This post was written on 4th of May 2014 at approximately 10.30 am. That is the morning after BAKE Awards 2014; but due to technical glitches on the website, I had to put it on ice till today. Enjoy.
I have lived among Indians for the past three years. Indians are jolly good fellows, once you understand how shaking of the head would mean no and yes at the same time, in different parts of a single sentence. But you see for me, it was not so much of a culture shock because my primary school was M.M Shah in Kisumu. The neighborhood was called Patel Flats, and in class six I had this Indian lady friend called Sumaiya. She lived in Patel Flats, just outside our school.
Rumor had it that she was supposedly married off before we even sat for KCPE. Ok, maybe she wasn’t married off; she just never showed up for class seven, but from the school fence we could spot her once in a while pushing a pram, with some hirsute guy strutting alongside her. But that doesn’t mean she was wifed, sindio? Si perhaps she just dropped off to be a mboch, donge? I missed Sumaiya. In class six in Kisumu, knowing a delightfully light chic with thick black velvety hair, which fell oh so gracefully to the ceiling of her burgeoning ass, inspired nothing short of a moment’s silence.
The Real G Inc blog also once lived in an Indian neighborhood. It was called My Opera. Perhaps I was driven by the urge to see Sumaiya again, just to ask her what she is doing with herself these days. My Opera is where I learnt how to hold a pen – the first ever blog I opened in December 2010 when my fingers began to itch for the art of storytelling. During those early days when The Real G Inc still wore pampers, crapped on itself and drooled over itself, there were very few people who even imagined that I could be a scribe. In fact, they were no more than ten individuals. So once in a while, I would put on my story telling regalia, ask James Mbugua to light a bonfire and then have the rest to listen at my behest.
DeMaitha would sit closest to me, because he was always more curious to detail. If I used a word wrongly, he’d hand my ass over to me. He threw the typos to the bonfire, and asked me to read more books. But he never liked My Opera. He hated that neighborhood with fiery a passion. I think he has something against the Indians. Perhaps the naughty kids picked on him when they went out to play, maybe he got sick of the older ones and their noisy flashy cars. See, deMaitha is rather laid back. That sort of exuberance, living on the fast lane must have gutted his patience. deMaitha loves his comfort zone. Or maybe he met Sumaiya with another pram. I do not know, all I remember is that we had to move. And WordPress welcomed The Real G Inc with warm smiles. But we lasted there for only a year, before the mice got too comfortable beneath our table. And boy didn’t the bonfire grow big. Now I can’t even tell who reads this blog anymore. James Mbugua got lost somewhere amidst the crowd. He lost his job. The fire built itself somehow.
If you were to ask me in 2010 what I wanted to do with my life, I would be quick to explain how I am looking forward to finishing law school, do some CPA, go to Kenya School of Law, and where fate wills, do masters in law at Warwick or Yale. I was on a roll for the law. I loved it. I mean, have you ever stopped to watch Boston Legal? Doesn’t Allan Shaw tickle some fancy in you to go to court and argue out a case oh so dramatically that the judge weeps? Come on, do not pretend you do not watch Allan Shore and Danny Crane unwind, going through the fine details of Allan’s mesmeric elevator sex, cigars in between fingers, smoke disappearing into the still night, with scotch (or whiskey) at their side eagerly waiting to be tossed to the back of their throats. You cannot watch such and not wish you could have that someday.
My vision was so linear, and Karua (my mum) would not have it any other way. Until that day I began to write and everything changed. I began writing about campus.
I used to tell the first ten back at My Opera that there are people who come to campus, campus happens and then they change. But then there are people who come to campus, they happen to campus, and then campus changes. And of course I said that while fancying myself to be the latter kind. I take back those words today. Campus happens to everyone. You grow taller here, girls lose their virginities in these blue, thin, bug-ridden mattresses; and for many of us, the raspy taste of cold beer grew on us while we resided in campus.
The other day I met this lady I knew in Kabete. In first year, law students live in Lower Kabete with business folk. I will not mention her name, heck, I do not even remember it. But I remember that this damsel was a mkorino, and she used to sell celebrity wallpapers for akina Neyo, Richie Spice, Toni Braxton and what not. She never walked around without a kitambaa on her head, and her skirts never lacked mafirifiri. When I met her the other day, all that was gone, and she was grinding some honcho to the Caribbean beats that blare at Club RNB in Westlands.
So yeah, campus happens to everyone. We come in wearing supras on our feet, pants way below our waists and with caution up our sleeves, but leave with jackets and official wear, caring about nothing other than where the next rent is going to come from. Girls loved horse hair and condom shoes, and every time I saw that footwear, I remember imagining that a butterfly must have died somewhere. But when they leave, they walk out balancing on six inch stilts and short hair. The Lupita craze was taken a tad too literally.
Campus happened to me too, and the lesson I got is a gem that I will forever and a day pass on to those I leave behind; guys whatever you do, however deeply you fall in love, give everything to it, love that woman, make love so passionately until the Halls Officer comes knocking, kiss her until you can no longer recognize the taste of food but skin. HOWEVER, just don’t let her have your ATM pin. Take it from me that a campus woman scorned begets a campus dude conned.
I have told so many stories about campus, I do not know if the University of Life has better ones. What people do not get is that I do not tell these stories because I am Magunga, but because I have been a student. I write from an insider’s perspective. The blog earned me a column in the dailies- Campus Rover column in Crazy Monday written under an alias “Bill Odunga” which a corruption of my names. Figure it out. The best thing about this is that I get to share the same space with Oyunga Pala. Writing earned me the Overall Top Blogger award from the Ministry of East Africa during the interuniversity writing challenge in 2011. And since then it has been a rather smooth sail, until last night when I finally knew what Di Caprio feels like every year at the Oscars.
Look, I know that I need to learn how to take disappointment in stride. And I am really humbled with the overwhelming support I received from so many quarters. Sometimes I wonder if I deserved the 828 votes. But losing is painful. When my competitor’s name was called, there I was with this fancy trench I got from Oloo Collections. Man, I’d been floored by 32 votes in my Sunday best! My head went blank, as reality simmered. In my head I had rehearsed the perfect “dreams are valid” speech (hehehe). I had not just failed as a person, but also all the people who were disappointed when the bride did not make it home. I am talking about the BAKE Awards 2014.
I felt hollow, horrible. I wanted to take a gulp, but the taste of my own saliva made me sick. I had let so many people down. An excruciating embarrassment. Let me try and put this is context. Have you ever had a crush on some babe, she knows you are ready to go through a mill for her, but she likes your friend more than you? Now imagine you are at a house party somewhere and you are watching her grind on this friend of yours, and you sit there with your drink in hand, wishing that could be you. It gets worse when she supports herself on your knees while at it. After trying your best to get this lady’s attention, she still wouldn’t have you. And the worst part is you still haven’t given up on her yet. Losing at BAKE felt like that; like a bullet wound on an innocent man’s back. That feeling doesn’t just hurt, it burns.
Anyways, I am just a sore loser. Victory is nobody’s birth right. We write to win another day. We shall rise and rise again, until lambs become lions.
But you know what? It wasn’t all a funeral for me. There were moments of roses and sunflowers. Moments when the sun rays peeked in. The food was heavenly, and washing it down with cold beer gave credence to Intercontinental Hotel’s taste of brilliance. There were no bananas for Owaah, bummer. He looked like he had been sentenced to death by a thousand cuts. Meeting the StoryMoja crew again was a scream, and so was watching Bikozulu pull a jig (stick to writing, Biko).
Then there was the sugary moment. The one fleeting moment when Sharon Mundia, of the This is Ess fame, accidently bumped into me and then smiled- the kind that oozes apologies. You cannot fail to forgive a lady like that. In fact, it’s a principle that girls of Sharon’s kind should be thanked profusely for stepping on your shadow. And there I was wondering why God doesn’t make them like that anymore. Ian Arunga was standing next to me then. The man exploded into fifty shades of fireworks, his heart singing ella esta muy buena, while his head spinning Nishike on replay. I could hear the sinful thoughts of cheating on Doris make their case on one side of his head, while the other side passed endless compliments to the chef of that scintillating mami.
Ess, gentlemen, is a divine personification of God’s initial thoughts on callipygian women.
That Ian can wash up really well was a plus- ever seen Doris’ squeeze in a tux? That tux made my Oloo Collections trench blush in envy. Well, after that incident the next thing I knew was that he had uploaded a selfie on twitter with the damsel. Man, this dude is fast. Ati Doris…Doris who? Doris is old news. Doris doesn’t reply letters. Forget Doris, people. Omera, This is Ess! Fruits of the new Marriage Act.
One thing still gnaws my head; why did guys boo when Ghalfa! won the Best Entertainment segment? Those must have been Owaah’s hired goons. Men in black, hehehe. They were inches away from shouting NO BWANA! WE CANNOT ALLOW! WE WANT TO SEE FORM 16A!
I am writing this as I reminisce last night’s events. The Halls custodians are kicking guys out, and I have locked myself in just so that I get to tell this one last campus story. My suitcase is packed, and on the wall there is a place written “#Jakom Was Here”. I wrote that last year after I became the Chairperson of Kenya Law Students Society. I am thinking of what I am going to tell Karua. How I am to explain to her that after four years in campus, I want to write for a living. She will not understand, she will be broken. She will remind me of how she has struggled with us since dad died when I was just in form one. She will say that I am ungrateful. And I will understand where she is coming from.
She is worried that I will not make a decent living. It’s hard for her to believe that writers in Kenya do not just eke out a living. That they earn a decent salary, is a rumor to her. Clearly she has never seen Ian Arunga’s suits, or Oyunga Pala’s shoes.
Moreover, I wish she knew- that a good wage and happiness do not really have much to do with each other.
What she doesn’t know is that I stopped loving the law the moment I realized that Boston Legal is just a TV show. Truth is Vioja Mahakamani is as intriguing as it gets. She doesn’t know that even after losing at BAKE 2014, I still see Bikozulu, showing off his forehead to the camera with his two awards –Creative Writing & Kenyan Blog of The Year– and my hope for future success is replenished. Because he too lost his first bid at BAKE to the ghost of Crazy Nairobian.
Karua doesn’t understand that writing makes me happy, that I do not just want to write for a living, but to live as well. It is what has kept me sane all this while. It is where I go to take a break from life when the law becomes burdensome. It is my refuge when girls rob my bank account; when I remember Sumaiya; when my friends betray me and when I think about dad every year when my birthday comes along. I may be a goon yes, but when anger sizzles from beneath, I would rather pick a pen over a club.
I am venturing out of campus. My friends already got jobs (carrying files to court, he he), others are in between jobs; like yours faithfully here. Ahem. I am excited though, but Karua’s response towards my dream keeps me up at night. I do not know how to convince her. Words fail me. I hope she sees my point with the same understanding that I see hers.
I want to write, ma. Elewa.
P.S> Wendy Wahito won the Best New Blog category. Check out her blog here. Losing to a worthy opponent quenches the disappointment a bit. Congrats Wendy.
P.P.S> @ilfabiano, next time when invited to an event at Intercontinental Hotel, RSVP bwana. Now you owe me a drink.