Dead On Arrival

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A tiny part of me often wonders if buildings talk to each other. That part of me worries much about anything because a huge part of me is always obsessed with pettiness- things not about making a mountain out of a molehill, but getting concerned about things that don’t zest human life- like wondering if buildings boast to each other. Therefore, I am a petty man. Pettiness is my birthright. So many things worry me, like wanting to know how it feels when a girl pees. I always feel like it would be a breathtaking scene to watch a girl, leave alone a woman, pee. Have you heard the sound pee makes when an older woman urinates? It is like pouring rain, only that it starts heavy and lasts only seconds, without any warning. For a girl (someone who’s still chaste), the sound could be different. You can feel that the pee is coming from a squeezed, tight tube or something when she urinates. And such acts for me, are quite fascinating.

I also wonder how it feels like when a woman orgasms. I know I am not alone in this. I have seen how they vibrate like a rock crusher when they come.  Some, according to my experience, freeze for a moment that you might think they’re experiencing a heart attack. That, is not what my wonder is, I wonder how they feel in that moment. For men, for instance, your balls curl (expand and contract to ejaculate, the same with the pc muscles) and there’s an adrenaline rush coupled with some kind of weakness that nothing can shake off. At that moment, even if a python emerged from somewhere and came after you, you can do little. The kind of good-feeling that sweeps through the body takes with it all the energy. The knees weaken, you cannot stand. If you were shagging while standing, you’ll have to find somewhere to hold onto in that moment. That feeling will last a few seconds and then wane off. After that, you’ll lose the zeal to do or think anything related to sex. You feel three things: like sleeping, like looking at her and not saying anything, just to admire her, or just getting out of there.

Our women, however, have mastered the art of bringing conversation during this moment- this is a spoiler. Why bring issues to bed, at such a critical moment? Anyway, the worst is when you’ve been romancing and doing all the donkey work that is called foreplay, and when you’re just about to enter (thrust His Excellency inside), then she asks, umevaa condom? You men know how that feels.

I want to be clear on this. Condoms are shit. Unless you’re using them to protect yourself from contracting deadly diseases. Otherwise, using a condom during sex is like shagging the condom. There is no need to claim that you have had sex when indeed all you have done is self-pleasuring yourself with a condom. Utamu wa ngono ni kumwaga ndani.

The taking responsibility part of that transaction is a cost sharing process. Make it easy by coming over during your safe days. I won’t mind waiting.

My conversation was about buildings before this neck of woods threw me into a different lane where stories about sex and profanity flourish.

I have been using Waiyaki Way, lately, when going to town. There isn’t much to admire before reaching Westlands. And when you reach Westlands and the surrounding areas, there are numerous long-ass buildings that are after the sky reach. Buildings that seem to chase something hidden in the clouds. Each day there is a new one coming to take over the dominion of the tallest building. Maybe it is not the buildings that are trying to beat each other. It is the owners.

 I bet it feels great when you know you’re the owner of the tallest building in Kenya. There’s some kind of notoriety that comes with that. You walk around with added swag, never missing a step, and if you miss, it’s because you stopped to greet the guy who owns the building next to yours. He is the guy who stands at his office in the 30th floor, overlooking your tall building and saying words like, “so he decided to beat me in this, this asshole.”

This is the guy who admires your building. When he sleeps, he dreams of building a taller building than yours. He’ll never rest or else he’ll have nightmares. Even his wife, perhaps, will prod him ‘to be man enough’ by building a taller building. “You can’t let a mere man beat you, kwani what are you? Show them who is the man,” these will be her words every evening. This guy will be pressured to build a taller building, not only to protect his name on the charts but also to impress his wife.

This guy will hardly sleep. When he does, all he keeps hearing is his wife’s voice, “Wake up asshole, you’re sleeping while other men are out there making their names by building the tallest buildings on earth. You should be ashamed.” Voices. Imaginary voices. He is afraid that he will lose his wife. So he will spend most of his time outside their home to show the wife that he’s really working hard to see that he pulls up a taller building. But all he’ll be doing will be spend time with friends or drinking.

In his office, on some days, he’ll draw the curtains and stand by the window. He will look at the taller building admirably, trying to peak at it to see if he can see its top from his office. He wants to see how taller he needs to go. He will observe the making of the building carefully, perhaps making wishes or just feeling jealous.

His life will never be the same after that building comes up. Another wealthier man will find a way to erect a taller building. Again, he’ll become the man with a smaller building. His name will drop in the charts, conversation about him and his building will disappear. His face will wear out from the face of the media. He will be just a man who owns two buildings in Westie.

He refuses to give up. Maybe he does not need to build the tallest building in Africa or the world. He discovers that all he needs is a different design, a design never seen before. And since it is difficult for someone to copy your design, in a way, he comes up with the most kick ass design and puts up another building, one that gets people talking due to its uniqueness. Once again, he is back into the limelight as a man who has a building with a unique design. The media mentions that he also owns two other major buildings. He is a big deal now, he likes it. People rush to interview him. I try to book an interview as well but I am not the likes of Linus Kaikai or Jeff Koinange. They (his people) shove me out of the list and tell me that he’s a busy man.

I call my boss to pull some strings so that I can secure a slot because I want to see this guy’s smile of contentment when I interview him.

A fortnight later, a call comes through. I get the slot. I have interviewed big people before, including three vice presidents, CEOs, and opposition leaders in various countries.  I buy a suit for the occasion. One evening, I run my hands along the fabric of the suit in anticipation. I put it on to see if it fits me well. I have been eating well lately, I don’t like something that squeezes my balls. It gives me the look of a guy who has made it in life only that my face denies so.

A fine, light skinned bird in five inch-stilettos crosses the road. There is enormous struggle with its shoes. We can all see it, including my cab driver who laughs and shakes his head because the bird just passed in front of his cab. He says, “Na wasichana wa siku izi wana shida kubwa, shida yenye ata Mungu hajui atasolve aje.”  I look at that bird for a while. She has these nice legs. Nice legs that she’s burdening with stilettos she’s not used to. I start to wonder how I would behave if I were a girl. Have you ever asked yourself how life would be if you were someone else? Or of another sex?

I have. I do try to imagine but I discover it is better off to be a man that being a girl. So I wouldn’t imagine of being a girl. I would suck at it as I’d be lost and destroyed. Everyone will take advantage of me.

The bird disappears. People’s heads return to where they were before they craned their necks to have stares. I tell my driver to hurry up. I am already sweating in my suit. Suits make you look good but still make you uncomfortable. It is the only time that I get uncomfortable confidence.

As I pass Westie, I try to imagine which buildings my interviewee owns. I try to look at different buildings trying to spot the most unique and tallest buildings. “Maybe it is that one, or that one and that one, or the other one,” I keep telling myself.

The driver looks at me through the rear view mirror. There is uneasiness showing on my face. I always feel jumpy and restless when I know shit about to happen. Such simple emotions usual tell me that something might not happen.

I am at the gate by 8:30 am. My interview is to start at 9:00am, and as man of my honour I try to keep promises, one of them being punctual. At least I am known for my consistency in showing up and keeping my word. I come from a long line of men with a pedigree of keeping their words.

Tigoni is cool, bushy and calm. It looks like a place where people hide. I can hardly spot residences.  Before us, a white, colonial like bungalow smiles. I ask the driver to hang around, my boss will pay for the damages and the time.

We’re welcomed by this well groomed gate man. We joyfully go in and the cab pulls up on the front yard. a young beautiful lady meets us. She leads us to a room. She looks like she cleans roses, she smells roses.

My driver, who by now has been asking me how I know the owner of this house, is with me. I tell him to behave normally, not to feel small or show any signs of low self-esteem. I do so because it looks like he has never stepped into such a huge house that is embroidered with grandeur. I can smell his ‘fear’ from miles away.

The rose-smelling lady offers us tea and puts on television. She also brings an assortment of snacks to take with tea. I look around in awe. There are pictures of my interviewee on the wall, from his younger days.  He looks charming.

News reach us that the guy died that morning. What will his buildings say?

Mzangila Snr,

Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?

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