The Rat Race

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So I’m sitting here filing my tax returns. Which is the adult equivalent of your mother knowing you ate the sugar but she want’s you to admit that you did. It’s just not as sweet doing it. I mean, we don’t even pay tax, the government takes it. Whatever hits my bank account is less the said tax I should be paying. Then the government asks you to confirm that you ‘paid’ this tax. The nerve.

Anyway, I’m filing my taxes and I think to myself how tired I am and it’s just Monday. I’m preparing for a long day of writing reports, refraining from telling people how to do their job, reading emails and occasionally minimizing the window to do what I was actually doing – watching YouTube videos.No, I’m not distracted from my work, I’m on a break. Which is what I tell myself. Besides, I’m watching a guy eat 15 burgers in 30 minutes. Fascinating. And he gets paid too. How bizarre.

My boss shows up and I have to quickly close the YouTube tab and quickly put up an excel sheet on the screen. I’m working on those report statistics for the month. He’s back from leave and so my freedom has now been curtailed.

Thanks for holding fort while I was away. You know that executives meeting that’s happening today? I need you to present my piece for me. I need to catch up with my emails.

Say what!? But you said you’d be back in time to attend it. Thanks for the four hour heads up. That’s what I thought, but what came out of my mouth was,

Sure. No problem. I’d love to.

Then I started to panic. Present to the executives? Including the C.E.O? This guy is not serious. I was not even wearing my lucky boxers. I actually had the Jik stained ones. The one’s you don’t wear if you have hopes of getting laid. The kind you don’t wear during a Cord protest, lest the cops hoist you by the trouser waist, giving you a glorious wedgie and now everyone on social media is talking about your discolored inners instead of why ‘baba’ wasn’t even at the protest. In all that I thought to myself, why did I lie during the interview.

My strengths? Well, I work  well under pressure. I’m willing to take on challenging tasks and I’m willing to learn on the job.

They probably caught my bullshit at the interview, but they needed cheap labour and I was desperate and my CV showed that at least I could read and write. A monkey could do my job, but it didn’t have a degree. Lucky me. Poor Harambe.

So here I am now trying to get all the facts of the presentation together, meanwhile my tummy is in knots and I have this overwhelming urge to pass gas. Is it just me who feels like passing gas when nervous? All the time. High school final exams, University application, first kiss, job interviews, driving test, first run in with the police, marriage proposal, meeting the father in law. I could go on and on. Significant moments in my life seem to be underpinned by flatulence. For real. It’s not just hot air. Hehe.

Moving on, a two hour meeting with the executives is what I had ahead of me. Discussions on low hanging fruits, and synergies. I’ll have to cleverly answer questions without answering them. Corporate meetings are all about pretending to be the cleverest in the room. You nod, take notes and ask questions. They don’t have to be intelligent questions either. Just look intelligent.

Something like, I see what you’re saying and agree fully with your approach, but is it scalable?

The guy will be probably respond with something equally obnoxious.

It’s sort of a chicken and egg situation but we want to get a feel of the product and address the current pitfalls of our offering. For now we’ll just go for a vanilla product and then we can add all the bells and whistles as we go along.

Then you shall nod pretending to understand what the presenter just said and add,

Totally understood. I guess we can take this offline to discuss the details.

And you’ll look smart. And everyone else in the room will be too embarrassed to ask a question because it seems it’s only you and the presenter who seem to know what’s going on. Yet, all of you are clueless.

Anyway, I head for my meeting eventually. Having given myself a pep talk and watched a couple of motivational YouTube videos telling me I can achieve anything I want in this world, and that the sky is not the limit. I head early to the imposing board room so that I can get accustomed to the room before the executives come in. I look for a non conspicuous position at the end of the large, mahogany table. I feel so out of place on the leather seat. Like a toddler on a couch, I’m engulfed by it.

Then the executives walk in one by one. Ipads in hand, an air of seriousness around them (and cologne). In Italian shirts complete with personalized cuff links. I feel even smaller. There’s small talk between a couple of the executives before the meeting starts.

How was Prague?

It was lovely. Excellent weather. I even managed to squeeze in a round of golf at the Albatross.

They laugh richly.  I sip water from my plastic dispenser cup and google Prague.

The meeting begins and different teams proceed with their presentations. It’s filled with moments of clueless people, talking about abstract concepts all the while staring at the Powerpoint slides projected on the wall. No eye contact, probably because they’re all faking it. I shall fit right in here it seems.

Then comes my turn and I do the same.

Good morning all.

Good afternoon to you. They respond.

I give myself a scolding. It’s afternoon you nincompoop. You’ve already ruined it. Now try remember your points. And make eye contact. You’ll probably impress the hell out of these executives and they may even say hello to you in the lift next time.

I try to make eye contact with everyone in the room. But it makes me dizzy. I have to sip water, but my cup is empty. I put it aside and stumble through my presentation trying to sound important and use important-sounding words like ‘synergy’ and ‘proactive measures’ and ‘cognisant’. I probably used some of them incorrectly, but there were no questions once I was done. Meaning I either made sense or no one understood what I’d presented and couldn’t care to ask. I suppose it was the latter.

Two hours and an eternity later the meeting ended. As all corporate meetings, I had no idea what the outcome was but I guess that would be for the next meeting to sort out. I headed back to my desk, to finish up my tax returns. I was dog tired for some reason, but couldn’t explain it. Pretending at meetings clearly took it’s toll on me. I wish I was a farmer, at least I’d be tired from ploughing an acre of land.

I opened up the iTax page, then switched to you tube. A new upload from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. I guess I’ll watch that. Taxes, like death, will come anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dad is Not Superman

He’s faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Look up in the sky. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!

Oddly enough I remember that intro from the Superman cartoon series of the 50’s. Odd, considering I was way from being born at the time it was created. Actually, my parents were probably toddlers then. Growing up, however, we used to watch these episodes with my older brothers. I was barely a baby then, but somehow, either through their conversations or through some subliminal absorption, I remember that intro. And it stuck. Superman was my childhood hero.

And so as I grew up, since Superman was just on TV and the comics, the person I considered closest to him was my dad. The chief. He was my real life Superman. In my eyes, he had the biggest muscles. He was strong. He was fast. He was wise. Wiser than any wise person I knew. Even for the one’s I didn’t know, he was wiser than them. He was My Superman.

He probably knew when I stole 20 shillings to buy those wire bicycle toy guys. I have no idea what they’re called. You’d push it around and this yarn clad bicycle guy would look like he was cycling. It was a neat piece of engineering now that  I think of it. So when I purchased one from my ill gotten wealth, depriving the household of a loaf of bread,I felt the guilt thereafter and threw it over the fence into the neighbour’s backyard. Out of fear that the chief would catch me. How? I don’t know. He was Superman. He was probably telepathic among his many powers.

My Superman taught me that I should know BODMAS at Standard two. Amid tears and wailing I learnt it in a  night. Only to realise that I didn’t need to know it till Standard five. He taught me my times tables and made sure by the same Standard two I knew all my times tables up to 12. It was a painful process, but I learnt. He was my hero. He probably was born knowing his times tables up to 17. Or higher. That’s why he was an engineer. It was probably his cover to hide his true identity. Just like in the cartoon Superman was a journalist. My Superman could fool anyone with those thick rimmed, coke bottle bottom sized lensed spectacles. Maybe he had them to hide the fact that he had x-ray vision.

But just as a rising sun illuminates the previously darkened land,  I learnt my Superman was far from the hero I though he was.

The first time was when the Peugeot 305 (the Chariot) engine caught fire. We had just backed out of the car park at home and were maneuvering to leave the estate, when suddenly smoke engulfed the car cabin and flames menacingly leaped from the sides of the bonnet. Out jumps the chief from the drivers seat, in his favourite red and black checked blazer. He flings open the bonnet, and in and almost similar motion takes off his blazer and immediately whacks away at the daring flames. The fire was no match for him. His blazer was ruined though. He loved that blazer. I loved it too. I was proud at how he’d saved the day, but surely, couldn’t he have saved that blazer?

Then one day, while we were awaiting the chief and his missus to return from a trip to the village they arrived, but not at the expected time. They were hours late. And not in the Chariot. We later found out that there had been a car jacking, with the chief, his passengers and the chariot being the hapless casualties. The chief was slightly injured, having met the business end of a wheel spanner. How could that happen? He was My Superman. I remember walking off to my room in disappointment. My dad, the strongest man I knew, maimed by mortals.

A few years later he landed in hospital. This time, the vertebrae in his back unable to support him in an upright position. A slipped disc they called it. He could barely walk let alone take those 2 hour baths he liked to take. How could My Superman be on a hospital bed? Unable to sit up without wincing.

Slowly it dawned on me. He was no Superman afterall. He was just a man. Mortal. Susceptible to pain and anguish. It broke my heart.

He eventually got out of the hospital. He painfully started doing the things that normal people do, like going to work, sitting, walking, driving and taking 2 hour baths. In all this he never stopped providing for his family, for us, for me. He listened, he gave advice, he shaped me and my brothers into the men that we are today. And he never stopped. He has never stopped. He continued driving the Chariot ( yes, it was retrieved thanks to an actual working police force, or clueless robbers, or a bribe. We’ll never know).

As I thought about Father’s Day this past weekend, I remember something one of my brother’s told me about being a father.

You guy, fatherhood is about giving up your comfort zone. Your couch corner, your food, your money, everything. Give it all up with a plan to ensure your clan succeed in all God has planned for them.

Wise words from a young man. And they ring true when I think about the chief extinguishing those flames with his checked blazer. Protecting his missus from marauding carjackers and getting injured in the process. Teaching a young boy complex mathematics concepts late into the night so as to empower him for the future. And countless other sacrifices he has made to ensure his sons live the life he wished he could.

Of course when I called him to thank him for being a great dad, he retorted that an African man should not show such feelings. It’s a sign of weakness. But deep down inside I know he appreciated that call. But that’s the chief, impervious to emotion.

No. My dad is no Superman. He’s just a man. But what a man. He’s still My Superman, and always will be.

Happy Father’s Day Chief.

 

 

 

Aluta Continua

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There are two things I will never understand. Women and Kenya Power. Kenya Power I gave up trying to understand. Women, I try sometimes, then stop and chalk it up to It’s impossible and I never will. Something I’ve learnt out of this is, you can’t fight women. Not physically, no. That’s just primitive. I mean like mentally, or emotionally. Why? You will never win. Never. I learnt this the hard way. I knew it wasn’t possible to win, but I’m my father’s son; I’m as stubborn as corruption.

Now, the way I was raised, wives are always at home. Even if they worked, they rushed home with their three bags of various sizes, passed by the market and hauled themselves home. The wouldn’t go out. The only time my mother left the house was for a chama meeting. Or a kesha on New Year’s Eve. That was it. No ‘turn up’. No girl’s night out. That’s a new concept. One that I recently experienced.

The wife decided to go for a girl’s night out. I obliged. Because though I’m the son of a chief, we live in modern times. Besides, the wife being out means I can chill in the house in my boxers, eat junk food and watch shows like Discovery Science and Spartacus. Also I get to have the remote to myself. I can make sandwiches and leave breadcrumbs on the kitchen counter. I don’t have to watch sijui Braxton Family Values or Keeping up with the Kardashians as I hide behind the newspaper peeping up occasionally to ogle at Kim Kardashian’s ass.

The way I was raised, men get home whenever they want and the wife opens the door for them no matter what time they stumble in. The man comes home to hot food and a willing ear to listen to his drunken tales of how he was about to leave the bar, but  an argument ensured on who’s wife is the prettiest and he couldn’t leave until he won. That’s the way it was. Not anymore I tell you. On this particular girl’s night out, the missus had chosen to forget her house key and so I had to wait up, or at least be available to open the door for her. The chief doesn’t and shall not know of this tale. If he does, I shall deny.

It so happened, that the club was ‘kicking a good one’ and the ‘dj was so on point’ meaning the missus rings me up at dawn. 6:17 AM to be precise. I dragged my boxer clad self to open up for her. In my head wondering how and when these tables turned. Then I stopped wondering and started scheming. And scheme I did.

The following weekend I decided to hatch my scheme. Saturday morning I was asked that questions wives ask when you’re sitting on the couch thumbing through the paper, uji in hand.

So, what are you up to today?

Me? I asked that as if there was anyone else in the house. Eeeh. Nothing much.  Just chilling, but I’ll meet up with the boys later in the day.

Ok.

Hah! I knew I’d gotten to her. That one word response, ‘Ok‘. She probably wasn’t happy I was meeting the boys. Or that I didn’t have a plan for the day. Or that I had left breadcrumbs on the kitchen counter. Or maybe, as I later found out, it was that I had conveniently forgotten her pal’s child was turning two and there was a birthday party to attend.

She went out to shop. Therapy maybe. My plan was coming together. Insert diabolical laughter.

Fast forward to 5 PM. I grab two bottles of Glenmorangie, a bag of peanuts and a jacket to head off to my boy’s place. That was the agreed rendezvous spot before heading out to the club. Nyama from Tulips had been ordered, and all the crazy boys were en route. Including LK who once fell in love with a stripper. No driving. Uber was to be the chosen mode of transport.

I get to my boy’s place and the usual suspects start streaming in. Pass by the kitchen, get a glass and move to the sitting room and pour yourself a fifth. That was the modus operandi. As more guys streamed in and the drinks sunk in, we got louder. The stories got funnier and the confessions came in.

You guy I had a crush on that chick with the weird feet. Remember her?

Hahaha. What was her name? Flipper? You guy kuwa serious. She had enormous feet.

For real bana. She had a good heart though.

Ati good heart, kwani you’re a caridiologist?

We all laughed.

And so it went on. Stories of love, love lost, rugby glory days now in the past, predictions for the Euro football championships and who had the biggest pot belly. All that interspersed with some sordid tales that cannot be put down here.

Then as sure as Kenya Power will have an outage, so too did the whisky bottles get empty. With no supply of drink and the guys already ‘well marinated’, it was now time to prowl the town. Off to the club we were. In pursuit of various things, some for more drink, other’s for fine women to ogle and maybe even get to know a bit better.

Then it happened. My plan started falling apart from one innocuous act.

In the midst of the boys popping bottles and ogling skimpily clad women, I texted the missus to tell her I was out in the club. And I told her which club. Now, before you lambaste me for this grave sin, hear me out. It’s a habit I have, to let the missus know where I am. For many reasons but mostly so that in case I  end up drugged and stabbed in a seedy bar in Kayole at least she won’t be surprised when the cops call her. So that she won’t be headed to the mortuary wondering, ‘But he doesn’t even know where Kayole is’

So, probably just to rub it in that I was not going to win, she showed up with her pals at the club I was at. Of course my boys were all over her pals and I was now about as free as a tethered goat. And so, prematurely, ended the boys night out. My revenge plan had fallen flat on its face.

We danced and had a good time though. Not what was planned, but it was a good night overall. She had won this round, and I lived to fight another day. The war continues.

Aluta Continua.

 

Case of The Sponsor

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I need to get something off my chest. I don’t share food. I mean, not that if I came across someone who needed food I wouldn’t give them, I would. But if we’re having a meal together, no you cannot taste my food. No you cannot have a bite or a piece or a sip. If it’s teargas though, be my guest. Or if it’s njahi, you can have the whole bowl. That’s where I draw the line.

Ladies have that thing for sharing food. Apparently it’s tastier if eaten communally. Now, I grew up in a family of boys, so communal eating usually meant someone would get disenfranchised. If it was a meal of chicken, you could end up with a wing and a neck. So, you had your food on your plate and that was it. No sharing. If you had a packet of crisps, or chips, it was yours. A chocolate, yours. A stick of gum, all yours.

And so the same happened to me when I took a female friend out for lunch. We ordered food and caught up on what was going on in our lives. She’s on one of those internet diets and so ordered the healthy stuff, caesar salad. And water. No carbs. Why? Because she needs to fit into ‘booty shorts by September’. I , on the other hand, was stressed that day, so my body was screaming for greasy fries and pork chops.

My dear, keeping eating those fries, you’ll grow an ass and get love handles.

I pointed at her with the toothpick I was playing with and remarked, Too late. You know what I say, if they can’t love my handles, they can’t handle my love

She laughed and said I was silly. I laughed and said, I know.

As we get to talking she tells me how she’s been through a crazy relationship lately and was considering getting a guy who could pay her bills, take her out of town or the country once in a while and shower her with gifts. In return, she could, you know, make him ‘happy’.

Ahaa. You mean like a sponsor?

Well, if that’s the term you want to use.

Well, I don’t want to use it. But it seems appropriate.

Whatever, she said as she rolled her eyes. I shrugged.

She has a pal who has a ‘sponsor’ and is living the life.

Ebu see the fun she was having in The Atlantis, Dubai last weekend? She shows me a series of narcissistic pictures of her friend. 

Wow, nice bikini.

Kwenda. Ebu focus. She gives me those friendly slap on the arms.

So, would you be my sponsor? she asks

I’m taken aback by the question. Plus our food has arrived.

Well, would you wear that bikini?

Maybe. So would you?

I’m trying to get the right combination of salt and chillie sauce on my fries as she drizzles her salad with a thousand island dressing.

Well, I don’t know. Dubai sounds expensive. And gifts. Eish. Oh, plus the little fact that I’m married.

Yeah. I know. The better. You won’t be all over me with emotions. I can have you to myself when I need to.

The nerve of this woman. I can barely negotiate getting a ‘visa’ from the missus on rugby weekends to meet the boys, how am I supposed to get time to off to undertake sponsor duties.

Can I taste your pork? It looks nice. And some fries?

I thought you were on a diet?

Yeah, but I just want to taste.

Ehh. I don’t share my food.

Haha. You’re so silly. Then she reaches over and with her fork, skewers a few fries and a piece of pork.

I whisper the serenity prayer.

You want to taste my salad?

No. I’m allergic greens. Besides, right now I’m like Brutus and don’t like your salad.

She didn’t get the joke. She just gnawed away at those leaves like a rabbit.

So, how would this sponsor thing work? What would I have to do?

Well, you’d just need to pay my rent. And my phone bill. Oh, and give me like twenty k for shopping and my hair.

Eh? Twenty K per month?

Yeah, of course, per month. Like duh.

Jeez. That’s crazy. Na I haven’t even organized that Dubai trip yet?

Yeah. But it’s not a lot even. Si you’re a banker?

Yeah. I’m not the bank itself. I just work there.

My palms were sweaty now. So was my brow. Mainly because of the amount of chillie sauce I had put on my food. But also at this prospective opportunity.

How do people do it? Taking care of a wife is work in itself. But adding a ‘side dish’ now. With a thousand island dressing to boot? This was going to be an expensive venture, the emotional turmoil notwithstanding. Then the sneaking around. Now I need to get one of those obnoxious dual sim phones. And install that app called Vault to hide those ‘booby pics’ stashed in my Whatsapp. Or maybe use Telegram private chat.

And the showers before I go home. With plain water. No soap, ladies can smell foreign soap. The separate hidden bank accounts. Then I’ll have to either have to get a raise or become very adept at Sportpesa. I’ll have to learn to hide condoms, and if found say they’re for my boy and that he left them in the car. And that he should really get married and stop picking up chicks using my car.

I’ll have to get off Facebook and Instagram and even that Snapchat thing, lest I’m tagged inadvertently on a beach in Cape Town when I was supposed to be on a work trip in Naivasha. Or, worse, get caught up in Machakos Sevens.

And before I could answer, she answered for me.

Anyway, you’re way too stingy. I don’t think you’d make a good sponsor. But si you hook me up with that hot colleague of yours? He looks like he has money to spend.

You crazy woman. Ebu finish you’re plants. I need to get back to the office.

 

 

 

 

What I Learnt From The Greatest

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A man needs a band of brothers around him. Positive brothers. You can call them ‘the boys’, ‘my bros’ whatever. But you need them around. I’m grateful I’ve got such, my actual brothers. They’re always there through the good and bad times. I’ve known them all my life and we’ve shared everything from clothes, books, sleeping quarters, drinks, advice and experiences. If I’m in a fix and need some help, I can reach out to my brothers. Anytime. Any day.

Growing up, my brothers and I loved Muhammad Ali. He was more than an American hero. More than a world hero. He was our hero.He had skill, he talked tough and meant it.We loved it.And so when we heard of the death of Ali, we were devastated. It was nice to reflect however, on the life of a man who called himself The Greatest, and became the greatest.

In my own tribute kind of way, I will share a few things about The Greatest that shaped my life.

Success begins in the mind.

As Morpheus tells Neo in The Matrix, ‘Don’t think you are, know you are’. And so did Muhamad Ali live his life. I mean this is a guy who would predict what round he would win. He would taunt his opponents. He calling Sonny Liston a ‘the big ugly bear’. He said of Liston before their first fight, ‘I’m gonna put that ugly bear on the floor, and after the fight i’m gona build myself a pretty home and use him as a bearskin rug….’ He won that fight. He called Joe Frazier ‘the Gorilla’ and George Foreman ‘the mummy’. Heck, he’d even make up rhymes one of the most famous being ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see’ ,in reference to George Foreman’s slow pace. He wouldn’t be able to keep up with Ali. Many people think Ali said these things to his opponents to rile them up, get them irritated and unfocused. Maybe he did. But I think he also said these things to himself. To get himself thinking he’s the best, he’s the greatest ever. And once he thought it, he became it. The Greatest.

Hard work

For all his tough talking, Ali wasn’t a slouch. He worked hard. Trained hard. Before the Rumble in the Jungle against Foreman everyone said he was too fat. That Foreman would destroy him. But he trained, hard. He made sure he was fitter and faster than before. Even before the Thriller in Manila against Joe Frazier, Ali trained in the sweltering Philippine heat while Joe Frazier opted for isolation and an air conditioned gym. As for the fight itself, it was a grueling 14 rounds and only ended when Frazier’s coach, seeing the damage to Frazier, called the fight and the victory went to Ali. Ali later admitted that fight was the closest he felt to death, but yet he hang on till he was declared the victor.

Have fun as you do what you do

Ali changed the sport of boxing. He bobbed and weaved, and danced as he fought. I’ve always thought of boxing as a tough sport, and it is. But Ali made it look fun. He enjoyed taunting his opponents, wearing them out and hitting them with quick punches. He loved it. As a poet, he made up rhymes depicting what he would do to his opponents.

‘But if I ever was to get in the ring with Joe, here’s what you might see. Ali comes out to meet Frazier, but Frazier starts to retreat. If Joe back up an inch farther, he’ll wind up in a ringside seat. Ali swings with his left. Ali swings with his right. Just look at the kid carry the fight. Frazier keeps backin’, but there’s not enough room. It’s only a matter of time before Ali lowers the boom. Ali swings with his right. What a beautiful swing. But the punch lifts Frazier clean out of the ring. Frazier still rising, and the referee wears a frown ’cause he can’t start countin’ till Frazier comes down. Frazier’s disappeared from view. The crowd is getting frantic. But our radar stations done picked him up. He’s somewheres over the Atlantic. Now, who would’ve thought, when they came to the fight, they was gonna witness the launching of a black satellite? But don’t wait for that fight. It ain’t never gonna happen. The onliest thing you can do is wonder and imagine.’

Or one of my favourites, ‘Joe comes out smokin’, and I gonna be jokin’. I be packin’ and pokin’, pouring water on his smokin’. This might shock and amaze ya, but I will destroy Joe Frazier..’

Lot’s can be said about Muhammad Ali, both good and bad. The fact of the matter is that he was a role model to millions in the world. I was not much of a boxing guy, I’m lover not a fighter, but Ali was inspirational to my brothers and I.

He did his bit for boxing, racial discourse in the States and the world and most importantly teaching us all that you can be the best if you put your mind to it.

Farewell Champ.

 

 

 

On Life and Growing Up

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‘One day my friend’. That was the chief’s favourite phrase. It often resulted in short lived hope that whatever you had asked for, you would get. For instance, I remember when growing up,my brother’s and I asked the chief for a dalmatian. That ka-spotted dog. Of course the answer was ‘One day my friends’. Needless to say we never got that dalmatian. Though now that I think of it, I’m not sure why four boys would ask for a dalmatian. Very questionable.

As we got older though, we would question what he meant by ‘one day’. I mean, give us some deadlines. In a week? a month? a year? When? He soon saw that we had become smarter and so he started qualifying the phrase, ‘One day when you have your own money’

And so it became. Whatever we asked for that was beyond the budget of a civil servant, that’s what the response would be.

Could I get a Sega Mega drive like my cousin?

One day my friend, when you have your own money you can get one’

I saw a nice motorbike for kids, could I have one?

One day my friend, when you have your own money

Then adolescence and teenage kicked in and the requests became grander.

My friend has some nice high tops and MC Hammer pants. Could I get some?

What are those? Get them when you have your own money. And get your own pants, leave that Hammer fellows alone.

What about an earing? Can I get one?

Well if you want to be a girl, that’s fine. Do it when you have your own money.

I’m old enough to drive now, can I get a license?

Well I was not aware you owned a car?

I thought I could drive yours?

Haha. You’re very funny. When you get your own money, you will get your own license and your own car. Then you can drive to KBC and audition for Vioja Mahakamani because you’ve got good jokes.

The only thing the chief would not compromise on was books and school. Anything you asked for related to those two, he would finance. No questions asked. So we read lots of books and went to decent schools. Did we wear the latest fashion? Not so much. Karl Kani, Fubu and Enyce were just labels we’d draw in the margins of our exercise books.

And so it went on. Anything ‘fun’ and ‘interesting’ for a young boy was met with the same response.

Then I got a job. And money.

My ‘one day’ had finally come. I cannot speak for my brothers, but I’m sure they did exactly what I did. Or worse. I spent that money like it was going to expire.

I once bought a corduroy jacket from Enkarasha (whatever happened to that store?). I wore that jacket but once. I’m not even sure what became of it. Five thousand good ones were spent. Why? I had money.

The chief had no idea what he had done. He’d created a monster. No consumerist centre was beyond me. Fast food joints, clothing stores, bars and restaurants. Spending was my middle name.

Then there was the girls. That song ‘Mo money Mo Problems’ should have been more money, more girls, more problems. I was on my way to getting my diploma in being a ‘Sponsor’.

Ati you need airtime? Here’s a thousand bob.

Waiter, these girls are having wine. Bring two bottles, na ice bucket tafadhali. It must be chilled, yawa!

I remember once an ex girlfriend used to say that I couldn’t even afford to take her to Tamasha while in college. She had stirred the hornets nest. Now I had money. I took her and her friends to Tamasha. She was not ready for this jaluo. Never has a card been swiped with so much frequency. I even bought multi-coloured shots of drinks I could not pronounce.

Kwani what?

Then she mentioned that Westie is the kicking place. Of course, I said we should go. And off to Sohos it was. And that is when I encountered unscrupulous barmen. The one’s who inflate your bill by adding strange sounding expensive cocktails to your bill. But because you’re an Omera like me, swiping your debit card at will like a samurai on a revenge mission, you accept. Si you have money? How can you start analysing your bill like you can’t afford anything?

I soon learnt that money is finite. That the smiles of some girls are directly proportional to the size of your wallet. That life has bills. Lots of them. That debt is real. I also learnt that I’d been lied to. Sometimes there’s no such thing as ‘one day’. MC Hammer pants were not in fashion anymore. I couldn’t find Karl Kani jeans in any store. Timbaland boots were too heavy for me, and had stopped being cool.

Growing up and having freedom sucked. Well played chief, well played. I started becoming like him. I started using that phrase on people.

If a girl asked something ridiculous, Aki si you buy me a new phone?

 One day my dear. One day.

But then at some point it all started making sense. I had to live life, to plan and budget for things. I had to start living that dream life I had envisioned. ‘One day’, with a plan in place of course,actually made sense. I could achieve all my dreams, ‘one day’. Why didn’t the chief just say that? These old men and teaching through experience and cryptic messages. I’ll never understand. The message was received though. Loud and clear. Yes, I had to make mistakes, go through costly ‘sponsor’ duties but that’s life I guess.

Lessons are learnt a day at a time. And those lessons are supposed to make you better I guess. That’s why I have never set foot in Sohos again. Learning.

Life is a journey. And I’m still trying to figure out what the destination is. But I’ll get there. One day.