Where Do Broken Men Go

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Men don’t break, they merely bend. Life doesn’t happen to them, they happen to life. At least that’s what we’re taught. It’s how we’ve been raised. But, sometimes life does happen to men. We’re human after all. So how is a man to cope? A man who’s been taught not to break. A man who’s been taught that no matter what, he should suck it in and deal with it. In this world full of bills, inflation and crushed dreams. Of peer pressure, rising expectations and declining morals. In this cold and cruel world that we were shielded from in our youth.

Our fathers would provide, but we would never see the price of their provision. All they would urge us to do is study hard. Ok, urge is a polite term. Threaten is more like it. Trust me, I know. BODMAS was beaten into me.

And so we pursued education expecting jobs. But we didn’t know that jobs meant taxes. We matured and pursued women with so much fervour, not knowing women meant dowry, babies and misunderstanding because they say they’re from Venus. We pursued wealth not knowing these came with needy eyes and palms outstretched by society’s less fortunate, some more closer home than expected. We pursued babies to carry our name thinking we just had to provide physically, but now our progeny are acting out because of lack of emotional provision. We pursued status not realising that this came with societal expectations and nubile girls who laughed at our jokes even thought they were dryer than bones.

Aki you’re so funny. Si you buy me credit so that I can call you and hear more of your jokes?

And in the midst of these pursuits and their unfulfilling end, there are boys pretending to be men. Thumping their chests and hardening their eyes that not a tear shall wet them. Fear does not show on their face, or leave their pores. Defeat is not admitted. They don’t ask for directions. Because, if you’re religious, men were created first and so already know the earth. Directions are for the lost. And men don’t get lost, they just find an alternative route to get to where they want to go. But they hurt, deep down.

They hurt when they can’t pay the bills. When their little kid looks at them to save the world and yet they can barely save themselves. When they lose their spouse to a rogue matatu driver and now they have to be both father and mother. They hurt when their fathers are taken away from this earth and everyone expects them to take over the family leadership like a manual was left behind to guide him.When they endure emotional abuse from the one’s they love and have to suck it in and keep the thoughts of chopping off someone’s head at bay. They hurt. But they can’t show it. They shouldn’t. Men don’t break.

So what do they do? For some physical violence works just fine. A good old fashioned fist fight to declare how much of a man you are. Sometimes meted on the meeker sex or worse, on children. You see it on the news once in a while. Man slashes wife and children, burns down house. For others, sexual escapades. The feeling of conquest and ultimate release are enough to take away the pain. At least for a time. Until the next escapade.

Some men talk and share their feelings. Ok, that’s about three men in the whole world. I don’t know them, so they’re probably talking to each other. Some seek solace in alcoholic drink and substances of the narcotic persuasion. The problem with alcohol is that it doesn’t know it’s boundaries. It attempts to heal all diseases. It’s like those daktari wa tanga types. It even attempts to heal self esteem and heart break. It will make you think you’re Papa Shirandula looking ass is Idris Elba. It will make you call your ex and declare your love for her. That if only she can part her thighs you can show how much. Most likely she will fail to be swayed by your inebriated proclamation and when that happens, bar maid will do just fine.

Then they’re those men who just call it quits. Life is hard. Solve the problem. End life. It’s a known fact that men are more likely to commit suicide than women. Every time I hear of such cases, I always wonder. Was there no whiskey good enough? No thighs willing enough to part? No sport sweaty enough? No jaw worth introducing to a fist? Was there no shoulder to lean on? No ample bossom to lay one’s head in? No ear to hear this broken man?

I’ve got a support group. A band of brothers. No. We don’t sit in a circle with tissue paper and tell sob stories. We don’t sing kumbaya and hug either. We call each other up when we need to bounce some thought off someone. Or we speak of our bad decisions over a drink or talk about the fact that we don’t know where the next month’s rent or school fees will come from. Or laugh about how our significant others must be mad as devils that we’ve not fixed the door handle as promised. It’s not perfect, but it works. Granted, we won’t always come forward with whatever challenge we’re facing but it helps when someone else speaks of a problem and you think to yourself, ‘Damn. So it’s not just my wife that’s crazy?’ Then you remember what the chief told you,

All women are crazy, just choose the craziness that works for you and keep her happy.

This world is crazy too and not as easy as it was in the times of our fathers. But we need to be stronger and remain men. We must know ourselves. Know our outlets and use them. The healthier the better. Let’s be strong. For each other and ourselves. And more importantly, for those around us.

But You’re Married

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How easy is it for a man to run away from sex? Let me rephrase, how easy is it for a married man to run away from illicit sex? Here’s some perspective; if there was a race and sex was a crawling toddler and you were Usain Bolt, you would not win that competition.  So how do the men who run away from sex do it? They don’t show up for the race.  Why show up if you know you’re gonna loose? Then again there are daredevils among us who like a good challenge. All the best with that.

It’s fun being married though. The attention is amazing. Some of my pals call it joining the Lord of the Rings. You’re like Frodo Baggins, and everyone is trying to get a piece of you.  And all you’re trying to do is get through this married life. It’s an adventure.  Very much like the J.R.R Tolkein tale. (Some people think it’s just a movie. Sigh)

I know many who have fallen in the course of this adventure. Most have come out alive, some haven’t made it. But that’s just life I guess. I and my Frodo-ness have not been left behind in this adventure.

On this adventure there’s sex everywhere. Especially on Instagram. That devilish invention. Just the other day I was scrolling through my timeline, looking at short clips of wonderful rugby world cup tries, obnoxious selfies and hilarious memes when I come across a picture of a girl. Ok, not a girl, mainly her perfectly rounded behind. It looked like it was sculpted by a kamba soapstone carver.  And they were symmetrical spheres too. One not any bigger than the other. They protruded gently from her small back and without bias to any geometric degree they curved outwards with confidence. As if  to say, we are here. Two halves of the same whole. We are ass. And a beautiful ass it was. The bearer clothing it in black faux leather pants.  The caption though, through me off. This ass bearer had quoted a bible verse right at the bottom. At the bottom of the picture of her bottom.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me #OOTD #HatersgonHate #WhatMyMamaGaveMe #AmBlessed #BlessedDay 

At this point I was confused. My mind was conflicted. My thighs hurt too because quite frankly I had been sitting on the toilet seat for too long. I got up feebly, completed my final rites and exited the bathroom. I hobbled into the sitting room and the missus gave me a look that said ‘He’s probably walking weird because he had to hover over the toilet bowl since he hasn’t fixed the toilet seat yet. Serves him right.’

I interpreted that look to mean that I couldn’t stay in the house doing my Dedan Kimathi thing and lie on the couch arms across chest. That despite the hangover gnawing at my head. I had come in late the previous night after hanging with work colleagues. Silent treatment had followed me and staying in the house was untenable. I quickly put on my takkies, and mumbled something about meeting the boys to discuss that plot in Isinya. She waved me off like a fly at a meal table.

I did meet up with the boys. But not to talk about that plot in Isinya. It was about last night. Debriefing they called it. Of course the loudest of the boys started before I could take a seat.

Ehe. You guy. How did it go with that mama? She had thighs for world cup you guy.

I could barely keep my head intact as I ordered a Fanta blackcurrant. Why is there always that one guy who can drink like sponge and be perfectly active and energetic the next day?

You guy. Nothing happened. I even deleted the number. I replied

Aii. Ati nothing. The way she was all over you like a scandal on a politician.

Haha. They all laughed.

I didn’t . My head hurt. But it remembered the previous night and how it went down.

This beauty had sat across us at the opposite end of the square shaped bar. Peering into her phone like it gave her life.  The glare from her handset illuminating her face like a spotlight at a theater. She was the main act. I was the audience. Once in a while she would glance away from her phone to twirl her hair between two manicured fingers, sip her mojito and look at me from the corner of her eye. I’d look back and she’d shift her gaze back to her phone as she chewed gum like a masticating goat. We played this game as the club grew fuller and the music louder.

My pals all said she was looking at me. Even the barman agreed. I thought they were drunk.

As the night wore on, it just so happened they were right.  Or I started to believe them. I’m not sure which. Her friend joined her. After girly giggles and pointing they came to our end of the bar.

Heeey.  You guys look cool. Can we join you?

Of course. I mumbled. Subconsciously straightening my shirt.

Soon we were having a jolly good time. Swaying to the music and telling bad jokes. She was swaying, I was telling the bad jokes. She’d slap my arm playfully and say how funny I was.She wasn’t staring into her phone any more. I had her attention. We talked. We danced. Some dances a tad too naughty.

Her pal asks her, what’s going on. We look too cosy together. Then she utters those words in response.

Aiii. Si, we’re just having fun. Besides, he’s married.

And just like that I sobered up briefly. She had flirted with me, and danced like that in that short white dress and now she throws that phrase out. She must have thought it was safe to mess around with me. She didn’t have to worry about me following her home. About me asking for her number and inundating her with countless Whatsapp messages asking for her nudes.

I looked within me and knew I was not going to win that race.

And so as we left the club, each seeking their Uber driver as we parted ways.A lingering hug at the entrance of the club and a whisper of ‘We should do this again some time’

I got into my uber taxi and closed the door.

Get me home driver. I said this as I deleted the number of the white dressed seductress. Against the wishes of the ‘man’ in me and my now blue balls.

You Can’t Handle The Truth

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So I haven’t written much lately. I’m going through a phase. Work doesn’t seem to make sense any more, and I’m bored out of my mind. Considering I spend a good percentage of time at work, that’s trickled into my life; and my writing. Everything gets me riled up. Even simple things. Like why is the mouse cursor on the screen an arrow pointed slightly to the left? Why? Why not the right? Or in a vertical position? See what I mean?

I have a demanding job. Very high pressure, with tight deadlines and shifting goals. It’s as amazing as licking a cheese grater. (Please don’t try lick a cheese grater). Maybe the pressure is getting to me or maybe it’s mid career crisis or it’s my A.D.D. kicking in. I have the attention span of a child goldfish.

So today, as if I didn’t have enough pressure in my calabash, I get summoned to court. No, I didn’t commit any crime. Not yet at least. I went to court on behalf of my employer. As an expert witness for my employer in a long running fraud case. I mean this case has been going on so long, there have been two presidents in Kenya and 651 corruption cases since it began. In that time Donald Trump has gone from billionaire, to reality TV show celebrity, to vilified politician, to maybe loved politician, to ‘how-did-this-guy-get-the-nomination?’. I think you get the point.

Now, I’m a lover of court room dramas, movies and books. Legal dramatization enthralls me. This was the first time I was attending court as a witness. An expert witness no less. I was going to take the stand and undergo cross examination. To the uninitiated, that’s when the other lawyer, who’s not your lawyer, asks you questions. Not me analyzing the fine details of a crucifix.

All the courtroom drama scenes played in my head as I headed to the court house. In the cab on the way to Milimani Courts I went through my witness statement. I practiced my expert witness face, and voice. I asked the cab driver if I looked like a serious witness, even though I didn’t’ have a tie on.

Mkubwa, wewe unakaa wakili. Ata nilifikiri unaenda interview ya Chief Justice

We both laughed.

Maybe it was sarcasm on his part, but you’ve got to love cab drivers and their ability to make you feel good.

I got to the court house and met up with my lawyer. We’d just talked via phone and email but had never met. He looked very lawyer like. Designer spectacles, custom fit suit with tonnes of luo-ness oozing from every perceivable pore. He had that academic smirk too to crown the look. He was the master, I was too do as he said.

We had a walking meeting. Like in the movies. He briefed me on the case as we walked along the corridors of justice. The actual corridors of justice. Literally. I nodded and tried to match my step to his as he mentioned words like ‘witness statements’, ‘evidence’ and ‘jurisprudence’. We walked. I nodded. And walked.

The court room looked like a cross between an Ally McBeal set and Vioja Mahakamani. Modern, but with large, manila file, sisal bound court documents on the court clerk’s table. The defendants and their lawyer were present already. I was nervous. My lawyer told me to relax and explained what would happen. I’d be called to the witness stand. Which is a stand. There’s no seat like in the movies. Maybe the seats are for American courts. No wonder they have an obesity problem. The clerk and judge were yet to appear. So I sat on the hard wooden bench and waited. Those benches reminded me of my grand father’s church in Seme. I could almost hear those high pitched, off key old women singing Tukutendereza. 

All of a sudden everyone stood up. The judge, Her Majesty, had entered the court. This was really happening. We sat down and my lawyer cleared his throat and spoke.

If it would please the court, I would like to present our first witness to this case.

 The pressure. What if the court was not pleased? I started to choke as I headed to the witness booth. This was my moment. Expert witness. I better not mess this one up. There’s too much at stake. If I say the wrong thing, or contradict my witness statement, the organization I’m representing could lose money and I’d be a failure. I didn’t need this pressure.

The court clerk came up to me and asked me which religious book I’d like to swear on. I forgot my religion.

Bible? , he asked

Yeah. Sure. I responded.

Repeat after me. I..

I

State your name

Your name

I mean, say your actual name

Oh. Right…

I was off to a bad start. After being sworn in. It began. The torture. Cross examination sucks. All my watching of Suits had not prepared me for this. It’s like being caught cheating by your wife and you’re defending yourself. It’s very nerve racking. I don’t like that lawyer. I mean she was pretty, and had these perfect eyes. Like orbs. She was evil though. She ripped through every word of my witness statement.

You swore using two names, but your witness statement indicates four names? Are you really who you say you are? Can we rely on your testimony?

And she’d stare at me with those orb like eyes. Into my soul. I wasn’t sure of anything anymore.

Yes. I think those are my names.

I responded shakily, my sweaty palms forming hand prints on that old, hard wood witness dock table. Just like that, I’d joined that group of guys who say, ‘My names are...’

Question after question. She hammered away at my witness testimony. Like a woodpecker. Chip. Chip. Chip. I hated her. I felt the blood boiling within me. The anger festering from within my rib cage. Is this how Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men felt? I went into the zone. She kept hammering away like she was a gold miner in Ikolomani.

Is this statement true? Is it?

I went all Col. Jessep (Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men. Please watch the movie if you haven’t) on her.

 You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!

At this point the judge interjected, and everyone, including my prim and proper lawyer was looking at me like I’d lost my marbles.

I took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes.

Is this statement true? Madam evil lawyer repeated

Thankfully, I had blurted out those A Few Good Men words in my head and not to the court.

Yes. The statement is true. I responded.

No further questions My Lady. 

And, just like that, Madam evil lawyer backed down.

Maybe the damage had been done. Who knows. There were other witnesses, who were not available. So the case was adjourned until next year for mention of a commencement date.

I went back to my tongue grating job, with still a lot to figure out about the rest of my life. One thing I knew for sure, if I ever meet that lawyer girl in a club, I’m definitely not buying her a drink.

 

Ladies Man

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I hang out with women a lot. Like a lot. So much I even used  the word ‘like’ unnecessarily in that statement. Now I’m no Casanova. Romeo and I have never been friends. Hehe. See what I did there? It’s OK, you’ll get it.

I don’t have any super lines that make chicks knees as weak as a new born calf. No. Actually I have no lines. But I make up for this by listening. My accursed gift. So, because of this I have found myself surrounded my women. One or many at a time. It started once I hit puberty. I matured early. By the time I was 11, my voice started cracking (or croaking), my shoulders had broadened and my face was more pimpled that a studded condom. I had a face for radio. Pubescent girls would come up to me and say ‘hi’ so that I could say ‘Hi’ right back at them and they’d go off giggling and twirling bashfully like ballerinas. I was giving that deep voiced guy in Boys to Men ‘compe’. Sadly, I didn’t know the power I wielded then.

In high school, I got approached by many a young filly. But I breezed past them like a tumbleweed in an old Western movie. My now well formed Adonis body and velvet like voice could not muster any knee weakening words to wow the soon to be disappointed young girls. It’s not that I had nothing to say, I just couldn’t silence the voices in my head long enough to engage that ‘point five’ Msongari girl in witty banter.

Then I got to university. So many girls. In all sizes, shapes and at varying degrees of mental maturity. I too had matured, mentally. And had learnt my gift. And they loved it. Loved me for it. I spent many evenings, lunch breaks and computer lab sessions listening to relationship problems and giving advise about men. If you’re discerning enough you will realise that I also spent this time locked up in the friend zone. Which is pretty much like window shopping at a Moi Avenue store while on minimum (or no) wage. You can see, touch or even smell what it’s in the display glass, but you can’t have it. The Indian store owner even telling you, ‘Iko discount bwana’, but the best you can do is head over to Toi market and get the next best second hand thing.

As per the predetermined life cycle, university ended and the job market was calling. I was fortunate to land a decent paying job and continued window shopping at Moi Avenue. (I don’t mean that literally, by the way) . I continued hanging out with the ladies. Most carried over from university days.

I had legal tender now. So we’d hang out often. Price or location wasn’t an issue. You want cocktails, have three. Ati plan in Coast? North or South Coast? It was not an uncommon sight to spot me with a group of four or five pretty ladies at the club.

Maybe it was because of my Luo genetic make up, the way I was raised or because of societal gender expectations, but I would at times find myself settling the bill of these nights out. A quasi sponsor of sorts, without any of the associated benefits of course. I’d also find myself on handbag duty. Because men and women go out to the club for different reasons. Women, to dance, and men to watch women dance. Handbag duty sucks balls. Basically, all the women leave you to look after their handbags, clutch bags and whatever other bags they may have carried to the club as they sway to the tunes of DJ So and So. They’ll periodically scream at the top of the lungs when he plays a song that they love, point at each other and swing their bottoms in appreciation. You, on handbag duty, will be torn between looking at their swinging bottoms and ensuring a chap from eastlands doesn’t make away with a clutch bag or two from the table. You’ll pile the bags on the table, so as to limit the swivel of your eyes from bag to bag, and form a bag mountain of embarrassment and friend zone-ness.

All this friend zone-ness was not in vain though. I met the missus in the midst of all of it. Magical, you may think. Romantic even. I know. I get it all the time.

‘Awwww. You married you’re friend. How sweet’

Maybe it was fate, or maybe it was the natural order of things. I mean, do you choose the eastlands chick who asks for weave money every so often or the chick you hang out with often and has a good, weave less head on her shoulders?

As fate would have it though, I still hang out with the missus and her pals. Because they’re my pals too. Is it awkward? Yes. I contribute to conversations I probably shouldn’t as a man. Menstrual cycles, relationship problems where I don’t side with the men, sexual discussions about dry spells and such like. I can’t even dance with them like before. I carry a standard Haco ruler when we go out, to dance a foot apart. You can’t be awkwardly grinding upon your female friend now, can you? Don’t answer that.

The missus is an excellent cook. She is. And not just for a kyuk. I mean, she’s an excellent cook by all accounts. And so, I carry home cooked food to the office. Cooked and packed with love. Even the potatoes and minjis, on the few days she decides to surprise me with them, are lovingly served. In the office though, I’m one of three guys who actually carried home cooked food. The bulk are women. So again, I find myself surrounded by women during my lunch break. Conversations are as diverse as babies at various stages of development, husbands (also at various stages of development) and the benefits of avocados. I now know the ins, outs, centres and in betweeens of avocados. They, the girls that is, still try to recruit me into that avocado cult of theirs. They mix avocados in everything. Githeri, Pilau, Matumbo and even minjis. They take with tea. Herbal tea even! Imagine Roiboos and avocados? It’s insane I tell you. They’re besotted by the darned fruit.

All this has taught me one thing though. I need to increase my sphere of guys to hang out with. Guys to catch the game with. Guys to eat nyama choma with and talk about women and sports and cars and women again. But then again, I guess, someone has to take care of the ladies once in a while.

 

Where Are The Chiefs?

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I wonder, am I the only one concerned about these kids burning schools in Kenya? I mean, over 100 schools have been burnt this year alone. And the count keeps increasing.

Everyone is pointing fingers too. It’s the government, it’s the high handed Cabinet Secretary, it’s the school leadership, it’s politics, it’s the parents, it’s drugs, it’s social media, it’s peer pressure, it’s ISIS, or maybe even Donald Trump’s wall. Some get philosophical and say it’s a complicated mix of conditions caused by modern society that needs to be unpacked and analyzed. I don’t know what that last group of people mean.

I’m no expert and won’t purport to be. Like everyone else I have my own opinion on what could be the problem. I keep wondering, where are the parents of these children?  And what are they doing about this situation?

I remember the one time in primary school that I had to call the chief in to school because I had misbehaved. I mean it wasn’t anything too serious. I wasn’t like that guy who stuck chewing gum in the hair of that Indian girl and got it into such a mess that she had to cut her long flowing locks. Hehe. That was funny. Poor Pooja. No. My crime was nowhere as diabolical. It was actually quite geeky come to think of it. I, together with three other of my classmates were accused of being class clowns and ‘derailers’ of the other students. Despite being top of the noise makers list, we always topped the class at the end of the examination period. We were misleading the entire class it was deemed. We were politicians in incubation. And so our class teacher got fed up and served us up to the Deputy Headmaster,who was aptly nick named, ‘Sticks’. And so to make an example of us and those with similar behaviours, our parents were summoned. Mum must have been away upcountry, because for some reason I had no choice but to tell the chief he was required at school.

I remember the terror I felt as I thought of how I’d communicate that message. I would rather have my teeth pulled. That long bus trip home from school. I wrote my eulogy on that bus. Edited and spell checked. I couldn’t even chat up pretty Sonia, sitting there looking resplendent in that girl guide uniform. Exposing those yellow nubile thighs. It wouldn’t matter. I wasn’t going to be on this earth for very long. She deserved someone committed, someone who would be there for the long haul. I was too busy wondering how I’d look in a casket.

When I finally got home, it took all of 64 hours to get round to telling the chief he needed to accompany me to school the next day. I had to wait until he’d watched the last news bulletin and that Muslim guy on KBC had given his final message for the day. My last rites perhaps.

I stammered away and told him what happened. The chief, not the Muslim guy. Keep up. In true chief fashion, he mumbled something and asked me to be ready in the morning and with that he went silent and continued reading the paper.

I didn’t sleep a wink. Not out of guilt for what I had done, but rather from the fear of being smothered in my sleep by the chief. I hid my pillow in case I dozed off.

The fact that I’m writing this means I survived the ordeal. I still remember that fear though. That heart wrenching dread of impending doom. That sense of disappointment that I had let the chief down. Dragging him away from his civil servant job to attend to issues of an ill disciplined son. A thankless son. An insolent disappointment that he had sacrificed his earnings to educate. I still remember the look of disapproval on his face. I can still hear that silence that came after I reported myself to him. That and the national anthem playing as KBC wound down. Like a state funeral.

If I was a student in 2016, my crime could have been worse. I could have been part of a group of kids who decided to torch their classroom. Or dormitory. I could have been the lookout guy as my schoolmates doused the building with petroleum, or kerosene. Or I could have been the guy sent to steal the matches from the kitchen, or the lighter from the watchman. Or I could have been the mastermind behind the whole scheme. The brains of the outfit. All this to get to go home for the holidays because it has been dictated that we stay an extra two weeks in school? Even if we succeeded and the school was closed, I would never be able to go home. To the chief’s house? Ha! I’d rather burn with the physics books and mattresses.

100 schools and counting? Assuming culpable groups of about 20 students per school. That’s 2000 kids. Where are the parents in all of this? Where are the parents of these 2000 kids? Or are they the kind that negotiate out of court settlements? For sure the chief would not be in that group of parents. He’d probably pay the judge to hasten my sentencing. He’d then seek out the architectural layout of the prison,tattoo them on his body, break into the prison disguised as a prison warden and kill me himself.

Now, I know every story, like hips, has two sides. And probably the issue is more than you and I know. But maybe, just maybe, if we had more chiefs the count wouldn’t be 100 schools, and counting.

 

Will You Have Fries With That?

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I like hanging out with these elder type men. Once in a while. To glean off some wisdom mostly. There are some habits though I struggle with. Some explain why I stopped going to rhumba joints in Nairobi West and Town. I kept bumping into my ‘uncles’ (I put uncles in quotes because where I come from that’s a very broad term), and their mistresses. They’d then bribe me with copious amounts of liquor which is not good for my liver.

My birthday is coming up and I’ve been trying to take stock of the years I’ve clocked, and my achievements thus far. They’re dismal. Nothing out of the ordinary. But even when I look at the ordinary, I’m still below par. How is it these older chaps can have a wife, kids and mistresses all at the same time? I’m still stuck at the wife. I have a decent job, I can afford to have a wallet and I’m no Taye Diggs, or sijui Jesse William but I’m no australopithecus either. Yes, according to the progression of a typical Nairobi man I’m still behind schedule. So I decided to talk to a few guys who have ‘progressed’ in this regard.

I had a chat with a guy who was doing well in the corporate world, beautiful wife, two kids, living in an up market part of Nairobi, drinks fine whisky and of course has a couple of mistresses on the side.

I was curious. So I quizzed him.

How do you do it man?

Haha. A man needs variety in life bro. It keeps you going. Keeps you alive.

Alive? It’s already enough work handling one woman. Now three?

You have to know how to balance them my guy. As long as you take care of them financially, you are in control.

Eish. That’s a lot of financing eh?

A real man is not bothered by such things. You manage. He says this as he fiddles with his phone, smiling as he thumbs through whatsapp messages.

All i could do was sit there in awe.

So where do you get these, urrrm, side chicks.

Most times you don’t need to look for them. If you’re doing well, they’ll come. Welcome them baba.

And the guilt? Is there any?

What guilt? Guilty people are those who get caught. Don’t get caught. You’ll be fine. Besides, it’s your right as a man.

I see. But you guy my wife is like the CIA. She can smell a lie a mile away.

As long as you’re providing you guy. It doesn’t matter. Si it’s a man’s world?

I think he forgot the other part of that song.

I was flustered. This life was harder than I thought. It’s like a race with no end in sight. It’s like running in a dream, you seem to be moving but making no progress.

I started to think of what it would mean to get a side chick.

She’d have to be of certain proportions, because apparently there’s a blue print from what I’ve seen. Younger, obviously. Probably out of college, because the college one’s hunt in packs. If you take care of her, there’ll be six others behind her expecting handouts. I’ll have to get acquainted with hotel rooms and back entrances to these hotels. Maybe even have hotel staff on my payroll. I’ll have to check in using a pseudonym, like Dr Herbert. I’ll have to traverse the town to Ruaka to visit this my ‘side of chips’. No offence to anyone who lives in Ruaka, but for real it’s mistress central. Just look at the rent prices that side of town, and the high end cars that navigate those treacherous bumps outside Quickmart in the wee hours of the night.

I’d have to start splitting time between the wife and miss side chick. Coming up with stories like,

Fridays I’m with the boys. Please don’t harass me.

This will allow me to get home whenever I want. I may even have to create arguments, so that the wife doesn’t want to see me, allowing me to head to Ruaka. Hehe.

I’ll have to be hiding out in joints of ill repute with signs like ‘Accommodation available’. I’ll have to be familiar with bypasses, and probably get a constant cab guy probably because, you know, Uber keeps a record of movement.

By the time I was done thinking of my phantom side chick, I had broken up with her. She wanted to meet up on a Sunday, going against our  agreement that Sunday is family time.

Then I thought to myself, this life is like eating at a buffet.You pick what you like and you sit down and eat your food. More often than not, your neighbours food looks sweeter. And you wonder

Haiya, kumbe there was pork?

If you were raised like me, though, you have to finish your food. Especially if you’re the one who served it. Sure, sometimes you might eat something off and get sick and swore never to try calamari again. Or you may like the buffet and go for seconds and suffer bloating later. You’ll purchase Eno and swear never to eat so much again. You’ll probably be back next week.

Sometimes you’ll order a steak, because you just like meat. Then the waitress will smile and ask,

Do you want fries with that? It’ll cost extra though.

And there and then you’ll be faced with a choice.

Enjoy your meal of life.

(P.S. I hope this doesn’t earn me time in the dog house. Hehe)

 

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.