For a while now I have become just like any slob doing their numerous rounds on this earth. Slothful and lacking mindfulness because shit gets somewhere and you can no longer help yourself but cut the slack and bend over to let life rummage your butt. It gets to a point where happiness seems to breathe around laziness, and since we all want to be happy, espousing it doesn’t require lots of effort. You only need to say- yes baby.
Being a guy who is obsessed and loyal to things and some people, it is my nature to have some particulars in my back pocket because that is where my wallet with all my little fortunes rest every day. Some of these particulars include self-awareness, physical fitness and serenity. Having these by my side makes me feel like I am accomplished because you’ll never prosper with a negative mind, or stress, or too fat that you can’t move around or if your conscience is not clear.
Since I got home a few months ago, my slothfulness has increased tenfold. I used to be this guy who would wake up every morning, punch 30 press ups, run 10k thrice a week, do some crunches, ruminate and read a book each week. My face was beginning to get soft and bubbly. It was glistening and happiness sprawled all over it because that is what fitness does to you.
My work was picking up well and the future was beginning to flourish because I had this impeccable charm to sell. My energy levels were nourished and everything about me was elevated. I could actually bounce. I was like Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart.
Then suddenly things came and filled my life up. Things I considered indispensable than my health. These things- on face value- seemed to change my life in the new future- Mzangila Group Network, Mzangila Shippers, Writers Guild, writing a book and a number of novellas, broking things, the propensity to move out to a posh neighbourhood where people sit on the balcony every day because there is enough money to lazy around, impressing women (many of whom I truly wouldn’t want to have anything with), going to every event because that is where the middle-class bourgeois would whisper me to go to, developing a craving for older women and generally the want of better things-money at the centre of all these.
Every evening I head home with bent shoulders, tired to the bone. The bone marrow melted and almost oozing out of my skin. Have I achieved the happiness I wanted? Has the money I make increased? Has my life progressed any further? Nothing seems to go right- spiraling needs, fatigue, boredom, stress, hunger and loss of flavour for life. A fat cabbage lying still in the shamba, taking in water, nutrients, the sun and all sort of things.
So I have relinquished my morning devotions and practices because money is more seducing than a hot girl with a nice ass. Instead of becoming better, my life is a becoming noticeably vacant and boring.
In the morning I now eat beef brawns and lots of wheat. They say wheat is awful particularly for somebody attempting to remain fit yet I couldn’t care less. As a man, I love chapati. Most men, if not all love chapati. I down two cups of tea and carry a thermos-full to my workstation. I smear some honey and peanut oil on my bread (the only thing that I run from is blueband) every morning.
This time of the year, I don’t mind about my life so much. Just want to get out of the house and see the world, meet its warm or harsh embraces. The sun melts on my back most of the time and sand finds its way to my face sometimes. Everything has gone from good to worse but there is no effort I’m putting to redeem me.
While I used to walk to the bus stage which is 15 minutes away, I no longer do that. I shifted my workstation nearer to my cuzo’s place so that he gives me a ride every morning. I don’t walk an inch. Now I am the first one to go and get the car out of the parking and clean it ready for a ride. Cleaning it is one thing I do without complaining because during that interaction with the car is when I envision my future and the kind of car that I want to buy. Everything about it prepares me for it and instills in me this insurmountable hope that my first would be a beast that people would admire. In my very transparent windscreen and dark goggles, I won’t look outside. Why should I when everybody else is endeavoring to look inside?
Obviously, we’re altogether made for greater things. God sets us up for greater battles that accompany better tidings. Over the years, I can trace my journey and conclude that God didn’t sentence me to anything but greatness. I have traversed hills and gone done old and beaten paths, jumped so many high hurdles, walked through hot coal and molten tar, washed in pain and misery, lived amongst destitution and despondency, befriended lice and bugs, eaten rotten food, hugged old tattered clothes for my body, cried and winced in unmistakable pain, watched death pass by my eyes, met death severally in scary mischances, lost loved ones at a tender age, life has kissed my lips with so much rage and tried to topple me and send me to hell early- but I’ve withstood all these.
God has given me power and conviction to do things that other people wouldn’t dare do even if shit came knocking. He gave me confidence and courage to handle undermining conditions that almost put my advances to an eternal stop. He has endowed me with grace that I can be able to sing hallelujah when others don’t find reasons to, He has furnished me lots of joy that I keep spreading love everywhere I go and troubling people who never bother to appreciate back. He has bolstered my happiness and elevated my positivity that I rarely find any situation depressing because I’ve learnt to see good in every situation. Through Him I have been able to know all things work for our own good, He has taught me that the greatest of all fortunes is patience because it is the patient man that stays to see the end and reap the rewards thereof.
Sometimes the grace of God is so sufficient that if you sit down and think about the benefits of what we’re all fighting for, you’ll realize that you already have enough to run your life smoothly. It is with this understanding that happiness and contentment knock on people’s hearts for a stay. That there’s no need to fight for so many things that you don’t need in life.
I’ve learnt to be a studious and prayerful man. It is through the knowledge that you understand the workings of the world. Once you have this understanding, life will change its course and for the better. Prayer, just like a car’s gear system, empowers you to cruise. Prayers give you time to talk to your God, to converse and reveal the burdens lying inside you so that He can offload them off your back. Prayers help you to let out the things that keep shredding your inside apart. Every prayer is answered in one way or another- you’ve to be keen for you to notice how it is was answered.
This habit of carefree life is not taking me where I want to go. Nothing works instantly but I know I’ll reach there if I was to. Somehow, we wind up where we ought to be, contingent upon our conviction and the measure of exertion applied. If you were born to be great, you will be. It doesn’t matter at what age. It is all a matter of patience, discipline and diligence.
On Sunday, I went to a bar to have a drink. The heat nowadays is unforgiving and the worst disservice you can accord yourself is staying parched. A drink at any snapshot of the day can save you from dehydration and from collapsing in the midst of a sexy presentation. In this bar, I requested two Novidas and 8 pieces of chicken rolls. The waitress looked at me for long before taking my order. I guess she was wondering why I would occupy a private lounge if I was up to no liquor. A friend of mine ordered a Viceroy and a sprite. A drink he would take hours to take and carry home the rest. My cousin orders kingfisher and chips Masala.
This friend had taken me to State House last week. He is a politician who lost elections that were held on 8th August. Presently he is doling out on his associations with kindred lawmakers. Sooner or later you agree that what you know matters, who you know matters more.
A couple of minutes prior, we had just had ugali and fish at Mama Oliech’s on Naivasha Road near The Junction. Despite that, we still welcomed more into our bellies. We kept talking as we dug into our drinks. The chicken rolls were impeccable. Tamara teaches me most of this stuff.
I am into my third roll when a call comes through with a +44 code. It is Mama Elsie. As I had hinted earlier, Elsie is suffering from mumps. An ugly disease if you ask me. One of her cheeks has been hanging. I’ve been dying to see her get well.
This phone, as I saw it, was to be a voice of hope. Mama Elsie calls for two reasons: bad news or good news. When I saw the call I didn’t know what to expect. Full throttle, I just hoped that uplifting news would blow softly into my ears.
I excused myself and went into the car. Such calls from her don’t end easily so I am used to finding private and comfortable spots so that we can talk. Even though she’s older by 6 years, I have always considered her equal to me. She acts like she were 6 years more youthful than I am. Which obviously influences me to think I am her shortcoming
Ordinarily, she talks to me with a certain reverence that only a student can use with their teacher. I’ve generally pondered whether it is regard for me or just her tendency. She sounds so helpless in my presence and many are the circumstances she looks for direction and conclusions on issues about her life and that of Elsie.
I am known to be resolved when I do decide. I stamp my foot down so hard that regardless of the possibility that I choose to move it, the impression deserted is pronounced to the point that is can’t be disregarded effortlessly. That is me with decisions- a stickler for tough decisions. Of course, I am flexible when I don’t know what to do, but if I am right, no one is going to get my ass off that seat.
She elucidates me that Elsie is showing signs of improvement. As you all know, there is no treatment for mumps. It can only be managed and after some few weeks or months, it disappears. Managing it includes using painkillers to ease the pain on the swelling, applying ice packs on the swollen glands to soothe it, drinking a lot of fluids to beat dehydration because mumps comes with sickening fever, drink soup or other foods that don’t require you to chew (the pain is intolerable), and avoiding acidic foods and beverages as they may cause more pain.
On a concerned note, I ask her how the swelling is. “It is receding. In a couple of days it might be totally gone,” she tells me. “Even the pain is gone, only the fever that is getting worse.”
“I am happy that she’s getting well. What are you doing about the fever?” I ask. Fever is bothersome and it is the worst thing one to have for more than two weeks.
“I have doctors attending to her. She should be fine soon.” She assures me. When a doctor tells you that everything is going to be fine, surely it will be fine.
“It is my greatest hope. You know I have been praying. I know God won’t disappoint us.” She says something but her accent is so heavy I couldn’t get it. She’s never been such a stout believer as I am. I have tried on many occasions to help her find a savior but I haven’t turned out to be a successful seducer. Maybe I need some nice guy from Jehovah Witness to do that job for me. They love doing the job, right?
Our talk moves from Elsie to other things, enquiring how my life is going. I tell her it is shitty and I don’t know where I am headed. She recommends I enjoy a reprieve and visit them. It is not the first time she’s said it. Often, I ignore the request. If there is a country I haven’t imagined going to is the UK, especially Scotland, their main home, where there are no black people. Although she lives and works in Britain.
I stare at my phone for a while before I respond that maybe it is a high time I did pay them a visit. “I don’t have the money for a ticket, you know that.”
“Just say it and you’ll be on your way here tomorrow morning,” she responds rather quickly. I can detect eagerness in her voice.
“It is not that easy for us to travel abroad like you guys. You just don’t decide that you’re traveling, pack your bags and leave. Shit is more complicated, first I have to renew my passport and then go to seek a visa which I might never get.” I wearily tell her.
I am seated at the co-drivers’ seat with the seat fully reclined. It is so hot and I can feel the hot humidity around me beginning to make me uncomfortable. I turn on the AC (aircon) and remove my shirt to enjoy the cool breeze penetrating through the sleeves of the AC compartments.
“I know, we can make it happen, just say that you can come.” She insists. At this perfect minute when Kenya is floundering in political franticness, the need to flee to another nation is peak to the point that any closest window accessible presents enormous allurements.
But just like any proper man, decisions are not things you make randomly just because the shit at home is not working properly. You take time to figure ramifications of everything.
“I’ll let you know when I am ready,” I tell her. Which of course is a lie. When I go out of Kenya next time, I know I’ll be gone for good. But before that, I need to leave my books balanced. And right now, nothing is really on the balance. My ass is everywhere and I am not willing to leave it hanging out there while I am gone.
Hoping that you prayed and that you do keep praying for Elsie, I thank you and beseech you to put up with the supplications. They’re of great contribution. Her dimples are getting alive and her face is lighting up.
I really didn’t go back to finish my chicken rolls. We might have conversed to late hours. The only thing was to go home and prepare for a bustling week.
Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?