Friday, 20 November 2015

Come into my World

Come into my world; see it as I see it. This world that is unexplainably complicated.
My best friend’s brother has just welcomed his son into the world. My sister is getting engaged next month. My favourite cousin was in a car accident that left him handicapped and he is okay with it, actually very positive about his life. These are all things that happen to adults.
Exactly what I do not feel like.
I am not an adult yet. I keep telling myself. But next year, I will mark 25 years on earth. 25 good long years, where I was supposed to have learnt how to survive, comfortably live on my own, be in a healthy relationship leading to marriage. Generally all things, I haven’t.
I never really thought of how life will be at 25.
Should I be the corporate smart lady who wakes up at 5:00am, goes for a run and is on the way to the office by 6:00? On a busy day, she will still be in the office at 9:00pm. She loves her job and is extra good at it. She is independent, knows what she wants and has it all figured out. I think but I know she doesn’t have it all figured out.
I used to love writing. Used to look at nation centre and say, that’s my future office, I used to. Maybe that’s the 24 year old I need to be. The writer, who has discovered her niche and does a hell of a job. She is a happy go lucky girl. Send her to a press conference and rest assured she will give front page worthy news. A lifestyle article, farming article, stock exchange, she can do it and do it right. Sure she will deliver last minute, works well under pressure. Suffers from writer’s block hence has articles in store for those rainy days. She handles her bills and life just the same way, risk taker but not too risky.
Maybe I should go back to church. Immerse myself in the Church maybe that is where I belong. Right there where I know my heart will be at peace. I can be engaged to the youth pastor. Spend all our weekends traveling and preaching. Spreading the gospel and living my life exactly how God meant it to be lived.
But I never imagined being 25, I still feel like a child. Even my body doesn’t look 25.   
I am still that young girl who was raised in a windy cold village. Who met ‘walevis’ on the way home and would spend hours listening to their stories because she was too scared not to. The girl with the black dog, that was seemed as old as the world. Black, deep wolf eyes, always following people around with a look that said “I know what you did but I don’t judge”.   I am that girl who dreamt of building a big hut and filling it with enough modern equipment and rooms to fit 6 people.
That girl who collected unique stones, read Greek mythology stories and rewrote them. My classmates thought I was an amazing story teller, yet I was simply rewriting what I had read. Ain’t I lucky no other 11 year old ever read Greek mythology?
I still meet those boys and girls who jumped fences with me. Literally, we jumped the school fence to get to the University mess first. They look so different. Some are tall and handsome. Others are mothers and ooh so smart.
That tall guy who used to sit at the back of the class and never said a thing. Luke** used to walk around with a slight bend trying desperately to be shorter than he was. He had pimples on his face while the rest of us had smooth baby faces. Well I met him the other day and he has blossomed into a handsome man with piercing eyes and a shy smile. Blossomed into that guy you look at more than once and desperately hope he looks at you.  

Nancy**. I met Nancy** in class 4, she had been forced to repeat class four. She was a loud spoken, playful girl. We quickly became friends. She had this air of maturity about her. Like everyone thought she knew more about the world than the rest of us, hence we respected her. Academics were not her forte then. Today, she is doing her masters looking more sophisticated than Caroline Mutoko. Hear her speak and you wonder what happened? Did I really know you back then? 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Friends: Him and Her


 
My friend lost a part of him.

  I have a friend. First met him, almost 15 year ago. He grew up in the city, he held adult like conversations with his parents and had an opinion on everything. So there I was a young girl in the village and this city boy ( younger than me) is acting all mature and confident. Fast forward years later and many more meetings; in ushago, running away from boring crowds, the occasional drink up afternoons. We are now house mates. He has lived in my house for a week but already knows more people around than I do. He has a charm and people flock to him. My fundi ignores my calls but bombards him with calls. I call him my cousin, he doesn't. He says I love you. It comes easy to him. Last week, he packed and left. Just like that I was alone once more. I hugged him goodbye, one rainy evening and watched as he sauntered away rain and all into the dark night.

Yesterday, I saw him again but this time he was lying in a hospital bed, hurt. He smiled at me and told me to say the truth and keep it real with him. I couldn't. Maybe I will take him some oranges.
I promise I won't cry, cannot promise to be real with him.

Genius, Controversial, Honest, Real, Funny, Leader, Adventurous, Music Lover- musician, Family.

I moved into a blue, purple, lime green and orange house.

My new house is beautiful. The walls are blue, hmm no they are purple with a shade of orange and a touch of lime. Beautiful. But I did not do anything. She did. She is amazing.A bigger person, I have not yet met. She found a painter. A troublesome mlevi but good painter. For three days, the painter paited and disturbed her."Andi, I tunahitaji more paint, Andi hapa unahitaji fillers, Andi hii overcoat sii mzuri." For three days, she listened. On the fourth day, she gave him more. More money, more responsibility, more pressure. He ran away, with a bottle of legend in his hand and a scowl on his face. She handled it like a boss and took over.
Today, the house is comfy and warm. It has running water, lights in all rooms, colour. From a dark, waterless, empty hub to a home. She did it. ( Now if only I could find the perfect man for her.)

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

I was once the strongest.




I was once the strongest.
My name is Mary Diana.  In a small way, I am like the hero of Ibsen's play, Enemy of the People.  One day deep inside me, I knew I had no choice but to face my fears and stand up for what I knew was right.  Here is my story.
It was a beautiful night. The stars were bright and the sky clear with no clouds. There was a full moon and I felt one with nature. Everything was so peaceful; I was seated outside the house with my aunt, my sister and two of my cousins. My aunt is an elderly woman who is tall and slim. She has the darkest skin I have ever seen and the whitest eyes possible. Her face is very expressive as she tells us the story of Guka our grandfather. A man who is looked upon as a legend. His stories are full of intrigue and mystery. Like the time his wife ran away and when elders came to call him for a meeting he stood at the top of a hill and threw a spear down shouting that when the spear hit the ground, his wife should be in at his home.
I am sorry, I was distracted back to the night.
We sat around a fire and sipped on mursik the traditional kalenjin milk. The wind breeze was soft and calm. As we sat we heard a distant scream. Then more voices were heard. “ Mwizi, mwizi! Muuwe!” (Thief thief Kill him.)
Immediately, we stood up. My two cousins jumped to their feet and ran to their house. They emerged holding a panga in one hand and a spear in the other. Then they took off through the farm in the direction of the screams. My sister held my hand more out of need of companionship than fear. My aunt tried to keep us calm by urging us into the house. But there was no way, I was going back to the house, I had to hear everything to the end.
The shouting grew louder and louder. And out of the darkness a man ran towards us. “ Mwalimu mwalimu nisaidie,” (Teacher teacher please help me!) He cried out. My aunt is a retired teacher and a person who is highly regarded by the community. That is the reason the man who looked like a teenager came to her house.
“It is all a lie, Mama you know me, I work at Wangombe’s and his son who is my age hates me. I work hard, I have worked hard all my life and you are the person who first took me in and led me Wangombe’s. I did not steal it was the son and because I am not blood no one believes me. Mama help me please!” He continued crying out.
Mwizi Kill him shouts kept getting louder and louder. The people were coming closer and my aunt had just a minute to make her decision. I felt like holding the young man’s hand and hiding him in the house.
“Help him! Help him! Help him!” My heart shouts. How can I not? I think. All my life I have never stood up to majority. I always know the power in numbers. Especially now  in a foreign land where I am only a visitor. My aunt looks at us with sadness in her eyes.
Her eyes tell us he is saying the truth while her mouth forms the words, But. I look at my sister; she looks to the ground and takes a step back.  The short man in an Orange ODM written t-shirt and grey shorts has a huge wound on his forehead. It looks like he was hit by a stone and his blood mixes with his tears as they run down his cheeks.
We are all quiet; I am hoping this is all a dream. “I know what you are saying is true Jose, but what can I say that will have a mad mob of blood-lusting people believe me? They will use you as an example because cases of cattle and maize being stolen have risen,” Says Aunt Senge in a low voice.
Now the shouts and screams of the mob sound like they are just behind us. I grab Jose’s hand and lead him into the house, I lock the door.
I do not know what I have just done but I know it is the right thing to do. My courage and guts are now gone. The mob are upon us lead by my two cousins. “Mama, has Jose that lying thief come here?” My cousin asks in a loud deep voice that is trembling with of anger.
My dear friend, the mob consisted of almost 20 men. Some  of the men were as young as 15 and others as old as 70. Some held panga’s others held spears and the rest had rungus in their hands. On their faces were looks of anger and eagerness. I knew they would hear no reason. At least not from a young girl who knew not their culture. The law was theirs and justice would be dispensed as they saw fit.
My aunt opened her mouth then closed it. She looked at me and so did the men. Then she fell back into her chair. Her son, my cousin, moved to her side and held her hand. He mumbled some words into her ears and she nodded.
Then he stood up and came to me. He looked sternly into my eyes and said, “ This does not concern you. You do not know how much we suffer in the hands of thieves. Who are you to protect a thief?”
At his words, the rest of the men looked at me surprised. Their looks of surprise changed to shock then back to anger. One of them shouted that Jose was such a good liar that he had gotten to me. Then their voices rose slowly from murmurs to full chants.
 “Lets Kill Him! Kill Him! Kill...”
I am scared, my heart is pounding very fast and I see Jose’s beaten body lying next to the fire as it dies away. “No!” I think. “I can still stop this from happening.” My cheeks are wet, my lips are trembling and I am feeling cold from head to toe.
I run the five metres to the door and I tell them to get away from it. “Jose is just a boy, his parents died and he is all alone. All his life he has faced trouble and suffering. If you kill him tonight, God will curse you all,”
“A murderer is worse than a thief. All of you will be murderers!” I am shouting, I am crying, I am screaming. I am strong. Now hands are on me. My cousins are pulling me away. I throw my arms in the air, I kick the one on the right and I bite the one on my left. I fall to the ground but they still drag me away.
In the moonlight I watch as they break down the door. Two men pull Jose out of the house and right next to the dying fire, they beat him with their rungus. They tear the t shirt off his body. His head is bleeding, the breeze whispers, “Sorry!” I hear it so clearly and I close my eyes. I curl my small body into a ball.
I stood up to them but they did not listen. They were blinded with rage and energy; misguided and stupid energy.  I stood up alone and though I failed, I believed and I was brave.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

I will never lead a strike, I think.




I am 23, I am in university and I will never lead a strike against an administration. Ever since I was a child I have been taught to listen and accept, questioning authority was unheard of.
I think my journey to who I am today begun 13 years ago when I was only ten. I was in a primary school called Chepkoilel. My mathematics teacher was a short dark skinned man who wore big spectacles. After every exam, he would cain us for every question we got wrong. The top five students would have to go with him to his office after class. I was among those students. In his office he would tell us to lean over his desk and hold the window grills. Then he took his bamboo made cain and beat us all over again for the questions we had failed.
We would then leave his office cursing and crying but we never went to the principal to complain. Instead every morning we would put leaves in front of the class because someone had told us of a myth. According to the myth, the leaves changed the mood of the person who walked over them from angry to happy. Every morning on my way to school, I would pray for Mr. Mwangi to miss class that day.
That was how my fear for anybody in authority begun. In 5th grade when Mwai Kibaki was elected president, I left Chepkoilel and headed for Queen of Angels.
In Queen of Angels life was pretty much the same. The teacher taught we listened and obeyed. If he said jump we would ask how high. When I was in 6th grade, my desk mate was made prefect. One of the things he did was to write my name as a noisemaker. Our punishment was to kneel in front of the staff room with cello tape over our mouths and our hands in the air. We stayed in that position for almost an hour.
Through punishment, authority silenced our voices and made sure we would never lead anything against them. Our class teacher, Mr. Kirui would make us wear our game kits after the results were released. He would then take us to the field and have us run around it ten times.
When we were exhausted, he would then have us do banana jumps and squats. Finally his icing on the cake would be to beat anyone who had not gotten their targeted pass mark. It was always almost everyone in the class. In my class there was a girl called Teresa. Teresa was very light skinned. I think I can compare her skin to a ripe orange. When she was beaten, her legs would have red marks of where the teacher’s cain hit. To this day, she has black marks on the back of her legs.
I joined high school in 2006. In Kabarak there was an unspoken rule. It was ‘come alone leave alone’. This meant that any demonstration would leave you standing alone. Student unity lasted in the dormitories only. When I was in form four, our chemistry teacher begun giving us exam papers twice every week that he expected us to complete by the following week.
His expectations left us frustrated and exhausted. So we wrote a letter. We told him our struggles and all 31of us signed it. We then marched to his office to give it to him. He took one look at it and threw it in the dust bin. Then he stood up and ordered us to get out of his office.
Good example of how I got my attitude towards strikes.
I remember thinking to myself, ‘Why bother when we all know nothing will change!’ The only incident that nudged the unwilling stone I am today happened in August 2008. There was a teacher, he was tall, dark and slender. I do not remember his real name but we all called him chief.  Because he used to call everyone chief.
Chief was the most feared teacher in Kabarak High school. He owned a bicycle that he used to chase people to class after lunch and supper breaks. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all students were expected to attend chapel at 6:45 am. The chapel was approximately two kilometres away from the school. He would chase people from school all the way to the chapel on his bicycle.
In the evenings, he would creep to classes and peep through the windows. Any noisemakers were made to frog jump up and down the library stairs. The stairs had more than ten steps. Every time he was teacher on duty somebody would have to be taken to the clinic having been hurt trying to obey Chief.
The last stroke was when he hit a girl on her head for fetching water at a time when everyone was supposed to be in class. The poor girl began nose bleeding and had to be taken to the clinic. Her classmates got angry and spread the news and anger to the other 5 classes of the form 4 stream.
All form 4 students assembled at the Fire assembly place shouting for Chief’s dismissal. The students took his bicycle and had the watchmen call the principal. Chief never came back. That was the first time in all my years of education that the students actually got what they wanted.
Now that I am in university, I still ask myself, “Why bother when we all know nothing will change?” I am disappointed and sometimes mad at the administration. So what do I do? I sit down and complain to my friends. In class, I tell the lecturer then I leave class and head home. Tomorrow I will do the same thing till, one day; I will not notice the bad and ugly in authority.
After all I am not one who leads something that will end up with me being punished.
In high school, I read An Enemy Of The people by Henrick Ibsen. In that play, Dr. Stockmann discovers that the town’s main livelihood, The  Baths are contaminated and will make tourists sick. He thinks his discovery is a good thing and will come to help the town in the long run. He also has a solution on how to correct the situation. He takes his discovery to the mayor who is his brother. The mayor turns him down and warns him against telling the people of his discovery. Dr. Stockmann goes against the mayor and holds a meeting. At the meeting, the town people turn against him and call him enemy of the people. They claim that he wants to take away their main source of income. The mayor who is Dr. Stockman’s brother leads the people in alienating Dr. Stockmann and his family. The whole play is based on the phrase, ‘ The strongest man is he who stands alone’. It basically meant that the majority are always wrong. They just support something blindly.
But I look at it this way. All Dr.Stockmann gained from standing up to his brother and his town was getting alienated. He was humiliated in public; his sons were chased away from school and his own brother turned against him. He ended up being punished for trying to help his people. He lost.
That is exactly what I think will happen if I attempt to lead a strike. I will end up suffering and lose the fight. I am too fragile to stand that happening. Hence I will keep my head buried and wait and hope there will be a Dr.Stockmann who will stand up to the massive unmoving hills that are the authority.

Three Stars in Me. Sisterhood: Of strength, charm, loyalty and togetherness.


Three women are dancing on the dance floor. They all have the same dark skin, oval face and small eyes. They are the only ones dancing.
I am seated in a corner in the Hotel Hall watching them. Their eyes light up and they are smiling as they dance the same style. Two of the ladies are plump, tall and dressed in red. One of them is wearing a dress and the other is wearing a skirt suit. The third woman is short and very slender. She is in a blue shirt and black skinny jeans.
I want you to see the women through my eyes. The three women are my sisters. Ever since I was a child I have adored and admired and looked up to them. I want to be just like them. I take pride in their success and I feel pain when they hurt. They are Caro, Rose and Susan.
 Caro is the oldest and we call her big big. She is the one in the skirt suit. As she comes towards me, the room changes.  We are now in a hospital room looking at Caro talking to a patient in a bed. The door opens and a Japanese doctor enters, “Welcome to Japan. Your brother will be fine and in three weeks you can take him back home.” Her face that was frowning and eyes full of tears breaks into a smile and for a moment she stares at the man in the bed. She then picks her phone and makes a call. “ Mama, do not worry, your son will be well and we will be back soon.” She says.
I stand up and we dance as she holds my hands.
Caro is now seated in an office and the name plate reads C.E.O. A reporter is interviewing her on her life and how she got to be the Chief Executive Officer of The Institute of certified public accountants in Kenya (ICPAK) at only 34 years.
I close my eyes and see myself. I am seated in a couch, the walls of the room are white, and pictures of Caro and her family hang on the wall. It is late at night and Caro is opposite me, a wine glass in her hand. Her feet are folded under her .  The television is on but we both are not listening. “D, be careful about the man you marry. Make sure you have the same values and ambitions. Make sure you talk money, children and even the type of education you want for your children before you get married,” She says looking at me. I nod. I love nights like this when she opens up to me and tells me what to expect and how her life as a working mother is.
 On Father’s day we were in the same position. She opened up to me about her final moments with Baba (Father).
“When Baba was in Intensive Care at Aga Khan Hospital, mama kept saying the doctors are going to do an operation and he will be well. But I had many questions how were the doctors going to stop his main organs from failing? The doctor I went to told me he was waiting for someone in the family to accept that Baba was dying. Mama refused to think of that at all. I think what gave me strength was finally accepting the times we had and letting go of him. She said as I struggled to hold back tears.
As we dance, Rose calls her and she turns and walks away from me. Rose is the second oldest sister and we call her big small.
 Rose catches my eye and waves at me and I am pulled into her world. I see her in a long yellow kitenge dress pushing a two year old baby on a swing. She laughs and laughs as two other children rush towards her. The baby on the swing gets off and runs away. Rose calls to him but he keeps running. He has autism and does not respond to her call. He never responds when people call him. Now she races after him with two little girls,in pink dresses and pony tail held braids right behind her. She picks him up and hugs him.
“ Mama ona ninakimbia haraka kukuliko,” (Mum, see I am running faster than you.) shouts her oldest daughter, Leila as she pulls up past of Rose who is holding Brandon. Leila is five years and she is proud that she is not a baby like her brother and sister, Alyssa. Alyssa is one year old and the last born in the young family.
“Mama Leila amenipita! ( Mum, Leila has passed me),” Alyssa pulls her mother’s dress to get her attention as she says that with a pout on her face. Rose sets Brandon down and hugs her daughters as well while reassuring Alyssa that she is as fast as Leila.  
Then her phone rings. It is her mother. They talk for an hour and we hear her telling her mother that everything is fine and that she will talk to them. She then makes two phone calls. Both to her brothers where we hear her telling them off for not keeping in touch with their mother and command them to call their mother. She puts down the phone turns and hugs a tall man and together with the three children they walk towards a group of ten people seated at a dinner table. She is the host; she takes her place at the head of the table and leads the people in conversation.
Screams of “Go Sue!” bring me back to the Hotel Hall. Susan was dancing alone while Caro and Rose cheered her on. She inched her body closer to the ground in tune with Emmy Kosgei’s Taunet Nelel meaning New Beginnings that is playing. As she got closer to the ground, she begins to fade away. In her place was another version of herself. She looks younger and is in a white doctor’s coat. She walks into a children’s ward and bends over a child in bed. She whispers something to the child while checking her temperature. She writes down the medicine on the child’s medical chart and leaves the ward. This is Susan we call her small big.
She removes her coat and leaves the hospital. I am waiting for her outside the hospital. I have just finished my first week in University. We go wait for a bus with forty other people. A bus slows down and Susan hops into the bus, she was the first person to get into the bus. I am left pushing and jostling with the forty or more people trying to get into the bus. I finally manage five minutes later and our night begins. She is taking me out to clubs for my very first time. We end up in a club in town and she orders the same drink for both of us.
The music is wonderful, we stand up to dance and a man approaches us. He wants to dance with me. I move closer to Susan and wait for her to say something to him. In my head I am thinking, “ I am not dancing with him, I am not talking to him, I have heard enough stories of how women are picked up in clubs to be scared.” Sure enough Susan tells him off and he goes. An hour later he comes back to us. He offers to buy us some drinks. To this Susan asks him why he thinks we cannot buy our own drinks and why after telling him off before he thought we would ask him to stay now.
He shouts at her about how proud she is. She smiles and calmly tells him, “ Haujaona bado,” (You have not seen my pride yet). We staggered out of the club at 3:00am and started arguing about my choices in life. We were loudly arguing as we walked through the streets of Nairobi heading towards the Kencom bus stage. We argued in the matatu till we got to her hostel. The next morning we were talking as usual.
Years later, she was posted to Nakuru and I turned up with 9 friends of mine. We had come to Nakuru for a high school reunion. In our plans, we forgot we needed a place to sleep when we left the school. So I surprised Susan by walking in with 9 friends and wanting her to host us. She did. She took care of our supper and we helped her with breakfast. She is my rock because no matter how desperate and sad I get, she always has a solution.
Those are my sisters and I am back to watching them dance. They share a look and slowly start dancing towards me. They pull me up and make me dance with them. There we are four women all with the same dark skin, oval small heads and small white eyes. They call me small small. Caro is strength, Rose is charm, Sue is loyalty and together they are my sisters.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

I dream that one day I will stand and say this words...

I want to take this opportunity to thank you all. Everyone who has stood by my side through everything. You all have made this possible. 1st, I would like to thank me famillie, the big one that I have. This extends from parents,siblings to cousins. A special mention is Susan my dear one. She was the one I have been with through all the stupid things av done. She is one person I call when I have done something stupid. The inspiration behind my career.
I want to thank my friends who have been great partners in life. I remember a saying your best friend is the one who will be sitting with you in jail as you both try and figure out how to get out. And I have had many such friends.  Many are the times we have been in compromising situations laughing, crying and swearing that it wont happen again.
I stand before you as the little girl who went to a small school in Eldoret, as the little girl who once recieved a present in an over-sized dress - that had dust stains on the side it looked like I had fallen sideways on my way to get the present, an over-sized sweater and very dusty shoes (My friends still laugh about that photo till today). I stand infront of you as that young girl who was afraid of submitting a story because she did not want to fail at what she loved.
I am still that girl who cries and hides away from the world when she is sad. I remain humble and know that I am here only because I got help. Others believed in me when  I didn't believe in me. A special mention goes to the guy who mentored me when I was a shy 21 year old. A.K May God bless you because all the thank yous I say are not enough.
Finally and most importantly, I would like to thank God. He has brought me from far since I was a tiny toddler born pre-mature, He has received a lot of tears and frustrations and He has held me through it all and kept me sane.
I hope to get a chance to keep on doing what I love and mentor other talented but shy young people.
Thank you.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

I RUN AWAY, SORRY BUT ITS A HABIT

I am a professional runner. Not because its in my blood (hehe utajuaje am a kale) but because I do not confront people, issues.
If I am in a tricky situation, my first reaction is to run as fast as my nimble legs can take me. I recently learnt that I am a dreamy idealist and guess what. Dreamy idealist run away from confrontation. They are peaceful people.
I used to want to do Human resource but I would never have the courage to fire anyone. I would call in sick on the firing day. Hehe firing day.
Well, confrontations are dirty affairs because they always end up with people getting hurt. I think I will tell everybody I have a relationship wiht that I am a runner so that when I run they will understand.
Isn't it romantic if I meet someone who I will run away from because I think they do not love me only for them to chase me till they overtake me.
Aww right??? Right? Right? Right?