Muse

Over the last two weeks, I have run into your closest friends. They did not recognize me at first sight. I don’t blame them. I have changed in the last 9 years. The last time they saw me was when we were lowering you into the ground in November of 2010.

One looked old.

I smiled at them. One, I introduced to my son.

And the smiles they gave back. I reminded them of a very difficult time.

And it reminded me of a very challenging time.

That time introduced me to myself, cemented and attached me to reggae forever and changed my belief system when it came to certain relationships. Death invaded my life in a way it had never been able to do before. Yours was the first funeral I had ever Continue reading

Bare

Lay yourself bare

soul to the light

eyes like the sun

peering at you

and what you hold inside

 

Lay yourself bare

layers peeled back

slight but open

waiting to be seen

for that acknowledgement

that nod of yes

 

Lay yourself bare

but remember that

with that joy of being seen

you open up to the

pain of remaining invisible

the heartache of no reciprocity.

 

 

Made in Kenya (Battery Life)

He groaned as the lights began to sputter out. He had worked hard to install the second bulb and had been beyond excited when the wiring connection finally clicked for him and his little studio room filled with the extra light. He had forgotten to buy the electricity tokens. The lights went out. As he stared into the darkness, the sole window in his abode letting in that early moon light, beams streaming in through the metal cutout with accompanying mosquitoes. He felt around for his phone to check on the level of the battery life.

13%.

Well, at least the lights had not gone out when Sylvia had come to visit. He had spent the last ten weeks paying attention to her, his subtle way of showing his romantic interest. She had never seemed to want to reciprocate. He had bought her two boiled eggs on Tuesday, once he had delivered Sonny’s repaired boots and Sonny had actually reached into his pocket and slapped 15 bob into his hand. He had stared at him for a beat and then hurriedly retreated before Sonny’s other personality whipped through the drunken haze that surrounded him and pulled the coins back into their fold.

He had walked quickly, head down, all smiles. Perhaps she had seen the beams from his downward facing smile refracting against the ground and cascading all around him. He recalled hearing Sylvia’s melodic voice cutting through his daze and when he looked up, all he could see was her wide gap-toothed smile stretching out towards him. He had looked over his left shoulder, momentarily surprised that she was looking right at him and talking to him.

“…na umebambika sana leo” Continue reading

The Post Office

He called it a damper. I stared at him blindly. I had just purchased stamps and handed over my three envelopes, addressed and sealed. He gestured behind me and I looked over my left should in the direction he was pointing.

“There’s a damper”, he said.

His face and demeanor were all grey. Stony grey. No emotion, no smiles, no joy. He sat at his desk, the mPesa log book splayed out in front of him and a ragged blue Bic pen hugging itself to the book.

I had walked into the empty post office not knowing what to expect. I had not mailed a physical letter in a decade and this man did not seem to understand how this damper statement utterly confused me. When I looked over my left shoulder, there was an Continue reading

You sleep, I think

You crawl into my bed just after the sun has pulled itself from the earth, ducking beneath the mosquito netting that is loosely tucked underneath the mattress. Your voice, when you call out my name, is thick with sleep.

“Mummy…can I sleep in your bed?”

I never say no. Truth be told, I miss the days when all you knew was my bed. But these days, the entire night with you in my bed leads to bruises on my back and aching ribs as you kick and stretch out all night long. Perhaps you seek the security of knowing I am right there so you have a tendency of sticking out your leg, your arm, your head into whatever direction you believe I am sleeping. Funny thing, when you come to my room in the morning, you fall asleep so fast and you do not reach for me at all. As we were taught in Swahili class, so many eons ago, unalala fo fo fo.  Continue reading

Boyfriend Number 1

He was my first boyfriend. He wrote me love letters and quoted the Book of Solomon. I, at 13, had no inkling what those verses really meant. The apex of my sexual knowledge was limited to zero at that age. What I remember is that he was sweet. He would call the house on our rotary phone, because in those days, Nairobi was full of phone booths, dial-up rotary phones and that kring-kring ringtone. I never knew when he would call and I remember the first time it happened. We sat down to dinner at 1930 usually. And on this day, we were all hunched around the TV as it was nearing the 1900 news that all of us were forced to watch courtesy of my parents. Dinner was being prepared and the loud jangling of the red phone in the corridor by the main bathroom surprised us all.

I don’t recall who went to get the phone but I recall the distinct feeling of surprise when my name was called out and they said someone’s on the phone for you. I could feel my father’s eyes boring into my back as I walked out of the living room into the unlit corridor and I picked up the head of the rotary phone that had been pulled from the cradle and placed gently on it’s side on Continue reading