My Boss Is A Jerk

A few months ago, I got a job with a highly reputable company. I was lucky to have been one of the elite to partake the training prior to being accepted in the company. It was a test by my now boss to see which candidates can work best under all circumstances and be able to deliver. I know I should be glad I have a job, but the truth is, my boss is a jerk. Sort of. I will explain.

She is a very young lady, definitely not even in her 30s. She is chocolate in complexion and is indeed very beautiful. If we were both single and she was not my boss, I would definitely pursue her. She is a slim lady who is perfectly endorsed in the right places. Her hips curve perfectly just at the right angle to compliment her small waist. She has stern eyes. When she stares at you, you are tempted to confess all your secrets to her, hoping you successfully hide the fact that you think she is a jerk. She wears no make up except for a pinch of lipstick enough to get you staring at her lips like an idiot. Her hair is always in different styles, but natural. My boss is the true definition of African beauty. Except she is a jerk.

About a week ago, one of my colleagues left the boss’s office almost in tears. She is a young lady whom I had started this job with, so we were a team. I went over and asked her what had happened. She looked at me with anger in her eyes and told me ‘that bitch just told me to redo the work I have been doing tirelessly for the past week. And guess what? She wants it by Monday. It’s Friday Mark. Friday!’.  I know women can be emotional hazards so I tried to come up with a consoling statement before walking back to my desk. I couldn’t come up with any so I just gave her a part on the back and walked away. She is not talking to me well lately. I don’t know why.

As I was approaching my desk, I saw my boss walk towards me. She had her eyes fixed on me. Just me. I tried so hard to focus on the right thoughts. Like did I finish my task? Did she see me with Anne and was coming to give me a warning? What did I have for breakfast? Am I hungry? What was the title of that song that keeps playing in all the matatus I board? Anything to keep my thoughts from drifting to her perfect self walking towards me. My boss walks as if she is weightless. Her feet touch the ground at very low volumes she could easily sneak up on you. I find this weird considering the fact that she always wears heels. She is not a tall lady but with her heels, she can easily dwarf anyone she wants. She was wearing a cream trouser suit on that day with a black sleeveless top. However, when walking towards me she wasn’t wearing her coat. Her perfectly toned arms were on full display. Do I like my boss? This is not good…

She got to where I was and stared right into my eyes. She had to tilt her head to an angle to see my eyes and I could see that she hated that. I am a tall guy at 6’ 1”. My height did not seem to please her.

“Mark. Right?”

“Yes madam. That’s me.”

She stared at me as though I had just murdered her cat. I was scared already. She is intimidating.

“Please have a seat. I need to talk to you”

Did she just ask me to sit down? Politely? That was new. I froze. I kept staring at her like the bloody idiot that I am. Why did she need me to sit anyway? Was it her power position issues? I kept wondering as I finally composed myself to sit. I adjusted my trousers just a little bit to ensure all my business was in check and in case of anything, no one would notice. I tried being as discreet as possible, but I know I heard her chuckle.

“How can I help you today madam?”

“I talk first Mark.”

Brutal… But ok

“Sorry…” I gestured towards her and tried maintaining a composed posture.

“How long have you worked here Mark?”

“A few months”

“Do you know the exact number?”

“4 months”

“Wonderful. What exactly do you do here?”

“I am in marketing”

“Mark…What exactly do you do here?”

“I handle marketing and promotion of this company’s products and services. In addition, I also help boost the social media following”

“That’s now an answer.”

She then stares at her watch, then at her phone. Why would she need to check the time twice? Did she know just how uncomfortable her proximity made me? After a minute of silence, she cleared her throat and looked at me again. Her eyes are stern, but still magical.

“How much do you earn?”

“Per month?”

“Do I pay you any other way?”

“50000. Net salary.”

“Hmmm… Do you have a family Mark?”

“Not yet. But I hope to one day”

“Do you save for your family?”

“I do what I can madam”

“You need to stop calling me Madam. It makes me feel old. How would you feel if I reduced your salary?”

“Are you planning to do that?”

“Not really an answer Mark”

“I would feel really bad… honestly I might even consider looking for another job. I barely survive with the 50k.”

She did not talk to me. I knew I had messed up big time. Me and my big mouth! Couldn’t I have just kissed her ass and given her the answer she might have hoped for? But who ever knows what she thinks?

“Are you good at your job?”

“Yes I am”

“Would you like to keep it?”

“Yes. It’s hard finding a job in my field. I need this job.”

“Hmmmm…I need evidence of your ‘good work’ by noon. Is that possible?”

“Yes”

It was 10minutes to noon. That bitch! She did not walk away. She pulled a chair and sat on it. Swinging round and round as the clock ticktocked. I honestly was confused. I had no idea how to behave. How do I give her proof of my good work? Therefore, I decided to sell one of her company’s services as she watched. I made a call to a promoter friend of mine who is helping me look for a plan B job. I ensured the phone call was loud enough that she could hear both sides from where she sat. I told my boy to get me a client interested in the company’s services. A few minutes later, I had convinced a stranger over the phone to switch from their random suppliers and be loyal to us. All I needed to do was draft an agreement for the client to sign.

I had less than a minute left to midday. I turned to my boss and told her “am done”.

She glanced up from her phone and asked me calmly “do you want a raise?”

“Yes I do.” I had realized it’s straight forward answers that work with her.

“You might get a 7% raise starting next month”

“Thank you mad… sorry. Thank you”

She smiled at me and stood up. I stood up too. Just in case there was a handshake to cement the new deal. She just looked at me as if I was some lost puppy. She turned her glance across the room to where my colleague was. While still staring she asked me “why can’t some people just do their work efficiently?” I knew better than to answer that one so I just kept quiet. She went ahead and said, “I should hire your friend. The one who linked you to a client. Am firing someone soon”

What did she mean by someone? Was it me? Was it Anne? She was after all staring at her while saying that. She had just promised me a raise, not directly, but it should count. That someone couldn’t be me, right? If its Anne, do I give her a heads up? Or would that get me fired too? This lady acted like she was made of stone. There are stories that she was deeply hurt and completely shut down after that. But no one knows any fact about her. Except that, she is a jerk.

She turned and looked at me. Then turned to walk away. Her light steps fading as she disappeared into her elegant office. That was the second time I heard her voice, and the first time she talked directly to me. The first time was while she addressed all employees on the day I joined. Just as she sat down in her office, I got an email. It was from her. To paraphrase it, it said she needed an immediate report on all my accomplishments in the company and to notify me that I would be working on the weekends. Half a day. I literally had no words.

On that day, I left work earlier than usual. Coincidentally, a bad one, I shared the lift downstairs with my boss. She maintained silence in the whole ride. Once we were on the ground floor, she asked me, “Am I a bad boss Mark?”

That was not one of those questions that needed honesty. So I told her “No, you are a good boss”

She smiled at me and looked at her watch.

“See you tomorrow. And don’t be late”

Continue reading My Boss Is A Jerk

The ‘Man’ In Every Woman

You will understand the featured photo as you go on.

I am the worst patient ever. I know this for a fact. I have an ardent fear of anything medicine related which means I can take even 10minutes to swallow a tablet, even one that is sugar coated. I hear there are such. I don’t have the guts to taste any. I will just take my sweet time thinking about what angle to use when throwing the tablet in my mouth, to avoid any tongue-tablet contact. I don’t care if the tablet is tiny. Those are the worst! Other than that fear, I am stubborn. With that comes the need to be pampered. Like let’s say you want me to eat, talk to me nicely. Seduce me with your words such that I don’t just submit to the food but to any other order you issue. Talk to me like a child. Feel my temperature at intervals of 5minutes and most importantly, yet the most silly, ensure my phone does not run low on power.

As a patient, I can be very petty and by extension, exaggerate any situation. When I have the flu, you will think it’s a chronic illness or some ‘mathematics’ malaria. I mean the +++ ones. I will easily win your pity. The most I can do at such a time is cuddle up in bed and look pale. I can do that so well. It’s not a choice. It’s an involuntary reflex setting my body reverts to when am sick. In short, as a patient, I can sometimes be a pain in the ‘you know what’. (Feel free to read that as you may please. A three-letter word would suffice.) You can imagine the frustration in everyone when I had a sick scare recently. If there is such a thing.

Where am I going with this? When I had my sick scare, my Mum told me, “You are the only one among my children that I still don’t know how to handle when sick. You fall sick like your Dad.” Which I think narrowly translates to I fall sick like a Man? I don’t know. That is how I interpreted it. So it’s what we will all go with. No debates. In addition, it’s a known fact that men fear being sick.

This statement got me thinking. If I can fall sick like a man, what else that’s known about men do we women do? And I came up with this.

According to some article on the internet, a study actually, one of the facts known about men is that they lie six times in a day, while women lie three times. I don’t know how true that is, but I will not question the internet. Not after all the years of relying on it for all my assignments. However, if it is true, then I have some emphasis on that. First off, everyone lies. The men just happen to lie more in a day. Women however, have a tendency of linking unrelated situations together, which comes as an added advantage to them when lying. For example, the car is linked to the phone, which is linked to food, which is in turn linked to cleaning the house, and further linked to the story you as a man once mentioned three years ago. So with all these linked together, women need to lie less, because when caught in a lie, they can easily manipulate their way around a situation and instead link it to the other unrelated situations. Men, will have to come up with a lie to cover that lie. But the bottom line is, men lie. Women lie.

It is common knowledge that men forget a lot. And women remember a lot. As I have stated above, women link everything to everything. A trait that has seen men losing almost every argument they engage with women. Especially if you have a history together. However, women also forget. What triggers their memory is the ability to link a situation to an irrelevant one. A good example:
Man: I met Jane today. She said hello.
Woman: Jane…Jaaa…..Jannnnee….Jane Jane Jane…Jane. Which Jane is that?
Man: She used to work in the shop next to….
Woman: Aha! Jane. The one who had to move out of her husband’s house at night?

What a man can do, a women can do better? Really? What a man can do, a woman can do. Just that. Well except getting another woman pregnant.

There is something about a man, laziness, carelessness and disorganization. I can’t quite put a finger on it, but it’s there. I have more male friends than the female ones. So I know what am talking about. Besides, who said I need to have a huge number of people that I can sample from? IPSOS publishes their findings all the time and not even once have I heard anyone say they were part of the survey. The things I have mentioned, are not just associated with men, get a woman to feel comfortable with you and you will be surprised at how much the ‘men’ in women is paramount.

Men, ok I will say most men, thrive in disorganization. There is no specific order in which things are arranged in a man’s house. As long as there is a space, and the item fits, it will be placed there. Until it’s needed. Then the search begins; introducing new forms of disarrangement until the needed item is found. For example, why separate the shirts, trousers and socks? Why not pile them up together and only engage in a serious search party when you need one? You think only men do this? Think again.

I had a friend in school who never saw the need to separate his clean clothes from the dirty ones. He relied solely on his sense of smell and sight. Who says women are any different? They may be more civilized enough to separate the clean ones from the dirty ones, but not always. The jeans are an exception. (I won’t talk about bras, ladies know themselves). The jeans are always clean, it does not matter how many times they have been worn. They are always clean. Another man-thing in a woman is the need to just do nothing, and possibly have someone else do it. Laziness.

“Ablutophobia. Ablutophobia is a persistent fear of bathing or any other form of cleaning activity. It is found to be more common in children and females.” I will not even talk about that. It’s completely open to interpretation. (Photo relevance comes in here) Let’s move on…

Ever heard of an alpha male? Well, there is an alpha female too. She has her own pack. She determines which way they go. She determines who can join the pack and most importantly, you cannot even think of dating her ex. When you have an issue with the alpha female, as a member of the pack, kindly humble yourself and take the high road, or else, she will destroy you. Unlike the alpha males whose only limitation to the pack members is the ex-thing, the female alphas have more control over their packs. The men call themselves bros, but it’s always clear who the leader is. The women call it girl-squad, with a dictator for a leader. Therefore, another man-thing in a woman is that. The alpha thing. Women however take it way too far.

Do I need to talk about clothes? Football? Or some other sports generally associated with men? How about cooking? I don’t think so. You get my point.

What am I saying in all these? There is nothing so different in character between the man and woman. There is that aspect of the ‘man’ that will keep manifesting in the woman. Some, women hide pretty well.

Genesis 2: 23 And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

I will leave you with that.

I NEED A DRIVER

By the end of this piece, I hope someone will be kind enough to be my driver.

Before we start getting all jumpy about this, just know I don’t have a car. I need a driver, who has a car. It’s sort of a package deal. It is more like calling for an Uber but this time round a rental, until I get my own. I am beyond done with public transport. Dunzo! Public transport and I are at that point in a relationship where reconciliation is the last option. Moving on for the sake of peace is quite literally the only option left. Very few things can really piss me off. Bad food (ok, if you can’t cook, kindly do not offer to cook for me. I value good food). Lies (there is a thin line between the truth and a lie. It’s called choice). A terrible journey (this is our focus today)

My standards just don’t seem to mix with the public transport standards. It’s either that or guys are just out to get me. It can easily be both.

Travelling is one of my favourite hobbies, yet I am always complaining anytime I travel. I am planning to go on a vacation soon. More reasons why I need a driver. I know some may begin questioning my account balance. Who goes on vacation when the country is being given a bitter dose of humility? Well, it is for that very reason that I need a vacation. What happens when the economy keeps dropping day by day? I may never get to afford such a thing again. So yes, we are being humbled in the worst way, but I am planning to live well. Plus travelling isn’t even that expensive really.

So travelling. I have specific preferences when am travelling. I need a window seat. And if I don’t get that, then the one with the window seat should know how to balance the temperature in the vehicle. I am not going to suffocate in a matatu. Hell no! Apart from the window seat, it would be of much importance to me if the driver does not play music so loud that I can’t hear my own thoughts. Still on the music, it should be in a language we all understand. By ‘all’ here I mean Kenyans. Music is the reason my worst route is the Nyahururu-Nairobi route. Those guys play loud Mugithi music and it gets worse when they join in the chorus with their perfectly out of key voices. Imagine a frog singing in soprano. Do take your time please… I believe you now see my frustration.

Next preference when travelling is to have a quiet vehicle. How quiet? Pin drop. I don’t like it when everyone is talking in a matatu. The person at the back seat wants to engage the one seated with the driver in a lengthy conversation about the weather. And no, not the one we are all experiencing on the road. The one they have left wherever they are coming from. You are coming from the same goddamn place! And headed to the same place. How about you discuss that while there. Another preference would be a new vehicle. It’s just not fair to sentence someone to an hour-long journey with a lot of crickiry-crickiry noise from the body and a deafening cry of a dying engine. Save the poor vehicle and make it scrap metal. I should write a proposal on that.

There are some irritating people habits that I can’t stand in a matatu ever. One, How is it that some people just can’t stop eating? I get it, food is important. Big deal. Why would someone need a whole week’s supply of food in a 1-hour journey? These people eat everything. Everything. As long as its food, they will eat it. My worst is groundnuts. I don’t eat any nuts. That sounds weird but moving on… Another one is avocados. How do you eat avocado in a public vehicle without some decorum? The way people eat avocados in a matatus is just nasty and very gross. Picture this. You are sitting next to someone eating avocado, the vehicle hits an emergency break and just like that you are covered in avocado. Not just you but it flies around messing the other passengers’ clothes. Maybe am paranoid.

Two, I think we can all agree that a phone call is a private thing. We all don’t need to hear a conversation we are not part of. If you don’t want to involve us in the call, then regulate your voice and the call volume. Imagine yourself in a vehicle where everyone is speaking on phone, and it’s too loud that you can literally hear what both parties are saying. This is a common behaviour with businessmen. It’s like to announce your success, you must at least receive one phone call per journey and yell at the poor fella whose sole mistake was calling you while you were near people. This is just one hell of a sick move. I cannot stand that anymore.

Three, there is something about respecting someone’s phone that some public transport users just don’t seem to comprehend. It’s the respecting part. You are travelling and having a lively conversation with someone via text, only to realize you are not the only one viewing your phone. Your neighbour is so much glued to your screen just as much as you are! There are no words to express the anger that follows that. One time some guy asked me who the people in my photos were. I was searching for a new profile picture. I get it; there is an access law that was passed recently. It does not cover my phone!

Four, tantrums. I love children. They love me. But my love for children is sort of becoming conditional. I love those who love being quiet. No tantrums. If there are any, at least let them be diplomatic. Ok, I get how that’s too much to ask, but they’ve got to learn such things early. The future of diplomacy depends on those tiny beings. I have had my fair share of child tantrums in public vehicles to an extent that am beginning to question my tolerance for children all together.

I thought I had seen it all in matatus from loud passengers, bad music, terrible seatmates, invasion of privacy, all the way to a damn food festival until I was travelling from Maseno to Kisumu. (That was a long sentence! Wow!) It was a bus. I wasn’t fortunate enough to get a window seat, but that’s not the focus of this rant. My problem was with a preacher. Yes, a preacher. There are these guys who are always preaching in vehicles. Then will later ask for some handouts, politely I might add. Not this preacher. He was one arrogant son of a *you know what*. This guy boards the bus at the same stage that I did. He finds a seat just next to the conductor. 10 minutes into the journey, he whispers something to the conductor, then walks over to the driver, and does the same. The driver turns off the radio and pastor begins his road sermon. Let me just state this very clearly, it was good music turned off. That’s some rare thing to find especially in a public vehicle. The guy talked about Noah, he talked about Daniel, he talked about every other Sunday-school story I have ever heard. He talked for the whole journey. Just as we were about to arrive in Kisumu, he asked for his offering. I was just about to pull a 50-shilling note and hand it over when he ruined it. “Mtu asinipatie coin yoyote. Ntapeleka wapi? Kama unaona ni coin ndio unaeza nipatia, kaa na pesa yako. Itanibolea mfuko. Mchungaji hawezi ongea kwa muda huu wote kisha umpe coin. Kwa hivyo yeyote atakaye taka kumbariki mhubiri anaweza leta chochote alichonacho. Lakini sio coin” Quick and brief translation, the guy would not accept any cash if it was a coin. It would ruin his pockets.

Let’s take a breather… Ok, now what the hell? Who does that? He is a preacher. I don’t think having a say on what people give you as an appreciation for sharing the gospel comes with the calling. That was just so wrong. Maybe am judging, but that was just wrong. No one gave him any money. No one.

I know I always complain a lot when I travel. It is not fair to those who have to keep listening to my whining self. It’s about time that ended. Like I said at the beginning, I am expecting a driver, with a car. The qualifications are simple. Be a good driver. Just that. My vacation time is just around the corner, and to be quite honest, if I don’t have a driver by then, you will all have to deal with my rants. That is not a pretty thing.

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Two weeks ago, I posted a story on my life as a preacher’s kid; school life. I ended the piece with a promise to work on the social life of a preacher’s kid. I will post that soon. However, I wanted to start an online awareness campaign on the lives of preachers kids as an attempt to bring about understanding and at least limit the level with which stereotyping is paramount.  To all our readers, it is my request to you all to share this message with any PK you may know. We will be posting the stories on our Facebook page(PepperLife) using the #LifeAsAPreachersKid. The stories can be shared anonymously just in case someone is not comfortable with their identity going public. Share the stories with us through our email or via our Facebook page inbox. You can also directly send the stories via WhatsApp.

Paula – paula@thispepperlife.com 0701-250155

Lewis – lewis@thispepperlife.com 0718-647507

Facebook page link – https://www.facebook.com/ThisPepperLife/

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.

 

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.