0

Huge Mess

Drum rolls rang in the arena; there was an expectant silence in the darkness only slightly illuminated by the spotlight in the centre of the arena. The juggling monkeys had already dazzled the crowd and the vegetarian Hyena, Ella was up next with the usual colossal act; balancing on a beach ball while rolling across the arena.

“How unoriginal! Is this really all circus folk can come up with?”

“Shhhhhh Ella!” The serpent interjected. “Just do what you are here for; you’ll get the master angry.”

“Angry?” She trumpeted. “I’ll show you angry”

Ella emerged on twos, the crowd gasped. Ella began to dribble the beach ball like a basketball player. The crowd cheered, it was extraordinary. The Ringmaster cracked his whip, Ella trumpeted so loud the man seated in the front row lost his toupee. The crowd went wild. They loved it. Ella gave the master an evil look and trumpeted in his direction for a prolonged period of time. The snake slithered in to the arena and wrapped itself around the elephant’s trunk. Ella’s trumpeting ended abruptly making a loud fart sound, the crowd cheered and laughed.

Lizzy the Tigress emerged and roared in her yawn, she had missed her act. “Cat nap? You’re one with the nerve to show up now aren’t you?” Ella reprimanded her while shaking off the snake. She ate peanuts tossed at her by the amused crowd. She thanked them aloud only sounding like rhythmic trumpeting.

The Ostrich emerged from knitting her offspring’s ugly woolen cardigans. “Would you girls turn it down?” Ella trumpeted loud and prolonged to get back at the Ostrich. In the mean time, playful and full, Lizzy, began to roll on the dirt like a bowling pin, Ella lifted her feet to avoid the tigress. It turned into an act, the humans roared in laughter. Lizzy was trying to cure an itch, Ella was avoiding her, but it looked like the famous feline bowling pin move. The crowd loved it.

The monkeys who had flung poo and smeared his face with it had shut the ringmaster in the corner closet. The crowd was writhing in their chairs, tummies clasped in full amusement. The show couldn’t get any better. Lizzy burped and jolted to all fours, Ella started chasing her round the ring to get at her. “Just dreadful! What did you eat today Lizzy, a whole Gazelle? It stinks.”

“No, I was fed with some human supplements of some other carcass; it doesn’t sit well with me.” Lizzy responded very casually after a huge mushroom cloud of flatulence rendered the crowd in chokes and tears.

It was roaring and head nodding, trumpeting, and trunk swinging as Ella chased Lizzy around the ring. An apple smacked Ella in the face.

“Oi! Who was that?” She trumpeted and looked in to the crowd; the room was bursting in laughter. She began to inch forward in the direction of the projectile. The inch slowly built momentum and soon she was stampeding toward her target whose smile slowly turned into a countenance of worry. Ella had had it with the Circus and today she was determined to leave it.

0

Shaka Zulu, Sky Diving and Other Exciting Things

It was wild cheers and laughter after Asumpta blew out the candles. She was 21 years old and out to conquer the world. She had been waiting to turn 21 for the past three years. She felt like she was now a woman. She was in her final year at campus majoring in nothing particular, it was a cocktail of interests she patched together to form a degree. Asumpta was all about exploring and trying out new things.

Her mum had promised her that when she turned 21 she would finally be able to go skydiving. Asumpta could not wait. Mum had bought the tickets and they would be off in a month’s time once the semester had drawn to a close. Asumpta was beside herself. She had bungee-jumped, hiked up Mt. Kilimanjaro, abseiling, kite surfing; she needed to try something new, something to give her a new rush.

Asumpta was always a precocious child; asking the unusual questions in class. Shaka Zulu obsessed her for one reason or the other. She had planned to go to Southern Tanzania where the kingdom had once extended to during his reign. She had heard that there were some Tanzanians with Zulu names and she wanted to see them for herself, live in those rural areas and find out what they knew before she left for Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa.

“The home of the Zulus”, Asumpta said to herself as she lay in her bed that evening, she had an impish smile on her face as she repeated it. There was a knock on the door. Asumpta’s daydream was cut short.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Mummy!”

Asumpta hopped out of bed and unlocked her bedroom door.

“Can I come in?”

“Muuuum!”

“You are a woman know, you need your privacy I need to ask.” She laughed Asumpta rolled her eyes.

“Yeah! Right! Not until I move out will you really give me the privacy I need. What’s up Mama?”

“I just got off the phone with your Aunt Miriam. She is coming over next week. She says she has something she wants to share with you. She didn’t tell me on the phone, she says it was too important to be relayed on phone.” Mum shrugged her shoulders, kissed Asumpta on the forehead and bid her good night once again, closing the door behind her.

Asumpta tossed and turned all evening wondering what it was about. The last conversation she recalled having with her Aunt was about going on a trip round the world, with focus on specific historically relevant locations up North in Lake Turkana, to South Africa, Turkey, Rome, Athens, and if things calmed down; Egypt for starters. Aunt Miriam had promised to match her savings and top up on the deficit for the trip. Could that be it?

But then again Aunt Miriam had also mentioned something about womanhood, traditions and customs, blah! Blah! Blah! Asumpta ignored it and pushed the conversation to her tour of the world.

0

Loyalty to Self

They were both wet and drenched rolling around on the mat, it was over. Their sight was blurred, they panted heavily, Andrew was on top, pinning Billy to the mat. Billy had this pleading in his eyes, Andrew was stern and shook his head, it was over; he got what he wanted.

“Eight! Nine! Ten!” The referee counted, Billy let go and thrust his head on the mat, it was over! Andrew stood up arms raised in victory, with the referee’s assistance to show the world who was the Champion! The crowd went wild, Billy crawled to his corner of the ring, face forlorn, ignoring all the flashing cameras in his face. He was lost in time.

Just five years ago, Billy and Andrew were the newbies, no one had heard of them or where they were from, Bureti! Where in the world was Bureti. They weren’t black folk, some thought, so there was no way that they had come from Africa. So where was this Boo-ree-tie? The duo didn’t bother much with other people’s opinion of them, so their lives did go on as usual. They got a local gym affiliate to the wrestling federation and they spent the next two years training.

These two wanted to be the next “Bush Wackers”, with their own flair. They had idolized “The Hulk”, Bret Hart, The British Bull Dog, Gold Dust; they had watched all the WWF matches and tournaments that they could get their hands on. They had one day hoped to take “The Undertaker” head on. But it was way past their time, most of that lot had either died or retired.

At the beginning of the third year they signed up for a junior tournament in the wrestling league to give it a shot. They first tried as solo acts; the names they chose were catastrophic, ‘He’ and ‘Man’, no wondering where those names came from. So there they were Billy went in first as ‘He’, he didn’t last more than 5 minutes. Andrew wasn’t the “Man” either, he lasted a total 7 minutes and 30 seconds and they were counted out. From them on, they chose to train as a tag team. And for the next two years success was their new name, tournament after tournament, trophy after trophy the duo walked away victorious. The big leagues came calling and soon they were walking in the arena where the kingpins of wrestling where. They had finally made it. But there was a catch, just as they started in the minor league, so had they to start in the major leagues, as solo acts. Andrew became, “Drew the Screw” and Billy, unshockingly became “Billy the Kid”.

What they failed to realize was that only one of them had a chance in, they trained for the next two weeks, first together and then separately after much compulsion from the Wrestling Federation. On the night of the match as they spoke in the locker room wondering who their opponent was. The big reveal was made; they were to fight each other for the right to enter the big leagues. Whoever lost would get a second chance, but to fight it out with another newbie in a month’s time.

The two were stunned, they both wanted to join the big leagues desperately. The initial agreement was that they would draw, but that changed when they both walked into that ring and heard the crowds chant their names. They didn’t just want it anymore they both needed it!

0

Brushing Away Trouble

Panic and pandemonium, as always Jane had taken so much more than she could handle. And she constantly found herself in the same mess, doing so much and getting money from very little of her endless efforts.

There was a knock on the door it was the fifth, it was the landlord; she was screwed, just months before they threatened to auction her. She had to haggle to get money from her siblings. “Why don’t you just get a job Jane? Like the rest of us?” Jane always prepared herself from the perpetual lectures. It had been a year since she quit her job. She couldn’t stand office administration any more, it was 2014, and no one wanted an assistant who had a diploma in secretarial studies. Jane had taken this job back in the 90’s when it was respectable. And because her mum convinced her it was the most lucrative and promising.

Not quite, getting a job was hard enough and when she got it, the pay was peanuts, mind numbing; droning. It wasn’t fun at all. The first three months after Jane quit she started some academic writing online, a part of her found it unethical doing other people’s homework. But she also saw it as a win-win; it was like going to school only that she got paid for it. She got to study a lot and vicariously get the degree she always wanted.

The academic writing soon bored her and she needed something to do. So she shifted to writing SEO articles. She was able to comfortably get a lot of work done but the most she made in the month was 500 dollars, it was a lot of work, but for some reason the pay was pathetic. She wasn’t comfortable with more advanced writing, so she opted to offer typing services to campus students in her neighbourhood.

And eventually opened a cyber café which was down and out in three months flat, business wasn’t really what she was cut out for, or so she believed. But here she was still trying to stick to what she knew, pushing paper for people. Jane was an artist; the potential of Picasso and Da Vinci, but she was afraid of getting started.

“Who would buy it anyway? Who cares for art? You know black folk and art!” She was replaying all the vitriol and dismissal from her family that caused her hurt over the years. But now she had a landlord banging on the door needing two months worth of rent. What was she going to do? She had sold her fridge, TV and what was left was her cheap DVD player. She had to do something fast or spend time job hunting with her outdated certificates.

 

Jane went to the door and gave the landlord a deal he could not refuse. “I will bring them over!”It was a Sunday afternoon. 30 minutes later the Landlord came back cleaned up with his polished family. Jane ushered them in, made small talk to help them relax and whipped out her canvas, oil paints and began to paint.

This family portrait was sure to keep the man off her back for a few months.

0

Tired

“You’re faaat!” My niece uttered those words with a look of disgust. A lot went through my mind. I froze; I wasn’t quite sure what to do. Beating her would be wrong, she expressed a clear observation. But I felt very insulted. My mind zoomed back to the playground several decades earlier with kids and my elder sister teasing me about my weight. It was such an awful feeling. I looked at her and just laughed, I tried to make it as genuinely as possible.

My cousin, gently reprimanded her daughter, “It is not nice to call people names.” Yes, that is true but the child was making an honest observation. I was gutted; I know this would have been an opportune moment to educate my niece on the fact that God made us all in all shapes and sizes. Ideally that is what I would have done, but I realized that I have never really gotten over being called names as a child, and making peace with the fact that I won’t be a size zero.

But, I shouldn’t apologize for who I am. It is this cyclic process, of loving and hating me. I love my face, but I hate my body. I know I should change what I don’t like. But…I know, I have no excuse and I shouldn’t even be rambling on about it…man that hurt! Especially when she looked at me with so much disgust….

The last time I started running in the neighbourhood, the idiots on the road side would taunt me, “Yeah! Burn down that fat, burn those chips!” Others yelling at me to speed up my pace, “That isn’t running, run faster.” So much unsolicited information, it is so offensive. Aargh! It is just so exhausting. All this is making me hungry. I am so exhausted in being forced to fit a certain mould and feel like I am never enough. I have to be thinner or whatever…I know it is important to be healthy, I am just tired of people…

I find myself trying to feel better by comparing myself with people who are fatter than me. I feel better about myself, I know that is a rotten way of looking at yourself, that is still defining myself through other people’s eyes. It is just hard shaking off an entire lifetime of being made fun of for what you look like.

0

Virgins of the Basilica

“Honey!”

“Honey!”

“Honey!”

The voices chorused from the church courtyard, thin, tall, fat, short, bearded, clean shaven, polka dots, stripes, the “Virgins” called their bridegrooms to ravage them till the kiss of the aurora. It was 9pm, the heels were ferocious and legs firm bearing magnanimous torsos crowned with clown like countenances. Puckered lips exaggerated make up, Nike sponsored eyebrows and wigs; platinum blonde, blue, black, golden; balancing precariously on scalps. They looked like resting flags after a violent wind.

Cars sped by one after the other! No one pulled over outside the Basilica to experience the self confessed human embodiment of Love, Joy, Peace and Kindness. This quartet was always out to please. But tonight wasn’t going as planned. Normally from 9pm the sleek tinted European cars would have got their share of Love and Kindness with the latter group choosing some Joy and Peace later in the night after a stressful day.

“Where is Freddy tonight?” Love yelled out. The other girls looked at her; Peace had a smirk on her face.

“What Peace? You want a piece of me? Huh? Stop looking at me like that?”

Peace shook her head and stepped a few inches to the left, her dress was longer than normal for some reason today. Love took a go at her on it!

“What you hiding anyway today? It’s not like the church mice haven’t seen it already?”

Joy and Kindness smelled trouble brewing and walked to the furthest end of the street; right at the end of the turf. They learnt the lesson the last time, when Love disturbed Peace no referee or episode of Jerry Springer would contain that showdown. They both had scarring from previous fights.

“Just leave me alone Love, just let me be, please, I am not interested in picking a fight with you.”

“Too late, you did that when you looked at me!” Love barked back.

Peace’s countenance was downcast, she was so tired. Bright headlights shone, they all moved toward it. Peace was closest after a few steps just as she peeped through the window. She yelled, “Run! Run! Run!”

The man in the passenger’s seat grabbed her arm. The other girls had skillfully kicked off their heels in mid flight caught them in hand and were off to the “finish line” for safety. Peace was grabbed by her wrist which was aptly twisted and then griped like a vice. She couldn’t break loose. The man whipped out a gun opening his car door and he directed her to enter the back seat.

“G…” Peace’s head was smacked on to the car door and her head wacked with the magazine of the gun she began to bleed, she crawled into the backseat. The man crawled in right behind her with a gun. As he looked out for witnesses, Peace quickly exited from the other passenger door, heels in hand and ran for her life. The car sped off. Peace ran for another 10 minus looking back periodically to see that she wasn’t being chased. She got to the nearest clinic, to get checked.

She was lucky it was Dr. Chebet. Peace had gone to University with her. She dropped out of her Chemistry major because her parents found out she was pregnant. It was Chebet who kept checking in on her from time to time. Chebet had at one point housed Peace.

“It’s been 10 years Peace…get out! We’ve had this conversation and this drama over again. Don’t tell me, George showed up again tonight right? What did he want this time? No don’t tell me! You didn’t get time to find out right?”
“Please take me home with you tonight…I just can’t live this lie anymore Chebs. I can’t. I want it all to end and I want it to end today. Now that you are the one calling me out on what I should change; when are you going to tell Tony?”

“I am not going to tell him?”

“And how exactly do you expect me to deal with George then?”

“Get off the streets! You owe him nothing anymore. Your debt is paid. You didn’t have a child together. It’s over. You are even now…almost, he got what he wanted, you gave him what he needed and you are alive, ruined, but alive. That counts for something right?”

“You gave his baby away Chebs? You lied you miscarried. At least I actually miscarried and discovered the man I loved was a pimp and I had to whore to make it up to him. Now that I say it out loud I don’t get why I do this crap…Ouch! Be careful with that!”

Chebs finished suturing Peace’s scalp. She dressed the wound and the two of them sat there. Silent. Gazing in to the abyss of their lives, they needed each other to get out of the lies they had built for a decade.

0

Avenge Wairimu

Mutua brandished the gun he had, “Drop it, or I’ll do it.” His eyes focused on the man tossing his brother, Komen, around. They had been on this street before, at the same time, nothing much had changed. It was still not safe to walk around at 6.30 in the evening, streetlights were on. The assailants were the same, cops supposedly patrolled the area, but conveniently after the muggings between 6.30 and 8 pm when people got home from work and school.

Just two months ago, Makau had lost his kid sister, Wairimu, she was only 7 years old. She had dashed to the kiosk to get some sweets she was craving. She had hoped that no one would notice her gone. Only to never return; Wairimu was found raped, and slit on the throat. She was 7 years old she did not deserve that. The worst they should have done, if they had to steal from a child, was to steal her two shillings and send her on her way.

Her brothers found her lying right in the open sprawled by the entrance of a shopping complex.  Makau and Komen where mugged at the same spot they found their sister. His cell phone and Komen’s, sneakers were taken as well as the shopping they had been sent to get by their mum. They were beaten black and blue after the incident. The family was so distraught. They reported the matter to the police a stone throw away from the murder scene. The police didn’t care, they never cared.

“Kijana! Hiyo ni hali ya maisha,” the policeman at the reception told him while going through the Occurrence Book (OB) at the police station.

“Tunawajua.” Another policeman yelled from behind his colleague leaning on the OB book at the reception desk. Then if they knew who the thugs where, why didn’t they arrest them? These men, who couldn’t be much older than Makau, were committing numerous felonies and getting away with them scot free.

A phone rang; Makau reached for his pocket then recalled that his phone was stolen. He looked up and saw another policeman with the same phone he had, but he couldn’t be sure it was his. Makau began to seethe in anger. Why wasn’t anyone paying attention? Why couldn’t these police realize that his name did appear on their OB book when he reported the murder of his beautiful innocent sister? What was wrong with them?

Makau had since decided to take justice into his own hands, his parents both old and frail were paralysed by the loss and tragedy. They spent most waking days shuttling between the bathroom and the couch in the living room, looking at photo albums of the “good old days.” They never spoke openly about the incident to their children and now Makau their eldest had had enough. He needed to protect himself and his family. He remembered in his class, one of his classmates had a parent who was a police reservist and could help him get a gun illegally.

Now here he was, been taught the basics of how to use the revolver and wasn’t about to let his brother down again. Komen had passed urine and was paralysed by fear. Komen’s eyes pleaded with Makau not to do anything stupid. The assailant laughed Makau off. A loud cracking sound rent the air, and Komen ran screaming all the way home, 10 minutes away, with human brain matter splattered all over him… the assailant fell to the ground, Makau stood over him.

Sirens were heard from a distance. Makau stood there with the gun smoking and dropped by his side. Arms hanging limb by his side, he watched the dead assailant with mixed feelings of fear, fulfillment, justice , guilt and worry. The police whisked him away from the scene and cuffed him.

“Twende Kijana!” The police officer told him. He was frog marched to the same police station he had been weeks before. It was 7pm.