A memory

Once again, my gaze shifted towards her but this time round she was looking directly at me, smiling. I blushed, and for a few seconds dropped my gaze to look away as if to gather my wits on what to do next. She was beautiful in a unique way with a crop of short black hair that was always kept that way. I cannot remember seeing it in any other way . The dark of her eyes had this inviting look when she stared at you and possesed a strange ability to draw you in as if some powerful magnet was tagging at the very depths of your soul. A cute radiant face easily balanced with her light skin tone, made it easy for her to stand out in a crowd for the keen observer. I happened to be one of those very keen observors who got drawn in to her quiet demeanour and calm. It’s still hazy how it all begun anyway…but when I looked back at her again, from my momentary thoughts, there she was, quietly listening in as another girl animatedly shared. I was anxious and excited because in a few minutes, our time together was going to happen and I could hardly wait for the damn bell to ring to give me the break I so craved for…guess it was the same for her…though we hardly could define what this really was. So I will focus on what I felt.

I grew up in the village and in the city. My dad, a trained agricultural officer travelled wide across the country to see off numerous government projects in diverse farms. My mom, a nurse, was sold out to a nomad lifestyle and I cannot recall ever living in any location we would call home for more than three years. It was a gypsy life of sorts. Consequently I learnt to keep friends for short periods and lived for moment. This worked well for my truant nature. Humble truancy I would call it because I never tried both extremes…thanks to my fun loving nature. A few years during my early primary school, we settled in Nakuru. My dad had got a lucrative job through a church mission group to oversee their land. I later learnt that this was facilitated by an uncle of my mum’s who through his various highly placed contacts in government, secured for him the placing with a promise that he should take care of his family. The family politics aside, the job came with multiple benefits that included a free car, for his many errands, a large three bedroomed bungalow that boasted a large compound with a live fence and a huge garage. The first and last house we ever lived in that had a garage.

But the playing field was what gave me the highest thrill. I remember back in 1987, when Hannu Mikkola won the Safari rally….I ran round and round our large compound pretending I was he. Our parents had bought us some new yellow and blue T-shirts. One for me and another for my brother. I was 7 years old and I was so enthralled to have mine with a large No 7 emblazoned distinctively on its upper left side. Now Mikkola’s car was a No 7, and I was 7 years old and for an adventurous boy, this was the epitome of pure heavenly pleasure. Little wonder then that I drove my imaginary car till dusk.

From early on, My truant cheeky side was well known. I used to hide behind a maize stalk thinking that no one would see me when I would ran off the house without permission. I was five then. But now, we had a compound all to ourselves… One day, as were having a bath, some impish sneaky whisper told us to run out of the bathroom naked….we found ourselves outside and flaunted our birthday suits to all and sundry…we laughed so hard especially when passers by stopped to gaze through the live fence….we would then ran back in and wait, and then out we would go…. we repeated these antics with great glee and only stopped when a harsh command screeched at us to get in immediately. Nonetheless, we destroyed two chairs because they were made of spring and that gave us a much needed high when we turned them to trampolines. We would jump up and down on them until our dreams were just about jumping sessions.

But Nakuru did not last long…in just two and a half years…we relocated to the village. “It’s our new home you see,” my mother placated. “You two will have a large compound to play”…she beamed. That comforted us and got us in high spirits. It’s only later I learnt that my dad had lost his job and as a consequence, my mom was forced to get a transfer so that we could all start our new lives in the farm where my dad had built a timber house for us to live in.

Our first night there was memorable…and for a child it was heavenly because we ate chapati and chicken. I can almost smell the dish to this day. Somehow, the mix of chicken soup doused in flour to make it thick, cabbage diced with tomatoes and carrots and some rich chapos made from the greatest cook I had ever known; my mom…still stirs some old nostalgic memories. We settled in fast and got ways to make “reggae” continue…we made balls from polyurethane papers, cars from omo and kimbo boxes, discovered plants that had tyre like ends and using mud, made toy wheels from them and on and on our inventions grew.

Soon, our parents announced that we would enter our new school by end month. So one morning, they walked us for some 3 kilometres to meet the head teacher and enrolled us to the new school. My brother immediately started to learn mother tongue which was examinable but I was exempted from it. Being a class 3 pupil, it was considered too late for me to start learning Kikuyu, and they would thus ensure I learnt only did study six of the compulsory 7 subjects. It was never my decision anyway, and I did not care. I soon learnt that this school was different. If you got late to school, the teacher on duty would give you such a whopping you would whimper for the next one hour.

Let me explain. You see, one had to be in school by 7:30am. To be there that early, it meant you leave home by 6:30am and half walk, half run to school before the 7:30am bell rings. If that bell rang before you had arrived, then you would have to join the late comers in a long queue to face the teacher on duty. Typical of living in the highlands, the morning temperatures were sub 14 degrees. Now receiving a beating on your hands from a stick early in the morning was considered lethal. The hands would bulge after the beating and turn blue at the tips…the pain would sting and sting for the next one hour. It was a lesson in science that we learnt first hand through experience. At first I braced myself to endure that pain and soon I learned that inorder to cope with it, All I needed to do after such a beating was to put my fingers in my armpits. This made them get warm faster helping the blood to circulate at a faster rate and consequently reduce the swelling and pain. The armpits were not the only warmers, you could also use your thighs to warm your hands and this always worked the magic of easing the pain faster. This became my first scientific experiment in my new school.

After a few weeks, my mom insisted I had to hold my brother’s hand and ensure I don’t release them until he is safely in school. Soon I was adept at doing so and we somehow crafted a way of being able to run together to school while holding hands. We could run and walk like this with ease and this became our norm. Every evening, my brother would leave early to go home and as such, I begun to feel a little lonely walking home alone with no one to hold hands with. They say humans are creatures of habit. True to this, I had got accustomed to it. I was like one of those dogs that Pavlov, in his famous experiments discovered that a repeated action and command entrenched a learning and a habit that was permanent in as far as the expectation was necessary.

That’s how I got to know Milka and we begun walking home together hand in hand. Best of friends. The perfect union. This continued for a while until one day, when going home in our usual hand in hand motion we heard giggles behind us. We stopped and looked behind. Like rats, the boys and girls scurried into the bushes to hide and all became silent. I could hardly understand their excitement and just as before, we joined hands and hopped ourselves along the path. We talked about anything and nothing. Well I cannot remember now what we used to talk about. Soon, word spread everywhere about the ‘abnormal’ liason…of this boy and girl who walk hand in hand as they went home. I found it funny but the cacophony and buzz our walking elicited got my attention. The class giggles and looks made me so self conscious I felt embarassed and as if it was so wrong what we were doing.

So on this particular day, my eyes had strayed to look at her again and then the bell rang. She looked at me and smiled and we both ran outside. As we begun our ascend from the school compound on our way home, we saw a crowd gathering at the far right corner of the road. We both approached the scene and saw three men trying to kill a donkey that was tied with large ropes on the ground. “It’s sick”, someone whispered …”Look, that’s the well they will drop it into”, someone else said…I looked at the donkey as it brayed with it’s eyes wide with terror….a deep sadness engulfed me but then I felt the tug on my hand…”Time to go”, she whispered. That’s when we both slithered out of the crowd and walked home silently. When we reached the intersection where our paths would normally part, I bade her a goodbye…she too waved back and I walked home in silence.

I thought about the donkey and it’s inevitable end. I thought about the well and the sadness of the fate that awaited it. It reminded me of my dog, a large creamish yellow greyhound..that was the tallest of all the dogs I had seen in the neighborhood. I could not imagine it dying.

Our actions came back to haunt us. Soon a notoriously nosy girl in my class threatened she would tell the teacher what Milka and I would do every afternoon after class. I was terrified. I imagined the teacher beating me hard until my hands would turn blue. That made me fidget. “But if you give me a new excercise book, like the ones you usually come with, then I will not tell on you!”…That was blackmail right there. My dad kept the new Kasuku excercise books neatly arranged in his bedroom cabinet. For you to qualify to receive a new one, you had to produce a fully written old excercise book of the same brand. He knew them by subjects. “I shall” I answered back in an almost grateful but petrified voice. That evening when my dad had gone out to check on the workers, I sneaked into his bedroom, opened the drawer stealthily and slid an excercise book from the middle deftly. I looked back to ensure it was all neat then I quickly dashed to my bedroom and hid the book between the others in my bag. The following day, during class, I opened my bag, took it and handed it to her. “There it is”, I said. She took it up and gingerly ran her fingers on it in vain admiration. I could tell she had never seen such a nice excercise book before..after all, my dad always bough t the 64 paged ones that had hard covers and we’re smoothly ruled inside. She smiled back and assured me it’s done.

The next day, I changed my sitting position lest she comes back to me asking for more….I was soon learning to be cunning albeit slower than the rest. My walks with Milka slowly died off, but I never forgot about her. I don’t know what happened to her because in less than two years, we left that school and joined a new one that was near our home. I hope she remembers me and the joys of an innocent childhood romance

Just being a dad

We decide to visit the village during Easter. It’s a most welcome rest and everyone needs it.

A day after, it’s my turn to baby sit and my son and I get down to all sorts of games…”Hiding from mommy”, “crocodile eating papers”, “The wheels on the bus”…which means I have to swing him around…

At some point I get tired and sit on the chair! He hardly welcomes that! What do you expect a three year old to do? At that age, he has tons of energy waiting to be spent! But I cannot and I say so!

He won’t let me sit and after a while I want to visit the loo. In the village this means going to a pit latrine and as soon as I stand to go, he tags along! “let’s go daddy”!

And that’s how we end up at the latrine!

“I want to susu dad!”…meaning he wants to pass urine. I unbutton his trouser and aid him to aim straight. It’s a skill you must learn you know! Aiming amiss lands the urine everywhere….and you don’t want the aunties and uncles cursing that the latrine is pathetic! Ofcourse you don’t want to start washing it!

Just when he starts to let off a steady stream, a dudu (a huge beatle) flies from beneath the hole! He goes hysterical! The shock of seeing it sends him reeling to my shoulders! Daddy, daddy…daddy! He is crying and totally freaked out!

I carry him out! Lulling him that it would do no harm. He is disconsolate. So I quickly button his trousers and carry him to the house. He won’t let me put him down…and so he rests on my shoulder till sleep gets the better of him.

Sky diving from a poetic view

The turquoise blue shore shimmers like a beautiful exotic emerald against the azure sky!

The plane tilts at 45 degrees so that at 12,000 feet, the sheer beauty of nature basks it’s self unto your feasting eyes like a glittering heaven that beckons at you to join!

The biting cold, the icy kind that pummels your entire body as the wind rushes in from the open door is only chilled at its tracks by the churning adrenaline that keeps building every second when you imagine the almighty jump!

With great fanfare you slide off the plane with a double somersault acrobatically taken with bated breath and a bating calm whose false sense of serenity is scattered away by the enormous force of the drag as the wind buffets your face and body like a loose paper so that the skin , from the eyes of a witness, looks like a pulp of wet flour going through an agitated kneading.

Within a mere 15 seconds the gravitational pull and the wind’s drag equilibrate at 200km/h so that for the next 45 seconds the fall is forever!

The chute comes up, your body juts upwards like a stringed marionette and all over sudden the welcome calm gracefully lits your face with a deep sigh of relief! The kind you feel after a long press when after an agonizing torturous walk you finally spot the conniving room. Oh dear relief, how so besotted will man forever be with you 😊

You rotate as you take in all that beauty and wish it never ends! That the earth is a glorious place to behold! You take it all in like a deer 🦌 enchanted by the water springs following a long trek! It’s beautiful, it’s sweeping glare a marvel you have never known! It’s freedom the perfect union of soul and mind! It’s serenity as finally your feet hit the ground as you finally kiss the earth longing to embrace the view one last time though it fleets away, like vapour! Like a dream that only lasts for 2 minutes and 45 seconds 😊

Sad in 100 words 😁

In a restaurant in Westlands last Friday, I saw an elderly white man with a young black damsel as they were having dinner. When time came for them to go, I noticed he was limping as he let the pretty bella to go upfront. Suddenly he leans in for support to go down the stairs, and the young pretty $&#%* darts forward fast leaving the poor limping old man to hobble and struggle down the stairs alone! Sad in an odd way! Invest in lasting friendships, make them meaningful, make them value based but above all invest more in God!

Reminiscing back to face forward

Watching the flamingos fly was a childhood fascination! I would gaze at them for hours as they did their well choreographed ascent in a swirling circle. After they had flown for hours, they would stop mid air and begin a circular flying pattern that curved upwards the way a road winds up a hill! Round and round the circle would soar up until only a blur could be seen of them! then just as suddenly they would begin their flight path in a v-shaped manner and off they went till they disappeared.

The marvel would repeat itself after each hour as more birds followed this in-born routine of migration from one habitat to a new one. I remember the first time I saw it, I ran up to my dad and tugged hard at his sleeve pointing upwards. I was barely 8. He looked up and smiled when he saw what I was trying to show him. “Ah! the flamingos,” he exclaimed! “That’s how they migrate from lake Nakuru to Israel!” “Israel?” I asked incredulously! “Where is that? and why?” Children, as I know now, ask about anything and everything. I was not an exception, In fact my curiosity as a child was legendary. My mom often reminds me how I broke up her very expensive refrigerator when I was a 4 year old as i tried to explore how it worked. They were enjoying a late evening sunshine when suddenly they heard a loud deafening whooshing noise from the house that was as startling as it was unexpected. Instinctively, they rushed inside only to find me staring at them frightened with the refrigerator’s pipe in one hand and a blank face. I totally destroyed the gas chamber that housed the cooling liquid under high pressure. Of-course I got a good whooping as they counted their losses!

After asking my dad why these birds flew all the way to Israel, he asked me to follow him and from his room, he retrieved a large atlas that was approximately 60 centimeters  on all sides! it was the largest ‘book’ I had ever seen. Having opened it! his finger fell on the Asian map on a tiny peninsula just on the edge after Egypt. “Here”, he pointed out. “This is where the birds fly to. They do so when they want a conducive habitat to get their young ones and when the climate there is warm to allow them get enough food.” I watched in awe, as though I could see the flamingos flying on the hard paper all the way through the migratory path of the great rift valley to Israel.

From then onward, my fascination with maps and geography grew. I would stay awake for a while before sleeping and dream of travelling adventures flying like the flamingos. un-beknown to me, my dad had noticed that the adventure bug had bitten me. Smitten, he organized a series of visits to Lake Nakuru for the family and those memories still linger now as fresh as though it was just yesterday. They stand up there, as No 1, in the hall of fame of my best days growing up.

I am older now! and my son is barely 2 and a half years old. Every time I remember how he looks at me: His adoring eyes, his belief that His dad is the superstar! the way he apes everything I do, the plays and the many times I let him follow my silly gestures and laughs so that I can hear him do the same after me pleases me beyond words. He has taken after me in many ways! the cheekiness, playfulness….such a wonderful ‘silly’ pair when we are determined to have fun! Often times I wander to the recesses of my memories and I begin to imagine how I will shape his world through little things that will greatly help him look back with fondness. I have made numerous fantasies of our hikes, camping life, boating and every imaginable and achievable adventure my mind can think possible. I want to make his childhood life as memorable as mine was and perhaps hear him ask, “Can I tame a flamingo?”….Perhaps Of course I will laugh but better still, I might be able to take him on a tour from Nakuru all the way to Israel and see whether my dad was right after all.

 

 

Winning a bartender’s heart

The bartender smiled knowingly when I asked her for a single glass of Virgin Mojito! It’s spicy taste laced with lemon and honey is heavenly once it touches your tongue! “Make them two!” I stated firmly in retrospect. She nodded again, a smile dancing on her lips.

“Do you know how to make one?” she asked! “Would you show me?” I teased back. “Sure,” she replied and went on for the next few minutes that followed to show me how to dice the lemons and get the mix done.

I was amazed that making that drink had been so simple and as the evening wore off, She talked about her only son. He was going to be a candidate next year and she was anxious that he does well when he sits for his primary school KCPE exams. I lauded her for being a good mom and told her not to worry. “He will do well”, I encouraged her. I deduced she was single mom when I noticed the absence of her ring and her love for night shifts. I let it pass and decided not to press her for details. Again, I ordered the last glass of my newly discovered drink before wishing her well and went to sleep.

The following day, I received a lovely rucksack bag complete with four side pockets with a charging dock for a laptop and phone by way of a gift. I immediately fell in love with it and since its was almost lunch time, I decided to take it to my hotel room to ensure my hands were free during lunch.On my way, I bump onto her and she bubblingly says Hi! “Would you give me that?” She ask’s excitedly. “Sure,” I demur though grudgingly I want it all to myself. She fixes me a questioning gaze that makes me laugh!

She was baiting my resolve and to shoe her off for the time being, I promised to get her one, though I was not sure whether I would be so lucky to get a second gift.

That night after the party, I went straight to my hotel room and retrieved the bag. I then retraced my way  back to the same beach bar I had meet her the previous night and got a glimpse of her serving some happy clients. “Hi there!”, I wave and when she sees me, her face brightens and breaks into a warm smile. “Here you go!” I say as I hand the rucksack to her! That’s for your son, I state! “Tell him to study hard!”

I saw the joy in her face as she received it. In between emotion, she mumbled her thank you. I could see the tears straining her eyes! and a deep warmth filled my heart!

My last Virgin Mojito that night was special and she made sure her clients knew she had made it just for me. This time round it had a green cheery gracing it’s top.