At my besties

Sunday 19

It was still raining when I woke up. If they hadn’t woken up too I would have gone back to bed. I was actually delaying them so I hurried up. We drove in the rains all the way to General motors in Nairobi. It was surprisingly dry in the CBD itself where I was dropped.

I walked to the Azuri restaurant but found it closed, I had forgotten it was a Sunday. I boarded the MSL bus and headed to Kasarani, to my besties home. This was one of the rare times I was hoping for traffic jam to delay me. It was around ten and my hosts were still at Sunday worship.

So when I alighted at the seasons stage I decided to have some breakfast as I waited for them. A few minutes after eleven they picked me up. The first thing they noticed, the extra KGS. I told them and many others who asked that it’s the rain season in Kibwezi and that comes with lots of food. So it’s just natural to add afew kilos, it’ll all gonna be shed when the the dry season comes.

The neighbourhood hasn’t changed much from what its was six months ago. This place had been my home since 2009 when I was a third year student at the University of Nairobi.

I prepared lunch, the husband wondered why they had let the visitor serve instead of the other way round. She said, ‘ its good to have a luhya girl as a friend, she’ll always find her way into the kitchen.’ I have been to the house and the kitchen many times because I used to live a few blocks away and we spent a lot of time in each others house, it’s like a second home.

At three in the evening she started preparing for work.

” I am on night duty on Sundays and Mondays, and I knew if I told you that before you would not have come.”

She was right about that, we hadn’t talked for a while so I didn’t know her shift had changed, she works at the airport.

The seven o’clock news that evening were full of saddening events of killings in the Mathare slums. Rumours had it that they were tribal killings. A group of armed men had butchered and killed two young men and a woman too. The deceased are from the Luo community, same as the opposition leader.

The president was to be sworn in on Tuesday and the opposition supporters had promised to swear in their leader too, leading to heightened political temperatures.

” I don’t want to be killed just because I am a luo.” Louise lamented.

” At this point I hate being a Luo, and I do not want to die before I get married.”

She’s twelve years old and already thinking of marriage.

“My dear, you should be thinking of your primary school final exams next year and highschool, marriage is way ahead, don’t go too fast.”

That night when I went to bed I was worried that things might escalate leading to the same situation as 2007-2008 post election violence. Many people were killed then and many more displaced.

All I wanted was to get my cheque from Engineer Japheth on Monday and head back home where its calm and very few people are bothered with the politics in Nairobi.


With an Old Friend

Gone gone gone.

The song by Phillip Phillip woke me up. Its a Saturday morning and I have no plans for the day so I do not understand why I set the alarm. That’s my ringtone. Its an in coming call. I do not like being woken up from my sleep but I kinda smiled when I saw the caller, Bahati.

“I’ll be in Kibwezi today for work and am calling to see if we can have lunch or something.”

We’ll definitely have time. Life in small time can be boring sometimes, spending time with an old friend is a welcome.

“Please bring me something from Nairobi”

I had sausages in mind. Been craving them for a while. I lay back in bed planning my day. A thought crossed my mind. Bingo.

I woke up and started packing. I called my friend but she didn’t pick so I send an SMS requesting her for accommodation at her place for a few days. I then called Bahati. I was to travel to Nairobi on Monday anyway, will be two days early.

“If your colleague does not mind I would like to travel back to Nairobi with you” Other than worrying that they would delay me they were okay with my plan.

At two in the afternoon I met then at Billionaires camp and drinks (its owned by the richest man in this small town hence the name). After sipping on fanta and catching up we left for Nairobi. At Kiboko we bought roasted maize, I always do coz the maize here is fresh from the farm courtesy of Kenya Agricultural Research Institute located in the area. The institute is experimenting on better and easier ways of maize production ensuring an all round year of fresh maize supply.

As we neared Emali town the radio tuned in to the local language station (they come from this county) started announcing football match between Arsenal vs Tottenham. Him being a fun of Arsenal he asked if we could stop for a while to watch the match. I used to be a fun, but I do not watch soccer as I used to anymore.

At the …hotel we climbed the stairs onto the first floor and sat around a table facing a huge screen. He was all eyes on the game but not before we ordered. I wanted a glass of wine but they were selling in bottle only so I asked for a black ice. I also asked him if I could have some sausages, to satisfy the cravings. He agreed. I didn’t have any cash with me, but I did not worry, I trust him that much.

We were close once upon a time, I was just out of college and doing well. Back then it was me who paid for the drinks and the sausages. I remember this one time when we flew to the coast for a weekend, and I gladly financed everything. We grew apart after I found my faith and decided to live a fornication free life. Our options were marriage or breakup. We chose the later, he was still in college and we were not ready for commitment.

What a match! Arsenal won 2 nill, don’t get used to this funs it only happens once in a while. The journey from Email proved to be very slow due to traffic. At the Machakos junction we decided to take the right turn to Machakos town after staying in traffic for too long. We would spend the night there continue with the journey the next day.

In Machakos wele started with diner which the waiter had promised would be ready in 30minutes but came after more than an hour. I was disappointed. We later met his cousin at jingle place. It was full and loud. And they were playing this Jamaican music that I hate. I asked the DJ to play me two songs by Tanzanian musicians that I have been obsessed with. (Natamba by Aslay and Zilipendwa by Diamond etc).

I danced for a while looking forward to the two songs but despite a few reminders he did not play. It was after midnight and I couldn’t wait anymore so I left a little bit annoyed. Outside I played the two songs from my playlist on phone, that lifted my spirits. Its was starting to rain so we retired for the night.

I had my own room if you are wondering what happened later. My old friend is happily married and still keep my faith.

Insects everywhere

 It’s my first evening in Voi, we are chilling on the verandah after dinner. On the ground below I see a strange insect with horns raised high speeding towards us. As I stare at it wondering exactly what it is Alex run for his boots and it’s neutralized before causing any harm. It was a scorpion and the ‘horns’ are actually the teeth, or fangs!

I got bitten by one afew years back but I never saw it. At first I had thought it was a snake bite and rushed to the dispensary to find it closed. The kids using the security lights to do their homework are the ones who diagonized it as a scorpion bite from my description of the pain. 

My wish of seeing a live scorpion has just come to pass.

The milipedes are all over this place too, am told its because of the rains and the cold so they come into the homes looking for warmth. Wednesday night I saw one making its way past the sitting room and towards our bedroom. Chris kicked it out the door and a few minutes later I saw it crawling back in, not sure if it was the same one or another. I let it have a warm night. But promised myself to shake my shoes well before wearing.

The following day I saw one at the corner as I was sweeping. Because it was at the furthest corner of the house I didn’t wanna drug it all the way out so I pushed it aside cleaned its corner and pushed it back at its original position with the broom. 

On Thursday I saw one on the wall of the outside bathroom. I dressed up quickly, ran out and asked Tony to remove it which he fearlessly did. I know millipedes are harmless but they scare me with their countless legs, I imagine them walking all over me and that scares me out of my skin.

I thought I would be done with insects once I get back home. How wrong I was. I had insisted on not spending the night at my aunts place for I wanted the comfort and peace of my own house, my own bed.

My sleep was disrupted many time by insect bites. At first I thought they were bedbugs because this place is hot and many boarding schools, lodgings and even homes get invested with bedbugs. I checked around my bed but I saw none. On the wall I saw some ” insects ” all over like they were crawling from the ground to the cealing. I even saw one on the floor that looked like it was moving its mouth, or maybe I imagined.

I looked around for an insecticide using the spotlight on my phone, (there was a black out) but there wasn’t any. All I could find was a bottle of air freshener in the toilet. I sprayed them with its contents hoping its strong pungent would kill them or at least incapacitate them till morning when I could get a better solution.

I slept peacefully after that or maybe I was so tired to feel the bites. In the morning I called a friend to help me figure out the kind of insects all over the walls. He squeezed them with his finger and laughted so hard when I told him that I had seen one of them move its mouth at night.

“They are eggs”

Some stupid ( or clever) insect(s) had decided to lay it’s eggs and patch them all over my walls figuring out that the house was  unoccupied. The house has only been slept in like four nights for the last one month.

The task now was to forcefully move out the new occupant who had strategized his stay by occupying the darkest corners. Those corners that are only touched during the occasional thorough cleaning. I spent the whole day cleaning, from the walls the floor and the ceiling where spiders had woven their webs. I was careful not to squish any spiders because am told unless they are burnt the surviving eggs, if any hatch into even more dangerous spiders.

I also found a millipede under one of the couches, I called my neighbors seven year boy to get it out. 

The bites during the night were from mosquitoes. Since the place is usually dry I haven’t had much problem with them and haven’t been using a mosquito net. I never bothered to refill the electric powered mosquito repellant that I came with from Nairobi because I have had very peaceful nights.

With many more insects flying around the security lights every night with some finding their way into the houses, I think its us humans who have invaded their space. What I have gathered is that all this land was forest land once upon a time, allocation to squatters from Chyulu hills. Kibwezi forest is less than a kilometer from my home which opens up to the Tsavo National Park that streches all the way past Voi down to the Coast. 

Sometimes elephants are seen in Kibwezi. Hope I’ll get a chance to see them when they visit.

Is it called human- animal conflict, or should I call it human- insect conflict because till the end of the rain season we’ll be fighting.

Lucky me I am stronger and more intelligent ( as a human) and I have bought enough insecticide and repellants to last the season. 

Its war, and am gonna win.

The mighty and strong always get what they want, its the law of the jungle. 

I guess I live in the jungle.

From Voi and back home

Tuesday 7th November

Finally I decided to travel home on Tuesday afternoon. After purchasing afew things at the market I boarded the chania cool bus. I paid 300 bob for the journey but my ticket indicated 250, the bus conductor said the balance was his commission, I was in no mood to fight so I let him have it. He promised we would be off soon, it was fifteen minutes to three o’clock.

Thirty minutes later we were still at the bus stop even though the engine had been turned on and the bus was making some slight movement back and forth to give the impression that we would be on the move soon.

A lady boarded and asked to sit on the seat next to mine. I did not understand why she wanted that specific seat when the bus was less than half full, even the seats on the other side of the corridor were unoccupied. Maybe she wanted company. I thought of telling her no but decided otherwise. I wanted a queit ride to continue reading the prison journal by Lord Jeffrey Archer -Hell.  Was hoping to get inspiration to continue with my own journalling.

The lady refused to give her bus fare just yet. On her journey to Voi from Nairobi they had been kept at the busstop for hours, afraid of the same situation she was only going to pay when the journey starts. The conductor came time and again but she would not burge, I supported her making the conductor turn his anger towards me. If I hadn’t paid already I would have alight and looked for another means of transport most probably a transit truck.

We left the busstop at about twenty minutes to four and in a few minutes we were on the highway. The evening sun was coming directly onto us from the west so we moved to the seats on the east side. 

“Did you guys in Kibwezi vote on the 26th of October.” She asked me once we were settled.

” I do not discuss politics.” I answered not turning my head from the phone. 

“Would you know if other people voted?.” 

She came to me again assuming by my first answer that I had not voted.

I posed for a moment, took my eyes off the Jeffrey Archer ebook and looked straight ahead. I swallowed a puff of air and exhaled through my mouth abit loudly searching for the correct answer.

“I don’t know exactly what to tell you, but to be sincere I do not discuss politics.” 

She got it right and clear this time round. From the corner of my eye I noticed her stare at me for a while, (I wish I knew what was going on through her mind), she then turned her head to the right, levelled her seat to a sleeping position and was in slumber land in a few. From her ascent I knew the region she came from.

There have been controversies over the repeat presidential elections with the government asking citizens to vote while the opposition leader asking them not to. Chaos have erupted in some regions leading to deaths and destruction of properties. It safe to keep my position on the issue to myself.

I went back to my book, “the Belmarsh prison librarian had come to Archer’s cell to ask him not to sign any of his authored books (novels) because they were being stolen from the library by other prisoners. His signed books were being used as a mode of exchange among the inmates.”

The rest of the journey continued queitly for most passengers who were asleep.  Myself I spent the time reading, writing and moving from one seat to the next. At first I got uncomfy sitting next to her, she was occupying her seat plus a fraction of mine so I moved to another seat. I got uncomfy in that too and moved yet again. I looked like a night runner walking around when people were asleep.

Two hours later I was home, that was fast, faster than on the truck but if I include the one hour wait at the bus stop it still comes to three hours. Once in my house I unpacked and carried afew stuff to my aunts home. Most importantly I had bought perege( small fish) which I planned for dinner with my aunts family.

The welcome was overwhelming especially from poppy, my aunts dog. He has so much love to give, he’s always jumping around and on me but sadly I do not know how to enjoy that. I actually screamed for my son to come out and save me from all the love poppy was showing me. He was climbing all over me walking in his twos with his fore legs on me, it made me uncomfy.

My cousin Jane ran out first followed closely by my son Quincy. Looking at them come towards me at that speed I thought they would rum into me and we would both go tumbling on the ground. They’ve got good brakes those two. They were all over me and so poppy had no space but to circle around us jumping and wagging its tail. 

In the house after the niceties I gave each one their presents and the stuff they had left in Voi when we travelled back after the convention in August. My cousin had left a camisole and some inner clothes, a belt for my son and a shirt for my uncle. 

I prepared dinner which we enjoyed so much especially the small fish that I brought which was new to everyone. If they had been wondering just how I got big within  a weeks stay in Voi they didn’t wonder any more looking at the amount of food I ate that evening. We have been working on our weight with my other cousin who’s getting married in a months time and I happen to be one of her brides maid. Looks like we’ll have to enlarge our dresses.

It was a beautiful evening. My son tried to persuade me to spent the night at my aunts home but all I wanted was to sleep in my own bed. So I left.

Happy to be back home.


My stay in Voi

My plan was to spend two nights in Voi, was sure I would have learnt all I needed by then. It was never to be. That Tuesday at around 10pm I was a wakened by a loud scream, it was Antie Carol. They had just received news that her sick brother had passed on.

I remember how she had talked about him for most of the two hours that I had spent with her at her shop learning the ice making business. She had just come from home where she having gone to take care of him and had left when he showed some improvement.

The next day she travelled to Wundanyi their home together with her big sister my host. I volunteered to baby seat her shop and pretty much enjoyed my day with Harry Porter e-book in between sales. 

Thurdsay, the day I was to travel back to Mbui Nzau I actually spent alone in their home. The rest of the family had traveled to attend the burial and I took care of the place. Killed boredom and loneliness with Spiderman homecoming movie and the perfect match which had been in my flush disk for ages but I hadn’t found time to watch.

” This is home my dear, please stay till I come back” she( the mama of the home) had said to me before she left.

So I unpacked, bought a few more clothes and settled.

Its almost a week and for sure I have learnt so much. Starting with the recipes for making pilau, Bhagia, viazi karai, mabuyu, ukwaju juice, raw mango juice and perege ( small kind of fish but bigger than omena). I have added a few vocabularies into my Swahili dictionary too.

And afew grams around my waist.

Because the meals are deliciously made, hard not to add an extra spoon and the company of young men with big appetities, so when they reach for a piece I pick one too. We are usually about 10 at the dinner table, I told you she’s  a generous one and right now she’s hosting a few of her nephews.

Its always hard to maintain routines when visiting like my morning runs or rope skipping, still yet drinking water before bed time and two glasses of water first thing in the morning. I avoided water in the evening because the toilet happens to be located outside the main house 10 meters away. That means I have to climb down the double decker bed, walk out of the house, across the compound to attend to the call of nature. I can’t afford to do that even though the security lights shine all night.

For one, I am scared of stepping on insects like scorpions and millipedes which happen to be allover the place,and also the usual fear of darkness with its many unknowns. 

Most nights my brain works extra hard to wake me, even on some nights I dream of lions to scare me into waking up but only wake up after killing them in my sleep, with my bare hands. Then get even more scared of walking to the toilet just in case my dream comes true since the Tsavo National Park is just but a few Kilometers from this home, 5kms.

I had a chance to visit the market on Friday and attended spiritual worship on Thursday and Sunday. I had planned on going out in the ministry on Saturday but the day had been scheduled for general cleaning of the place of worship which I gladly participated and made new friends in return.

Sunday afternoon was spent at a sister’s home who invited us for lunch, the association was beautiful. 

I enjoyed my  stay in Voi.

Will definitely do this again.

Gotta learn this tongue

The other day my son was asked to report to school with their parents for a PTA meeting. He insisted on leaving the house together with me because the teacher had instructed them not to leave home without being accompanied by their parents. So instead of leaving home for school at 6:00am we left together at 9:am. 

I expected to see other students on the way to school accompanied by their parents, but there warent any. Just me and my son. 

First thought was he played me for a few extra minutes of sleep and TV.

Or he got played by his friend.

Well, the announcement  at the evening parade was made in the local language which he does not understand. So he asked his friend to tell him exactly what the teacher had announced. 

As it happens, the friend too understands little of the language. They are the only two in the whole school who reported late.

Forward to the meeting and half way through I asked for permission to leave. It was all being done in the local language, and I happened to be the only one who did not understand.

I’ll call the headteacher later for the summary of the meeting and what’s needed. Probably just a few more coins to take care of this and that, this free education has never been free for real.

Small town life has got its own challenges, and language is the biggest for me and my son. 

We’ve got to learn this language.

To Voi by transit truck

Travelling to Voi to spent a few days learning coastal dishes recipes and ice making business. I’ll be staying with a family that we stayed with in August during a convention (11 of us) from my aunts,  uncles to cousins and nephews, and my son too, they are a generous lot.

Left home at 9am walked to the stage waved down a truck but it passed along so some guy at the stage helped me and a few minutes later I was climbing up a truck. Never have I travelled in a truck before because for one I never trusted truck drivers. Its only when I moved to this town that I found out everyone including my aunts’ families preffered travelling by trucks to buses.

As soon as I sat down on the seat I discovered I had worn the wrong dress. It was well above the knees and I felt like I was giving a wrong impression. As it so happens along this highway ladies “in business” get onto trucks and if the driver is up for “the business” they get on with it at the next available stop, once done he continues with his journey as she waves another truck to a stop hoping to get another customer. Should have worn my recently acquired dera for it covers me down to my feet.

I think he noticed my discomfort and asked me to level the seat well thinking it was due to that. I took out my phone to start writing or continue reading Harry Potter e-books but then he started engaging me in small talk. Shortly after he asked me to send a friend of his money from his M-pesa account and went ahead to give me his pin number, I still remember it! I was really tempted to check his account balance but I resisted, I am that good!

I have travelled this road several times but being up the truck gave me a totally different kind of view. Watching everything from a few feet above gave a better view many meters ahead and all around. And some kind of pride like I was well above them all, looking down upon them. Even when vehicles like Prado’s and V8s passed along I only saw them as small cars for I was riding in the king of the road.

He happens to be full of stories, having been in the business since the late 70s and witnessed the towns along the road grow from singles shops to shopping malls. He talked about his family and even his latest girlfriend whom he met on the road and how it started and ended. I was all ears and no comments other than the usually ummm, really, how is that even possible to keep the stories flowing, especially when he touched on politics a topic I know very little about or just decide to be neutral and non partisan. 

I actually just smilled when he called my tribes men stupid because they do no rally behind his political leader as a group but make individual decision on who to support and hence look divided as a region.

We touched on religion too, and when he asked which religion I thought was the true religion I told him as the Bible says that the true religion can only be known by the action of its believers. It doesn’t matter if one raises people from the dead or does great deeds all that matters is their conduct, godly conduct. 

Am a story teller myself but I did not have a chance to tell any stories about myself, even why I was visiting Voi except that I’ll be staying till Thursday. He wonderd how and why I live in a small town in a region plagued by frequent drought when I come from western Kenya a land flowing with milk and honey. 

We arrived at noon just as the new SGR train was trailing over the town, it takes just over an hour from Kibwezi to Voi that’s pretty fast,  will definitely be the mode of transport in future when the kibwezi station starts operating.

All along I had not even given him my name which I did before climbing down his truck as I took his phone number so that I could send him his 300 Bob the cost of my journey. He trusted me to do so.

Looking forward to a great time in Voi.