Finding my Heartbeat

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Before everything happened. 

We used to talk and people would listen. Am not talking about any people. The top cream. The  top one percent ruling caste. They are lost in disillusion. Colonialist fantasies that woefully make them appear as ghosts. 

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The last time I saw blood on my pavement was 11 years ago. The lingering faith of such peace is not existent everywhere as you would want me to conservatively profess. Freedom, democracy, unity are all  themes that explore the complex journey of healing a dying nation. Even darker is the subject of economic empowerment for the typical Kenyan. 

In considering the contemporary political scene, dispossession occurs to be a rather retrogressive debate. Sadly, a debate  clothed in sweetness and denied its sarcastic freedom. It is not that authorities have curtailed the freedom of expression in Kenya.  In fact, it is the safest point of any era so as to say- when you can speak anything , anywhere, however you want. Unless for hate speech which seemingly would spur tribal malfire or violence. 

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Will you even forget those times before I was born? When to pass across a point you had to gather a community of people; organize them on a public space and speak. Contemporary Kenya  and the world at large is a digital space. Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp groups and so forth.  Gone is the frustration of community gatherings and civic talks. The blogosphere also paints itself on the front end of communication. It is where artists of all kinds conjure varying tastes of  magic. 

But were community gathering a frustration really ?

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Perhaps just like me, your day began on a lighter note. Without reluctance, you warmly woke up from your bed and teamed with millions of others into the dreaded rat race. Unlike me, you neither complained the water tasted pints of salt. You alighted from the matatu and surprisingly had the audacity to  smilingly great the traffic officer. Damn , that should have been a frown.

The newspaper salesmen threw the Daily Nation and without freaking at the headline ; you gladly and disappointingly grabbed a hundred shillings and gave it to him. Trust me , I would have freaked at the headline of a Kenyan Newspaper. But you see, I can’t just come and shout at you that politicians are ghostly tenderpreneurs out there to auction the divided souls of its people. 

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Doesn’t it perplex you my dear, 

That you are sitting pretty  tuning from one station to another while a tint; in a long line of Jubilee scandals is worth $600 Million (Approximately Ksh 60 Billion) – Kimwarer Dam Scandal. Does it not frighten the hell out of you, your son someday is still going to attend those USELESS SHAMS of halls adorned as universities. 

[ Challenge: its fun haha  – read the above bolded capitalized words quickly , two times repeatedly — I can see how you desperately attempted to wear a foreign twang into the words, come on, Wee ni Mkenya; Mwafrika]

Well let’s go on. 

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Like me, you will  probably shout your way through the crowd, desperate that someone will hear; but unlike the 90s where the freedom of speech was curtailed – People would speak at the slightest opportunity and the public would lend its ear – this time you got full rights to the podium and no one listens. 

Find your Freedom 

Find your Heartbeat

What was, 

Is no more.

The Face on the Front Page

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Every day she hopes things will work out.

Last when I saw her, she was bleeding pain. A pain that she refused to say what it was. Whatever it was; it had eaten away the front of her smile and was busy devouring her inside. You could see it in her gait and the way she talked, even her eyes shone with some dimming light. Frantically as she forceful and coldly denied it, her breath much in anticipation of pressing on – but her radiance melting down like that of an abandoned whisky – stole her charm and left a stoic frame grasping for some energy.

Energy she couldn’t find.

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Photo Credits: Marjorie Mwendwa – Self Inspired Model with 254flo Kenya

I could see what she was carrying. And there was this conviction in her words – that it was nothing. That everything was okay and things were going cool. She was carrying a desperate heaviness, one that you don’t describe in words but in melodramatic facials- an emptiness that could easily ghost her from reality – yet this is what you saw from a distance.

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Not me, not her, but you. This is what you saw in her – another name for charm. A burger in a five star restaurant – a woman worth the cover page of a high end beauty magazine; an extremely beautiful woman, one you had probably seen on a billboard. One of those billboards that hang tightly to the walls of upper hill sky crappers; on stickers loosely clinging on a lavish matatu –  perhaps one you had seen on a Geisha advert; in between the time you catch up with your favorite show on Maisha Magic. Girls like those don’t advertise Sportpesa, or infinix or Indomie –Such looks are only for some fetish Kenya Airways Ad, Vogue clothes line, and the weekly red carpet. Blah Blah Blah- anyways that’s not the point.

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The thing about beauty is it makes you vulnerable, scared and misplaced. She was vulnerable – she was scared and I could feel it in my bones when she hugged me. The world expects you to be beautiful but not too beautiful. So it’s a dilemma sufficiently in itself- that wreaks vainfulness and mispriority. Yet a superficial bar imposed on most Kenyan Women, which sometimes is unattainable – and other times a goal for many.

Yet the most beautiful girl in the room has always been the show stopper. She cannot speak to someone’s boyfriend a sentence or two without sparking envy. It’s very much easy to calibrate her image in colors, fretting wonder and niceties- but so difficult to see her inside. So she coils unspeaking because you can’t always have it all. She tirelessly spends time examining the mirror looking back at her – because the world has made her think it’s the only thing she can offer.

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Sadly, the very world takes upon its hand to judge her, to turn her around and weigh her by the tones of skin color, eyes, the line her mouth scants upon her lips, the size of her legs and whether her dimples are worth a kiss.   The anecdotes revolving around her life scantily, if not deeply – affect how she relates with people. Whenever someone tells her ‘she’s beautiful’; she doesn’t let that get into her so much. Because for years; her beauty has been sort of a weapon to catalyze un-requested favors from people. Getting things she never deserved just because she had a killer smile.

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No one loves this kind of hype and especially when it revolves around beauty and popularity. Friends have stuck by her; but she can’t undress them beyond the superficial giggles and read their intentions. Maybe some are just there for the hype- just to be called her friend. But deep inside they want to strip her, to have her smile and keep it for themselves.

To destroy her.

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Mathew Wakhungu, better known as Tao Tripper of the now separated Camp Mulla;  Tells Grace Msalame in the Unscripted Show – that Hype doesn’t change you, it changes those around you.

For years, you have dripped in the charm of people smiling at you and showing you  lots of love. You are armed with confidence and humility is an understatement, you’ve become a man of the people. The name on the headline; the face of the caption. This only changes them, your closest friends, who in turn change you slowly, intentionally or unintentionally – I won’t get into the detail, It’s quite philosophical.

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The next time we met was after two weeks; the duration of time she wanted me to wait so that she could gently tell me what was wrong. I had waited impatiently – and as gentle as she was – quite easily delivered to her promise. It was a night – down one of those middle end joints along Muindi Bingu Street; her favorite spot for Japanese Sushi. Myself I had never eaten Sushi and when the table was spread with a tray, quite a fragrance was the welcome that I got lost in the eating rather than the talking.

The led lights inside the café had this calming effect – and would change color from time to time. The seduction was quite attractive – as they transformed her eyes from blue, to red then blue again. She asked me what it meant to lose someone I love – and I told her to me it meant never loving again.

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But amidst the background of slow jazz music blended with chunks of karaoke Zilizopendwa – I digged dip into the pieces on my tray – shoving each into my throat; while she sat there- plucking every piece of her pain, and shoving each of those pieces into my soul.

Not as clumsily as I shoved the sushi into my mouth. But calmly and slowly, bittersweet grief narrated with some glow – Her face was shimmering and with the music; I felt the taste of the evening – today without Smirnoff, or Tusker or anything.

Just me and a teacher – she was teaching me how to reach out into the lumps in my soul; how to say no to pain; how to be weary and say no to show stoppers. It was her own story; told one after the other; about words she’d been told in judgment of her intelligence; Intelligence brought against her looks; about grief, about worry and about people; and men she had lost because she’d thought she had it all. Deep down I SECRETLY thought ‘you cannot always have it all’ yet that night I walked  away knowing what it means to just mean beautiful to people.

What Became of Us

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There is a part of me, I have desperately wanted to hide from the world.

As if the world, in a gaze so tormenting would lead me to the crucifix and kill me for this one thing. Coming of age has taught me that I should let “me be me”. In doing so , I breath voice into the weakest crevice of my regrets and sway away.

There is meaning in letting go.

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It doesn’t stop there.

Because I will disapprove my own point.

I travelled home from the City and while at home;  to lend myself a voice to the craving of my memories – I loved the smell of bushes.

The rants of men and women in their daily obsessions atop a soil that has made me.

The shouts of boda boda riders shoving you into their rides.

I love the smell of home, the prickly eyes of caring adults scrutinizing whether the city has not turned you into a goon. So over the last few days, I’ve been trying to reminisce the years that washed away my childhood. I would die to recollect all these memories into one pot of boldness and say that I would want to go back. And for so many weeks I have asked myself the big and small questions. Which game was my favorite? Which friend  did we make most of these memories with? And if it would be possible, would I take a bullet for all them?

“I half closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up, and I was now standing here in front of it, and if I waited long enough, a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field and gradually get larger until I’d see…’ Kazuo Ishiguro 

At first, I thought this was just the pain and exhaustion of leaving behind the comfort of teen hood and wallowing into the cold obsession of chasing dreams. I knew it was so close to pinning me to the wall, after all the things I’d gone through.

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Yet so sad

I didn’t have a selfie, a portrait of myself through the  hard times. The times that so much stood up in my mind. It’s only by walking along the dusty paths, the thickety bushes and the lone trails we left for hikes; that I easily reconnect with what had been so much my identity. In the background of which, were all these imaginations, hills at the sides, all emerging beneath the twigs of trees. Trees swaying downhill the gentle slopes of what we grew up calling the incredible Nyambene hills.

 

It is difficult to precisely say what about this town holds so much of my soul; that suffice to say the least, is not a distorted image of myself as the pictures of me and mine; celebrating Christmas, a birthday party or an education day ceremony.

It is then  I realized the few that remained around held; so much luck in themselves – than those who left.  Besides,  relating with these recollections for almost every part of their daily lives, they will never let them go. It is by identifying with the blurry lines of nostalgia left – that I felt so much envy because they tightly grasped in their hearts;  a special gift than I had – Memories.

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“It never occurred to me that our lives, until then so closely interwoven, could unravel and separate over a thing like that. But the fact was, I suppose, there were powerful tides tugging us apart by then, and it only needed something like that to finish the task. If we’d understood that back then-who knows?-maybe we’d have kept a tighter hold of one another.”  Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go)

Looking inside the eyes of someone I knew ten years ago, I will look for the disapproval. I will dig deep into them, for the least to find something – be it a tale. That will help me remember. That will help my faults resonate into something that I can weave into a narrative.

This has become an indictment that I hardly can brush off; The seclusion from these very past; a past in the smoking playgrounds, the filth grime, the kissing meetings in the dark with girlfriends; the heartbreaks, the craving, the longing; the pressure from peers to out-leave our current situation – the weary form of personal delusion, self hate and discrimination.

And I haven’t taxed any amounts of pain than these; until I met  sweethearts that didn’t remember me. I was sure somewhere beneath my past , in the winds of my childhood we had shared experiences that went beyond brotherhood.

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The expression in their eyes bear no significance to what we had; Except for the Occasional warmth, everything else is dry. As if to signify would I run for some political office; they wouldn’t vote me in even for the memories alone; let alone for the name. Not all of use held on to these memories anyway

. It is even difficult to comprehend what took place in between the narrow escape from our childhood into adulthood.

“Because maybe, in a way, we didn’t leave it behind nearly as much as we might once have thought. Because somewhere underneath, a part of us stayed like that: fearful of the world around us, and no matter how much we despised ourselves for it–unable quite to let each other go.” 
― Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go)

Did he lose a loved one? Did she attain her dreams and gain admission into the privileged club of the few rich? Were they heartbroken? Looking back then, I realize we knew so little about life, about ourselves, about belonging but I had this prayer for all those years – that somewhere beneath their souls they had that same urge as me. Similar not just from the outside -but inside – we had gone through the same lunch breaks, afternoon preps, evening gossips, boyish football, teen hood flirtery ;

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”that there are people out there, like Madame, who don’t hate you or wish you any harm, but who nevertheless shudder at the very thought of you – of how you were brought into this world and why – and who dread the idea of your hand brushing against theirs. The first time you glimpse yourself through the eyes of a person like that, it’s a cold moment. It’s like walking past a mirror you’ve walked past every day of your life, and suddenly it shows you something else, something troubling and strange.” 
― Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go)

Are these memories not worth the struggle?

Maybe as from early as ten, things were not so good. You struggled, and the memories are rather painful to hold on to. So you’re there, waiting till the pain goes away.

The bitterness of not having a satisfactory childhood as everyone – C’mon we  went through the same long painful nights. We’ve all at certain points felt cold out in the sun. Chased in the midst of peace and lonely in a crowded gathering.

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But si ni life  ( It’s Life)

You needn’t to  hold on to bitterness ; Do you even know when the pain will fade away? Perhaps you cant recognize the harm you’re doing to yourself – but it’s harm.

There is no life out there bigger than the one you’ve left behind – next time glimpse yourself through the eyes of your past – it’s a cold reality, a harsh one, especially knowing that you are yearning to hold on, never to let go but still,  willing to hold back.

It’s as strange as that.

Photo Credits:Artsy Solomon , BrestonKenya , Daniel Edeke

 

A friend of mine gifted to me Kazuo Ishiguro’s  ‘Book Never Let Me Go’

This book is the inspiration behind this post. In the coming days I will post a full review of Never Let Me Go,  – but if need be;  you could catch up with a brief description of the book here.

A tale that wounds down the most precious gift given to man – Memories. It is a narrative of deceptive simplicity, re – imagining what was left behind and if these very memories could turn into heart wrenching craving, obsessive reflection, or even a more sinister altercation  – never letting go.

For an eBook of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Book ‘ Never Let Me Go’ – Comment below and I will Send it to you.

A hard copy of the book can be found here on my Social Media Listings; You are free to check the Price.

http://bit.ly/2XF5hDR

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Kid no More

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If I ever had a prayer of making any good out of myself, I would beg God to make me better every single day.

I don’t remember asking for ABS, sought of what males of my age kept pushing for to make us jealous. Every prayer lied on my talents and my abilities; Strength of mind, ability to pull out of any situation and love.

 

Yes

 

I wanted to find love too.

 

Anything, someone, or something I loved to do. Perhaps this would draw away my self-longing and replace my boredom with a sense of belonging.

 

But I had resigned myself to the judgment that in this world people deemed it worth to secure their comfort.

I would never find a place in the hearts of Individuals. Besides, no one was opening up and the few that did, it was almost unbearable to mind read their intention.

 

So I resigned myself to a gauged cocoon, a cage filled with emptiness and overflows of hunger, anger and ambition. I would be in a crowd, a gathering of friends, walking across town, waiting for a matatu at the bus stop; but suddenly my mind would drift away.

As if I had not the language to express the art of my passion , my dreams , as if this was the only magic into which my mind would get lost; This way I didn’t let people inside my turmoil, as much as I was willing to, I found my thoughts serene but frustratingly lonely at times.

 

During those moments of escape, when my mind would fall into a subliminal slew of inquisition; I would be in a factory , forging machinery or textile, riding my favorite car, reminiscing my bitter childhood, sharing dinner with my favorite writer ; probably packing my clothes for a trip far off land.

 

Sometimes in those dreams, I would also get married, preach vows to an undeserving wife, and if the surrounding thoughts were calm enough; I would think myself a King, in a distant fairy land where nobles wore golden robes and beautiful maidens attended to the royalty.

 

Even though there had been a lot going on in my life then; I will admit I was following through none.

 

I had convinced myself that writing was my splashing talent; but I had not yet figured out what it meant to scent words into a page.

 

So I spent days and nights;   forming stories and punching them into my word press back end; only to trash them later on. Who the hell would read my posts anyway? Stories from a naive downtown kid who’d recently overgrown his pain and found love in the dictionary.

But then years ago; I had wanted to be an IT consultant , my life’s earning would rely on building technical solutions for businesses, punch code into computers and sit back ; just to witness the design unveil.

I was fascinated by computers. Yet I had never sat in the cool shades of nerdy conversations that had happened at the basketball court, I didn’t even wear a hoody inscribed with sudo like terminal commands. For the life of me, I had never considered myself cool and that’s what nerds are. Cool. I couldn’t even build a simple Android application to save my drowning life.

Despite all this theology of business, technology, programming, AI, ML and the Internet of Things, all encrypted into my mixed ambition; I hardly saw myself a nerd.

 

Perhaps movies and contemporary lifestyles had convinced me into believing that nerds only existed in Yale, MIT, and Princeton; and for sure these were the schools I had yearned to attend; it was a dream that had almost crawled into an obsession.

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Maybe it’s the only place that people like me would mold themselves into reputable technology players. Or what would the best engineering university in the world such as MIT mold someone into, probably a sophisticated human just cracked enough to have geeky functionalities.

 

 

Every fortnight I would sit and pray to God that at least for once he would make me intelligent. It didn’t matter in what aspect , but for the sake of me and mine to come ; I wanted to become a prodigy.

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Since third form in high school, I had seen writing as a viable opportunity for income. In as much as it was an avenue for learning and challenging myself; sometimes I found writing hectic, and it is during these times I would slumber into a writing hiatus. Then learn all the programming I could.

Sometimes I would even question God , why couldn’t he just make me a musician , a painter or something ; so that as I walked home from school , or during my dorm hours ,I would compose a song in my sleep , or forge an image in my dreams that would go on to sell for a million dollars to an animation studio.

 

But I was stupid.

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I hadn’t realized that God has endowed each one of us; with some powerful soul stretching gift to move mountains. What we have to do, is heave with inspiration and chase dreams.

I grew up in a typical Kenyan village; sub urban to be precise. My inspiration growing up verged between listening to local vernacular music, watching wrestling, catching up with Shaffie and Kalekye every evening after school on the drive show;  causing mayhem, and fighting gangs of boys to remain afloat.

All the boys saw you as a potential threat to their welfare and each would find a way to eliminate you. Ha-ha. Not from the light of the world however, but from the dark alleys of childhood crimes. Where we stole avocados, scrap metals, or tried to impress a girl. Typical Kenyan childhood.

It is around this time in my childhood that I met J.K Rollins Harry potter and the sorcerer’s Stone. A fantastic book that not only captured my creative attention but ultimately made me realize writing was something else; Sacred, inviting and engrossing

I had been a reader before but quite awesomely, I was still as I always have been; a lover of African literature. So instead of lighting up my world with the infamous Goosebumps series that made highlights with the urban kids my age, the fairy tales of Cinderella and snow-white;

 

mosesI fell in love with quite a typical African story set in a Ugandan Boarding school; The incredible Moses Series by Barbara kimenye; A few others by Nigerian children writers Cyprian Ekwensi and Our very own Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o, whom I met in the Njamba Nene series. But of all stories I read then I will never forget Moses and the man from mars

 

However, it’s the Harry potter series that changed everything. It torched ablaze a hidden potential; although i tried to exploit my creative juices back then; by writing a small fantasy series in the style of Harry potter. The book never came to be but has always been a living memory. Once I attempted to write a story at the age of 10.