My clock reads 3 a.m., but for some strange reason I can’t seem to find any sleep. Lately, since I closed school for a 3-week-holiday a couple of weeks ago, I’ve made it a habit to hit the pillow not later than 1 a.m. Probably because I was up watching a movie, writing an article, or just chatting with my missus. She seems to be suffering from insomnia and may or may not have infected me too. But today’s different. Different because I have neither been watching a movie, writing an article (until just 2 minutes ago), nor chatting with the missus. Let me take you back to how it all began.
It’s just a normal Thursday morning. My sister leaves the house in the wee hours to go to work, then my cousin follows a few minutes later. For school. Campus. Alone in the house, am awoken by the punitive ringing of my phone. Its 12 p.m. I pick up the phone, notice the incoming call is from an unsaved number but I go ahead and answer it anyway.
Me: (Lazily) Hello…
Me: (Getting worked up) Helloooo…
Caller: Hello, am I speaking to Ian Duncan please?
Me: (Getting up from the bed) Yes, speaking.
Caller: Okay, am calling you from Magazine Reel.
Me: (Now am totally awake) Yeah.
Caller: Well, I’ve been going through your blog and I was wondering if we could add you as a writer for our magazine from your campus.
Me: (Still unsure of what to say. Don’t judge me, I had just woken up) You’ve been going through my blog? Oooh, Thank you. (Stupid answer, I know)
Caller: Yes, I’ve been going through your blog and wanted to ask whether you’d be willing to write for us. If you’re interested I could mail… (Line goes dead).
(I assume the guy just ran out of airtime so I check my balance, find that I have only Ksh. 3 but what the hell? You Only Live Once, right? So I call back the guy.)
Me: Yes, you were saying?
Receiver: Oh, I was saying I’ve been reading your blog and…
Me: (Cutting him short, albeit politely) Yeah, I got that part. You were saying something about mail?
Receiver: Yes, I could mail you with the details if it’s OK with you.
Me: Yeah, sure. We can work that out. Just mail me with the details then I’ll get back to you.
(Awkward ten-second silence. I was expecting him to ask for my email address but he didn’t. I intervene)
Me: So you have my email address or should I send it to you?
Receiver: I have it here (from my blog, presumably) but it’s fine, you could send me the ne you’re using now.
Me: Ooohh, Okay. That’s alright.
(My Ksh. 3 airtime runs out, just in time, and the call goes dead.)
So I text the guy my email address, to which he swiftly replies with a curt “Mail sent” message. I’m reluctant to check the mail at first, probably because I was overjoyed that I would finally be getting paid to write again after a long time and I didn’t want to spoil the fun just yet. So I spread the bed first, clean the house, brush my teeth, wash my face, take my breakfast (or lunch) of boiled maize and ‘strong’ tea before finally settling down to read the mail.
One quick sweep through it and the details were at my fingertips. Basically, just the same things the guy said when he called me. You know, “After reading your blog (ianreal.wordpress.com)…” blah blah blah. They were even asking me to send one article to be used in creating an account for me to use when posting. Like it was a done deal already. That was easy, I have over 70 above par articles in my computer, I could easily have sent them any one of those. Na siringi. I had just one problem, nowhere in the mail were details about payments mentioned. I mean, what, this ninja thought I was running so charity? Don’t get me twisted, I love writing. But a man’s gotta put food on his table, right?
I text the bloke again, enquiring about payments and he tells me that as it stands now, they don’t pay for articles yet as they’re still sourcing for at least two writers from every campus and I was just their first choice from JKUAT. And that it’s just a trial period, they’ll start paying writers come December. I ask how many articles a writer is supposed to submit and under what period of time, to which, he says, one can submit as many as he/she requires but at least one article per week. On a topic of one’s choice, including any breaking news at the university. This seemed fun. But after my experience writing for My Herald Magazine (during which I wrote and submitted 7 articles per day for 2 months running only to be paid an oppressive Ksh. 1027 through M-Pesa at the end of it all), I had learnt not to dive in head first to any deal, no matter how dreamy it seemed. So I decide I would wait and just see how it went. I was sure come evening, when I was back in school, I’d have made up my mind.
It’s racing towards 4 p.m. now. I take a warm shower, pack a few clothes, tuck a 500-shilling note that I’d use for transport the whole way in my side pocket with my phone then lay the rest neatly in my wallet which I drop in my rear pocket and leave for Juja, via town. From Kimathi estates to town, on a good day, is a 15-minute drive but courtesy of a ridiculous jam at Jogoo road, I arrive in town almost 40 minutes later. Swelling with anger, I push my way through the crowded streets of Nairobi towards Insurance plaza for a shave but quickly decide against it as it was getting late already so I turn back and move towards Luthuli Avenue, the stage for Juja matatus, where am forced to stand in between a mass number of people for another 20 minutes before a matatu finally comes our way. Not wanting to wait another twenty or so minutes, I squeeze through like in my high school days at the canteen and manage to land the seat just next to the door.
Right now, am tired as hell. The only thing I want is to get to Juja and just drop on my bed instantly. Unluckily, there’s another jam, an even monstrous one, along Thika road so I decide to just lay my head for a sec. Am woken up by a slight tap on the shoulder from a passenger behind me and I notice the matatu has come to a halt so I assume the tap was meant for me to give way to an alighting bimbo back there. Oh, don’t you just hate seating next to the door where you have to step down anytime a passenger from the back is alighting before your destination? We are at Kenyatta Road now, just a few more minutes and the matatu finally arrives at Juja.
As I alight, I realize I haven’t used my phone since I left the house so I reach for my pockets to bring it out but it’s not where I placed it. So I reach for my rear pockets hoping I might have dropped it there in the midst of all the melee in town but No! It’s not there too. Just some Ksh. 350 notes returned to me as my balance after paying for my fare in town. Then it hits me, my wallet’s missing too. I know damn well I couldn’t have put them in the bag but I still ransack its contents, just in case. Still M.I.A. Ukweli wangu ndio huu, na bado siupati!
Then, like a stroke of lightning, reality hits me hard. “I, Son of Were…Wuod Omondi Were Jamasiro gi Auma Keya Nyaukwala, chogo achiel kende, wuoyi ma idembo gi dan ni Japuonj Nyarongaro, wuoyi ma pache bith ka pand jayang’o to wiye ng’ado mo ka pikipiki, wuoyi ma nyadundo kalum to pwot kakoth, wuoyi ma ka odonjo e choo to jogweng’ duto ywak…an, Ian Duncan, have been dealt with today!”, I tease myself. For the Non-Luos, forget that mindless drivel, what I was basically saying is am awesome. Am a WERE, after all, am I not? Where I come from God is called Obong’o WERE Nyakalaga, see what I did there? But that’s a story for another day.
Just like that, my less than a month old second-hand but still dear to my heart LG L4 smartphone and 500-shilling wallet containing Ksh. 6, 770 in cash are gone. Gone with the wind!
And that, dear people, is why sleep evades me today. I can’t sleep because the very second I shut my eyes the vision of someone elsewhere treating his/her mates to bottles of cold Tusker with money he/she didn’t work for flashes before my very being. I can’t sleep because it took some loser somewhere just seconds, or probably minutes, to take away from me money I worked for days and nights on end. I can’t sleep because I know there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it now.
I don’t expect any uptown folk to understand my plight, this is for my hustlers out there; Those who know how it feels to work odd hours just so they can put food on their tables; Those who do whatever they do from their hearts with little or no returns; Those who were born and raised from hand-to-mouth but don’t just sit down brooding but go out and fend for themselves; Those who were looked down upon by richer relatives and friends but beat all odds and are now praised by the very people who doubted them; Those who inherited worn out uniforms and ran to school bare feet but now go to work in three-piece Sir Henry suits and boast the latest fuel guzzlers in town; Those who sparked only sympathy but now command the most attention wherever they go. Stay with me here, I wasn’t talking about myself.
Point is, go out there. Fight the world. Beat the world and if you have to, leave it bruised and on its knees. No one knows what you want but you, so go after it. Chase your dreams faster than a man caught in bed with his mate’s wife. Scrub your name on the Hall of Fame with sandpaper to make sure it stays on everyone’s lips for the next lifetime. Be the best ‘YOU’ there ever will be. Face whatever challenges come your way like a man with a sack of balls in between the legs. Or a woman with a chestful of ‘ripe’ breasts. No matter how tough, you can always overcome it.
And like I always say; Tables turn, bridges burn. You live and you learn. Life Happens!
Off the Record
Meanwhile, I was so mad after realizing I had lost my phone and money I immediately hit the cyber and declined the request to be a contributing writer to Magazine Reel. But on the real though, we’re now in September and the guy says he’ll start paying me in December. Really? Four months of charity work after losing my last pay? Where am I even going to get that strength? I just couldn’t take it. If you’re reading this, sir, just know it was nothing personal. But we could sit down and talk if you’re willing to negotiate. I love my pen but I could really use the money right about now. Am just saying.
P.S: I didn’t write this for your sympathy, to hell with it. Neither did I write this to get back at whoever is holding my belongings right now. I know you’re not even reading this but drink mate, feast. I wrote this because I had to get it off my chest. That’s what writing does to me.
In other news though, it’s almost 5 a.m. now. Allow me to catch a breather before I dash to the cyber to post this (my modem went AWOL too).
TGIF…Enjoy your weekend!