Author: Abigail Arunga

Abi pursues freedom, happiness and sleep in that order.

It was actually a mistake when it started out. I wasn’t even supposed to be trying out for the competition. Not because I don’t like competitions – I don’t, for the record, I lose often! – but because I didn’t even know it existed. Diana was the one who told me about it. We love a particular restaurant, and they were having a promo offer – take a picture of your food, send it to us, get enough votes, and win tickets to one of three exotic locations. Or rather, they seemed exotic to me. I’ve been to less than…

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The faces started to blur after a while. Why remember them? Each one was the same, yet different, yet the same; wanting something they thought she could give, for something silly and pseudo-existentialist like filling a void or having ‘real conversation’. But she didn’t care about their kids that they insisted on talking about (insensitively so, because their children’s pocket money was more than they were willing to even consider paying) or their wives’ terrible blowjobs or their boss’ terrible blow jobs. Or their unimaginative side jobs. She cared, obviously, about the money. So she smiled and sat through their…

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Everyone has a secret life that they always thought they could have. If they weren’t living the life they were living in right now. If circumstances had gone differently, you know what I mean? Like if your parents hadn’t said you absolutely must do engineering. Or if at some point during your high school education, before they cancelled Woodwork, you had picked up a semblance of talent. I’ve always known what my secret life would be. You could call it secret, or you could call it the thing I know I would be in a parallel universe. Somewhere, in a…

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Teresa, according to the all-knowing internet, is ‘generally believed to have been derived from the Greek word therizein, meaning to reap, or gather in, and thus takes the definition of, harvester.’ Someone who brings in the fruits of a season, hopefully of plenty. Someone who reaps where they sowed. She grew up in Nanyuki. If you know anything at all about Nanyuki, then you know that it is lushly verdant in some places, not so much in others, and has a tendency to be cold everywhere. Being poised on the leeward side of a mountain tends to do that to…

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You’ve only ever seen her before in the stuff that dreams are made of, surrounded in beams. That light, cloudiness. That ethereal, magic. She looks unassuming at first, though you can tell there is something there. Of course you can tell there is something there, because when she walks in and sits in the back, she is dark beauty and vortex. She is all leg and fishnet stockings. Black. Diamonds. Boots. Skin. She is the person you are trying not to turn back to see, but you catch your head moving of its own volition, regardless of your explicit instructions…

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I’ve never heard of this guy before, so obviously I am saying his name completely wrong. I still don’t know how to say it, because I come into the room a bit later than I expected to and so missed the important phonetic explanation bits. There are two functions going on in the hotel, and I aimlessly wander into the wrong one before 20 minutes later being embarrassedly hurried into the correct location. I skulk into the room and move to a seat a bit close to the front, trying not to feel the disapproving eyes of the people behind me.…

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When you were younger you wanted nine kids. You had even named them all. You were going to have five boys and four girls, and they all had very grand names. One of your sons was going to be called Michaelangelo, another one Guiseppe. These days, you find yourself laughing when you imagine the horror that primary school would have been. How badly those names would have been hackneyed by unrepentant teachers whose tongues are still heavy from from the foothills of Central and Kisii. You had this image in your head of the modern Brady Bunch. You know, the…

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I come from a place where men are men and women like it that way. I don’t actually know what that phrase means, because our societal notions of masculinity are thankfully changing constantly (what, did you think you were going to get an entire article from me without a feminist slant? Fie), but I once heard a man say it, and if any man was talking about the definitions of men, it felt like it should be him. This man was a tall man, with an understated elegance that oozed every time he walked, or spoke, or sat. It wasn’t…

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To be honest, there’s only two reasons I’ve ever wanted a credit card. To travel easier, and for my car. The first is pretty self explanatory. I’ve never been able to truly understand people who don’t like travel. How can you not want to see new places and cultures? What does that even mean? How can you watch a movie and not want to see the canals of Amsterdam, or the headiness of Havana, or the beauty of the Kalahari in real life? My cousin Tony is one of those guys. He’s the ‘I’m ok if I do and ok…

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Nothing makes you think about where else you want to live quite like an election. No one leaves home unless / home is the mouth of a shark. You only run for the border / when you see the whole city / running as well.” – Warsan Shire My sister abroad has been texting me, asking if I’m safe, if there’s violence, if what they are seeing on their media is commensurate to the situation on the ground. And my mind is numb. I never know how to answer her. What do I say? I just put up an Instagram…

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Nairobi is a hard city to love. Especially now. Especially in 2017. It feels like a constant ambush on the senses. Walking through Nairobi is having your nostrils assaulted by the smells of the city, and not in a good way. They waft towards you like currents in a tide, you know? Now you smell them, now you don’t. You’re walking peacefully down a road, minding your own business, thankful that there’s no tear gas today because it’s in the middle of the week and it isn’t a designated demonstrator day and then suddenly something grabs your nose and twists…

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When you sit next to a rapist, something inside your body screams in fear, but you’re not sure if you should be scared in the first place. Sure, you’re a woman, and his history of violence, the history that you know of anyway, is generally with women. You don’t know everything. But you do not need to know everything. Just one story is enough. Why isn’t it always, though? You know that he makes a good blazer look great. You know that his beard curls softly around itself, making his face look more like that of a dapper older man…

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