The idea for this post came to me when I was sitted in the bus back to Nairobi. I had nothing, for real. On some days I’m horny with words, other days there’s just famine in my mind. A dry spell. Literally. I usually mix my tenses up. See, I’m not there yet as a writer. So I’ll break a few rules of the English language. It’s my style. Let me play with words…Words like hotel and California. Hotel California. Look at that. When you hear them in a sentence you think big. A modern, chill and neat place. Probably has an awesome lobby. And a bar to compliment it. Awesome rooms with sliding glass windows, spacious balconies, white curtains and a view. A view of anything really. Sausage and eggs for breakfast. Hot shower manenos. A jacuzzi perhaps. You’re going to Hotel California, they will host you guys during the academic school trip. You imagine a life of Hollywood. Because apparently the school was about to cough out a splendid 3 million shillings. Expectations were high. Beyond Pluto. It started to feel like we were really going to take a break from life.
Okay. Back to the bus. Kitur is sitted beside me. He’s asleep. Thursday night was long for all of us. Mutiso is up ahead, on his phone texting his girlfriend. Making Melodies in his heart 🎶. He also has shades on, let it be known that there was no sun on that day. An overcast Friday. But he still had shades on. Half the bus is asleep. Tina shoots me the nipee pesa yangu look. Tina is the girlfriend to the most humble person I know. I’ve learnt a lot from him. LOL. Name withheld. Pesa gani Tina? Oh money. (Omani?)
Mombasa was imperfect. Kind of beautiful. I’m about to tell you all about it. Not everything of course. To tell this story I have to make a few time jumps. Thursday evening first. Then Thursday morning. Then the morning after- Friday.
Never have I ever (and yet, apparently, you have). Also called ten fingers. I didn’t know. So yeah, Thursday evening. We’re in a room sprayed with pheromones. I don’t have time to explain the game, but watch One Tree Hill, I learnt about this game from this show.
“Never have I ever liked anyone in this room.” We all drink. We drink to the ambiguity of the statement. We all like each other. We’re friends. Others like each other a little too much, and that’s okay.
Then one of us says “Never have I ever watched porn.” We jeer. Everyone’s watched porn. I say to him to buy data bundles… 21 years no porn? No right hand grip madness? No palm? Palm-ela. Hehe. We all drink.
I was having a bad day, in no mood to go out. See, in the morning, as the class was taken to meet the Chief Engineer for Mombasa County- I sneaked out of the Uhuru na Kazi office blocks and went to visit my mum’s grave. I sat next beside her and just cried as I talked to her. Mombasa doesn’t feel like home anymore, she left with that feeling. I didn’t want my classmates to see my tears. So I just went alone. In a blue tuk tuk. Blue is a sad colour.
They chorused, “David, won’t you go home?”
“Where’s home? Your folks don’t know you’re here?” I’ve learnt how to give satisfactory answers. Or I’d just change the subject.
Where she lays hasn’t been well attended to. I ask one attendant if people visit her. He says no. Or maybe he doesn’t know. I pay him to look after her. To buy flowers. White roses. I’d never bought my mother flowers. 😦 . I ask him to tidy up her resting place. It depressed me. Broke me. I started wishing for one more conversation, a joke, an argument perhaps. Anything. My throat became heavy. It felt hard. Like there was a bolus of food that got stuck. What’s the plan here God, help me see. I don’t want to hate You. I promise to go back and visit her. Also promised to pay any amount to keep her place tidy. I clean up and decide to go back to Uhuru na Kazi. I’m lucky I didn’t missed the County Engineer’s address. I got back just in time.
That’s why I was having a bad day. Grief never leaves. But my friends, my circle, mean the world to me, so I had to show them a good time. We stagger out to Club Bela Vista, after the drinking game. Okay, I staggered as I led the way.
We reach the club. Bela Vista is pretty decent. I choose to sit with Tina. We just talk. Then the lump in my throat worsens, I excuse myself. I had fought back tears for too long. I go sit on a stool, bow my head, and cry. I cried like a baby. Mtoto wa mama yangu. (My mother’s son). She used to call me “My Dearest David”. I cried like there was a little princess inside me. I’ve never felt so vulnerable. Oh be still, my heart. What’s the plan, God?
I feel Kitur’s hand on my shoulder. He understands. But I had put him in a hard position. He explains that he doesn’t know what to say to help, he says he’s so sorry. We’ve never talked about it. I’ve never wanted to, but I had to man up, hug him and say thank you.
“I’ll drink one shot in your mama’s name.” He leaves to do so.
Then along came Brian Chege. He rallied me. He should be the next Pepe Minambo. You guys say that the Independence Day movie speech is the best? Look here, whatever he told me made me stop crying. It made me get up and start dancing. Hey, I got moves too! I felt better. Blessed. Humbled. If the plan is to provide me with good friends, then I pray that I may never lack. They give me peace.
I remember walking back to my room later on. Tired. I shared a room with Kabora and Kitur. And all of us had an opinion about the room.
“This place looks like a crack house.”
“Eh, you guy, even a hooker would refuse to get boned in such a room.”
“Have you guys seen the toilet? Look at how brown the inside is. Jesus didn’t die for this.”
Guess which one was mine.
We expected too much. Every room had it’s own set of problems. The tiles in our room were weak, they had lost their lustre. Blunt. They sounded like they were arguing with my feet every time I stepped on the floor. The management converted single rooms to doubles. And doubles to triples. It’s 2016 and the TV’s in those rooms had smaller screens than those big Kenwoods microwaves. And the school spent three million? Tsk. Enough.
I tried showing them around though. Bombolulu. (Andrew cannot pronounce this.) The Naivas Mall. Mama Ngina Drive. Others chose Haller Park. Or Fort Jesus. We let loose at the beach. I made them throw beach sand at each other. It’s no different from throwing snowballs. We had the best shawarma in the country. At an eatery called Tarboush. See? Mombasa was imperfect.
And we learnt a lot too.
So back to the bus now. It’s Friday morning. This happened before Kitur decided to sleep. Mutiso came over. He had had bread for breakfast- I was starving. You know how He is with God, yes? So we have a conversation about the Bible. It was fun. Read the Bible to sharpen your persona. Not to justify your actions. Trust a sword to sharpen another sword. It says so somewhere in Proverbs. He’s a preacher of love. If you love someone, you don’t judge them- he tells me. He’s a simple guy. Nowadays, I don’t feel uneasy- I just listen. We talk about how John the Baptist fed on locusts and honey. Then apparently he also used to cover his body with faeces. We laugh. Yaani hyo jamaa alijipaka shonde? I’ll have to confirm this, it could be exaggerated. Then we “argue” about the right kind food. He’s against the killing of animals. He prefers fruits and veggies. I tell him about the vision God granted Peter- he was presented all kinds of animals to feed on. Maybe there’s a deeper meaning. He says he’s never heard that story, I tell him to confirm, it could have also been an exaggeration. Read the Bible all by yourself, remember?
We’ve given the nickname Mtembezi to one Jon (Jonathan) Mbithi. This guy loves to walk. He’s borrowed Chuck Norris’s beard and has refused to give it back. He joins in on our conversation. He shares with us that his biggest challenge in life is to fit in his father’s shoes. Nice. (More on this later). Then out of nowhere, he says that when he’s old enough. He’ll have an evergreen farm, hi Eva Green! buy a bunch of rabbits, and spend days chasing those rabbits. That’s called being away from life. We found this amusing. It’s a neat plan. But maybe it will change.
What’s your plan? Perspective changes with age, you know. Think about it.
I dedicate this post to;
Brian Chege. Nixon Ounza.
John Kitur. Joseph Chege
Audrey Mwangi. Ada Micere
Brian. Joe Muga
Andrew Ngure Timothy Muniu
Jessica Chege. My family.
Wendy Kinyua Collins Mutiso
My aunties and uncles. My favourite Uncle.
My coach-my dad.
My cheer leader. 😁