Libras

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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.”

“Right.”

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.  

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The registration of the October Creative Writing Masterclass (25th to 29th) is ongoing HERE.

If not, just buy my books HERE.

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202 Comments
  1. Happy Birthday. This is a good day for me to buy Drunk. Where is the link please? I hope it will be signed by Yours Truly.

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  2. I mop and listen to sad music and think of all the things I hated about her which all end up making me cry….
    Happy birthday

  3. Happy birthday Biko. Here’s to more simple life. Oh…how about you break the Christmas tradition and reply to all comments today ..?

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  4. I picked up a dictionary lying on the table, to look up the word “assious”, then it dawned on me just before I started flipping through …………… silly me

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    1. Hehe. Same thing too. Came across it but went back real quick like wait what? Then I saw, this time with clarity..assious huh!

  5. Happy birthday Biko. Thank you for always making us smile every tuesday.
    If u decide to shrink your world, ensure you leave space to accomodate most of us as we are part and parcel of it.
    It will be hard to fathom a tuesday without reading something from you.
    Have a blast

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  6. Happy birthday Biko. You have made us smile for years now!! May you smile too, and while at it, maybe make it possible for a Ugandan (living in Uganda!!!) to buy one of your books (Drunk)? We already miss some of the bits you write in Swahili, be kind…

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    1. As a Ugandan living in Uganda and with both his books at the uppermost shelf of my bedroom where my dear nephew cannot reach, i can tell you it wasn’t easy getting Biko’s books but as you already know, i have both Drunk and Thursdays, fully signed btw. (Allow me to brag, Biko told me that he hopes his books float my boat, and damn, do they!! effortlessly at that). Anyway, my friend studying from Strathmore is who i gave my money and she helped order for the books, and when she was coming back to Uganda, she brought them. Took a lot of patience but that’s the thing with good stuff, the wait is usually worth it. Maybe Biko has a faster way the books can reach you, but as far as i know, it’s not impossible.

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    2. I can buy you the books and deliver myself to you onces signed by Biko on your behalf, am currently in Busia border
      Comment below here if you are interested.
      Ps;

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  7. Can men tell each other Happy Birthday without @Amerix giving them funny labels?

    Irregardless, Happy Birthday Biko.

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    1. Mehe Mehe sorry I have to do this.

      Its Regardless….before it…..nothing. ir just breaks its heart…and meaning

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  8. Happy Birthday Chocolate Man.

    I think the best things in life are the simple ones. I used to fret about moving out of Nairobi. It never happened the way I had been planned it. My wife got posted to a town 300 km from Nairobi and I, being a rolling stone moving around the world, had to consider this as my new base whenever I am in Kenya. I couldn’t more grateful for the shift from Nairobi. Life is slow and in a good way. I get to ride my bicycle because the town has promenades that can make many a Western city green with envy and I do not have to worry about kupigwa ngeta while listening to a podcast on that little Bose Speaker strapped on my bicycle because these are the places in Kenya where people still lead decent and honest lives. I also do not have to worry about the small stuff that makes Nairobi hell on earth like the correlation between rainfall and traffic. AND I SAVE LOTS OF CHUM.

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  9. Oh là là! Sleeping to the sound of rain on the corrugated sheet is very soothing. Have you ever danced in the rain in your adulthood? If you haven’t, try it. It’s exhilarating! Happy Birthday Biko. Stay blessed.
    Thank you for the upload….beautifully written as always.

  10. Happy birthday Biko! I am just 24, have not yet even lived half of my life and yet I am always having these same fantasies, to live in a much smaller world with less noise and more little things to marvel at.

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  11. Happy birthday Biko!
    We are so blessed to have you.
    I read somewhere that what we are seeking is seeking us right back.
    So, the life in a small town is probably seeking you too, and it’ll find you some day. And the wide hipped woman too. Just make sure you keep writing please? Don’t let the wide hipped woman distract you too much.
    Thankyou for being here 🙂

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  12. Happy Birthday Biko. May you live to be old and toothless. I also crave for that simple life pack my stuff and move to the Coast for good. I’m working on it.

  13. So i am not alone, My wish is to move to some remote place but still have the luxury of the city that is; electricity and piped water

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  14. It is not just about writing but it is about content- your content brings out the best and it is captivating. Happy Birthday to you Sir.

  15. Happy Birthday Biko!
    Interesting how this morning as I was coming back to Nairobi (and the rat race) after spending the weekend in shags the very same thing bugged me the whole way. I really don’t enjoy city life and want to make my life “smaller” but I lack the courage (and flexibility) to make such a move. Sigh.

  16. Happy Birthday Biko!! Thank you for always refreshing us and giving us something to look forward to on Tuesdays.

    I share part of that fantasy… Moving away from the noise and the commotion of Nairobi (I suppose this is what living on Mombasa road does to a person). Waking up to the sound of birds. Large windows with no burglar proofing. In my dream I grow all sorts of uncommon fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers in my large garden: Dragon fruit, figs, jack fruit, Kiwi, apples, peaches (and yes they can grow in Kenya), dozens of different berries. I keep ducks, chicken, turkeys one cow and a few goats. I have a fish pond where I catch my dinner… I have watched so many videos of people living simply – from tiny houses to living off grid… To be clear, I have no intention of living off grid – I did that already growing up! There is nothing romantic about not having electricity or using an “out house” or cooking with firewood in my opinion. I came to this city to run away from such atrocity and I ain’t going back – but truly there has to be a happy medium?

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    1. Living off grid does not necessarily entail living without electricity. You can generate your own energy through various energy mixes.

    2. Living Off-grid simply means where the regular amenities are made simply for you and not communal access points. For instance you pipe your own kisima water, you create your own energy and create your own comfort. And it is cheaper than the city costs too when done right.

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  17. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIKOZULU, when i grow up i want to be like you. In other news i received my first salary in life today. I know this means nothing but the good news is we’re both in a celebratory mood today so that’s something. Happy birthday again, also, i see myself so much in Halima, i know you know what i mean. That, btw, was a masterpiece.

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  18. Have the best one yet Biko!
    It’s quite normal to desire solitude and smaller circles as one ages. Less stress.
    I hope you can fulfil your small town fantasy pretty soon and if not, take jaunts from time to time. I think people should find that which brings happiness and joy to their souls.

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  19. Happy birthday Biko. Age gracefully and thumps up for giving out your life for this worthy cause. We are truly blessed to have you.

  20. happy birthday Biko..i always look forward to Tuesdays to just read your stories..i laugh alone at my desk in the office..my colleagues think im crazy hahaha..
    But thank you for brightening our days with your pieces

  21. Happy Birthday Biko,

    Wanderlust calls or is it “call of the wild” or the new sweep of minimalism… a yearning for a simpler time. Trust me, it is not a geographical thing, I believe it is a mindset- and a promise to never look at your neighbour’s grass with envy… a contentment and satisfaction with the fundamental and elemental. May you find courage to enjoy where you are …”1 Corinthians 7:17, where you are right now is God’s place for you.”

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  22. Happy birthday Biko!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and gift of writing with the rest of us.
    Enjoy your day, and have many more fulfilling years ahead!

  23. Happy birthday to the master of this game. May those wishes of yours come true. Just ensure that amidst the sipping of tea from the three stone stove, you will still scribble something and post it here. That your skill will not be washed away in that lonely lake or get carried away by the forest wind

  24. At your age, people expect you to be calm, dignified and sober…. Disappoint them on your birthday. *Hehe. *

    Have a good one Boss!

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  25. Happiest birthday Telo.

    Have a lovely one agemate. May you grow healthy, wealthy and wise. Minimalists are the wealthiest I know.

  26. Happy happy birthday Biko,may the rest of your journey be filled with happiness and laughter. May you find all that you wish for….thanks for making our Tuesdays bearable

  27. Shrink your space bro.
    It’s a futuristic in the past movement.
    I recall reading this in a novel abt elevators going into the inner core of 5he earth and stuff
    Reminds me of late Michael Jackson’s Neverland- fantasy world
    Tupatane uko

  28. Small circles is where genuine friends reside. Those are the people who will protect you. I have four friends and that’s just enough for me. Be intentional with your circle. My older brother is 48 years and he has no chills about cutting off people. He says the smaller the less drama. I admire his friendships.

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  29. Happy birthday Biko!! I hope you get closer and closer to living out your heat’s desires .. and that’s another thing about Libras, we always want to end up in a smaller and smaller world, at least the ones that I know as well.. happy to know it’s a Libras thing and I’m not entirely crazy for wanting such a life
    P.S my birthday was yesterday, .. see now it makes sense why I like and enjoy your sense of humor and content, as strange as it sometimes may be.. but it’s coz us Libras get each other
    Here’s to many more …

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  30. Your birthday reminds me of an old Chinese Scholar, Yang No Mo….Man you aging just Infront of our eyes, soon you will be starting a 50’s edition.

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  31. It is the ‘louder yahoos chugging warm Tusker’ for me.

    I don’t know why I think Tusker deserves that capital T

  32. Happy birthday!! Am a proud Libra as well, 9th Oct. We are the only air sign in the zodiac. What’s the world without Libra’s .

    Have a good one! Nice read!

  33. The kind of renewal that comes with shrinking your world, it’s a wee difficult explaining it, you can only experience it when you are deep in it..it’s quite personal but very fulfilling.

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  34. Happy Birthday Biko. May You Continue Filling our Tuesdays with Inspiration, Fun and Perspective. Cheers Baba!..

  35. Happiest birthday Biko. To many more years of educating and entertaining us. May God grant your heart desires, may he give you the wooden hut next to a river, I offer to spend the time there since I have wide hips

  36. Happy birthday Chocolate Man!! May your world shrinks with Tony Braxton in it….na kumbe you are just 2 days apart ….the hips thingy though, ain’t it a lie for a lay?

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  37. 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.

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  38. Happy birthday chocolate man!! it’s still your birth day. You are a special gift . I hope you get to feel special on this special day. To many more. Cheers

  39. Happy birthday Biko, October “birth-month-mate”.
    And my birthday is also on a Tuesday this year. Tuesday October 26. I will have my Tuesday date blog…

    Many more blessings in this new chapter of your life, Biko.
    Happy birthday
    #Octoberbabiesrock

  40. Happy birthday, keep dreaming, you’ll make a choice on how to shrink your life. As long us you carry us, your fans with you.

  41. Biko, I dream of a small life too, where I can see that mountain, my ancestors faced that mountain, I would wake up at dawn face that mountain and pray.

  42. Definition of shrink my world: Don’t count the number of friends you have, but the number of friends you can count.

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  43. Happy Belated earth anniversary Biko. Hope you enjoyed some time with yourself….
    P.S I’m also drawn to the thought of sleeping to the sound of rain on the corrugated sheet, probably next to a woman with WIDE hips.☺️

  44. Happy belated birthday Biko, till recently I have been dying to relocate to Laikipia and own a small ranch and brew whisky but am skeptical of the security situation in the region. I hope when am old enough I can be able to shrink away and live in a serene and tranquil life away from everything stress.

  45. Happy birthday Biko,

    I wish I had those large and wide hips. I will have donated them to you, if and only if, they’re part of your heart’s desires. May contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment be your potion as you celebrate your birthday. Take cover and enjoy life below the grid.

  46. Biko, you share a Birthday with my 10 year old daughter. I kid you not, despite us living in Middle East and surrounded by opulence and grand lifestyles, she too yearns for a simple life and eagerly awaits our return back home to a simpler existence near her shosho where she can play with the chickens, and eat nduma and ngwache. She is dreaming of our return back and this piece reminds me that her heart is gold and she treasures the stuff that matters.

  47. The more things change the more they remain the same. You forgot to add that your tea will be served in coloured or flowered steel kettle and cups. Happy birthday sir. Always a pleasure visiting this place weekly.

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  48. Ooh my God a friend sent me this today! Was my birthday on the 12th too! Wooow ohh wooow!
    Happy belated birthday to everyone and to the rest of the libran!
    May God bless you and be with you always!

  49. Biko Biko Biko
    When am asked what or who am reading, I say you or the Bible.
    There’s just a way you make me feel (kwa now am a 1st time mum and all I need is a distraction otherwise…..) It’s like having this boyfriend who gives me orgasims but not sexually.

    I really really like really love reading your articles.

    Live long sir