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Saved by the Diaper

Otieno was bored at home. He sat at the edge of the bed legs dangling occasionally kicking back and forth. He wasn’t the only one; his four siblings were equally bored. They had played for hours in the house and they had had their fill. It was a hot summer’s afternoon and they needed to explore. Mum and Dad were out at work and Dina the eldest thought it would be a great idea to finally leave and play some new games.

“Put on your shoes, we are leaving!” Dina called out. All smiles and excited they rushed to put on their shoes as Dina opened the door to guide everyone out. Akoth, raised her concern.

“What if Mum and Dad find out?”

“They won’t we will be back before they get back from work. And they don’t mind, we are all together, Eddy and I will be here with you.” Dina reassured everyone.

“Stop calling me Eddy, I am Achieng!”Achieng called out.

“Eddy suits you better with all the pants you like wearing all the time. Achieng would suit you if you were more girly,” Dina retorted snidely. A fight ensued, as always, Akoth, Otieno and Odhis all looked on, as their two elder sisters fought it out.

Odhis got tired and began to walk to the door, his little legs were dwarfed by the protruding diaper. Otieno laughed pointing at Odhis, “Time to change him Eddy!”

Whack! Tears! Laughter. “You didn’t see that one coming did you O-TI-EN-O?” Achieng got back at Otieno as Akoth laughed and Odhis slipped and fell on his full diaper in laughter.

“I am not changing him now. You do it!” Dina barked at Otieno who was no sulking. They all went back in to the house as they waited for Otieno to finish changing his three year old brother. Akoth felt sorry for Otieno and joined him upstairs to help him clean up after changing Odhis. It wasn’t easy, Odhis was a runner. Immediatley he was freed of his smelly burden and wiped, he would make a ritualistic run before a fresh diaper was placed. Otieno was so exhausted and fought back tears.

Akoth cried out of pity for Otieno. Odhis laughed and run like Speedy Gonzlez darting from room to room before he was pinned down. After that charade everyone was now slightly put off going anywhere. Dina and Achieng went into the kitchen and made sandwiches with juice for everyone to snack on.

Just as they sat and turned on the TV to watch cartoons, Mum walked in through the door. They all looked at her, then looked at Akoth.
“I told you we would have been busted, if we would have left!” she smiled and everyone went about finishing their snack as Mum smothered everyone with a kiss. Only if she knew.

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Kill the Competition!

“Maliiiiii!” Njoroge called out on that gloomy Tuesday morning! Maaallliii!” he got more aggressive projecting his voice, someone had to hear him today. Day after day, neighbourood after neighbourhood, no one had any goods to trade. Busines shad slowed down, people weren’t trading their goods anymore, primarily because people had nothing to give out.

“MAliiii” Njoroge went on. Now slightly angered by what was beginning to look like another unfruitful day. The plastic water jerrican and gaudy orange plastic wares he was hoping to trade now seemed to overwhelm him in weight. He yelled once again with all his might “Maaaalliiii” and fell to the ground in a pile. He sat on the soil and played with it muttering to himself.

Njoroge had been in this business of barter trading for a decade, and over the years he began to see a steady decline. He was also aware that the quality of plastics he traded was generally inferior and that was also another reason why people didn’t trade much anymore. Then what other alternative did he have for income? The clothes and old shoes and electronics he got he would trade as scrap to indutrsy who would pay him. He had’t received money worth his while in months, 4 months two weeks. Njoroge was desperate.

As Njoroge sat on the soil by a concerete apartment wall, Njoroge heard a turn of a key and was engulfed by the musky scent of cologne. A man no older than 25 yers old emerged in a form fiting shirt and ripped jeans with headphones on. Njoroge sighed as he watched the young man walk away barely noticing him. He heard another gate open as people emerged to go about their business.

This went on for an hour, the weather slowly began to warm up and Njoroge began to feel hungry, the wafting scent of different foods being prepared for lunch got his stomach grumbling. Njoroge had no money in his pocket. Today was his only chance to get a meal to feed himself.

“Mali!” “Mali!” It was the competition inching near, Njoroge stood up and dusted himself, there was no way that someone else would take his chance of earning away from him today! “Maaaallliii!” Njoroge yelled.

“Mali!” The other barter trader responded.

“Maaaaaliiiii” Njoroge roared. That was followed by a loud grumble in his tummy that Njoroge tried to hold back by clasping his tummy.

“Mali!” The other trader responded and in a flash of a moment they stood face to face. Njoroge stared at the man straight in the eye seething, no one was going to take what was rightfully his. The other chap gave Njoroge a rather soft look of concern.

“Njoro! Ni mimi, Macha?” the man said.

“Macha?”  Njoroge was so confused who was this who seemed to know him.

“Macharia wa Maina?”  The man responded.

Njoroge’s stare warmed and his countenance fell, it counldn’t be. It couldn’t be, Njoroge saw this man die in his arms. It couldn’t be.

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When its over…

The doctor kept tapping on his wire rimmed glasses repeatedly as if to emphasize a point. Onditi was uncomfortable. He had been lying on his back, legs spread and his family jewels exposed from under the thin hospital garment. The doctor stood infront of him looking at his genitalia.

“Not good!” the doctor said after nearly 30 minutes of staring. Onditi slowly inched his thighs together, he was done, or so he thought.

“Don’t close, not good.” The doctor began to examine him squeezing every part of his lower torso with extra emphasis on his scrotum. “Lump! Lump!”the doctor exclaimed as if in terror. Onditi was in utter regret as to why he visited this dotor. He had been warned that the man was “weird and alarmist”. But Onditi had no other choice; he had seen other doctors and received the same diagnosis, Prostrate cancer.

Onditi wasn’t willing to hear it from this man either, but after four doctors, who had no relation to each other, Onditi new he couldn’t walk away from the reality of his condition anymore. “You are free to go now, wish you well; I hope you don’t die soon.”The doctor seemed incapable of sensitivity.

“Bastard!” Onditi muttered under his breath as he gave a very worn smile. “I should have stopped at three.” He thought to himself. Hearing the same diagnosis from four doctors only added to his worry.

Onditi had called in sick again, he didn’t know if he would have the heart to go back to work. He was completely bewildered by what was going on around him. He had just lost his wife to cervical cancer, had a daughter, his only child, suffering from Leukemia and now he had prostrate cancer, this wasn’t good. Not good. The doctor was right.

Onditi drove home, using an alternate route. He didn’t want to cause his own or someone else’s death while he drove. So many thoughts ran thorugh his head. No one had told him how much time he had to live. But he suspected a year was all he had. The second doctor told him that the cancer he has is “advanced”.

Where is the money going to come from, I have exhausted all my saving, medical cover is completely wiped out. My salary is barely feeding us. My consultancies have crashed to a halt because of the economic situation. My family is dried out from all the fundraisers; friends don’t pick my calls anymore. What in the world am I to do?

Just then Onditi’s thoughts were disrupted by a knock on his window. He hadn’t realised that he wasn’t driving anymore and had pulled to the side of the road. A huge bunch of bananas waved at him. It was a hawker selling wares. Onditi gently shook his head to turn the man away. The man quickly swung his other hand with carrots and some passion fruits wrapped tight in clear polythene bags. Onditi smiled and shook his head again and raised his hand to say thank you. The hawker sighed and walked away. Onditi sighed and turned on his engine. He steadily pulled out into the road, and after a few seconds everything went dark. Onditi felt a surging pain in his legs and felt a gush of lightness on his head. He opend his eyes, everything was blurred. He could hear people screaming from afar he could barely open his eyes wide enough to see. His hands were sticky and he could smell a sharp stench of copper. Everything went dark again.

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Y.O.L.O

“Make it simple! Make it easy! Don’t think to hard!” Rahab kept saying that over and over again. She had been standing at the edge of the cliff for 15 minutes. She would inch up on her toes and flap her arms around and then inch back down again. She looked like a weird bird, a big one trying to figure out how to fly.

She inched up again and then flapped her arms back down and a huge stench engulfed the rest of her friends in queue further down the cliff attached to the suspended Zip line. People gagged and spat. It stank.

“Sorry!” Rahab turned to apologized.

“I think she shite her pants,” Harry turned and commented to the rest of behind him. He was the next to give the jump a shot and that stench from Rahab’s tummy hit him hard. All of a sudden he was flushed.

“Come on! It’s been 15 minutes. Give someone else a chance!” Paul yelled attempting to move forward. Then the rest of the group began to yell at Rahab to, “get off! Get off!”

Rahab would have loved to but she couldn’t the only way out was to be pushed in to the jump. And once again the stench of diarrhea hit everyone. People spat and clasped on the zip line, it hit hard like a punch to the gut. Rahab for sure had shite her pants this time.

“Push me! Pleaaase! I can’t do it!  I can’t do it!” Rahab pleaded with the safety guide who had harnessed her and briefed her on the jump. 20 minutes in, the guide looked at her and asked her again if this is what she wanted. Rahab shook her head violently in agreement and in a split second, enough time for Rahab to shite her pants again and suffocate people with the remnant of her innards she was up in the air then down again, screaming at the top of her lungs.

There was relief and for some fear, their opportunity to jump to probable death off a cliff drew near. Someone let it rip again in the cage.

“Come on!” Everyone chorused fanning themselves, they were harnessed to a zipline to take the bungee jump there was only so far they could move away from the stench. It had been Rahab’s bright idea as a way to bnd over the weekend with some of her friends and their spouses. Rahab was whisked into a boat once the recoiling  and screaming in the air died down.

“Was it worth it, the chap in the boat asked. “ With blood shot eyes and a grin from ear to ear, she nodded and whispered, “yes”. She lay on shore to help restore her blood circulation. Rahab was so excited, she screamed “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssss!!” as she flailed her arms and legs on the shore.

It was the first time Rahab had done anything spontaneous in her life. And despite actually taking two “dumps” in her pants, she was able to prove to herself she could live again without restraint. Next stop, White water rafting.

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Bastard Child

Aaron had been chained to the kennel for about an hour now. He was tugging at the chain and howling with the dogs. Andrew his elder brother looked on wondering why his parents still treated his brother like an animal. It all began about 5 years ago. Aaron like all teenagers acquired an attitude and talked back at Dad. Dad wasn’t having it, just as Aaron walked out rolling his eyes at Dad. Dad grabbed him by the forearm and dragged him outside.

Aaron thought it was the usual; stand outside for 20 minutes in the cold and think of what you have just done. Aaron was willing and decided to grab his jacket while on his way to the door. No biggie, Andrew had gone through the same punishment. Only this time, Aaron had been found with some weed in his pocket. Dad could deal with anything except drugs. Liquor, drunk and disorderly he could handle. Drugs, now that crossed the line.

Aaron smelled of weed, of all drugs, and that was that for Dad. Aaron started to sense things were off this time when dad grabbed the dog chain and some handcuffs he had got from retirement from the police force. Aaron began to plead; Dad wasn’t going to hear it. Mum and Andrew stared from the kitchen window into the backyard wondering what was going to happen.

Vader, the dog, was pulled out of the kennel and tethered outside. And then Dad cuffed Aaron’s wrists and then using the other dog chain he had carried, chained Aaron inside the dog house. Mum darted outside the kitchen pleading with dad, begging him to forgive Aaron. Dad wasn’t paying any attention to a pleading Mum. Aaron started to look scared – he could see this wasn’t a joke anymore. Mum ran back to the house and grabbed something to open the cuffs. Dad walked back to the house completely unfazed. As Mum dashed out, Dad simply said, “If you release that boy. He is no longer my son and neither are you my wife.”

Mum was stunned! She stared at him mouth ajar and after a few seconds later just as Dad was opening the back door to enter the house Mum yelled. “No man I married would ever treat a child he loves like a beast!”

Aaron got off the hook, but that never deterred him, time and again that night replayed itself. Mum would keep freeing Aaron. And soon enough it moved from weed to something harder. Aaron dropped out of school and was high all the time. Dad wanted nothing to do with him. Mum would try to act normal until one day Mum got fed up. Dad had completely stopped chaining Aaron; he knew it was an effort in futility.

“Your guardian angel is here to ensure you are safe from the big bad Dad!” Dad would say sarcastically.

But that changed when Aaron showed up high as usual and began to call Mum names. He called her “cunt”, “faggot”, “whore” and all other kinds of profanities. And this, all because Mum had served him a meal he didn’t want. Mum had made her delicious mashed potatoes, meat loaf and carrots with some delicious gravy. It was the family’s favourite meal. But Aaron high as a kite tried to be macho.

Mum had been seated next to Dad reading a magazine. Dad had learned to tune it out. It had been a  year after the attempted lock up. After the last profanity rolled off Aaron’s tongue, Mum yanked him violently by the ear and dragged him outside. Mum left the dog in the Kennel, found a way and tied Aaron to the Kennel. Aaron slept outside that night.

5 years later, that is what my parents still do. They tried rehab, Aaron wasn’t very cooperative. And just like that, Aaron turned from young with a promising life, to the family flea infested scoundrel with a potty mouth. Andrew never knew why he never did anything to help his brother. At times he almost felt that Aaron did deserve it.

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Here we go again with that crappy language!

Everyone was laughing. Again! I had no idea what the joke was about, everyone was beaming. Some joke it must have been, I hated the science class, the teacher and being in this school. I doodIed in my notebook as I waited for class to end. Mrs. Mugo always spent most of her time teaching in Swahili, she never cared for my lack of understanding of the language. Like all the other crappy teachers.

I had mentioned to most of the teachers that I had no understanding of Swahili, they would nod and quickly spend the next 30 minutes of the class teaching more in Swahili. And the last five instructing us on the assignment in broken English and you guessed it, more Swahili. It felt like I was deaf. I saw lips moving, but never heard a thing they said. After three weeks of school I just couldn’t do it. My hands and calfs were so sore from the canning. It seemed like I couldn’t get anything right. “Follow instructions!” teachers would bark as they caned each one of us for doing the “wrong” thing in the assignment.

I tried over and over explaining that I didn’t understand, “Then ask your desk mate,” Mrs. Mutua our class teacher would bark at me. My desk mate, was a special chap, he was a slender, well everyone was slender in comparison to me. I was the chubby kid who had to lean on the wall and sit sideways because my thighs were too big to fit underneath the desk I had. I was also pretty tall, towering above my classmates with a booming British twang.

That in all shape and form in a City Council of Nairobi school yells for attention, even when it wasn’t warranted. Ndirangu was in the boarding section of school, he was very particular about how he looked. His shirts were well pressed, tie well tied – samosa shape – the perfect triangle. His shirt was always tucked in to his shorts that cupped his pretty rotund rear. I found it pretty odd seeing a boy with a butt that big. His socks shin high, showing off his olive skin and shoes always polished.

My conversations with Ndirangu were a matter of necessity. He understood Swahili, I was deaf to it. He was my translator for some time up until his entrepreneurial hunger overtook events.

“I can’t keep doing this without anything in return.” Ndirangu remarked at the end of the Geography class. I had to give him something in exchange for his translation, but he had to earn it. He had to do more than translate if he wanted something from me.

“You are going to do ALL my Swahili homework and you need to make it look like someone else did it. Not an exact copy of your work and it needs to be correct. And the translation doesn’t stop. DEAL?” I was a towering mass of a child he had to say yes. To which he did and I starved at lunch for the next month.

It kicked off well, till Ndirangu started failing me deliberately. It started with, “Sorry, I forgot your book in my dorm room.”And I would get caned for it. Then he would get the answers wrong and finally he just gave up translating all together. He was on a go-slow, he was blackmailing me, demanding more than lunch he wanted me to give him my 10 am break as well. The hell I was going to let that happen. Ndirangu and his fat ass could die from starvation for all I cared.

The food seemed to have gotten to his head and his ass. I had lost enough weight to fit behind my desk and I was beginning to understand the crappy language after all. It was only the beginning of another 7 years of suffering at the sounds of “Ngeli ya ‘M’ –‘Wa’”

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Never good enough

Always came in second place. Mumo was always applauded because, “Atleast you tried and put yourself out there. Someday you will be noticed.” People always said that, whether it was a competition or an application for a free training opportunity. He constantly felt that he just wasn’t good enough and couldn’t make the cut.

It’s been 10 years since he completed his university education, walked out with that Degree with a bounce in his step. The world was his ‘oyster’. He should have noticed the signs. When Mumo walked out after the graduation ceremony, Mumo was almost hit by a car and a bodaboda and was insulted by an overzealous parent who showed up to pick one of the numerous graduates.

The world wasn’t going to be an oyster; it was going to be a pain in the ass. And he had to break the world to fit his mould. 10 years later reunions came calling, he had seen people’s lives on Facebook. Anthony the geeky guy was now running his own financial consultancy firm, he was recently awarded as one of the country’s most promising financial start ups. Then there was Heather, she was ‘Miss Campus’ the final year of Uni. She was now a happy stay-at-home mum running a succesful blog for mothers, giving insight on motherhood and products around it. She was recenty featured on CNN, BBC and Aljazeera.

Then there was Anto, he was the party guy, who barely graduated. Anto never took school serious and now, he was a Creative Director at the country’s hugest Advertising agency. What in the world happened? Mumo was lost for words; he replayed campus over and over again in his head and in no way, in the scheme of things, was he the ‘loser’ of campus.

Yes, there were others who ended up living average lives but they compensated by being married and having children. Mumo didn’t even have a girlfriend, let alone married. What was it about him that nothing seemed to work? Mumo got so desperate he agreed to take a construction job, not as chief architect, but as a labourer on a megre wage, hauling cement and plastering walls without protetive gear.

Mumo knew he was different, he was better than his circumstances but noting ever came through. He had tried everything, sales, marketing, customer service, lab technician. He enjoyed that for sometime, up and till he realized the lab he was working for used to alter people’s HIV results to compel them to take ARVs. He later discovered that they did this, to inflate their HIV statistics to donors to get more funding. Mumo was involved in exposing them. That should count for something; the biggest investigative news piece in the country in a decade was because he was the new sexy, whistle blower in town. Nope! Not at all.

Weeks turned into months and the reunion drew near. Mumo was no longer a mjengo guy, he was now a receptionist at a law firm were he spent more time educating himself on the legal system. He was considering going back to school to study law. That was going to be his bragging right,or was it?