Tuesday, July 23, 2019
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Me, my friend Bad Luck and the Outrageous things we did at Box 1

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IMAGE: See, Wabaddest, and you have not met the Axe Gang yet! Picture that| Photo: Ken Kaburu, kitambo
See, Wabaddest, and you have not met the Axe Gang yet! Picture that| Photo: Ken Kaburu, kitambo

Those who know me from High School know that Bad Luck and I were twins. Identical and inseparable. We ate from the same plate, read from the same page and slept on the same bed. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some people thought we were gay.

I mean, I could not engage in the least of normal student mischief without getting caught. If I cleaned my portion for the entire week and everyone else failed to do theirs, no teacher would give an eff. Then, if I decided to go the same way and skip my duty on Sunday, the TOD would come out breathing fire and swearing death. If the entire school skipped preps and sat outside, the TOD would be nowhere to be seen for the entire three hours. But if by mistake I decided to just go to the toilet five minutes to the bell, the TOD would again emerge from nowhere bearing the same character mentioned before.

Actually, it got to a point that when other students saw me trying to skive class, they all silently filed back in and made no noise. On the advice of one Justo Justin Justin, I used to attend preps with a bucket of water and a rug, because I knew punishment was due anyway. If I was not caught napping, I would be seen standing or facing backwards and adjudged to be making noise, then…punishment.

At Box 1, I dug so many trenches and trash pits. I split and carried firewood. I washed the school bus. I even fed the cows, though that was an indirect punishment when I was tasked to slash grass. In one particular season, these punishments were so popular that on parents’ day, Jay Thuci suggested that I should stand during the introduction of non-teaching staff! Sick joker, that Thuci.

But I say it was all for good measure. Me and my best friend Bad luck had a lot of fun together too! You see, unfair as it is, nature gives you one precious wild card: Adaptation. Your skin grows thicker as you have more and more thrown at you. When odds stack against you, you tend to push your luck – Bad Luck for me- further and further.

For instance, I learnt to sleep in class in such a way that no one would notice. So good was my adaptation that to this day, I can have a conversation for a whole hour while in real sense I am deep asleep. I learnt to remain calm in the face of danger, so much that today I can negotiate calmly with a gun on my head. Okay, make that a knife, a toy knife. But you get the idea, yes?

Bad Luck taught me to go beyond borders because whether I did or did not, I’d land in trouble anyway. And earned me a lot of friends in the process, how true I really have no time to care.

Like this one time when The Axe Gang contracted me to bless their Madaraka Day Celebrations. Axe Gang was a group of students who used to study and do a number of other extra-curricular activities together. No, they did not have Axes, it was just a name they picked up from one of the movies we watched during the entertainment weekends. I’m being honest, come on, do you want to mean ODM and Wiper literally have that apparel in their offices?

Madaraka day was good enough for us in school seeing as we did not have classes, but the Axe Gang was not one to settle for just that. They always wanted something extra. Why did they come to me, you ask.

No, I was not part of their gang. Actually, I was not part of any gang. Not even Hill Top as was widely believed. I just consulted with each group as and when necessary. The reason Axe Gang approached me to bless their Madaraka was because I had two very crucial ingredients. One, Njamba had drafted me to help with his Science Congress wine making project, and two, my dormitory, whose team I was captaining, was in the finals and widely tipped to win the Inter-dorms goat award on Madaraka day.

Which placed me in the central command of two very valuable commodities: Food and drink

So the Axe Gang approached me with a proposal: Would I mind expanding the Winery a little bit so it could produce something for them to bless their Madaraka. Could I also organize some meat for them from the goat-eating party to round up the merry?

What’s in it for me, I asked.

They would, in return, allow me access to some of their most sophisticated highly classified revision material. They would also cheer us on during the finals, with a little persuasion of match officials if need be.

Nice proposition, I said, but I don’t think I can really grant either request. One, the winery is not mine, and two, the goat meat would no doubt cause abrasion within the Umoja Dorm fraternity even without involvement of outsiders.

But you have a say, they said, people listen to you. You are Mu-baddest, they said.

I am a man quite easy to please, and flatter. In High School, if you called me Mu-Baddest, your prayers were answered. It is what people called me when they wanted me to scribble for them answers to Vectors and Matrix questions on my log table during exams. That’s 20 marks, btw. No, don’t try it now, like Nokia 1110, it no longer is the chit.

So I said, Okay, I can expand the winery, just a little bit. I’m sure I can convince Njamba (I figured I could convince the Chimp we also needed to test the industrial capacity of the plant, for future purposes). On the meat, we will have to see. No promises. If you can cheer a good one, and fetch us more fans, then maybe we can work out something.

Ver good, thanks, we knew you are Mu-Baddest.

One condition though?

(Surprised) What?

Discretion. Any signs like we have something cooking and the deal is instantly off!

Ah, very well, that bargain we can keep!

Expanding the winery proved much easier than I had expected; Njamba was too future focused to see any dangers. That, or he was also excited by the prospect of becoming famous within the Box 1 borders.

The Axe Gang cheering at the final was unrivalled, but I ultimately felt it wasn’t necessary. We were too strong for Madaraka sDorm anyway, putting two past them in each half. Never mind that day was Madaraka Day. I bet the Gang felt so too, for they rallied an even greater cheer lest I tried to say we were good on our own. They got us literally all form ones to do some war chants for us.

And a deal is a deal, ama namna gan?

As I walked forward with Joseh Santos to receive ‘Mbúri meeeee,’ I could swear I saw saliva going down the Gang’s chins.
Due to my cluelessness in culinary affairs, and given I had to have a position, I was appointed head-cook, to oversee all cooking activities. I was however the lead butcher, thanks to my growing up on the farm.

IMAGE: My friend Mbogo says 'Pics or it didn't happen.' here, graphic evidence that I am a seasoned butcher/skinner. In white is my co-killer Njiru Job. White shirt I mean. In white skin is, er, the goat. | Photo: Ephis Mburia, 20something
My friend Mbogo says ‘Pics or it didn’t happen.’ Here, graphic evidence that I am a seasoned butcher/skinner. In white is my co-killer Njiru Job. White shirt I mean. In white skin is, er, the goat. | Photo: Ephis Mburia, 2000 and something

What was weighing me down, however, were the demands. Besides the Axe Gang, the groundsman, whom I had grown close to during my punishments, wanted a share. The dorm captain would also want a private chunk of his own, as would the guys within my circle. Most of these people had no idea- or pretended not to know- how small a goat is.

And that is how we ended up with the worst skinned goat ever, as I left chunks of meat on the skin for the groundsman to discreetly get his share. For the Axe, I had to make return trips to the meat division table and hide chunks of meat in my pockets, which I would then deliver to a waiting member as I made my head cook rounds.

For my crew, I just openly gave them the ‘Captains’ share’
I then had to ensure the remainder chunks were chopped into very small pieces so that everyone got something. Those who showed open discontent were promised ‘ a ticket to and a little drink at the after party.’

And, just like that, everyone was happy on this particular Madaraka Day, with some going to the extent of getting merry. We managed to convince the Dorm Master to allow us to have the music system, although he insisted we must play music at a low volume. We danced a bit, and the teacher ignored the faint smell of alcohol in my breath. It was, at the end, a #HappyMadarakaDay

PS:
1. The only downside is that I smelled like a goat for the entire week. No showering or changing could wash away the smell. Madam Elsie, my oh so lovely English teacher, teased me endlessly about it.

2. Humans forget easily, and have no gratitude. The beneficiaries of my goodwill took advantage of my smell to give me goat-related nicknames, which I won’t mention. They also made the me-eee sound whenever they saw me. Vackass!

3. Now that I have written it, I think this story depicts how resources are shared in this country. Like for, example, how trains will be classified in SGR’s #MadarakaExpress

Timbitii overload archive, just for you

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Since late 2015, we have been doing throwbacks on Thursday’s, just like everyone else. Lies.

Unlike everyone else.

Because we can’t get enough self-esteem to pose for pictures- or display those our parents had us pose for in the days of Kodak- we do our throwback in form of a story, mainly on Facebook.

Now, we noticed you like our stories, and we must say we are more than grateful. It really feels nice to be appreciated. Thank you.

Enough with the niceties and blushing.

We also noticed that Facebook is not that great at archiving. Once Thursday is gone catching up with a post is tedious. So we built this little granary, where you can come any day and read whatever story you want. Where you can send even kids to retrieve stuff for yo.

So, dear fans, this is specially yours, just for you.

Also, we know everyone has a story, and we would really love to hear and publish yours. About anything really….growing up, school, being beaten with slippers, being sent back where darkness found you, college times, work trips….anything.

Just drop them in the box, mboyasworld@gmail.com or samuelkariuki@gmail.com. Not to worry about grammar and stuff, we’ll do the editing for your.

Lanes, people, lanes. See you in the memory one!

You cannot lose ownership of a house you own by rent: Deported from my own house

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Miguna Miguna, the deported kenyan lawyer | Iage: SDE
Miguna Miguna, the deported kenyan lawyer | Iage: SDE

 

After clearing high school, I remembered a dream I had held for a very long time. I had made it known to everyone, from my classmates in Mrs. Njeru’s Nursery B to my village crew, that one day I would soar the skies. I would be a pilot. Similar dream to that of everyone else who was five years old back then.

 

But life always has a way of making us humble and it did that to me. In the course of my schooling journey, I had often heard drivers being referred to as pilots. So I thought, why not? If I cannot fly a jet, I will fly a matatu. And just like that, I decided to take a driving course.

 

But there was a small hitch. Taking driving lessons alone would require that I commute daily from home. I wanted something that would see me relocate to town. So I convinced my old man, the Man Beater of Tsavo (Now retired, btw, ergo The MB, Rtd.) to enroll me for a course I won’t mention at a technical college I won’t mention.

 

I moved to a town I still won’t mention and got myself a single room. Ksh. 1500 rent.

 

By and by I got to acquaint myself with my colleagues at technical and in driving school. By and by I also became a regular drinker; what with the freedom of being away from home and beyond High school rules. By and by I got to know some girl who used to live in the adjacent plot.

 

She used to work in a computer shop. They used to type and print stuff and burn CDs, but everyone just called it a computer shop.

 

By and by I started passing by her place for supper before heading to my place. I toned down on my Kane Extra imbibing so I could pass by her place early and in good shape for food and a little catching up. Eating at her place was really efficient for me so I started chipping in with the food budget.

 

As you might guess, there was nothing more than a mattress and little, assembled subwoofer in my house. My feeding partner, on the other hand, had a DVD and a little TV in her house. It made sense that I bring in my sound system to complete the picture. After all, I spent more active minutes in her place than at mine.

 

By and by, I stopped going back to my place after supper on some nights. By and by, I stopped going to my place altogether.

 

Elsewhere, my technical classes were soon dropped. It was, after all, a decoy to help me leave home. A means towards the end; not the end itself. The fees paid beforehand just drank earth like that. The subsequent batch, which to even my own surprise my father decided to trust me with, never saw the vicinity of that institution. It came in handy for my town survival; I think you understand.

 

At driving school, I met with a guy who had been enrolled by his father so that he could join his (father’s) matatu business. When he was out of class, he would serve as a deputy conductor in one of his father’s three face-me matatus which operated on three different routes coming into town from the outskirts. I showed him a nice drinking hole, and he, in turn, tagged me along when he did squads with the face-me.

 

During such rounds, I served as a deputy deputy-conductor. I would ride in the carrier and do most of the luggage hauling. And haul I did, putting my everything into it lest anyone pointed out my slight build. But I got a few shillings which gave me enough value for my efforts. More value than Bitcoin and Ethereum!

 

Back home- new home- we agreed with my feeding mate, now music mate and largely sleeping mate, to just do away with the other house and split the rent cost for the one we were both using. Economically sensible isn’t it? We auctioned my mattress and did a little house shopping which, mark you, was not entered anywhere in the accounting documents.

 

That was my first step towards downfall.

 

By and by, the splitting MoU was silently violated. Rent became my responsibility. My weak attempts at a protest were quelled with ‘You’re the hustler. You make more money in a week than I could make in a year.’ That made me so proud I never even bothered to ask how much she made in a month. Honestly, though, 1500 didn’t really make me sweat. I was quickly learning street survival and often landed some good deals, though not always overboard.

 

By and by, getting used to each other in the house kicked in. My cousin Bakari calls them small respects. I started getting complaints about how I came home late. How my job was really dirty and I had to take a shower first thing when I got home. How some of the people who came around didn’t meet the class threshold and they were not to be admitted in the house.

 

The stroke that broke the camel’s back, however, was the declaration that my clothes would not be washed going forward. I’d have to do them myself from that point. I said that was not possible; I was the General in that house and there was no way I was going to bend that low.

 

‘I can try to come home early and I will shower before settling and I will entertain my friends in the corridor. But I won’t be caught dead washing clothes,’ I declared.

 

‘You will.’ That was the simple answer I got.

 

The finality of that answer made me sure I wouldn’t. I never really had problems washing my own clothes, but I was concerned about the message the sudden change would send across the plot, where I was quite respected for my purchasing power and generosity. I would have done it if we had an indoor laundry room, but the one we had was communal and so, as Patrick Magochi would say, I would have to, uhm, wash my dirty linen in public.

 

True to threats, my clothes were not washed for two weeks. So, on one particular Monday, I found myself at the end of the re-use and recycle system and thus unable to go to driving class – and/or work. I picked all my clothes one by one trying to find the one that would come last in the competition o most dirty, but all of them appeared eligible to win. I took them outside and repeated the same exercise with little success.

 

So I sat on at the door (Our plot was that design of two rows facing each other and a rough cement floor) and started pondering my next move. It was while seated at that door that a godsend solution appeared.

 

One of the neighbour girls- pretty to a fault, stay at home and of unknown economic ventures- passed by on the way to the washing sink. I never had the courage or chance to rope her into my purchasing generosity for obvious plot factors. But I said hi whenever we found ourselves at the tap at the same time.

 

Noticing how miserable I looked, she inquired about my well being.

 

Aren’t you going to work today?

I don’t have clean clothes.

 

Si unilipe nikufulie?

 

How much?

 

We nunua tu sabuni, hiyo ingine najua hatuwezi kosana.

 

Never before was a business deal sealed so fast! I was especially glad she didn’t ask why the woman of the house wasn’t dooing my cleaning. I was asked for a hundred shillings to buy soap. I said no, that’s too much. I was told she would also need omo and jik for whites and sta-soft for rinsing. I said health, afya!

 

Suffice to say that evening I was one of the cleanest and best smelling folks as I walked into the local. As people came in sweaty from the day’s hustles, I walked in with freshly cleaned, sta-soft rinsed clothes. Complete with that fresh ka-cold of clothes fresh off the hanging line. And a promise from Kagwiria, the neighbour who washed my clothes, that I would pay her when the time was ripe. She would show me when, she said. I had a really nice time at the bar that night- so much so that I didn’t leave until 1 a.m, close to totally wasted.

 

The sight that met me when I got to the plot almost brought me back to full soberness. A ghostly looking figure sat right at the entrance to my door. After summoning up courage for 15 minutes, I approached slowly.

All my clothes lay in a heap outside the door. As did my shoes. It made zero sense. Yes, I was late, but then what? I knocked on the door without even trying to be violent. No way cold my first knock have woken a sleeping person, but the reply was prompt. ‘Enda ukalale kwa Kagwiria!’

 

Then it all made sense at that point.

.

Blame it on the alcohol, but I actually considered going to seek shelter at Kagwiria’s. A pair of Safari Boots outside her door complete with a smell that signified a quite fresh arrival, however, changed my mind. The sounds coming from inside closed that case.

 

My second, third and fourth knocks went unanswered. So I decided to waste the night away and get things sorted in the sunrise. I went through around six drinking stations before the sun tossed its blanket the next rise.

 

By the time I staggered back it was almost seven-thirty and madam was on her way out. My clothes still lay outside. I thought it perfect that she was leaving as I arrived as we wouldn’t get to argue. But she had different ideas.

 

‘’Where do you think you are going?’’ she asked as I held to the door frame.

 

‘’To bed.’’ I murmured.

 

‘’Your bed is in Kagwiria’s house. She who does your cleaning must handle your everything.’’

 

I again considered where I was being told my bed was, but a side-eye glanced revealed saunya-guy was still around. It also provided the estimate of the shoe size to be about nine-and-a-half. So I did my best to contain the situation.

 

‘’Just let me sleep, I will explain later,’’ I pleaded.

 

‘’There is nothing to explain. Na unanichelewesha kazi by the way.’’

 

Before I could respond, she spotted the landlord’s goon, who would be called a caretaker today, entering the plot. ‘’Soldier, huyu mtu hapa ananiwastia time, anataka kuingia kwangu cha nguvu na naenda kazi,’’ she shouted.

 

Soldier didn’t need a second invitation. Within a fraction, he was on me like a bulldozer on an X-marked building. The awakening neighbours opted to catch the drama through their slightly parted curtains.

 

I really think Soldier had a long-standing dislike for me because my assertions-turned-pleas that that was my house for which I paid rent did nothing to make him ease the grip on the of my now not so sta-soft trousers. I’d be lying if I said my toes touched the floor of that pavement as I was whisked out.

 

I tried to take a rest on a bench outside the plot once Soldier dumped me outside, but he informed me that I was not welcome there either, or anywhere in the vicinity. So I stumbled back to the local and played move and shift with the cleaning lady as I tried to catch some sleep and she her washing.

 

I don’t know how the story got back to the Man Beater but, two days later, after hiding incommunicado, I was at the back of his jalopy headed home.

 

And that is how I learned that what you think are your rights are only your rights as long as those who wield power share the same thinking.

 

 

#TBT #iRestMyPen

 

PS: The said period is a grey area of my life until now unknown to even my closest friends. No corroboration whatsoever can be made independently.

 

 

 

Christmas in a manger

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Man sleeping in a manger after 'evicting baby Jesus' I had to sleep in one too, one Christmas | Image source: DailyMail
Man sleeping in a manger after 'evicting baby Jesus' I had to sleep in one too, one Christmas | Image source: DailyMail

So, I said I would be with you for Christmas, telling stories. But then I said it too loudly, the people at London Distillers heard me and made that evil laugh.

Anyway, where were we?

I had borrowed and returned Mama Flo’s scripts, and I was suspicious the MB had spotted me wandering. That no questions were raised was keeping me in a state of suspense. The environment around home was that of ‘kutegana.’ I could feel the MB’s eyes on me wherever I went, and I was sure The Rose was deliberately trying to put me in temptation.

But who am I? I had enough experience of how these things work. I handled that with ingenuity only bettered by Jesus Christ when the devil took him for a walk on top of the temple.

It was the Rose who snapped first. Seeing that I was not messing up, she decided to throw me some bait. Two days on, she came home in an uncharacteristically foul mood, rummaged a little through her stuff, then ordered. “Mugambi, I cannot find my drama scripts, been looking for them all week. Could you please rush to Rosa’s and borrow her’s for me? Tell her I want to just make a copy then send them back.”

I felt like laughing out loud. How could she play such a predictable card! But I dared not show the slightest of incisors because I knew this case could go to trial at any point.

I think I have seen your scripts somewhere, have you checked the pig’s room? (We had this culture of oddly naming stuff in our home, the pig’s room was an incomplete bathroom where we used to store pig feed) I had set out to find those scripts that very evening after returning from Mama Flo’s because I knew this moment would come. It was not too difficult a task because I have always known my mum’s formula for losing stuff.

You could hear the grumble of loss as she sent me to fetch the said scripts. She was hurting from her disastrous loss, because how else could she bring up my trip of lies to Mama Flo’s. She let that slip at that moment, but I could tell tensions were even higher.

Another lesson life has taught me is to stay calm when you are walking a tightrope. At such moments when TR was in such a foul mood, there was a high likelihood of getting drawn into it. She would send you to fetch a cooking pan and once you return she sends you to fetch a serving spoon, then she would ask for cooking fat then you would say ‘Aaaai mamu’ and she would bring up a totally different story. Like how you had started sagging trousers or how you were making noise in church a month ago. So I always won by staying calm- helps to date, by the way.

For all the ease there was in skipping TR’s traps, there was equal difficulty skipping the MB’s. This because the old chimp did not even set traps for you. Rather, he just gave you that one look that put the fear of God in you then left you to fuck yourself up. Also, the MB worked in a Tag Team. While other mothers usually just reported you for mistakes done, fathers dished out discipline on the spot. And once word got to the MB that you had received a beating from some adult, you were always in for a second trial.

The MB’s brother, Njuki, alias Sting, used to tell it blatantly ‘Níngúringa úgambe ta cia njesi na thigúkúú’ which loosely translates to ‘the beating I’ll give you, you will produce a sound like that of Salvation army drums during Christmas.’ Now, if you have watched a Salvation Army parade, you know that is not a little beating given to that bass drum. Add the Christmas enthusiasm to that, and you will agree with me Sting should have been brought in for murder threats, aye?

My day of self-destruction came on Christmas Eve. You probably know that we used to live in one compound as an extended family, and a lot was done communally, aye? Especially during Christmas, we had one family cooking a lot of chapatis, another a lot of stew and so on.

The preparations began on 24th evening and went on through the night, with a lot of movements from kitchen X to kitchen Y. As such, the monitoring went a little low, and the rules were a bit relaxed- or so I thought. And it is in that vein that I got roped in by Nyuki & Co into one of the evilest plans of all time.

I was not even part of the plan, I just noticed they were sipping something as they cooked chapo and enquired what that was. Rather than answer me directly, they just shot back. Want some?
I said no, but then I was informed that that was the true measure of manhood, forget circumcision. So I took a sip. It was quite sour, so at first, I thought it was Maringo. Maringo is a by-product of that traditional porridge, gruel, and I don’t like it.

So after the first taste, I said no, I don’t want it.

But then I was reminded my manhood was at stake. So I closed my eyes and swallowed the half glass of my first Múratina. Almost.
Because before I could finish up, I sensed there was someone behind me.

Turning around?

THE. MAN BEATER OF TSAVO!

You know how they say alcohol impairs judgment? Ati sijui don’t drive and sijui what? THEY LIE.

After looking at The MB’s ‘Hali ya anger’ I decided it was wiser to sleep with the cows- not like that, silly- rather than show up in the house. Before he could decide whether to grab me or slap me, I had whizzed past him, between his feet and was operating my foot machinery perfectly towards the coffee plantation.

I could hear him barking for me but I knew that was nyet. That night as I slept in the manger, I whispered two words. That should be documented as the first known usage of the two words that came to become national lingo years later: #KesiBaadae.

 

PS: The pic used here was originally used in a story of a man who actually evicted a baby from a manger and went to sleep in it. You can read that story HERE.

Timbitii Christmas edition: When I was forced to sleep in a manger, like Jesus

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Kids playing chobo-ua | image source: Pinterest
Kids playing chobo-ua | image source: Pinterest

Prologue:

Because employers nowadays don’t care about public holidays and shit, I know some of you will be seated at your workstations through Christmas, waiting for clients who won’t show up but you have to wait for them anyway- or in case.

And because this nation’s sadness is at an all-time high and people derive joy from increasing other people’s sadness, your colleagues will be sending you pictures of gallant drinks and sweetness-dripping roast meat by the fireside, together with the occasional rope to hang yourself.

So for these three days, let me increase your sadness with these very many words…

Full story:

Around the start of the 21st Century, I started gaining independence at home. I started getting allowed to make some small decisions on my own- like when and if (not what) to eat, and whether or not to wear a sweater when evening came, whether to just wash my feet or take a full shower in the evening.

It was Madaraka- internal self-rule.

But, like all colonial powers, the MB does not grant you freedom on a silver platter. In the words of one independence fighter- Achieng Oneko looks like the sort of guy who could say such stuff- the tree of freedom is watered with blood, and as such you have to go through a lot of increasingly severe beatings to attain it. Again, the powers that be do not expressly inform you what roles of governance have been moved to you, and which ones are still beyond reach.

It is a slippery transition period because many times you find yourself engaging in roles of Jamhuri- full independence- when you have only been granted Madaraka. You may find yourself engaging in activities like failing to attend Sunday School, failing to remain behind for the main service after Sunday School, failing to make a formal request before leaving the compound or failing to be home before six thirty. It is a murky period, any of the Kapenguria six can tell you.

That is the sort of situation I found myself in when this century was still a toddler.

To start with, I had failed my end of year exams, which was inferenced as ‘starting to grow horns.’ For the record, I have never passed any exam in the eyes of the Man Beater since I left Nursery School. So you may imagine the stage was already set for a rough holiday.

Fast forward to Jamhuri Day.

The itinerary (I got it right this time, Morris) was clear. Breakfast – clean the compound – tether sheep outside to graze- watch/listen to Jamhuri day celebrations, depending on how generous the sun had been, because, solar panels – converge at the farm where duties would be assigned depending on age and body size. I was usually assigned the lighter duty of pruning young trees, despite cutting myself on the panga every time I did it. Everyone else pretended they could not climb trees, and for my cuts, Dr. The Rose (OGW) always had an instant cure in the name of the scorching surgical spirit.

In the late afternoon, we would cook chips- the day usually coincided with potato harvest, yes, seasons have changed- then everyone would disperse to spend the evening as they pleased. Or not.

So on this particular day, after the formal program was over, I decided I would take a break from the norm. Instead of playing football for the evening, I would go across the ridge to see some girl I had befriended during Sunday School archdeaconry drama festivals. No, I was not of Sunday School age myself. But I was at that level where you were automatically expected to be a Sunday School teacher, and so was Njeri.

Exactly at four in the pm, I took a full shower- which was already enough to trigger suspicion- then wore some clean clothes, and shoes- another eyebrow raiser, and illegal too, for that day was not a Sunday. Besides ‘Kwawathera úguo kothiíte kú?’ [What’s with all the dressing up, where are you headed?] from The Rose, no questions were raised. I made sure the MB did not see me preparing or leaving.

The first problem arose when I got to where the rest of the village boys- the team- were playing ball. Of course, they had to inquire why I was that clean on a Wednesday, was I not going to play with them?

I have been sent across the ridge, I want to rush then come back before you even notice my absence, I lied.

Do you want us to take you? (We had this habit of taking each other whenever one of us was sent on an errand, such that eight or more boys could show up at your compound to clear milk arrears)

No, I don’t want to distract you guys, just get on with the game. Let me go alone so I can hurry up. [That was another suspicion rouser, the third for the day]

Okay then, play with us for a while before you go.

No, I won’t be long, I promise.

Come on!

Okay.

That was my fatal mistake. One, by agreeing to play, I totally messed up my time plan. Two, I played in my Sunday School clothes, a well-known cardinal sin.

I ended up getting so engrossed in the game that an hour and a half was gone before I realized. And I was all dirty. With the goals at 15-15, I managed to put my team in the lead then excused myself. But my team refused to play in my absence, so the game came to an end and I had no way of refusing their offer to accompany me on my errand.

Having put my team ahead, i decided to excuse myself and get to other business| Image source:.africagoal.com
Having put my team ahead, i decided to excuse myself and get to other business| Image source:.africagoal.com

Which gave birth to a whole new problem. My friendship with Njeri was a total secret to this point, and there was no way I was letting in the chimps on that. Never! You see, it was not commonplace to be speaking to girls, I was just one of the early adopters in my age group. Such knowledge would have been a big news story in the village. Even my loyal team would have been too excited to keep it in. Also, I was still low on confidence levels. I was not sure whether I was saying the right things to Njeri and I would totally freak out in the presence of all those chimps.

But there was also no way I was telling them that I was aborting the plan to go across the ridge because that would have confirmed their suspicions and they would end up putting me under tight surveillance.

So I quickly hatched a plan. There was a woman across the ridge who worked with The Rose, and was also a member of The Rose’s church, albeit from a different prayer house. I knew they were preparing for some Mothers’ Union competitions, and that they had been given some scripts to aid their practice.

So I led my battalion to Mama Florence’s home, walked up to my mother’s colleague and said without blinking. “My mum misplaced her practice scripts, so she sent me to borrow yours. She wants to make a copy then return them.”

Oi Mwana!! We are growing old, I have also misplaced mine. I have been looking for them for days. But let me look for them again.

I was praying that she would not find them, but like Onesmus Mutembeisays, when bad luck decides to camp with you, even a boiled potato can break your tooth.

As I was waiting outside, I saw Florence- who was my age but never used to talk to me, I have no idea why- go into the house. Then I heard her ask her mother too loudly I was sure she wanted me to hear, Mother, what are you looking for?

I did not hear her mother’s reply, but again Flo’s answer was clearly audible. They are on top of the wall unit, just next to the TV near the drawer where we keep the cups used by visitors. Flo liked me, I concluded.

Flo’s mum handed me the scripts and we sped off.

But then, a new problem. I needed to buy enough time for ‘my mother to make a copy’ and return them on the same day because the two were likely to see each other next day at work.

I was able to do that, but in the entire process, I ended up getting home at eight. Luckily, I made it minutes before the Man Beater. Or not so luckily.

Because when the MB got home, his first question was ‘Where are you from?’

I was playing ball, I came back a long time ago.

Why didn’t you come say hi to your Godfather?

At that point I knew my goose was cooked. If my Godfather was around, I would have been expected to see him come into the compound from where we used to play ball, and courtesy demanded I come say hi. Even worse, and I was sure that was what had happened, his way home would be the same as the way to Mama Florence’s. Which meant that while seeing him off, the Man Beater had seen me wandering beyond approved territory without permission.

I did not see him come in, I replied.

Silence.

Epilogue:

That the Man Beater did not take any action left me confused whether I had really been granted that freedom, or was I just under a suspended sentence.

That was the first day I washed my own clothes. I had to go hang them to dry at kina Ng’es place because I did not want it known that I had dirtied Sunday clothes on a Wednesday.

I was 50-50 on how the story of scripts would go between The Rose and Mama Florence. That was the birth of a slogan that I use to date. ‘Kíria gígaciarwa ngarera’ which loosely translates to ‘what will be birthed, I will bring up’ meaning ‘I will bear the consequences’ or ‘I am ready to carry my own cross.’

Hands up \o if you want this story to continue over the festive season.

#tbt #iRestMyPen

The day we were almost kidnapped

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Mt. Kenya Slopes, 2001-

With the end-of-the-world stories finally coming to rest, there has to arise a new fad, because, like the Science teacher said, nature does not support a vacuum. So now there are stories of devil worship everywhere. Literally everywhere.

On the way from school, there is a ‘pastor’ who has pitched a tent, complete with a public address, telling people about devil worship. Apparently, the pastor himself is a reformed devil worshiper who was saved from the chains of evil by God Himself. You know those situations so serious that my people ask God to come in person and not send anyone from heaven?

That is what happened to this pastor.He tells stories of how it used to be like in the kingdom of Sháitan- scary rituals like drinking human blood and sacrificing your relatives. In return? You get all the wealth you want and basically anything you ask for. He tells of how they used to enter inside a pot and just mention where they wanted to be and pap! You’re there! Our pastor used to say ‘Mauritius.’ I have no idea why anyone would choose Mauritius faced with the option of the whole world.

Recently, the Man Beater brought home a booklet from my uncle’s place: Devil Worship in Kenya: How to Identify it and Protect Yourself. I think this is the book for me. But it is scary. The cover picture has an overturned cross and a beheaded man lying on an altar, blood dripping as another man drinks from the ‘fountain.’ I cannot stand it, so I cover the book and read a bit. Stories from people who have been to the dark world. The Devil’s commandments. I have bad dreams from it.

Around the village, there is a tale of a certain group that is residing at the caves by the river. They are patrolling the course of the river in search of young children to sacrifice. I hear they pluck your tongue and, for boys, the penis which they take as an offering. The story of their affiliation varies from devil worship to Mungiki. And they do not want circumcised boys. My quick calculations tell me there is no way I can procure an urgent cut because:

1. It would be suicidal to tell the man beater of my intentions. Around here, circumcision before class 8 is closely followed by dropping out of school; you do not want the MB to suspect you of harboring such thoughts.
2. People only ‘Go’ in December. To go is to, well, go….go to be circumcised.
3. Naskiaga huko hakutakagi upuzi….weeh!

Which is why I have to think of a counter-theory. I try to convince the lads that this is just a tale invented by adults to prevent us from going swimming and fishing, because:

a) How comes they don’t know for sure if its Mungiki or devil worshipers?

b) The story only comes up during the day, but in the evening they send us down the river to buy sukuma wiki.

I think I have them convinced, but the problem is when Ngé asks “So, can we go swimming?”….”Naaah! Kuna kitu niliacha nimeambiwa nifanye.” My authoritativeness in giving stories is under serious threat!

Sunday.

The usual routine: Go to Sunday school, come home, remove Sunday school clothes, play ball, go to the field -kivarori- to watch big people play ball so we can name ourselves after our stars all week. Personally, I always pick ‘Mathavu’ or G2, depending on who played better. My mates think I should pick Maganga though! Idk why, he is so poor at the game. I think they are jealous.

Today’s game is largely appetizing, they should have just charged entrance fees. But I bet they did not have time to fence the field, or the coffee factory denied them ciandarua.

The game is going really well. We are leading 3-1 and playing well. Then a commotion erupts by the roadside just beside us. Many kids gather to see a vehicle speeding away.Then the announcement comes from someone in the crowd. “Kare niwocwa!!!” (Kare has been taken) Kare is another stylish way of saying Caleb, just like you can say kidnapped instead of being taken.

It hits like a thunderbolt. So these people are real!! We break into chants of ‘Kare niwocwa! Kare niwocwa!’But they are not activist chants, rather warning calls to all uncircumcised boys around as we each flee to our respective villages and homesteads before those people come back.

And I am never venturing outside again until I get circumcised!!!

#Tbt I think it’s about time #IRestMyPen

PS: It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered that the people who took Kare were actually his relatives who just picked him up, so my theory of adult tales was watered down for nothing. How Kare had a relative with a motor vehicle at that time is still a mystery to me!

The First Time I Slept Near a Tarmacked Road

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The year is 2000. The second term of school. Millenium has come and settled. The world did not end after all. Pastors who had announced the apocalypse go about like they never mentioned anything of the sort. A good number of villagers are embroiled in unending disagreements with people they sold their belongings in anticipation of world’s end. They want a reverse of transaction, lakini opportunists unawaita kina nani?
 
Computers, I hear, did not shut down either. Not that I really know what those are or what they do anyway. The closest I have come to a computer is being referred to as dot com. My name is dream.com, by the way. And there is a bicycle taxi in our market called KMT.com. KMT means Kaza Miguu Twende, Tukimaliza Mlima Kalia.
 
Forget about KMT. Today I am overly excited. Why? Because tomorrow is a BIG day. Very big day. A red letter day. Tomorrow, Friday, is the day we have all been waiting for. Tomorrow is the day of The School Tour!! Tour of The Rift Valley.The Rift frigging Valley!
 
It is especially significant for me because up until the last minute, there were signs that The Man Beater was not paying for us the required Ksh. 500 for the trip. And our class teacher has been rubbing it in our noses, coming to class with a list of those who have paid every day, and reading it out loud after calling out the register.
 
Mugambi Muriuki: Present in class
 
On Tour List : Absent.
 
I even sat the Man Beater down and tried to explain that I was willing to sell four of my rabbits, will he top me up? The answer, “We will see about it.” Mum kept saying not to worry, nitalipiwa tu, but weh!
 
So you can imagine my excitement when yesterday, Wednesday, I was read out in the list of people who were supposed to remain behind to be briefed on the tour itinerary. I have tried to be prudent in glory, but its hard. I have been telling people, ‘Don’t worry, utalipiwa. Ata mimi nimelipiwa leo.’ But I myself can hear how shallow I sound.
 
There was a small hitch though. My home is far away from school, I cannot manage to be here by departure time: 4am. Man Beater thinks we should ask for a refund, and for the first time in my life, I look him in the eye like ‘TF, nigga are you high or insane?’ He’s bluffing though, they already made arrangements for me to spend the night at my aunt’s close to the school. He is a comic, this Man Beater of Tsavo.
 
So, when school closes for the day, I head over to my aunt’s. The evening wears on agonizingly slowly. I am too excited to eat, but not too excited to brief them of my schedule; I need to be at school before 4 am, so whoever is involved in my programme should plan their night accordingly. They assure me that they are well briefed and ready, but I am suspicious. They don’t look like they are giving the matter at hand the seriousness it deserves.
 
At lights out, I am directed to spend the night at one of my male cousins’ house; I feel like a grown man for the first time in my life. They ask if I am a bedwetter; I lie with a straight face! I’m sure I am not going to sleep anyway.
 
My cousin sets his alarm to 3.30 (I confirm) I think that is too late, but I keep quiet. I, however, set my Asahi ‘water-resistant’ wristwatch to 3 am, and repeat the same on my small bell ringer clock that I smuggled from school. They won’t need it tomorrow anyway.
 
We turn off our lamp at 10.30 pm. My first rouse is at 10.45. I wake up in a fit, after a bad dream that the bus has already left. Sigh!
 
I finally fall asleep, for a jolly long time! I wake up again at 12.15! After feeling around and confirming the bed is still dry, I wake my cousin up to take me outside for a pee. I take the opportunity to remind him to check his alarm.
As soon as I cover myself again, I hear the bus leaving. I jump in a fit and alert my cousin kumethúka. Nimeachwa! Listen, the bus is leaving!
 
It’s only 12.20, he grumbles. “I know, but that’s beside the point. Can you HEAR. THE. BUS. LEAVING?” No, that’s not the bus, those are vehicles that pass by every other night.
 
“Vehicles passing? At Night? Going where? which vehicles, btw?” I do not ask this aloud, but I discover one thing: My cousin is jealous because I am going to the Rift Valley. You see, in my home area, very few vehicles pass by at any time of day. If a vehicle does pass by, we troop out to see its destination. Even fewer vehicles pass by at night, during which time si hujua tumeibiwa. My cousin, I cannot trust him anymore.
 
I confirm this when he goes to sleep immediately after our little engagement. How dare he fall asleep? Further confirmation comes when I wake him again and tell him to the bus honking its kingóra. We are being called. Clearly irritated, he says, you sleep, I will wake you up when its time!
 
Oooooh, so that’s it eeh? Now I understand. Unataka niachwe. He goes back to sleep; I dare not. I sit up, every passing vehicle on the highway I am sure is the bus leaving me behind. I cannot trust clocks anymore, its been like 7 hours but they have only counted 3! I contemplate sneaking out on my own, but that is a bit too risky. So I resign myself to missing the trip. Sad.
 
When my two alarms go off at three, I literally spring out of bed, grab my small torch and get ready in two minutes flat. I wake my cousin up and demand he takes me NOW.
 
Tired of fighting, he gets up and goes to the main house to get tea. My aunt is already up, but I do not understand why she insists I have tea. Can’t you see I am late? But aunt Rosa is another one! She won’t let me, so I down the fastest hot cup of tea ever!
 
As aunt Rosa packs my bag, I speed her up. You do not want to know what she ended up packing in there in the hurry! No, I won’t say!
 
We get to school at 3:30. The bus has not even arrived. Actually, it does not arrive until around an hour later. And some people arrive as late as 45 minutes after the bus. I keep opining loudly that those ones ought to be left behind.
 
My cousin is patient enough to wait the entire time. Of course, he dare not leave without seeing us off, because Aunt Rosa will be cross at him for mistreating Sister Rose’s kid.
 
Sorry Cuz, I know I just gave you the longest and most uncomfortable night of your life, but right now I need to go away and enjoy this trip! Byee!
 
#TBT #iRestMyPen

Praying for the year 2000 Apocalypse to take us

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The 200 Apocalypse was so popular it went to the films | Image: Edgecastcdn
The 200 Apocalypse was so popular it went to the films | Image: Edgecastcdn
The year is 1999. December. This is the final year of the earth, because, come 2000, all computers will shut down, and a big stone will fall from heaven and crush the earth. The stone is called Millenium. Christmas is fast approaching, and mum is showing absolutely no signs of buying us Christmas clothes.
Actually, she has made a public announcement that she does not have money, but who is buying that story? Right, no one! I, with my own two eyes, have seen A LOT of money in her purse that is kept in another purse that is kept in another purse that is kept in a small bag that mum keeps in a big handbag. So, no, tumekataa hiyo story ya serikali haina pesa. Siri yako kali tushagundua!
The Man Beater is not about that ‘new clothes’ life, so we have no higher court before which to present our case. What to do now? In the words of Bob Marley, Get up Stella, Stella for your right. Get up Stella, Don’t give up the fight!
Haha, how do I know Bob Marley at such a tender age? My cousin Nyuki who stays in Mombasa came home with a Biiig Radio, it is called cassette. So big it is powered by 12 batteries! 12 fucking batteries, and they cannot last. He has many compacts which play Reggae and Newton Karish. Nyuki tells us many stories, like how Bob Marley once came to sing in Kenya. On arrival at the airport, he asked for a lighter to smoke his joint, but Moi said No! You cannot smoke bhang in Kenya! So Bob Marley answered “No kaya, No music” before re-entering his plane and ordering the pilot to fly back to Jamaica.
Akina Nyuki and others who were at the airport were so mad at Moi, but no one tells Moi anything. That story left me with so many questions: Doesn’t Bob Marley know bhang is bad? Won’t he be arrested by Moi? Where is Jamaica?
Anyway, to stand up for our rights, I organize a major go-slow. I am careful to distinguish between Mum’s and The Man Beaters assignments, because, we! So the sheep have to be fed. The eggs have to be collected. But there is no ‘kwongania macaki. I, and the other wahasiriwa kids in the village, won’t collect dry grevillea tree leaves for our mothers to make fire. Also, no talking, no eating! The strike will climax with boycotting Sunday school on Christmas day. There will be beatings, yes, but a soldier must be prepared for any eventuality when going to war. Arutwa continua!
Day 1 of the strike: Mum: Why haven’t you collected macaki? We don’t have Christmas clothes. Why aren’t you talking? We don’t have Christmas clothes. Ok, rephrase that to, why am I talking to you without response (No one cares if you are not talking) Why are you not eating? We don’t have Christmas clothes.
Replace that response with ‘I am full’ in case the man beater is around. Day one is successful, there was a little macaki remaining that mum used.
Day 2: Why isn’t there any macaki in this kitchen? We don’t have Christmas clothes. Okay. The hunger is biting, but we cannot fret, lets just do some mangoes as we take milk to various destinations.
Come evening, Kaguri, The Man Beater is breathing fire. Ma ya ngao! It has been reported that we are getting wayward; we are not collecting Macaki and we are keeping quiet when spoken to. Two counts of indiscipline. Haki ya nani! As if that is not enough, the man beater has his own charge. We left a lot of ngava on the ground in our search for mangoes to eat.
So, now, the summons…what did I say about plucking unripe mangoes? Then you bite them once and leave them scattered on the ground. Can you all go out and bring me a rod each!
Hiyo nyumba haturudi, hiyo jiwe ya 2000 ikuje haraka imalize dunia!!
#tbt I rest my pen.

The day I threatened to diss Kangaru Girls: The response

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The day I threatened to diss Kangaru Girls: The response | Image source: theodysseyonline.com
The day I threatened to diss Kangaru Girls: The response | Image source: theodysseyonline.com
Here is the response I got, after, as narrated last week, threatening to diss Kangaru Girls (Mecca) if they did not issue an apology for tarnishing my name:
Rohntez Ozone
C/o K-Bee High
Box ….
60100
Embu
To
Wabaddest
C/O Box 1
60103
Runyenjes
Wallapa Wabbadest Messrs,
Re: Alleged injurious act and Mubaddest VII’s threat to diss Mecca Babes
We refer to your letter dated 28th May, reference DISS/IN/PIPELINE-0001 in which you claimed an act taken by our clients on a photo YOU sent to them was injuring one of your socialites’ reputation, and demanded an immediate apology and hook-up (by 4th June), failure to which you would institute diss proceedings against or client, Mecca Babes.
Our instructions are that for reasons issued below, our client will not fulfill any of your demands, and will actually retract hook-ups done for EACH ONE OF YOU. They will also take further action against your said socialite, Mbaddest VII.
Your client is a well-known socialite in the district (a position he has achieved by acting as a parasite or climbing plant, rather than putting an image and character like other socialites) and is therefore subject to not only praise but also all ridicule that may come with the tag.
Part of your complaint arose from the fact that our client inscribed the word ‘Tunakujua,’ meaning ‘we know you’ in red marker pen under your client’s name.
Is it not true that your client is a well-known socialite?
Is it not true that he comes from deep in a remote village with a largely illiterate populace, often bitten by drought and has a road that cannot be accessed by any type of motor equipment. (except a boat in the rainy season)
Is it not true that he has been peddling lies that he hails from Dandora, and the said village is only his grandmother’s village which he visits temporarily after closing school?
Is it not true that your client has a heavy accent from the slopes, which he tries to hide by speaking so little when he can avoid, speaking very fast when he has to, swallowing words when talking and using too many gestures/non-verbal cues to avoid mentioning some words? Who has heard him say ‘four villagers fighting for fillet as a ferocious donkey foraged around?’
Is that not the reason he has never taken a major part in festivals, despite being repeatedly pushed by your teacher to do so?
Is it not true that your client does not own a single item of school uniform, and is always borrowing or ‘borrowing?’
Part VI of all school rules reads that ‘School uniform must be worn at all times during the school session, in and out of school. Students shall only wear THEIR OWN uniform and are liable to prove ownership upon demand by teachers and any other kind of school authority.
Is it not true that your client has repeatedly organised for other students, seniors included, to be scrapped off school trip lists so he could borrow their funky attire. It is well known that such attire has been used to win over girls, and also gain unwarranted attention during funkies.
Is it not true that your client, now a senior (uh, at last) has spent close to two decades in the first two sections of the 8-4-4 system? Some of his former classmates now hold big positions in this country.
Is it not true that during that period, he has been to over six schools in the district, and has been admitted with the same pair of shoes to over half of those?
Is it not true that your client, up until now, has had two girlfriends in Mecca, in different streams of the same schooling year? Doesn’t he also date a girl by the name Anne in Don Bosco Girls, and another Karina in Kyeni Girls?
Is it not true that he has never spent a single coin on any of these girls, always lying about being picked up by his mara Engineer, mara Lawyer mara pilot dad during closing?
Always arming himself with two Juniors during funkies to help him handle the task of lying to these girls whom he scores using vibe accumulated from hours upon hours of reading mail borrowed within the school and from other schools too?
Our client is willing to produce enough evidence, and call witnesses to back these claims, and more which we have omitted in the interest of brevity.
For this reason, we wish to make it clear that no apologies or hook-ups are coming your client’s way, or the way of any of you.
We also demand that going forward, Mubaddest VII be dropped from any funky lists, and you, The Wabaddest, refrain from talking to any girls during the two upcoming funkies (I.e Dramo distohz and Saintee Journa Day) and during the midterm.
We expect you will abide by this, but should you feel it is too hard for you, no pressure. You know us, we are the O-Zone, we love to get physical.
Signed,
The Rohntez Ozone
For
Mecca Babes
CC.
Reddz,
Donni Gee
The Insyder
Dedz: Alfayo- Get Physical
*************************************************************************
When that mail landed, I was not allowed to read it first. It was read by one Sir-Mdosi, who then convened the whole crew and read it aloud.
I was then asked to take the first go at issuing a response. I said that while there were too many exaggerations and lies in the accusations, I felt that they had taken a really heavy blow at us- particularly me- and it would be hard to get back on our feet.
I also expressed my unpleasant surprise at Mecca for engaging the Ozone in this, making a boy-girl affair a boy-boy conflict. I said I sensed that a close ally of mine had sold me out by giving details of my life beyond school boundaries.
I apologised to crew for putting them in this position, then begged for their understanding in all matters, true and untrue.
Sir Mdosi assured me that we had set out on this journey together; there was no blame on me.
I offered my willingness to abide by the demands put forward that pertained me but urged the team to defy all others, as that would be read as submission to the Ozone.
Lastly, I announced that in my opinion, it was time to make amends and work with The Axe Gang, our rival crew in school. Not because Ozone had become bigger, I said, but because we needed to deliver a blow so strong it would reverberate over generations. (Honestly, I thought as presently constituted, we were far much weaker than The Ozone, thanks to defections and expulsions, but I wouldn’t say that if my life depended on it.)
The show of solidarity was overwhelming. I won’t go into details, but basically, my plan was adopted.
How we picked on from there is a story for another day.
#tbt #iRestMyPen

The day I threatened to diss Kangaru Girls

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Annual KANU Subscription badges. Postage stamps in the era also looked like so | Image: Mundia Kamau
Annual Kanu Subscription badges. Postage stamps in the era also looked like so | Image: Mundia Kamau

October 2016, One9 Offices-

Info reaching my desk tells me that Ruto and Boniface Mwangi are on a see- saw….

Ndio nikakumbuka hii story

In the formative years of the 21st Century, I happened, by chance, to be a popular name in Box 1. Not that people loved, no. Actually, the opposite was quite true.

But I had a number of things that people wanted. Needed almost. I had a good rapport with the watchmen, so I could always be trusted to deliver extra tasty food from staffroom and kitchen leftovers. I always had a booklet of writing pads and envelopes, I could carve a good calligraphy and my English was good, so I was quite resourceful on the dating scene. I hailed from around the school so…you get the grind.

As such, my influence grew beyond the school borders to…Kangaru Girls. Mecca. Just like that…popping into a group mail here, ‘say halla to your deskie,’ there, ‘my beddie says hi, btw he is the one who does this calig.’ Writing a PS there…

So, on this one instance, we posed for a group photo which we intended to send to Mecca for hook-ups. Everyone brought their A-game to the shoot, complete with borrowed ‘Tj-Tj’ sharp-shooters and shiny buckle belts. We then labelled each face on the picture, 1-15, then indicated at the back of the photograph the name of each number and the preferred type of girl.

I was number 7- like my school team jersey then- looking for a ‘hagalicious, chocolate dark, classy chic who loves fun and adventure.’

Then we recycled a postage stamp and sent our mail.

And waited.

A week later, the school mail was delivered per routine. You know the excitement.

One thing struck us immediately. While everyone had a tick and a girl’s name against their face, my face was crossed with an X and below it the inscription ‘Tunakujua.’

I was shell-shocked and angry at the same time. Shocked because I was scandal-free as far as I was concerned. I had always kept my tracks clean or well covered. Sad because they had crossed my face out in the only pic I ever put in an effort to look nice. Worse still, they had scarred my public image, literally. And the boys were having a field day roasting me.

But boys are a team. After the roasting, we were one, we decided to hit back.

So we sat and drafted this letter:

Wabaddest
C/o Box 1- 60103
Runyenjes

Form III
Mecca
Box __-60100
Embu

Re: Denting our client’s public image

We have noted with great and grave concern your act of crossing out our client’s image in a group photo sent to you, dated 24th May, in which you were requested to hook our client up with female company from your institution.

We are irked by the kind of undiplomatic response you gave to our client, and even more by the means you used to respond. By crossing out his face in a picture also containing 14 comrades, our client suffered and continues to suffer a public blackout, which is injurious to his socialite career.

We, on behalf of our client, demand that you issue an apology of equal weight, along with a hook up with a girl of his choice. This should be done by the 4th of June, failure to which we will institute proceedings of a diss track against your school, on behalf of our client.

Wabaddest,
For
Wabaddest
cc. Mubaddest VII

 

The response we got is coming in due time

My life as a cobbler

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Nostalgic, aye? The trade was a money-minting opportunity | image: Terry Mwaniki
Nostalgic, aye? The trade was a money-minting opportunity | image: Terry Mwaniki

This was just another life-hack pale high school, yes?

No.It was a business opportunity.

It was a business opportunity.

You see, when we enrolled pale St. Thomas, it was a group of lads from diverse backgrounds brought together and forced to co-exist.

You were either from Nairobi or from Embu.

Embu town or Embu countryside.

You had come through either boarding school or day school.

Private day school or public day school.

If you were from a boarding school, you had some exposure to sheng.

If you came through day school, you either spoke bad English or plain Kiembu.

Later, and too late for relevance, I came to realize that there also were two Nairobis.

Wherever you came from, we were put together in one pot and expected to boil together. Same rules. Same food. Same Deputy Principal.

Nairobians, townspeople and boarding school products were sly. The rest of us were hardy. A good number of us were only for the first time wearing shoes for an extended period.An easy way to pick out a form one’s background would have been to check what brand of slippers they wore. Those from Nairobi wore either Bata blue or some other colourful spongy brands that looked like a slice of those bread loaves you buy and slice at home. I swear those slippers looked edible.

An easy way to pick out a form one’s background would have been to check what brand of slippers they wore. Those from Nairobi wore either Bata blue or some other colourful spongy brands that looked like a slice of those bread loaves you buy and slice at home. I swear those slippers looked edible.

Us, the day school gang, strictly wore Umoja slippers. The type that had the base no more than 0.5 mm thick and straps so long you had to march like a policeman on pass-out day to get the base off the ground.

If you were being educated by the community, you wore another brand that looked like Umoja but did not have a name. The base was so brittle and usually broke like sacrament when the time came. You may also have had akala, but that was for those who had real balls and farmed absolutely zero focks.

Not that it mattered anyway; three weeks into our high school life, no form one owned a pair of slippers. All had been borrowed indefinitely by the seniors, and we had to make do with un-matching pairs we collected from dustbins. Of course there was a reason they were in the bins to begin with.

And that is where the business came in.

While the townspeople were sly enough to come up with the clever repair trick of pinning the slippers with a piece of binding wire, they were too soft skinned and often hurt themselves in the process. So they turned to us farmhands to deliver them from the torture.

In the beginning, it was just an act of brotherhood, and we repaired the slippers at no charge and set the owner on their way. But when the requests became too frequent, the Hardy Boys started declining. They said it was taking up too much of their time.

Many departed the trade and only a few of us were left. I think we were only four in a form one class comprising over 200 students. Soon, the load became too much for us also. At times I entered the class for evening preps only to find a pile of slippers at the foot of my desk. I didn’t mind getting down to the task, as it meant I could stay busy throughout the three strenuous hours without having to make noise or fall asleep.

It is the clients themselves who introduced money to the trade. In an effort to get served before their peers, some started offering tokens. Five shillings. A spoon of peanut butter. A bite of biscuits. For the better-connected ones, it could go as far as a slice of avocado during meals.

Soon, the payments ceased to be voluntary tokens of appreciation and became standard requirements of service. If you did not pay, your slippers just sat there; I did not touch them. I ended up with a pile like you will find at any other fundi’s.

The Hardy Boys who had departed the trade tried to come back, but we had already secured clients’ loyalty. Also, our skill was far much developed.

To stay ahead of the game, I started spending my free time cutting down pieces of wire from the school fence to aid my clippings. The demand was overwhelming, and in the process, I ended up making a hole in the fence that was used by truants to get away.

Without any tools, the method of cutting wire was twisting it until it got hot and soft so you could tear it like a banana peel. This often caused burning to the fingers; I have a black spot to date.

My fame as a cobbler grew, and I was soon contacted by the seniors to get their slippers done. Mostly it was form twos who had not shed their form one clumsiness, but at some point, I got so good that even form threes and fours recruited me.

The downside of working for the seniors was that they didn’t pay. They were also very strict and demanded that my repairs should not allow any water to leak in between the toes when they walked on wet surfaces. That was practically impossible when you worked with wire. I, however, got some kickbacks like listening in on their tales or not having to scramble for food with fellow first formers.

I, for a moment, mooted venturing into full-scale shoe repair, but I quickly went back on that idea when my first pair ended up like a certain pair of shoes in this post. I recalled it immediately after roll-out.

I will just leave this one as is, but it gives me nostalgia of my roll out | Image author unknown
I will just leave this one as is, but it gives me nostalgia of my roll out | Image author unknown

My business came to a sudden collapse when the first batch of Chinese landed in Kenya. They brought with them cheap sandals that were affordable, available and acceptable to all categories of students.

Not that I cried over the new development; I had ventured into other forms of business anyway.

 

#tbt #iRestMyPen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was convinced that I was growing a tail

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IMAGE: My butt may have looked like this after my attempt to shear off my tail. But I know not, because, well, nyani and kundule | Image source: https://images.genius.com
My butt may have looked like this after my attempt to shear off my tail. But I know not, because, well, nyani and kundule | Image source: https://images.genius.com

I will keep this brief because you won’t believe it anyway.
I do not tell the nicknames I have had in my lifetime, but this I will purely out of necessity.

When I was young, around 4-6 years of age, I got the nickname ‘Tírú.’ That is a result of tohozaing the word ‘tail’ to the Embu tongue. Some called me ‘Mú-tírú.’ A few call me that to date, but on few occasions, like public holidays, when my money runs out at the bar or when they realize I am not ‘buying.’ Not so ‘few occasions,’ come to think of it.

Many people have never known where that name came from, however. In an ideal world, it would have been reserved for someone who came last in class, and I was always far from there. You see, being the Man Beater’s son, anything less than number one was always a failure, punishable by anything imaginable. So I managed to convince my teachers to give me good grades if that was the only service they would do to humanity.

The name came from a guy by the name Buddie, real name Mark Kariúki, Facebook name I don’t know, maybe we can ask Katherine Kenya.

You see, Buddie told me that every human being has a tail that keeps growing from the time you are born, and if it is not cut when you are young, it will grow to be as long as a cow’s. If you insert your hand in your shorts and touch where the spine ends, he said, you will feel it. If you touch that place repeatedly every few days, you can actually feel it growing.

There, my annoying behaviour as a child explained; I was only feeling my tail. I don’t do it anymore though, actually the only person I have seen do it in recent times is Germany’s football coach Joachim Leow.

Every time I touched, I could literally feel my tail growing. I can swear it was. And I got worried. So I went back to Buddie and asked for advice.

You are too big to be cut the normal way, he told me. For a person your age, you have to wait for your mum to finish cooking chapatti, then sit on that karai and thigithia the growing tail. It will be a bit painful, but it is worth it. Or do you want to be the only person with a tail like a cow’s?

No.

When you are told wide consultation is necessary for everything you do, do not take that advice for granted. I did not ask anyone else if they had their tail cut, I just swallowed Buddie’s advice in full.

In my defence, it made perfect sense to me because we used to cut our lambs’ tails all the time. Then again, it would have been too embarrassing to let people know I had a tail growing because someone forgot to cut it when I was young. I swore I would take the necessary steps to curtail its growth.

There was one major problem though: Chapatis were only cooked during Christmas, and it was months away. And my tail was growing pretty fast; that’s what I felt every time I touched. I contemplated heating the pan and getting that business over with, but Buddie had said I had to wait for it to be used for chapo first.
That wait was long, I tell you!

By the time December came, I could feel my tail literally poking my shorts.

But at least the time was nigh.

On D-day, chapatti cooking began in earnest on the evening of 24th December, for two reasons. Three actually. One, there were about 30 people in that stead, The Taliban’s family, and so it took hours to cook enough chapattis. Two, as a rule, everyone had to go to church on 25th Dece er, so there would be no time to cook. Three, our neighbour Mbiria (I gather that’s Bilha) would need to use the karai on 25th.

The moment of reckoning came at around 4am. As everyone put away utensils and went to sleep, I silently plucked my tool of trade and slipped to a secluded corner behind the kitchen. On touching it with the tip of my finger, I decided no way, this would have to wait.
But the thought that the Karai would soon be leaving for another homestead, and I would have to wait till 31st, or another year, gave me the motivation to carry on. So I placed the karai well, turned and dropped my shorts.

My bottom twitched with the thought, but I was not going back. So quickly before fear could creep up, I sat my bare bottom on the hot karai with a thud!

(Darkness)

I only remember letting out a scream, then opening my eyes to see everyone surrounding me.

Suffice to say no one in our family went to church that Christmas, neither did Mbiria cook chapatti.

And that is how the phrase ‘some of’ was inserted in my version of the Lord’s Prayer. Hapo kwa ‘forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us’

PS:
I know I said I would keep it brief, trust me I tried.
As you can see, briefs are not my thing, because of the scar on my bottom. Bless the inventor of boxers! The extra skin they cover, that feature is really welcome.

#TBT #iRestMyPen