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.

0

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’”

0

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?

0

Nolari’s Dilemma

Katitu boys was playing in the background. It distracted Nolari from Felly in the bathroom. The song kept looping but sounded muffled. It was coming from her bag. Her phone was ringing.

“Stella!” She rolled her tongue and let out a loud disgusted click

“Kwani uko? We waited for you?” Stella says half high.

“What do you mean? I called you both, mteja!” Nolari seethes with anger.

Stella bursts into laughter, then the phone is grabbed from her.

“Amina! Wacha ukuro! What is this nonsense?”

“Haki pole! Just come we meet at the usual spot! Leo wako wengi!”  Amina says with fat cat satisfaction.

Nolari is silent and thinks for a second. She looks at the bathroom door, then hesitates as she is about to speak.

“Ishia! I will join you.”

Amina tries to convince her; Nolari drops the call and cuts Amina in mid sentence.

The shower is now turned on, and there is no sound of human movement coming from the bathroom. Nolari is worried. She inches towards the door, her heels click against the floor and she hears fumbling in the bathroom all of a sudden, like she startled the person inside.

She stands for a minute, her ear against the door, pulls away and then knocks.

“Felly! Fungua mlango.” She requests softly.

She knocks gently again. “Please.”

Something is pulled off a hook and the door opens. She puts one foot in first, and there is a puddle on the floor. There is a mixed smell of vomit and soap. She sees a man with a tattoo on his back by the sink, with a towel wrapped round his waist.

“Felly?”

He turns and Nolari backs out of the bathroom.

“OOOOoowwwi!” She breaks her fall, by grabbing on the tattered couch arm. She sits on the chair and is stunned.

“Uko na wembe?” Felly asks, very composed now.

“Sorry…mmm….tumia the one in the pink shaver.”

Felly pulls a pink shaver from the side of the sink and points it at Nolari.

“Eeee!” she says and nods in agreement.

Now Nolari is completely confused, she has no clue what is going on. She wants to ask Felly, but he is acting weird. If that is Felly at all? For all she knows there could have been a body swap amidst all the sobbing and the showering.

A little tapping on the side of the sink, water gushes out of the tap. And it is turned off. A tall, rich chocolate man emerges from the shower.

“Ukona Nguo extra naeza vaa?” The man asks.

Nolari’s jaw is on the ground and she did not know what to say.

“We! Nolari jibu swali!” he urged a bit agitated.

She snapped out of it, and pointed in her bedroom. She shook her head again. She realized she did not really offer any help.

“Kaa hapa.” She pointed at the old tattered couch for him to sit on.

She fished through her suitcase in her room and boxes where she used to store souvenirs from clients. Rather, stolen items she called conquest souvenirs. She found a nice silk shirt, and khaki pants that could fit him. And she pulled out her Bata slippers for him to wear in the house.

She ushered him to get dressed in her matchbox sized bedroom. Literally boxes stashed on top of each other and a tiny 3 X 5 bed was all the room could hold.

She went to the bathroom with her broom and lifted his rotting street clothes and threw them out the window onto the street below. A cat hissed when the clothes landed. She went to her kitchen cum living room and got an old torn towel and mopped the floor dry. She washed her hands.

What was going on? She knew Felly for 15 years and all of a sudden he comes to her place, wails like a bereaved Luo woman and then showers, shaves and wants to be human. Ai?! Iko something!

She pulled her meko from the corner of her kitchenette and put a small sufuria and started boiling water. She needed something hot to drink through this. It was the only option. She was out of her usual Keroro. As the cooker hissed, she called out.

“Felly, ebu come!”

Uskonde! Uskonde!” He laughs. Nolari is definitely not stressing now that he laughed. She is a bit confused though. She really doesn’t know how to react.

The water is ready she puts it in a small 1ltr thermos flask. She brings out four coffee sachets, two cups with teaspoons in them and an opened 500gm packet of sugar. Felly plonks himself on the couch and says nothing, but lets out a sheepish grin. He now smells of women’s lotion and Nolari’s cheap roll on.

He leans over and serves himself from the stool. He just grins. Nolari is getting agitated.

“Ni nini machozi na kuoga?!” She says with a sneer laced with disgust.

Felly doesn’t see why she seems so offended he showered. They both knew it was way overdue. And who ever thought crying amongst friends was a problem?

“Kwani urafiki imeisha juu nimeoga?” Felly asks sternly.

Nolari looks at him confused. A shower would definitely not come between their friendship. She shook her head to say no.

0

Mum needs us too!

”Bravo! Bravo!” Jimmy sarcastically clapped.

“Sit down! And act your age!” Dad yelled out!

Andrew was sobbing bitterely the two had been at it for about 30 minutes, over whatever it is that they always fight about. For twins, it is quite shoking they fight this much.

“I thought twins felt each other’s pain and were meant to care for each other and not fight as much and so cruel. You are identical twins Jimmy.”

“You believe everything you read in those fancy psychology books of yours now Tony? Tony? Why in the world did Mum and Dad name you, a girl! Tony, anyway?”

I didn’t even bother to respond, he got on my nerves enough to know when he was luring you in to a fight that would never end. It also got on my nerves that Andrew was so tender and overly sensitive to the childish insults his 12 year old twin hurled at him.

Mum came in, silent and focused on her plate of cereal, Akinyi the new addition to the family had just gone to sleep. Dad looked at her with gentle eyes and kissed her on the forehead.

“Thank you for being such an amazing mother to these children.” Mum smiled, she was exhausted. And she couldn’t handle the charades from my brother today.

“Dad?” I looked at him kindly directing him back to us. He was looking at mum so empathetically, almost as if he was wishing he could be the one breastfeeding and cooking and cleaning.

“There are going to be changes around here!”Dad began. Jimmy whinned. Dad looked at him with the usual stern look and Jimmy fell silent.

“Like I said, we are all going to shift our weight a lot more. Jimmy and Andrew, you are going to help clean out the baby’s room. Do not! Touch your sister unless supervised Jimmy!” Dad quicky retorted as Jimmy raised his hand and began to open his mouth ready to make his irritating retorts.

“Andrew, I need you to keep an eye on Jimmy and ensure that he isn’t up to anything risky with your sister. Do- you-under-stand Jim-my?” Dad said almost a tad bit too condescending. Andrew lifted his head, tears balancing in his eyes.

“Tony, I need you to use that knowledge you have on human behavior to help us out here with your siblings. And you need to help your mum more with the house chores.” I nodded and we all looked at mum. She was exhausted. She fought showing it to us, but you could see the rings round her eyes, her chummy self was worn down. And little patches began to appear on her t-shirt.

“Oh! Darn it!” Mum excused herself and left. Mum wasn’t like that when she had the twins.

“Every pregnancy and child is a different situation.” I told dad to console him. But I could tell; it was postpartum depression.

“But dad,” I said picking up my rucksack from the table. “Mum needs to see a doctor for help.” That’s all I said, kissed Dad on the cheek, Dad nodded, I high-five’d my brothers and I left for the day.

0

Gone Wild

It was a normal morning Margaret and Mary had breakfast ready for a long day of nothing. A nice warm Saturday, anything goes. They were watching TV, Mary loved animals so it was NatGeo Wild all morning, at around 11 am, Margaret eventually dosed off from boredom. Then they all got bored.

Margaret went into the kitchen at around 12.30pm, and opened the fridge and stared inside for about 2 minutes trying to figure out exactly what they could eat.

“There is nothing else to eat in here,” Margaret yelled from the Kitchen.

“Well we can order  fries.”

“I don’t think so, let’s take a walk, we’ve bummed in here long enough. We could eat at a restaurant at the mall, healthy food.”

“Mall and healthy food? Oxymoron!”

“Whatever! Mary!” Margaret retorted a bit irriated by that remark. Mary wasn’t offering an alternative closer to home.

The two hit the shower, and then left for the mall smothered in cocoa butter, body splash and glossy lip gloss. And in brightly coloured flip flops they strut to the mall in search for food. After a ten minute walk they had finally reached their destination. Margaret was whinning that her feet hurt and Mary wasn’t hearing it she needed to eat something or someone was going to have it rough. Mary was irritable and didn’t have the heart to listen to what restaurant Margaret had in mind or preferred. Mary wanted a nice healthy filling and that was all, “eat till you can eat no more”. Mary remarked.

Mary stared at the steak on the grill at one restaurant and gave off a sinister smile. She licked her lips and drooled slightly. “Gross Mary, control yourself.”

Mary threw a glance at Margaret and sneered, it startled Margaret, Mary laughed. “I thought you liked animals also, Ms. NatGeo Wild by extension!”Mary retorted sarcastically.

“Not the kind who walk on twos wanting to devour us.”Margaret remarked.

The waiter finally arrived at their table to place their order, he placed the menus on the table. Just as he lifted his hands from the table, Mary latched onto one hand and began to nibble on his hands. The man broke free and dashed to the counter to talk to who seemed like the manager.

“What the hell was that?”

“I swear to you Maggie! I have no idea! I did not plan it it just happened instinctively.”

“Instinctively, what are you a jackal?”

They both froze, “Noooo waaaay!” they chorused with eyes wide open. The manager came over to the table and involuntarily, Margaret pounced on the table and began to growl. Then Mary growled showing off her gums and canines. The manager asked them to leave. They eyeballed him and stood up, then Mary pounced on him, and pinned him to the floor, Margaret quickly dashed to the counter and grabbed someone else’s order and paid and they both ran out of the mall.

“What just happened there?” Mary snapped out of the trance she was in.

“I don’t know.” Margaret was equally baffled.

“Let’s just eat I am starving.” And together they wolfed down that food completely unaware that they had began to go wild.

0

Knocked Out!

Nancy had just walked in through the door after a long day of work, extremely exhausted when she heard an unusual sound. She froze; then dismissed it. Her neigbour always watched unusual stuff really loud anyway. She plunked herself on the couch and zoned out for a few minutes. It had been a thoroughly long day.

Nancy had recently been promoted, and she never anticipated the work load. Her feet were sore. She put them up on the fluffy pooff near by and leaned back, exhaled and shut her eyes and she fell into a deep slumber. After what seemed like 15 minutes Nancy was startled awake by the weird deep reverberating grunts like a wild animal purring. She looked around and panicked.

Where was her couch? Why was she on grass? Was she dreaming? She slapped herself several times, the last being the hardest, she yelped, she wasn’t dreaming then how in the world did she get there? She heard the sound again. And she felt something hot stream down her leg, she lost control of her bowels. She looked around; it was a moonlit night everything seemed clear as day where she was. She turned around and saw thick foliage, a forest.  Nancy got goosebumps all over her body. Was she here to die, was she bait? She gasped in readiness to scream and just as she was about to let out a gut wrenching scream a huge rough palm smelling of dung covered her mouth. She screamed, and bit the hand.

A deep husky voice yelped. Nancy began to flail her hands around like turbines in full action directing the motion at her assailant. She had no idea what she was doing, but it worked, she was repelling the beast. Nancy started spitting, the smell of the dung from his hand began to nauseate her. It smelled dreadful.

“Stop it Nancy?”

Nancy screamed and shook her had like she was possessed, fighting what she had heard, how in the world would he know here name? Where was she? Why was this happening to her?

“Why? Leave me alone! I want to go home!!!”

Nancy stop flailing her hands and fell to ground rolling around kicking and screaming like a child throwing a tantrum, she felt like she was going insane. The smelly hands returned, she kicked hard, and by the groan from the unusual being, Nancy had struck the “family jewels”.

“What is wrong with you?” The voice demanded.

“What is wrong with you?” Nancy retorted.

“Nancy? Nancy?” The voice sounded hollow and distant. Nancy steadily opened her eyes again. It was her boyfriend Amos clasping his groin. “What is wrong with you? Why did you do that?”

Nancy jolted on the couch, looked around her and touched herself and her surrounding making sure she was in the living room.

“Where am I?” Nancy demanded.

“At our apartment?!” Amos retorted gritting his teeth and rolling his eyes; baffled and annoyed by Nancy’s over reaction.

“What time is it?” Nancy demanded

“It’s 7am, Nancy! You’re late for work.” Amos barked as he inched on to the couch to nurse his injury.