As I write this story, it is exactly 24 hours before the exact time I was born in 1987. If I do remember well, my mum told me I was born at 2AM, on a Sunday at the AIC Kijabe hospital. And since that day, my love for cold weather was born.
I say that because I showered with cold water since high school in Kikuyu, even in June, Kenya’s and especially Central Province’s coldest month. I would follow with the same routine in college till I was diagnosed with pneumonia in the 3rd year of University and warm waters baths had to become my lifestyle after. It is safe to say that I never felt really clean for about a year after.
After university, I quickly moved from Buruburu, where I had had to mostly use just a bed-sheet to ward off the heat at night, to Kinoo. This was me following the cold and I would fall in love with it for the next 6 years. After the events of October 25th 2016, I had to move again in search of colder pastures. Because of exactly that I cannot feel safe revealing where I currently reside online but I can assure you that this new lover is the best of ice queens I have ever met. However this is not the reason we are all gathered here.
I am here writing because I feel I should write something as the elevator dings for me to get onto the third floor. I have been a poet all my life and hence misunderstood via grammar; misunderstood via my art. The stories of my life I have told in those words have been missed. Mostly by fans who don’t know me, disappointingly from other poets and expectedly by my family.
It is how then I found myself in Jackson Biko’s Master Class in writing last week. Yes he is also known as Bikozulu. That is like calling me edudivine but I digress. The classes were being held at the Nairobi Safari Club where I think I had a 3 day crush on our service staff manager. Lucy (name changed to protect identity), if you are reading this, oh wait! How will she know it is her if I change her name? Dammit Edwin, you are such an idiot sometimes. Do I really call myself Edwin in my thoughts? No. I call myself nugu when I am doing or thinking something stupid. So please, take it affectionately when I call you nugu when you are being an idiot.
When you enter the Nairobi Safari Club, you feel like you just stepped back in time. Not in a bad way. The uniforms that the staff wears are immaculate and remind you of that greyish material that the once popular Kaunda suits were made of. There are antique wall hangings and paintings that line each wall including in the lifts as you would later find out. The rugged carpets on the floor bring on this sense of nostalgia, like you are at high tea with Tom Mboya discussing what next after the British ended their rule.
There are some sparsely thrown in parts of the decor that are very modern. I think they are inserted here so as to jolt you back to reality so your life can move on. But one thing is for sure. This hotel reminds me of my father.
On February 15th 2016, my father went to sleep after having had one last conversation about the cows and chickens. Some stuff about the weather was thrown in too. He never woke up. I still am yet to figure out whether it was a fortunate or sad thing that I might have talked to him last.
I wrote a tribute to him. In the best way I know how. I wrote a poem. One I could barely finish to read to the people gathered at his burial because yet again I was killing myself with my own words. However, that piece came nowhere close to saying how much I love/loved this man.
In this lost train of thoughts, maybe I will do a better job.
2016 was a bad year. No, seriously, it was a bad year. I know some people go through worse daily or have gone through worse before and are still here. But I still find that losing my father, being robbed twice and then carjacked at gunpoint (And a bullet shot next to my head that ends up destroying the car’s exhaust I might add) then losing the love of a woman I never had to try at all to love as the lowest point of my life to date, to 30.
Most people might sink into depression about this as I did. I was however sooner out of it than I had expected. One week I was booking to see a psychiatrist, the next I was up and away and continuing with life. I don’t know why but I peg it to the fact that I am too used to being depressed. And it is not even the clinical depression that I had suffered from nervous condition drugs some years back. It is what I could not describe before but finally found the word for. Existential depression.
Existential depression is a depression that arises when an individual confronts certain basic issues of existence. Yalom (1980) describes four such issues (or “ultimate concerns”)–death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness.
Death is an inevitable occurrence.
Freedom, in an existential sense, refers to the absence of external structure. That is, humans do not enter a world which is inherently structured. We must give the world a structure which we ourselves create.
Isolation recognizes that no matter how close we become to another person, a gap always remains, and we are nonetheless alone.
Meaninglessness stems from the first three. If we must die, if we construct our own world, and if each of us is ultimately alone, then what meaning does life have?
I lie up sometimes and question everything about life. About whom I am and who I am supposed to be. I resent materialism. Consider it the evil that fuels capitalism and thus a world where one person can hoard millions while their “brethren” die of hunger and diseases. An earth where most people need to eat, drink, make merry, line their pockets before they consider throwing out a morsel to those in need. It is a strange place, this one. We are running out of good enough land to be inhabited but we have golf courses ranging into thousands of hectares of great fertile land while some are doomed to be born homeless and die as squatters.
As such it is not completely surprising that I would find myself wishing for a simpler life. A life well lived rather than a life over loved.
These tiny seeds that waft into my mind and germinate on many a cold and moonless night are watered by all sorts of things. But art takes precedence. Be it the connoted themes of movies where they try to clean the earth and make love the only thing that leads again. Or the music that carries me to seas uncharted almost every single day. I can effortlessly say that these 2 men in Kendrick and J Cole easily trigger such thoughts even with just their song titles.
Is it wickedness?
Is it weakness?
Are we gonna live or die?
While we remain united as humans, we will never have to tell our history as A TALE OF 2 CITIEZ or remember many we have lost to the FIRE SQUAD. We might have grown up with NO ROLE MODELZ. But APPARENTLY, it is healing and heartwarming to LOVE YOURZ. This would all work if we all made such a NOTE TO SELF.
It is in our BLOOD and DNA to be better than we act currently. This will not be us stepping out of our ELEMENT. We may first need to FEEL other people’s LOYALTY. Forget all our ego and PRIDE. In other words be HUMBLE. We need to forget LUST and embrace LOVE. Most of all we need to FEAR GOD. Only then will we know our “duck” WORTH.
My mother was happy to hear that I stopped drinking alcohol. I did it because I needed more time with a clear mind to think on these things. I also no longer saw the sense in adding a depressant to this already low hanging rug that life was trying to walk all over. It is good she is happy. She is one of the few little lights remaining in my life.
Just with that thought, I am now far-away in the land of the Passengers taking photos as per The Script wishing if he could see me now. When I try to remember the last time I hugged my father. I am reminded of his phone call one day when I was 24, my father said: “Don’t you worry, child.”
I hope heaven’s got a plan for me.
For Gianna & Pietro – the stars that never got to shine