What a long weekend. What a weekend of nothingness. Of void. Of blankness. Of culinary debauchery.
I ate bread. Lots of bread. I lay on the carpet. I opened the fridge without any purpose other than to stare into it blankly, the frost on my face. I pretended momentarily that it was winter. I read a bit, about a hunter who goes for his ex-wife’s book reading and stuffy democrats in bowties ask him, don’t you feel bad killing animals for sport and he stood at the window looking out and muttered, no.
That made me chuckle alone.
I read stories of Syria and how death visits them daily and I wondered how people get over war and death. Wondered if those children will ever live normally again after the terror of bombs and soldiers and tanks rattling outside their homes and drunk Russian soldiers screaming for the blood of their fathers.
I watered my plants. Yes, I’ve become that annoying guy with plants. I’m insufferable. Soon I will start talking to them. And naming them.
I read an old magazine.
My cousin came over in white jeans and later Magunga knocked on the door with a bottle of whisky in hand and we had drinks until darkness crowded us. All this time I was making a mental note to start writing but…procrastination. Then I wondered why I was stressed while the bunch of you were probably having barbeques and drinks or in shags with your parents or at some rooftop bar having cocktails and I thought, aarh, why should I forgo my Easter holidays while they are having fun? What’s the worst that will happen on Tuesday, apart from them calling me lazy and a punk?
But then I texted Tony Mochama on Whatsapp because we haven’t spoken in ages and Tony’s love language is being looked for. I said, hey Brosky – because I think Tony thinks he’s Russian, which is the wrong time to be Russian. He said, you have telepathy, I was just thinking about you right now! [Roll eyes]. He said, look you have to read that chick, she really has it. He’d been sending me stuff to read from a young writer called Gloriah and I have not gotten round to it. So I went to my email and read it and I just needed to read the first paragraph to know that this is the lady I had been looking for. The one that replaces Eddie.
I called her and said, Gloriah, I have just read your first paragraph and you have it. I can tell. She said, Who is this? I said, Biko. She said Wow, thank you, but why don’t you read the rest of it?
I didn’t have to but I did and I was right. Her writing reminds me of a writer called Lisa Taddeo. There is a bit of Norah Ephron in her. Her voice is brilliant.
I called her back and said, so how do we dispose of Eddie? She said, let’s smash his head against a wall. I laughed loudly and said, “I like you. You do the smashing, I will look away.”
Ladies and gentlemen, Eddie’s replacement is here, Gloriah Amondi. But first, Eddie wants to say his goodbye. Eddie?
Conspiracy theories of Biko and Gloriah (with a h *yawns*) aside, who would have thought? That it would come to this? Me bring ‘replaced’ on a gloomy Tuesday morning as the sky is pushed further and further by the stiff hands of the swelling cumulonimbus clouds? I bet Gloriah-with-a-h doesn’t remember Geography class! I’m not jealous. They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. But when the student is truly ready, the teacher disappears. It’s time for me to go and build my own simba, have my own shed where I can put a sunroof in my thingira because I am extra like that. Besides, it’s shameful for a man like me to get a little jealous that I am being replaced. Sigh. Yet, please treat her as good as you treated me, remember to laugh at all her jokes and let’s meet in the streets. Promise not to cry, I’m looking at you Meryl Achieng’. This is not goodbye, this is see you later, alligators.
PS: The only thing she is not allowed to change here are those curtains that I (we?) bought. Cost me a kidney or two. Capisce?
Over to you, Gloriah-with-a-h.
MY ALPHABET WOMEN
By Gloriah Amondi, 26.
A was a short, dark, stout girl from Ecuador. We met at a Festival during the summer of 2015 in Italy. She had soft, Somali-like hair and sometimes – because of the effect of the Spanish language- she spoke with a faint lisp. She would say, ‘thaw’ instead of ‘saw’ or ‘thmall’ instead of ‘small’. That shouldn’t have been a problem, except, you’ll be surprised how many small things she saw in a day. She had beautiful, light brown eyes, and in the entire time we spent in Italy, she was always in a denim short and waist bag. She liked me very much, but we almost often needed someone (who could speak both Spanish and English) around for us to have a proper conversation. I remember most of our conversations went something like:
Her: Glory, today manyana I went to the beach and gracias amigos con migo despascito la casa de papel mi casa su casa.
On the last day of the program, she left me a letter under my pillow which I never got to read because I was at a party that entire night, and in the morning, being in a hurry to catch my flight, I left without seeing it. Five weeks later, she texted me on Facebook.
Glory, did you get my letter?
C was my sister’s neighbour. She fancied herself as the tough, popular, neighborhood dyke. She boasted about her imaginary conquests—big, rich, married, sexually-deprived women. She told tales of how these women would beg her to be exclusive with them and some would even stalk her after, and how she would have to threaten or block some of them. She told me about how they would give her a lot of money, and how she would refuse to take it. She told me of the young, beautiful women who went crazy about her and how they would throw themselves at her. She endlessly counted the women living in their building with whom she had done things with. When she came to my sister (who had just gotten her first baby) she scoffed and said, “Huyo anajifanya mgumu.”
I went to bed with her the very day I met her, but only because I needed her to stop talking, but once I got off her, she went on and on endlessly, and could not stop herself.
As I was leaving, she held my hand and said proudly, “Eti sasa niko na hubby lawyer!”
I never visited my sister after that weekend until a year later when she had moved.
I met J on the second day of a summer camp in Beijing in 2018. A lovely Canadian from Quebec, she lived across the lake in Ottawa in a small apartment with her rabbit and her boyfriend (one of the two—either the rabbit or the boyfriend is called Dominik). She was tall, with brown eyes, shoulder-length hair which she often held in a low ponytail. She had the incredible ability to look both like a sophisticated, adequately haunted artist and an apprentice at a carpenter’s shop. She played and taught harp in Ottawa, but in the ensemble that summer, she had picked Guzheng—the traditional Chinese string musical instrument that is plucked. J was also possibly the nicest woman I have ever been with. She was also an artist, which gave her a lot of points above the others. We could have hit it off properly, but we were having love-related problems with different people at that camp. Years later, we’ve still maintained contact. Every year on her birthday, I invite her over on Facebook and promise to host her. Last year, she said:
“…a lot of things have happened since we talked…now it’s only me and Dominik,” and I couldn’t tell whether she was single or pet-less. I was afraid to ask.
The 19-year-old T almost ruined my life. I will NOT talk about her here, or anywhere. Ever!
V was the church girl, and my first proper girl. I was 19, in that exhilarating post-KCSE year. Although we never really got to do anything, other than privately hold hands and awkwardly kiss behind the make-shift lavatories during a 5-day church camp at a national park near Voi, I could not get her out of my mind for weeks after. But V was also many other things—she was a nicely plump, well-shaped girl, and often, she got so many advances; she was a proud, semi-out (she had come out to everyone except her family, and church relations) rebellious, person who didn’t believe in anything other than confidently taking up spaces that belong to her. On the contrary, I was a young, thin, odd-looking, naïve, village girl who had just moved to the city for university. Above all, V was my cousin’s crush, and I only found out because he came to me to warn me about people starting to get suspicious about us, except his eyes were full of envy, not concern.
She blamed me later for having been a coward, and years later when she randomly bumped into me at a club in Westlands with a girl I had just met there, she accused me of pretending to have liked her. Unlike the day I told my cousin that I would hold her hand anyway, this time I didn’t say anything, and she looked terribly convinced about both my cowardice and betrayal of her.
There are others, of course. Those that I deliberately left out of the list for different reasons. There are some like M who belonged to me only for a night. G with whom I could have had a proper life had I not been blinded by the foolish pride of youth. There are others like S and L with whom our paths crossed, warmly, for a few hours as we performed our parts in someone else’s theater of pleasure. There was a pretty lass, K, whom I sat across the table from (she had come as a third wheel to a couple’s safari rally fantasy last June) and we silently exchanged first, glances then desire then hopes and even promises in a camp in Naivasha before I lured her to my modest hotel room in Elementaita where we drank gin, and smoked weed, and passed out before we could do anything really meaningful.
In the morning, actually at the crack of dawn (ha ha, pardon the dirty pun), her couple were at the reception, having called her continuously at some point, pretending to be concerned that she had been ‘kidnapped’ (but in reality, I think the Man Part of the couple was scared the third wheel of his tri-fantasy had fallen off on the roadside, and now he wasn’t going to get to ride his tricycle). Others are strangers whose names I will never know, with whom nothing happened but whose faces shine brightly and stubbornly in my mind, at first, before they suddenly become a blur and are reduced to a mass of faint, vaguely sad memories. Then there was E with whom I could have raised a family. But that’s just how life is. And in the end, there’s only me.
Isn’t that who we’re left with?
Last Call. We are leaving town for the creative writing masterclass. Going to frolic in words at Enashipai Resort for two nights and three days. And have Singleton cocktails in the evenings as we stare into a bonfire under a starless sky. Maybe someone will sing. Maybe not. Silence is also good. Register for the class HERE.
Or maybe, to get DRUNK before THURSDAY, click HERE.