I’m slowly beginning to realize that only the little things matter in life.
On Thursday last week, I walked out of the office circa 7 p.m. I was tired and broke, with a bag carrying an extra set of clothes huddled to my back. All I wanted was to grab a beer and get some sleep. But my Dad’s first anniversary was the following morning, so I took out the very last 1000-bob note I had in my pockets, hopped onto a bus that stank of piss and headed home.
I slept the entire journey; not once getting off that bus to pee, take a shit, or grab a snack because I was afraid the bus might leave without me and, because I didn’t have any money left, I would remain stranded in that town and turn into a glue-sniffing street kid or a security guard at some Sacco offices or one of these chaps that come to you as you’re trying to reverse your car from the parking lot and pretend to be telling you how and where to move just so you can leave them with some 20 bob as you drive away.
I arrived home at 6 a.m., Friday morning, and found my mum, brother and sisters preparing for church. So I dropped my bag and joined them. And for the first time in a long period, that morning, I realized how out of touch with the church I had become. I didn’t know the words to any song or prayer; hell, I didn’t know when I was supposed to kneel or stand or clap. Nevertheless, that service was dedicated to my father’s soul; so we sang whatever we could and prayed along to whatever sermons we had mastered and knelt and stood and knelt and stood some more and shook hands with the rest of the congregation and paid tithe and knelt again. And it was beautiful and quick; 45 minutes, in and out.
Then we drove down to the village that afternoon and went to my father’s grave and my mother led us in a million songs only she knew the words to so we just hummed along and she didn’t mind because, at that moment; she wasn’t our mother anymore; she was his wife. She was a wife singing for (and to) her dead husband. She was a woman reminiscing on the decades of beautiful life she had spent with a man who could now neither hear, speak, nor touch her. She was a woman struggling with finding her footing after losing the first man she ever loved, dated, and later got married to.
And we understood. So we hummed along as she kept singing. And, when she was ready, she stopped. And she led us in prayer, then we cleaned the grave and put flowers on it and hoped he was doing fine up there. And then we went into the house and had fish for lunch because we believe that was what he would have wanted us to have; not chapati, not omena, not beef…fish. Because he loved fish. I stayed alone with that man for about a year after finishing high school and he would let me cook anything but on the days he came home with fish, he would tell me to go watch the T.V and he would take his sweet time cooking that fish to perfection. Then he would serve us both and, when he was done eating, his plate would be so clean you wouldn’t need to wash it. Which is why I knew his illness was serious when he asked me to buy him fish one evening and, after making it, never touched his piece.
Throughout that entire period, it was just us; my mother, brother, three sisters and my mother (occasionally, my cousin too.) We slept in bug infested mattresses and blankets, under a roof that leaked at some parts when it rained. We were all broke; one of us had just lost their job, the other had just received their first pay but had to use that money to pay for some exam in school, another was yet to pay their rent and was busy playing cat-and-mouse games with the caretaker (leaving the house at 5 a.m. and coming back at 11 p.m.)… between just us siblings, we had a solid Ksh. 50 bob. But we were happy. We were a bunch of broke ass happy souls. We ‘beat’ stories and cracked jokes and watched Afrosinema from a 14-inch screen and ate chicken and fish and laughed.
I loved that trip. Because I was with just the people that matter. Your father dies and the world calls to tell you, “Stay strong, it will be well.” A year down the line and nobody remembers anymore. They call you on his anniversary, because it is a Friday, to ask whether you’ll be buying drinks and you say, “I don’t have money. I’m also at home.” Why? They ask. “It’s my father’s anniversary.” And then the next thing is, “Ooh, Sawa. Niambie ukirudi.” And then a beep. And it’s okay, because some of them don’t matter; it’s the ones that pray with you at the grave that do.
And, so, as I turn a year older today, I’m starting to appreciate the little things more. I love how the sun shines on my face; I love how traffic weaves along Thika Road in the evenings; I love how Tdat says “Kaasabun” in all his songs; I love the ‘Samsung’ ring around the top of KICC; I love Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish movies, and I love a cold bottle of Coke.
Here are 23 other useless little things that have come with my age;
1. I have reduced my drinking. Not stopped, just cut down kidogo. I’m gaining the courage to say ‘No’ to people who call me out for drinks on odd days. Because, in as much as I love me some (good) whiskey, I have realized I can no longer drink from Monday to Monday. Not because I can’t, but because I just don’t feel like it anymore.
2. My Father died a week to my birthday. That did it for me as far as throwing birthday parties go. So, if you were planning to call me about a cake; don’t. I won’t buy no cake. I won’t buy no booze. However, it falls on my day off so if I do go out, it will be just a normal night out, nothing to do with a birthday. Maybe someday when I have finally moved on I’ll have the courage to throw one. But not today. Just not today. Not Yet, at least.
3. I’m also discovering I actually love walking long distances. I walk from work almost every day. I breathe in the fresh air and admire women I will never get driving cars I will never drive. It’s a thrill, really. Somebody also told me it’s good for the heart.
4. I gave another shot to burgers and pizza the other day; they still don’t taste right in my mouth. Chapo-Madondo are still the shit.
5. Khaligraph Jones may just be the best rapper Kenya will ever have. But King Kaka is still the Best Artist to ever do it (Yes, there’s a difference.) Timmy Tdat is also a legend, don’t argue with me. .
6. Miguna Miguna, the most famous man in the country at the moment, has singlehandedly kept the biggest airport in the country at its feet for three whole days. That tough-headed Son of Nyando will go down in history books as one of the greatest activists of our time. Nobody can take that away from him.
7. I have dreamt about winning the Sportpesa Jackpot three times now. I already know what car I would buy and how I would distribute the money amongst relatives. Yet I don’t even bet. Perhaps that’s a sign that I should start, No?
8. Everybody seems to be flocking there these days, but I think Blend Bar, along Mombasa Road is overrated.
9. Don’t ever spend your money on people – especially women – who don’t spend theirs on you.
10. For the first time ever, I boarded a Thika-bound matatu and the driver (a Kikuyu) played Musa Jakadala the entire way. I gave him a 100-bob note as I alighted and asked the Lord to bless his soul.
11. I’m not a morning person, but ever since I got this 8-5 that kind of pays the bills, I have found myself waking up at 4 a.m. many a time. I don’t like waking up at that hour, but I think it has instilled some kidogo sense of discipline in me that I wouldn’t have acquired otherwise.
12. By whatever means, I don’t care how, I have to be driving by end next year. I don’t care if it’s Uber Chap Chap or kuendesha chooni.
13. A friend of mine called me out for a drink a while back. We downed a whole bottle of whiskey before some mamis joined us. He went home with one, and I was tasked with ensuring the other got home safely. My phone had gone off, and I had just about 100 bob in my pockets.
So I tapped my boy and he handed me some loose 300 bob as he got into an Uber. Now, I normally don’t have any cab service on my phone but, even if I did, I couldn’t hail one because my phone was off. And I didn’t bother to ask if the other mami had Uber because I would still not have been able to pay for it with my phone off. So I did what any other man would do, I told the mami we were going to board a matatu; straight up. Midway, she asked for Chips and Chicken and I had to buy that shit for a mami I wasn’t even going to bang, at 3 a.m. in the bloody morning. Which meant I now remained with just 150 bob. Fare for two came to about 140 bob. The matatu took a while to fill up, during which time she was pestering me to call an Uber. “How, you have the app stashed somewhere in that huge butt of yours?” is what I really wanted to ask. Instead, I said, “But I have already paid.” “It’s just 140 bob,” she responded. I even called her after she had arrived at her destination to ask if she was Okay. Yet I hear she is now grumbling and saying things about me. There are some good women in this world; and then there are those that would just have been turned into newspapers at birth tutumie kufunga nyama na kuwasha jiko.
14. I pride myself in having an ear for talent, and I’ve listened to some amazing artists during my time. And then I went to a friend, Brian Oguna’s house in Embakasi a couple weeks back and, as we drank whiskey, an upcoming artist walked in and played us a few songs from his soon-to-be released album. His name is Bassil Vishindo and, I guarantee you, by the time you guys will be hearing of this kid it will be too late. Sample his first track HERE.
15. There is an old muscled chap in Drake’s ‘God’s Plan’ video that says, “I ain’t got nothing, but I look good, it’s the good life.” That chap is my hero from now henceforth.
16. No, seriously, someone should kick Octopizzo out of the studio already.
17. I just got a text from Blaze saying “Hi, Ian. WHOOP WHOOP, It’s your birthday today…” yada yada yada. I mean, “WHOOP WHOOP?” What year is it, 1960?
18. Here’s to two decades of eating Chapos. The amount of Chapos in my stomach right now and that that I have released over the years could probably buy me a piece of land.
19. I need to switch banks, KCB keeps stealing from me and they think I don’t notice. Any recommendations?
20. I still haven’t watched Black Panther. Or Game of Thrones. But I’m breathing just fine. How about you? Now that you have watched them both. Does T’challa file your tax returns for you?
21. Lang’ata has some of the cheapest bars. They also have some of the hungriest cops. I was literally arrested for just walking across the street at midnight, in the name of “Nyinyi ndio mafisi wa hapa Lang’ata sindio?” T.F does that even mean?
22. To those men who go to fast food joints and buy chips with just one of those tiny packets of tomato sauce, the Lord is also watching. There won’t be space for you in Noah’s Ark should these floods persist.
23. Gifts acceptable are only in form of Mpesa or aged whiskey. Thank You.