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Time for a Break

The sky was calm, clear, blue, and rich; like the ocean. Onyancha knew it was a sign. After months of long and destructive torrential rain, Onyancha awoke to a new day. The trees and hedges around him were a rich green, almost royal, demanding attention. He took the deepest breath he could that morning and exhaled in laughter, as if the air had tickled him. He was so exhilarated. He wanted the ocean, the palm trees swung from side to side to the warm kiss of the breeze.

The ocean was beckoning. Onyancha was desperate to go, but for some reason he felt held back. Held back by what he was now standing in front of. Onyancha Groceries, his store. He had been at this business for the past ten years. And for some reason today his business, his life was a barrier. Onyancha stared at the sign, sighed and bent down at the bottom of the grills with his bunch of keys at the ready to open his store. The jingling sound startled a stray dog that was lying at arms length from the grill. It barked as it always did. Onyancha just stared at it and went about his business.

One padlock, then two, three, four and finally number five. Wth a chugging sound, the iron grill rose to reveal the clear glass window of his establishment. The keys jingled again and then a door bell rung, the front door was open and he flipped the sign, open. Once again, another day of business that stole his new opportunity, it was 7.30am.

And as always Mrs. Kamau was rushing in to buy snacks and lunch for her two children as she rushed them to school. Alvin, the bachelor from the apartment next door popped in a few minutes after Mrs. Kamau to buy some eggs, bread and milk. Andy was with his college sweetheart and bought her a bouquet of flowers. As if queued, as they checked out at the the till Onyancha said, “How romantic”.

The Odera twins came in shoving each other, almost dropping the apples and oranges from their crates. As every morning, they were fighting over absolutely nothing. Onyacha didn’t bother to get involved. He just barked, “Buy whatever you are buying and get out of here!” The twins quickly got their snacks and dashed out to the school bus. Onyacha was getting very agitated the more his usual customers walked in. “Same bloody routine, “he mumbled as people milled in and out of the shop.

“When will it ever end?” Onyancha froze and looked around, had he said that out loud.

“No you didn’t, I said it.” He looked up and a tall hairy Amazonic woman was addressing him.

“I know what you have been thinking, because I have been thinking the same thing the last few years. Don’t people’s routines ever change?” Onyancha nodded in agreement to her thoughts.

“Simprose…that’s my name. I live here.”Onyancha had never seen her before that day.

Simprose, was the unusual neighbour who was never seen in daylight, she would observe people through her window. That had been her routine the past 5 years since she moved in. Onyancha was a bit nervous, she was the woman that people created stories about. The husband killer, the cannibal who hunts people at night and eats them, that’s why she never needed to buy groceries.

“Not to worry, I only eat fat people.” Simprose laughed. Onyancha swallowed hard and smiled nervously.

Simprose’s laugh was so loud, Onyacha felt as if the room shook. Simprose, checked out and left, Onyacha looked at the sky, looked at his door and thought to himself, it was time to go to the beach.

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What the hell just happened?

A lecturer, tortoise and a microphone all in one room, no relation, but something will have to happen in this social experiment. The lecturer had been locked in the room by five of his students who were now seated along the class wall just waiting for something to happen. Steve the class geek arose and turned on the mic, it was connected to a speaker. It buzzed causing everyone to moan in agonizing discomfort for a few seconds.

“Sorry…my badness.” The rest looked at him unamused.

Professor Kanze, grabbed the mic and belted out a tune that left his students baffled.

“What the hell was that?!!” Simon yelled tossing the tortoise at Professor Kanze’s feet. “Get Creative!” Simon yelled and stormed to the back and sat with his peers. It was like a really weird reality TV show. The tortoise inched its head out and began to move steadily, the Professor lifted the poor thing and moved it a few feet ahead of himself and then placed it in the centre, then began to moonwalk around it. His students cheered.

“What he hell am I watching? Carol thought aloud to herself. How did she even get to that room? She closed her eyes for a few seconds and when she opened her eyes she was in the beach in her swimsuit by the ocean enjoying the lapping waves surrounding her. “What in the world?” Carol exclaimed.

Jogging past her, David Rudisha, he waved with a huge smile and soon was a speck in the distance. Carol closed her eyes again; she was in a club dancing with Tyrese Gibson. They were on a dance floor in Miami. She pushed Tyrese back and threw up on the dance floor. Embarrassed, she made her way past the crowd and headed to the bathrooms, where she let out her meals for the last 24 hours. She was in the loo for about 30 minutes. She emerged wet, smelly, teary eyed and weak. Carol closed her eyes wished away that moment. When she opened her eyes she was in bed, clean but in lingerie with a man unknown to her calling her “honey” with dilated pupils inching on top of her. She closed her eyes again, she was with her mother who told her it was “Bed time” Carol smiled and said, “could you read me a story?”

Mother nodded like she always did and with that, Carol, shut her eyes one last time, unsure of what would happen when and if she opened them next.

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Grandmonster

“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…Amen!” We all chorused, opened our eyes and Dana opened the lid of the cream coloured tea pot. It was a huge aluminum pot with poorly applied paint with a ring of green on the brim that the lid often concealed. Now Odhiambo and I were trying to figure out what she was doing. It was hot water mixed with milk what was the inspection for?

We waited; she looked inside it and then coughed directly into the tea pot! I looked at my brother with the, “What the HELL IS SHE DOING?” look on. I couldn’t say it out loud, because it would be disrespectful to our 80 year old grandma. I never liked her; we were there because Mum insisted we should be there. Why? Only she knows; I had wanted to spend time by the river and enjoy some mangoes and sugarcane fresh from the farm. But Oh! No…

“Even if you don’t like her, she is your grandmother; it is kind to make an effort to spend time with her”.

Mum would go on and on about its ‘importance”. Grandma was old, smelly and mean, and now she had just contaminated our tea. I was so upset; I really didn’t want to be there. My brother looked at me knowingly, then gave me the nudging look, then mouthed, ‘just pretend’. And pretend we did, we had to act like what she did was of no consequence to our health.

“Aluoch serve the tea.” I grit my teeth and served her first, asking her how many cups of cocoa she wanted. “Nusu” and half a tea spoon it was stirred and served. She sipped it with a lot of enthusiasm. I served Odhiambo and finally myself. I hated the bitterness of cocoa; needless to say, I doused my drink with sugar.

Ketho chiemo!” Dana exclaimed. I refrained myself from rolling my eyes disrespectfully.

Mos.” I apologized to my grandmother for my “transgression”.

“Mos ma nadi?” Oh! Lord, here we go, she didn’t take too kindly to a simple apology, now I was the pilfering grandchild who was ungrateful and didn’t even bring a ‘carton’ of gifts. Because that is what a grandchild living in the city should do. Bring a ‘carton’ of goodies for Grandma? Why? Because well, it is a token of appreciation, appreciation my foot!

I had tuned out of her tirade, once she had wrapped up, I was standing up to serve myself a second cup of cocoa. Odhiambo looked at me like I was mad. All I was thinking was, we were forced to be here, I might as well sip my way through this hour ordeal with a blood relative I didn’t care for.

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No chance!

The wheels spun like crazy as Mutiso sped down the hill. Mutiso’s bare chest leading the way pressing against the gushing breeze which seem to harden his abs even more defining a neat six pack on his sinewy frame. His dirty and faded green trousers torn at the knee flapped widely only held together by a sisal rope serving as a rudimentary belt.

“Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech!” Mutiso’s faded yellow crocs worn from serving as breaks managed to work once more without burning Mutiso’s already singed and cracked heals. He had finally reached his destination. Panting violently and sweat drenching his frame he lowered the front lever of the hand cart to rest the luggage laden rear carrier, on the ground.

Market vendors flooded round the carrier some trying to remove the vegetables, squeezing the more fragile in the process. Mutiso was trying to catch his breath. He had told the vendors time and again to give him a few minutes to recuperate before they swarmed the carrier and ruined the delicately packed vegetables.

Mutiso still panting raised his hand and a loud clap was heard. For a moment the buzzing stopped and people sought the source of the sound. A young man, Waruinge was holding his cheek wincing. His face had fellowshipped violently with Mutiso’s hand. Waruinge was in a daze. Before the vendors had time to pour themselves on the carriage again, a double clapping sound was heard. This time it was Macharia, he was holding both cheeks. He was stunned.

Slowly the other vendors began to ease towards Mutiso.

“Shida ni nini msee?” One lady demanded.

“Oya! Wacha ufala bana, unadhani we ndio kila kitu?” Another vendor spat out in rage. Ofcourse Mutiso didn’t feel he was the kingpin of vegetable delivery to the market. But he was fed up of the callousness and nonchalance vendors operated with when they ruined half of his vegetables and refused to pay for the damage. Today was the last straw, no more.

Mutiso was tired of being taken advantages of. He wasn’t a minion; he was in business just as much as these vegetable vendors in the market. They needed to respect his trade. Soon enough he was in the centre of the mob. He was shoved around, initially the faces were familiar, as the crowd grew bigger the faces started becoming unfamiliar, violent opportunists were here for blood.

The cart was now far away, people were pilfering his goods; he wouldn’t get paid. Mutiso realized what was going on, he raised his hands in surrender, and he fell to the ground. His chest pulsating, then another, and another, he was being pummeled.

“Mwizi! Mwizi! Tumpata Mwizi!” And just like that Mutiso turned from a frustrated business man to an alleged thief in seconds. Out of nowhere he felt something crush his groin and he moaned in agony. Eyes swollen shut from the beating. Everything went dark, all Mutiso could here was yelling and noise, which was slowly fading away, far in to the distance.

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Blood is DENSER than Water!!

“I am at the gate!” Those were the most irritating words for Andrea to hear. It had been months of unplanned visitations from her relations. Yes, there is no doubt she loved them, she was just tired of the ‘village hospitality’. This wasn’t an office with an open door policy. Yes, she knew she is African, but this is a different dispensation. She had had a really long week, 22 hours of work for the past 6 straight weeks, it was Friday, she just wanted to lay on the couch and meditate in silence. She needed a break, not hosting people every five seconds.

Then her phone buzzed a couple of times, she turned it off without looking at the screen. Then her caretaker knocked at her front door, he had snitched to her aunt that she was in. Andrea had forgotten to tell him that she didn’t want guests that evening. So there she was completely worn out on the couch debating on how best to get rid of her aunt. As she thought it out, she lost track of time and just as she was about to reach over and turn down the stereo, she heard a knock on the door.

Andrea froze, worried that she was busted. She was not sure whether her aunt had seen her shadow move across the room. She froze where she was. “Andrea are you there? It is Aunt Truphena!” her voice spoke very cheerily. Andrea didn’t budge. Then her Aunt pulled open the curtains to peer through to see if anyone was home. Andrea exclaimed and hit the floor, and her head hard, on the edge of the couch on her way down. She quickly clasped her mouth with her hands. Tears streamed down her eyes one hand rubbed the wounded part of her head.

“Andrea! I see you!” her aunt giggled cheekily as she pulled the curtain and drape back. Andrea’s legs were in full view with her upper torso pushed in so tight under the couch; it looked like it consumed her. Andrea sighed and pulled herself out from under the couch, she emerged with something in her hand. “There it is! I was looking for this.” She let out a fake laugh to cover up her failed plot to hide.

“Oh! Aunty! I didn’t hear you there, waaaay under the couch looking for this.” She waved her pen limply as she continued to rub her head.

“Well?” Her Aunt asked, nodding towards the front door.

“Well what?” Andrea responded innocently. “Oh! OH! Goodness, sorry! The door!” she nodded almost a bit too much, very lackey-esque.

Andrea slowly walked toward her room; she knew the keys were under the cushion she had rested her head on, on the couch. “I will be right back! They should be in my bag.” She said gesturing toward the corridor. Her Aunt patiently nodded.

Either the woman was completely clueless or she just didn’t give a crap. She was going to visit her niece or die. A niece who didn’t even like her, Andrea wished desperately that she was living on the ground floor in a house without burglar grills; she would have escaped through the window. Andrea just needed a break. Aunt Truphena just couldn’t get the damn hint! And for crying out loud, use a damn phone and plan before you show up at the damn gate! Bloody African relatives!!!

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When will it end?

He just stood there, head faced forward and right there, RIGHT THERE I tell you!!! At the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Moi Avenue this dweeb sent his hand to the grand bank of “Assfrica” to combat his itch. He just stood there; completely nonchalant to the fact that he was disturbing the peace of a Sunday morning. Hand in ass, scratching with a look of relief on his face. Revolting!

For a minute I thought I was imagining things. But alas! There he was, in his dimunitive might conquering the itch. Gross! People passed by him, not even a stare, like what he was doing was normal! I guess grossness is acceptable on Sunday? No harm no foul? Is that it? Unbelievable! I yelled at him! I don’t think he heard me amidst the honking of the matatu speeding by him. He almost got clipped in the rump, wish he was. He quickly dashed out the road to the curb as he smelled his ‘active’ hand. I gagged and crossed to the opposite side of the road. I really didn’t feel like being up and about that early on a Sunday, I looked at the City Clock it was 7.15am. I wept. Well, I didn’t actually, I felt like it! But I really didn’t have much of a choice Sam was haunting me. I couldn’t be home.

I hadn’t had much sleep the last three months, on a good night I got three hours of sleep if Sam let me. He was a possessive bastard. He demanded and “convinced” me to stay up with him and talk. I never thought it would end this way. I had to feign attending church far from home and swear loyalty to a church as an excuse to get me out of the house.

One Sunday, I had planned to get to the city centre, head to a coffee house and enjoy a large second breakfast, and just not go to church. I toyed with the idea a bit more once I arrived in the city centre. But something told me to just go to church. I did so reluctantly. And to my surprise, right where I normally sit, right at the back in the middle pew, there he was. Sam had a sinister look on his face as he watched me walk in. I was dumb struck, scared. He looked at me and pointed at the space next to him. I felt a cold sweat on my forehead and nostrils. My eyes popped out their sockets, I felt breakfast inch back up my throat. I swallowed hard and coughed, slightly chocked by the food fighting back. A tear streamed down one eye.

No! Not here! Not here! Why? That was all I could think, my stomach started making growling sounds as I sat next to Sam. He grabbed my wrist and pinned it down on the pew. I held my stomach, something was going to exit it, I just wasn’t sure what end it would emerge from. I swallowed hard again, sweat drenching my brow and upper lip, Sam gripped harder, I flinched and he darted a killer stare. My stomach growled so loud people seated next to us stared at me. I smiled nervously and Sam loosed his grip.

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Miserable existence

I always looked at chicken with so much disdain. They stand around clucking, scratching for worms or bugs or whatever it is that they are looking for; not a care in the world. Cluck, scratch, peck, feed, run away from hawks then hover around waiting for their human masters to feed them. Then off to the coop and sleep. A full day is done. How is that? The cow that is milked, grazed, watered, grazed some more, then placed in its pen where it ruminates before it falls asleep. Why? Is that all? That’s it? Your existence is eating, walking around, drinking and then await death at the hand of the master that feeds you. Misery; pitiful.

It doesn’t seem write to call an animal unambitious. But why? We have the teenage mutant hero turtles and Bucky O’hare, and Wile Coyote screwed over repeatedly but he had a goal like Tom, he never got Jerry and always had to run away from Butch, but he had something to strive towards.

Aluoch has had this back and forth for the last three months. This evening on her way to class after the debate about, why she is avoiding her friends, she came to the conclusion that maybe writing a teen novel would be her trying too hard to prove to people that she is smart, and can produce something excellent.

Why do I constantly feel a perennial sense of inadequacy? There is a boy in my class, really attractive, love his nose, he really knows his World History and IR. I read complete chapters; understand nothing. I try to remind myself it is not a competition. It is all about what I learn and how this knowledge benefits me. My mind is constantly concocting theories and justifications for my behavior. I need a snack.

Aluoch just turned 30, and for the first time in her life, she was glad to turn a year older. She is in a new phase trying out new things and understanding herself. Just recently, she realised the man that she had loved for over a decade and had mentally married, was not the man she was meant to be with.

Aluoch had this mental perception of what kind of a man he was, she wrote a script, but failed to let him know he was the lead role; ‘Love of my life’, in the story of her life. He did not know the script or rehearse his emotions and actions well enough so he failed the part. She almost tried to rid herself of him, but after an investment of friendship that long, despite its bumpy road she realised that she, in his words, “couldn’t get rid of me that easily.”

That should be a good thing, but Aluoch realised, that spending most of her life moving from place to place, she never really made real friends. Any friendship that seemed real, she sabotaged because it was normal to not have people there. Despite the loneliness it also felt better, it felt right.