BED 10, 11:44 A.M.

 

Thomas Omondi Were

 

 

(My Father died exactly three months ago, on a date like today’s – 23rd – and at the exact time this blog post will go up – 11:44 a.m. These are some of the events leading to his passing. As well as my way of dealing with it.)

 

 

I stay with my father for two or three weeks at home; making him shitty porridge and humongous Ugali that he doesn’t even touch and helping him type work stuff on his laptop and sending mails on his phone and acting as his escort to wherever he needs to go because he’s weak and could fall at any given moment and would need someone to pick him up when that happens.

 

 

Then he leaves for the airport one brisk morning on his way to a hospital in Nairobi West; he’s accompanied by my Mum and one of his best friends in the teaching profession who offers to drive them to Kisumu International Airport (you have to say it full like that) in his car. That morning, he wakes up weaker than he has throughout the entire time I have been with him. His legs are swollen and he’s shaking and he only points at stuff he wants brought to him because he feels pain every time he speaks. My Mum tells me she’ll call me soon as they get to Nairobi and I wish them a safe journey. That evening, my brother texts, telling me the old chaps never made it to Nairobi and are still in Kisumu. I call my Mum and she says Mzee could not be allowed into a plane in the situation he was in; and so he was admitted at Aga Khan Hospital – Kisumu – ward, Bed 10.

 

 

***

 

 

For the first couple of days he seems jovial and settled and comfortable. He takes all the medicine provided by the doctor and even asks for more. He smiles with everyone that comes to visit him and tells them not to worry because, “…I’m fine, I’ll be back on my feet in no time.” And then he laughs so loudly it feels like the heavens are pulling apart. He talks to the Luo nurses in Luo and the Kikuyu nurses in pathetic broken Swahili because if there was one thing that man could not do even if it had a billion-shilling reward was speak proper Swahili; and he was unapologetic about it because he came from a place best known for sugarcane and the highest number of chang’aa drinkers in the whole county. A place the government – in 2009 – recognized as the most rural place in Kenya. A place people pay to be signed onto WhatsApp and Facebook. A place people could not pronounce the President’s name if they tried so they just call him ‘Ouru.’

 

 

He asks me if the money he left us for food and basic necessities back home when he was leaving for the hospital has run out and I say, “No, we’re still good for a couple or so days.” He makes as if to reach for his wallet and my Mum stops him, tells him to rest and not to bother himself about big boys. He laughs and tells me, “You heard your mother, you’re big boys now.” I say, “Yes, we are, we’ll find a way.” And, with that, he leans back on his chair and my mother walks me out as one of his best friends comes in to see him. Two seconds later, the laughter coming from his ward could deafen a family of bats. I say to myself, “Ah, he’ll be good.” And I run downstairs to the hospital cafeteria for a soda. Then I go back home in the evening because my kid cousin is alone at home and he’s already texting, asking what we’re having for supper.

 

 

I do not go back to the hospital for a while (and regrettably so) because, at some point, my Mum lies to me that the hospital has slapped a ‘no-visitors’ policy on my Dad. Then my brother texts one evening asking why I do not go to see Mzee and I tell him Mum said visitors are not allowed at the moment and he tells me that was a whole load of bollocks; that she was probably only trying to protect me because Mzee was getting bad. Real bad. I scrap around for fare from friends and make my way early the following morning.

 

 

I get there and my father does not recognize me. Just stares at me blankly, breathing in and out, stomach fattened. There are only a few things that can hurt a man deeply – texting the girl you think is your soul mate in 2015 and she replies in 2017; rushing into marriage with a woman because you ‘love’ her only to later realize her Chapos taste like tissue paper; and then there’s sitting two-feet from your father and him having absolutely no clue who you are, or why someone who looks like a Solex padlock is shedding tears next to his hospital bed. At some point my brother – who had spent the entire night by his bedside, together with my Mum – drops by and notices him struggling to turn over so he helps him do so, and then shouts in his ear, “Have you seen Ian? That is Ian seated back there.” But, still, he does not acknowledge or even make any movements in the affirmative; he just lies there shaking like a leaf in the winter. And nothing has ever broken my heart like that. Nothing probably ever will.

 

 

I continue coming every day after that.

 

 

And then, on Thursday – 23rd March – I get to the hospital and, after one look at him, excuse myself to go to the Gents. And I cry in there till a stranger comes in and, without even saying a word, offers me a tissue. And I say to myself, “No, that in there is not my father. Can’t be. Impossible.”

 

 

Let me explain;

 

 

***

 

 

The man I have known my entire life has always been Strong. The man we have all known has always been Strong.

 

 

In the wake of the very first year when my father took over at a little-known school in Siaya County – Rang’ala Boys Secondary – as the Principal, succeeding a hugely popular man, the students went on strike. One night, at around 10 p.m. (I remember because it was just after the News and we had been sent away to bed so the adults could watch ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’) the students – about 50 of them, by my rough estimate – surrounded our house and started pelting us with stones. At first, we hid in the bedrooms but soon as a stone went through and hit my sister, we converged at the corridors – as we figured stones could not pass through the walls – and we waited for the tension to die down, all the while taking care not to shit our pants. But those boys were determined to pelt us for as long as they could. So my father went into his bedroom, wore a heavy grey jacket, picked up this monster torch that was so popular in those days, grabbed a big ass rungu, told us to stay in the corridors and walked out the door. Alone. Less than twenty minutes later and those boys were back in class and silence and peace had been restored and he came back. One old man with a torch and a rungu; against over fifty students armed with stones. Folks, you can’t make this shit up.

 

 

See, that was my father. That was Thomas Omondi Were; a strong man; a fearless man; a man with balls of steel; a man who faced problems head on and almost always won; a man with a black belt in karate that he never even bragged about.

 

 

(I don’t know about you guys but if I had a black belt in karate, I would drop that shit on every conversation. I mean, we could be talking about how tasteless chicken smokies are or how shitty Infinix phones are and I would just blurt out, from nowhere, that “By the way I have a black belt in karate guys.”)

 

 

***

 

 

I exit the gents, head back to the ward and say to myself, “Yes, that is definitely not my Father. That man shaking like a frail bird with tears almost welling in his eyes and hooked onto endless pipes to aid in his breathing CANNOT be my Father.” And I say that over and over again in my head until the ward is filled with people – Aunts, Uncles, Friends – and the nurses ask some of us to make room. So I leave and go take a seat at a park near the hospital’s entrance.

 

 

About an hour later, I notice my Aunts and Uncles and Sisters coming out of the hospital breaking down. And I think to myself that maybe, like me, they’re just in denial over his present condition. But I decide to go check it out anyway.

 

 

I pass my mother in the hallway crying against a friend’s shoulders and, dreadfully, walk into my Father’s ward. I find my brother covering him while singing a song that, for the life of me, I just can’t get out of my head; “…I will sing the wondrous story, of the Christ who died for me…” And, at that moment, even though I’m in denial, it hits me that he’s gone. But I still need someone to confirm it for me. “He’s Dead,” my brother says, amidst his singing. I hear him clearly, but I pretend not to have, so I say, “What?” and he repeats the same words (just this time louder and clearer); He’s Dead.

 

 

Time Stamp: 11:44 a.m.

Date: Thursday, 23rd March, 2017.

 

 

And so, the story goes, my Father would die a week to my Birthday.

 

 

Here’s the thing; I will never understand Death. And I don’t know what criteria God uses to decide whom He takes and whom He leaves in this world. But what I do know is this; my Father did not deserve to go like he did. My Father did not deserve to die that way; frail, half-unconscious most of the time, unable to recognize his own son, unable to walk to the loo so pissing himself in bed and having my Mum and brother clean him up, with his stomach so swollen someone would have thought he swallowed an elephant whole.

 

 

The man that raised me – Thomas Omondi Were – did not deserve to go out like that.

 

 

Fuck Cancer.

NURSING MY FATHER

123

 

 

He sits on a plastic chair at the center of the living room; his legs – swollen as a balloon – hoisted onto a stool in front of him, his left hand supporting his head, the right on the armrest of the plastic chair. The T.V is on, to full volume, and some flimsy Nollywood film about a Prince falling in love with the Princess of a rival land is on. His eyes, unflinching as ever, stare directly at the T.V screen. And, for a second there, it beats me how a man as old as he is would be enjoying such a distressingly pathetic script about how a Prince and a rival Princess fall so deep in love that when their two communities go to war, they jump into the middle of the battle and declare themselves sacrifices for the sake of Peace. Because, “Love trumps All.” Such baloney.

 

 

And then I take a closer look and notice that he’s really not watching the television or paying attention to the Prince’s incessant whining about how great Love is. He’s staring into space. He’s staring into thin air. He’s staring at empty nothingness.

 

 

***

 

 

My Mum called me sometime mid last month but it went straight to voice mail. So she texted, “Your Father is Sick. Get back to me.” I called her that evening and, after her usual shouting and bickering over what I really do in Nairobi, she said, “I need you to come back home.”

 

 

“Why?”

 

“Didn’t you hear me, Mzee is sick?”

 

“Sawa. Wacha I come kitu next week.”

 

“Kama hutaki wacha. Utamwona kwa coffin.”

 

 

Then she hangs up. That was Auma Nyar Keya being her usual self; dramatic as ever. I called her back.

 

 

“Sawa. I’ll come Monday or Tuesday.”

 

“If you cannot be here by Monday morning then just let your brother come. Hakuna shida kama hutaki kuona Baba yako.”

 

“Sawa. I’ll travel Sunday night and be there by Monday morning.”

 

 

She didn’t even acknowledge what I had said, just hung up. And so, that Sunday night, I hopped onto a Busia-bound bus and was home before the dogs evenwoke up for morning glory. I sat next to this pretentious loud mouthed Luo chap in a stinky white hoodie, ugly dark sunglasses (but why are some Luos hell bent on embarrassing us?) and these ridiculously shiny shoes who seemed to want the whole world to know he was going back to Kisumu. He called close to 12 people and the script was always the same (and you have to read this part in a Luo accent);

 

 

“Omera narudi Kisumu bwana.”

 

*Other person*

 

“Eeehh. Tunaenda kuangalilia Baba ground bwana.”

 

*Other person*

 

“Ntakaa wiki moja hivi alafu nikirudi ntakupigia.”

 

“Eeehh. Hahahahah. Si unajua lazima ka-GlenFiddich kaanguke nikirudi.”

 

 

By the time he was on his fifth call, I could recite his conversation word by word. So I fell asleep and, gladly, woke up as he was alighting. I almost poured libation to the goods in gratitude.

 

 

***

 

 

“Ian…” he goes, “…what’s someone got to do to get some porridge around here?”

 

 

I put aside the book I had been reading and head for the kitchen. I have never made any porridge all my life. Shit, I don’t even like porridge. But, for my ailing father, I will learn how to cook squirrels if he wants me to.

 

 

Thirty minutes later, I serve him a bowl of what, in my mind, is the most kick ass porridge human hands could ever make. He takes a sip, twitches his face and says, “This is the shittiest porridge I’ve ever tasted.” Then he attempts what sounds like a laugh, but only a cough comes out. A long strenuous cough. A painful cough.

 

 

The old man has been ill ever since we buried my Grandfather – his father –in September, 2016.He has grown thin and weak. He barely eats, only drinks porridge, and rarely speaks.He coughs 973238 times an hour and, when he walks, takes every step like it could be his last. There are days he can barely get off the plastic chair – never sits on the sofa – and then there are days he gathers some little strength and drives around.

 

 

The other day he had to pick up a parcel from the Post Office so I took shotgun while he drove. We arrived at the Post Office at 12:58 p.m., exactly 2 minutes before their lunch hour. He parked, we got out of the car and as we headed for the door, we saw the Post Office guy close. And we know he saw us see him close because we were right there, literally less than five steps away. And I got so pissed off I remember saying to him in my head, “Makes you feel pretty good, doesn’t it? Denying an ailing man a simple thirty second service?” I imagined him going home that evening, tucking his children into bed, kissing them on the forehead, and hopping into bed with his wife. And she would ask him, “How was work today?” And he would sigh and say, “Great. I sent away this old sickly man and his bushy son at lunch time today. You should’ve have seen them beg, it was hilarious.”

 

 

“Kijana,” he began, soon as we got back from the post office and I was assisting him back to his chair, “would you do me a favor?” I said, Sure. He said, “Shave that bloody beard.” I asked, “Why?” He said, “Because you’re young yet too old?” And that’s the most confusing thing my father has ever said to me my entire two decades of existence.

 

 

Get Well Wuod Agatha.

HONORING MZEE

kwara-2

 

 

Thursday, September 15th.

 

 

Something was strangely unpleasant in the air that afternoon. The winds didn’t blow, the sun shone faintly, the surrounding stank funny; like Lucifer was having an orgy with kina Jezebel in a swimming pool and wicked ole’ Jezebel kept farting in there (although, to be fair, I live in Juja so that might just have been the smell of weed). It was cold – it always is in my pad, I live on the ground floor – and I was broke and my neighbor was playing one Drake song after the other like his heart had just been broken and he was trying to move on but had no idea how so he thought, “Hey, you know what, let me listen to a Drake album, On a bloody Thursday afternoon.” I had been bedridden for close to a week by then; my toes were swollen – making it hard for me to even walk past the gate – and they smelled of a cocktail of rotten eggs, Athletes’ Foot and Jägermeister. I was in bed, all covered up to the chin, phone on flight mode, watching some series about Women and Drugs and Power. And Sex. Especially Sex.

 

 

Then I got this burning feeling to check my phone and the first 14 text messages that streamed in all read “I tried calling you…” And they were all from my Mum. And as I lay there trying to figure out what it was I had done wrong this time (because Auma Nyar Keya doesn’t call you 14 times to commend you for saving the world or to ask if you need money for beer), the 15th text message came in; and with it, a defiant gust of cold and gross indifference. It read;

 

 

“Your Grandfather is No More.”

 

 

Friday, September 23rd.

 

 

The setting is a remote village deep within the heart of Ugenya – Siaya County. A village so remote Google Maps won’t help you find it; a village so remote those chaps probably pay to join WhatsApp Groups.  I just got here. I’m saying hello to cousins and sisters I haven’t seen since the cold war and exchanging pleasantries with aunts and uncles here and there and they’re telling me “You look famished. You don’t eat?” and I’m grumbling and rubbing my hands against my belly and responding “Nairobi si mama ya mtu” and those who like to brag how they wiped my ass – even those who didn’t – when I was young are coming at me like “Na si you’ve grown” and I’m just there stroking my beard in silence like I’m the shit.

 

 

We just came back from the mortuary with Mzee’s body. Wailing has taken over the entire compound. Men and women I have never seen before are mourning my Gramps, and I’m just standing there lazily, with my crutches in hand, looking like a Maasai in the Sahara; struggling to fight back tears. And, you know, nobody ever thinks they’ll be that guy; the guy that cries and kicks and bites and scratches after viewing the body. Something takes over you, and for a minute or so, it no longer becomes your body. It becomes the universe’s body; and the universe does whatever it wishes with it.

 

 

My Dad appears from the main house with my big bro beside him. He looks weak; he looks defeated; he looks like he wants to throw his hands in the air and ask God, “Are you happy now?” He had been there with Gramps – his Father – through it all. They had gone to hospital after hospital and visited native doctors and been prayed for but still, here we were. A single tear trickles down his cheeks and he wipes it away then forces a smile. His walk is frail, his voice shaken, and his facial expression is downcast. Yet he still forces a smile. Because he’s a Man; and Men must be strong; Men must not cry. Not in the presence of their wife and kids.

 

 

My big bro has a well of tears in his eyes. My cousins are crying their lungs out; some are fainting and regaining consciousness and crying some more. My Mum cries with her hands on her head but not a sound comes out. My Aunts mourn and throw their lesos in the air and mumble words of grief. My Uncles spot a few tears in their eyes in silence; their faces tell it all. I see people who worked for my Gramps cry out for him. I see his friends and relatives and fellow elders mourn his passing. I had promised myself I wouldn’t tear up, but a voice inside me tells me I owe Mzee at least that much. I walk into the house to view the body and a couple drops of tears appear. That voice inside me comes back once more. It says, “It’s Okay, Son. It’s Okay to Cry.”

 

 

Saturday, September 24th

 

Atogo Michael Were was a man of very few words. Mzee preferred to do his stuff alone. Even at 86 years old, Mzee would take his goats out to herd in the morning and bring them back in the evening by himself. Mzee cleaned up after his cows shit up their shed by himself. Mzee liked his meat tender and cut into humongous pieces. Mzee liked the meals served communally; he never liked the idea of someone pinching ugali from their own plate. And if he noticed you eating faster than the others, he told you to take it down a notch; to come slow. Mzee liked his uji served hot in the morning. Mzee was big on cleanliness as well; before showering, he scrubbed his legs with bucketfulls of water – that is, one bucket per leg. He spoke slowly and warmly, never once raised his voice no matter how pissed he was. And when you needed to speak to him, you came armed with 99 microphones because his hearing had gone to the dogs.

 

 

My Dad wore the white shirt my Mum bought him (look at them being all romantic) and gave the story of his last days with his father during the funeral. He got his shit together and spoke about watching his father slowly fade away. And I don’t know where he got the strength from but he did. He spoke of how Mzee hated hospitals and of the midnight phone calls he would receive because Mzee couldn’t go to sleep. He narrated how, often, Mzee would speak to himself and he wondered whether he was going cuckoo as well. He talked about watching the Cancer tear his father apart – bone by bone, fleshy by flesh, strength and mind – yet he could do absolutely nothing about it. He spoke about being with Mzee to his last day, when he would notice Mzee in so much pain and offer to take him to the hospital – again – but Mzee would say, “No. I’m Ready.” He talked about being called in to work that last day, and looking at his phone almost three hours later to find a gazillion missed calls and – knowing what that meant – saying to himself, “Rest, Baba. Rest.” When I grow up, I want to be an inch the man my father is today. I want to have half the strength he embodies.

 

 

Mzee’s lips looked wrinkled and dry. His face, astute as ever, was bony and fragile and his nose had been stuffed with cotton. Dressed  in a cosy black suit, he just lay there; Still. And Peaceful. Dead as a dodo. He was Gone. Gone, Baby, Gone.

 

 

That evening, after we lowered Mzee down to rest, we downed local brew and recounted memories with my big bro and cousins. And we made memories (It’s funny how English just rolls out of the tongues of city people after one too many.) And as I lay in bed later on that night, sleep evading me, a tear dripped down my cheeks and I said to myself, “Go On Well, Mzee. On To A Better Place.”

CLEANING CLOSETS AND CROSSING BRIDGES

2016

 

The entire Omondi Were family has travelled back home to spend the upcoming New Year celebrations with the old chaps during. My big brother, Austin, had to go earlier on because he was told his Simba [man cave]was crumbling. And my elder sister, well, I don’t know if she just missed the old guards or she finally found an answer to that one question Mum keeps asking, “When are you getting married?”

 

 

So the whole family is in some remote village – in Siaya County, where Wi-Fi is yet to be invented – by now except yours truly. You know, sometimes I picture them gathered around the table for dinner; Mum going round monitoring the quantity of food on everyone’s plate and smacking whoever’s plate is overflowing, Dad digging in silence, with the T.V remote by his side.  Hates Mboga, that grumpy old man. One time it was just the two of us home so I cooked Sukuma Wiki. When I served, he gave me that look of [and read this next part with a Jamie Fox voice], “The hell is this shit? You tryna kill me boy?”

 

 

Anyway, I decided to stick around this time because I was curious as to how Nairobi drinks during the festive season; I wanted to see how Nairobi sleeps during Christmas; I wanted to smell what Nairobi shits during Boxing Day; and I wanted to suck in the air Nairobi breathes during the New Year.

 

 

So I’m currently alone in the digs. Which basically means I’m free to do as I so please: I could spend the whole day watching ‘How To Get Away With Murder’; I could go to the loo, take one long ass dump, leave the bloody toilet seat up and not spray the air freshener [because who doesn’t love the smell of their own shit?]; I could whip up a quick meal, dine for hours, and do the dishes three days later; I could got to the neighbourhood bar, take one for the road, and come back deep into the night without worrying about being hassled over my whereabouts; or I could just carry home a bottle of Whiskey, drink  myself silly and black out on the floor in a pool of my own vomit. Not because that’s how I roll, but because I can!

 

 

A couple of nights ago I’m at the bar, alone, with a beer on my table, WhatsApp-ing with a friend of mine. Goes by Suzzy, the friend of mine, but I just call her Sue. Has little bit of a touch to it, doesn’t it? I mean, C’mon, Sue. Doesn’t it just make you want to rip her clothes off and smell her knickers? Hehe.

 

 

Okay, I digressed.

 

 

Sue tells me she was in Nakuru with her family during Christmas, having the time of her life. I scoff. Then she asks where I was and I say, you know, just out and about. She asks if at least I was with the family and I respond in the negative. “Naah, My family is twisted”, I say. She asks why I feel the need to isolate myself and I say I’m not. “I’m fine, and that’s all that matters.” Besides, I’m getting sick of this back and forth by now, why do ladies do that? Try to make mountain hills out of mole hills?

 

 

Then, check this, she texts back “You’re not. Maybe in mind, but not at heart.”

 

 

Let me say this for the last time before we cross over into 2016, I hate people who give me reality checks while I’m getting hammered. I hate people who think they know more about me than I do. Who the fuck y’all think you are? Uncle Phil? So I switch off my phone, put it into my breast pocket and down the last gulp of my beer. Then I let out a showy belch, just for shits and giggles, as I walk out of the bar.

 

 

But that night as I stagger home, earphones plugged to my ears listening to Drake’s ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’, two things hit me: One, Guys, never listen to Drake under the influence. Two, I want my Mummy.

 

 

Let me explain;

 

 

See, sometime mid this year Auma Nyar Keya [that’s what I call My Mum, keep up] was in town. She calls me one Wednesday morning and goes, “You up for some Kuku Choma?” and I say, “Shit, Is the Pope Catholic?” That evening I grab some faded jeans from my closet, pair it up with one of my many red t-shirts and – with my hair looking all rugged – I show up for the Kuku Choma. Austin is in his usual official wear, because, you know, he’s into politics and Boston Legal. My eldest sister is pretty much decently dressed too, I mean, you don’t get a job at Oxford looking like Lil’ Kim.

 

 

Nyar Keya takes one glance and says, “Boy, you disappoint me. You look like Michael in Jackson Five. Hata a simple haircut yawa? Psht, ebu get off my face!”

 

 

The following morning I wake up to a long ass text message from the old man saying if I wanted to be a Thug in this town, it was up to me. That he would only fulfill his obligation of paying my school fee, then he would be done with my stubborn ass. All this, just because I didn’t comb my hair and I wore a faded trouser; all because of a fucking faded trouser and bad hair!

 

 

Then I remembered that time after high school when Nyar Kenya told me blankly – to my face – that I wouldn’t be shit and I sulked in my room. I didn’t talk much that day, I called the boys in the evening and we went and drank our asses silly at the local. Then we laughed and made jokes as we staggered back to the digs. But deep inside, those two incidences remained in my heart, etched in steel.

 

 

So maybe Sue was right. Maybe I’m not fine; Maybe I walk around smiling and pretending to be funny but with a heavy heart within; Maybe I didn’t go back home – not because I was curious as to how Nairobi drinks and sleeps or what Nairobi shits but – because I feel like a big disappointment; Maybe I didn’t go back home because I wanted to have the house all to myself – not to watch reruns of ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ but – to sulk and cry in the shower and soak in my disappointment then bitch over it here; Maybe I didn’t go back home because I haven’t changed my wardrobe yet and my hair is still as hirsute as ever and I didn’t want to give the old guards heartaches with the festive season.

 

 

There are things a man can recover from; like being dumped by your girlfriend of ten years, or cutting your fingers accidentally while chopping onions in the kitchen. What a man can never recover from is his own mother looking him in the eye and saying, “You’ll never amount to shit” or his old man texting him saying, “Go on boy, be a thug.”

 

 

***

 

 

I’ll be honest with you guys, I haven’t had a good year. Of con unprofessional Editors and sleepless nights that don’t pay off and accrued debts, I have seen it all this year. I see folks in these streets counting all the things they achieved in 2015 and I’m just here like, “Well, hell, I saw B.o.B bitches!”

 

 

But where I come from, we were taught to never sulk at the negatives, but to learn from them. So here are a few things and people that capped 2015 for me:

 

 

Jameson Party Live and Shiko

 

I’m an events person; I love live performances. I’m hardly moved by just bumpy beats and studio-manufactured vocals blaring on my stereo. I live for an Artist’s creativity, blow me off my socks then I’ll give you a second thought.

 

 

Two days to the Jameson Party Live and I get a call from one Hillary Ngash. Calls me to a meeting at TRM and hands me a complimentary ticket. Just like that! Well, the catch was I do a ka-small review after the event but once he put that ticket in my palm, I wasn’t really listening to all the yiddie yadda he was saying.

 

 

And I felt every inch of proud in there, as B.o.B strolled onto the stage with the Kenyan Flag on his back.

 

 

Here’s to Shiko, the nice waitress that made me feel like my shit stank of Vanilla. How is Nyeri, Jaber?

 

 

Oyunga Pala Referral and The Standard, Crazy Monday, Publication

 

I had slept late the previous night – doing only God knows what – so I was pretty much still asleep when that call came through. I picked it up half conscious and the voice on the other end said, “Hello, this is Tony Malesi, Crazy Monday Editor, am I speaking to Ian Duncan?” I jumped off bed and pinched my nose at “Crazy Monday Editor”.

 

 

But here’s the thing, it wasn’t even being asked to submit a piece for Crazy Monday that shook me. Here’s the part where I almost ran out of breath; the guy says he read something from my blog and got impressed so, naturally, I ask how he even ran across my blog and he says…wait for it…

 

 

“Oyunga Pala referred me there. He’s the one who actually sent me the link to that particular article and asked what I thought about it. You know Oyunga Pala, right?”

 

 

Sir, I’m going to forget like you didn’t just ask me if I know Oyunga Pala. Any Writer who doesn’t know Oyunga bloody Pala is in the wrong line of work, believe that.

 

 

So, to Oyunga, if you’re somewhere around here – lurking in the shadows – or if this reaches you from the comfort of your man cave – with a glass of some smooth Whiskey in hand – Ero Kamano Baba.

 

 

And to Tony Malesi, Asante Sana for the opportunity, Sir. Here’s to more publications in 2016, aye?

 

 

Maina Kageni Trending Topic and Kick Ass Shoes

 

That article Crazy Monday published? Yeah, turns out it was the topic of discussion that morning on Classic 105 with Maina and King’ang’i. Austin woke me up that morning saying, “Ondiek, either Ian Duncan the Safari Rally driver is now a Writer or Maina Kageni just mentioned your name.”

 

 

The ladies calling in to contribute that morning were saying all sorts of mean stuff and calling me all sorts of mean names but I didn’t really give a rat’s crack. For once I felt like a socialite listening to Gossip segments on radio after leaking her nude pictures and saying, “Fuck y’all, I’mma do me!”

 

 

Later on that day my sister put aside her work and said, “You know what, let’s get out of here guys.” So we went down to Gikomba [Yes, we shop at Gikomba, who the fuck keeps burning that place down?] and she bought me these kick ass shoes that I just can’t seem to keep off my feet. Austin got Topman Brogues, lucky bastard.

 

 

Ero Kamano Nyakamachiegni. Just less Nigerian movies in 2016, Sawa?

 

 

JKUAT BSc. I.T Class

 

Guys, blunt talk, the School of I.T already squandered your money. Stop waiting on a trip that will never come, move on.

 

 

You guys are weird, but in a fun way. Keep being you: Peter, Lenovo – Keep puffing that smoke; Rash – Keep perfecting those beats; Idris – Keep Modelling, we didn’t cross borders to come cheer you bagging that Mr. JKUAT 2015 crown for nothing; Ken, Johnny – Keep being the Mafisi you are; Roy – I want to stay slow down on the booze but I know you won’t so keep downing them bottles Sir; Eric Dogo – Bidii kwa hizo chuma Boss; Ladies- Keep…uhmm…being pretty? Hehe.

 

 

To Katana, those article ideas you gave me this year that I was too lazy to write, I will write them this coming year. Thank you for always pointing out my bullshit Boss. Thank you for not being one of those people who skim through two or three paragraphs of my blog posts and then text me, “Nice article”. Because in this business, you need people who have the balls to tell you your article was shit and that you need to go back to the drawing board. Compliments don’t shape a Writer.

 

 

Now guys, seeing as I may or may not be with you guys this coming year, keep kicking ass.

 

 

You, The Readers

 

To the rest of you, ladies and gentlemen, who have read my nonsense all year long, I salute you. Because without you guys, I would be the failure my mum thought I would be. So here’s a big THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart.

 

 

To those who follow this Blog via mail and to my Top Commenters – kina Brio Muiruri – Muchos Gracias.

 

 

Chacha and The Classifieds Website

 

You guys remember Chacha, right? From the previous post, the one about the bar? The loud-drinker with an ego bigger than a Luo man’s pride?

 

 

So Chacha calls me sometime last month and goes, “Boss, I’m developing this Classifieds website. I want you to be the Admin, you know, with your I.T background and all. 70% shares go to me, 30% to you.”

 

 

Something tells me he’s drinking, because that’s the only time ideas like these hit him. They’re usually gone with the wind by the time he gets sober. So I laugh, then I ask, “Where are you drinking bana? How’d you not invite a brother though?”

 

 

I hear him chuckle on the other end like some kid who just got caught stealing Candy before he says, “Niko mbali Boss, Next time.”

 

 

I’m like, “Whatever.”

 

Then last week – out of the blues – the chump calls me and says, “Boss, the website is ready, just putting some final touches to it. Get your shit together.”

 

 

To my peoples at the School of Human Resource, a classifieds website is something like OLX, simply put. It’s an online shop; Sellers post their goods, Buyers survey the goods and purchase whatever tickles their fancy. But this one is sort of just for you Campus folk. Gents, Michael Kors watches are available; Ladies, we have MAC Giambattista Valli Lipsticks just for you [Okay, Even I don’t know what that shit is but it sounded fancy so…whatever]. We don’t even want you to buy anything yet. We just want you to drop by, look around, and tell us what you think. Sawa? Good.

 

 

Go to: UzaPal  

 

 

Just one thing, Chacha, we need to renegotiate those percentages Baba. 30% yawa. Hehe.

 

 

Folks, It’s been real. See you on the other side.

 

Happy New Year. Blessed.

CALL YOUR MOTHER TODAY

1

I haven’t watched any local content in a while, mainly because most of them are crap. Citizen T.V is the most watched station nationwide but they have the most poorly written local programs. I mean, just look at Papa Shirandula and InspektaMwala; sometimes I’d watch these shows and just wish I had a gun to blow my brains out – or those of the Scriptwriters – with. ‘Classmates’ on KBC is the only local program worth a minute of my time; simple jokes that will get you gasping for air, forget Churchill comedians who pick up jokes from social media and perform them to a bunch of shallow minded folk. Speaking of Churchill comedians, someone tell Consummator I can’t take anyone in a red suit serious [ignore the irony, assuming you saw it]. I just can’t. Your dressing defines you; a red suit says “I can’t keep my shit together”. You look like those chaps that sing ‘Isabella’ in the shower and drink Chardonnay on Guys’ Night; Chaps I’d like to punch in the face. You can’t crack me up when I’m thinking about punching you in the face.

Anyway, I somehow found myself watching ‘Tahidi High’ this past Tuesday. That episode where a group of students went to some house party and drank their brains out, then the girls showed up to school in the morning still high as a kite and their mothers’ came asking about their whereabouts as they hadn’t shown up at home the previous night to watch Empire with the family. The girls were so high one of them told her mum she had four eyes, two noses, and nice tits. Another told her mum she had a nice ass she should consider a career Huddah Monroe-ing. [Okay, I may be adding a few details here and there but just sit tight, I’m going somewhere with this. Also, before anything else, let’s just agree that Empire is a chic flick, Yes?]  And those Mothers just sat there, calmly, talking to their daughters, questioning the Principal.

That was by far the worst depiction of a Kenyan Mum I have ever seen. I don’t know about you guys, but I could take Konyagi, Legend, Jebel, Jameson or Smirnoff and smoke Wiz Khalifa’s weed but when I come face to face with Auma Nyar Keya – I tell you – I will be sober as a newborn baby.  That woman doesn’t joke; she will smack your nose back to your Maker and pinch your cheeks from here to Timbuktu at the slightest hint of obnoxious behavior.

I still remember my first time in Nairobi almost too clearly, never mind I was still young then. I heard my mum say she was going to Nairobi and I cried my ass out till she let me come along. The trip was fine, but I learnt one thing; crying was the best way to get what I wanted. During the journey I’d ask her to buy me stuff and she’d refuse, but then I’d let out a cry so loud – that, coupled with sympathies from the other passengers – she had no choice but to buy whatever I wanted. So we arrived in Nairobi with half eaten maize cobs, chocolate stains on my clothes, bottles of ‘ready to drink’ juice and boxes of biscuits I hadn’t even opened yet. She was mad, but I was happy. And that was all that mattered.

On the day we were to travel back home, I had become so attached to Nairobi I didn’t want to leave. We had stayed at a family friend [Mama Oscar]’s place,  we had attended the same Primary school with her twosons – Oscar and Earnest ‘Young’ – back in the day, and they were the coolest chaps I had ever met. They had the best music collection, the grandest taste in movies, and we would stay up till 5 o’clock in the morning playing Boxing, Football or Basketball on Play Station. The house was well-heeled and Mama Oscar was one helluva cook; her meals left this sweet taste in your mouth you didn’t feel like brushing your teeth the next morning, even with a gun held to your head. Every Sunday after church Baba Oscar would take the whole family shopping or on a drive in town or drop us off at these posh kids’ events where we would partake a meal of nyama choma then play our own version of ‘Wrestling’ in the jumping castles, walk under water while holding our noses in the swimming pools, before heading back home in the evening. Those were some good times man. You can’t blame me for not wanting to leave.

[P.S: Oscar is now a kick-ass Photographer with his own agency and Young is a Producer, you might know him as Riccobeatz; they guy who worked the Instrumentals for King Kaka’s ‘Gerarahia’ smash. Great chaps, these.]

I have digressed too much, where was I? Yeah. So when we were supposed to leave I cried kidogo in a bid to convince my mum to let us stay on just a little longer. She wouldn’t budge, she grabbed my hand and – quite literally – pulled me right across the estate to the stage. I gave her the silent treatment for most of the journey to town but she didn’t give two cracks. When we got to town we walked to Machakos Bus Station and this is where this whole story was actually supposed to begin. Machakos Bus Station was where everybody boarded back then; there was no Easy Coach, Transline or Guardian Angel. Akamba Buses were the shit, but they were a tad too expensive for regular folk like us so we stuck to our lanes; kina Emirates and Eldoret Express.

Machakos Bus Station was a mess – still is. Hawkers went about their business, buses that shouldn’t even have been roadworthy were all over the place, and Conductors howled like hungry hyenas at the sight of prey. One would be pulling you left and another right, all the while they’re hurling unprintable expletives at each other. My mum held my hand on her right and our luggage on the left. We were right in the middle of Machakos Bus Station when my mum’s phone rang and she had to receive the call, so she let go of my hand and asked me to hold the luggage for just a minute. Now, we all know women can’t talk on the phone for just a minute. That call must have gone past an hour because I could no longer hold my balance with that luggage. So I let it drop down to the mud and I let out the loudest wail even I had ever heard. I will pause here while you vainly try to figure out what happened next.

Nyar Keya ended the call all right. Then she picked up the bag and wiped it with her own leso. See, crying works.

You remember when I said I let out the loudest cry even I had ever heard? Yeah, well, when Nyar Keya got up from wiping that bag, she turned round and smacked me across the face so loudly and so painfully I felt like Machakos stood still for a second there; and that was just her left hand people. Let’s just say I didn’t ask for anything the entire journey – even when she honestly wanted to buy me something, I cowered – and I arrived home with a story to tell. To date, there are only three things I fear in this life; Girls [especially Blondes, those one that can’t keep their hands down when they talk. It’s like they’re always secretly hoping they ‘accidentally’ poke someone’s nose], Heights, and Auma Nyar Keya.

My mother is something else; she could be smiling with you one minute and then spanking you the next. Not in a bad way though, she’s fun like that. No matter how good you cook, she will always complain; maybe the soup wasn’t thick enough [What did you use? Cat piss?]; maybe you chopped the mbogainto much bigger pieces [The hell are these? Elephant ears?]; or maybe your mind wasn’t fully into the cooking, you could have been thinking about other things [Tell that Nyar Otiende if I find her crooked behind here again…heh, weh…I will decorate my necklace with her teeth, Iwinjo? Maybe then your Ugali will stop looking like Uji]

Auma Nyar Keya is just your ultimate Kenyan Mum. You could be playing football with your friends in the field two neighborhoods away but she will send someone to come call you. You will find her seated on the couch, holding the Sunday Nation upside down, and she will point to the pair of glasses lying on the stool next to her and say “Ne, Omera, give me these things!” Do you know how close to one something has got to be for them to say THESE and not THOSE? Heh!

Nothing bores her like idle people; especially ones who love their sleep like yours truly. So she will wake you up at 4 in the morning as she prepares to go to work just for the hell of it.

Shughulikia those dishes. Chap Chap!”

 

Si Sharon washed them last night yawa?”, you will retort.

Scrub this floor then.”

 

“Effie is almost halfway done doing that.”

 

“Well then grab a slasher and go trim the grass behind Otiende’s granary yaye. Don’t just sleep there.”

 

 

She called me a couple of weeks ago and said, “Ne,Omera, si that is an Okuyu I see you fondling on your WhatsApp profile? I know I said I want grandkids and that elder sister of yours is not giving me much hope but is that the Jaber you want to bring here? Wueehh! Try me. You will know what is taking El Nino so long.” The Old Man is also on WhatsApp. So now I can’t even put a profile picture of a lady just to impress her [all guys do that] or that one of Meagan Good I’ve always wanted to parade for WCW without raising eyebrows back home. Eih!

I have hated my Mum a couple of times. She could be a nuisance. Like when we’re in public and she notices I didn’t wash my face in the morning so she takes out her handkerchief, soaks it in her spit and wants to wipe my eyes with it. All mothers do this. She still does to date. And I hate that shit. I’m a grown ass man, that’s like telling me, “Son, go take a dump and come I wipe your bum for you.” I saw your face twitch, annoying, right?

I haven’t had a proper conversation with her in a while. The last time we met, I was dressed like a homeless hoodlum. My brother was dressed in his usual official thingamajigs, thereby making me look bad. So she told on me to the old man, said I was a disappointment; just because my hair was long and of how I was dressed. I woke up the following morning to a long ass text from the old man; he said if I wanted to be a Thug in Nairobi, it was entirely up to me. That once I was done with campus, I would be on my own and he will not want to hear jack from me again. Nothing. That after campus when I do call him, he expects to hear only things like, “Look, Ondiek, I want to buy you a suit Bwana. Has your stomach become any bigger with all that beer you’ve been drinking?”  So sometime in August next year if you run into a brother selling oranges apo Archives, just be a lamb and buy one. Donge? Si We Are One?

Every conversation I’ve had with her since then has basically just been her calling and scolding me on why I haven’t found a place for internship yet and whether I was really even looking, or her asking whether I have shaved my hair yet, and then scolding me again. Once in a while she tells me how sick she is and that one of these mornings we will wake up and she’ll be no more [God forbid!]. That statement is usually followed by a long distorted cough after which she says, “Aya, we anind [let me sleep]” and then the line goes dead.

I read some article questioning the role of mothers to the lives of their children in society today a couple of days ago. I was having a talk with some friend of mine last night when she asked me the last time I called my Mum. I took a long pause, as if I was trying to remember. Then she asked me, “Dude, are you serious? Like for real?” in that dramatic fashion ladies do. I was still quiet. Then she said;

Wewe, I’m going to hang up now. I Want You To Call Your Mother. Today. Right Now.

 

 

Then there was that beep sound. So when I leave work today, I’m going to call my mother. Not because some chic I wanted to bone but shoved me to the friend-zone told me so; and not because it’s Still A Mum day and I wondered what it would have been like had she had a miscarriage and didn’t have me.  I’m going to call her because I have missed her. I’ll call her because I want her to scold me again. I want to tell her that indeed I will be bringing home that Okuyu, not because it’s true, but because I want to hear her loose it.  I want to hear her tell me that an Okuyu lady will love my money more than she loves me. Then I want to tell her, “What money? I’m broke as a piece of wood. And I don’t see any prospects of inheriting anything from you people either, si I hear Sossion told you people to down your tools and you did? Now see, no salary. Si you tell Sossion to pay you sasa I see.” Then I want to hear her laugh and tell me I’m almost old enough to start sending her money.  Then I want to tell her I got that internship she was whining about.

Where? I hope you’re not stealing money from your Boss. You know money has a way of pulling a Malaysia when you’re around here” She will probably say.

Hahahah! Wewe you want money ama you want to know where it comes from? Kama hutaki I’m sure the Okuyu Jaber won’t mind a new dress, she likes those ones Kanye West unveiled the other day”

 

“Kanywet? Who is Kanywet?”

 

“Nobody Ma’. Just some very rich American with a lot of rats in his closet.”

 

Screenshot_2015-10-15-11-21-54-1

[Lord forgive me for placing this image here]

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, to you too I say, Call Your Mother Today. Call any Mother figure in your life. Make them feel appreciated. Make them feel loved. Make them feel special. They deserve it.

Blessed.

LESSONS FROM MY OLD MAN

So today happens to be Fathers’ Day. And what kind of a son would I be if I don’t mumble a word or two about my good old man? Don’t get it twisted though, am not jotting this piece just so my conscience is clear, I mean every single word I put here.

 

You know those pensive moments when you just sit down under a calm mahogany tree or lie on your tiny bed on a hot afternoon and reflect on your past life? I’ve been having lots of those lately. I think about my childhood, I think about my early life, I think about my schooling, I think about my friends, I think about my siblings, I think about my mum, I think about my dad.

 

Thomas Omondi Were, a jack of all trades. A man who, despite his age, still believes reading is the key to all the pleasures of life. He who recently told my big brother and I that the difference between the richest people on this earth and the poorest is that the richest spend 90% of their time reading books to gain more knowledge. That Bill Gates, he who makes millions every passing minute of the day, wakes up at 4 a.m. every morning to read a book. Yes, you read that right. That a self-made billionaire with a bank account vast enough to feed our corruption-infested country for a decade, probably more, leaves his king sized bed at dawn to read a damn book. Yet I, a mere mortal who still has to spend an entire day in front of the computer typing baseless research papers for lazy oversees university students to stack a four figure amount in the bank, can’t stand a book in sight.

 

You ever been forced to tell your paps a white lie just so to get some little cash of his pockets? Am not gon’ lie that I haven’t. We all have. The difference with my old man is he knows when am lying. He tells me he knows am ripping him off but he sends the money either way. Who does that? I mean, if my kid in the near future approaches me with some cock-and-bull story about how he needs Ksh. 5000 for some non-existent trip to Disneyland, I would totally whip his broke butt red. Damn straight.

 

Mr. Thomas Omondi Were, or Japuonj¸ as he is commonly referred to by many, hasn’t exactly been the easiest of dads to grow around. If you looking for those dads that will take you shopping and buy you fresh new clads on Christmas eve, Omondi Were is not your man. If you looking for those dads that will have mercy on you when mum is planting her firm palms on your soft cheeks and perhaps beckon to mum to go slow, Omondi Were is not your man. If you looking for those dads that will take the whole family out on a picnic every boring Sunday afternoon, Omondi Were is soo not your man. My old man does not pamper you. Thomas Omondi Were says it’s the holidays everyone must go to ocha and everyone goes. No discussions! Thomas Omondi Were; he who tunes to Rhumba stations every boring Sunday afternoon and goes to sleep on the couch humming along to the miserable tunes but dare you switch to another station. Looking back, I still don’t think I’d have wished for any other father. He is just the perfect father figure.

 

And did I mention the son of a gun has a black belt in karate? Yes, my old man can whop ass too. We’ve never really been gifted the honor of watching him in action and see what he can do but I always convince myself the sight would be refreshing. But how else would you describe the sight of your father showing a bunch of bandits who’s the man, aye? Besides, those black belts don’t come cheap this side of the Sahara. You don’t just walk into any karate institution and buy them like our politicians buy their school certificates. You earn them. And, boy, did Thomas Omondi Were earn his.

 

Like every other man, Thomas Omondi Were has a date with his bottle too once in a while. Tusker. I’ve watched the man down 5 bottles of those and he still drove us home safe. You can never tell when he is drunk or sober. In all my entire 19 years of livelihood, not a single day has Thomas Omondi Were come home in the wee hours of the night in drunken stupor talking baseless mumbo-jumbo and not a day have we gone hungry when there was something I could do.

 

Being a high school Principal, Thomas Omondi Were knows only too well the power of education. Am in campus but he still wants to see a report form at the end of every semester like he did when I was in high school. He tells me what units to focus most of my attention on and never fails to show his disgust when I flop in those. After all, he pays a five-figure fee at the beginning of every semester, doesn’t he?

 

If I had the means, I would send my old man a custom made bottle of Whisky right now. You know why? Because dads love Whisky. But I’ll spare that for another day. Today, I gat nothing buy my humble words of appreciation. My big brother has sworn to buy mum a car by 2017, never mind the fact that he won’t even be through with campus by then. I bow and drink to that. ‘Cause with that bugger, you never know. A hustler by all standards, ninja could buy the car tomorrow if he so desires and I won’t ask where he got the cash from. It’s now left to me to match the bar he’s trying to set. But I won’t say I’ll buy my old man a car, all I know is the man deserves something special. And something special he will get.

 

Henry James once defined life as that predicament which precedes death, and certainly nobody owes you a debt of honor or gratitude for getting him into that predicament. But a child does owe his father a debt, if Dad, having gotten him into this peck of trouble, takes off his coat and buckles down to the job of showing his son how best to crash through it. I’ve had a hard life, but my hardships are nothing against the hardships my father went through to get me to where I started. Whenever I asked for pocket money in high school, he never failed to remind me of how, during his days, he was handed pocket money of only 5-shillings for the whole term and had to walk miles from his village in Masiro (don’t ask me where that is, you don’t wanna know) all the way to his high school in Ukwala. If you hail from around Ugenya, you know what am talking about. You can approximate the distance.

 

My old man is a survivor; a fighter.

 

And for that, Mr. Thomas Omondi Were, I celebrate you.

 

Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad!