails. They had free Wi-Fi. All was good. All I had left to do was observe and update Apps.

This Nairobi guy walks in with his group of boys. They look like they are fresh from high school. He was wearing rugged jeans (whoever thought this was a good idea for men’s wear, shame on you!), a very baggy vest that made his skinny arms look even skinnier. His gang of friends had almost similar dressing. Two of them had bags on their backs. They were so flat I was convinced they carried nothing in them. Well, may be except for their headphones. They looked like headphones people. All of them were wearing these huge Timbers. Basically, they looked like young Kanye(s). The leader, he was literally leading them in, walks up to a lady attendant working on a clients feet.

“Niaje…Mnafanya eye tweezing?”

I could not contain my laughter at this point. Its not because he sounded funny or anything, there is just no such thing as eye tweezing. Its just tweezing. The fact that he was just being specific made it very hilarious! You know that look everyone in a room gives you when you are the only one laughing? I got that. My friend joined in of course. That lady attendant was clearly suppressing her laughter. I think she was trying to be good.

“Hua ni tu tweezing. Hakuna eye tweezing”

“Ni how much?”

“one-fifty per person”

“Sawa. Ntaback”

Its a good thing he said he was coming back. I was hoping by the time he gets back, maybe with more people who needed eye tweezing, I would be gone.

I refuse to sit next to a guy in a Spa as he gets his nails done, his eyebrows trimmed (tweezing), or even his hair being worked on (for those who use hair dryer). Trim your nails at home. Go to your Barber for your hair issues. If you have to be in the salon/spa let it be because you are working there (It is not uncommon to find some men working in the salons nowadays. Its adorable how we got rid of classifying jobs), or you have just gone there to pick up your girlfriend, and maybe pay for the services. Just don’t sit down next to me, read a ladies’ fashion magazine, listen in on what we talk about, and who knows? You might just be a blogger! And a week later a link will be sent to groups ‘My day at the spa’. It will have all details pertaining to your day. Highly exaggerated of course, all in a desperate attempt to expose what goes on in there.

I always believe the Salon/Spa is the ladies’ sacred area. Just like the Barber shop is for the guys. The guys can talk about anything in the Barber shop. Politics. Women. Football. Business. Anything. The salon is the same for ladies. It may be known as a place where women ‘gossip’, but it’s also the place women can discuss their issues with each other without worry. Sometimes the topics are so fruitful and you end up getting some good friends.

Tweezing guys left and it sparked a discussion. How the fine line between being a man and being masculine is fading. How women are put off by girly men. Keep in mind these are not gays, they are just men who will do all girly things. Including wearing make up. It was one hell of a discussion.

There was this really brown woman who had brought her daughter along with her to the Spa. The daughter was nowhere close to the mother in skin colour. Mother was almost white. With some dark spots on her face and knuckles. I am not saying she removed some tint. Am just saying, maybe the daughter’s father was from Sudan. It is possible. So this woman wanted everything done on her. She wanted full pedicure and manicure (I recently learnt a friend thinks this is for men!). She wanted a facial. Oh, and because of tweezing-boy, she also wanted tweezing done on her. This lady had very few (almost none) eyebrows but still wanted them taken off so she can draw her own. Ladies, where did we go wrong? Who ruined us?

I could see her attendant really bored already. All that time, daughter was busy installing games on her phone. Give anyone free Wi-Fi and they want the whole App Store in their phone.

A woman whose name I got as ‘Dada’ came in and started marketing her products. Food products to be specific. Cooked food. She had everything. Pilau. Beef. Chapati (they didn’t look like The Chapatis). Rice. Beans. Green grams. Everything you can want at lunch time. Brown Mama ordered Pilau. It had been long since she had the meal, so she said. She ordered just one plate. But they were two (what would daughter eat?). It was none of my business though. Her attendant ordered the Chapatis. I still insist, they did not look good. I didn’t make any order. Trust issues.

At one far corner in the spa was a skinny dark lady who just got new fake nails and could not stop taking pictures of them. Instagram was not going see enough of her. I could imagine her tags. #Nails #Slaying #TheseAreReal #PreparationsForTheBash #HatersGonnaHate #KeepingItReal #SpaTings #TeamNatural. Then a series of emojis. Her phone had those pinkish-yellow silicone made phone cases that really annoy me. She kept taking selfies; one with her hand placed seductively on her face. That particular picture wasn’t going on Instagram. That was headed to Bae. She looked and acted like a light skin. Its only until recently that I knew some behaviours are associated with light skins. She was this Nairobi diva until she got a phone call. Her English was gone. Her Nairobi Swahili was gone. It was just her and her perfect Luo. And some bits of broken Swahili. Akinyi yawa!

My nails were almost done in less than an hour. I was having a time of my life relaxing in the Spa. I spent my time observing people. I wonder just how many were observing me. Well, my friend did a good job, as usual. I am definitely going back the next time I visit the big city. Who knows? Tweezing-boy might actually be there. Then I can ask him why he didn’t prefer a Barber shop.

 

WELCOME HOME

Being born and bred in the village as a first born son is one of the best things one can be lucky enough to have. It is mere an accident of birth yet it has several packages. You come second only to your dad in the hierarchy ladder. It comes with loads of privileges, but then you have to know privileges comes with responsibilities. When much is given, much will be expected in return. As the eldest son you are the de facto signatory of all transactions at home even in your absentia. Not even a tree can be cut at home without your information and permission. Those people will not go planting without giving details of the seeds used, whether certified and the duration expected for them to mature.

It gets to an age where you will need to go to your house and a good house(simba) will be erected for you at the lower end of the home. A strategic position to act as security of the home and also to enable you sneak in whoever you are with, with confidence that you are not being seen. Spoiler alert: They will know even if you bring her at midnight. Your age not withstanding, as long as you are an elder son you are old enough right from birth. Even before you come of the right age, your people will expect you to make sure the house is active. Some smoke should be seen from the house, a smoke not caused by lighting a fire. They need to start seeing you bring along different samples of the daughters of Eve, one to assure them that you will keep the family lineage on and two, to see your taste and know if you will bring forth good looking kids. It is believed good looking people have it easier in the society. When you take a different route and fail to bring along someone, they start wondering if you are really a man. They even start suggesting hook ups.

After a good period of deciding, you settle on this lady who has had your heart for the longest time you know. It was not really hard knowing she is the one you want for life. She is the type of lady who will not cook in your house the first time she is visiting. She will cross her leg and tell you to your face when you dare ask her to cook.

“I am a visitor remember, so atleast do me the honours.”

You will establish that this is not just your regular girl, she is a precious being. You will grow closer as you sought to know her better. She is someone you don’t rush; you take your sweet time to understand her. You know you want her to be yours in the long run but it is not easy. It is like a marathon, not the Usain Bolt seconds stuff. This one would require perseverance, focus and hard work because having her in the long run is a motivation big enough. Hope. You will be assured she will hold you down when need be. She is a good a person and everything she touch flourishes. Even you when touched in the literal sense you flourish, the blood movements to the downer sides tells it all.

When time is right you take her to your good friends who will immediately like her and tell you not to let her go. They will already be planning you romantic nights, in an attempt to make sure that you don’t fuck up. After which,you take her home to your people for vetting. They need to see if she has the abilities good enough for their son. Is she someone who can be a first of the daughter in laws? Does she cook right? Apparently their son needs to add some weight. They want to know if she won’t wash fish using detergents and chapatis don’t taste like wood. You  are not worried about that though, she is a great cook and somehow, people just like her. The visit goes well and your mum tells you, “you let her go, never step foot again in this home and don’t even think about ever talking to me again, not even in my worst.” Isn’t that all you wanted to hear after all? She also introduces you to her frends and family. Let’s say things go well. After sometime you are tie the knot.

There you are living together as life partners. Hoping and working for a happy stint together forever. Atlast the sacred friendship has been permanently bonded.

One day in the middle of your usual chats, she gets that serious face on and shoots up, “will we stay in this house forever or are we going to move after some time?”

You know at that moment that she needs a better place. Some place where she will authoritatively call hers and give you those commands on where to place your dirty socks when you return home. You will keep forgetting and throw them around as you enter the house. You will get on her nerves sometimes.

“The other day I told you to place your socks in the laundry basket when you remove them.”

“Yeah, you did”

“And then?”

“I have dropped them around, I think I missed the laundry basket. Can it be moved next to the door?”

An emoji face, then later a look saying,”if only I didn’t love you this much!”

She wants a place where she can peacefully have those days when she just want to sleep through the day on her off days. A place where you can plant trees together for occasions and put scientific and local name tags on them, with the name of the one who planted it. Where you can host friends without causing disturbance to the others. Above all, you can easily give her that one hour long foreplay without worrying that someone might bulge in unwelcome. After which she will wake up to breakfast in bed, your romantic side will not catch even a little slumber. You also need to make a ground for soft landing when you will get on her bad side next time. All she wants is peace and an environment to prosper. A place where you are free to be you and do you. A place to be lazy without being scolded and work your ass off when you decide to. A place where you can make mistakes and learn without anybody judging. As long as you will have each other for support, you are ready to face the world. You can achieve all you want to.

It happens you had also been thinking of moving. Therefore you already have information of where you would want to move. You know that ultimately she will want a home in a cool area, a beautiful house with a kitchen garden. You are aware she cant stand heat and her comfort is top priority. A place she will be proud to park her Prado in the garage next to the house. A good place to raise your cute kids (the cute is given, she is pretty). Some place where you will watch the orange rays of the sun as it settles even in your old age as you watch your grandchildren play around. Thank God the sun will never grow old or tired. Just before then, you know you have to take steps to get there. You believe in doing good at the lower steps of a ladder headed to a much higher target.

You guys pull resources and see to it that the new place you are moving to is well built and that you are okay with the design and plan. You get someone trustworthy who will make the ideas on your head come to life. After some good work, your house is ready and you are ready to face life in it. You bring along some furniture from the previous house that still looks polished and throw away the ones that would not resonate to the new house.

You have both vowed to give your all to have the best home. You don’t just want a house, you want a home. A place where you will have family around and keep them entertained all through. It is the place they will think of when they think of fun. People think of fun all the time meaning the home will be a beehive of activities. They won’t have to ask for permission or inform you first before coming. It will be their home as well. You might have kids who will be cared for and brought up in the best way possible. You will have friends coming over from time to time.

This home is our new website. We hope to make it a home for most of you. A place where you will come to be entertained with the stories and teachings we will be keeping at a consistent supply for you. The house we have left is the free site on WordPress. It was a good place for a start but the limitations made us realize we needed to move. The man of the house is yours truly, Lewis Martin. The jewel he got for you is the one and only partner in writing and a good friend in life, the most beautiful Paula Norah. You guys overwhelmingly approved of her when she came to be part of this. Salute to Ted Odera for being the architect behind the design and building work around. Thanks for the good work. We will be having guests from time to time in the form of guest bloggers. As members of the family, you need to be good to them. Appreciate them and say thank you when they bring goodies. When moved you can give them reviews and tell them if you want them to return next time. Our kids might come with time in form of other ventures in writing. From to time to time we might have to run copies that are pro marketing. I hope you understand it takes money to refill the fridge and pay for bills. Though be assured we will work with brands whose ideologies we believe in.

Expect anything from us. We are diverse. We are open minded. And we are as crazy as crazy can get. Bring your friends along. The many the merrier. We have resources for everyone. Our love for you is given. Keep it here. Keep it at PepperLife. Let’s grow together.

Welcome Home.

 

Keeping them informed

It is late in the evening, and this happens to be one of those cold evenings. Such evenings make me remember school. It is one of the coldest places I know in the world. The kind of cold nights I have to endure inside my lonely house cannot be explained. The cold bites as if it has an agenda, the agenda being to punish you for being single. It is like telling you that it is a curse that these many beautiful daughters of you cannot have you for a boyfriend. I pick my coat and snap back and head to D-Lux Hotel. It is one of the good hotels I have experienced in Nakuru. It’s not like I have experienced many, no, I have always wished to do that but how will my broke ass afford that?

Apart from getting the weekend rolling I am getting to see Kevin, a friend of mine who works at this place. Kevo is this guy who used to be so tiny when we were in school; the only tinier person was me. I think he was one of these who made us tiny people to be called cheeky. He was my first friend ever in Kisumu, Nyalenda by default, with the fact that he was already my friend from school. I had some short staying stint at Nyalenda during my high school days. Apparently dad wanted to keep me in Kisumu with him having the thoughts that I will not have many friends and concentrate on my studies, or maybe he wanted to bond with his eldest son. It was that period during my teens when I was taking ground and my hormones were starting to charge. What a disappointment when the second day I was already coming back to the house way past dusk. I could read see it all on his eyes. So bad the period never lasted when the man’s health drastically moved from mint condition to shitty and it had to diminish altogether. Kevo seemed to know everyone in the neighborhood and pretty ladies would flock him. I swear he is one of the most talkative guys I know. He would always ask me if he could throw one my ways, but hell no. who was I to break the say jogoo la shambani hawiki mjini.

So here I am with Kevo sited next to the deejay’s booth, and Sam, also a high school pal joins us. I am amazed at how both of them exclaim how big I have grown the first thing when they see me. I used to be the smallest in the whole school when I joined, but here I am taller than these two bustards. In fact Sam was very big. He started lifting weights way back. All he’s got now is a huge chest but I beat him in height. For those who said God’s time is coming, just know my God’s time in height is already here. As usual Kevo points an ass passing by and asks me, “Odundo nikupe huyo?” These guys call me Odundo; they knew me when I was not yet Lewis Martin. I didn’t even know it was coming. I politely decline the offer. They are surprised just as I am as well and ask whether I got married. How do you explain to your boys that you stopped fancying the asses that you used to adore? That nowadays every time you wake up next to a different face you feel so wasted. That having a casual woman around does not exhilarate you anymore. That you cannot even make time for chats with different women sending smiley and kissy emojis. That the number of visits prospects that you have declined are shooting on an upward trend. They let me off the hook but Kevo makes sure that I know that whenever I feel I need to work my waist he can always swiftly outsource me a lass.

After some little talk I let them get back to work as I proceed to the bar counter to get some beer. Just when I was starting to bond with my bottle and glass, I realize that I will be getting home late and I have to say something to that effect home. It hits me what freedom means and what being under someone means. I can’t imagine how it is like staggering back to a house that you do not pay rent nor foot the bills in late in the night. How disrespectful. I once did it before in Nairobi in the company of a crazy cousin; it never went down well with the missus of the house. The type of lecture we got on how bad alcohol is and that it has no additional value for us. To make it worse if we drink when we are broke, how about when we will be earning? Well, they were partly truthful but I don’t think one has to endure all truths all the time. Some truths are always just left to be, because they are nothing new to a man and whining about it won’t change anything.

So here I am trying to get the words that I will use to say that I am not around and might come back off time and a little off mind. I need to pass this information without sounding rude yet not being on my knees as well. First I think about just letting it go altogether. Then it hits me that it is only my mum who I can pull such shit on and the next day will still be happy and throw a joke at me, meaning I have to text. Calling is out of question because we know how such an environment spells rotten on you when talking to a staunch Christian on the other end. I have experienced such situation of having to choose words carefully before only when chatting up a new lady. You know those get to know you threads when someone gets to give you a glimpse of who they are for the first time and every text is a paragraph. That point you religiously wait for an answer as you get to know the prospective wing lady. I do believe most of the battle is won in this stage. This is the point where you know if you will invest time here or just let it go like the rest. You are also making an impression.

I compose my well thought text, sends and it is delivered. The only problem is that I don’t receive a reply. I always smell bad stuff when I text someone and they don’t reply, one of the things being that am out. That is coz I rarely reply to shitty messages even though at times I can also be full of shit. I just read and look at it as if nothing has changed or just assumed they somehow feel my reaction without me physically replying. I had to hurriedly clear my drink before it gets too late and could not even wait for the meat Kevo was bringing. From my sprees before, I had learnt that there is a big difference between getting home at 8.57pm and 9pm. The three minute difference can change a lot. I get home, go clear any proof of me touching a bottle that has alcohol content in it and try make sure that I talk and react normally. Not like someone high on something that you should not handle machinery after taking. After that I take rice and broccoli for supper.

So for my friend who once asked me how it is to stay with a relative, how I wish you know how to describe something that can make you leave beer and meat on a Friday evening at a nice hotel behind. Always having in mind that to me food is bae and I treat it with the love and care it deserves. I really hope it’s my last stint though.

 

A Letter to my future kid

By the time you get to read this, I will have learned enough to know what is right and wrong in parenting.

This was written this on the International Women’s Day, 2017. I ought to have been writing to your Grandma but I cannot do that now, not yet. For the love that I have for her, the sacrifices she made, the hurdles she has faced, I do not feel ready to do it. I feel I haven’t done her proud to warrant it. Grandma is a genius, she is the best, remember that always. Enough about Grandma for now.

I know you will wonder why I never wrote to your Mum on this day. You might have a lot of questions and I will be ready to answer them. I can tell you the truth as at now. The reason I am not writing to Mum is, I still don’t know her. I don’t know if she is tall or short, light skin or dark skin, black or white. I don’t even know if she’s someone I have met before or not. I don’t even know if she is a lady I deeply love at the moment. Nobody knows the future my dear, and nobody wants pressure as well. All I know is that she will be the best mum. Very beautiful and powerful; mentally and emotionally. She will be there for you at all times and we will bring you up together. You will only get the best.

I am not perfect but I promise to always be there for you and to be the best for you. No matter what you will face in life. Dad will always be in your team to give you support. Consider me your number one fan in life. Dad will make you comfortable when you are still an infant, will help mum look after you, will get you the essentials you need and want. Though some I know you will break in hours. Dad will take you to school and always be present in your growth. Together with mum, we will be at the field side cheering you when you participate in sports. We will support you whether you win or lose. I am hoping you win more. We have a reputation my dear. No pressure though.

Come to daddy anytime you have a situation. We can always talk about anything you face as you grow. I will guide you every step of the way. Just to be clear, this does not cover weed and related things.

I will teach you to believe in yourself. I want you to grow with high self-esteem. Growing up, I have learnt that you will never get validation from others if it’s all you rely on. People will judge you. Do not worry about that, focus on what makes you happy. Accept every part of yourself, that way they can’t be used against you. I have a strong feeling you will have a big head, embrace it. Sorry in advance.

I will teach you to always say thank you, and to be appreciative of everything thrown your way. I will want to you to be respectful. You will know how to treat different people in the society with equal respect. I will like it if you would have a good relationship with your grandparents. They are pillars of wisdom and guidance. What we (Mum and I) are to you, they are to us. I will want you to keep them close and give them your time, unconditionally. I know I fail to give my grandparents that time and I am not proud of it. I will make it right. In my next letter, you will get an update.

When you go school, do not feel pressured to perform in a certain way. Do not feel confined to a particular box. Do what you can, what you feel is your best. We can always seek for different avenues if things go south. I am sure your mum will be smart. Dad is a born genius (just had to tell you that) so you will partake of that brightness.

Right now I am striving to create an environment that you will be proud of and comfortable in. Starting from me, I will work hard so you don’t lack. I will also try to live healthy because you will need me alive for long. We have a long way to go together.

I want to be your hero.

Best dad in waiting,

Junior.

What If this is it?

Last night I had a bad dream, I think it was a bad as I saw an owl hooting in the dream, it was not in a place I could see clearly, all I could see was the owl and its sounds. At that point my superstitious side came to life, I mean at some point in time we have known what owl is associated with, most so when you hail from the western region of the country. I am sincerely convinced there is no cause for alarm, I might have just gone to sleep worried about something, but it got me thinking. What if this is the last piece you ever read from me? Not necessarily dying but what if the life I have led sums it all? What if all those dreams I have just go down and melt to ground never to be heard of again? What if this is all the growth I ever had, physically, intellectually, mentally or even spiritually? What if all my life count will be from the ones the earth have seen till today? I mean what if this is it? Well in that case I will have several things to reflect on having seen, done, heard or felt in my life;

My family life has been great. I have always been a joy to my family from the word go. Given from the fact that I was conceived and delivered at a time when my parents were under so much pressure. I mean a whole five years into marriage and nothing was forthcoming to show for the labor. The person getting much criticism more was mum first because of the African tendencies to blame the woman and again dad was a champion and a few manifestations would be seen across the village. I mean one time in the village you meet someone looking like you yet you are not relatives until you start questioning stuff. It is good the truth has a way of coming out some times. So after being there for one another in the five years, I really can’t tell how much or how hard they tried. Not even places and positions they gave a try on. How many times mum told her, “let’s just try this one last time.” I really can’t know how many times they searched for me for a one last time. Which I know was never going to come. All I know is that at last a good looking baby boy appeared in form of me. I don’t know where my childhood good looks went to though. It is hard being ahead, you always want to be a good example. Many times you fall but you never let those who come behind see it. They need the motivation you impact in them. I have strived to stay true to my family all the time. It is another one thing that never misses in my prayers except when saying the grace for meals. Even though as I grow I have fallen out with some extended family members to mean am normal. I am good with several of them though both maternal and paternal.

I have several education avenues in my life. I have learned in formal set up where I have gained a good bit of knowledge. I have read a lot of written pages, screens, posters even walls, I have been a good reader. Not class work reading but just reading every other thing. I have even tried reading minds. I have learned by observation and have learned from the best about general life skills. Of all the things I have learned I have come to conclude that my life is good with two virtues, honesty and patience. I hold them dearly. I have had my hands on several things, some that have gone well others not. I have also had a go on a karaoke (umama I tell you). I have learned to pick up and do what makes me happy. I have been happy and sad at times. I know how they feel. I have also learned how not to beg, not for anyone to stay in my life or to love me. You can always stay if you want and hit the road when you feel like because I will sure do the same. I also know what it is to break rules and get in problems with the law and, most times evading consequences I also have known how to respect authority and also to question it.

My social life has been great. I have had several friends along the way, some gone along the way, other we keep a little touch, others we are waiting to write RIP for the one who goes to the maker first. I have made brothers from other mothers. I know what it means to have someone have full trust in me and know that I always got their back. I have grown to know the little people who always got my ass covered whatever the situation and I can’t thank them enough. I know what it means to fall in love and what it means to fall out. I have known what it means to be vulnerable to someone and also what it means to be all about someone, still trying that though. At one time a pretty lady has wanted to be a carrier of my seeds, she loved me but I was not lovable and I got the phrase “your kid is all I want.” It never happened though, these seeds are way precious. I know what it means to be with a lady for over half a year telling her you love her when it’s true but then you are in love with someone else. I learnt that love can be shared. If you don’t believe that go hang or any other thing to show your resentment or doubt, am ever democratic. Again I have never told anyone I love them if I don’t, even when you ask me that when we both naked I will never lie just to get through. I know what it means to get random lays and to pick one night stands from parties. I know what it means to go silent on someone after it has happened. I also know what it means to get a passionate kiss from someone you love until you stop in the middle, look at her closed eyes in the heat of the moment and ask yourself, “why can’t I keep this forever.’ Someone so good you want to eat her all up by your mouth. I know what it is to wake up in the morning after a night of shit and ask “where am I?” Damn Mombasa it was!

I know what it is to live in a mud walled grass thatched house that you have to move things plus yourselves to a corner when it rains, where preparing meals will be hell coz of the water in the fireplace. At the same time I know what it means to live in a big perimeter wall fenced, multi roomed mansion with several cars parked outside. From the experiences I swear that thing referred to as the root cause of evil is good. It is good to have it. You see someone you share a roof with being picked in the morning, saluted with fellow men and car door opened for him. You feel the real effect of power. Being broke sucks and it is not a secret. The good thing is that I don’t know hunger. I don’t know sleeping in an empty stomach. Poverty might know me by name but we never flirted up to that level.

From all these, if this was to be the end, one of the biggest things I would not want to imagine is not getting a chance to hear one say, “if it were not Lewis, I wouldn’t have turn out this good.” Every day I live I want to be a positive influence on people even if it’s a single person who will see the bright side of life because of me, those whose sun will shine bright because of me. Again it is huge that I have never taken a daughter of Eve home for vetting, a daughter of her dad, even after the obvious pointers that have been thrown my way. It is bad I never got one worth that, the one I asked was just a friend and I know they wouldn’t have appreciated it as much, though it would have worked to show that I am on the right road with the society, that I play for the right team. So if this was my last shit I am giving you, just know I am not SORRY for anything. Even the things I did that am never proud of, if I got on your bad books you can do whatever you wish. Then do whatever pleases you with me. You can be true or not, I don’t care what anyone will say I am good in whatever have been through and anything have wanted have always gone for.

Let’s talk nails

Ever been bored till you start thinking of your life as a village bull? You start imagining how a big bull with a huge hunch back you could have been. Named after a prominent leader and carrying the last york in plough. You will be receiving all the praise songs during the tilling period. After all the accolades and good fights, your owner will decide to get the best return on you before your better days are gone and decide to cash you in for slaughter. Just before your last prayers as the sharp knife is inching nearer your neck, boom! a notification gets on your phone. It is a word document.

It is one of these articles which you read and make you feel your eyes become watery, you get so engrossed you feel you are going to save it for future use. You will have a hard copy printed out and you hang it over your bed. You have known no tears before but here an article working you up. Nobody has moved you with a piece of writing this deep before.

It was an article by Paula Norah, even though it was done as a mere embarrassing trial, without having to worry about flowery words, no scented language and not even a bit of editing. It got to convey the intended message home. From that embarrassing trial, she has done other kick ass pieces, with every new piece becoming better from the last.

One of the things she is drawn to are drawn to nails, I don’t even understand how people get time to do those, well we can have that world with us.

Paula take it away…

 

The long lecturer’s strike made me one lazy brat. Lazy because that’s just me. Brat because I started viewing myself as a diva. I started questioning why I had to do chores…like cook, clean the house, and worst of all wash dishes! My defense was pretty much simple; I would have been in school meaning I wouldn’t have been around to do that particular thing at that particular time. As if that would work. Am petty like that sometimes. One thing that all these chores share in common is they involve water and sometimes soap. I do not fear that combination, hell no! Am a lady for heaven’s sake. What I don’t like is that combination in relation to my nails. Like I said, diva.

I love my nails. I love to care for them. I love it when I apply cutex on them and walk around swinging my hands. I have to care for my nails. Why? I have tiny hands and slim fingers. Anytime I shake someone’s hand most will say “uko na mkono ndogo!”. I avoid hand shaking too. Am a huger. Being a saloonist, when I do someone’s hair, I have to ask for help at the last stage because small hands can’t allow me hold everything at once. Clients laugh at me sometimes. Yet it is them who need to look good. Anyway, when I have my nails done really pretty no one notices my tiny hands and all attention goes to my nails. I guess you now see why my nails are a big deal. That and the fact that I have really beautiful nails. Yes, fact.

So on this day, I am lying casually but abnormally on the couch, phone in hand, legs high on the back of the couch, my back flat on the couch seat, my head facing up but actually a little bit suspended mid air. Basically I wasn’t sitting on the couch like a lady, at all. Or even a normal person. Picture a couch, now picture the design. It very clear on what goes where. So take all that and turn it upside down. Yes, that is how I was. And in case you are wondering, I was wearing a trouser.

Crrrrr…Crrrrr…Crrrrr… That is the sound my Grandma’s walker makes anytime she is approaching. That sound is a warning bell to me so I sit up and act like a lady. I place my feet down, cross my right leg over the left one. Haha! I even adjusted my trouser. I put my phone away and pick a newspaper (It wasn’t the day’s paper for sure). I did all that just to avoid her lectures. Back to point, nails. She is already in the sitting room now. And she is carrying a knife.

“Paula…!” *she always believes we don’t hear well so it’s a shout*

“mmmh”

“Paula, yitsa undeterekho amatere kano”

*awkward silence*

“ewe! Yitsa undeterekho amatere kano!”

“kukhu sikuelewi”

*she laughs*

“vbolangendi…yitsa undeterekho amatere kano” *she says this a bit slower*

Now am laughing my lungs out. She is not making this easy and she knows it. She might even be having fun who knows!

“aki kukhu sijakuelewa. Unasema nini?”

“katiakho mimi makucha hii”

Ooh… So that is what she meant. Cut her nails. Wow, thanks Grandma, you didn’t make that hard at all! Now I understood why she was carrying a knife. Grandma believes in razor blades and knives. Current inventions like nail cutters just don’t cut it in her list of things she trusts. I only know how to use nail cutters.

I get my lazy-self off the couch and head to Mum’s room. She always has a nail cutter, my nail cutter. Though I have a strong feeling I am not getting it back. I am hoping she was not listening to my ‘wonderful’ dialogue with Grandma. That would crack her up, and we will have yet another conversation about how we kids are not ready to learn her language. Anyway, Mum heard everything! I know this because she was laughing so hard when I walked in.

*still laughing*

“you kids have to learn kiluhya”

I pretended not to have heard that.

“ulieka nail cutter wapi?”

“chukua kwa iyo bag yangu”

I see bags. Not a bag. There are at least 6 handbags, 2 travel bags, and some that I cant categorize. There is no ‘iyo bag’ Which bag does she mean? She wont tell me of course, she is busy. So I search all of them and finally find it after a good 7minutes. Mum never helps me when I search for things. She’d rather watch.

Grandma gave up waiting for me and began sharpening her knife against the wall. Patience has never really been her strong suit. So I had to hurry. Now we are sitting outside on the verandah.

“watoto wa tawuni hapana juanga kutumia wembe da?” (don’t town kids know how to use razor blades?

*silence*

It is sometimes better not to answer Grandma’s questions. Especially those that refer to us as town kids. Those conversations never end well. They never even end because I usually walk away when she is not seeing, and she would keep talking until she finds a distraction. It’s our thing.

We maintain some small talk. Her asking if I am really cutting her nails and me showing the evidence. Grandma has trust issues!

While I am cutting her finger nails I notice she has beautiful long nails, they look old now, but they are definitely beautiful. The fingers are long, wrinkled yet still have the shade of perfection. Her hands are so frail I fear I am too rough on her. Her toe nails are also long and beautiful, though old. I am thinking I should give Grandma a mani-pedi. Ha! I can imagine her response if I am to suggest that. I know where I get my beautiful hands. Her hands are a replica of mine, except mine are small. She observes me keenly while I work and asks why I keep long nails. I can’t find the exact Swahili words that can describe to her why I keep long nails so I tell her I like them long. At this point, I am done cutting hers.

“Ah! ni mbaya…kata”

*ouch Grandma*

I laugh anyway and tell her that’s just how I like them. she says thank you but still checks her nails to confirm if I have actually cut them. Like I said, trust issues. That is my Grandma. That is just how she is. Old, rigid, prayerful, compassionate, inquisitive, traditional, and the best. And she has beautiful nails.

I need to sign off and cut/trim my nails. The nail on my right middle finger broke! Damn! As if it was siding with Grandma. But did it have to be that finger?

Paula Norah.

Are we ready to embrace legalisation of prostitution?

The county government of Nairobi recently legalised prostitution only to withdraw their support, I don’t know why. Truth be told this presents a market that has not been tapped since there is always demand, from businessmen, politicians to men who cannot keep their houses in order. Thus, there will be always supply, if you understand the basic law of demand and supply.
The biggest gainer from legal prostitution would be the government itself. The amount of taxes that would be generated by regulating brothels and the trade as a whole is unimaginable given the size of the market. The government would grant licences to the brothels at a fee. The revenue regulated can be channelled to other sectors of the economy.
Germany is a good example of a country where prostitution has been legalised and regulated. The country has actually benefited from this industry. Others are Netherlands, Japan and majority of the Asian countries.
Honestly, we now live in a society where things have metamorphosed. For instance homosexuality, transsexuals’ and abortion are some of the things that civilization has come to embrace as a normal. Same sex marriages have been legalised in United States, abortion has become part and parcel of our new constitution, leave alone transsexuals, a good example is the famous Maseno graduate, Audrey who was on News Headlines, fighting to be identified as a ‘her’. My view is that we live in a society where the wrongs are the new right. However, one thing that people fear to utter in loud tones is prostitution, and the prostitutes go through a lot to makes ends meet. So my question is, what if prostitution was to be legalised and regulated?
Legalisation would help stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Most (around 60%-70%) commercial workers in Africa are HIV/AIDS positive. A framework would be put into place whereby the commercial workers would be tested regularly for STIs and given treatment. This can also be of benefit to long distance transit drivers who run the risk of spreading the STDs since they are the regular clienteles. This would play a big role in the fight against HIV in Africa. Commercial workers go through a lot of victimization from the police who demand for bribes or sex, watchmen who continuously harass them on pavements where they sell ‘merchandises’ and the society when they pass judgments to them as the most immoral people in our communities. Actually the worst insult to be called is, Malaya wewe. The legality of prostitution would actually make the victimization go away and make it a formal type employment.
The security of the commercial sex workers would also be guaranteed since they be working in conducive and well secured environment, that is the brothels. Most of the commercial sex workers have been faced with violence from their customers who refuse to pay and some have been killed by their patrons. If you remember the Onyancha story; a sequential killer who murdered several prostitutes, is a good case scenario. I recall of a story told by a male commercial sex worker who narrated a story of a Mhindi with the habit of acquiring their services and driving off without paying for the service rendered. If they were to be protected, then it would show the humanity in human beings.
The industry would also be regulated from forced prostitution and underage prostitution. All in all, legitimisation of commercial sex would come a long way in protecting the rights of some of the people in this industry whose rights have been violated. The industry will be streamlined and income will be earned without fear of being violated. There will also be proper policing.
Some of us who may think they are morality Judges. I would like you to remember that some of these people are our mother, sisters, brothers and all they are trying to do is make a living. Some of these commercial workers are highly educated. Some work as escorts to the elite in society. My point is, these are just normal people on the job and together we build the country. I know we as Africans hold high moral values and acceptance of prostitution may put my morality into question, but I maintain that it’s high time we change our perspective. Whether we like or not, prostitution started centuries back and it will continue to exist.
But are we ready to accept prostitution to be legalised? Can the country sustain such an industry? Are the commercial workers prepared to accept such industries in a place? Will the timing be right for such a change? These are some of the questions that I ask myself as I conclude this piece. Are we ready to embrace every change that comes with civilization?

The writer is a final year Economics and Statistics student, Laikipia University.
The insights are his opinion and does not necessarily mean that it is what PEPPER LIFE stands for

Blue-Ticking Justified

Blue ticks…Well I know no one wants to be a victim of those. For those wondering what blue ticks are and what blue-ticking is, let me be a lamb and educate you. When you get blue-ticked, you have been ignored. Your texts are going unanswered. And yes, they have been delivered and read. This term pretty much came to be when WhatsApp introduced the tiny blue ticks that indicate your text is delivered and read.

If you don’t see ‘typing…’ after the blue ticks, honey, you have been blue-ticked. Now, I know it sounds bad to be a victim, but let’s face it, some people really do ask for it.

I have done my fair share of blue-ticking. Have I been blue-ticked? Yes. No. Maybe. I dont know. Anyway, this is the day I finally justify blue-ticking. It’s never about snubbing. Like I said, some people really beg for it. And I am a very generous lady, when it comes to blue ticks.

These are some of the instances and character traits that would definitely guarantee blue ticks:

  • The X-Factor

Those who use the ‘X’! Who told you introducing ‘X’ in all your words makes your text look cool? That’s just really annoying. I really get pissed off when someone texts me ‘xaxa’ instead of ‘sasa’. Am pretty sure that is not even Xhosa. If you can’t let go the X-Factor, please do not complain when you see the blue ticks. You begged for them.

Some time back a friend had communication issues with his landlord. Why? The X-Factor. The landlord sent a text saying they meet on ‘Xday’. Which day is that exactly? My friend automatically assumed Saturday. I would have. Turns out that is Sunday, in the X language. If that guy gets the blue ticks, he had better suck it up. He deserves it.

  • Mr. Dia

These are the guys who just can’t quit calling you ‘dia’ in the middle of a chat. And to make matters worse, they spell it wrong. Its dear! If you can’t type that, you have a problem. And blue ticks are definitely the solution. I know some think it’s cute, but its really not. Especially if you are a stranger. Keep the dias. I don’t need to read 100 dias in just one conversation. Otherwise, Blue ticks pap!

  • Ok. Sawa. K. Lol

These words definitely kill a conversation. I never think twice when I get such a response. It is even worse when you write a paragraph and get a ‘k’. People please. That is not even a word. It is a letter that follows ‘J’ in the alphabets damn it! If there is a new communication trend that introduced letters to stand in for words and not be irritating, then K. But I will still blue-tick you. K?

And LOL. What do you even say after that? LOL to you too? Really people! Send me a LOL and I go mute.

  • Boring chats

Let no one tell me boring chats are a two-way thing. Someone initiates this. Imagine a scenario where you are really hyped up about a certain topic and the other party just doesn’t give a similar vibe. Boring. Another scenario of a boring chat is when all you do is exchange hellos. After that, nothing to talk about. Let’s just say, in this case don’t even complain when you are blue-ticked. Next scenario; someone initiates a chat but expects you to now keep it alive. I am a very good conversationalist. I can try to save a chat, but not for long. If you are boring, you are boring. If there is nothing to talk about, just say “I was checking on you”. Dont bore me to death.

  •  Delayed Responce

This relates to those people who send you a message at 7.00p.m. You will reply at 7.01p.m.  And they reply the next day at noon. Here’s the thing, you will get a reply from me immediately. But not all the time. I use the three-strike rule. Once you are at three strikes, blue ticks. There is no way I can be discussing one topic for a whole week! For the sake of peace, kindly accept the blue ticks if you fall in this category.

  • Too sensitive

Take a joke people! Loosen up a little. Buy some sense of humor if you got none. If possible, please learn how to have a comeback for the likes of me. We are the sarcastic kind. And somehow we find being mean funny. Comebacks just make the chat interesting. But it’s very annoying when someone just ‘catches feelings’. The world is brutal. If you can’t take a joke, darling don’t expect anyone to massage those feelings. Carry them and the blue ticks away. Adios!

  • The Questionnaires

The questionnaire type of chats are just a beacon for blue ticks. I mean they can be interesting occasionally, but they had better introduce a discussion point. I will not be interrogated. I refuse that. I am not a criminal…well, not yet. If that’s all I can get in a chat, I am better off watching detective movies.

  • Forwarded messages

Don’t get me started on these. They are tuned to different seasons. I love originality and creativity. If you can’t come up with your own Christmas message, then just say ‘merry Christmas!’ But do not forward a message that was forwarded to you by someone who also got it from a friend who forwarded it. You get the picture. My dad once typed and sent a message to his colleagues on New Year, only to receive his message as it was the next day. From someone who is not even a colleague. Who killed creativity?

I particularly have a problem with those messages that have threats attached to them. ‘If you don’t forward, you don’t love God…’ 

Another particularly annoying phrase is ‘send to 15 other people including me and see what happens in 5minutes…’ I know what will happen in 5 minutes. You will be waiting for a response. It won’t come. Why? Blue ticks!

  • Failing to communicate

I am not choosy on what language to chat with. I can comfortably send texts in English, Swahili and Luo. (am not 100% fluent in swahili and Luo though) But yes, I can use them. If you also want to mix them up am good with that. Just ensure you communicate. I don’t want to read a text and ask myself ‘what is this person trying to say?’ I will not try to decode that text. It’s a complete waste of time.

For example, what is this? ‘mng. Nd ur hp. U bzy? Xnd me mbanas ya mxee wa cls. Gdy’ I do not speak in codes. This kind of text will get a blue tick. How hard is it to just write a word as it is?

********************

These are just some of the scenarios where someone is really begging for blue ticks. The thing is, the blue-tickers are not really snubbing. At least not all the time. Sometimes their actions are justified.

Free advice to the constant victims, how about unmarking the read receipts box? That way you will never see blue ticks. All you will see are the black ticks. And again, they don’t rub in your face that you have been blue-ticked.

Blue ticks are not just for WhatsApp, they are all over now. Metaphorically Speaking of course. But they are. Any messaging platform has its blue ticks.

And that, is blue-ticking justified, my way.

Hike

It is the things we do at the moment that will go down as our history. We live by the kind of engagements we make and things we undertake. Those are the stories we will tell when we will be recounting of moments. At times I look back and remember the events have attended that are still click-able in my mind. It so happens that most can be remembered where I had a good lively group. Someone claimed the other day that all I like is drinking as depicted from my pieces. Well, it is not me liking drinking, it is the vodka loving me more. I like so many things, I like being good, doing laundry and not being messy, and to my heartbreak they don’t like me back. Most of the things I like just happen in that same manner, I am yet to confirm if it applies to humans too. I remember one time attending The Prinsloo Sevens, Nakuru, with my boys, we drunk till we pour alcohol in a trench. That is one of the most ridiculous things have ever done in my life. Getting high which just directs you to throwing alcohol is a bad one. It is like getting fish from the lake then throwing it in dry land. Even the gods of the lake will never forgive you for that. You will lack the whole of your life.

So this day we are visiting table land, through some jungle till we get to the Great Rift Valley View Point, it is almost 20km walk. Today my plus one is Sharon. The previous day had been her birthday. I bet it went down well. It was the day we were meeting officially for the first time, though it appeared like we had known each other for the past year. Let me shout another happy birthday to her. It takes work to get past some age bracket and step up. This day she is wearing a patterned unbuttoned shirt over a grey flowery top and a rugged blue trouser. She has a ring on her nose which am tempted to throw a bad joke about. I only fear the wrath if it goes down bad. As a man you need to know when these things might backfire on your face, leaving you no option but to hold your peace. We are with the lovely Kate; she is a thorough lady who I do like the way she talks as well as her view of life. She is this person who you will have some random conversations and feel like you are talking to a human. There are some ladies who look so pretty till they open there mouths, thank God she is far away from that. When you are used to holding good insightful talks with pretty ladies, then Kate will fit the bill. Today she is in some blue shorts jeans (she is a Kale who will pass for a Luhya so you know what her frogs says) and a black top with a jumper tied on the waist, same to Oluoch in blue jeans shorts with an orange jumper and on his head a Mohawk of short dreadlocks, giving him this rugged look. I think the reason why many ladies think he is rugged even in deeds. We have had several of such days before with him. We have come way back as freshmen when we were still good. When weed to me was still just plants growing in unwanted places. It’s good we both know how to keep the unwritten rules of engagements. We both know our boundaries and don’t need reminding over it. Simple things like not wanting to sought tight friendships with the other person’s untouchables are kept. Keep it on bro. On my side I had my scarecrow like looks on.

Our water bottles filled, we decided on the best (by best I mean most scary) route to use.  Moving through the forest, at one point Oluoch spotted a chameleon patched on a grey spot of drying plant leaves making it have the different shades of grey in its body. He decided to be himself and in a worried voice point it out to Kate. I have never seen Kate scream that much, not like I have seen her scream before, no. I was seeing her scream for the first time, in frenzy way while running up the steep. It was like some possessed lady running from a spirit she could not see. I was taking some shots on this now so powerful animal. I am imaging, if it could cause such havoc when moving that slow. How about if it was to move at a mouse speed? I went and told it, ‘Mr. Chameleon you should be in a hurry to exit this world because currently there are several people already fit to be called using your name. The only thing is that they are not so proud of it like you move around carrying it all day.’ Again I could not fail to add, “if only you knew how many men wished to be you right now, from what you have done to Kate, the screaming part that is, in a given place.”

The clouds decided to pull a scare on us. It looked as if they were going to open up and tell us that this was a wrong day to make such walks. Well, it never came to be. I felt so relieved. I have always wanted to be in rains with someone in skirt. I have a clear picture of what I want to do with her on the rains. Today was just not going to be that day. Sharon had this look on her face that said she was tired and if we were to get any hasty, she was going to want some hand for support. I had to confirm if she was good, because deep inside I knew that she would be excused to be exhausted. The previous day was her birthday and for obvious reasons she had slept late. It was these times when we hope for the best even if we know there are high chances of the worst. I did not know how it would appear when I was going to tell her, “I am really sorry if you can’t move any longer because your guy here has less to offer, he weighs barely more than a bag of cement.” I hope this is not shouting am not a gentle man or again you can go ahead and judge or feel sorry me if you want.

We encountered some homes deep down in the valleys. Most were flat iron roof with red mad walls. They seemed to be so peaceful and that the occupants would breathe real fresh air because the trees were growing till the very last space next to the house. One home was full of banana plantations, avocado trees already bearing, and passion fruits with a garden of tomato and kale. Such times I think to myself, what did our forefathers do to curse my land to always be so bare? The predominant plantations at my homeland are thorns and stones. You start wondering if you will eat those when drought comes. The other day traveling with mum to South Nyanza, she kept telling me how the place is good for one to stay and build a home. Its fine I got what she was implying. I am almost telling her, “whatever you are saying my answer is NO.” I just let it go because as usual, who knows? In one of the homes we branched to buy tomatoes, had a scarecrow in the farm. I recalled one time some lady asked me to tell her more about me, I found myself saying things on the line of, and Lewis Martin is a simple guy who looks more of a scarecrow than a human. What a striking resemblance we had with this rooted stuff scaring away predators.

Getting to the mainland, on the tarmac we encounter a haystack market. Back in my homeland, people use grass only in building the grass apartments and to light fires. Well here we are in a market mainly for grass tied in stacks. They sell grass the same way we sell livestock in the market. When taking some porridge still at the market, we spot two kids struggling to tie up some left over pieces of the grass from a wooden crate. They were two little boys wearing gumboots and some clothes that were showing they were ready for this. That scene really moved me. I like when kids start doing chores when they are young, because I believe that they will grow with the same heart of hard work. They will not sulk and make faces at the prospect of just changing a blown off bulb. When ordering for the porridge, Kate suddenly catches the team light skin tendencies and she goes like “I will only take it if it’s hot.” I kept wondering how the uji would keep warm leave alone hot in a 20 liter can that is almost emptied. Does she come from a place where such containers too have a vacuum? I tentatively watched her drain a whole cup of the cold drink just like the rest of us. I almost missed catching Oluoch eating double the number of mandazi each of us had taken. This guy eats a lot. I am also getting convinced that I need to get rid of him around my circles to gain some weight. I will have some more food.

Just like all those other events we have had before, I have photos for this one clearly labeled in a folder. Though Oluoch told Kate when we were watching through them later that she shouldn’t have taken pictures of Sharon and me when misbehaving. He was only being himself yet again, they were not that serious. Nothing is ever that serious.