7

A letter to Me

Everyday I awake I see the regret that I have constantly said that I wouldn’t have in my life. With age I have come to understand where it comes from. Giving up. For months I pondered on what was wrong with me wrestling with emotions that were annoyingly overbearing only to realize that I had done what people before me had done. They gave up. The last full time job I had I walked in with endless zeal, and a fighting spirit. 2 years in; I had a battered spirit and couldn’t fight anymore, nothing was worth it. There wasn’t any job satisfaction and most of all I just hated people. I threw in the towel gleefully kissed employment away thinking that the a-wipes were gone, stuck in a building were they belonged. The free spirited independent, self employed folks were more straightforward and less complicated. What a lie I told myself. All.A.Lie.

The romance of the first one and a half years of working for myself came to a grand halt with a diagnose of fatigue. I was on compulsory two-week bed rest. I had made money, I was out of debt, I was saving again, I was happy. As I lay in my bed with the occasional 5 minute shift from my bed to the bathroom right outside my room, I realized how thankless my job was. Thankless to the core.

You write people read, they are moved by the objectivity of the piece, but nothing happens. After months of immersion into a new world, new perspective, new individual, different problem and resolution the story is edited, printed or posted, comments slew in,and  it ends with a discussion. I know Jeff Koinange says that we need to “keep talking so that we don’t start fighting”. But I always felt that something needed to be done with each story I wrote but nothing was happening. Not to my liking.

I initially blamed it on writing to an international audience with a publication my audience at home was not acquainted with. But even when I provide local publications with my news pieces they butcher the story and water it down or worse over sensationalize. I also get paid less, disparately less. With time the enthusiasm to work on a new story soon dwindled. I only took simpleton stories for magazines that I used to think wasn’t real journalism. Hey! The writer needs to pay their bills.

Then friends, their awards, the accolades, and there I was with nothing, once again the fat kid in school who no one wanted to play with again. There I was asking myself what was the point? There was no reward in my world. No social change, no monetary benefit. What for? I read Seli Sayan and Robert Kinda every week in the papers and I ask myself what keeps them going.

Susan Nirima, in every other newspaper and magazine, a columnist for almost a decade, what in the world kept her going all this time? I never have mustered the courage to ask her. I guess it is time to sow my royal copy to any bidder, despite doing this for four years; my inconsistency has left me in the bottom of the barrel wondering when, if at all I would ever get that big break.

Writing is my muse, yet it also is my handicap. I gave up. But now I want to start a fresh before like Nerea and Sospeter before me, I give up on life and achieving what I once aspired for. It is nerve raking once again. But I can make it right before it is too late. So World! Here I come…Again!

0

Shaking off the Negativity

“She is such a b*!?h why is she so mean to everyone?”

“Oh! …as if he deserved to get that promotion!”

“Where is his Mama? She must be stabbing herself for giving birth to a dead beat like him; he should have got more time on his sentence!”

“He did what? Where is my bat? I am going to whoop his butt till Kingdom come!”

“Usher? Puhleeeaaaase! Just cause he can sing doesn’t mean he is all that… listen to the whore celebrating music he puts out!”

“Cast that demon! I rebuke you! I loossssssseee the demon from within you! You were such a good girl what do you mean you are pregnant?”

“She looks so happy, why couldn’t I be so happy?”

“I know I should be happy for you, but I can’t you don’t deserve the award, I do.”

“Why am I the one who always gets the short end of the stick? How about someone else suffers for a change?”

“My boss is satan’s spawn.”

“I wish you were never born?”

“I need the money, no one else has to ever know, it’s not like everyone else is a saint!”

“You need to get rid of the baby, how do you know its mine anyway?”

“It’s not me, it definitey is you, you have issues you need to get them fixed.”

“We appreciate your 30 years of service, but we have to let you go. We will contact you to collect your dues and bonus.”

“I have cancer, and I only have 6 months to live! I have lost 3 family members; I trust and pray to God, I try my best to be a good person. What did I do to deserve this?”

“I cried like a wounded animal, I began to wonder why? I started to plan my suicide, then I thought of the funeral costs to my family, I knew it was selfish but the thought was liberating.”

“I just wish I could see.”

“He didn’t make it, we tried all we could to keep him stable and comfortable, I am sorry.”

“Everyday we wake up, the world seems to have taken a huge dump that engulfs our lives and makes things worse. All these are statements from conversations we have had or been privy to. Life seems unfair its irrational how things play out. I spoke to Nyangi today and I told her that I felt that God was a sadistic puppeteer. He makes us dance near and in fire, watches us melt and burn and then when we are charred he pulls us out and says it was just a joke.

Then she told me something interesting, “So what if he is?” I was confused; I thought she would side with me. She shook her head and said, “Life is a deliberate paradox; you need to be down to get up, you need to experience loss to treasure the present, everything is a gift. That’s why we need to appreciate every moment of the present.”

I had nothing else to say. I started being thankful for everything, being able to talk, have a proper bowel movement, I remember we had a calf who was born and didn’t have a poop hole, it died. That saddens me, it’s been over a decade, but when I think of that cute calf it tears my eyes. I guess we need to choose to be thankful after all… crap it’s 2 am. I need to sleep now.

Good night Diary, love Philly!”

0

Nollywood saved my Life

“I almost jumped in front of a speeding car tonight. Full headlights and rain drenching me it felt like the best way to end it all. It was over, I popped by Doreen’s to get a quick fix, she was out, how was I going to go through the night and tomorrow without a hit. I passed by Bob’s and lit up, maaan that cigarette man, the first drag…sensational.

All the way home, I had planned how I was going to end it all; I was torn between my wrists or a single neck -snap. I needed it quick and clean then I turned on the TV and to my pure fascination, it was Naija night! Hahahahaha! You have to love these Nigerian movies straight to DVD. The acting is so bad and the plot… worse, but you still have to watch it. It is like all those Hollywood ‘B’ movies that rip off real movies like Atlantic Rim instead of Pacific Rim type stuff.

So here is the quintessential polished Nigerian who has lived abroad in a board room in a job interview, she rambles on in her fancy accent and highlighted weave before a panel of three, two men and a woman. The music builds up with some weird fusion of eerie and comical sounds. The scene shifts to a woman seizing. I had no clue where this seizing woman was, frothing at the mouth, and another woman howling at the scene.

Oh! So that was at the reception? Right! The interviewers exit from the boardroom to see what’s going on and leave the dashing caramel skinned interviewee in the room.

They just stand there and stare at the woman seizing and say they would not employ her. And that’s it. Why they hell am I narrating a pathetic Nigerian movie? I am so glued watching and typing, it is a train wreck, you know what’s coming but you still have to see it. Hehehehe! The accents, the terrible cinematography, the schizophrenic script and plot and the weaves, hehehehehe! Oh! The weeeeeaves.

A song has just come to my head by a Nigerian songstress whose name is escaping me.

“I am looking for my Johnnie…..” with African percussion in the background. Oh! Man, I think Africa needs to genuinely thank Nigeria for keeping the African story alive in literature and film. Hehehehe! Oh! You need to see what I am watching, hehehehe, the acting is so baaad! The weaves look like headdresses the size of what Vegas show girls wear. Lord…..sorry what was I saying…earlier…. Hahahahahahaha! …Oh! Nigeria thank you!”

2

What’s the point?

“Hi everyone, my name is Emily! How are you all doing? This is my first time. It is quite interesting that of all the support groups out there, I chose to be part of this one. Hahahaha! Singles Anonymous…you know I saw the ad in the classifieds section of the paper and laughed it off. But I get why we do need to be there for each other, I know some are here to hook up. But I just have been feeling a sense of loneliness and abnormality really.

You see, everyone I know, everyone, including the woman who sells me vegetables, has at least either a child or a spouse. I get that this is not the epitome of life, but human beings were made for companionship. I just feel like I was ignored when the companionship vouchers were being distributed. I was once married to my career, but 5 years ago I opted to pursue my dreams great? Great!

I now had more time that I could manage better and have a more social life. It has been 5 years, I fell in love with a man who I later discovered was married. He never wore his wedding band. I knew he would never leave his wife, or that he would change. Come on, who are you kidding? How do you ‘change’ a 35 year old man? At that age, it is what you see, is what you get.

So there I was wondering what in the world is going on here, there was a pregnancy scare, but I looked at what I was doing to his wife. We amicably stopped talking and engaging with each other all together. The next guy I met was emotionally unavailable and was very clear that all he wanted was sex.

I lied to myself that I was OK with that. You know, we are all human and we all have needs. But every time we slept together and he would wrap up with YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!! I would look at his sweat drenched body and ask myself what just happened. The last three months of that mess, I found myself very mechanical in our engagements at times budgeting and planning my work week in my mind while he screamed and tossed me around. Was this all? My body was bored, my mind wasn’t engaged and I felt like a human sex toy. I was a button away for someone else’s pleasure.

Man after man after man, it just didn’t work out and it was in a more logical than emotional sense. I was just incompatible with them. We all wanted different things. I went in to a depression and when I came out of it, I saw your fliers and her I came. I just want to rant and get these experiences off my chest. Is marriage the pinnacle of life? No, I believe not, do I think I will ever get married? No, I think it is wishful thinking. The universe has spoken on a bull horn. But I do need friends who I can hang out with regularly, and that’s why I am here. Thanks for listening!”

0

Death: My Muse

Tonight I understood suicide for what it really is. Real successful suicide is all about drive and sobriety. It is cool and calculated not an emotional floodgate like when I tried 7 years ago I was frustrated I couldn’t get a job and the helplessness was weighing me down, so what did do? I plotted on March 28th to slit my wrists. The plan was to do it in the bathroom to make it easier for family to clean up. I broke and cried out to God, that was to work out for me right? Well not really, that same year my Dad died, needless to say my newly refined disdain for God.

The only time in my life I truly remember being happy all year was when I was 7 years old. My entire family was alive and well, intact. We had dinner together, lived under one roof, before divorce split us up. There was genuine love and care. Why my parents got divorced, well it was only two years ago that I realised that it wasn’t my fault. My parents had their own drama, but to fight it off, I engaged myself in all kinds of debauchery to fill that ‘hole’ in my existence. I got tired, I got tired of living, and I needed to hope. And for once I needed to hope in something that wouldn’t disappoint me. Hehehehe! Aaah! Foolishness….Pure foolishnesss.

I didn’t realize that you can also disappoint yourself. It is as if for my life, I was on a game show that I kept winning in; The Wheel of Misfortune. On this show every time you spin the wheel you get a bonus of two misfortune cookies. A huge crunch of disaster, by the time I had hit 18 years old, I had lost 7 cousins, two siblings, a father, a grandmother I adored, 6 aunts and three pet dogs. It even got embarrassing in school constantly seeking permission to attend lavish and extravagant funerals.

Death became a muse, it was no longer just a part of human existence, it became the sole purpose of my existence. Sing at funeral services, type out boring euologies and equally boring reads of the euologies. Watch the red eyed mourners and the hungry professional bunch with growling tummies ready to pounce on all the food. When we were burying my father I recall seeing a man feasting on Chapati and chicken and asking for some more vegetables and a soda. We were weeping as we walked in a procession to the grave side; another chump was busy feasting like he was at the Ritz.

Now why suicide, I have been nothing but diligent in my work, I sacrifice sleep sometimes to ensure that I get the job done. When I request for my dues from clients the response, if at all, is “wait”. I have an auctioneer banging at my front door as I try to type as silently as I can. I have no money for bus fare, toothpaste or even a tomato to eat. I blew my airtime calling my debtors this morning, one had the audacity to tell me, “Money isn’t everything.” And their payment is three months late. I was the idiot who believed in gentlemen’s agreements. And now I am owed 200,000 Kenya Shillings…that is almot $2,400 US. How about that?

Every time the light at the end of the tunnel looks like an exit to bliss, I get rammed by on coming trains. The light isn’t hope it is further entrapment, I have tried my best to stay on the straight and narrow moved on and chosen to not live in the past. But for how long?

I was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. How about that? I blew my savings for those tests and now the medication I need to take I can’t afford. And with my new forced diet, I might just accelerate the condition how about that? So time to spin that guaranteed win at the wheel of misfortune!

Round and round it goes, where will it land? Where will it land! Oh! There you go! Bingo! Thank you suicide! It was about time, I exited quietly out of the world that chose to rape me and rip out my guts while I was still alive.

Rebecca now you know why I chose to kill myself! This is what a relatively decent suicide note looks like, engaging clear and no, I have nothing against you. I love you, life shafted us, I just don’t have your strength to go on.

Susan

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

Death to Government

Things were thick! Really thick! The ‘Government’ had walked in and there was no saving grace. She had walked in through the door soaking wet and stinking. It was flooded outside and we had forgot the clothes on the washing line which were now completely drenched.

“What have you been doing all day Akinyi?” the Government summoned. I really didn’t have anything to say, the rain came gushing down at one go, and there was nothing I could do to save the clothes, she didn’t care.

She shoved me into the house as she dripped onto the carpet. She peeled off her wet shoes. As I rushed to get her some towels to dab off, she yanked me by my dress.
“Where do you think you are going Akinyi?” she had that look on her face. That look that said, I would wake up tomorrow with a limp and blemished with scars. She yanked me to her and she smothered me with a hug. She was so soaked, my clothes mopped it all up and I was now shivering and drenched. The Government laughed. Then from the side of my eye I could see her reaching for something at shoulder height. It was the switch. I knew that this wasn’t going to end well.

I was soaked and she pulls out a long rubbery tree branch. I couldn’t face the pain, as her wrist flicked steadily easing toward my wet back, I stepped back, breaking away from her hug and I stopped the switch from hitting me. It hurt my hand. But I held firm. She tried to push down I felt as if my wrist was going to break. But it didn’t I was strong. She wasn’t going to hurt me anymore.

She threw me to the ground; she was judge, jury, and executioner. My aunt was mean, lethal, merciless, cold and calculated. That is why we called her the government. She was the law and there was nothing that you could do that would outdo her. Not any given day, save for that day.
As I writhed on the floor trying to shake off her grip on my ankles; my cousin emerged.
“Mum! What are you…?”

Before she finished her statement I heard a blood curdling scream and my cousin was on the ground next to me, blood oozing from her ear. I didn’t want to know what had happened…I probably should stop there…

I thought I would have pleasant memories of Aunty, but it seems I have none. Would I say ‘May the Lord rest her soul in eternal peace? No! Not really!

Burn in Hell Aunty! You deserved what you got! Annie sorry I had to be this disrespectful at your mother’s funeral. But you all should have known better when you asked me to speak. God speed.