PEACE! I’LL PASS

I have been having an itch lately. Scratch it off. Very funny of you. But it’s one of those itches that just won’t go away. A constant nag beneath the skin, you scratch and scratch but nothing. You want to peel off your skin and scratch the itchy spot.

Lately, with the looming Election Day fast approaching there has been a lot of peace talk. Peace this. Peace that. Suddenly we all understand our Anthem’s lines, “May we dwell in unity, Peace and liberty.” To some extent I say to hell with it. To hell with me too. Okay. Okay. Can I at least pack a bag on my way out?

Hear me out. One minute. Tick tock. I will be fast. Fifty-eight seconds remaining. How old is this country? Over fifty years. Damn we are getting old. And we are a proud nation. We shout from the rooftops our diversity as a people. A nation of over forty tribes.

Fifty seconds. Stereotypes aside. We are a proud people. That cannot be over emphasized. Our differences are our bonds. Talk of a paradox.

Forty-five seconds. Now, imagine fifty-year-old neighbors who apparently cannot get along. Childish, right? And we are funny neighbors. We started off by borrowing knowledge from each other. You know, how to cure some disease. How to farm. How to fight wars. Then times got tough. We barter traded. My cow for some of your maize. Then the guys with their metal snake came along. They infringed too much. We stood up and demanded our freedom. Along the way some foolish youth, without their knowledge crossed the lines drawn on the sand. New bloodlines were formed. A people of mixed blood.

Thirty-five seconds. What? Is your watch accurate? Couldn’t you use a Rolex? I hear it doesn’t even tick. Why am I vehemently against this peace preaching especially during the electioneering period? You are wondering. Because I think we are missing the point. The big picture. This is the time we should be looking at track records. Promises. Lies. The visions we have for the country. Our way forward. Instead we are all caught up in this peace rhetoric. We are missing the big picture.

Twenty seconds. Do you want to tell me for a people that have been together that long we can’t tolerate each other for a single date on some calendar? Why is it that suddenly we must be reminded of peace? I agree that some of us have been living in the piss and things are not looking up. But we have been living in peace. It is a sort of diversionary tactic. Our focus is off.

Nine seconds. Come the eighth of August we will be so glad that we voted peacefully that the leaders we _actually-vote for _will be second fiddle. And for the next five years we will have been short changed. The piss will continue stinking our lives. And the peace? You decide.

Five seconds. Have I at least made my point? We are a peaceful people. Period.

One second. Let me stop talking now.

The Accusation

We are all guilty of sin, error, and moments of sheer stupidity; none of us should be casting stones. The occasional arced pebble might be overlooked.
-Richelle E. Goodrich

‘Mwizi! Mwizi!’

The cry tears the early Saturday morning air. A battle cry. A victory cry. The beginning of a dirge song. A call to action. It is all about perspective. Even a man standing at the back of a mirror can imagine what his reflection looks like.

**********
I hear the cry loud and clear. It sends chills through my entire body. The light from my phone screen is almost blinding as I stare at the clock. 3 am. Even the birds have not begun their rehearsals. Only crickets and evil can be found at this ungodly hour of the night.

It can only mean one thing. My skin is becoming numb from the cold and the uncertainty only works to make it worse. The commotion is getting closer to where I am. I stare up at the cloudless sky. The stars seem dim. Reluctantly like a moth attracted to the light I start walking towards the commotion. Are you nuts? What are you thinking? We will be fine. What assurance do you have?

A small crowd has already built up. I stand a safe distance. The death penalty.

*****
I am heaving. I have no clear plan or destination. The air feels heavier and I feel as if I am wading. I am certain my legs have conspired to betray me. They are not carrying my weight as fast as they are supposed to. Choices. Life serves you bitter pills and the only option you have is to swallow.

I hit the ground with a thud. The heavy blow on my forehead spins me back to the ground as I struggle to get back on my feet. Confusion. I cry out. My chasers also cry out. Pain, and mercy. Victory.

Someone roughly picks me up from the ground and shoves me forward. I can taste soil on my tongue. I implore them to spare me. I want to speak to their humanity. Sell them my plea. For a second I wish I had taken up a Marketing course in school(skills to sell ice to an Eskimo. Cliche).

My body is working on overdrive now and the kicks and blows seem to be doing no harm. There is no escape for me. I wish the ground opens up and swallows me whole. Deaf ears. I want to tell them the reasons why. Negotiate on behalf of my beating heart. They can have my stupid brain and burn it at the stake. My captors are oblivious to my pleas and are hell bent on marching me to my death.

The heavy object dropped on my chest has me gasping for air. From the noise I can tell the crowd is growing. I writhe as whips land all over my body. I hit another lifeless body near me. They have caught a counterpart. Who could it be? I cannot make out who it is. Even the Lord was not crucified on his own.

*****
We have to rid the streets of such pests who only steal what is not theirs. Have you considered their rights? Let us be done with them once and for all. Who made you the judge and jury? But they… Who gave you the authority? Dilemma. My conscience is divided. One part stands as the accuser, the other inclines towards the accused. The latter dominating as I watch the whips mercilessly land on them.

Where did all this people come from at this time of the morning? Majority of them are wielding crude weapons. I could almost swear I had seen a knife. Are they always this armed for war? One faction is now asking for building stones. For what purpose? Towards the building of what? They are currently tearing down lives piece by piece. Apparently, if you drop it on a person’s head you blow their heads and be done with them.

Another faction is opposed to that. Sweet. Hooray!. Wait up! There is no party yet. You thought there is one? Hold your horse. Their only interest is the location of the stolen merchandise and the other gang members. I clench my fist as all the muscles tense imagining the pain they are going through as the anger choking the air is meted out on them.

*****
I slither. The pain is too much. Make it stop. Anyone. I heard them ask for our secret hideaway. I would lead them to the gates of heaven at the time if I was the custodian of that secret. The blows and whips seem to be coming from all directions.

I protectively hold my hands over my head. Someone grabs at my pants. Oh Lord let them not strip me. I try to hold on to it. The ringing pain paralyses me for a second. A stone had hit right at my temple. The cold water on my naked body is the most brief moment of reprieve, deep down I know my agonies are about to get worse.

The cry for petrol sends utter terror throughout my whole body.

*****
Pilate himself asked to wash his hands when his people crossed the line. I was now ready to also wash mine. The crowd is asking to burn them. Is this the right step to take? Don’t they know after crossing some lines there is not coming back?

I want to reach out and speak to them. Implore them to now stop this madness. Is this the only way to solve the issue? Do they know that life is precious? I see no humanity written on their faces. They had suddenly all turned to beasts. They had lost all compassion.

The crowd is growing bit by bit. The people seem to just keep coming. Most are more than ready to grab the whips and join in. The words of the savior play my mind, ‘Let he with no sin cast the first stone.’ I am a sinner. They are probably all sinners. I cannot see an end in sight.

*****
I had always been told that when something happens over and over you become numb. Those liars. The pain is unbearable. I feel my whole body is on fire. Is this what hell will be like? I can feel blood oozing from open wounds on parts of my body. How long can I bare this? There is only so much that any man can take.

I want to beg for mercy. I want them to spare me. I only manage a howl. My voice is failing. A cry for help. The beating gets worse. They have not asked for my reasons. I want to tell them of my allure to quick cash that had led me to this life. Who judged my case? When was the verdict passed? Hypocrites.

*****
Seconds. Minutes. Hours. I have completely lost my sense of time. The crowd is still baying for their blood. The disgust rising within has made me oblivious to the cold. They have almost become lifeless. Occasionally they wince out in pain and this seems to rejuvenate the crowd. Heartless souls.

Madmen. Every market was said to have its own. Someone grabs a whip and wants to attack the crowd. He is screaming for them to stop. They want to turn their anger on him.

‘He is one of us haven’t you noticed that?’

*****
Divide. I am floating between the land of the living and the dead. In and out of consciousness. The whipping and blows abruptly stop. The cold wind on my open wounds send a painful(almost pleasurable) sensation through my body.

The ringing in my ears prevents me from making out what is going on. From the movements I can tell there is a scuffle that is ongoing. The calm before the storm. I brace myself for the worst.

*****
Shame. Guilt. The crowd has scattered miraculously. They heard it was one of theirs and they all ran for the hills. Cowards. Suddenly they got some sense. They got their humanity back and cowered in light of their actions.

The ambulance is on its way. I cross my fingers that it makes it here in time.

*****
I am being dragged by the legs. My sore back drags along the changing surface beneath. The pain is immense. I am not sure I could even walk either way. I feel numb allover.

I try to open my eyes. They are bloody and sore. Have I been blinded? What is the last thing I saw? What will it be like living in darkness? In the stillness I can make out sounds of what seems to be singing birds from afar. Hope.

*****
I watch in awe. The small crowd is now angry. They want to know why the ambulance is taking too long. I see some of them have grabbed whips and are demanding vengeance against those that ruthlessly attacked their friends. They want to attack the purported masterminds.

The door to the ambulance is flung open. I want to scream out in horror. The guy at the door only a moment ago I had spotted him with a whip among the beasts that were baying for blood. How is he at the front line to help. Atoning for sins. What has the world come to?

**********
I can feel my heart almost failing me. I have to be really still just to feel it beat. Don’t give up on me. Is this the end? Maybe help is coming. Or have we been left out in the cold to die like stray dogs? Or have they gone to get the petrol?

‘Dear Lord, forgive m…’ 

Teiya Oloilole

Chaos in the Calm

‘Struggling writer.’ Remember that phrase? Jane? No. You don’t. My bad. So, I did this post on the struggles of a being a writer, to read it click here. She raged. The writer it was dedicated to. How do you throw me under the bus like that. Couldn’t you at least have used an alias. ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ Luckily, for me the fury was that she finally got around to finishing the below post that makes it as my first guest post. Leave a comment and tell her how amazing a writer she can be :

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Isn’t life grand?? Sherbatsky was sitting there on a Sunday night,sipping some tea, trying to do what normal people do on Sunday nights. Do they sit around watching local distasteful shows? Do they watch the news? So, she tried to fit in with the mainstream by not switching channels when the shows were crap. It was hard, so hard she figured this is what death row inmates went through when they were electrocuted. Well the whole lot of local TV shows did not work so she opted to get good chi through meditation. She had these exotic electric candles that she lit so she could have a moment with her inner child. She got lost into this new world where she was questioning everything around her to get some perspective. It went a little like this.

‘What are we really looking for in life? What values matter the most to us? What makes us tick? What makes us stand out from all the endless masses that occupy the earth? Sometimes it feels like there is an alternate universe somewhere that people of your species reside,a place where you don’t feel like you’re an alien because where you are now  feels as if you do not understand where all these people begin and where you end.

A higher purpose that you will get to understand in time, that is the most common phrase used to explain to you why sometimes you can’t make reality connect. Sometimes it feels like life is just a proverbial coin toss, no right or wrongs. You read the books, watch the shows and they are all so confusing ; On one hand,life is too short to not go after all the things you want. On the other it’s like when one door closes, another one opens. Sometimes there is this whirlwind of opposing emotions and your brain goes on overdrive, To be or not to be. Make your own path, be the captain of your ship and then there’s,whatever success or happiness that is meant to be yours will always come back to you.

It’s easy to get lost in all these theories which are served so generously in inspirational articles or in music lines. Whether it’s a decision regarding a career path or something to do with relationships, there is always stuff out there that we gladly gorge on.
I’m not telling you what you should do when you’re caught on the crossroads but you should definitely listen to your gut. Deep down I think we always know what’s right for us, we are just too full of ourselves and have so much fear to just be brave enough and go for it.

If you relate to this article, then I think you know that whatever it is you think you deserve, whether it’s a career path, relationship or need to have a fresh start, you need to go for it and dive in head fast. ‘ When she opened her eyes she could vaguely make out a dark figure that looked a little like samurai Jack (probably her sensei🔰 )whispering ‘The beauty of life is not about having all the answers, it’s about the journey.’

She then received a call from a friend of hers, Maggie, who told her that she had joined this book club where there were these insanely talented avid readers and writers that she should definitely get to know, and the guy who had introduced her into this world was called Clay. Sherbatsky was stoked about being part of the group.

Clay was easy at first so she told him that she was more into writing as a hobby, but then he got so insistent on her giving it a go it seemed like cramming all the metabolic processes in the body were easier to handle than him. Clay was lurking around, on her back that no amount of cover up with dark sunglasses and a set of wigs could keep him at bay. Until now he’s still convinced that sherbatsky is worth a try. Is she?

Teiya Oloilole

The Process of Art

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Life is funny. A frown? A nod? The other day a close friend (I call her Daktari) of mine, texts me like, ‘I have a female writer friend of mine would you like to say hi.’ I love writers. I would never say no to a writer *wink.* So mama raised me right. I say hi and ask for an introduction. You will not guess what I got. Anyone? ‘A struggling writer.’ I screamed at my phone. I know writers are modest. But struggling is not a definition of modesty. She gave some excuses for the description but I was buying none of it. I did a small piece for her for my writing process just to show her that we all struggle but it is not a description we use on ourselves. Jane this is for you:

Nice…kesho I am expecting your piece but kesho starts from midnight right…but keep me posted as I also tell you about my writing process it is a funny story actually.

So I am usually seated somewhere (or just sleeping)…no one is really counting…then an epiphany moment occurs.

I get this crazy idea (I also write or get ideas when I listen to music. So we got something similar)…in my mind I play with it and how I can transform it into words and the good angel in my head is dancing praising me for being a genius…

So I plan how it is all going to be…the layout of the post (don’t forget all this while I am this genius writer…getting all this praise from the guy in my head)…I write down on paper or on my phone this pointers (call it a rough draft of sorts).

This process doesn’t necessarily take like a span of one day (sometimes it even goes to months)…now the genius me (hope you haven’t forgotten. Just in case) starts planning on how the grand idea will be written down and sent out into the world and wow everyone…so after some push n pull I get around to writing it out…don’t you hate disasters? You do? I thought as much. So I sit down..music check…pen n paper check…computer or tablet check…I start writing and then boom out of nowhere…

The devil in me rises from the ashes…I am only five words in and what does he tell me, ‘that is crap you are writing,’ I want to fight it…Ignore the bastard I tell myself. Three more words and I am stuck. Does he have a point? Will it be any good really? I delete everything I had written and stare blankly into space. What am I trying to achieve? To wow hearts and probably touch some lives. Who told you you could do that? But I love writing? And some people love my writing? Yah they loved your previous works, what makes you think they will fancy this one you want to write? But? No buts? The turmoil in my mind is real. I am stuck. Hopelessness. Defeat. My inner demons are hell bent on winning. The prospects for my angelic side are anything but slim…

Guns blazing. The battle is fought. Tired and bloodied my angelic side manages somehow to win. Let us just produce whatever? If they love it or hate, at least we won one battle already. Hope they like it? Fingers crossed. Wait!!!..Before you hit the publish button. Are you sure that is your best? How do I know if it my best? At least I gave it my all. Fine then, if they hate it, that is on you. Here goes nothing. The wait. A little while longer never hurt anyone. They love it. Hooray! Hooray! We can party now. Where is the wine? Where are the glasses? Don’t forget the dancing shoes. A party you said? Are you sure? (The devil in me always asking the wrong questions at the wrong time. This guy needs a course on time. The concept seems to completely escape him). What now? You are here celebrating instead of planning your next post. Are you sure you will meet their expectations? Damn. He has a point. Nervousness. Doubt. Party cancelled. The cycle of being a writer. The end.

Teiya Oloilole

The Old Never Go Wrong

‘Let men be wise by instinct if they can, but when this fails be wise by good advice.’
-SOPHOCLES

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March 2006,

The inside of the rickety matatu is sweltering. Passengers are trickling in slowly. James shifts for the umpteenth time in his seat. He can feel his armpits soak in sweat. It does not help that the fastened seatbelt is restricting his movement.

‘Damn this matatu, why is it taking forever,’ he mutters angrily to himself. The Michuki rules. All PSVs have now been fitted with seatbelts and speed governors as required by the new law. He imagines the prolonged journey to Murang’a. This half full matatu will probably stop at every terminus along the way. He pulls at the seatbelt.

‘Dad, do I really have to use this thing?’ he turns to face his dad who is busy reading the paper.

‘Why do you ask that?’

‘Because it is uncomfortable. Plus, I could just fasten the belt when we come across a police check point.’

‘My son,’ he looks up from the paper, ‘the seatbelt is not for the police, it has been put there for your own safety.’

James shrugs his shoulders and turns to stare outside his window.

**********
23rd December, 2006,

Festivities. James is stoked. Christmas is only one day away. Even the air seems charged with excitement. Everyone looks happy and full of smiles. Christmas cheer he had recently had someone call it that. Who wouldn’t be excited about the birth of a child? And not just any child, but the savior of mankind.

He playfully strides back home with the paper bag in his hand fluttering in the wind. Kariba Estate in South B is now almost deserted. Everyone has travelled to the countryside for the holidays. The prospect of them going to Chuka to spend Christmas with the dad is beyond exciting. Packing is in full gear when he gets back home from the shops. They are to leave in the late afternoon.

The weather outside is confusing. There is a mix of dark clouds and blue skies. Uncertainty. You cannot make out whether the sun is about to shine or if there will be a downpour. The sun sometimes shines for the tiniest of moments, and even then on the skin surface you feel the heat but from within this cold rises and makes you shiver. Confusion.

He is the man of the house. James feels like thumping his chest. This mere fact warrants him the chance to ride shotgun. He gladly helps to load the luggage. It is now seriously threatening to rain.

The driver is struggling to switch on the engine. The car has come to a sudden stop at a junction as they are about to join the main highway. They are in a bad position since the front of the car is already on the highway. The drivers behind them are hooting furiously. The driver frantically turns the key on the ignition stepping on the accelerator. James turns to his right. He looks out the driver’s window and through the rain he makes out a matatu that has just turned the corner and is coming straight towards them at full speed. Panic.

‘Watch out!!!’

Split second. Lives have been changed. Wars have been lost. History has been rewritten. Hearts have been won and others shattered. Sound and light. One travels faster than the other. Or does it? The impact. Breaking glass. The car spinning and scratching the car on their left side. Landing in a ditch.

Slow motion. In a movie the purposefully serve to prolong the effect of a scene. This was no movie. In that instant as the car spun, James stares at the tarmac and holds on to the seatbelt that is holding him back from being thrown out through the windscreen. The words of his dad ring through his mind.

BE SAFE ON THE ROADS.
ALWAYS FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT.
REMEMBER SPEED KILLS.
DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!!!

Image courtesy of Dr. Berenblit’s site

**Inspired by true events.

Teiya Oloilole

5 Life Lessons from the Geese on Teamwork

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
–Andrew Carnegie

“That exam screwed me over.” Is that a nod? A grin, from the familiarity. The feeling is mutual. At some point through our school life we have all used that phrase. Even the geniuses (you in doubt? There are Maths questions that are yet to be solved. Think they are smiling about it?).

Let me digress. I am in Molo (the place is an icebox. What are up to over there? That is a story for another day). We have a host mum (the world will never get enough of them. Is that a smile? I know, their love just melts away hearts). Now imagine those words (in a more modest language) came from her. Wait! Don’t jump the gun yet. She is a teacher. I see you. I also had this evil grin. I was going on in my mind like “Yah! Serves you right” (Father forgive me for my evil thoughts. Amen! Don’t laugh say the prayer also to save your soul). She even brought out the papers just to prove it.

Even in the desert you still find an oasis. Life among the lifeless. In the paper she did there was a question that had Milton Olson’s lessons on the geese. They made so much sense because currently we are working as a team. The following are the five lessons that you can use to improve your teamwork :

1. Lesson one.
By flying in a V formation, a flock of geese add 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. Thus, people who share a common vision and direction can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

2. Lesson two.
When a goose falls from formation; it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it. Hence, if we have such a sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we are going. We should be willing to accept and give help to others.

3. Lesson three.
When a goose tires, it rotates back into formation and another goose takes the front position. It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing responsibilities. Just as with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts and resources.

4. Lesson four.
The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those upfront to keep up the speed. We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is greater. The power of encouragement allows one to stand by one’s core values and encourage the core values of others.

5. Lesson five.
When a goose falls sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation to help and protect until it dies or flies again. They launch another V formation to catch up with the flock. If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

Teiya Oloilole

Run Away

“Now that I could not go back I was not sure, after all, that I wished to go forward. It was a miserable sensation.”
-Anna Freeman

“Run away with me,” he said.
“What about…,” she cut herself short. Too many confusing thoughts were racing through her mind.
“Don’t put too much thought into it”, he said. “Just run away with me.” The implore in his voice was apparent.

                                      * * *
Nashipai had to get up early that dull Tuesday morning. It was cold outside. She had no choice. Actually no one had a choice.

According to the Maasai culture, the women and girls had to wake up at the crack of dawn (pardon the cliche) to milk the cows.

Mt. Kilimanjaro was clearly visible at this time. Narumoru village located on the outskirts of Oloitokitok was just a walking distance to the Tanzanian border with Kenya. It was really hard to appreciate the sheer majesty of the mountain with the nail biting cold sending shivers down your spine. You have to concentrate your frozen fingers not to miss the empukuri and spill the milk.

At around eight that morning Teiya, her father, was outside his manyatta. The sun was slowly coming out. He lightly leaned on his walking stick. He was an imposing figure. He keenly watched his sons, they were all out watching as the cattle were led from their enclosure. Culture dictated it. All the boys were expected to be out. They observed rather than merely watch. Through it they were taught to pick out any animal that might have fallen ill during the night. They had no choice. Or was their father really watching them? Could it be he was marvelling at the number of his cattle, hence his material wealth. No one knew for sure. There were talks of him being a tyrant but those were always hushed.

The boys after breakfast went out to graze the livestock. Nashipai and her sisters were left carrying out various chores around the homestead. They had to go fetch firewood later on in the day with her younger sister, Seiyan. She had mixed feelings about it.

It was not like she had any reason not to want to go to fetch firewood. Aside from the risks. They had to walk to the forest located at the border. At other times they were forced to go as far as across the border. Now, it was all fun and adventurous. They passed through migombani. The name originated from the many banana plantations in the area. It was also equally notorious for harboring a huge number of drinking dens. You would find men and women all seated together enjoying their brews. Scenes like those could never happen in their community. Those were Chagas from neighboring Tanzania. They had to be on high alert when they got to the forest. It was illegal, and the forestry guys were known to be ruthless. There was also that other reason.

Had they made too much noise? By the time they heard the sound of crackling wood it was too late. The forestry guys had snuck up on them and they had nowhere to go. Phew! Korir was among those doing the patrols. That other reason.

Korir was the forestry guy she had met some few weeks back. He was a nice man that one. He let them do their business so long as he got the opportunity to chat up Nashipai. He seemed to have taken an instant liking to her. He had on his signature red slippers. She was confused. At her age she was not sure of what she felt. There was some joy. Beyond that, she could not fathom what was happening to her. The hollow feeling in her stomach was like nothing she had experienced before other than when fear gripped her. But it was not fear she felt. Her skin was burning. It was like a fire had been lit inside her and was radiating the heat through her skin. Oh Lord, what is happening to me? Am I falling sick? Could it be that? No. No. She tried her best to tame her rogue thoughts.

Lately, he seemed to be getting serious. It was like he was courting her. He also had some crazy ideas. They talked for sometime. Seiyan watched from a distance. Then he blatantly said it and caught her completely off guard.

“Run away with me.”

That was thirty-two years ago.

                                          * * *
  “Mum…mum, see what dad bought me,” Claire is shouting. She is happily dancing around.

Nashipai watches as her last born daughter struggles to catch the wind with her new kite. She is seating outside their newly built house. She is in full view of their farm. It is the rainy season and the landscape is covered in a lush of green. They were going to have a bumper harvest. Korir is on the other end of the farm. He seems to be fixing something. Exactly what she does not put too much thought into it.

“Head over to your father,” Nashipai says. “Let him show you how to properly fly that thing.”

Watching her go, she cannot help but think to herself. Was I right to run away to my happily ever after?

This is the present.

Teiya Oloilole

Crack of Hope

“Because what’s worse than knowing you want something, besides knowing you can never have it?”
-James Patterson

“Five raised to the power of two…,” the teacher said.

The clack of the chalk on the blackboard irritates Ng’enoh. He adjusts uncomfortably in his rickety chair.

**********
He stares blankly trying to pinpoint the crack on the wall that let in the sun. It is still dark outside. According to his watch it is 4 o’clock in the morning. He considers going back to sleep but the goat skin doesn’t hold a promise of any comfort. He decides against it. The night runners have not even finished their rounds. This thought assures him of some company out on the road. Why do they run? What are they running towards? Why does anyone run? Are they running from something? We all running away from our miseries in one way or another. Right?

Today, he has to catch the bus. He does not have a particular destination. Any will be just fine. Can I possibly get away? And go where? Any place that is not here? He rummages through his thoughts trying to see if among the rubble lay a solution to their current predicament. He has missed a button. He mutters a curse under his breath.

He is the first born in a family of six, three girls and three boys. The perfect symmetry. We don’t choose our families. What if we could? Blemishes. The snoring of his little brother brings him back to the present. He feels his way in the dark trying to find his only pair of shoes. Theirs was a dysfunctional family.

Bomet is unusually cold in July. Baby making weather they called it. The biting cold has numbed even his feet. His worn out shirt with a torn collar is still wet in some parts. The sweater he has on is only a formality it does not serve any purpose. He quickly walks through the dark almost breaking out in a sprint. Faint lights approaching from a distance gives him a glimmer of hope. He wants to stand right in the middle of the road. He starts to frantically wave the bus to stop.

“Dad I need money for my school fees.”
“Chukua hii majani chai, kwa saa ii sina pesa,” the old man says leaning down through the driver’s window. The black paper bag hangs in the air for a second. Hesitation. He considers walking away. The anger boiling inside him has completely paralysed him.

He stands on the side of the road confused. The red lights fading in the horizon cuts a piercing ache through his heart. He tastes blood on his tongue. He can feel the pounding of his heart. He considers tearing the paper and scattering the tea leaves to the wind. The thought of his mum stops him. She had sat distraught by the fireside as the tea boiled on the fire. They didn’t have something to eat. The sugarless tea on the fire would have to suffice to get them through the night. The future seemed nothing but bleak. The hopelessness written on her face was unmistakable. She had held back her tears. Rage.

**********
Why can’t they just find a way to fend for themselves? Do I have to do everything? He looks back through his side mirror at the fading figure of his firstborn son. He shifts to a higher gear and accelerates. That large tract of land that I left them with let them do some farming. He wants to reach out and feel the one thousand shilling note sitting pretty in his pocket. His second wife will surely prepare a delicious meal tonight. He smiles to himself.

**********
He hates Maths. There is nothing worse than trying to focus in the afternoon. The classroom is hot. He clenches his fist to try fight off the hunger. There is no rumbling. An empty stomach full of air. The minyoo in his stomach must surely also be on the verge of emaciation. They are probably frantically looking for a way out. Where do they go? There is no excrement. His lunch box is gathering dust at the back of his desk lost among his books.

He tries to focus on the lesson. He wants power. The power to change his past. To undo his present. Rewrite his future.

Teiya Oloilole

An Open Letter to the Damsels… (The Epistles #10)

“There is nothing like the truth, there is what you think, what the other person thinks and what the world remembers.”
-Unknown

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Dear Damsels,

Ssshhh…I have a secret to tell you (I hear you girls love secrets). It is from the deepest and darkest parts of my soul. Henna. Yes that one. Ever had something confuse you? You can’t really make up your mind. That is my predicament on henna done on nails. At the start, when newly done it is exceptional. Then time happens. The fading starts. Something about that process bugs me. Who is with me on this one? Anyone? Compare it to love (you could substitute it with interest. I hear some of you are non-believers. Whatever tickles your fancy). Sends chills down my spine just thinking about it. You?

image

Atrocities. The world is full of them. Friends with benefits. Is that a frown? The scum in the society coined that word. Did I hear an Amen? Can I address it now? Is that a yes? Either way, according to the urban dictionary they define it as, ” Two friends who have a sexual relationship without being emotionally involved. Typically two good friends who have casual sex without a monogamous relationship or any kind of commitment.” Yeaaayy!!! No. Someone asking for me to be lynched?

From a guy’s point of view. It is an agreement made between two consenting adults devoid of feelings or attachments. I recently asked a friend of his opinion on the matter. This is what he told me, “Teiya think of Fwbs this way, I go borrowing salt from a neighbour, I am in no way obligated to serve them the food once it is ready.” (Hahahaa…that definition cracked my ribs. No. We are not laughing? You don’t find it funny? Someone has already volunteered a lighter. Pardon my manners).

Let us be done with this guy. Leave him be with his obnoxious mindset. Wait up. Please don’t go. Please. What kind of human would I be if I didn’t go seeking a girl’s opinion (hear it from the horse’s mouth). I posed to her the question. Why do girls give in to this fwb thing? (kindly, put some gusto into the next lines. That fire in your belly should be present. If it is your kind of thing, get on your feet and preach). A girl will like a guy. The guy will seem not to be interested in anything past friendship. So when the suggestion for fwbs comes along she grabs it. Why? Because the girl still has hope that in some strange way this will make the guy fall for her (there was a sparkle in her eyes. This baffled me).

Ladies, men are creatures apart (I hear in some quarters they are spat on and referred to as dogs). After extensive soul searching I found the reason why men love the concept. Imagine living in a rental house without having to pay the rent, the electricity and water bill(tough economic times. Even the government can’t finance its own budget). Is that a smile? No. A frown. Disgust even? My darlings we did not write the rules. We simply follow them. Is that fair enough?

In conclusion, apparently sex has to have a meaning to you. You just don’t do it for no apparent reason. Sorry ladies but the sentiment is not mutual. You cannot use sex to make a man fall for you. Sad state of affairs. Anyone still want to lynch me?

Regards,
Teiya Oloilole.

Teiya Oloilole

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