Wednesday, 31 May 2017

THE MOTHER OF ALL RIDES.

So now i burst onto this Boda boda shed,because i'm in a hurry to attend that political meeting.I glance around and i pick the one that has a replica of a Buffalo's horns,somewhere  at the top of the front wheels.Buffalo horns,because this is the animal that i associate with real virility,which is actually what my preferred candidate is riding on-virility.Then at the back,it has a picture of Bob Marley smoking something that simply cannot be a cigarette,if the shape is anything to go by.

As i hop on,i notice that my rider has this distinct smell of cannabis,coming off his soiled jacket,but quickly make the assumption that the jacket may not even be his,that he may have just picked the wrong one,seeing as they are all hung on a single nail.Opposite,this damsel is trying to sit astride her ride,but her short dress is instantly transformed into a handkerchief,and she has to stand right up again,so she can pull it down wards.Only when she sits,the dress goes all the way up again in defiance,and she stands up, so she can pull it downwards.Again.My ride takes off,and we leave the two going over the standing up, and sitting down motion for the umpteenth time.Quickly,i wished someone would just tell them that you don't make a short dress longer,by pulling it downwards.But i'm not even through with that thought,before my ride jerks forward like a released conveyor belt,without warning.My head is yanked backwards,and i involuntarily swallow the muguka i was comfortably chewing.Now,anybody with half-a brain can tell you that, you do not under any circumstance, swallow your muguka,unless you want everything you look at ,to turn green.I dismiss that as a dismal attempt by the enemy to soil my moods,and swear to smile,no matter how many times i make involuntary swallows.Then off we go...

WRONG TURN.

We haven't even made  500 meters,before my rider hits on the brakes,the way you would step on a snake's head.Because we've apparently gone down the wrong road.The braking is so sudden that we both involuntarily stand straight upwards,barely managing to stay on the little machine,almost flying off it altogether.Immediately,i notice that everything is appearing in twos,and i suspect it must be from the muguka i swallowed a couple of minutes earlier.Only later,do i realize that my glasses actually flew right off my nose,and into God-knows-who's-farm.So we turn around,so we can find the right route,but the machine skids,and sprays rain water all over this woman's tomatoes,neatly arranged by the road-side.When she emerges from her vantage spot,she has the exact walk of a lioness,when you touch her cubs.I immediately see the need to involve God in this whole scenario.Because there's visible smoke, coming out her nostrils,and soot out of her ears.Clearly no one is going to silence this one,looking like a million women scorned.(You know what they said about a single woman scorned.Now take that,multiply it by a million.Yes.A million).You wait for a woman like that,you would wait for a meteor.My rider wants to start saying something to her,but i immediately remind him that all we have in this world,is the 10 seconds its going to take this woman to get to where we are.He gets my point,releases his clutch and we take off like one of those American F-16s,atop USS Roosevelt.

We're both screaming 'pole mama',as we go hurtling back up the direction we came from.I distinctly pick out the words 'ningewafyeka kama nyasi!' from a female voice,and i inform my rider that by running off, we may have actually made one of the best decisions of our lives.I glance back,and i realize that she may actually be tearing the tarmac off the road with her bare hands,and i lean forward,like i want to run past the bike,now doing close to a hundred plus.

 CLOSE SHAVE.

Just then,i somehow manage to whip my phone off the side pocket.A quick glance reveals that i'm running really late.So i inform my rider that we cannot afford to waste any more time taking wrong turns,and he gets my point.He gets it so well that, when we get to that inter-section he doesn't go right,(which is where we are supposed to be headed). Neither does he go left.He keeps going straight,at breakneck speed.I would have alerted him that we've once again lost the way, if i hadn't spotted this eighteen-wheeler truck hurtling down our way,because we are now suddenly on the wrong lane.
All the words i've read about the miracles of Christ flash through my mind,all at once,and for a moment i think about my sins as well.I see the face of St.Peter standing by the pearly gates with a golden book,reading out names aloud.I see winged creatures,some beckoning,others just going about their endless praise business.Clearly this is it.The last time two men on a bike hit an eighteen-wheeler truck head on,the mourners had to bury the mixture of the three in a single grave.There's no telling this, from that.Even the shoes have been ground into powder,then mixed with the kidneys of both occupants,which are then ground into this sick-colored water,that the undertaker has to scoop using a spade.
I would have told you how we swerved,and heroically saved our lives.But i won't, because we didn't.Actually we did nothing.But the bike kept moving forward,as we waited to die.Somehow we didn't and we miraculously escaped with our lives.I remember hearing screeching brakes,obscenities from directly above me,then the smell of green raw maize.Because that's where we stopped-in a maize farm.You could have heard my heart thud from a mile away.But my rider had this chimp grin on his face,like he does this for kicks.Or like its some sort of a game he's playing on some gadget.We dust ourselves up,half an hour later,get off the farm,then zoomed off again.I'm really late now,and we really need to hurry,never mind the fact that,by now,i look like Huckleberry Finn,on his worst day.

So we turn back,after confirming that we are really alive. Once firmly astride,the smell of cannabis gets stronger now.I'm beginning to worry that a snake might just be in this guy's jacket,because i hear snakes love the smell of cannabis(Snakes and i,never ever mix). I've since established that my rider's name is actually 'Moshi',from the brief conversation we held in the maize farm.If you are being driven around by a guy called moshi,then smoke might as well be your next destination,i deduct.\
This time,we turn off at the right place,left that is,now that we are approaching the intersection from the direction of the moon to earth. Moshi gives the little piece of wielded metal some more gas,and the shameless two-wheeler responds with gusto.It cruises relatively well on this new highway,and even though i'm late, i'm beginning to entertain the idea that i might just make the ground to participate in the closing war-songs.(Kiboiya.That's how we always close our rallies).

I can see  two police Land Cruisers straight ahead,(Remember,i lost my glasses,so it might as well be one)and i'm assuming everyone can see them.I'm thinking Moshi can see it(Or is it them),too.I think nothing of them,seeing as we are all headed to the same direction.That's until he rides right up behind it,and goes in like knife through butter,hitting the hind door into a million police smithereens.

Moments later,we are sprawled on the grass by the road.Moshi is coughing soot like an old house's chimney.The cops are all over us,asking a million questions at once,and not giving time for even a single one to be answered.I get no time to explain why i participated in an attempt to assassinate the Police of Kenya.Or why i became a terrorist,out on a suicide mission,rather than be home,hugging my kids because they've eaten dinner well.As far as they are concerned,this is no accident....we tried to kill them.And when Moshi looks up to plead his case,and they catch a glimpse of his eyes,they need no further evidence.I can see the headlines tomorrow... "Swift action by the hawk-eyed elite force,saved the day".

POH-LICE CELL.

As i write this, i'm sitting in a damp police cell,discovering the importance of always getting the waist-size of your trousers right.Because you can never tell when you will be the recipient of the orders..'Toa mshipi,nyang'au!'
I knew mine were a few sizes larger,and the belt always kept it in place.Now with the belt in the safe custody of the cops,and with no shoes on,i have to grip one corner of my trousers to keep them from 'dripping' to the floor.And with the kind of guys i'm locked up here with,you never can tell what their minds might come up with,upon seeing a bearded man who's just dropped his pants.
Moshi is snoring soundly on the cold concrete,and i thought i heard him call out to 'Gakii' in his sleep,whom i deduct must be his sweetheart.Even reptiles fall in love.And the evidence to that, is snoring right before me.And as i wait for the next name to be called out by the Afande on O.B,who's meaning i'm yet to know,i pick out the deep bellowing of the O.C.S,now heavily bandaged from head to toe, despite suffering only a bruise on his mid-finger.Then i know we are in some real trouble...

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

IN TRIBUTE TO ALL RURAL WOMEN.GOD BLESS YOU.

She's not had much sleep,yet the sun is almost out.Because Kiracha,her husband,has spent the better part of the night screaming obscenities,to all and sundry in the house and out.He always does that,this husband of hers.Whenever he staggers home from Ngurwaru,the local shopping center,where he spends the day 'hustling' for cup after cup of mugasha,some potent illicit liquor,he embarks on this barrage of screaming and yelling ,to no one in particular.He's not violent,Kiracha.In fact,not even once,has he ever laid a hand on her.Partly because she's stronger than him now,(And he knows it)and also because she feeds him.Somehow.

The rats,mice,cockroaches,even the mosquitoes of the house have long gotten used to his barrage,and don't even stop mating when he shows up.If it wasn't for the noise that he makes,no one would even notice his presence,or lack of it.But tonight he's particularly been noisy,maybe because a local MCA contestant was buying death-tickets for all men at the shopping center,that pass for alcohol.So Jasiri,mother of five,having had enough of the snoring and the foul-breath,turns sharply and gets off the creaky bed.Besides,its time to go milk Kungu,the cow,before Kiracha does so,because when he does,he carries the milk to the shopping center,leaving the kids without breakfast,only to exchange it for mugasha,the local brew.

Ahead,is another full day.Plenty of planning needed.So Jasiri sits on this stone outside her house,gazing at the rising sun,and wondering if,today,it would bring with it some good news.Something different,from all this struggle that she has to endure daily.Briefly.here's what she has to do,before the end of the day...

Jasiri's Day.

After milking her cow,she quickly makes breakfast for her family.A litre of milk should do,so that the other litre,she can sell to the primary school teacher neighbor,who has just stated the second week of their national strike.(They are seeking a five hundred percent pay rise,so they can build more senseless economically nonviable bungalows,filling up whatever land is left in the villages).This she does,because her second born child,a boy,is joining upper primary soon,and this gesture is so that the teacher may remember her kindness,when she shows up in school,child in tow.
After making sure the kids have had breakfast,accompanied by the previous night's left-overs,she's going to send all her kids off to school,except Kamari,the last born kid,who is down with some Malaria.

At around this time,her burden,that pass for a husband,is going to wake up,come staggering outside,and demand for food.And she's going to give it to him....she's used to giving,almost never taking.Then she's going to wait on him as he eats,listening to him criticize her cooking,her methods of tilling land,her inability to milk the cow with finesse,her crude way of cutting nappier grass for the cow.Even her looks,for she has by now,completely forgotten that she too,has a right to look and feel good,as every woman should do.She somehow slid into the role of a farmhand,not a wife and mother,finding these two as luxuries she can ill-afford.She's going to ingest more verbal attacks from this man.as he carefully describes how all the above things ought to be done.
Never even once,has he ever showed the way,if he was that good,always describing in detail,how this and that ought to be done.Jasiri is going to take all that in her stride,and when its over,she's going to see him off.He's going to bark a few more instructions as he troops off,'to attend this meeting with the MCA,in a bid to sound important.He's going to assert,as he leaves,that this aspirant stand s no chance of election,if he was to exempt himself from the campaign trail.But Kiracha goes to no campaign trail...he's always left sprawled at the shopping centre when everyone else has left.Seems his ability to withstand the sting of mugasha is caving in..all it takes is three mugs to 'speak English',four to sing circumcision songs,five to say goodbye to the world and six to 'park the bus'. All that therefore,costs sh60,and its done.He wakes up at night,takes one more so he can see,then heads home to start the screaming session.

Jasiri is going to join the other women,at their Rabbit rearing project,sponsored by some wazungu from Norway.She's going to be there till noon,then head straight back home so the kids coming for lunch may find her there,having already prepared their lunch.Then she's going to get more feed for the cow and the goats...at least the chicken can fend for themselves,of course with the risk of poisoning, should they stray into the neighbor's field.(A neighbor will poison your chicken,then come to listen to your radio saying.....raira is coming soon,i hear.Is he a pitch black as darkness?). She's as hard as an officer from the Special Force,Gilgil.Her life is like a never-ending military drill.Things have to be done at specific times,or the whole family will disintegrate.

In between,she'll somehow manage to clean the house,the kids,plus the homestead.How she does that,nobody knows.She seems to be at all the places at the same time.Her energy is legendary.Its inexhaustible.Some quarters call her the weaker sex.Yet the only weak thing in her is her inability to be weak,in times of adversity.Even when there's nothing to eat,she puts on  a brave face.Probably hoping that tomorrow will be different,better.She long refused to give up.She soldiers on,forgetting herself in the process,as she makes great men and women of the country.She forgot herself.She's the last to eat,even to sleep.Sometimes she'll skip a meal,so Kiracha can eat.All this with a smile on her face.

The Heroine..

Then come Sunday.She's the first at the church compound,so she can help clean it before the 'yoyos' show up with their headphones and CAT shoes,to soil it all over again.In between the preaching,she'll volunteer to cook for the guys in ties at the high table.And serve them,even though she knows they'll criticize the way she is dressed,especially the slight tear on her sweater,which she didn't have the time to fix.Only when the day is over,will she realize that,once again she's served everybody else,and forgot herself.And there will be none left,so she'll smile and head home,this time to cook for her kids.

My intention was to capture Jasiri's daily work.Midway,i realized i couldn't.Because i'm not Jasiri,and i have no idea how she does it.So i quit trying.I quit trying to know how she makes her world turn.All i know is Kiracha would be lost without her.Her kids would melt away in her absence.The family unit depends on her.She carries so much on her shoulders,that it would be impossible to capture it writing.She hardly ever sheds a tear,even when the abuse from Kiracha goes overboard.Even when she's got nothing left to give,she hardly ever cries.Except when in total private,when she prays,for everyone else but her.

When we meet Jasiri and company,let's for once,not keep commenting on her flat shoes and unkept hair.Or shaven head.Because,she's carrying more than we can ever handle.The things she gets done,on virtually nil resources,are vast and wide.No writer can aptly capture it.Choose to see the heroine in her.Choose to help,if you can.And if you can't,please zip up and walk away...she's had enough as it is,without more of your comments.

 Glowing Tribute.

Today,i pay glowing tribute,to all women out there.All mothers who keep giving,forgetting to take.This day may be insignificant to them,they don't even know its here.Not much recognition goes their way,because even in all these social functions,all they do is cook for you and serve you.Then they sit at the back,flat on the ground,as you sit on the chairs they carried.Then they'll eat what you've left.Then they'll smile at you,as you hop into your fancy cars,for that drive back to the capital,as you complain about the taste of the water they served you.Sometimes you throw a few coins of appreciation to their direction,and they,in turn pray for you.So you can have more.So you can drive safe,so you can be more healthy,even as they make do with pain-killers,to treat that backpain that never goes away.These women are special.

For all that its worth,Mamas of rural Africa...i'm proud of you.God bless you richly.He's proud of you,too.Amen.