Unrequited

The way these things end depends on a variety of things. The weather. The place. The state of our hearts and whether we knew each other’s favourite colours. Or the shape of each other’s dreams. My favourite colour was blue and you knew this. You made a point of making sure I knew that you knew; trying to sell yourself, I guess. So willing. You were so willing to dive into whatever I was made of and discover everything there was to me; to clothe yourself in my scent, my opinions, my laughter. You were the kind of guy who describes a girl he likes by saying things like, “She’s an enigma; I can’t understand her and I can’t stop trying.”

The way it ended was with your broken heart in my palms and mine intact within my chest.

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Not Your Property

So there I was, standing at the stage, waiting for a mat and wondering why the sun had to be so unkind. There was nobody else there apart from a bodaboda guy whom I had already turned down because my issues with motorbikes run deep and I refuse to use them despite how convenient everybody else in Nairobi seems to find them. Story for another day. Then this random guy arrives and positions himself next to me. He has a struggling beard, an un-ironed shirt, and a nice pair of shoes. He looks like a regular, decent guy. I can already see what’s coming though, and I wince when he begins. Read more

Caught

On a cloudy Tuesday afternoon, it will hit you, perhaps for the first time, how little a human life costs. The price of a mid-range smart phone.

You will be clutching at your bag, taking short hurried steps along Tom Mboya Street. There are always people here, and now, as rush hour begins, it seems that the entire city is here. You will turn this way and that, dodging scowling men who bump past you, refusing to acknowledge the small space you take up on the street, squeezing past wide, waddling women, strolling slowly in the busiest part of town, gossiping probably, clapping their hands to punctuate their sentences. Read more

In Class

13/03/2017; 8:10 pm

I both love and hate classes like this one.

It is early in the night. The sun, fierce and unfeeling only a couple of hours ago, is gone, and now the air is lighter, easier to breathe, without all that thick heat weighing it down. Most people are home, I assume. Probably getting supper ready, showering, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook because they have nothing better to do. Or because they have not procrastinated quite enough yet before getting started on that very important thing that they have to get done by tomorrow afternoon.

Me? I am in class. Read more

Perspective

The first time I went there I thought, “Oh hell no.” It was an area of Nairobi I had been never been to before. Suddenly, I was thankful that my father had had none of my pathetic attempts at being Miss Independent, and had insisted that there was no way I would go by myself. When you’ve been sheltered all your life, you tend to be wary of places that don’t look like home. Dagoretti Corner Childcare Programme was further than Google Maps had let on. The buildings along the road had gradually became smaller and older, and the road dustier and narrower. The place looked like it belonged in its surroundings: small, run-down, dingy. The first time I went there, I regretted having committed myself to Pastor Enos. I regretted having heard him say that they needed me. I regretted refusing to do my community service at a more ‘upscale’ institution because I felt that I had made a promise to this home and that I couldn’t go back on it.

But today I regret my regret. Read more

How to be a student: A guide

  1. Begin the semester full of hope and purpose. You are well rested from the holiday, you were beginning to get antsy anyway—staying home all day doing nothing is lovely but even that can get exhausting. Plus when you’re home your mother delights in waking you up way too early (8:30 am) with a list of chores. Purpose to attend all your classes; you are aware that there is a correlation between class attendance and academic performance…or you are aware that your lecturers make a point of saying that each semester, so just in case they are actually on to something, you will give it a shot. Make up your mind to make school a priority and to begin doing your assignments and term papers and group projects as soon as possible so as to avoid that abundance of stress and anxiety towards the end of the semester when all of them are due. Bask in the glorious feeling of almost having your life together.

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Crowning glory. Or lack thereof.

Esmeralda. That was what Sally decided to call my hair six years ago, when we first discovered that there was definitely something wrong with it. It was her way, I guess, of telling me that despite the fact that mine wasn’t as long and thick and altogether glorious as hers, it was still beautiful. And when I tell you that her hair was thick, I mean untameably, awe-inspiringly, ridiculously thick. You could lose a chicken wing in there. The lady who used to come to school fortnightly to blowdry our hair lived in fear of the days that Sally would show up with a towel on her head and her shirt untucked and a bitch look on her face. And we didn’t blame her. In fact, we all resented Sally a little whenever she decided to get her hair blowdried because she was one of those girls who would be on that chair for a full forty minutes, because the blow dry, at maximum heat, couldn’t get through her hair. Read more

The thing about hope

Don’t you just love the smell of hope at the beginning of a new year?

Of course it’s already not as strong as it was last week, but who needs these negative vibes when we’ve all decided that 2017 will be about love and light and positive vibes only? We’re all about making ourselves better (even though we know that change is a gradual thing, and we will probably remain the same in very many ways for the better part, if not all, of the year), avoiding negativity (even though we know that life cannot be all good, humans cannot be all good, and we are most definitely not going to remain calm and sweet, soaked in an aura of serenity and love, when a matatu guy is trying to grab us by the arm and practically shove us into that his falling-apart contraption, which, by the way, is already full), and spreading good energy to all those around us (even though we know that some people can only be loved by the Lord, and those people we declared we were leaving in 2016— yes, those ones about whom we say ‘damu yangu na yake haiingiani’,  or ‘aki huyo roho ilimkataa tu’ ,those very ones—have also crossed over into 2017). Read more

Life cycle of a bookworm

I am 7 years old and at night I pull my net down and around my bed. My parents are very strict about this, malaria is real. I do not do it well but I am not worried because my father will be by later to fix it. I get under the covers with a heavy collection of children’s Bible Stories and my mother’s copy of Nairobi Law. I start with the law magazine because it is shorter and flip through the pages. I will not find out what the word jurisprudence means for another twelve years, and I can barely read it. But this doesn’t matter; I only want the words to sing me to sleep. Read more