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Serves Him Right!

Everyone was cheering and laughing at every stop as the van picked everyone up.Walter was making fun of Andrew again, making the slurping sounds that Andrew made as he sipped his coffee. In another corner of the bus Gilder was rapping a Tupac song as Becka beat boxed. The people around her constantly chanting “Go Gil! Go Gil! Go Gil!” Gil was on fire, people were screaming and shouting over each other, the bus driver, one of the flock; constantly being yelled at to change the radio station by another group.

At every stop the bus would go silent for a few seconds, and once everyone in the bus gets a glimpse of the new passenger they would go wild cheering the person’s name and then go back to their corners of entertainment. This went on for two hours as the bus darted from one neighbourhood to the next. Then finally, the bus yelled, “Kenny!!!!!” and it sped off to the destination.

The music, screaming and cheering died down after Kenny had done his rounds of greeting in the bus. He whipped out a set of bandanas from his rucksack and began distributing them in the bus. He yelled, ‘Pamoja!” PAMOJAAAAAA!! The rest of the bus roared. The bus ground to a halt, its doors flung open and everyone alighted. Backpacks full and sticks jutting, faces half covered showing only eyes, the 30 plus individuals descended on the store like a swarm of bees.

Half of the rowdy group walked in and began to break wares, some gently guided people out of the store. Another set ran upstairs to the store control room, firmly guiding the staff out, others stayed outside disabling alarms and CCTV cameras. Customers who were gently guided outside stood and stared as they watched the group run amok in the store breaking anything that could be broken, with hockey sticks, baseball bats from their rucksacks.

They ensured that no one was injured, they screamed hi-fived and one guy cranked up his iPod attached some speakers and let the techno beat blast through the store. The manager watched in horror, dumbfounded and fearful at what had decended his store. A group of five walked out with some spray paints from the shelf and plastered graffiti on the store walls and doors casting darkness inside the store. The one hour ordeal ended, they walked out singng, high fiving, one of the five graffiti artists, left 1,000 shillings on the counter, and waved as if to say, ‘keep the change’. The vandals entered the bus that had been parked outside and drove off.

The manager, slowly stood from his chair, not sure whether the wetness he felt was him peeing on himself or the spill of soda from his counter that he had been sipping when the vandals took over his shop. He walked slowly to the front door, the customers who had watched the whole ordeal began to slowly walk away with sneers on their faces after reading what was graffiti’d on the door.

The manager looked at them with pleading eyes, yelling, “Help! Someone, call the police! Help!” The few customers who still stood there staring at him, sneered, some spat to the ground in disgust and shook their heads walking away. One man yelled, “Why should we help you…You pig!” and spat flinging his hand in the air dismissively.

The manager was in shock. What had just happened? Then he turned and faced his store front. And in shock, the blood drained out of his face, pee streaming down his leg staining his trousers he read, “This man is wanted for Peodophilia, he molested each one of us when we were minors ten years ago.” Next to the wording was an image of a younger man resembling the older man who now buckled under the pressure and fell to the ground. The police came several hours later, to a shocked and distraught smelly man, no one shopped there, ever again!

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Morning Ramblings

It’s early Monday morning, nice and quiet, even the cockerel that crows seems to have snoozed. It is quiet, beautiful, perfect, just perfect for me to get started. But alas, thirty minutes in I have no idea what or how to write. My fingers have been drumming on the keys…gibberish, all gibberish.

What do I write? Gibber jabber, mambo jambo! My cleaning lady is hanging the sheets, I can hear my neighbours irritating children screaming, breakfast must be a hassle again today. There goes the gate again, swinging open, someone’s left the premises. Not much is going on in the neighbourhood, most people have gone to work and school. It is now 8 am, still nothing to write.

And now who is left? The caretakers, one chap who is mentally underdeveloped; calling him retarded is mean, he isn’t. He has the mind of someone with down syndrome. I don’t actually know where he lives, but he is up really early like at 5.30 am, you will find him washing people’s cars. I have never known if people pay him. I feel sorry for him.

When there’s a water shortage, he is the guy who is busy carrying jerrycans up four flights of stairs to people’s houses. I never hear a complaint; he is so kind and innocent. You say hi, he says “Hi” back with a chocolate smile; teeth brown and rich in need of a dentist visit. So kind, so innocent, he never says much after that. He sits around the vendors with grocery kiosks. He just sits in silence and listens to people’s conversations occasionally smiling or laughing, and then takes walks.

I will ask him his name today, for now I will call him Jim. I wonder what runs through Jim’s mind everyday. Why his family never gave him a chance to go to school. Is it he didn’t want to go, or was there just no school that had the capacity to manage his kind of mental functioning? Or his family couldn’t afford it? I wonder.

My cleaning lady just sneezed, I lost my trail of thought. I was listening to radio this morning. Why doesn’t it add much value to my life? A lot of laughter and chatter that seems redundant; you’ll read the same point of view in the paper, hear it on radio and watch it on TV. It is always the same panelist on every medium, who provides nothing but their personal opinion with a lot of ‘hearsay’. And the specialists in the area are nowhere to be seen, unless of course it is political. Politics, boy that is where all the specialists scuttle out of the woodwork like roaches, ready to speak their mind.

At times it bothers me that I can’t always create a story every time I sit down to do so.

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There’s Always a Second Chance

Koros lay on his bike daydreaming, he had been second guessing himself a lot lately. He had moved in to the city hoping to thrive in a place rich with opportunity. His high school education didn’t mean much to many. The big deal was a degree. He knew he didn’t have the money and figured that he could find a way in on a full scholarship at what he considered the fanciest University in Nairobi, USIU. He had heard that it was little America. He wanted to go to America. And he knew he could get a student loan or work part time in school if he gave it a shot.

Koros did give it a shot, he interviewed and passed the entry exam and was ready to pursue his degree in Business. But all that came to a halt when he realized that he could not afford to pay back the student loans that were accumulating. His GPA was above average, but not high enough to get a scholarship.

And just like that at the end of his second year Koros became the guy fighting to drop and pick students on his motorcycle taxi and not the one who hailed them. Koros was ashamed of himself. “When I was at home in Kericho I had more fight in me, what happened? What? Why did I give up so easy, Can’t I find work that I can do part time and make money to pay?  I can, but it is 300,000 now, I can’t afford more debt. But you are Koros, industrious.” Koros would talk to himself every day having that same conversation in his mind.

One day as Koros lay on his bike watching his collegues fight for clientele, he didn’t budge. Not even the annoying swirls and incessant driving up and down other boda boda riders do to kill boredom, nothing. He just stared.

“Sasa! Safari Park Hotel Ngapi?” A passenger inquired disrupting the tumultuous debate in his mind. Koros was startled and grunted. “Huh?” he remarked the passenger inquiring again, he said the amount and cranked his 85 cc engine and they were off. From his rearview mirror Koros saw the passenger was carrying a course text on Management. He recognized it.

“Management I see?” He spoke, his voice dwarfed by the sound of the engine. The passenger didn’t hear him. Instead he tapped him on the back. He had arrived at his destination and hopped off. “Management.” Koros said again this time the passenger heard and froze. He turned back toward Koros.

“What do you know about management?” The passenger asked in condescencion, what would a mere boda boda driver understand about business or finance? Koros smiled.

“More than you can ever know.” The passenger shook his head.

“How’s the strategic business management section treating you?” The passenger laughed.

“No way you know that! Try me,” The passenger taunted.

“Heard of Porter’s generic strategy?” Koros smiled.

“No way you would know that!”

“Try me!” Koros taunted back sarcastically. “Look man! Just because I am one of many people in mundane work doesn’t mean I am dumb and clueless of the higher echelons of knowledge and professions.”

The passenger was quiet and stunned.

“Yes, I speak big words too!” Koros shook his head fed up of being lumped up as a stereotype of the rogue, semi literate, poor and meager earning boda boda guy.

“Ok, you got me, I am sorry for judging you. You work here through and through?”

“Yep!”

“Ok then, see you next week, we might just be able to help each other out.”

And just like that Koros was back, taking back his power and resolve to be the business executive he had always wanted to be.

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Good riddance Daisy

Sam sat in front of his laptop that morning with a throbbing headache. He played with the keypad not quite sure what to do. He looked around at his messy room; unmade bed with torn socks tossed on them, a study table with stacks of CDs on them.

Who the hell is Ghetto Superstar and Papa Bear? Why do I even have those CDs? Sam thought to himself. Book upon book, upon book; the bright red and bold words, “Giving” stopped his eyes from browsing other titles on the table. It was Bill Clinton’s book on changing the world. Sam sneered and laughed hysterically. “Giving indeed!”He muttered under his breath. His thoughts were interrupted by a song. Where was it coming from? It was Coolio, Gangstas paradise.

Sam stared at his screen then suddenly recalled that that was his phone, he quickly flipped his sheets and duvet, looking for his phone; it was a phone call. Too late, the broken arrow sign on his phone, missed call, it was Daisy. He looked and sighed heavily, he was a bit confused. He stared at his screen pulled out a word document then stared at the blinking cursor. He scratched the crack of his elbow with a sad pout wondering, eyes fixed on the wall. His calendar, days crossed out in red. He looked back at his study table and noticed his mug was empty. He stood up and headed to the kitchen for some hot chocolate. He wanted to be soothed today; no more manic alertness from coffee and the tea started tasting bitter. Chocolate it was.

A few minutes later Sam returned with a colossal mug of hot chocolate and a juicy doughnut to wash it down with. He pushed his laptop aside and filled himself with the meal. His phone rang again, it was Daisy again. He ignored it. And began to Google search Clinton, Monica Lewinsky popped up. “A man’s ruin” he muttered under his breath. He sighed out of exasperation. Sam quickly licked his fingers and began to drum at his keyboard like crazy.

It always begins well, and soon it ends, painful, rotten and with a lot of blood… he began to type, his phone beeped, it was a message. He didn’t care to look at who it was from, Sam was busy. Typing away his frustration and echoing his ‘understanding’ of Clinton’s situation, “the affair that the world can never forget”, he muttered under his breath. After thirty minutes of drumming away at his keyboard, he paused, breathing fast and with sweaty palms the cursor now blinked; two full pages and a man about to pass out. He needed to let it out or he would burst.

Sam paused and took several deep breaths to calm himself down, he unclenched his fists and slowly began to take collection of his surroundings. He sipped his cup of hot chocolate and moved to his window. He stood and stared watching children scream from excitement as they played. Random goats pass by as they grazed on the little grass in the neighbourhood. Sam breathed normally again. He stood at that window observing the mundane life which seemed to give him some sense of relief; Life does go on after all he thought to himself.

The sun came up and warmed his face; he closed his eyes and sucked it all in with a smile warm and gentle. Daisy was his past and his future was bright.

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Where am I?

“Amen!” the first thing Sarah said when she awoke confused. She wasn’t quite sure why she said it in the first place. Her mouth was gummy with white fuzz on either end of her mouth. She used her fingers to wipe it off as she sat up on her bed. She looked around, here curtains were open, and it was pouring outside. There was something about that room…it just didn’t feel right.

Sarah slid back into bed and covered her head, “5 more minutes” she muttered. After just three minutes she was startled by a loud persistent ring. She quickly flung off her duvet and sat upright. She looked around, she couldn’t see anyone but she felt watched. By who or what she had no idea.

A door creaked open; Sarah peeped through her open bedroom door and saw the kitchen door was open down the hall from her. She slowly slid off her bed, grabbed her robe hanging on her wardrobe door and flung it on. She tip toed out of her room all the way to the kitchen. She got to the door and peered through it.

“Hi Sarah!” the man said enthusiastically. Sarah instinctively grabbed her robe and tightend it around her waist, touching her self to ensure that he didn’t see any part of her. “Sarah?” the man walked toward her. Sarah stepped back and slammed the kitchen door. “Aw! Watch your step Sarah!” another man let out a yelp hopping on one foot. “You stepped on me.”

“Sorry?” Sarah let out confused, wondering who these men were in her house. She pushed the injured man and walked straight into the living room where an elderly woman was seated watching TV. Her face was forlorn until she laid her eyes on Sarah and they lit up. The woman smiled beckoning Sarah with her soft hands. Sarah shook her head as she backed up out of the living room.

“Awww! Again! Sarah! What is it?”

Sarah looked at him and signaled her apology with her open palms and quickly dashed to her room and slammed the door behind her. She was scared, confused. “Who were these people? What were they doing here? How did they know her? Sarah sat on her bed puzzled and slowly began to take stock of her room.

“Get well soon Sarah!”

“We love you!”

“Can’t wait to go swimming again like we always do.”

Cards, flowers, energy drinks, supplement bottles some empty, some full, some halfway done. “Whose are these?” she asked out loud. She slid off her bed again and opened her wardrobe looking in to the mirror. She startled herself. She recalled weighing in at 100 kilos. Now she looked barely 50 kilos. She was emaciated, all this made her dizzy; she lay down on her bed and closed her eyes and went straight into a deep slumber.

0

BUSted!

The bus was late again. Lucia was livid. She had told her brother time and again to not book Timely Coach. There was nothing timely about it. It was always painfully late. Lucia’s brother preferred it because it was cheap and believed that would suffice when considering a public transportation option.

“No it is NOT Andrew!  See! See! We should have left at 7am it is 11AM! Why in the world do I even bother to ask you to run errands for me? You do what you want anyway!”

As Lucia spat out her disappointment at her brother, the bus pulled in. The awkward shade of aquamarine blue peeling off metal and the image of a happy customer care executive with an ear piece with the tagline “Always on time” inched passed Lucie as she seethed. As the bus passed, she smelled a mixture of sweat and rot. She held her breath and pursed her lips tight, with a frown and shook her head.

She walked to where the bus had parked, Andrew handed her her hand luggage. “Love you, travel safe, sorry and let me know when you get there.” Andrew said as he peeled himself off of a now emotional Lucia. Despite being pissed off by him, Lucia still loved her brother. She waved as Andrew steadiy walked toward his car.

Lucia’s mushiness soon faded as she walked toward the entrance of the bus seething, she wanted to know who was in charge and give him a piece of her mind. “What do you mean we couldn’t help it! “ Lucia began. “Your buses are ALWAYS LATE!” The bus conductor she was directing her anger to, didn’t even seem to pay her any mind. The driver was hovering back and forth not sure what to do. The irrate crowd of passengers was now building and the two seemed a bit more agitated. The stench that Lucia had smelled when the bus wheeled in seemed to be a bit more concentrated.

The driver quickly moved to one of the lower boots of the bus and pried it open. The protest quickly ended in coughs, spits and violent screaming.  The stench of rot, a swarm of flies buzzed violently on flesh, you could barely see what the flies lay on. Then a limp hand fell out of the boot. The conductor threw up and ran to the offices about 200 metres away.

The manager emerged bug eyed and completely speechless. But seemed aware of what was transpiring. The driver called out for help the crowd jolted back. The inflated corpse was discoloured, fly infested and saturating the air in the vicinity. Passengers anticipating travel including Lucia began to run for their lives but only after they whipped out their phones taking pictures. Lucia quickly tagged her image “Death Coach” and posted it on Twitter.

It took the press 15 minutes and the cops another hour and a half to arrive at Timely Coach’s headquarters. The corpse had been placed into a hearse and rushed to City Mortuary and the bus driver was bleeding profusely, he had been pelted with gravel and had some rocks hurled at him for killing. Now he lay there staring death in the face.

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My Hero!

I could barely eat my lunch; I was so excited I would finally see Dad, Muli, Mutua and Kanini. I had missed everyone so much. It had only been six weeks since school resumed. But the ‘hole’ I schooled in, made everything seem like light years away.

I stood at the school gate in the sea of blue uniforms craning my neck as I watched families stream in. And then, there he was in his signature brown suede jacket which lately had started to loosen on him. His shoulder blades sharper and his countenance worn, I was overjoyed to see him.

“Dad!” He turned and smiled, my hero! And not far behind carrying the picnic baskets was Muli and Mutua. I jumped and gave them big hugs. I felt safe and sane. Kanini smothered my cheek with a kiss and smiled cheekily as she always did. I began to tear from joy. It swept through me. The last six weeks had been hell. C.A.Ts and punishments for questioning authority, who had now decided to scrap sports and turn school, which I already loathed, into an academic prison. My stress outlet was stripped from me.

It was so refresing having people that I love with me in this hell hole. We finally got a spot to picnic. I pulled out my leso and laid it on the ground. Kanini also pulled out hers so there was plenty of cosy ground for all of us. We kicked off our shoes, I sat close to Dad; my hero. He asked me how school was, I lied, “Fine. I got an ‘A’ in my last CAT.” I said looking at him for approval.

Dad smiled, and I noticed something off about his countenance. His face was more worn than I last saw him. His skin was pale. And his lips were crooked. A tear streamed down my cheek and I quickly turned.  I didn’t want Dad to see me cry, Mutua noticed and he cracked a joke, we all laughed. He was good at making us all laugh.

I looked at Muli and he nodded, he knew what I was asking him when I looked in his direction distressed. “Dad has been sick again? Is it worse?” It was all I ever asked in every letter that I wrote. Dad coughed hard and prolonged, there was this whistling sound with every cough. Tears streamed down my face. Muli tried to distract the now somber mood. “Let’s go and wash our hands, Mueni, please show us where, we seem to keep forgetting.” Muli held my hand and we walked about 15 steps away to the tap in plain site.

“Mueni, don’t worry,” Muli began as he turned on the tap to wash his hands. “He will get better.”

“But his lips are crooked, he is getting skinnier…”

“Dad’s a fighter he will make it. You just focus on school and look for the best in every situation.”

I opened my mouth to say something, Muli shook his head to stop me from uttering anything. I felt someone come from up behind and whisk me in the air. It tickled. I laughed, it was Dad. I hugged him and held on.

“It will all be fine like it was before Mueni!” He whispered in my ear. Tears streaming down my face.