Everyday Matatu Struggles in Nairobi

  1. When the conductor says “Wanne iende..”

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2. When you believe the conductor’s “wanne iende” lies only to enter the matatu and find nobody…

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3. When the conductor tells you “Uko na mbao nikupee nikupee  1070 bob”‘

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4. How conductors pretend they have forgotten to give you change

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5. How you look at the conductor when he has your 500 bob change

6. When you forget your 50bob change in the matatu and it’s the 55th day of January 

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7. When the matatu starts moving before you sit down

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8.  When someone next to you starts eating chips and chicken at 2pm when you’re hungry as hell

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9.  That nosy person always trying to peep what you’re doing on your phone

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10. That loud person on the phone shouting as if he’s talking to a whole crowd

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11. When the bus preacher begins his unwanted sermon 

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Rusinga Festival 2016: Rowing to Victory 

​I was as excited as 5 year old who’d just taken a cup of coke in the morning (sounds like the start of a class 6 composition, IKR ?😄) That morning when we were supposed to head out to Rusinga,  I could barely contain the inner kid in me.   I was packed and ready,  seated by the door impatiently,  waiting for that “We’re almost at your place” text.  
I had grand dreams about the content I was going to create.  Then my camera and my laptop got jacked on the night we arrived.  That thing about not counting chickens before they hatch. Fate.  Things happen. 

Anyway,  this did not stop me from enjoying the beauty that is Rising Island.  The blend of the hills and the lake makes all the sunrises and sunsets breathtaking.   Ended up missing alot of the events that were planned out for the #RusingaFestival except the Boat Racing. 
This was honestly my favorite part  of the entire festival.  I was onboard the Judges motorboat so I got to witness the entire event up close. I cannot even begin to describe the adrenaline rush 

The boat racing is a display of sheer muscle work and skill,  there is no place for folks with weak arms. You have to row your way to victory. Strong,  hard and fast.  Both the women and men’s race winners were entitled to a cash price.  
Here a few shots from the boat race that I took using Kasichana’s phone. 

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Rotting Carcass 

 

Evening walks with a furry friend, July 2016

 

One gloomy morning in November,  a mongrel got run over by a pick- up on the highway.  Perhaps it was crossing to the other side to hunt for breakfast; perhaps he was returning home after a rendezvous;  maybe he was going over to say hi to his long lost buddy.  We’ll never know. He’s dead now.

On that morning,  his brains were splattered on the tarmac.  The rest of his body was intact. Surprisingly,  there was very little blood on the scene.

I stared at the mess for a minute then hurried off to work. (Typical Kenyan)

That evening when I returned,  I found someone had taken his body and laid it by the bushes on the side of the road.

***

I’ve been passing by the carcass every day since the incident.  I saw the body begin to swell a week later. I  suffered through the horrid stench as the maggots and flies found a home in the rotting flesh. I witnessed the once supple flesh begin to wither away slowly.

Would anyone remember how loud his barks were?  How fast he would run? How his brown and black coat of fur shone in the morning sun?

***

Yesterday as I did my daily pilgrimage to the site,  there was nothing left  but dark gooey stuff and a few bones.  No fur,  no flesh,  no skin. It’s almost as if the ground had absorbed him.

Faded.

“Nothing puts things into clearer perspective than death”

I don’t know why I kept passing near the carcass all those days.  Even when I had a million other routes,  I kept checking, morning and evening.  It was like a preview of how my own body would go down.

***

Your flesh will decompose, and soon you will be nothing but a  distant memory. Only a few will remember the sound of your laughter,  the beauty you exuded, the things you once loved.

“Life is a lived experience”
You will die.  We will all die.  That’s certain.  The when and the how is what we’re unsure of.

When you know death is lurking around the corner,  waiting to embrace you,  then you must live.  By all means.

***

Stop postponing the things that bring you pleasure and happiness.  Stop trying to control life so much.  Let it carry you, freely and abundantly. Love.

When you’re all stiff and bloated,  the sacrifices you made for people,  for your job etc won’t matter if you weren’t happy when you still breathed.

Did you live life?
Are you alive or dead inside?

***
Are you a walking corpse among the living?

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Dear Jessica: The Year That Was 2016

​Dear Jessica,

It starts out like a candle flame; the yellow glow steady, eerily  beautiful and full of warmth.  Then along the way, gusts of wind blow by and the yellow glimmer turns into a raging bush fire in the savanna, consuming every single thing standing on its path. The warmth transforms into scorching heat;  the beauty turns into terror.  I couldn’t find a better way to describe 2016. 
In its dawn it was that boy that whispered gentle words into your ears. That girl that wrapped her arms around you at midnight,    her embrace making you forget all your troubles.  It was that new love that thawed your heart and promised to free you from the oppression of bad affections dealt with in the past.  It was that lovely Tropical scent of apricot, mango and coconut shampoo that clung to your body eons after your warm shower.  You were happy and content.  What could go wrong?  

Well,  you shouldn’t have questioned the universe, you shouldn’t have counted those chick’s just yet  because that boy’s whispers became nothing but silent echoes.  That girl broke your thawed heart, leaving it worse than she found it.

See,  2016 knew you loved lilies,  but because it was a narcissistic bastard, it went ahead and decayed them first before handing them to you.  And before you could recover from the shock of such vileness,  it went right ahead and threw the decomposing mess smack in your face.  

You promised yourdelf that you wouldn’t cry, the you would never let the asshole break you.  But then blow after blow,  you got repeatedly hit in the places that hurt most.  You grew tired and gave into the pain. Sometimes it’s better to surrender than to resist.  It’s not cowardice.  
And so you drowned your soul in the liquor; allowed your being to drift in the incense of the holy shrub; inhale,  exhale.  Anything to see you through until the next dawn.  

Amidst all the hurt and a shattered spirit,  here you are,   typing on a broken phone,  still breathing.  

And for that,  we shall eat Viazi Karai and Ukwaju today in celebration.  We’ll hope the next one will be kinder,  and if it won’t be,  at least the thick skin we grew this year will muffle the pain. 

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Dear Daughter; Of Men and Love

 

 

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A young girl swimming in L. Turkana  , © Canduh, 2016

Dear Daughter,

May the love of a man or lack thereof never keep you up at night; denying you precious sleep.

May you never agonize over men that don’t love you as you should be loved.

‘May you never cry and beg on your knees for bad love to stay’

I hope you know you’re beautiful. May a man never make you feel less of yourself. You are greatness. Never forget that.

I pray that the men you fall in love with never make you feel like you’re asking for too much. And if you ever feel so; then leave. 

I pray that you find happiness and fulfillment within your own soul; so that you never have to look for it in other people.

May you never tolerate abuse, shame, mediocrity and deceit in the name of love. Get on your feet, walk away; you are worth so much more.

May you realize that you are whole and complete; never allow someone to love only bits and parts of you. Let them take the whole package or none at all. 

I pray that you never have to change your laughter or sacrifice the things that make you you because of a man.

Most of all, I pray that you find a love that consumes your entire being; fiercely and passionately.

We all deserve that kind of love.

 

Who shall weep for you when you die?

When the Creator puts a full stop on the prose that is your life ; when the Grim Reaper comes for his dues; when you return to the darkness from which you came:

Who shall weep for you when you die?

On that day; when the shell that is your body lies in a wooden box; and all that you gathered on this earth remain but  vague vanities; whom shall stand by your side; wailing, cursing the gods for snatching you away from them.

I pray it be those you loved dearly; I pray it be those whose lives you touched; I pray that it be those whom you shared cherished memories with.

***

Give me flowers when I can still smell them

Sing my praises when I can still hear them

Plant kisses on my lips when I can still feel them

Proclaim love to me when I still have life in me

***

I know the dead have no use for the living; but,

Weep for me when I die,

that the earth may know I was great ; that your tears may ease my journey to the next life.

***

Who shall weep for you when you die?

Press, Play, Repeat.

You show up at work looking like Nicky (from Orange is the New Black); hair’s a mess; dark eye bags beneath you bloodshot eyes; body limp and tired. You can’t stand the sight of your reflection in the mirror.

 ‘You look really bad, you should probably get some rest’

‘I will… I will’

How do you tell people that you’re still tired even though you’ve been sleeping for 10 hours every night?

The food no longer has any taste.  You could as well be eating cardboard and you won’t even notice. Everything tastes the same.

You make endless trips to the kitchen to fill up your coffee mug. You don’t even like coffee. The bitter aftertaste of the espresso is what you crave.

Water.

More water.

You walk in the rain; praying, hoping that the rain will wash away this limpness; this thirst; this anhydrous soul. But all it does is wet your clothes.

You stand beneath the shower; let the scalding water hit your skin. Hard.  Hoping, praying that the heat would jolt you back to your senses. Still, nothingness.

Sleep.

Whatever happened to the dreams you used to have? All that you see now is darkness. An endless abyss of darkness.

You wake up feeling like a junkie. Tired limps, throbbing head; thirst.

You drag yourself to the shower.

Another day. Another morning.

Another shot at pretending that you are alive.

Press. Play. Repeat.

Dear Jessica: Tired of this Tiredness

24th October 2016

When I first thought about writing these letters to you, I promised myself that I would be as truthful as possible. That I would not spare any detail; that I would bare my soul naked in the hope that through my experiences, negative or positive; you may be able to learn from my mistakes and maybe make wiser decisions than I did. But the truth is so scary Jessica, really scary. Even I am scared of my own truth. So much that I kept deleting each paragraph I typed the past week because it frightened me so. I tried, Jessica, I really did.  But the truth is really scary; and I do not want to lie.

I lie a lot. I have perfected the art of lying so much that even I, sometimes, can’t tell my truths from my lies. I lie to myself so much that I begin believing my own lies. I have mastered the art of lying with a straight face about my feelings even to those closest to me. I no longer know how to express my genuine feelings.

I keep lying to myself that it will be ok; that it isn’t as bad as it seems; that I have no feelings for people; that it was just sex and nothing more; that it didn’t hurt when he left; that I have all these things figured out; that I am not sabotaging my own success intentionally; that it wasn’t abuse, it was a mistake; people slip.I don’t want to do this anymore.

I am tired of the fake smiles. I am tired of carrying all this weigh around me. I am tired of dwarfing my expressions and feelings. I am tired of making excuses for abusive people. I am tired of loving in half because of the fear that the love will not be reciprocated; I am tired of hiding me from them, afraid that they will leave. I am tired of thinking I do not deserve nice things in life and that’s why I keep sabotaging every single good thing that comes my way.   I am tired, Jessica. I really am. The exhaustion is showing; at work, at home; with the people around me. I have zero enthusiasm for life right now.   I am tired of this tiredness; this dullness.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

I will not lie to you; on some nights; I wish deeply for this life to fade away. On those nights; I pray for the angel of death to take this cup of suffering away from my hand. On those nights; the loneliness echoes my thoughts. The night becomes longer; the blanket of darkness becomes more opaque.

On those nights I see a sadistic god; a god that would rather give life to someone who does not really want it rather than those who pray feverishly for it. A god that gives you colouring pencils when you asked for water to quench your thirst instead. Useless.

On some nights; I intentionally walk on dangerous paths; in the hope that some low-life thief would attack me; smack me on the head with a blunt object and leave me for death. At least then my appointment with the Underwold  shall  be on someone else’s hands. I am too cowardly to take it on my own.  But even on those days that I pull such dare-devil stunts; nothings ever happens. I keep reaching the house safely, how disappointing. Seems my guardian angel takes her/his work pretty serious.

That I am still alive to this date beats me.

 But what is the point of life if you have to carry all this weight around. What is the point of life if the exhaustion is already murdering you; slowly consuming you from the inside?

I am tired.

 

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Dear Jessica: The Prologue

12th October 2016

Dear Jessica;

I am balancing awkwardly on the side of my bed as I type this. One of my legs is dangling, while the other half  is stretched. Reason for these theatrics? Well, my laptop battery and charger got fried a couple of months back;  it’s pretty much a desktop, more or less. My priorities are all messed up right now and I haven’t been bothered to replace it because eating the allocated money is much more thrilling. In my twisted economic reasoning, it seemed cheaper just to buy a charger . But the new chargers keep getting spoilt after 1 or 2 months because , in all honesty; some of us are just too careless for our own liking. Which brings me back to the balancing act; I am not certain what happened to this particular charger; but I have to place it a certain way for it to work. So here I am.

It’s  twenty minutes to 5am. My kitty,  Brendon Small (Yes, I named him after that Brendon in Home Movies) woke me up and I couldn’t go back to sleep.  I have been planning to start writing again for a while now but the motivation has been lacking. So I figured, why not start?

Late last year, it hit me just how short life is. We keep chasing stuff and delaying our gratification in the hope that the future will bring better things and that we will enjoy them at that time. School, work, love, relationships etc. But those future dates come and we still keep pushing the enjoyment for some later date. The cycle continues and we realize, too late, that we were so busy trying to make a living or to make sense of life that we forgot to live it.  I didn’t want that to be me on my death bed. So I made a firm resolve to enjoy life now and worry about the future when it came.

I will tell you for sure, things are easier said than done; when you have a mind that overthinks and over analyses every single thing, it’s not so easy to just let go and live. The What- ifs keep coming at you and you lay there, paralyzed with worry and fear. On times like those; I keep wishing that I had a strong reassuring voice to calm me; to tell me that I would be fine even if I am not; I wish I had someone to tell me the cold truth even on days I don’t want to hear it.

That’s sort of what mothers are for. But I never got to know mine and it’s been a big part of why I have all these insecurities (again, more of this later). I don’t want you to ever feel the way I do; but you see,  things don’t always work out the way you want them to. If and when I am able to have you; I would wish to be there and to see you blossom into adulthood. But  I know I might not be around for long; and even if I am or will be; my opinions at that particular time may prevent you from giving you the real version of truths. So I have decided that I will be writing these notes for you. May they be your reassuring voice, may they be the confidence you require; may they shape your reasoning; may you learn from my mistakes; may you be a better version of a woman than I am.

And most of all, may they make you realize that you are loved; always.

 

^

Candy

 

Wasting Oxygen

Image creds , Oxygen Scavenger

There were 8 people in total inside the mabati church. A boy and a girl, both about nine years old; 2 women and 4 men in their early forties. All of them were screaming; they seemed to be calling me but I couldn’t quite make out their words.  They stretched their hands, beckoning..nay, begging me to save them. The fire raged on. It burnt the skin off their faces and hands.  Now all I could see were skeletons of seared flesh; wriggling and squirming. Medium rare.

This was on Monday.

I had the same dream again last night.  This time, it was more vivid than the last. I don’t know what it means.

I am scared.

***

The past couple of weeks have been real scary too. I have been drifting through my days; a plank of wood struggling to stay afloat.

It is easy to tell people that things will get better; that all they need to do is to work hard and give their best. But what if you did all that and nothing seems to be working? What then?

I am numb. My whole being and soul is numb. I am unable to feel the anger or sadness.

Blankness.

***

I sort of miss the anger because it reminded me that I was still alive. You cannot be angry if you are hopeless. Anger means you still have life coursing through your veins and arteries. Sadness means there’s room for happiness.  But this state of unfeeling…How do you deal with it?

Nothing excites you. Nothing makes sense.

Breath in and out. Waste oxygen. And that’s it.

To what end?

***

How do you deal with the fact that you no longer have a reason to be the person and things you are/were because it’s a waste of your time?

How do you deal…with the lie that is life?

How do you deal with the constant disappointment of trying, failing, then failing again?

How do you deal?

***

You focus on breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Waste oxygen. At least the plants will live because of you.