Wednesday, 24 May 2017

DON'T PROMISE ME ANYTHING

I hate the word promise and its relative- pledge,
It puts people at the whims of the ‘promiser’
Waiting for it to be fulfilled, or not
It’s a subtle way of postponing a resolute no
But without so much the guts to ever admit

Look at our politicians, the tonne of promises made
What do we have to show except brazen stupidity?
With pot bellies and big cars, they come again
To ask for another chance to believe in promises
No, to believe that our foolishness will amount
To roads, schools, stadiums and good health care
  
Don’t promise anyone heaven without specifics
Don’t promise them flowers when they can pluck
By the roadside and be more at ease with nature
Don’t promise a forever you can’t even grasp
Just be realistic even if it’s the beginning of mediocrity


Friday, 19 May 2017

THE TRANSPARENT LADY


“What if…what if you get a woman,” he began drawing my teenage attention, prying me away from my own thoughts, which were too important to be disturbed but had to act like I was listening; he had my partial attention. “And when she undresses you find that she is transparent, that you can see her innards, her heart beating, and her intestines?”

Pissed off by the rude intrusion into the castles that I was building in the air, and the need to show him that I was a good listener, I feigned surprise, dropping my jaw and hang there like we were up and about a mannequin challenge. It was back in high school, a long time ago. And the dude asking me about encountering a transparent woman was my desk mate, the time was evening during a biology remedial class. A lot of guys were already asleep and a few of us pretended to be listening how roots absorbed water into its system, from a short slightly built brown teacher with a funnily rounded forehead. He had a nickname, of course all of them had nicknames. His wasn’t particularly striking, perhaps because of his ability to mind his own business and perhaps because he had a deep Kalenjin accent.

There were those teachers who never minded their own business. There was one in particular christened Jembe. When we joined form one he had that name, apparently because he had a knack for giving out punishments that involved the esteemed garden tool, that has sadly been defiled by overly generous ladies. He had it. We called him by such without questioning circumstances that led to him acquiring that name. For some strange reasons Jembe never seemed to have gotten over that name and sought revenge whenever possible. He was permanently on duty, going round every morning, fishing people who skipped preps.

Jembe had a son and a daughter, and a wife. Thinking about it now, I wonder how a grown ass man would forgo the comfort of his wives ample bossom (his wife was blessed in all aspects) to go round waking up people who never gave a shit about their futures, at least when it came to studying and passing. Who knows, they could have pulled a Joho stunt by now. As sanity allowed we did all we could to avoid the son, who was about twelve at the time, with lanky feet, thin like preying mantis’. It seemed like his dad had pulled him aside and imparted the following wise words.
“Son, should anyone look at you in a manner that suggests a jembe, screen shot that face and bring to me,” and the son of Jembe heeded that advice.

Back to our biology teacher, with his funny forehead. His only interest apart from class room business was his paycheck and probably his daughter who had the same exact forehead. Dominant genes, we joked. It happened that he had spotted my desk mate whispering to me about the transparent woman and watched me dropping my jaws and remaining ‘statued’, judged it as the sincerest form of disrespect, for the next thing the class heard was:
“Toka!!!!  Toka!!!!  Toka!!!!  Toka!!!!  Toka!!!!  Toka!!!!  Toka!!!!  Ketaut!! You two!” the rest of the class, which was asleep, rose from their slumbers thinking the words were directed at them. And so we rose without closing our books, opened the door and stepped out.

As fate would have it, we later learnt that the cool Kerio Valley breeze wouldn’t be the only thing that would welcome us. Teacher on duty. He wasn’t worse than Jembe but he never listened to any form of reasoning. He seemed to have decided early on that if you give a student a chance, he will concoct the most believable lie ever-never trust a student knee deep in shit. A few seconds into our night out, he passed by, heading into his office. He saw us and quickly summoned us into his office. Once inside he began an interrogation without any interest in the answers we were going to give.

“What are you doing outside?” he had asked as he went about sorting papers on top of his table.

“We were talking in class and the teacher asked us to step out,” my desk mate volunteered.

“What were you talking about?”

Silence. I almost told him about the transparent woman.

“You were gossiping about the teacher’s open fly, isn’t it?”

“No, sir!” we cried out in unison.

“No, no…face the wall,” he ordered us as he took out a cane and gave us an ass whopping. Four strokes each. He then asked us to report to him on Monday. I remember now that it had been a Friday. Friday were good days for various reasons. One, Fridays are always good for no reason at all, two is we never had to wake up for preps the next day, which means Jembe wouldn’t be disturbing us, three (most importantly) was it was the last day of eating murram that week.

Before he could let us go, he remembered about a school trip scheduled for the Form 3s that term. We hadn’t paid, having spent all of the money on the most trivial things one could thing of; bread, kangumu etc. he quickly took out a foolscap, wrote our names and asked us to prepare sufficient reasons as to why we hadn’t paid for the trip. As far as we were concerned, the trip would be a ‘ghost one’ a mere figment of one’s imagination. I swear some had even told their parents about going to Mombasa but wouldn’t account for the money given to them. And you want to blame the government for runaway corruption?

As if he had sensed that were already in deep shit, Funny Forehead let us off the hook. It’s as if he had a premonition that the teacher on duty would ‘sort’ us out, thus absolving himself from the need to bother his forehead with a worthy punishment for two errant boys. He exhorted us to be attentive in class as he slotted a piece of chalk between an old note book that would as well have been used to teach Joho’s generation. It was old and crumpled by the edges. If it would have been carbon dated Kenyan style it would have been discovered that Zinjanthropus used it.


As he walked away, we resumed the formulation of the most formidable lies that would explain or justify why the canteen man had taken our trip money. Even though it seemed probable that we would find a transparent woman than a believable reason, I can safely tell you that we went for the trip. Up to now I can’t tell how we got the money, for first thing the following Monday morning we were at his office immediately after assembly, with crumpled notes (currency) a little dump with sweat as we held up our breathes not to be mentioned in assembly. 

I WON’T CALL AGAIN BUT IN CASE YOU DO.......

It has withered, the flower that once bloomed at the thought of you, or your name. The scent that worshipped at your feet, that flapped its wings upon your subtle orders,  no longer lingers and the stench of its decay hangs in the air like a fresh coat of paint. I am no longer charmed by your smile, the one I thought the sun vainly tried to ape. Your laughter that echoed ever so beautifully in the hollow innards of my brain won’t even inspire my poetry, not anymore.

I am tired conjuring up excuses to meet you, following up on my own promises and shit like that. I do not have the energy anymore. I don’t want to think one day I have the courage to tell you how you kept my nights alight and how, listening to your voice, gave me a sensation, a churning in my stomach. I wanted to love you. I wanted to have every piece of you, every strand of your hair. I wanted to protect you from the world, but I am no hero-I can’t even save myself.

And one, I am tempted to think,….one day you might call, it could be ten years from now or probably even never. In case it never comes, I’ll flip through these words and imagine like it happened, like I did tell them to you one bright day. Should you call and be tempted to ask me why I am so quiet not even a word of hi, here’s what I’ll tell you or might tell for I’ll probably lie I was busy. For ten years. Yes. Ten even years. It’s possible.  

I’ll tell you that I tried to pluck courage from the depths of my soul, the untainted parts but it was too dark in there. I’ll tell you that I hoped your smile, would be enough to light it up but it just wasn’t. I’ll tell you how I couldn’t bring myself to tell you I wanted you, how my heart yearned for you. I’ll tell you I was a coward. I’ll tell I was my mother’s favourite coward.

I’ll tell you that I have done a bit of soul searching. And I realized I hate myself too much to ever love anyone deeply. I’ll tell you that I have never really trusted people completely and I believe deep down them they are self-absorbed individuals who have no regard to how others feel about them.  I’ll tell you I found out that there’s too much compromise in a relationship and you give up too much. Trouble is I didn’t have anything to give up, I don’t have anything to compromise on yet. May be never, I can’t rule out that fact. I had poetry, and I’ll tell you how I couldn’t stand the staleness of the words that stared at me if they were meant for you.
**
Its everyone’s sacred longing to belong somewhere, to belong to a people who appreciate you and who make the world more appealing, like an orchard, bustling with bees and blossoming flowers, where you seek temporary refuge upon hitting a turbulence. Everybody has that place but I have never accepted mine. I live in denial. I live like I don’t belong anywhere. Where would I take you when I don’t belong anywhere?

I am in a prison of some sorts, a self-created prison. It’s here that I engage in bouts of self-loathe. It’s here that my confidence waned and I have tried several times to recapture it. It’s here that plenty of times my dreams have flickered brightly but often oscillate between brightness and pitch black darkness. I love the darkness more, no one can see my obsessions.

Lastly, it’s my prayer the paths you take on this world will cross with someone you are compatible with. I pray that you have the wisdom to distinguish between good people and bad people. I pray that your paths avoid people that will bring you misery. I pray that you will find happiness wherever you go.


And I do pray that I touched your life in some way as small as it might have been. I pray too, that I didn’t touch you as significantly to warrant mourning upon my demise.