Yeah, yes, it’s me again. EDDY ASHIOYA. Biko is away, in shags somewhere, fussing over his grass or pigeons. Old age, things. Anyway, I’m holding forte here. I haven’t forgotten the directions to this place, even if the rain suggests I should rather be in bed, preferably not alone—with some irredentist African author by my side. I see things haven’t changed much here. The TV’s remote power button remains jammed eh? The house feels the same. You still have the same hideous curtains and vyombo za wageni are rotting in the wall unit. Kwani you guys never have visitors?
Things have been happening in my life since we last spoke. For instance, I just discovered that my plumber is not actually my plumber—the plumber I hired subcontracted another plumber. He is a broker. Do you know you can never be a millionaire by being a broker? No? The clue is in the name, ‘broke-r’.
Also, I started a podcast. Podcasting is therapy for men. I know, I know. You can roll your eyes now. I’m trying to grow a stubble on my face, ‘trying’ the operative word. However, there’s room for me to grow…financially. There is also the looming reminder of my age or ageing to contend with lately. One day I was a bustling 21-year-old with the world at my feet, now I am 29 with the weight of the world on my shoulders. Okay, I exaggerate but you get the point. I am having an existential crisis this being the last year of my 20s. The other day while riding (my bicycle), I tweaked my knee. I felt the kind of pain that only a man from Western could feel when he is informed that unga ya ugali imeisha. Got betrayed by that old Judas kiss. Now I am about to become that creature that walks with plastic water bottles, chia seeds, and next-of-kin cards in my pocket. How is my youth losing its sheen that fast?
I remember 21, when the world was my oyster? But at 21 I was wet behind the ears, still fascinated with videos of how porcupines have sex, and whatnot. I was a bozo. Now? I feel old-fashioned, or old-school, or just old. Like a species facing extinction, my millennial generation is pure Tyrannosaurus Rex. Life, eh? One day you’re young, the next you’re an old fart, talking about how it was better in your day. This is often the tragedy of wunderkind: gilded youth yields often to leaden middle age. Mark you, at 21 I was running around arguing who between J Cole and Kendrick Lamar is the greatest rapper of all time. Honest to God, the answer is J. Cole.
If 21 smelled of fresh roses and lilies, like the wet end of August, then 29 smells like Blue Band and white bread, like mint aftershave and old books, both ravishing and shocking, a fire opal dissolving in a ripple-ringed pool. If 21 smells like God’s garage, then 29 is the devil’s breath, when he’s just had kitunguu saumu. I am a deer in headlights.
What really bothers me at 29? Mostly whether I want to have kids. Should I have kids? Can I even have kids? Do you know how rampant ED is among men my age? It’s like the universe is willing me to clone my DNA and get my own Dolly The Sheep. I have this blasphemous baby fever. I am afraid if my eyes linger on someone’s daughter a little too long she will catch belle. But it’s not looking good, brev.
I was not the Wikipedia version of ‘restrained’ on campus, so if my math is right, I think I may have emptied all the engineers, tech bros, and scientists by now. I presume all I have left are forex traders and DJs—no offense to DJs. Scratch that, anyone can be a DJ nowadays. The smoke, suffice to say, has refused to bellow from my house that this is the year I will have children. And not because I can’t muster the strength. Contrary. I think I still have a good back, and despite what someone’s daughter may tell you, I am not always in a hurry. Speed kills, they say?
Since I am at that point in my life where my friends are having children on purpose, I decided to do a free trial version by becoming a plant parent—plarent. I got myself a snake plant, a succulent and a cactus, which are like the Kevo, Brayo and Stevos of plants. These are plants that can survive the holocaust, absenteeism and Nairobi. Do you know how tough you have got to be to survive Nairobi? The most challenging part about growing plants is finding the right amount of sunlight needed. But come on. This is Kanairo, where buildings rise like hosannas and sit side by side like passengers in a matatu, and when no one’s looking, you can feel the KICC stretch its hand inside the Times Tower pockets . Everyone works hard for the soft life here, you can make it but it much more makes you. It is here that I am raising my plants in Kafkaesque conditions, and they have survived, nay, thrived.
Plarenting is the perfect next step for people like me, who aren’t responsible enough to have kids, a breathing dog, or an uncracked screen protector, but who want to give everything they’ve got to some lucky Moi Avenue houseplant. (For instance: I kicked off my HELB debt and celebrated by borrowing another 10k to go and spoil myself. Thug life at its absolute finest.) For several months now, I had the perfect template on how to raise my plants: with kidogo attention, hard labour, and a curt word now and then so they can have something to talk about with their therapist.
That reminds me of something that puts all this into perspective. I was watching YouTube, and in between videos of how to talk to hippos and how porcupines have sex, the screen went blank, an apt metaphor for my life then. I started wondering whether I really will be a billionaire and buy my mother the LandRover I promised her when I was seven. Seven! Who the hell holds a seven-year-old to their word? People can be callous out here.
Will I really be a billionaire? I have read everything Stephen R. Covey said in the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People.’ Heck, I even had a stint with Dale Carnegie’s, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. Don’t even get me started on Gifted Hands; which if you are my friend Maish from Kerugoya Boys’ High School I think you misunderstood the meaning of gifted hands and took liberties with the title.
I think about what turning 30 will mean for me and my dreams, and what not having a billion will mean about raising a family. Where will we live? My guy at Ardhi House (see, Dale Carnegie worked) tells me that the only land left is the acres of forehead on Nairobi girls’ heads. I mean, haven’t we by now sold all the 50 by 100 plots in Ruai, Kamulu and Joska?
And you know you haven’t made it in Kenya until you have a kamugunda somewhere, anywhere, that you can call your own, even if the area is tucked so far away in the armpits of Kenya that it may as well be called the wilderness. This explains why that Jekyll and Hyde duo, those lippy chaps of Classic 105, the original deux vultures, police and robber, Maina and King’ang’i, talk about land the way only certain types of men can talk about land, and sell plots of said land, and King’ang’i, dropping an accent that sounds like yesterday’s gazeti, and Maina, whiskey-loving Maina, like a woman fluttering her eyelashes, laughing at everything King’ang’i says while insisting that this kaplot is the real deal, take it before-you-know-who grabs it, this land in Ruai, Kamulu and Joska, only 50 meters from the expressway and 5 mins from Nairobi National Park—with 24/7 kanjo water—don’t wait to buy, buy and wait.
I stayed in Utawala for 13 years before gava did its makeup tutorial with the expressway. I tell you the whole of that Eastern bypass axis flatters to deceive: if Utawala is the goat wife, Ruai is the other woman; Kamulu, meanwhile, flickers with all the enthusiasm of the guy who fumbles for is wallet when the bill arrives, but has no intention of actually getting it out. Joska? The less we say about Joska, the better. Joska does not have good SEO.
Will I really raise an upright child in Nairobi? Nairobi, this city of sharp elbows, unnecessary club photography and a reputation somewhat below that of a Nigerian pen pal. As my youth, nay, my days of hot grabba and passa passa (you too?) recede in the background like poorly drawn mascara, I see now that 29 is like being in a scene of a dingy Italian mafia movie in Sicily where the Don is about to finish off someone for sleeping with his daughter (great movie idea) with a butter knife—you still haven’t watched ‘The Godfather’ si ndio?
Which leads us to where I really wanted to have taken you in the first place. We have been racy the whole article. Why stop now? Look, I am a boobs guy. You may call me petty but I absolutely refuse to share someone’s daughter’s boobs with a child. No way, jose. I know they are a bundle of joy, but guess what? Boobs are my bundle of joy. That children, despite being sweet and cuddly and coy, could easily be Satan toddling in a nappy. I like children. But I like them in bits. Especially when they are not mine. You know? Use the tools but don’t worship the delivery guy.
Which naturally brings us to their mother. Kenyan ladies have been making and breaking men’s dreams longer than network marketing and cryptocurrencies. The gilded lineage, the familiar faces, the comfort of continuity: this is the comfort of dating, but also its curse. Will she leave the door open when she is in the toilet? Will she wear Safaricom “Twaweza” t-shirts in bed? Who—and this is a very pertinent matter—takes the last piece of ugali? At 21, you don’t care; at 29, these are the straws that break your back. The implications resonate in dark poetry.
Remember what I said about my big head? There was a method to the madness. I think about having a baby, and I think about someone’s daughter pushing this big head of mine out of her and I shudder. Maybe she does eventually push the baby out, and what would you know, we have us another DJ. Does the world really need more DJs?
Before you start with the tasteless age is just a number, hold on Methuselah. I am not 30. At least not yet. So just like the sahani ya wageni, can anyone here recommend good zinc supplements? And for the Gen Z turning their noses, ni sisi ndio tuko.