I think my mother has only ever read two articles I have written here. And I actually prefer it to remain that way because if she ever gets to see the madness that goes on here, I will be disinherited for sure. No way her bone could be the one living like that in this our Narobi. The first piece she read was about my old man, and she cried when she did, and that is also the first and last time she commented on the quality of my writing. She did not say I write well. Well, she did, kind of, in a way only an African mother can compliment her son’s writing. She said, “You shouldn’t say things this way.” With that statement, it is up to you to extrapolate and decide whether or not she is issuing a threat or being nice.
The next article she read was For Akello. She called me, and I can always tell when she calls and there is something wrong. There is trepidation in her voice. For someone who has never lacked words, she stammered a little.
“Choka,” she began. She never calls me her bone anyhow unless I have passed exams, sent her money, or when something grim has happened. “Someone…errrm…sent me a link for me to read something here…and I don’t know…. idhi nade?”
“Adhi maber.” There was ice in my voice. The kind that freezes up your words so that whoever is listening knows you’re not in the mood to talk (to them) (about whatever).
“Mbla koro I just called beca….”
“Let me stop you right there. Tell whoever sent you that link to learn how to mind their own business.”
I do not know why anyone would send her that link to that story. She is not doing too good, this old lady, so why add her stress? What did she have to do with it? And why was it important that she should be worried for me surely?
“Well, I am sorry if…”
“No. Uh-uh. Dawe. See? Why are you apologizing? You have done nothing wrong. None of this is your fault. Whoever sent you that thing is the one monego bed ni rango kore. Ng’is gi nawacho ni they leave us alone.”
“But I am your mother. Surely you do not expect ni something like that will timore and they do not tell me. Who were they supposed to tell? Kok gi ng’isa to ging’iso nga?”
This woman is fond of asking tough questions. Thing is, I preferred to have told her in person, not through a blogpost. But at that moment, I did not know how to say this. I was not ready, and I am not sure that I would have been ready soon, so in hindsight, an argument can be made that whoever sent her that story actually did me a favour.
She called me again on Jamhuri Day, this time with an offer of chicken. “Kuja ukule chakula ya mama.” I should have known that this woman is as crafty as she is loving. That chicken was not just chicken. She wanted to talk. From what she gathered – and I honestly have no clue where she got this idea – I was kicked out, and I was destitute. And so with rice and chicken sitting on our stomachs, the oil from the stew still glistering on our fingers, I set her straight.
She, just like so many other people, had all kinds of questions.
There is no ‘real’ story about what happened – it happened like I said it did, no exclusive inside story here. No, she did not kick me out, she wouldn’t, come on – I moved out…No, she was not traumatized as a child – she just does not want children…Well, I do not know whether she is incapable of having children, mommy, she has never been pregnant before, but I believe she is fine…It is her choice. People make those sometimes…But si adopted children are still children? It is not pregnancy she is scared of – she does not want motherhood in totality…. Again, it is her choice…. Ha ha ha ha No, the TV stays with her, if you want a TV I will buy you one.
“Sawa bas. Anyway, I had put together a few things here for you,” she said pointing to two manila baskets next to her couch. I had noticed it when I entered the house and I’d meant to ask her if she was moving houses.
“What are those?”
“You will see, usijali. Ing’e ni in choka?”
Know what were in those manila baskets? Utensils. Not just any utensils. They were glasses, cups and plates that had been gifted to her on her wedding day. Utensils that we were never allowed to eat or drink with because they were for visitors. Funny enough, no visitors worthy enough to use those utensils ever came to our house, because they simply sat by in the wall unit looking nice. Then there was this particular set of brown glasses that had a jug. When I saw them in there, I wanted to give them back immediately.
“No way. I cannot take these.”
“You will take them because I have given them to you, OK. Gima minu omiyi ok ikun.”
“But daddy gave you these, donge?”
“Yes. Me I was wooed and married properly – not like you kids of nowadays who just take people’s daughters and bring to your houses fwaaaaa.”
“Too soon, mommy.”
“What is too soon?” she genuinely did not understand what I meant, so she went on. “William nonyuoma with those glasses before any of you were born.”
“Look, stop breaking my head you little boy, take them!” she said walking into her bedroom, “and when will they ever be used anyway?”
I was still recovering from the shock of what was happening when she called from her room. “Do you have a bed?”
“Yes mommy, I do.” Shit, was this woman just about to dismantle her bed to give me?
“Queen size. 5 by 6.”
“OK,” she emerged from her bedroom with a pile of bedsheets. “Take these as well….and do not ever buy bedsheets when I am still alive. An kodgi mang’eeeeeny….do you have an iron box?”
“Yes mommy.” This one I burst out laughing. “An gi pas.”
“Hmmmh. You know things have changed these days. Me when I was a girl there are things men did not buy. You get a girl and when she comes over to your place, she notes things that are missing. Small small things. Like iron box and dishes. She goes and buys and brings them to the house…but of course the man would later on hear headswell and pay for them. These days I do not know how you people are living. Everything upside down.”
“But mommy, it has been a long time since you were a girl.”
She shot her eyes at me, harrumphed and said, “You have very many words for such a small head. I do not blame you though. You think you are awake. Here. Take these.” They were two tall matching cups.
“I am woke, not awake.”
“What unripe English is that now? And you call yourself a writer? Hmmmh. Ero mak anena kama…one of those cups is for you and one for your new girlfriends. When they come visiting, you at least make them tea.”
Girlfriends. Plural. I remember on my first day to campo, after she had packed my suitcase, given me pocket money and hugged me goodbye, she’d held my hands as I moved away and said, “Remember to use a condom.” So of course I was not surprised at how fast she expected me to move on. Maybe because she knows me better than I know myself. Maybe she was just kidding – making light of a situation she knew was difficult for me, because in as much as it was sweet to get all these things from her, it was kidogo embarrassing that I still needed her at age 27.
She was not done though. She gave me a portrait of hers to hang on my wall. And then took me to town and did for me shopping worth 10k. It was by far the best Jamhuri Day I have ever celebrated, and now if she ever calls me to go for chicken you think I would ever refuse?
There is always those Olympics exes play after breakups. You sit around waiting to hear who will be the first one to start fucking around. If you were the asshole that got y’all separated, you will try to be the humble one. You do not want to start dicking around lest people say you were just waiting for a fucking opportunity. And how soon is too soon to start anyway? Are you, like, allowed to be sad about a breakup but still get an orgasm? I mean, come to think about it. Your eyes are allowed to be wet from tears when your ginene is also wet from chudex. It’s called shock value, and science says it is good for your mental health. Google it. Confuse your body a little. Your heart and your head do not have to always agree, unless both of them agree that you could use some head.
And let me tell you something, being on the rebound is crazy. You will just be sitting somewhere bored out of your mind and then you send a risky text. It’s not even something you hope would yield anything. You just try – a sort of hail Mary. Then the shot lands and even you are surprised, because you have known this person for quite a bit of time and there has never been ANY indication that they are even REMOTELY interested.
Like, for real? You? Me? Who would have thought. It is like in that episode for Black Mirror – The Waldo Moment – when they staged a cartoon to run for MP and it got about 16,000 votes. Something that starts as a joke and then people take it seriously. Now you are over there wondering what to do with this acceptance. Shit! But then again, it is December and everyone is closing their books of accounts before New Year’s when body counts reset.
Those ones are fine though. The worst one is when someone catches feelings. And it does not matter that you explain Listen, I am not here to give you anything more, OK? then they refuse to listen and they start falling in love.
For example there is this girl, right? Of course there is a girl – where else did you think this second part was going? Anyway. We had met earlier in the year and honestly, lakini there was nothing. Just a hey and a hi when we met at social gatherings and we should do this and that sometime (even though sometime never came for us to do this and that). Then after the cataclysm, we started talking. And maybe I went a little too far. A little. Maybe I flirted more than I should have. So when she began getting intense, I stopped her in her tracks. Like hold up. First, I am not interested like that (I know, I am an ass). And two even if I was, this will go off rails. She said sawa. She said she understood. She wanted to cut me off completely and never show up for places we often met and I said that was unnecessary – we can be adults here.
Then the texts started. And anyone who has my number knows how much I hate texts (and calls before 10am). She interpreted we can be cool as we are now in a relationship. I did not respond. But the texts kept coming. Every time my phone buzzed, I did not look because I knew it was my new girlfriend. She texted about waking up, about new high-end clients, about her lunch, about her evening, about her siblings and how they tire her, about being arrested by cops, about her Christmas, about her new year resolutions.
And with every text, there is a multimedia attachment. Sometimes a video, sometimes an audio, many times a photo. Muting does not help in WhatsApp. Mute on WhatsApp is as effective as EACC in fighting corruption in Kenya – it removes the stink, but keeps the shit. Yaani sometimes I am on my phone listening to music and then a voice comes out of nowhere. A voice note. You’re jamming to Dundaing and then small small, a ghost with a womanly voice comes to your ear like “aki Wacha nikuambie si leo nimeona siku mrefu…” Or you open Facebook or IG to upload a photo and then some strange pictures show up on your gallery. Pictures you know you did not take.
Kumbe it is a selfie with her famo. WTF!
It was like being in a WhatsApp group with one person. And I did not understand why she could not get it. There you are doing a monologue in someone’s DM and after going on and on with your TED Talk and nobody is responding, si you should know that person is not interested? And what’s worse was that at the time I was going through a writer’s block. This is the first post I am putting up in two months. But because God is a humorist, he denied me words and put them in the fingers of this woman. She is not even a writer, but she was almost finishing her debut novel in my WhatsApp. This pain was layered, I tell you.
By the dawn of 2019, when I checked the messages, we had dated I had proposed, we did a ruracio with matching Wakanda outfits, I took cows, we had a garden wedding for the Instagram, got kids who we started after our grandmothers and then ultimately divorced… then fucked and made up and now we were good to go for the new year.
Hashtag relationship goals. Hashtag Becoming Michelle Obama.
Ok, maybe I’ve exaggerated a little, but Nyasachiel I swear it was death by whatsapp.
So I blocked her. And the crazy part was, as soon as I did, she called immediately. Like it did not last a minute, meaning, she was probably in the middle of sending another text when I blocked her. Sometimes when I think about this from her perspective, I laugh a little and then cry for her. Imagine being mid-text and then the contact just disappears at the snap of Thanos.
Yeah. I had no idea how insane the pool is out here. It is until you leave the warmth of a relationship that you realize how cold the wilderness is. So I will take it slow from here hence. No more sending risky messages. If this is about starting afresh, then I should do it properly. Slowly. Them ladies are not going anywhere. No need to gobble up everything you can hold the way 8-5ers gobble up the weekend before it ends. I will wake up every morning, breathe in and out, and if by chance I happen to meet someone who deserves to drink from my mother’s cup, I will make her tea.
[Happy New Year. We’re back.]