Before toilet paper

“Check out this hoarder,” Adam leans over to show me his smartphone screen.

It’s a van, packed with rolls of toilet paper. The caption says the driver was fined for overloading.

I am transported back to my childhood, to a pit latrine on top of an anthill in the middle of my grandparent’s compound. The door was partially hidden by the boldo plants that grew around it – our toilet paper.

With the manure in the ground, we never ran out.

I smile.

Those were simple times.

I return to the shopping list in my hands and write ‘toilet paper’.

April showers make me cry

Tears flow down my cheeks and I blow my nose into an already wet tissue. I’m burning up and my eyes are getting redder by the second. I feel another sneeze coming. This is why I don’t like the rainy season.

The incessant showers have washed the dust back on to the ground. All around town, green things are springing back to life, but me? I feel like I’m dying. Continue reading

Mother will never know

Mother does not know where I am going, and she never will.

All she ever does is make me work. Before sunrise, I mop the house and polish the floor. I dust the seats and sweep the carpet. When the sun rises, I fetch water from the village well and wash clothes. I clean and clean and clean. By the time the sun is overhead, I go with Mother to the market, and then I get dinner ready, as Mother sits on the verandah, waving to the neighbours and beaming with pride when they tell her what a good daughter she has. Let her think I am still her good girl. Continue reading

I wish the neighbours would fight

Last night was peaceful. You’d get my meaning if you knew my neighbours. They fight. They fight often. It’s loud. It’s ugly. It keeps everyone up.

Last night we all took the night off. I was happy to hear my own heartbeat again. I drew the blinds. I dimmed the lights. I got my bowl of popcorn. I burrowed into the couch and started the film.

And then I heard that eerie sound again: the kitchen door opening, distinct footsteps slowly coming my way. I froze. My pounding heart rose to my throat. How I wished the neighbours would fight.

See me as you wish, and I’ll see myself for what I really am

A slender, dark-skinned, seemingly exhausted policemen stops our car somewhere along the Mombasa – Nairobi highway. He asks to see my driving license. I reach for my handbag, pull out my wallet, extract the document and hand it over to him. He flips it open, gives it a cursory glance and says, “I want you to give me your own licence.” Continue reading

Taking flight – Please not through the window

Quotation mark copyHere are the two states in which you may exist: person who writes, or person who does not. If you write: you are a writer. If you do not write: you are not. Aspiring is a meaningless null state that romanticizes Not Writing.

– Chuck Wending (Terrible Minds)

There I am, sitting in the back row of a cramped meeting room on the upper floor of the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi with a group of young Kenyans, their faces full of enthusiasm, their bodies pulsating with vibrant energy. The ideas are not in short supply. They range from the ambitious ‘change-the mainstream-thinking’ to the usual ‘I just want to tell people about what makes me tick’.  Some have discovered curious treasures,  archives just waiting to be burst open to take the public on mystical journeys to the past. No, there is no shortage of ideas. There I sit, in the back row, next to the window, hoping that I, and my jaded and uninspired soul, can take flight when the opportunity presents itself. Continue reading