August: Updates on reading, writing, travel and love

I have been writing this post in my head for the past eight days. Procrastination is the fuel that I can never shake off, just like my love for pencils and erasers, I know how to put something on hold until I cannot anymore.

This is evident in my writing and publishing journey and for a long time the pressure to just get up and do it, haunted me, until I woke up one day and shoved it down my throat with a slice of chocolate cake at Java.

August is here and I love the sun! I am loving the heat more than I thought I would 🙂

On reading: I have been reading some awesome titles and sharing my views on them on Netgalley, Goodreads and Amazon. On working with people and building relationships, I got to read People First by Mike Nutley. On always staying on top of your game, taking a step back, re-evaluating your goals and pressing on, I got to read Tired of being Tired by Juliet Jones.

I’m currently enjoying Scout by Sanjiv Lingard about this 17 year old girl, Scout, who has the ability of tracking. It started with her being able to find any misplaced item, to her Mother-when she would up and leave, and now the police want her to help them find a missing child.

On writing: My most recent posts have been inspired by love and I am glad that happened, however, I am looking forward to improving my focus on writing a full length novel by September whilst talking to a Publisher here in Kenya, to work on some terms of engagement that would lead to publishing the manuscript.

On travel: I was looking forward to traveling this first week of August but had to cancel my plans due to a pending meeting at work. However, I’m not bummed by it because this meeting means a lot more to me, for it will chart the course for the next projects I’d like to work towards.

I did however get on a matatu to Kisumu so fast when I heard that my nephew was around looking forward to spending his holiday in the city. We always have a good time together and I hadn’t seen him in a month!

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On love: I wish I had the right words to explain this and more so, to name the precise moment that I had an epiphany on love. The truth is, the greatest thing I’ve learned this year is that love comes from within and the most difficult journey is loving yourself first and always. If you achieve this, then for some reason, the world is drawn to this light that stems from you and that’s where it gets tricky…and I really wish someone would explain to me why it is that when you meet someone, suddenly everyone wants you too?

So, this August I am challenging myself  and I came across this Ted Talk at the right time because I’d love to try something new every day for the next 30 days!

How’s your August thus far?

Have a wonderful new month!

Sorry

I don’t know how to say “I’m sorry,”

Don’t expect me to.

Dip me in sugar, so you lick a coat so sweet before you taste my bitterness,

But you already knew that, didn’t you?

I don’t know how to roll up the words “I’m sorry” and let them unravel a history of hurt.

I bleed where you wound, but cover up where the dark enters,

I bleed where you see, but cover up where you don’t.

It’s easy to smile and be a poster of sunshine, well, isn’t that what teeth are for? Display?

closed glass-panel window inside dark room
Josh Nuttall/ Unsplash.com

I don’t know how to say “I’m sorry,”

My heart just can’t fathom the words,

My mind knows the feeling, but with it is a memory that’s tainted,

Paint me the color of the night sky,

Color me the hues of anger,

Poster me the aftermath of a hurricane…I don’t know what you expect.

I don’t know how to say “I’m sorry”,

These scars won’t let me forget, every word, thought, action, taste…every single inch of what my memory replays…

So, I sink into my hues of anger, bathe in my bitterness and when dawn comes, I arise, my skin coated with memory, my heart washed clean of feeling and my mind…oh, my mind a haven of data…information that goes back decades to every little thing that you did.

I don’t know how to say “I’m sorry,”

It’s the truth I hold dear when it comes to you.

My aunt Millicent

My aunt, Millicent, could smell pregnancy a mile away. It was no surprise when she knocked on my Mother’s door at six o’clock in the morning. She had just got off the phone with Milka. What she had to say could not wait. I stepped aside and she walked right past the sitting room to my Mother’s bedroom ignoring the greetings she received along the way.

Milka, Aunt’ Beryl’s daughter, is the first girl to get a direct entry into the University. She is going to be the first doctor in a family of teachers, priests and counselors. Aunt Beryl speaks of Milka during breakfast, lunch, and supper. She sings her praise in the toilet, while washing dishes, walking to the market or negotiating fare at the bus stop. The touts, boda boda men and market women know her as ‘Mama Daktari.’ Milka is just in her first year. I hear that most people never make it past the second year studying Medicine. She could slaughter a chicken, so maybe she can stand the sight of blood and meat.

Aunt Millicent stomps into the sitting room with my Mother in tow. I am dismissed to quickly serve them tea. When I return with the tray in hand, Aunt Millicent begins, ‘I know you all think I have nothing to do except brew trouble, but something tells me that Milka is going to pile buckets of shame on her mother.’

‘How can you say this after just one phone call?’

‘The voice does not lie. You should know this! Listen, someone has to go to Nairobi and check on that girl, I am certain that Beryl would not take it if her daughter disappointed her.’

‘So, what do you think the problem is?’

‘She is pregnant.’

‘Milka? No! She cannot be, are you sure?’

‘Listen, you have had six children, more than the number of fingers you have on one hand, so you know how children love to make their presence known. There is the nausea, vomiting, demand for certain foods, the stretching and blowing up until you push them out only to have them do what you least expect them to.’

‘Milli! You are crazy to say let alone think that Milka is pregnant and until she confirms it, no one will go to Nairobi or speak to her mother about it. Is that clear?’

Aunt Millicent looked at my mother, smiled and gathered her lesso, fastened it around her waist and walked out the same way she walked in. Mother shook her head and continued sipping her tea careful not to spill any for her hands were trembling.

‘Do you think Aunt Millicent is telling the truth Mom?’

‘She has never lied about anything in her life, but no mother would want her daughter side tracked from her dreams and I am certain that when the truth comes to light Milka’s mother will not be able to handle it.’

9/40

He reached for the croissant before him, took a bite and wiped the sugar crumbs beside his lips with the back of his hand. I held out the serviette to him. He shrugged and wiped his mouth with the back of his hands again.

I returned the serviette to it’s spot which was on a saucer beside his cup of coffee. He smiled and went for his coffee.

“So, Marjorie, how do you like my life story so far?”

“Was I supposed to pass any judgement on your life story?”

“You are something else you know, but it’s okay. I like where this is going, so tell me when did you decide to go into Public Relations?”

“I did not decide. It was my Dad who did. I wanted to study Sociology but he insisted that I try Public Relations or anything to do with diplomacy because he felt like I had been doing that ever since I could talk. So, I took a course and then advanced it and now it seems to be getting me somewhere.”

“You are your Father’s daughter right? How many siblings do you have?”

” I have two brothers, they all come after me. What about you? How many siblings do you have?”

“Four now, and I mentioned my mom having six kids, one died leaving five of us, so if I set myself aside we are like four! But, enough about me, so how long have you been here in Kisumu?”

“Three years on and off. I would love to hear the rest of the story if you don’t mind.”

“Okay, I will share it with you when we meet but for now I have to ensure you get home in good time. It will be unfair of me to keep you here way into the night, hata kama ni Friday.”

“Sawa that’s fine by me, but I will hold you to it.”

“That’s okay, we can finish up and I will see you off if that’s alright with you.”

“Sure, and listen Jeremy, thanks for giving our organization a chance. I hope our partnership would be a great one.”

“We’ll see.”

3/40

The computer was on when I left the office to get some hot water from the kitchenette. Mama Chai, the lady who serves us tea and snacks, reached out for the green thermos beside me. She gave me one of her famous half smiles. I don’t want to know. I do want to know but it won’t pay my bills. 

She placed her thermos beside the bowl of fruits on her trolley, adjusted her apron and left. The scent of soap followed her just as the gloom did me. Silence that could slash your vocal chords. She walks in at six. She walks out at six. She preserves her poison in that green vacuum and slowly dishes out a dose of it down every willing throat but mine. Those who believe that she has three grandchildren and slaves daily for them fill their cups with her poison.

I know this much about tea; it’s brewed. 

It is served black with either lemon or two teaspoons of sugar. So when I walked in on her boiling milk and adding some water and throwing the tea leaves that first day of work, I knew she was up to no good. Telling my Father that story marked the beginning of my paranoia. Don’t be fooled by what she says or how she appeases the spirits in your stomach, there is something about that woman. Mama Chai. Francis, my brother who can quote the scripture like a child singing the alphabet, insists that I project my feelings of disappointment as induced by our mother on her. The woman he calls our mother left us with our father for another man. He owned three sugarcane plantations and a blue Peugeot back then. And onto these blessings he had two wives of whom my mother joined to become the third. Francis was three years then. Raphael was four and I was six. Francis sees the romantic version of things while I understand the horrific version of it. They woke up at seven found tea and warm water for their baths ready. 

So, Mama Chai is doing what she knows best. I can give her that much, but my hesitation towards embracing her warmth has nothing to do with the woman Francis calls our Mother. I was looking out the window when I heard voices behind me.Two interns in oversized trousers came in after the woman suddenly losing their voices when they saw me by the sink. 

Working here was like walking in the dark. No matter how much you widened your eyes, you still saw nothing. I washed the cup and served myself some hot water from the water dispenser and walked back to my office. Nancy, one of the Assistants, said hello adding that my scarf would look beautiful around her neck. I told her she could come for it at the end of the week. 

I pushed my office door using my left hand and saw the blue file behind my tray. There were two pages missing from the file. It was not the first time this had happened here, but with a boss like the one we had, work was a race. My first year involved summons to the office and botched presentations that miraculously gained other employees a thumbs up from the boss. Being assigned this project with a huge cash bonus and holiday package meant a fight, but with my exams and my dad’s illness it was proving to be a worthless battle. The desire to match up to Martin’s office overwhelmed me. I would yell at him or turn his desk upside down. I added a teabag and sugar to the hot water I had and stirred it. What was it with Martin and stealing my thunder? The way things stood I could:

  1. Be friends with him
  2. Turn his desk upside down
  3. Ignore him
  4. Work away from the office
  5. Use a different email address, something the IT boy,who stays in the same hood as Martin, could not access.
  6. Definitely turn his desk upside down.
  7. Tell him to back off
  8. Upload a virus on his computer
  9. Choke him and turn his desk upside down and shred his files.
  10. Drink tea and forget the loser!

Dear Dad

I met someone.
Not someone someone, but I saw a man with his daughter and wife and I thought of you. It was like that time I walked into the wall in our bedroom and got the bump I have on my forehead. So, I was out buying Mala at Fergie’s shop when I saw them. The man was pushing his daughter away from him, “aargh! Enda kwa huyo mamako kwani, nitokee ghasia.”

And the little girl was wailing calling out to him, but he pushed her aside and  walked into the night. It was last night, did you see it too? I did but the magnitude of it only hit me when I walked into a Café that has Wi-Fi.

Daddy, it’s been 20 years but I cannot shake  you off. Your eyes, touch, smell, voice. You are everywhere. Even the music you loved, but you’d be sad to learn that we lost Papa Wemba this year. We still have Koffi, but you and I know there’s only been one Papa Wemba. Football teams have evolved, they don’t wear those tiny shorts anymore, and you remember that pretty boy who played for Manchester United, well, he retired but they made a film inspired by his kick. It was called Bend it like Beckham. You’d be an Arsenal fan I think, but I have a feeling you would be frustrated by Wenger, but they are trying.

It’s Pep that you’d love Daddy, he paces back and forth like you did when you watched your boys play. He has your height and body weight,it’s just the hair that’s missing, but you’d love Pep and I’d rekindle my love for football again if you were around. Did I ever tell you that I loved you Daddy? Did you know even when you were with us that night? I still see you kicking sometimes, you fought death Daddy,even in that moment you couldn’t let God take you without a fight, and it kept me awake some times. For years, I would stay up every December 18, hoping to get to you in time, but you know how wicked memories are when you don’t want them.

They become nightmares.

I wonder sometimes when I look at Mom, just how lucky you were to get that woman! She’s doing a Master’s in literature I tell you, your woman be a smart one! She can also beat down people and she misses you, but you’d be surprised at Che. She’s morphed into the kind of wine you’d save for an occasion. She had a boy, cute and intelligent named after you. She looks more like Mom, so I’m sorry if you thought she would forever look like you,but good news is, I walk like you, always in a hurry with one shoulder slanting. None of us became teachers, you should see Mom’s paycheck. You’d want to blow up TSC. I know I have thought about it but we both know I am a weakling, so I hide behind my words.

Dad, the first book I wrote and published was about you.
Since then I have written more books, the pay is nonexistent but I can’t shake off the writing or the reading bug, but you’d approve. I know you’d love reading my books because you always loved it when I read the newspaper with you. Did I ever tell you how much I loved you? We all must have even that night when you were taken away, we knew it. We turned out great.

I haven’t met someone. You know life has just done some Abra cadabra Daddy, Nairobi ji lich. Onge chuor nga’to and there are lots of people who are out to date just for fun and not commit. I dread walking down the aisle someday and having the Priest asking “Who gives the bride away?” And turn to see no one like you there. I know for sure that no one will take your place that day and it’d be nice if you could whisper in my  husband to be ears, “Fanya fujo  uone!” So he knows not to break our vows.

But, that’s not why I am writing this, it’s for the little girl I saw yesterday. I want you to watch over her. Father’s are for life and good ones are for an eternity. Watch over her. See, her Daddy might forget last night but she won’t, she will know that the only man she loved rejected her without a valid reason. I do not want her to grow up with “daddy issues” for she is too beautiful for that. Watch over her, because one day she will sit down and write him a letter but it will be too soaked for him to read it.

Thank you for loving us .
Thank you for telling me to keep my head up and use my brains.
Thank you for calling me beautiful before I could even spell that word. And most of all thank you for choosing wisely, because Mom has kept the faith, and has seen us through. You got a fine woman, finer than this cup of coffee I am drinking, finer than my words.

Now, go and watch over the girl.

Believing in yourself and other stories

I woke up ten minutes to six in the morning today. I knew I had to wake up, not because the lights were on but because it’s my sister’s birthday.
Growing up our birthdays constituted of great birthday cards and the chance to have Mom prepare you a special dish. We never had much and we never had parties. I remember that we stopped receiving Christmas gifts the year our Dad died. I was nine then.
However, Mom never stopped making us delicious meals on our birthdays.
So, there I was mumbling to my sister “Happy birthday” and wishing I was not so broke  to get her something good, but all in good time.

So, what has she taught me all these years:
1. Black is not the only color I can wear.
2. T-shirts and jeans are comfortable but a dress, some flats or a skirt can serve to show my curves once in a while and definitely my legs.
3. You can never go wrong with good perfume.
4. Read and work hard for what you want in life. Earn your sweat, don’t wait for a man to treat you right.
5. What does your Mother want? No, tell her am not yet home, I can talk to her later, not now, am beat!
6. You can make chapatis in twenty minutes! Watch and learn.
7. Keep writing.
8. If you are hired to do a job, do a damn good job because you’re replaceable.
9. Google is your friend.
10. Live a little.

If there’s one thing she has showed me is that  believing in myself goes a long way in getting things done. So, now am off to read and maybe get some writing done, am leaving for the road this weekend and I know number 8 of her life quotes will come in handy!

Rosemary

The house was along that street.

The address she stole from his computer had to be right. She held onto her bag and headed towards the first gate. She knocked and a face appeared right above her through a blank space.

“Hi, I am looking for a house and I think I am lost.”

The face and the blank space disappeared then she had a clicking of metals before seeing a whole body. His eyes traveled the length of her body and settled on her behind taking in the diversion until they finally found their way to her eyes.

“Yes Madam.”

She looked through her purse and then gave him the address.

“What do you want from the people in that house?”

“My boss sent me to deliver these flowers and some chocolates for his wife and it is my first job. He said they should get to her by eleven o’clock before she leaves for work and I am lost.” The man looked at her again and then adjusted his belt. He pointed at last house in the lane on her left.

“Asante.”

“Karibu.”

She looked at the flowers and smiled. She hated red roses. Whoever said that red roses were the perfect declaration for love had clearly not seen white roses! Maybe he had but he was too attracted to the red to think clearly. She looked back and smiled again. No one ever questioned the delivery personnel. The security guard had been taken by her butt that he forgot to ask about the chocolates.

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She walked on until she came to the gate and this time she could see through it. She saw an old brick house with a wooden door and a black metallic post box right beside it. There were some flowers and a garden but her eyes could not see that far. She waited.

No one attended to her and so she reached for the button and pressed it. She did not know what to expect or how the lady would treat her, but she needed to do this. Her friends had told her it was stupid but she knew it was right. No one ever said that the truth was easy.

She adjusted the strap of her bag as the woman approached her. She had a petite profile, short hair and was clearly beginning to show. “Yes, how may I help you?”

“Hi.”

“Yes…”

“Um, listen…okay, I am sorry to disturb you. I think I got the wrong house. Thank you.” She took a step back and was ready to turn and run but she heard the lady’s voice pick up, “Okay, it happens. Bye.”

She stopped and turned back to her again.

“Do you need my help?” the woman asked.

“Hi, my name is Rosemary. I work, better yet I worked at Imaging Consultants Limited.”

“Yes, my husband owns that company.”

“I know you do not know me, but I had to come here and face you because I know that it is wrong to simply think or ive as though no one else exists and…”

“Do you want to come in? I am into my second trimester and I get tired sometimes.”

“No, you do not want me anywhere near you Mrs. Muli. I came here because I could not live with myself knowing that your husband had been interested in me when he was married.”

“So…he cheated on me with you? How much did he pay you Rosemary? How many times did he sleep with you and in how many hotels? How many times did he tell you that he loves you and that he is divorced? So, you have the guts to come to my home and show yourself, but why did you come here in clothes when you go to my husband naked? Why couldn’t you come to me the same way you go to him so I could see what he sees? God will punish you, I swear He will…”

“You have every right to be mad at me…”

“Oh, SHUT UP! What do you know about being a wife? What do you know about being Richard’s wife? If you have any dignity or sense of worth, you will leave and never come back…nikikuona hapa, I swear I will kill you and cut you up before covering your body and placing it on his bed so he can sleep next to a corpse!”

“Mrs. Muli! I quit! I quit because he wanted to sleep with me and I refused, okay! You are right, he kept saying he was divorced and kept sending me flowers or paying for my lunch- but I wanted to come and see you, because I could not do what he wanted me to. I am not like that.”

“So, now I should clap for you Rosemary? If you quit, he will hire someone and she will sleep with him, so you have not done anything worth my applause.”

“Mrs. Muli, did you ever work for Trans-Media seven years ago?”

“You looked at my profile. Yes, I did. If you are done talking, please leave because you have overstayed your welcome Rosemary.”

“It’s alright, but you were in my position once and you slept with your boss.”

“That was seven years ago, now, leave!”

“The man you slept with every weekend was my Father Mrs. Muli. I did not look for you to validate my actions Mrs. Muli. I wanted to see what it took to send my mother into depression and kill her, and I am glad that you gave me such a fine sight.”

Rosemary threw the flowers on the ground and walked on. She had to secure another job so she could finish paying her HELB loan. She did not look back as Mrs. Muli called her for she knew that if she did, she might be tempted to forgive the woman. It had taken her seven years to find the cause of her mother’s death.

East Africa Friday Feature Prompt: Risk: What’s your interpretation of Risk? A gamble on something.

Other posts to read today:

The Girl with the Golden Smile 3

The Cursed Blessing

I’m Done!

I’ll be your demon, guarding your doors so that no evil shall pass. I will stop all the girls from staring, with their teeth every time you walk into a room- and grip your hand so they know you seek no evil. But, I will be the angel hoping and praying that you cease to create room for evil by telling the truth.

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(Photo Credits: Larisa Koshkina )

Such that when your phone lights up, you do not have to leave the room or talk in the bathroom or pretend that your boss needs you. Your boss does not send you messages via Whatsapp.

I will sit and smile and hope that when I ask, “are we good?” you will say, “I don’t know,” and it will be the truth. I cannot deny lust when it is before me. She smiles and you start day dreaming. She smells like roses and kisses you like Aphrodite. She is your night while I am your day, and you know…a man needs peace of mind. Sometimes, you have things that are so great in your life and you cannot figure out which one to stick with. When there are so many women to choose from, why not see what will become of it all, why not have fun?

So, I am the “wifey,” the one who is respectful and is loved by your parents and siblings. I am the one who knows how to cook your favorite serving of fried beef and ugali with sauteed sukuma wiki, and will add your can of Tusker just to top it off!

I am the one who knows what gift to get your friends and family and will write something sweet, you know just cause you need them to know you care.

I am the one who will ask you questions that your conscience has been drumming up on you so much so that it has gone mute, like, “what are your career plans?” and “are you looking to invest in that?” and “how was your day?”

I am the one who knows that there is more to radio than listening to Classic and Kiss 100, and will bore you to death by listening to BBC.

But, she is oxygen itself!

She knows what to say and when to say it! She knows when to order drinks and help pull out your wallet to pay the bill, and the taxi back to her place. She knows how handsome and loving you are, because she does not need to tell you this when you are sober, I mean, why be so serious? You only live once, right? And you nod, “yeah,” and sink in her…and at the back of your mind you say, “only for tonight.”

What you do not know is that to women, the phrase, “the world is a small village,” is not news! We knew it long before we knew that we are women.

One word, whispered to two ears, finds itself an audience of ten thousand, and whatever is gospel truth to four ears is the verdict!

You…

(part two comes this Friday.)

 

In my room

Everyone carries a room around.

It waits to have the walls painted, windows open, floor cleaned and then furnished. Sometimes it takes the shape of a toilet where all that’s done is release of the waste. Sometimes it takes the shape of a living room where everyone is welcomed and served a drink or a meal, and people watch TV and their laughter fills the room.

When it seems like the world is closing in on me, sometimes, this room takes the form of a store room. I pile up all the stuff that I cannot handle and lock the door and throw the keys under my bed. This store has no lighting or windows, and I pass it as though it was one with the wall. This wall is melon green.

I love water melons.

They are big, juicy and sweet. I love to spit out the seeds like a machine gun, and sometimes when I forget and swallow even one seed, it feels as though I’ve lost the chance to aim at a target.

Everyone carries a room around.

This blank space that we fill with stuff.

Sometimes it is like your bedroom where when you lie on that bed, you can dream of yellow flowers or black never ending holes. Sometimes we forget to clean this room and the dust piles up…and we get an infection, because we have overworked our nostrils.

Sometimes, we focus too much on taking in stuff that the room becomes nothing but a container that is meant to take in everything that you throw at it.

Everyone carries a room around.

Question is, what room are you carrying now?