In my earlier years, my fantasies were mostly of me sporting an old Stetson hat in a world riddled with mistrust and treachery. I fantasised about being a secret agent, with the CID, stalking criminals in smoky bars with loud jukeboxes and louder yahoos chugging warm frothy Tuskers. I went about with a gun tucked in a holster behind me and observed the debauchery under the brim of my low-hanging hat. I didn’t own a car but rode at the back of buses, staring blankly out windows and slept with assious women who wore flowery dresses and floral scents, who thought I was a teacher. Then the fantasies transformed to me going to the battlefield to fight someone else’s war while ignoring the strife in my own heart. In some of my fantasies I’m seated on a wooden bench at an old petrol station, hat perched on my right knee, waiting for a woman who was to arrive in a dusty bus that resembled an OTC. [That’s an old bus company of the 80s]. Even though it’s hot, I’m wearing a coat that is seeing its last days, its buttons long gone.
The bus eventually arrives and men and women and children and chickens get off and suddenly I realise the bus is empty and the love of my life isn’t on the bus. My heart is suddenly sick with fear and foreboding. I drag myself to the place where I live, on a hill, the metaphorical hill of love I intend to die on. A few days later I receive a letter from her. It’s a short, heartless letter. She says simply that it’s over, she found another love. That he’s loving and caring and emotionally mature…unnecessarily cruel [and useless] information. “Please don’t wait for me. Go on with your life. I wish you well.” She concludes the letter. But I don’t go on with my life, not immediately at least. I mop and listen to sad music and think of all the things I hated about her which all end up making me cry.
I still fantasise. In most of my fantasies now I’m alone. Alone on a boat. Alone in a house with creaking floors. Alone in bed, reading by the soft glow of a lamp. Alone napping in a hammock under a tree, ignoring a fly on my cheek. Alone with a labrador with brown eyes, that always walks by my side. Of hours and hours on a computer writing very strange dialogues of characters running away from themselves. Of losing sleep and sitting on the verandah, staring into vacuous darkness. In those fantasies, I don’t have a mobile phone. I have something like a modern landline that rings from a wall and I mostly ignore it. Or sometimes when it rings in the middle of the night I stumble naked and bleary-eyed to it and when I answer it, it’s Tamms on the other line, or Kim, and they are not here, they are somewhere far away, backpacking or living an alternative life of bravery and curiosity, maybe even living in a community that believes only in the power of the sun. Or they are doing shit I don’t understand.
“Papa, why don’t you ever pick up your phone? Or get a normal phone like normal people!” She will complain. “I have been calling you for two days now!”
I will scratch my beard and mumble something about having been away in the forest spending days with a traditional medicine man. “Where are you?” I will ask.
“You know I can’t tell you, I’m with the secret police now.”
The older I get the smaller I want my world to shrink. You must have read about the famous chef, Francis Mallman who, although he owns many Michelin star restaurants, does not own a thing. Lives on a strange island, cooking traditionally and drinking wine and hosting curious people. He shuns worldly possessions. He spends a lot of time reading poetry, painting and playing the guitar. I also admire Macharia who lives in a wooden house in Elementaita and spends his days doing manly chores; burning bricks, chopping wood, building another structure, mulling over his windmill, searching for a warthog that has been terrorising his dogs, drinking whisky from a teacup, driving with his dogs to the lake where he meets some lost souls from Nairobi for a drink and a smoke. There is Amani Maranga who packed his shit and moved to Diani to live a small life. Once in a while I call him and ask him enviously; how is it? Who are your neighbours? Can you see the beach from there? Do you miss Nairobi? Have you made friends? Are you happy? What does Diani smell like at night when you stand outside your house? Were you scared when moving? What scared you? Or the very intrepid and vivacious Beatrice Imathiu who moved out in Nanyuki and who lives in a small ranch and builds wooden houses and talks to the trees he’s planted. “Imathiu, can you see Mt Kenya this morning?” I will Whatsapp her and she will respond with a picture of the mountain and a caption, “I can always see Mt Kenya from my living room.” Or Eddie Kimani who I interviewed moons ago and who later when his life started crumbling moved to Mkomani, Nyali where he spends his days making art from copper wire in his studio, acts and MCees. He bought a bike which he rides to the beach to watch sunrises. Or sunsets. He left all his baggage in Nairobi, he’s lighter, his mind clearer. All these people have one thing I admire, they shrunk their worlds, made them simpler, lighter, better. Life below the grid.
More and more, as I get older the call to jump ship and move to a small town gets louder.
I want to live in a wooden house with a chimney, in a village. Next to a river. Or a lake. Or a looming hill. Write. Learn a new art. Meet people who are not on social media. Drink tea from a three-stone stove. Sleep to the sound of rain on the corrugated sheet, probably next to a woman with wide hips. My best years are ahead of me. My knees are still steady. My back is not the best back. My lungs are strong. My heart still burns with many desires. My mind is crisp. My prostate is fine even though my right testical is older than my left one according to one Osteopath.
I’m blessed and grateful. Thanks for always reading.
We shall resume normal programming next week. Today I take a break because it’s not often my birthday falls on a Tuesday, so it’s a gift.
Also sharing my birthday today are Tony Ading [my nephew], Kwame Miyai, Connie Aluoch, Yvone Syokwaa. Happy birthday to you guys and all the guys having a birthday today.
The registration of the October Creative Writing Masterclass (25th to 29th) is ongoing HERE.
If not, just buy my books HERE.