Familiar Much?

The time is 10.28pm, Monday 4th December 2017.

I am not yet asleep; I am watching a movie. It’s a Marvel Studios’ production. I am a huge fan of Marvel. Other than the fact that their movies are awesome, they know how to cast. If you are not enjoying the movie, you are enjoying the view. Greek gods…

My phone is ringing. It’s a new number. I stare at my phone, then mute it. I would probably sing along to my ringtone; but it’s late. So muting is the only option. I recognize the number from earlier in the day.

I was meeting my friend after a really long time. All we have been doing is communicate through social media. Comment on posts. Like posts. Spruced up by occasional chats in the inbox. She was in Kisumu, and we decided to meet at around 11am on a sunny day. Levine, beloved sister, am just bringing to your attention, next time we meet you are probably going to wait for me for at least thirty minutes. It has got nothing to do with you keeping me waiting; I just feel deep down in my heart that on that day, I may have a valid reason for being late.

We headed to Naivas Supermarket, for some refreshments while catching up.

Just as we were in the middle of exchanging the latest gossip (please read important data exchange) a young man lurch at the edge of our table. Not tall, not short. Dark complexion. I hadn’t noticed him until he spoke. It really is wrong to interrupt such weighty discussions between ladies. I was hoping this was important. Part of my mind was convinced he knew Levine. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Hi…” he said in a tremulous voice.

Hi”, Levine reacts.

My name is Kevin Omondi

***awkward silence***

Levine stares at her phone. I stare at him. He suddenly had my attention. A man who walks to a table of ladies confidently grabs my attention. It doesn’t matter if you speak gibberish, you have that courage, you got my attention.

Ok, I have told you my name how about you also tell me yours…” he says addressing both of us.

Hahaha… I didn’t realize that was the trade,” I remark.

hehe… ok, so what are your names?

Paula

Huh? Pau…

Paula. P-A-U-L-A

Wow. Ok. And you are?” addressing Levine, who has now kept her phone away.

Levine

Lavine

No. It’s Levine, not Lavine

There is actually a difference you know”, I add.

Wow. You ladies have unique names.” He declares, and immediately adds, “But I told you two names and you’ve told me just one each.”

You made the choice to tell us two of your names. That doesn’t mean we are bound to do the same. Does it?” I politely asked. It may not look so in writing, but believe me, it was polite. Sort of. Let’s not dwell on that.

Not really. Anyway, am not sure if you noticed me, but I have been observing you from where we were seated. I just had to come and say hello.

Oh… No we didn’t notice you…” It’s really good to be honest.

You really look familiar you know. I think I have seen you somewhere…” he said with his eyes fixed on me. Levine, God bless her lack of self-restraint, burst into laughter. A cruel mocking laugh with no pretense of sympathy. I could have laughed too, but one of us needed to play the composed role.

Ummm… Let me try to get this… Could it be that I look familiar because a few minutes ago he was busy staring at me before having made the very brave decision to come over and blurt it out… In the process, he suddenly realized how I am familiar because like I said, he had just been observing me… Which makes the issue of my familiarity in his memory (which is still very fresh and dependable) abit confusing. To an extent that his mind assumes I may be familiar from a past incident… It’s possible because it all just happened in less than an hour. Therefore, deducing that I look familiar is simply an affirmation that he has a good and working short term memory; but does not in any way mean am actually familiar.

Ok… I know, I got a little carried away in my thoughts there. It would have easily been a labyrinth in my mind had he not spoken again.

Could I have any of your numbers?” His voice flat and steady.

Wait, you actually want to choose between us whose number you want?” Levine asked him.

Yes. I will appreciate any number…”

Before we discuss whose number you may or may not get, how about we go a little back to the matter of my familiarity to you. Do people still use that line? It’s really getting old you know…” I told him.

Am serious. I must have seen you somewhere…” Hahaha… Like am going to buy that. It could be true. But pffft…

Hahaha… nice try. So whose number do you want?” I asked him.

I will appreciate anyMaybe even both” He scoffs darting his eyes across the table.

You really need to be more specific than that,” I insisted.

She is my sister. You can’t ask for just any of our numbers. And you can’t have both. Just tell us which number you want,” Levine said coolly.

I can even take yours.” He says pointing to Levine. “…as long as it helps me get to her,” pointing to me. Wow dude. Wow.

Aha… So it’s my number you want?” I asked in a calm, unhurried voice.

Yes” accompanied with a little chuckle.

Well why couldn’t you just go straight to the point…” Levine said (gesturing at a bottle of soda on the table) “If you needed this soda, would you have gone in circles before picking it up?

hahaha… no

At this point I was convinced he would just drag himself  away. But he didn’t. He reached out and handed me his phone. I graciously took it. Keyed in my number and handed it back to him. I didn’t save it. How he saves my number on his phone is his business. I just hope he doesn’t include ‘h’ somewhere. To confirm if it’s a real number, he calls me. (this is why I recognized the number)

Ok, thank you. I will give you a call later we talk…

I nodded.

Just then, he rolls away. My number the latest acquisition in his contact list; probably saved with the wrong spelling.

Drama follows you,” Levine says with a cheeky smile on her face.

You have no idea how much, I thought to myself.

Back to this moment. Am staring at my phone as it rings; still not sure of how or if to answer it at all, until the screen goes black. It is late. I am not picking a call from someone I just met earlier in the day; who had all day to call me but chooses this time, and who may or may not want to ‘interrogate’ me to figure out how to manipulate his speech into making the topic of my familiarity sound more believable.

Men, or the boy child, please stop with that line. It may be true, but we are sick of it.

I expect the phone to ring for a second time. But it doesn’t. I go back to watching. Then my phone beeps. It’s a message. It is awash with the words (these are not even words) ‘plz’ and ‘dia’.

I keeeeeeennnnnntttt!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, for those waiting for me to clear the way, am sorry to disappoint you. As long as am still ‘dia’ and familiar, something I will never buy, the jam is going to be here for a while.

I have said this before, am not a popular person. There is no way I am familiar to people. (Remember paranoia?) Even if I am, don’t tell me. And if you tell me, then you are lying. That line is dead.

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

The time is 7.54am, Tuesday 5th December.

With my earphones plugged in, I am listening to music. My phone rings. It’s the same number…

To pick or not to pick… Decisions… decisions… decisions…

WE DESERVE BETTER

The other day I was on a matatu headed to the house. A guy boarded the vehicle mid way; I really didn’t know what happened between him and the conductor. I only heard the conductor yell, “Hii gari huwa haibebi Wajaluo kama wewe!” That was one of the worst open tribalism incidents I have seen in my life. Any other time I would have protested and gotten out of the vehicle, well not that day. People had earlier on been killed just for coming from a given tribe or supporting a certain political candidate.

Together with all the other passengers we kept mum. Even though we might have been uncomfortable, we endured through it all, only fighting the injustice within ourselves.

As a society we have employed the mute mode on evils in the society. One of the worst ills we are facing today is police brutality. Our political scene has been characterized with several deaths. Police have employed the use of extra force in dealing with the people they should be protecting. They have beaten, killed and maimed people. In all these we expect calls for a stop to the killing but no we are proven wrong.

Our celebs have kept silent in calling out a stop on police brutality. They are busy protecting brands when their fans are dying. The once great boy band Sautisol would rather release sexual videos to save their stumbling musical career than speak out on the evils in the society. They are becoming part of the evils we have to deal with.

How can you say to your fans ‘I love you all’ on social media yet show none of that in action? Is it for the likes? What happens when all your fans are gone? Will you speak out then?

The political class has failed us miserably in the fight. I did not follow live the swearing in ceremony of President Uhuru Kenyatta, but I had to get my hands on his speech. I had to go through it more than once; to ensure that indeed I had not missed the acknowledgment of the political deaths in Kenya since the August 8 elections rather he did not talk about it at all. It feels so bad when the lives lost are treated like the slaughtering of chicken.

The truth is that it’s high time we have the uncomfortable conversation on police brutality.

My home county, Kisumu, has seen its fair share of police brutality and killings. The stage is always set for police brutality before any national political contest. My people cannot celebrate or show disappointment (most cases) in whatever political outcome. Before any public announcement there is heavy deployment of police to Kisumu. Media follows in second. Ready to capture the best photos and videos of the rowdy Kisumu people.

When the rest of the country looks at Kisumu, it sees a land of violence; a group of people who don’t have peace in their DNA, a place full of rowdy youth who thrive in destruction, a backward place with everyone an expert in throwing stones. But then they need to ask themselves some few questions. How did Kisumu manage to become a city when it is full time violence? How do people in Kisumu fend for themselves when all they do is violence all the time? The last time I checked violence couldn’t feed people.

The media has played a big role in painting a picture of violence in the minds of the people in relation to Kisumu. The media is hell bent on portraying violence as a Luo affair. For example, it took ages to report the cases on police killings in Bungoma, only showing it after widespread talks in social media.

Unlike what the media is portraying, Kisumu people are one of the most welcoming and loving people around Kenya. They are a people who have suffered and struggled to be where they are, just like most Kenyans. They are very forgiving people. Their only undoing is that they lack the pretentious gene in their DNAs. They don’t sugarcoat anything they want to address. Another undoing may be the lack of diplomacy in how they react. Truth be told. But before you judge, remember there is always more to a story.

The media has failed to call out the police killings. I am yet to see any media campaign directed towards stopping police brutality. Then you wonder why most people stopped watching our media? Sometime back activist Boniface Mwangi led a protest condemning police brutality only to end up being a victim. Media covered it live in their channels, but what did they say?

Make no mistake, just because the current police killings are directed towards a certain community or political group doesn’t mean that it will not get to another place next time. Power, just like death, moves to all homes from time to time. At the moment it might seem to be so far or even the thought may appear to be farfetched, but it will come. We have the opportunity to call it out and it be stopped otherwise when the time for the other people to face the brutality comes, they may also just sit down, relax and watch.

Do not speak out only if you are assured you will never need anyone to speak for you.

A group of people who happen to be from the ‘right’ political side think that those killed by the police during protests have called the deaths upon themselves. ‘msiba wa kujitakia’ they say. They have a feeling that the best thing to do in such a time is to keep away from the streets. The truth is that hiding away is not a way to achieve any reforms. How would Kenya have achieved independence if the Mau Mau kept away in the comfort of their homes when the colonialists wanted them to? Would we be having Uhuru park if the women who camped at the place heeded Moi’s threats and brutal treatment? All noteworthy political reforms in Kenya have been achieved with guys on the streets.

Again, they fail to notice that police in some cases have forcefully ejected people from their houses for the beatings. The people in slums in Kisumu and perceived opposition strongholds have such gory tales. Children have been killed at one of the supposed safest places, HOME.

We have a government which seems hell-bent on trying to instill fear in its citizens. A government that may not be ready to accommodate different views. Some people have been arguing that the police are justified to kill and injure the opposition supporters because of violence and looting. Then you are left wondering why they teargas the Maa community peacefully demonstrating against the killing of their cows? There are more civilised ways of dealing with a rowdy crowd. A bullet is not one. That’s meant for war. And we are not at war. We are neighbours, friends, family. But we use war strategies against our own. The very arms and energy used to fight our own can be used to fight our mutual enemy. Those who are killing our children in schools. Those killing our neighbours as they travel in buses. Saying this makes me wonder, is there really a difference between the said bad guys and the police?

Unfortunately, it’s getting to a time when people wouldn’t fear anymore, when guys are ready to face the fire head on and brave whatever weapon that is thrown their way. That is a clear indication that we are breeding a group of people accustomed to death, pain, and hate. With time the killings would not be a threat enough. It will be a norm. That is a dangerous time.

I was talking to Princess earlier this week on how at times we have different views on the evils in the country and she told me in part, “…because I know the moment I start justifying wrongs, am lost.” I couldn’t agree more. It is high time the citizens of this country stop finding a way of justifying wrongs. It is really heartbreaking to hear someone defend the killings of children.

Once Kenya has decided that killing children is bearable, IT IS OVER. No debate.

Chapter four of the constitution of Kenya on rights and fundamental freedoms, provides for human dignity. Every person has inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected.

There is not even a single shred of dignity from how the police handle the masses. The police brutality met on women and children, the clobbering on our brothers, maiming and beatings of everyone on the streets comes with no dignity. For that, I want to pass a note to the police. WE DESERVE BETTER. We have dignity to uphold. It must be protected. We must not beg for it.

We deserve to be served and protected by the police irrespective of our political affiliation as long as we are within the provisions of the constitution. We only should be afraid of criminals not police.

LET’S TALK AGE

Being someone who lives life on the fast lane, I don’t think things over. I believe in doing them first and thinking later or even failing to think altogether. I suspect when I think first, I would persuade myself out of it (happens with my writing all the time). But then we all know that regret for the things we do can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we do not do that is inconsolable. Dating has never been an exception.

One of my recent adventures gave me something to think about though. So for the first time I am thinking about age in relation to dating and relationships. In this case I was talking with a lady I actually had intentions of making moves (smooth or otherwise) on.

With my permit for story on approved, we join the story in progress.

Her:  So there are screenshots I want to bring to our attention (winking emoji)

Me: Eheh go ahead

Her:  (sends two social media profiles) Open mind (winking emoji)

Me: Okay, I can see, go ahead

Her: What’s your take on age and relationship…genuinely…? Like you’ve not seen those screenshots.

Me: I saw the screenshots and can’t see what’s up.  With me I am not pro age. It is important, but it is just a number.  What’s your take?

This is someone I have been talking with for some time. She found me witty and really fun. She thought I am someone worth knowing more about. After doing her stalking (she made open her impeccable stalking skills) it dawns on her that I am a year younger. At this point she was going all out. Like she had seen the biggest turn off ever.

She was gearing to drop my ass so hard. Emanating noise would be magnitudes louder than thunder. Buildings would shake like biscuits shaken in a box. Glasses smashed. Books falling off shelves. It was to be terrifying. Tarmac would crack with cars on top. Electric poles would fall, lights sparkling all over. Squirrels would jump to their gods of rodents for redemption. In that moment I had instantly gone from sexable to invisible.

While many people would want to lie or even create an illusion of being older, I don’t do that. I am someone who accepts things they can’t change. No one has control over the time they are born. Not even the people they are born of. So all I do is take time to understand why someone would think that my age is a turn off. Here is how that conversation ended;

Her:  (several laughter emoji)…but I can’t really say it works because av not dated older men… So I guess ni mentality nimekuwa nayo.

Her:  I just wanted to talk about this…rather than have it lingering

I had retained my place as sexable. No earthquake is happening. I can’t be responsible for the first 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Kenya.

Society has created a mental picture revolving around age differences. Most of the time people feel wrong when they start developing feelings for people outside their age bracket. The society wants to make you feel that dating an older person is mainly for material gains and not love. Well, you could still date someone your age for reasons other than love.

Several people choose their relationship partners based on different criteria. I don’t know how a guy wakes up one day and decide that he is all about ass. That a great ass cannot let him settle, it makes them uncontrollably giddy, and super excited. Some will go the boob’s way. Juicy boobs look to him so inviting. He just wants to hold, caress and appreciate. The world can keep its supermodels, anorexic looking as they are.

Is it hereditary? Like my liking for BBW a trait passed to me from my dad who got it from my grandpa who also got it from the people before him. Like one of my ancestors would send guys out to bring a woman home with clear instructions. She must have things I can hold to when I fall asleep. Or maybe am just compensating for my small body, who knows? Or even worse I am looking for a parental figure. Whatever it is, to me there is something disarming about big women. Without lingerie their boobs sit lower, more natural less close together and look so perfectly molded.

Many people have age as a factor in deciding whom they date. The media has also portrayed age to be a big factor in the relationships people have. It has revered men for having younger partners, while castigating older women for having younger spouses.

Emmanuel Macron, France’s youngest president hit the headlines more for his marriage with the 64 year old first lady. Instead of praising Macron and Brigitte, the media cast bad light on the first lady. Some people in France went ahead to sign a petition barring Brigitte from becoming the official France’s first lady. But how about in reversed roles where the man is older? Trump and Melanie’s age difference has never been a hot topic. It did not even make the man to almost miss the top seat. You are left wondering, what has someone’s love life got to do with their leadership skills?

The Kenyan society has had its fair share on the age difference debate. The most mentioned one is the wedding between the former Mau Mau freedom fighter Wambui Otieno and Mbugua. The 67 year old Wambui kissed with the 25 year old Mbugua on live television. Did you think romance dies with age? Wambui’s daughters boycotted the wedding while Mbugua’s mother refused to accept Wambui as her daughter in law. She later on collapsed and died.  It was that serious.

We often put up walls and flee for the mountains, but before shutting the door on the chance at love, think about your potential lover’s maturity level. If you both are on the same level of maturity, don’t let the attached age number cloud your decision.

How many times have you heard the phrase, “act your age”? It means that the society expects you to behave in a certain way at a given age. Well, that is not the case with everyone. People experience life in different ways making growth different in people. You can be 22 years old with the mindset of a 42 year old or vice versa. This is to say that time is just a human created concept.

One of my all time favorite writers Oyunga Pala also had a very sober look at age that you will definitely  like. He likened it to a Jail cell being just a room

So age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course you happen to be a bottle of wine.

Q&A WITH LEWIS MARTIN

The other day I was talking with a long gone friend. She suggested a coffee meeting in town. Instead of worrying about what to write here while at the same time trying to come up with what to wear when I will be meeting her, or even to fail honoring the meeting altogether, I deemed it fit to have content from you. Please don’t crucify me, it is not that I value this place less, it is only that this is an ex I will be meeting. She cleared school when I was in my second year. She was the sweetest taboo. So I have to give it a good thought.

I was surprised that some people had been waiting for a chance to ask me questions, I don’t know why they have never got to me and asked before. I am an easy person and open for talks, even small talks. So feel free.

Here are your questions and the answers;

Q. What would you do if money wasn’t an object?

A. In my life all I want is to travel. I want to experience different cultures. I want to watch topless women on the beaches in Rio De Janeiro. I want to view the earth from a hot air balloon in South Africa. I also want to see tall buildings and see the wonders of the world. I will create a museum in Seme with a piece from every traveling destination I get to.
I would also get a huge chunk of land and create LewisMartin forest. A place I would dissappear to when I want to go away and interact with the wild as I appreciate the work of God.

Q. If you could go back in time what do you think you could do differently?

A. Well, mostly I have made good decisions in life but if I was to go back in time I would not take a degree in communication, it’s not like it’s bad, I would go for a skill like Web design and the likes. I would even do more sciences and mathematics. I feel I wasted a bigger part of my brain taking easy courses. I did not even have to read or attend classes and I don’t remember getting a retake, not unless they give me one at the moment.

Q. Are you married?

A. I am not married yet. Though those guys back at home have started asking suggestive questions. I hope when they get me leads it won’t be someone who wants to sign a prenuptial agreement.

Q. Are you dating?

A. Nop, I am single.

Q. How deep in of a crush do you have for your blog mate?

A. Eheh well Paula Norah is what I would call beauty meets sophistication. She is the most beautiful lady I know. I like everything about her. We can easily talk about anything in the face of the earth. Some even out of the earth. I would say she is atypical. You guys interact with her every other week in this platform and you can attest she sure is worth her weight in gold. All that combined, I love her, so not a crush.

Q. What is your most Outstanding Character?

A. This is a question that is best answered by someone else who knows me well other than me. But I would say I am spontaneous.

Q. What are your greatest and most embarrassing moments as a writer?

A. I have had some great moments as a writer mostly when I go to some place and someone out of nowhere tells me, “Hey, I have been reading your work.”
The other day I attended an event full of the Kenyan celebs; musicians, actors,media guys and even the great business guys in the country. It made me feel good about being a writer. The event with Khaligraph Jones, Fena Gitu, Elani, Nyashinski, and several big shots in the capital, it was more like a Kenyan Music Academy night. Then you interact with such and have drinks on the same table with nobody all over them. It was a great event.
About the embarrassing moments, I don’t think I have faced any yet.

Q.Its actually raining around here and I’ve always wanted to ask you what’s your frequent thought when its raining heavily and you’re just staring at the raindrops and you have your thoughts magnified?

A. I was born in Kisumu city, at some point in life shit happened and we had to return to the village. We left everything in town and headed home empty handed. Our house in shagz was what befits the term shackle. It was a small grass thatched one room house. The grass on the roof was placed such that the side of the bed was well done while, on the other side you could be able to tell any changes on weather conditions. You would feel the strength of the sun when a sun ray pierced through, and count stars as well as see how big the moon was by looking through the roof. That would tell you what it was when it rained. In short rains were nightmares and it sickened us. While other kids would be rejoicing and playing on the rains, with us it was as if rains were a way to ridicule us for being poor.
Well, the situation changed to the better after some years. That is why nowadays when I see the rain and just look at the raindrops, all I say is, “God you are good.”
There is also another part of me which wants to get someone pretty and go get soaked in the waters as we do inappropriate things in the rain.

Q. Biggest challenge as a writer in PepperLife

A. My biggest challenge as a writer in PepperLife is also my greatest motivation. The challenge is having a great partner. Paula writes so well, you read her articles and feel that she has done good. She writes with passion that keeps growing. People rave about her, I go to places and people talk about how awesome my partner is. It is really good, but wait till you open Ms Word and you want to bring a piece to life. I do feel like I would bring shit and this is a good motivation. It is really not comparing stuff, it is just the feeling that you won’t want to go down when she has taken the bar so high. So she better keep it going the way she has always done it.

Q. Are you interested in men?

A. Yes, I am interested in both men and women. Given that I am a man I have to be interested in men, like I have to know what men face in daily lives. I have to know what fatherhood and marriage life entails, coz with time I am going to be a dad and a husband. I have to interact with different men and see how life is for them. I am interested in men in all things except sexually, I am straight like a wall.

Q. What do you think about your university friendships?

A. I had a very good stint in campus. I at times miss the place. That would only be possible with my friends. I had great friends. They impacted my life and I also impacted their lives I believe. Without the friends I would be an animal peg in a soggy ground.

Q. How many ladies have you dumped and what was the reason?

A. I am not really the person who dumps ladies. I am a person who is open minded, we just agree on what we both want from the word go. We can always agree about these things, it is never that serious.

Q. What do you think of Kenya?

A. I think Kenya needs more men like CJ David Maraga. People who will uphold the rule of law and with the fear of God.

Q. Have you found your dream girl?

A. Yeah.

Q. How and when did you decide to be a blogger?

A. I have always wanted to be a writer. In my second year I was already writing for a publication. The problem is that websites would start on a good path but then on a need to gain quick traffic they would go to sensational news and I would quit. I definitely cannot write on something I don’t like. I kept writing and keeping them or sharing with only one person who did a good work keeping the fire in me burning. I am sure I couldn’t have started blogging on my own, I kept letting procrastination have the better of me. So with the immense help from my partner(sole reader, editor and critic by then), early this year, I got a feet. Shortly after, we moved to this site together as partners.

Q. You run PepperLife with Paula. How’s the partnership like? Is it a 50-50 partnership/ a Co CEO situation or does one of you get a higher percentage if it were to be in terms of shares?

A. PepperLife is a balanced and equal partnership. Everything goes 50-50.

Q. I always doubt your relationship with Paula. Are you dating or have you ever dated?

A. We are not dating and we have never dated. We are great friends though I am not ruling out that option.

Q. Would you be a man and confirm in this blog that Paula is your dream wife?

A. Yes, I will be a man and confirm that she is a super lady, any man will be extremely lucky to have her.

Q. If Lewis Martin wasnt taking kiswahili mawasiliano, what would be his career now?

A. I am really not sure about that, by the time I was headed to that course I didn’t even know what I wanted, at one point I was thinking of KMTC. What I am sure though is that I would still be writing no matter the place I ended.

Q.If Lewis Martin was to write a book on his life, what would the title be?

A.IT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE’. One day you might meet it in a bookstore. I know it will be looking relaxed like a guy on holiday at the coast who just wants peace and a good time, please smile at it and strike a conversation. The conversation might lead to other things.

Q. Are you ever curios of who you’d be in an alternate universe, like if you were born maybe in a different time, to a different family and in a different environment. Or who do you think you would be and what talents would you think you’d have?

A. In another universe, I would be a pigeon. They are never into anybody’s business. They are just peaceful and relaxed. They have a way of just keeping it together. They don’t crave too much attention, they are happy with what they got. Those are the things I like. I know I would fit in that team.

Q.If you were to go back in time relationship wise, what would you do differently?

A. I would keep everything the way they were except maybe slow on my rebounds game.
***************************************

I really tried answering most of the questions. Someone wanted to know if I had taken supper one night and she insisted I answer it here. Yeah, I had taken supper. A cup of tea, bread and cake.

I think this is a session I will be taking annually as I think of a way to drag my partner to have a session of her own. I mean, if she was one of the guys who used Sarahah, she can easily handle this.

Thanks for your questions, if at all you still have some for me, wait till next year same period.

JOURNEY TO REDEMPTION

There are some moments you never want interrupted. You want to keep them in any medium possible and play them anytime you feel like. Such moments could come when you are at the shore of Lake Victoria, as the afternoon breeze smashes on your face, gets past your ears and you feel your body blocking its flow. The waves of the Lake flow gently with a little sunshine giving the breeze all the time in the world to ask yourself why you took so long to get to that place. Besides you stands a gem, with vivacious features and eyes that sparkle brightening your day. It is her idea that you are there in the first place.

You move close to this beautiful being as if to point to her something on the visible shore across you, and you steadily move your left hand to rest on her lower back, your right hand still on your side. Just when you are slowly moving your left hand even lower, your phone starts ringing. Phones never let you have your moments. I believe phones are the neediest devices in this world; they don’t want you concentrating on any other thing. If your phone has ever rang at such a moment to remind you that you belong to this world, then you will get it.

You are torn between picking that phone and just silencing it. You then check it only to find it is that call that you cannot miss. It’s mum calling, and when mum calls, you will pick. She is enquiring why you never got home the previous day. Apparently she had saved you some food knowing you will get home. She is worried that you have not stopped your behavior of randomly coming up with plans and go missing.

Just after the call, a new number pops up on the screen. It’s a lecturer informing you that he will be assessing you the next day. That means you have to go back to your work station. You have to leave the beautiful view of the lake behind and get back to the crowded madness which is the city of Nairobi. You break the news to the beauty and already notice the disappointment in her voice as she asks you if there is a chance that you might not go. Those are hard times, hard choices. You have to weigh your options. Well, you know you have to travel, and again there stands the lady you have been waiting to spend the evening with. Quite a tempting offer she gives you. You take in the breeze one last time as you stroll by the shore waiting to watch the sun setting in the horizon. Evening first approaches and you head back to the house bidding your better half a kiss goodbye, and just like that you are on the road.

My life happens in a flash. I rarely plan for stuff I do because it has proven time and time again that I do not get to those places. I know of people who plan their life in a diary and religiously stick to it. That is pure genius. I am one of those people who live life in the fast lane; you can wake me up from my sleep and tell me that we are heading for a trip, and I show up whatever the time. All I need is a reason and accessibility. Motivation is always on point.

I remember how I left my village the other day. I was ploughing the farm when I received a call informing me that there was a gig opening for some few days in Kisumu. I headed home, and even without taking a shower, I changed into fresh clothes and off I went. I told guys at home that I will return in the evening. Three weeks later, they are still waiting for me. I had left home without any set of clothes to change and yet here I was, going to spend one week in town. I am not sure if that’s crazy, I only know that I will survive. I would have to make do with what I have. Isn’t that what creativity is for?

One time seeing that beauty out, I had bent next to her. She then pulls up my shirt and on asking why she says she wanted to see the brand of boxer that I had on. I don’t know what she would say if after some days she would look and see that I am still in the Gildan brand. Or wait, did she notice and just keep quiet about it? I now have the sudden urge to ask her about it.

This has been me for a long time. In school, I didn’t know whether I would get back to the house by evening or not. I never knew where the sun would set in with me in. I stopped going to bashes because almost each and every one I attended, I would wake up in unfamiliar territories the next day. I had even started influencing my friends. One time a brother of mine got into a vehicle heading to school, and he ended up meeting a stranger who offered him some lunch she was carrying. After enjoying the scrumptious meal, he found himself at the lady’s house the following morning.

Living an adventurous lifestyle has its setbacks. I am missing out on opportunities in my career and even relationships. Having lost my focus on what I prime in life, I am now convinced that it was a phase that I am soon growing out of. This is the most serious statement I have ever written in my life.

After deep thought, I am considering quitting this life. It is not for me anymore. Times are changing, and responsibilities are piling up my way. If you were like me, what has helped you out throughout the months, or even years?

A Little Dawn In Sunset

This post will look at some changes that are happening with my friends, and the turning of new chapters. Changes so beautiful that I relate to a little dawn in sunset. And a good link at the end.

There is something about Kisumu, I really don’t know if I will say it’s the feeling of being home, or the warm weather (you can wear a vest at dawn in Kisumu), or the lake that stretches out wide to meet the heavens, or even the ass. There is ass in Kisumu, even though there might be a lower supply of face, you can never run short of ass. There are all type of asses (is this the plural of ass?) and they get eyes in droves. Looking at asses in Kisumu is like work to some. You don’t have to be out to note them, they are just calling for your attention. The other day, my cousin almost drove us into a ditch, because of looking at some ass. Damn it! I almost died because of an ass. I think I would be safe in Kisumu with a female driver, a straight one of course.

Another thing about being Kisumu is that your plans can change, and they change swiftly. I am flexible and good with impromptu stuff, a skill I learned in Kisumu. My plan was to get to the city, meet some few people, then go to Seme by the night. Instead, I found myself in Western Kenya and back to Kisumu, with Seme plans postponed until Sunday. I am now in Luanda. All these were not part of the plan.

Yesterday I met Princess, she is in Kisumu, after a very long time. I am yet to know what happens to me when I meet her because I still have to tell my stomach to keep check of the butterflies. We met and I bet even my stomach wanted to enjoy that beauty in peace. We called Elphas (our good friend) to join us for some bhajias. While having a chat, and catching up, he kept telling Princess, “I know you will write about this.” Princess can write about anything she experiences. I was with Elphas on that. However, she just laughed and said “don’t worry, I am good, but he might.” She was clearly referring to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, Elphas is single! I had to announce that. Even though to some break ups is no big deal, I saw him build that shit for years. He is not miserable (from what I saw), so I am being miserable on his behalf. In that spirit of brotherhood, I offered to help him out. One, I suggested we go out and drink hard, and maybe wake up the next day in an unfamiliar place with an appropriate ass next to him. This would have worked, except he doesn’t consume hard drinks. Two, I offered to go on a hunting spree, several rebounds would have been good for his body. He said he was already done with that phase. Unfortunately those were the only missiles I could get from my arsenal. (Paula, it would be good you write a note on behalf of Elphas to other eligible single ladies out there, it would be very good of you.) I have been single for over a year and it ain’t a joke, I know what it means. It also has it’s good side. It means freedom till you want something better than yourself.

Talking of good things, Paula Norah. One of the best people I have ever stumbled upon. Someone so dear to me, one of the most influential people in this son of the lake’s world. In this world, she is more popular than Uhuru or Raila. It is her birthday next week on 9th August, just hours after the general elections. She will be the last person to celebrate a birthday in Uhuru’s first term presidency.

So to my good friend and partner, I will be the first person to wish you a happy birthday (this am sure). You deserve to celebrate your day. The good work you have been doing here, keep it on in your next year. By the way, when you wake up and find this site looking better, mostly that’s her. If we could give you all a glimpse of the back door, you guys will feel sorry for her. She also comes through during those days when I feel like shit. That comes with the package of being a CEO, as I tell her.

I am wishing her a happy birthday this early because; One, I just like doing things first with her, Two, you never know what might happen with elections, we might lack connectivity and Three, she might not pick the call. So Paula Norah, like you say, you celebrate the whole month. Go ahead, do have the very best.

Your assignment, as our readers before we break for the election and get back here on 16th August, wish madam CEO a happy birthday and then you can catch her interview by Brian Mbanacho, one of the best creative writers in the country, here.

Meeting Old Friends

The other day, I was to meet my class 5 crush for the first time since I transferred schools in class 5.

He suggested Tuskys. It is one of the few places I avoid in Kisumu. If you ever lie to anyone that you are away from town, do not and I repeat, do not show up in Tuskys, you will meet. I assure you there will be no way you can hide. Tuskys is the ideal meeting spot for the people you intend to avoid. It doesn’t help that it’s the only mall next to the main stage. It also hosts the only KFC place in Kisumu. I still can’t understand Kisumu people’s obsession with this place. In short, Tuskys is a place to avoid if you don’t like crowds. Human traffic is guaranteed. It is this same Tuskys that Crush chose. So I said ‘why not?’

When we met, we had the usual pleasantries, which were full of ‘I can’t believe it’s you’ ‘waaaaa’ ‘so we finally meet’ ‘you look so lovely’ ‘I still can’t believe it’s really you’ and my favorite ‘you are beyond what I expected’. A girl can be flattered. A girl can blush. We decided to find a place to seat and talk. We had over a decade to catch up on. Just after passing the security point, which by the way I found to be shitty, we met another class 5 classmate, the best friend to Crush. I immediately knew there would be a change in plans. We will call him Best Friend. I am not using anyone’s name here today.

We catch up for some time creating a minor traffic at the shitty security checkpoint. Finally, we all agreed to go for bhajias. When you visit Kisumu and you happen to be in the mood for some bhajias, the place to be is at Mama Hassan’s. It’s located in Ondiek estate, just a few minutes from Tuskys mall. Best friend was in the company of a petite girl, who looked like his girlfriend (I will justify that) and another guy who was in denim. I hope you are all getting their names. Just in case you are lost, there is Crush, Best Friend, Petite Girl and Denim Guy. Now keep up please.

We leave Tuskys and head to Mama Hassan’s. Let me tell you why this place is sacred to those like me who have no problem eating junk food. Mwitu to be specific. One, Mama Hassan has been there for as long as I can remember. Two, her bhajias are just heavenly, mouthwatering. Three, there is something called loyalty. It cuts across several avenues. Salons, Barbers, and now as you have all learnt, food kiosks. Four, my sister recommended it sometime. So the fact that my sister, who does not know Kisumu so well, found this place means it is the best. I could go on and on, but this is not a marketing post.

Just as we approach Mama Hassan’s, Petite Girl says she knows a different place that is actually good. She gives us an impression of this new place; there is no waiting and that we would get seats fast. Unlike Mama Hassan’s place, there are few people. She goes further and tells the rest of the group to go to Mama Hassan’s if they are not for it but as for her, she was going to the other place. Best Friend, or as I would say Suspected Boyfriend, asked for our opinion. Now I knew it was just for formality purposes because the facts were 1) There was no way Best Friend was going to a different place from Petite Girl 2) There was no way Crush was going to a different place from Best Friend and 3) The moment that division option was brought up, we were all going to the new place. These were facts. A chain rolling out.

That was my cue. I should have just created some ridiculous story and excused myself from the group but I didn’t. I also needed to hang with old friends. Crush to be specific. It had been a decade! All this, for my class 5 crush. Dude you owe me better bhajias.

The other place wasn’t as promised. One, there were no seats. Two, there was a crowd. Three, there was a waiting line. We were group #3. Each group waited at least 30minutes. Do the math. In short, I was missing Mama Hassan’s place. Petite Girl decided to look for seats. As for me, I was targeting the group that was doing literally nothing next to us. They had eaten. They needed to leave. Well, they did leave and we got their seats.

And so the wait began… and my observing eyes began to work…

When you use observation for content, you need things to be real, not stage-managed. Therefore, I was counting on that just in case I decided to write about the place. Crush however decided to issue out a warning to everyone. “Be careful what you say, and how you act. She is a writer and she can be savage. The other day alimulika a guy just for tweezing”. How do you get real content when everyone is now on the alert? You employ patience. Eventually people let their guards down. Am not savage in my posts. That’s just a misconception. Sort of.

Let me give you all a picture of how the place looked like. It is an outdoor eating shack with two possible seating areas, outside the compound and inside the compound. The seats are plastic chairs that are available depending on your arrival time and the willingness of the previous occupants to vacate the said seats. Everything was being done manually or rather traditionally. The potatoes were peeled with knives, and later cooked using three stones and a huge black pan half filled with oil. A duck kept patrolling the area at intervals of 10minutes. A baby was crying, I never got why. She was a lovely girl in pink. Her mother however thought it wise to plait her half-haired head. I think this was just torture. Why punish a child like that? Maybe that is why she kept crying. The cooking staff were for lack of a better word, very slow. For a place with that much traffic in form of customers, their service delivery was uncharmingly (this is not even a real word) slow.

It was half an hour since we had arrived and still we were nowhere close to being served. Petite Girl later suggested we all move into the compound and not outside as we had initially positioned ourselves. Best Friend had to ask (formality) if we are ok with that. We had to be. Refer to the facts previously stated.
Inside the compound, I had no view of the activities going on outside, like the progress of our ordered Bhajias.

After minutes of waiting to be served, the lady in charge comes and takes our order. Five plates of bhajia. Pretty simple huh? Well it wasn’t to her. After all that waiting and finally getting some hope she comes back with just two plates. Two plates! We were five! She smiles at all of us and says, “Aki nikienda kuosha plates ule aliuza order yenu”. You don’t play people like that when it comes to food. I pitied Denim Guy most. He had reached out for a plate, which he had to let go, so that the ladies in the team can have the first share. Being a gentleman needs its time-outs. I did feel for him. Unfortunately, it’s only he who was waiting. Crush joined me. Best friend joined Petite Girl. (I promised to tell you why I suspected Best Friend was Boyfriend, right? This is the place. They shared Petite Girl’s plate. She gave him her juice when Denim Guy snatched his and I could swear it was during this time that I heard one of them calling the other ‘babe’. It could also just be my overactive imagination)

Best Friend was making some calls to other friends to join us. His only problem was giving the directions to where we were. Petite Girl took it upon herself to confuse the crap out of the guy more. ‘Tell them to come near the old VCT’ ‘tell them to come to Akinyi’s (not the real name) place’ ‘tell them to use Ondiek’ and many more tell thems. Well, somehow the friend found the place. I was expecting a crowd. It was just one person.

The whole team got to some catching up. I noticed Petite Girl did not talk much. She just stayed in her corner as if studying all of us. It was sort of like what I do when am in a crowd of new people. Denim Guy would join in only when there was a jab being thrown at someone. I guess he feared whatever he said might be used against him in this piece. The talkers were Crush and Best Friend. One discussion however caught my attention. Straight guys really feel a strong sense of repulsion towards the gay guys. Everyone except Denim Guy had an experience with a gay person and the tone in their voices when speaking of such moments oozed nothing but disgust. I will not share the stories. This is already longer than I expected.

Everyone got their share of bhajias eventually. It was lovely to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

It was getting late and I needed to go home.

THE MAN I WAS NAMED AFTER

 I want to state the most obvious thing in this world. Before I got a name, I had to be born.

I was born in Kisumu city, at Lumumba Hospital. Back then, we stayed in Nubian, before my dad became his other side and we had to move back to the village. I was born at a time when pressure was piling up on my parents on the need to have a baby. If the royal families can give the prince a period of one year after the wedding to pave the succession way, imagine an African set up, deep in the village, back when kids in itself were a symbol of prosperity. My dad being the first-born boy, he needed to be quick. Four years into marriage with nothing to show for it. In the fifth year a white baby (I was extra light skin at birth) appeared. Being a pride of my dad, a relief to my mum and a source of joy to my grandparents, my birth was cemented by naming me after the abled head of the family, my grandfather (paternal).

We moved back to the village in 2001, just when I was starting my primary school. I was a small, short boy. Most people would say I was at the mouth of the ground, with a head looking like a hammer (this head!). It is in the village that I had very good interactions with the man I was named after.

I used to watch my grandfather take his seat; a wooden version of the seats used in WWE Wrestling. He always sat in front of the house under the scorching sun next to a black water tank while facing the compound as if he was watching over his home. He shaved his beards every Saturday. Assembling his shaving tool was the most technical thing I saw. He would dismantle it from the handle, separate the head and put the Panda Razors (my head would be shaved using razor blades) in between. He would then apply soap on his grey beards after which he would keenly shave them. All this time I would be on standby, in case he needed something. I was an assistant. The process made me want beards too. I thought that shaving ones’ own beards was sacred. I didn’t know that when I would have mine I would be going to an executive barbershop (after much pressure) and have a cut after which three different liquids would be used by some cute lady to massage my face. At that point, I usually feel like I have it all in life. When in real life my competition, at the moment, is the church mouse.

My grandfather owned a black radio. It hung above his official seat in the house. He would set the radio at a particular channel and you could not dare change it. Even a slight movement of the tuner and return to the exact point would be noticed. I thought he had a special way of communicating to the gadget. Back before Ramogi FM even appeared, he mostly put KBC Kisumu. Every Kenyan listened to KBC, we had no option. It was suicidal to talk during news time. We would religiously keep quiet. Apart from the radio, his other most guarded property was his bicycle. I never saw anyone touching the bike. The bike was respected in the same way men respect their balls.

That man was full of wisdom. In his counsel, he held the whole family together. I learnt that in 1995, the year I was born, my dad got a Visa to further his studies in the USA. Grandfather could hear none of it. According to him, he knew it would be the last time he would ever see his son; it was like selling his son to America. The first time I was told the story I felt bad. I thought going abroad was the real deal. I believed that people could only make it abroad. I had not seen any of my people make it in Kenya, like I can see at the moment. I had no one to look up to. All the good stories told were of people who lived in America. My mum kept telling my dad how her people were in America, whenever they had some heated exchange. It is only until later that I realized the wisdom in my grandpa’s decision. I mean he made the decision for me. Otherwise, from the dad I knew, I would have been born into this world a son who did not know his dad. Someone who would only hear stories about his dad. I wouldn’t take that for anything in the world.

I was born after the old man had retired. He used to work in Uganda, back when East Africa Community was still intact. He returned to Kenya to take care of his home and livestock. That man loved animals. He would talk with passion about a cow as if he was taking about human beings. He had a specific way he would want his animals handled and any different move would make you collide. In the whole village, his cows would be the first to be taken out to the fields and last to be returned. One time I saw him shed tears when a donkey died. It was a very old donkey that to me I felt it was high time it died; to him it felt so sad. I am yet to learn how people get attached to animals that much. Personally, I don’t even like pets. He really liked my kid brother because he also liked to look after cattle. The day I saw him angered the most was when someone beat up my brother. That person ‘alilala ndani’ and he hated him forever.

This man held tradition at heart; he knew what was right or wrong in the society, together with a remedy. In his words, he would have wanted me to have a Simba when in class eight. One of the reasons why I liked him. As said earlier, he was the voice of wisdom among us. He held our family together soundly. The go to guy in case of any dilemma. He was also religious, he had an Apostolic Church build just next to the gate of the home. Even though of late it looks more of abandoned. It looks so lonely to me. I wonder if people still worship in it, personally I moved.
My old man never took alcohol and he always took pride in that. He hated alcohol and every other hard drugs with passion. Just as much as he hated dreadlocks. You can imagine the disappointment he had when all his sons turned out drunkards. I would hear him talk of it especially when an uncle would return home so wasted. Sometimes I wish I would be able to talk to him and tell him, “it is not your fault; all you can do is be a good parent, which you are and give the children the ability to make their own independent decisions, so don’t beat yourself over it.” Too bad, he is not around to hear me say that to him. I am yet to experience parenthood meaning every advice I will give at first, will be drawn from hearsay. I am not that wise.

I was named after a great man (don’t worry about the fact that I at times can be an asshole of a being). This name, I will preciously guard. If I were to change my name, I would retain Martin but gladly let go of the last one, not because I don’t like it, but because my name betrays me. It is hard being a Luo in this country. I am sure if he could see me now he would be proud of his name.