when we go broke

= 5115

It is half past midnight, on a Wednesday morning. It is when am keying in my story to beat the deadline. And I can feel a meticulous wave of slumber whip my head with a mattock, sending blurry images to my eyes so that I can’t see clearly. But either way I have to do this. I promise I will make it before I finally drift off to the other side where dreams dominate. It is there that we literary die. And when the morning comes, we are able to shout across the lawn while in our white robes and that smelly odour, “I made it.” Damn it, sure you made it.

When you talk with other fellas, especially if you are a writer, they will keep telling you; and please don’t write this on your blog. They keep saying it. Repeatedly. And you get irked by the whole idea that they think you are going to do a long lousy blog post concerning them. So they will utter some things with caution or even murmur. You are akin to an eavesdropper, or a gossiper who picks up stories and sends them down the gossip chain immediately. They are insecure about our presence. And you cannot be trusted. But we tell them to go easy.

Of course we gather ideas at such forums. We formulate stories about people we interact with. It is the nature of writers. And we will write anything, including what you implore us not to. We don’t care when we have a feeling that these guys’ stories will make an orgasmic gig. So no matter how much they pester us to back down, we won’t because of our ego. All writers have an ego, one that tells them to just write. Nobody is going to do shit to them. And they will write even if they agreed they won’t. Betrayal in the city.

A while ago I met these dudes while going around the university streets trying to get my head around. Now, these guys are bookies. Guys whose only happiness is to hang around books and discuss how CPA si mama ya mtu. That they need to read every available content. They are married to the books, and that’s just their lives. Bookies. I guess they were having a break to catch up with how far they have supposedly read.

I hate bookies because every time you meet they are on heat of telling you how they have not read a certain book. So you can’t go down to Whispers to have one or two. Or just catch a game in the nearest pub. You just cant. Bookies have no time to enjoy life. Not away from books.  They have a different calling called Bookwarming.

These are the guys who spend six days in the library without blinking. And what do they do on the seventh day? Oh, they still talk of what they’ll be up to the following week. And the shit they read last week. Read, read and read. If you are not that witty extrovert to swing the conversation around….you might get bashed.

And so they were discussing how the month iko kwa kona. Bookies talking of mwezi iko kwa kona. Seated safely in a throng, just bookies. I wonder how they can help each other now that their lives have no money on them.

These guys might have learnt a lot of stuff and amassed great wealth of knowledge. They may have read all books in the library and even those downloaded from the internet. But the are cut from the real world. They don’t understand anything about the reality of life out there in the world, a realism that will hit them later.

Here is the connection.

We all get broke, don’t we? We spend our money and at some point we don’t have even a dime to our name, but empty wallets and purses. It is a dry spell for money. And life suddenly changes.

Being broke may not necessarily imply that you are poor. Everyone sometimes goes down. And all these cannot be attributed to poverty as such. Being broke is a like a period of economic recession, and when you have bucks on your ass is like economic boom.

I don’t want to dwell on this mishmash of why we get broke because there are a million reasons that contribute to that. You see when we go broke, our behaviour changes. And that is my bone of contention. Being broke brings us closer to God. At this period folks will be presenting their petitions to God:Why me Lord? Why me? Well, these are folks who are not used to the look of empty wallets because it is grotesque. So ugly that you cannot even smile. While to some, being on the receiving end is not a big deal. They have been in that court altogether for a while now.

The lack of money can make us religious, unfortunately, for a while. During this period we become prayerful. We read the bible. Generally, it contributes to the reasons why we believe in God, promising God that if He just blesses, you won’t touch a bottle of liqour for a week.

Being broke is like a test. And tests aren’t any easier you know. They need patience, hard work and you have to be smart. And I hate being broke.

This situation can make you do things that rarely make sense. Things like borrowing. And landing into debts. We all borrow, at some point. We are not sufficient by our own. An extra helping hand from a friend is indeed one thing that can save the day. While it is great to borrow, borrowing can be addictive, landing us into numerous and grisy debts. Now, debts are curses. Debts can make you lose good friends, they can make you fail to pick calls or fail to reply messages, avoid using certain routes and even changing your direction when you see the person you owe money coming your way. Debts are sources of fights, and you can be sued.

Many of us when borrowing a loan will give many promises. Many of which are less genuine. Just lies. Promises we might never fulfill. At that moment all we care is ourselves and how we can get that money out of somebody’s bloody wallet. And we will use all means. You will hear a dude telling you- Bruh, I am expecting some cash tomorrow, loan me 500 I refund tomorrow evening. I haven’t eaten anything toka jana. Or some niggah was sent my money but hasn’t communicated with me yet, si uniwahi kathao apo akinitumia nkuangalie bro? And so on. But do we keep our promises?

The things we do when broke are weird. This is the time you’ll go to a shop to borrow. And you will have to wait everybody else to buy so that you can borrow peacefully. If another customer shows up while you are in the middle of the borrowing, you stop and tell them- nunua kwanza. And then you will wear your best genuine face, go humble and use a needy voice to buy into the shopkeepers mind. Good ones will give you items on loan. From that day you will use another route, or pass express without looking at the shop owner till you get his money. That’s life.

And sometimes you can find yourself visiting your friends at the wrong moment for all wrong reasons. Well, these are not those friends you can ask for a loan but they can cook and you eat. So you knock at her door almost at lunch time…and then ask something very petty- by the way mwalimu wa OB alisema anakam lini? You say this while entering her house. Out of nowhere, you build more stories for you to hang around. Your eye is on the food. And she will cook and you will eat.

Being broke is a lesson. It teaches us to spend wisely when we have and save for hard times. A broke ass can make you wear an ugly face. You can easily know a broke fella. They are never happy. They are just sad and alone. They have few words, and their mouths don’t emit a very good smell. Once they open their mouths you are like- gerrarrahia!

We crack stories and carry on our usual banters to relish upon life. And broke fellahs will often keep quiet in such sessions. They are engraved in thoughts. All they can do is watch, and maybe never listen. Others can’t stand crowds.

Well, being broke can make you spend all your day in bed. It is often said that he who sleeps a lot is sad. Sad because they are broke. You will lie on your bed looking at the ceiling while listening to the growling sounds in your stomach, like damned regiment of drums.

You can get stressed. Money is happiness. In whichever way you may put it, money can buy a lot of happiness. And when you lack it, your happiness is subtracted and brutally butchered. Being broke can make you wander in paths for no reason, or maybe hoping you will cone across some creased 1000 bob note that will save the day. We all have done that, right? Walking on the road hoping and praying that money brushes your sight so hard that you can’t fail to notice it.

People die when they lack money. Others succumb to stress related maladies. While others commit suicide. They just give up the ghost, and die a brutal death. But do we have to die? Do we?

Being broke can humble folks. I mean they can do anything for the money at that moment. They can be damn secretaries for even chicken and all other kinds of shit just to get the money. It brings us to a certain level. A level that spells and underlines humanity. We level up to other human beings. We lose the social status and we become normal. We back down and tuck our tails between our legs.

Money or lack of it can be problematic. But lack of it is mostly suicidal. Just like other life problems, being broke comes to offer us life lessons that we might not find in books. It prepares us for a better future. We learn to equip ourselves for hard times in advance. It teaches us the value of hard work, diligence and organization.

I leave it at that.

Image credit: etinspires.

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About Mzangila

Mentor, media consultant, photographer, editor, poet, writer, and counselor.

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