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Unpleasant Return

“We will come back right? Someday? Yeah? We can’t leave Eddy all by herself can we?” Aluoch thought to herself. Eddy was her elder sister and she wasn’t going to be on the plane with them. Aluoch wasn’t quite clear why she had to stay. Aluoch didn’t really understand what was really going on around her. For the past two weeks there were people from Renmer, some moving company. They were packing up everything in boxes. Aluoch had initially thought they were moving house.

Mum kept rambling on that it was, “time to go home.” When Aluoch asked what she meant, Mum would respond, “another home”. It didn’t make any sense, information was given in bite sizes, whenever Aluoch asked questions her response was always, “You are too young to understand.” Aluoch was really upset with that. She ignored her mother and went about her business.

A few weeks before they left Mum had allowed Aluoch to stay out later than six. It was unbelievable. She didn’t suspect that her mum had organized a surprise party for her. Why? It wasn’t her birthday it was October. It was a farewell party, she got pretty dolls, photo albums and memorabilia from all the years she had been friends with all those girls. Aluoch had so much fun, she didn’t realise what farewell meant. She didn’t even say a proper goodbye.

She just waved at her best friends from the car as they drove to the airport. Now she was in a plane waiting to have dinner and wishing she could have stayed home to watch an episode of the Cosby Show. It was Friday, she would have gone grocery shopping with her parents and got home in time to play a game of scrabble with Eddy before dinner and watch the Cosby show after dinner. Aluoch missed Eddy, but she was really excited. Her other brother Odhiambo was already in Kenya and she hadn’t seen him in a long time, she couldn’t wait to see him.

Mum and Dad had transferred Odhiambo to a Kenyan school that he loathed. The food was bad, the teachers were evil and most of all he missed bullying Aluoch. Aluoch hated him when he was around, but missed him so dearly when he was away. Last Christmas when Odhiambo was home for the holidays, they bought Christmas treats called ‘fart gum’ really delicious sweets that smelled like fart. Odhiambo always had a weird and gross sense of humour. No matter what he did to Aluoch like chasing her down the street in the neighbourhood with a stick filled with dog poo or scaring her. She still loved him and wanted to spend time with him.

“Excuse me sir and Madam here we are, would you like anything else to drink?” the flight attendant offered Mum and Dad wine and ice cold beer respectively.

“Juice for her please…Mango!” Mum quickly added. I missed Kiora for some reason, or maybe some CapriSun that would be great. Aluoch couldn’t get those brands in the plane. About fifteen minutes later, it was dinner time.

“What is this?” Mum asked in disgust.

“Crab. Ma’am.” The attendant politely responded.

“Where we come from we do not eat this.” Answered like a typical African. And just like that my opportunity to try Crab walked away. I was so irritated. Mum always seem to let the good stuff go. I didn’t want ugali if that’s what she was hoping for. I knew if I had told mum that I wanted to try it. Her response probably would have been, “it’s not healthy for you…you are too young to understand.”

Aluoch’s substitute rice based meal was served with some fish. She wolfed it down, she was sleepy and wanted to rest. It had been an exciting few days and  the next few days would be filled with tears when she realised Eddy was going to stay in London. Heathrow Airport was now thousands of miles away and tens of thousands miles below them.

Aluoch listened to some music which soon drowned out and she was out like a light. What woke her up the next morning was the heat. It was unbearable. She peeled off her cardigan and asked her mum if she could remove her socks. It was so hot. Her puffy, long hair was shrinking from the moisture.

“Mum? Can we go back? I don’t want to stay here.”  The smells and the heat at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport were uninviting. Aluoch remembered this place. She had been here before.

“Not to worry, we will get out of here as soon as possible. Let’s sit here and wait for dad.” Mum ushered Aluoch in with her little rucksack and teddy bear sticking out from the top. They sat on cushy leather chairs waiting for dad to return.

“Mum, Kech kaya.” Aluoch pouted, it was 8 am she was hot, still sleepy and in desperate need for food. Mum fished through her bag and found some sweets. “Here!” she handed them over.

“Mama!” Mum was also tired and she sighed, she was pretty agitated, it had been an hour.

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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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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.

1

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?

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Feast of Pity

Dzame crawled out of bed and walked sluggishly to the kitchen forcing her eyes open just in time before she smacked her face into the kitchen door. She yanked the fridge door open, her body immediately covered with goose bumps, she shivered, smiled and her eyes open wide, she reached into the fridge for her favourite yoghurt.

Dzame reached for a spoon on the dish rack, she peeled open her yoghurt and just as she was about to spoon a delicious mouthful, the door bell rang. Dzame grunted in dismay and quickly wolfed down two spoons and placed the yoghurt on the kitchen counter. She quickly dashed to the room, yanked her kanga from her bed and wrapped herself in it. She walked to the door and through the translucent glass door she saw some men in suits. She froze, what date was it?

Dzame looked at her calendar, it was the fifteenth, she hadn’t paid her rent and those men could only be there for one thing. Rent! Well not really the rent, they were there for the wares that could make up the rent. She slowly walked backward in the direction she came in. Exited the sitting room, shut the corridor door. And she silently leaned on the counter slurping away at her yoghurt.

Dzame was in trouble, she hadn’t had job a year, she had tried all she could to ensure that she made ends meet. She even took up random jobs like offering to light jikos of food vendors in the neighbourhood for a fee. She even started cutting veggies for people to try and make an exra buck. The vendors found her as a pest, her forcing her way in as a middle man started affecting prices of the veggies.

Dzame, was stuck, she had no idea what to do, or where to go. She heard her phone vibrate and quickly dashed to the bedroom to turn it off. She couldn’t have anyone know she was home. Her curtains were all drawn. She inched back to the living room and heard the caretaker.

“She normally travels; I don’t think she is in.” Dzame quietly sighed, hoping that that was the end of that.

‘Tumelipwa, hatuendi hivyo, Kamaa wapi hiyo Karatasi?” One man called out to his colleague. Kamaa surenderd the piece of paper and the man started to scribble valuation of house items he didn’t even know where there. When the scribbling stopped, Dzame saw a piece of paper being slipped in through the door. Whether she liked it or not, she had been served notice and the auctioneers didn’t care if Dzame had signed the paperwork or not.

When the footsteps had gone, she inched slowly to the door and pulled the paper. Dzame had two weeks to come up with three months rent and the auctioneers’ fee. Where the hell was she going to get 70,000 Shillings from? Dzame went back to the kitchen grabbed the left over chicken and began to stuff her face in frustration.