There’s death….aah yes, death…death is always somewhere in the picture, an old friend who only knows how to take and take, never getting satisfied. Pretty gluttonous if you ask me. I’ve had a close contact with it and it didn’t seem to care much. Strips you to the very ground, vulnerable, void of will.
When i first logged in on Facebook, the first post i came across was of Faith’s death. You know that straight up shock that hits your system, not wanting to believe, because, this can’t be happening? That denial that engulfs you and you can feel numbness in your mouth. I recall crying once i got in the bathroom, while taking a shower. I would love to lie and say it was the bathing soap that had gotten into my eyes, or it was because of the onions i was just from cutting for supper before hopping into the shower, but it was neither. As the tears and water both found a common ground on my face, it was all crashing down on me at a rate that was horrifying. My legs started shaking and i took that as a cue to wrap up my business in the bathroom.
I went to bed early that day, with my heart sunken and heavy.
Again, i would be lying if i said i knew Faith well. My aunt is married into her family and that is how i knew her. The last time i had seen her, was during Christmas, as her, her cousins and uncles sat around a jiko in the afternoon, the smell of roasted meat covered in foils drifting all over. Everyone was busy on their phone. A typical lazy afternoon, i called it. My mum, brother and i had just been from visiting an old friend of the family and afterwards, we decided to pay my aunt a visit. A few brief conversations were exchanged and roasted meat was shared. Dogs lay stretched on the ground and we all shared a moment under the gazebo.
Death is death. Doesn’t matter how young or old one was or is. Closest people feel it hit hard the most, a scar that never really goes away.
I hate death. Truthfully speaking, i fear death. I fear dying, or the people i know dying. Personally, if i had the option of having immortality, i wouldn’t think twice about taking it up.
I’m not sure if you have sat randomly, or one of those times where your feelings get the better part of you and you imagine the death of people you know and how traumatic the whole thing might be and feel yourself shrink, goosebumps develop all over and your throat runs dry. Or what would happen if you die.
Often, for someone who fears death as much as i do, i find myself thinking too hard about my own death. Tragic thoughts! I tell myself.
Yet, just the other day, i still attended a burial. A good friend of mine lost his son and i wanted to be there and show my support.
We describe a wedding as colorful, joyful and all the pretty words that usually exist. But a funeral? It’s hard to strike it through. Sombre? That is the only word that comes to mind.
I am currently in a phase in life where i feel like being there for my friends, showing up, is the best i can do and I’m loving it. Cause roles and situations reversed, i would love for my friends to show up and be there for me.
Life is short. Be there for your loved ones when you can.
Friday started as a normal day would. I was walking to the stage, where I would board a matatu to go to work. Halfway there, a hawk flew down and snatched a rat from the pile of garbage that was a few steps from where I was, and flew away to the sky, behind some buildings and out of sight. Okay, not so much of a normal day, is it? I take back my words on that because it is not every day you get to witness this. I wanted to put a label on this, you know? Like it might be a sign that something bad/good will happen. But such is the cycle of life, right?
That same day heading home, I needed to have my hair done. I was getting tired from combing it every morning and having to clean the house almost every day, to get rid of the fallen hair. I passed by a wholesale shop that deals with hair stuff and got myself some long brown Abuja braids, for my Ghanian lines and a hair spray too. I knew what I wanted, so I didn’t waste that much time in there.
The salon is just close to my place, a small room that fits not more than 3 customers, painted in a shouting pink, some three huge stones at the doorstep to ease access to the inside. One side covered by sacks, acting as a curtain, with photos of various hairstyles pinned to it. The other side of the improvised curtain, is someone’s house. I could hear a woman talk from there, sound of plastic cups being shuffled. With the friseur they talked of her sick daughter who had just received an eye operation, and just how fed up she was from the call she had received from the hospital to take the kid back for a checkup, only to get there and the secretary tells her that she had mistook patients. Two other ladies sat in the salon, asking each other if they could smell a dead rat, which they couldn’t see, but for sure, it was somewhere, dead and rotting and the smell was daunting, but personally, I couldn’t really smell it. Crazy the kind of stories you will pick up at salons.
After my hair was washed and was ready for plaiting, it was getting late and from the edge of my right eye, I could see a scourge of mosquitoes playing in the air, hoping I wouldn’t get savaged by them. I held my bag on my laps and the smell of the evening dust and wind drifting in my nostrils and I couldn’t wait to get done and see how my hairstyle would turn out. One thing I hate about going to get my hair done is having to hold the braids for the friseur. Like no. I’m already spending too much time sitting on this chair and all I want is to sit still here and wait for you to make me look pretty, as I wince through the occasional pulling of the hair and sitting through the, ‘why is your hair shorter on some parts’ chronicles that never cease to be brought to my attention.
I must admit I was pretty impressed by how the Ghanian lines were starting out until we got to the middle of the head and I began being a bit sceptical but I did not have the guts to ask. All along, I sat there crossing fingers that this wouldn’t have me regretting later. See, a good hairstyle can really boost your confidence or have your confidence in the gutters. Bottom of the barrel feelings if you ask me.
When I got to the house, I held a mirror up to my face for so long wondering if that is how it should be. The colour was pretty okay, brown that blended with my light skin tone, but the styling? It had me thinking she might have unknowingly done two different styles. All the while, I promised to go back Sunday in the afternoon just to confirm if this is how it should really be. I was 50/50 about the styling.
Fast forward to Sunday, I show up at the door and found her braiding another customer.
‘uhhm, hey, so I got to the house and realized that there’s two different styles, is there a way we can change so that it’s all uniform? I ask, feeling somehow embarrassed. That Is a style I put there, not a mistake really’ she said and I just stood there transfixed. ‘Therefore, we would have to undo the whole hair so that we can make it uniform If you don’t want the styling.’
‘Oh, okay’ was all I said as I started walking away. There is no way I was going to sit down again for all that. I picked up my embarrassment from the floor, swung it on my shoulders and walked away, back to the house. I really tried championing for my redemption, turns out I didn’t really have to, because everything was just fine.
Good thing is, most people I’ve met have told me the hairstyle actually looks fly. Not that the validation is what I was going for, since I already accepted the hairstyle….half-hearted though, thing is, at times we might hate some parts of us, but someone else will look at you and not find any fault. So, how about embracing self-love?
I open the window for some fresh air at 7:22 am. Sitting on my bed, I can now crane my neck to see the outside. The air smells like wetness, the clouds a gathering grey slowly turning into dark, and it will rain soon. I push the sheers aside, and my hand lands on the dusty window pane. Light finds its way into the room and it’s all bright for a moment. I crawl back in bed under the duvet, lying on my back, watching the sheers play with the light wind,listening to a bird chirp insistently nearby. A plane passes by. A pile of clean but unfolded clothes is what the edge of my eye catches when I turn to my left. I can hear the stairs getting scrubbed, the sound of the brush and dragging of a bucket. I pull the duvet closer and sink my head deeper into the pillow, closing my eyes for a moment. I try read my own mind. Nothing. Starting of some loud music instantly draws me away from the stupor………….. I sigh.
Ever since I started living on my own, I think I unlock a different level of adulthood every other time. Feels like I was tossed in some sort of Jumanji adulthood game. Some levels are pretty easy, some will have my mind riling and others have me feeling so proud of myself, just by accomplishing them.
Monday evening, I had to go change my gas. I had been postponing refilling simply because I wasn’t having enough money but the biggest reason being that I was feeling lazy carrying the cylinder all the way from the fifth floor, to the shop and just the thought of the physical baggage had me reluctant. But a girl has been having a huge appetite and it’s only right that she gets the gas to make cooking easier, other than buying food.
Before I decided to finally take the gas down, I called my mum. Call it buying help from the game store, to improve my skills and get past this level. I didn’t want to get ripped off, so I had to ask her what cylinder brand was best to exchange, so that I’m not given a knock off.
The economy is currently inflating day by day and basic commodities are insanely having hiked prices. This is something that has been in the news day in day out and it is sickening, if I was to be honest. I remember that there was a time I would buy half a loaf of bread at 12 Kenyan Shillings and now a whole loaf of bread is at 55 Kenyan Shillings, shooting to 60 Kenyan Shillings. Bread!!! One of the very many infractions that are just hard to escape your attention. Some prices remain recalcitrant just to mock your pockets!
I gasped at how an empty cylinder is heavy imagining just how a refilled one would weigh, the torture my fingers would have to endure. I hung a grocery bag over my shoulder to buy some potatoes on my way back.
The previous week, I had passed by the shop and asked the lady I found there how much it would cost to refill the 6kg gas and she said 1,300Ksh. That Monday, I found a man who I automatically assumed was the husband.
‘This war in Russia has led to inflated gas prices, since they are the second producers of gas in the world. ‘ I stand there, not wanting to believe what he was saying. ‘What do you mean it is now 1,400Ksh? The lady I met here last week told me 1,300Ksh!’ this is just outrageous, I tell myself.
‘Yes, it was, but believe you me, by next week, it might hike to 1,500Ksh. Some distributors are as a matter of fact hoarding the gas cylinders so that they can sell them as they please’ he goes on and deep down I was like, well! Catch me refilling gas at 1,500Ksh!
I did not exactly get the brand I wanted but the substitute he was giving me, was one my mum had approved so why not? I paid half heartedly, sighing defiantly as soon as the Mpesa message confirmed the payment.
Self-baptizing myself with energy, I summon as much of it as I could ‘I am really winging this level of adulthood! Look at me carrying a 6kg gas, a bag of potatoes over my shoulder struggling to maintain my balance! My fingers screaming from the weight. Whew!’
A girl is wearing and rocking the big girl pants day by day! Applauding and appreciating the levels she has passed, is in and those that lay ahead.
So, what levels of adulthood do you feel like you are winging and feel proud of, no matter how small?
And they taught us how to fire guns at a young age
Running through the maize plantations like crazy people
Pledging loyalty to the sound of guns, cocking them, a daily mantra
Cramming the algorithm of polishing boots, till the reflection of horrifying images radiated on them, catatonic emotions overcrowding our judgement
Shortcut to hell just a bullet away, propelled and perpetuated by dirty hands, soiled till nails become licorice black, not the type that would hold and caress a woman, no way!
And with all that, they forgot to tell us of how short the life that was to come after the exchange of bullets would be
The life that failed to instigate measures of how to undo the sight and stench of death
How to look her in the eyes, without the visages of the people we killed staring at us, threatening to haunt us to the grave
Or how to hold a bouquet without it dripping with the blood we shed back there
Or how to react when her voice is on the other end. They didn’t prepare us for that, now that we are here, crossing that bridge, we are afraid of getting to the other side, the untouched conspiracies bother us, the high chances of self-sabotage underway.
So, forgive me, if I arrive on my black stallion, weather beaten wanting my boots to be taken off, longing to be drowned in love, afraid to look in your eyes, to prevent the dead from boring traumatizing thoughts, in your heart.
Hope my words will sound convincing enough and that my voice won’t be ragged and chipped
I hope that when the demons and ghosts come knocking in me in the middle of the night, that you won’t have to run away but hold me closer, as you stroke my hair, whispering words of love.