Kwani?, Life, Love, Njeri, Prose

Back to my cheating ways….

Hold up…hold up..hold up…

Do not kill the messenger before you get to read the message. The title is from a lengthy explanation given here by one Michael Ngigi. The kind of cheating described here is not one all the non loyal “jembes” and “mbwa kokos” might have in mind. It is a very artistic description of how to be true to oneself, your goals, your dreams etc. In real sense, it describes how to never let go of the person you were when someone else fell in love with you.

Last night I was at Arfa lounge. For the Kwani? Open Mic July 2014 edition. This was roughly 3 or 4 years since the last time I was at one. Like seriously, it had been so long I actually first went to the now non-existent Club Soundd where the show used to be before. The guard was almost hysterically laughing at the idea that I actually live in Nairobi. I did not dare correct him and tell him 87 is not Nairobi and I actually do see the “Kwaheri Nairobi” notice every evening as I head home.

That aside, I had to call one Ngarrrtia, he who possesses the shiniest of trophies according to Sanaa ladies. I wouldn’t know. He was able to give me the info I needed and 3 minutes later I was at the Arfa lounge entrance. Now 3 years makes quite a huge difference in Kenya or any other country for that matter. I used to pay 100 to get into Club Soundd before and now the charge is at 400 Kenya shillings. But I was here, I was ready to get back in the game. I was ready to cheat. Even if just on my multiple personalities.

See the background to this story is. I always loved poetry and have never really been afraid of standing and presenting in front of people. Since I was a kid. Yes, I do have stage fright just like any other person but I have too much of an ego to involve it in my performance. So yes I do breathe in deeply before I walk on stage but that’s just about it. I started performing poetry at Kwani? in 2007 and by 2009 I was so used to it I was the featured poet. In case you don’t believe me like most people. Find the event archive here. It’s then that I met Cindy Ogana who was still there this Tuesday, having not aged a single day since then. People say such things to be polite, but really she had the cutest baby boy since then whom I call King Arthur. And she still rocks those same locks, longer of course by now. This is my truth, I really can’t see any change from the person she was. She’s crazy, she’s nuts, she’s eccentric and had all of us in fits about the book from Kwanini? Series by the title “The Cock Thief” by Parselelo Kantai.

All in all, I lost my position in this love for performance, love for literature, love for writing. And all to what? Relationships! See I’m a last born of 7 and I’m 27. That can tell you that my family is not in the least bit the “a la mode” kind when it comes to doing things. Especially on love and relationships. You could say we blow things out of proportion so I guess we really are NUCLEAR. Anyway, the consequence of this is that I was not taught how to love. You learn ON THE GO. If they ask you whether YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT love. You clearly have no answer for it. Let me specify, the kind of love I am talking about here is the boy-girl relationship kind.

See, my mama taught me 2 kinds of love. To love God and to love my family. So in that department I was covered. But big mistake is when you apply that kind of teaching to this 3rd kind of love. The 2 former types of love are full of unshakable trust and they are very unconditional. So I was accustomed to applying this kind of teaching to my relationships. See, I would meet someone and they would become the apple of my eye then end up leaving me all beaten and blue like they threw an apple at my eye.

But  I am not  here to discuss that today. What this post is about is the fact that I lost my way. I lost my life goals, I started existing instead of living. See, doing the things you love and not just the one you love is the true measure of happiness. 😀 😛 I have done a lot of arts in my life. I have danced hip hop, taught salsa, acted, sang etc. But writing and performing my work is the epitome of the person I am. In and out. It is the one thing I can’t let go of, I shouldn’t let go of. Like my hair, it is my one man religion on my soul pavilion.

I wrote so little during the last 3 years. But since my last relationship, since the last 7 months, I have written enough to be back in the game. And last night was my first step on the renewed stage. Yes I might be way older. If being referred to as a veteran poet was not a sign enough then going there with my face looking like this did not help. I blame it on the Uhuru government though. I came back from Angola only to find that my barber had hiked the fee and now I have to wait for end of month to shave.

Bearder dan most!! hehe
Bearder dan most!! hehe

Still, I learn something new every day, every month and every year. This is a lesson I will keep ingrained in my mind. Never lose what you loved doing before meeting someone. Because that is what probably attracted them to you. Do not become a bore. That passion you had for screaming at a football match. Keep it. Never stop performing (I really mean on stage here). I’m not sure whether “stone throwing” for Gor fans applies. But you can throw something at her. Not HARD things though (ok, one) 🙂 Throw her a pillow, a kiss (blow but you get me), a rotten banana. You see that old guitar you used to strum only a few chords on and only knew one song on it? Keep at it. She might roll her eyes when you do but innately and probably sub consciously, it is one thing she likes about you. Not the lack of talent at playing the instrument. But your persistence. Your ability to keep trying.

A performer’s best attribute is his confidence, his charisma etc. A writer’s strong points are his creativity, his humour, his exposure to the world. Do not look for the best person to love, make and keep yourself lovable and the best person will find you.

Shihan has some crazy ideas on what love should be. That will be a discussion for another day but I will leave some excerpts here:

“I want a love like
Me thinking of you
Thinking of me thinking of you type love……….

…….I want to try counting the ways I love her
And lose count in the middle just so I have to start all over again
And I want to celebrate one of those one month anniversaries
Even though they ain’t really anniversaries
But doing it just ‘cause it make her happy type love……

……And I want a love that makes me st-st-st-st-stutter
Just thinking about how strong this love is type love
And I want a love that makes me want to cut off all my hair
Well, maybe not all of the hair
Maybe like I cut the split ends and trim my moustache
But it would still be a symbol of how strong my love for her….

………And check this, I kind of feel comfortable now
So I even be fantasizing about walking out on a green light
Just dying to get hit by a car
Just so I could lose my memory
Get transported to some third world country just to get treated
Then somehow meet up again with you so I can fall in love with you
In a different language and see if it still feels the same type love
I want a love that’s as unexplainable as she is”

Love, Njeri, Prose, Woman Power

Mama knew love

The chorus to Anthony Hamilton’s song by the post title goes like this:

Mama knew love like the back roads.

Used to fall asleep daily in her work clothes.

Mom I swear you never have to worry again.

Last Sunday was Mother’s day. Throughout the week, I got to catch up on several blog posts that I follow that had articles on lost parents written recently or in past years. Some of them had tears welling up in my eyes. This post is not only about mothers though it might lean a lot towards this earthly angels. Aleya’s story on her mum losing her father and her realizing that her mum was a daughter just like she was gave a new perspective on how many shoes one can occupy in a lifetime. A child will grow up to be a daughter, a mother, a sister, an aunt and a grandmother. She will experience emotions on several tangents and axes but one thing is for sure. The graph will always remain the same. Biko worked around the same theme. He brought his daughter into it. Her resemblance with his late mother – God rest her soul – is just the slightest projections of how the life force is transferred from one being to another.

Owaahh stepped outside his listicles and history zone to bring us a new side of him. The loss of an uncle who understood him. That one relative you know gets you despite being a generation or 2 apart. Suprisingly, he has no fear of death despite being a free-thinker (I use this because I still have no idea whether he is an atheist or he is agnostic) just like me a true Christian believer. The final piece I read by Magunga had a tear roll down my cheek (I can’t say I sobbed like Ruto on an election winning Sunday because that is unmanly of African men). He not only lost his dad but the burial happened to be on his birthday. I have since re-assured him that if we were to consider burial as a celebration of his dad’s life. Then he should be proud of sharing this day with him as 2 lives get celebrated on that day. One for the life lived and one for more years to come ahead.

I am lucky to have both my parents alive. And these 4 have given their existence new meaning if at all I never knew it. As the typical Mama’s boy and a last born, I shall mostly talk of my mother. As most African men know. The relationship with our fathers is a grunt stew spiced with a “Where did Stone Cold go?” rhetorical question here and there. It is not an Aromat moment. My dad once kicked a football to my stomach while we played against my brothers and his best words of consolation is to get up or we might lose the game. Dad, you are the best!! 😀

Now this woman Njeri, she is the apple of my eye. She has literally been there every single step of my life. From a sickly kid, through school, through life and she continues to be there. Her words, her prayers and her Bible have been a morality tower for as long as I can remember. Of course against her yardstick, I am as bent as a Vera Sidika shoe rack. She does not get yet how morality applies in my generation. Every generation keeps falling a level below.

The year is  1994. I am lying on her lap in a Limuru hospital. I have lost so much strength from throwing up all my food, all week. This was an illness that had plagued me since I was either 5 or 6. One last time and I had no more strength to hold onto consciousness. All went black…………… I woke up about 2 hours later. My mum was holding me on a hospital bed. She was all cried out. Apparently, at a certain time, the doctor after several tries at reviving me had given up and told her to expect the worst. I was back from the “dead”. It would take another 3 years before the illness finally went away. Never got a diagnosis. And by then she put at task the project to fill up my skinny bones. In a year I was the “fluffiest” in class. 🙂 . A “condition” that would follow me till running after some hard ball with curved sticks at the Alliance High School would finally burn up all the Fluff (Not you Zo).

This woman here is a Superwoman. Literally!! Seen here with the man who inspired my hair. “Mum, I heard you hating on mini skirts recently huh?”

That photo would need carbon dating were it not for the clear date below it.
That photo would need carbon dating were it not for the clear date below it.

She never got to University and with her college education and her teaching career, she decided that all her kids will have to excel. “Education is the key” was and still is her motto. It would open doors that would enable you to unlock your potential. She was up by 5 everyday. To heat water for us to wash up. Tea and bread was always ready and lunch packed for the day. Our parents’ generation has told and re-told stories of having to walk miles to get to school in the morning dew and cold. I can proudly attest that I went through the same. The only difference being that I had shoes and some pretty warm clothes on. But my mum always knew deep in her heart that, that might be the way it began but that was not the way it was going to be at the end.

That is why immediately my KCPE results came out, she was up and about checking at national schools whether by any chance I had been admitted to one. The dream school was The Alliance. Hers and mine. But with some points off getting to the 600 mark, I was sure that dream was dead. So shock on me when she came home from Kikuyu one day with a list printed from the principal’s office. I had been selected to join Bush as we fondly (some less fondly know it. Starcherians and Mang’erians I see you). Selection number 116 out of 182. She had been worried for nothing but what a better thing for a parent to worry about. We had always had plan of how I could…no..would become a doctor. That was never going to happen for me as soon as we dissected that frog in biology class. But I am still a doctor of words. The Doctor Bandit? Close enough mum? no? ok.

We all have had those silly moments we think we hate our moms. Mine was probably because I missed a lot wrestling matches in primary school. She would try to explain to me how those guys were working and making money as I lost a chance to read and achieve my goals. But I would hear none of that. How could guys who seemed to be having so much fun be paid for that? Plus it all seemed so “REAL”? So it is was definitely a shock when later in campus I would miss watching football matches to go study while giving myself the same reason. Lesson learnt mother.

Homework time. Now what the hell colour is this?
Homework time. That’s the kind of head I cover with this hair.

Fast forward to the present. She wants me to shave (This is notwithstanding the fact that she used to pay for my hairdresser all the way through college and campus). She also wants to see a consistent/constant girlfriend. ( Someone should tell her of Celesste – see my last post – then maybe she could pray for a miracle 😀 ) I am trying mum. Not really but oh well. She also wants to see my kids. I always counter this with. “You have 7 kids, and I am the last born yes?”. To which she nods. And then I ask, “Only 2 of these kids have given you grandchildren and yet you still insist on mine?”. She tries to convince me that she is getting old and seeing the last born’s kids would be a good chapter to close at. At this point I pull a Balotelli face.Why always me Njeri? :D

She has a myriad issues with my piercing. Not actually the piercing itself but rather the sizes of studs I stick through it. I know how quiet and solemn dad is. So this eccentricity I posses definitely came from her. Try and convince her of that. Refer back to mini skirt above. I naturally revel in not following the crowd and stepping out of my comfort zone. It is no wonder that my favourite quote is: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”.

In the end I have allowed work, fatigue and all other excuses I come up with to make my visits to her less often. I used to go home every 2 weeks. Now it is every 2 months. And the wife/wives (You never know new Kenya and all) and kids will only make this duration longer. I may not see her often but I never fail to tell her I love her. I have had enough friends and experience to teach me on the importance of the time we have with our mothers in this world. It is almost sure that rarely does a parent bury her child. And with this conviction that she might and probably will leave before I do. It is upon me to celebrate her in any way I can and when I can. She has seen me through to the ripe age of 27 and she still hassles me when I don’t tell her I have a cold. It is innately in her to do this. You will never be nothing more than her fledgling. My mastery of this language I write in is from her careful but stern hand that guided me through Hallo Children, Read with us and the then popular English Aid. Who gives a kid an Encyclopaedia Britannica at age 10? I have tried to use my poetic prowess to immortalize her in words but always failed miserably. Words cannot describe her. She can only be loved, be thanked and be remembered. In this literary annals of the Internet I can leave this note. And hopefully generations after can find it or the aliens when they finally find an intelligent species on earth (my money is on the cat, otherwise how do you explain being such an insolent pet and still getting the best of treatments?). In the immortal words of Tupac Amaru Shakur

Pauline Njeri

Ain't a woman alive that can take my momma place
Ain’t a woman alive that can take my momma place