Closing Day

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Sometimes when I’m in shags I wake up in the dead of the night and stumble out of my Simba to meet an unyielding wall of darkness outside. Into a complete silence often broken by a distance howl of a dog, amplified down the valley. I sleep naked – I think I have said this before and so there is no need to keep repeating it here –  which means because the toilets are a distance away from my Simba, I always stand stark naked and take a wee against the hedge near my Simba. 

I stand there, a naked silhouette, and feel like an extension of the darkness. I feel the darkness move through me. At that hour, the night is usually very still, as if holding its breath. I often look up at the dark blue sky and feel immense freedom, an inexplicable oneness with nature. There isn’t anywhere I have been to that made me feel like I belong to the earth other than those nights in shags, peeing against that fence under that dark ominous sky.  

We don’t have night runners in Kendu-Bay. I have heard about the legend but I have never seen or experienced one. Often when I’m standing at that fence, I imagine one hurling cow dung at me from the darkness. Feeling the air shift as the load of cow dung approaches me at a night-running velocity. Then splash, against my chest followed by a sharp, soprano laughter from the darkness. More like a shriek. 

Of course this never happens. No nightrunners. 

I’d make my way back to the Simba and stand outside for a moment to take in the night. I’d direct my gaze up to the looming main house with its dark windows; my dad and his wife asleep inside. Next to it, Jane, my dead mom, asleep as well in her final resting place. I’d stand there and stare hard towards the direction of the grave and hope to see a sign, a shape, a spirit, my mom’s spirit, standing there, waving at me, probably mouthing, ‘shave, Biko, you look like a bum.’ But of course nothing of this sort ever happens and I’d go back to bed and read for an hour until sleep sweeps me down the dark river of unconsciousness. 

I’m taking Tamms and Kim to the village in a couple of days. You know, so that they can know ‘where they are from’ and all that jazz. This was greatly informed by a conversation I had with Kim. I asked him, “Kim, where are you from?’ and he said, “Thika.” It felt like I had been stabbed with a kitchen knife. I was alarmed! I said, “You are not from Thika, Kimani! You are from Kendu-Bay!” 

“No,” he retorted adamantly, “Me, I’m from Thika.” 

Me, I? You can’t say Me, I’m from Thika. You say, me I’m from Kendu-Bay.”

So I gave him an orientation. I told him he’s half from Kendu-Bay but half from Maragua. “But the Kendu-Bay half is the one that comes first.”

“Why?” He asked. 

I hadn’t anticipated that the conversation would get this far, I thought he’d offer unequivocal obedience. Because I didn’t have a satisfactory answer, I said, “Because Kendu-Bay is further than Maragua.” Then because I believe in scorched earth policy, I added, “you can cycle to Maragua and be back in Nairobi by four-PM tea time. But not with Kendu-Bay.”

“How long will it take?”

“To cycle to Kendu-Bay?”

“Yeah.”

“You can’t. You shouldn’t.” I said. “Look, just remember that you are from Kendu-bay first. OK?”

He looked at me. He didn’t seem convinced, but he saw that his honest answers were wounding me, that I bruised easily. So to save both of us and for the sake of world peace, he said, ‘OK’. 

But what good is being from Kendu-Bay first if you don’t know a thing about Kendu-Bay? That’s why we are going. The last time they were in my shags was seven years ago so I’m more excited than they are. We will stand over my mom’s grave and pray. We will wake up and drink tea with bread spread with BlueBand and groundnuts wedged on it. If they won’t have nightmares or cry or report this to their mom, they will watch a sheep being slaughtered. There is that blank, glassy look of a slaughtered sheep that doesn’t leave you. It always stays with you. Maybe watching that might not be a great idea, because, what if God forbid, they turn vegan? I can’t think of anything worse. To think they will be those people who look at a menu for too long as the waiter stands there waiting, pen ready, because waiters have the whole day. 

I will take them to the river where I learnt to swim over the August holidays. River Awach, a brown frothing menace that boils from Kisii. My older cousins would hurl us in the torrential water and it was up to you to sink or swim. I’m here, so I obviously chose to swim. I will take them to watch the sunset at the jetty in Old Town where ships ferrying goods would dock in the 80s. I don’t suppose Tamms will wake up that early seeing as it’s greatly unfashionable for teenagers to wake up before 11am. I will stop the car outside Gendia Mission Hospital and tell them, “my mom died in there ten years ago,” and hope not to dissolve into tears. Tamms was four, so she’s a fading memory of her. Kim just knows her as the woman in the picture, like the way we know photos of Kwame Nkrumah. I will take them to see my grandmother and watch in amusement as they try to communicate in an impossible mix of Luo and English and an occasional very tattered Swahili held together by a thin string of desperation. But they will somehow understand each other because the greatest language is love. 

My only regret is that I won’t be able to sleep naked because I will share a bed with Kim who thinks that somehow there is a bogeyman out there, a monster,  who might ignore all of us and steal him in the middle of the night. I will go to bed in very small shorts, like those tiny shorts that rugby players wear, only mine won’t be made from canvas. Thankfully, Kim, like me, is  a cuddler so it works out fine. 

My bags are packed. My spirit is already ahead in the village sitting under a tree, only my body remains in the city, tying the annoying loose ends. 

Today is Closing Day here. [Reminds me of the song ‘Closing Time’ by Semisonic

It’s been a good year, mostly because we are alive and we are healthy and we are favoured.

Thanks for your patronage. For reading. And commenting. And Liking. And sharing. I appreciate you. May all the roads you desire to walk on rise to meet you. 

Remember, everything in moderation. Hydrate. Eat veggies. Kiss with your eyes closed. Ignore the complementary nuts in bars. Don’t eat avocado with sugar. Laugh without covering your mouth. Don’t drink and drive or get into vehicles driven by drinking drivers. Take a moment to thank whatever God you pray to. 

Happy holidays, Gang. 

See you next year.  Inshallah. 

As customary, the last person should switch off the lights here. 

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164 Comments
    1. And to the rest of le gang who are planning to ‘eat their Christmas’ in the city, should you need your chapati manenos sorted out during this season, kindly get in touch with Rossette for delicious homemade chapos for family meals and events. Happy holidays
      [email protected]

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  1. Hi Biko,I bought 2 books from Marketplace yesternight,the money was deducted but I have not received any details concerning my purchase.

    Is there a number I could call to straighten that out?

    Please help. These were meant to be Christmas presents.

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  2. Bags packed and waiting By the door. If you really want to go it’s alright. Don’t worry about le’gang darling we’ll get by. But we’ll need someone to hold us when we cry

    Happy holidays

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  3. Please never stop giving us our weekly dose of your adept writing, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Also when is the Opening Day? Ama it will come like a thief?

    Happy holidays!

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  4. Happy Christmas everyone! Best wishes, joy, and success in 2023. @Biko have enjoyed reading your articles all year, and looking forward to continue next year. Have a blast with your peeps in Kendu Bay!

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  5. The last time they were in Kendu Bay was seven years ago? Seven bloody years?!?!? (wait….twelve minus seven carry one…. THAT’S 2015!!!) And they know Maragua, their mother’s shags, as their shags? Brother, you need to take more charge.

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  6. Happy holidays. Also teach the kids how to eat whole fish with bones and all. They should become masters by the time they live Kendu Bay

  7. Next time you are in Kendu-Bay pass by our homestead, or better ask your Uncle Henry Aneno) where we reside. Our homestead is next to your Grandma’s home. Cheers.

  8. Never thought a time would come when the end of an year would be celebrated by reading a ‘Closing Day’ post.
    But one gets old and there are no illusions of Christmas and New Year holidays any longer.
    So we celebrate you, Biko, and say thank you.

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  9. “Don’t drink and drive or get into vehicles driven by drinking drivers. Take a moment to thank whatever God you pray to. ” Best advice hapo!!

    Happy holidays Biko to you and yours!

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  10. I’ve always eaten avocado with sugar. I don’t know any other way and I’m not willing to learn. Avocados are best eaten with sugar and a drizzle of lemon juice.

    Why are we leaving Christ out when this holiday is specifically to honor Him, and commemorate the Savior’s birth. It should be “Have a Merry Christmas” or “Have a Christ-filled Christmas.” We have other breaks during the year to say ‘Happy Holidays.’
    Jesus Christ is the Reason for this Season. Have a blessed 2023!

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    1. Avocado with sugar?? What are you? A cannibal? Jeez. You belong to the same WhatsApp group with grown men and women who eat ugali with ‘njahi’ soup! I mean! Anyways, who am I to judge? At least you eat avocado.

      To one and all, happy holidays. I thank all those who took a minute to visit a certain small blog (markalphy.wordpress.com). Y’all put a smile in my heart.

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      1. Wewe Mark,
        Where does cannibal come in when talking about avocado with sugar? That was the old school way before millenials glamorized it. It was eaten either with sugar or salt. Ask your pops or auntie.
        Alafu Njahi was just chilling then BOOM!

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    2. weuuh, never seen ovacado eaten this way, this is a real closing day, Biko didn’t have a mention of Christ because for all we have to care there is a percent that don’t do Christmas, Biko is us all.
      Merry Christmas

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      1. Unfortunately Mercy,
        I think it is one of the stealthy things the ‘woke’ agenda is about. Just casually slip in things when no one is looking and push for it to become mainstream. We are NOT boarding.

        Christmas is a Christian celebration and season. There should be no political correctness or inclusiveness in it. None at all!
        It wasn’t an easy thing for God to humble Himself and come in the flesh to redeem mankind, so we celebrate His Birth with our full chest.
        Merry CHRIST-mas!

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        1. To each their own Caroline. One’s “truth/belief” is not necessarily another’s. I am 100% unwoke and 100% nonreligious/nonbeliever. Woke or unwoke, it is what it is.

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  11. May all the roads you desire to walk on rise to meet you.– You too Sir. Your diligence is very much appreciated. Happy holidays Uncle Biko. Ugandans love you!

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  12. A very happy season to you Biko. Thanks for keeping us particularly me entertained with so much life lessons. Do have a great stay when finally your body meets the spirit under the tree.
    My son 12 always fearing a monster that for some reason he thinks will only pick him up and not us. ( you put this so well)
    May all your dreams come true. Happy holidays.

  13. wow have liked the writing throughout they make part of my memorable readings. happy holidays as you go to the village. Enjoy

  14. Memories of home and the past and folks who’ve been gone some years… Why do they love coming back around the festive season?

  15. Merry Christmas and Happy holidays! Biko. Thank you for making us laugh through this maze of life! Always taking few minutes to breath more life into my bones! God bless you and Cheers!

  16. Biko!!!
    Thank you for a wonderful year filled with your reads! This is an addiction! A good one though

    The children will love Dala! That gene is so strong you’ll be amazed!

    Enjoy your Christmas and New Year 2023!
    Looking forward to more beautiful reads from you! May you be inspired!!!

    Cheers!!!

  17. Happy holidays Biko and thanks you for entertaining us the whole year. For sure what is a Tuesday without a story from you. Enjoy the village and pass our regards to Tamms and Kim. See you next year inshalla!

  18. Biko this is a beautiful read. Hata I’ve pictured myself in Kendu Bay. I’ll Google it later.

    So it ok to say Me, I’m from Kendu Bay but grammatically incorrect when your are from Thika.
    Kimani, “I am from Kendu Bay”, is what your pops should be teaching you. And yes if you have a Blackie, you can cycle to KB.

    Na hiyo stori ya slaughtering kondoo, tupilia mbali.
    Heads up just buy data bundles for Tams and be prepared to talk to (at) her bent head and nape.

    Thank you Biko and your team for sharing your time with us.
    Tunasema ni asante na Mungu akubariki.

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  19. Such a beautiful read! Happy holidays to you too Biko. Looking forward to reading you next year. God willing, we’ll meet here next year on opening day.

  20. I resonate with the bit that you write about your mother. Thank you for being my uncle & big brother .
    The lights should remain on,lest someone decides to walk in their birthday suit.
    Adios muchacho.

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  21. I’ll have to come to River Awach to scout and plan a kayak trip.

    Thanks for a great year of reading. It’s a tradition now that I have to read every Tuesday.

    Enjoy your holiday.

  22. And just like that the curtain closes on 2022; and we’re still here, thankfully. Thanks Biko, and happy holidays. Adios 2022. Bonjour 2023 and may life be kind to us

  23. Safe journey Biko to Kendu-Bay. Thika will never be the land of your ancestors. Thank you for bringing smiles to our frowned faces in 2022. May i have the pleasure of switching off the lights? The Gang thank you too. May 2023 conspire with greatness to each one of us.

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  24. “Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.”

    It’s a blessing being able to take your kids to ushago because those memories will live with them forever. Some of us our ushago is thousands of miles away hence we reminiscent through your stories. Thank you and God bless.

  25. Happy Holidays Biko and your clan! The kids will definitely enjoy ushago. Umekawia mno kuwapeleka! Make it at least a Bi-annual thing.

  26. Thank you for being consistent Biko.
    Let them walk barefoot and listen to folklore from their grandpa on the family history ( tree).
    Soak in these moments.
    Merry Christmas.

  27. “Me, I? You can’t say Me, I’m from Thika. You say, me I’m from Kendu-Bay.”
    High level humor right there haha.
    This blog has singlehandedly made Tuesday my favorite weekday. Thankyou for your art. Looking forward to more tales next year.

  28. Thank you for an amazing read all year round Biko. Much love from Nigeria.❤️
    Thank God for this year, I pray next year brings more blessings and light to everyone in Jesus’ name.

    I’ll do the honors of turning off the lights

  29. Happy Holidays Chocolate Man!
    Like you I have to assert that half and half story in my house. I have successfully managed to make my tribe the first half 🙂
    I will NOT ignore the complimentary nuts from Kioko. No way! But I will hydrate. And of course I will kiss with my eyes closed 🙂

  30. Merry Christmas (note, not x mass, No cancelling Christ out of this season, it’s all about Him). May Jehovah Instruct you in the path ordained for you!

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  31. Great holidays to you Biko and the Gang, especially those that don’t type “First comment”.
    Thank you for the year. May your aspirations come true too.

  32. Merry Christmas Biko! Asante sana for your consistent hard work this year. Very impressive and veery funny! Such clever sense of humor!!

    Thanks Le gang for all your comments. I read nearly each and every one… this blog is not complete without the comments!!

    My only fear about turning off the lights here is that Biko might come in at 2.00am, naked, and pee in the dark. And we kent have that, ken we?

    God bless y’all.

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  33. Samahani, ila nimekuja kung’oa fuse! I can’t find the switch aise!
    A most blessed Christmas and a great new year ahead to you Biko and everyone here as well.
    Barakaz!

  34. Happy holidays. Been silent on commenting since the year began, but I’ve enjoyed every article always looking forward to Tuesday’s. It couldn’t just come to an end without making use of my keyboard to comment. This has been a good year on reading generally. Thanks Biko.. Happy holidays… If you are really looking forward to that experience with night runners lemme summon my people from Alego to do something for you; it wont hurt anyway lol. Happy holidays.

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  35. they will understand each other cause the greatest language is love… happy holidays Biko, our Tuesdays would not be the same without you.

  36. Looking forward to more articles. Keep up the good job!
    Happy holidays and may all roads that you desire to walk on rise unto your direction too.

  37. Happy holidays Biko. Grateful that you have kept us through the year with your hilarious masterpiece every Tuesday. Looking forward for more in 2023.

  38. Lights off, blessings to the new year. But remember, don’t eat Avocado with sugar. I hope Kim and Tamm get to enjoy Kendu Bay

  39. Interesting read. Biko, my fondest hope is that your kids learn the Luo language or the gist of it. Ni lugha tamu, maze..
    Love how it rolls of the tongue.

  40. Happy holidays Biko, I am also from HB County and actually passed by Gendia Mission Hospital just the other day, take the kids there more often.. its a beautiful place.

  41. Well strung out as usual,

    Closing day for some was 23rd, a ridiculous him from the education sector and migrant kenyan community.
    The night sky was on the highway, not jolly as Biko’s by the hedge, but with a runner never the less whispering journey mercys.

    Reading we shall and memories keep to raising this toast.
    “Fill to me the Parting Glass, Celtic Woman”

    Here we are….. switching off the 2022 lights, lets waltz on to 2023

  42. Happy new year , I pray in this coming year to meet you as I do a master class wit you. My spirit has been aching to write and I believe you will take me there. Blessings and miracles to you and yours

  43. Happy new year Biko even though it feels pretty old right now hehe I was catching up after a brief hiatus. Hiyo story ya shamba boys has reminded me about our struggles with househelps especially this January, it’s total madness. I hope you found your match though 😉