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.

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

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.