Nairobi Men

Nairobi. The city of dreams, wild nights, busy days, beautiful women and handsome men. The city where everyone seems to be heading somewhere or coming from somewhere. It’s the city that makes shamba boys quit their village jobs to come get city jobs hoping to get more money. The city where innocent girls end up going rogue. It’s the city infested by women that apply layers of make-up. The city where men complain that women are faking but still chase the fake women It’s the city that makes mothers tell their kids, ‘beware of these men’ ‘beware of these ladies’. Nairobi is beautiful; the scenery, the people, the buildings, the artistic craft on the matatus and the food. There’s one thing I love most about Nairobi- the single men.
It’s Saturday night. I’m seated at the counter to a club with my best friend, James. He is one of Nairobi’s eligible bachelors who’s in his late 20’s, drives a nice car, has a good job, has a nice house, physically fit and has the best pick-up lines. He’s obviously not dating. As a matter of fact, a serious relationship is the last thing on his mind.
            “How’s work?” James asks
            “Works great. Just got a promotion after Janet got fired,”
            “The Janet with a good smile?”
            “Why do you always insist on calling her that?”
            “That brunette has a great smile. As a matter of fact, I can now ask her on a date. She’s single, right?”
            “I believe I have seen a guy pick her from the office several times. If that’s the fiance then she is in a serious relationship,”
            “She’s not married so she’s still available. Come through Daisy, don’t be a buzzkill.”
            “Okay. Fine (Tracing Janet’s number on my phone) There you go. Why are you interested in going after what’s already taken?”
“I’m a man. I love challenges. Furthermore, she’s a real catch”
“I thought the lady you took home last night was the real catch. I even banked my hopes on you getting into a relationship,”
            “Thank you for Janet’s number. I’ll definitely give her a call. (He says with a cheeky smile) On to last night’s catch, Ashley. She is okay. Beautiful, smart, has her life in order and a nice job. Though, her booty is quite debatable.”
            “Is lack of booty her real problem?”
            “This morning, I woke up to the smell of pancakes. It was confusing. I rushed to the kitchen only to find Ashley in my shirt flipping pancakes.”
            “I see yesterday you hit the jackpot and took home a lady who is wife material?” I respond smiling
            “Wife material? I met her last night and she’s flipping pancakes in my kitchen after picking her up from a club? Who does that?”
            “Why are you getting pissed? I’m not the one that was in your shirt flipping pancakes after getting chipo’d last night.”
            “Wait till I finish my story then you’ll understand why I’m pissed or rather irritated. Get this, she not only flipped pancakes wearing my shirt, she also said ‘If you want me to leave then come back tonight just say the words, I might even end up leaving my toothbrush tomorrow morning’
            “I feel sorry for you. Tell me you kicked her out?
            “I was modest enough to fake an emergency meeting.”
            “It’s Saturday. You can’t tell me she bought that?”
            “I told her I’m a doctor. She had to believe me or else someone would end up losing their life,”
            (Laughing) “You’re a liar, you know that?”
“Yes I do” he responds laughing
“James, will a day ever come that you’ll get tired?
            “Tired of lying?”
            “I mean sleeping around with ladies. Don’t you want kids?”
            “I will answer that after talking to the lady smiling at me.”
Before I can utter another word, he’s gone. I know what his answer will be. It’s the same answer he has given before. The same response most single guys give, ‘You ladies cannot be trusted. Most you are fake such that I can’t tell who you are without make up. The ladies that are about to get done with campus are busy believing their campus boyfriends about how life will get easier once they are out of school. The rest are busy dealing with sponsors. Those with no boyfriends or sponsors are busy trying to get their lives together believing having a man is a waste of time. The ladies that are working, some are realizing that they have never been in serious relationships and are desperately searching for a man. Such ladies will do anything to get a man and it’s so easy to get them to bed. We love to be challenged. Those that are not desperate, they are hard to get and it’s very attractive but here is the problem, they believe they do not need a man. We want to feel needed. In short, I’d rather mess around to avoid the stress. As I watch him walk up to his new catch, several things worry me. Will he eventually stop? Will he be like the rest of the bachelors who wait till 40 to marry a young girl? Will he get sucked into the world of making money and having fun?
Gone are the days’ men struggled to get ladies. Nowadays they give up when they get what they want or when they realize the struggle will take longer than expected. I know, why campaign after winning an election? Why invest if you may not get returns? Let’s also be real. Men play games and make innocent ladies go bitter to the point of failing to see the worth of men. Nowadays, men rarely take women on real dates. Dates have turned to hangouts that end with going back to the guy’s place, sharing a bed and if the guy is lucky he gets some that night. Having one lady is not enough but having two or more is. If asked, the blame goes to the ladies- mainly that ladies have become loose. Why would ladies want to keep it together yet they will still get played? Why do most single men act perfect expecting single ladies to be the whole package yet they themselves are not the whole package? The men are so busy blaming the women saying women are unfaithful. Question is, are you guys loyal? Why blame the women for using some of your tips and playing the game better than you?
            “Why hasn’t anyone approached you?” asks James interrupting my thoughts
            “Probably because you left your coat hanging in the chair next to mine,”
            “The coat strategy always works. Furthermore, you said you don’t need a man. Has that changed?”
            “Not yet. You aren’t going home with your lady?”
            “Naah. I have her number. I’ll call her tomorrow.”
            “I thought you were to call Janet?”
            “I’ll call them both. Shall we leave?”
            “Yes please.”
Making our way to the door, I notice James smiling and winking at his new lady (He never loses his charm) If only I’d get 24hours to be a man. Get to know how it feels to have the power to hit on a lady, get her interested, take her number and walk away knowing I might never call her. I guess that’s why wishes aren’t horses. Even so, I love the single men of Nairobi.

Oh... We All Fake It!

Today I bumped into one of my friends. I’m talking about the friends you spot then the first thing you say to yourself is, Oh Crap! Days when you’re not in the mood to tolerate them you just make up excuses like My cat just died, I need to rush home; Our cow just gave birth, I need to go help out or My dog has just been diagnosed with cholera, I need to be with it during this difficult time. I’m sure you’re expecting me to say I bolted-being honest, I almost did. It was in a supermarket and unfortunately, the devil had told me to act like a slay queen and push a trolley instead of using a manageable shopping basket. As my friend Lisa, walked towards me, one thing kept ringing in my head, “Daisy, play it cool.” I did play it cool.
    “Hey girl, how have you been? I’ve missed you. Oh my, I really love your hair, looks nice but also makes you look gay,” she said
    “Hey (Hugging her the way Delilah did on the night she betrayed Samson) I’m good. I’ve missed you too. I really love your lipstick color,” I responded
    “Thank you, babe. My boyfriend loves it. He’s actually coming to visit me. I hope I look fine,” she goes
    “Oh sugar, you look like fine wine. Were I him, I’d marry you today,”
    (She giggles) “It’s been a while since I heard from you. Did you quit blogging? By the way, I thought you decided to get yourself a sponsor like all the ladies our age. Pretty funny, right?”
“Yea, very funny,”
“Honestly Daisy, what’s the deal with you? No sponsor, no pictures of your boyfriend on any social media site. No nothing. I have a feeling you might be having issues with your sexual identity and you’re afraid of people judging you. If that’s the case you can talk to me.”

At this point, two important things are ringing in my head; how much weight is given to murder cases by our Kenyan courts? If I run out screaming ‘thief’ pointing at her, how crazy will I look? I know, pretty dumb and desperate. However, desperate times call for desperate measures and desperate measures call for desperate or crazy ideas. I cut her short. “Want to help me?” She quickly says yes. Quite unexpected but then, the sooner I get to finish doing my shopping, the sooner I get to say “BYE”. We continue shopping. Surprise number one, she doesn’t offer to help me push my trolley or pick the things on my list. Surprise number two, she was not intending to buy anything. Meaning, she spotted me and decided to make my day a living nightmare. Can’t Trump come to Kenya and deport such people?
Lisa yapped about this and that drawing people’s attention making me uncomfortable. Maybe I should have walked away and left her talking to herself or maybe I should have been honest at the beginning of the conversation. The smile I used together with the exaggerated hi were my mistakes. They made her assume I was comfortable; that I liked the way she behaved and talked. Did I? 
Ever questioned why we end up tolerating people who make us feel uncomfortable and unhappy? There’s someone reading this and dislikes the way her best friend’s boyfriend treats her best-friend. There’s a guy that dislikes the way his girl tries to impress his friends. There’s a mom that dislikes how her husband treats her son. There’s a student that dislikes using drugs like her classmates. There’s a doctor that dislikes how his nurse wears tiny dresses around the office. There’s a man that dislikes how his boss never appreciates his work. There’s a girlfriend that dislikes the way her boyfriend chews and talks dirty. There’s a man that is so fed up with his girlfriend that he keeps cheating. There’s a guy madly in love with his best-friend but is scared to say it. There’s a brother so disappointed with how his sister dresses around guests. There’s a wife so tired of the way her husband addresses her in front of his friends.
We fake many things; our dressing, our words, our expressions, our emotions, our actions, our lifestyle and orgasms. How many times do we speak up? Instead, we choose to remain stuck. We try to make peace with the sources of our discomforts. In time our discomforts become our new normal. We forget that they will always be coated discomforts. We have grown to accept that we shouldn’t communicate how we really feel; we shouldn’t be our true selves. Instead, we should communicate what others expect us to; be what the world expects us to be.
We stood in line. I listened. No, I pretended to listen. Then Barrack’s slogan rang in my head. Only this time it stated, “Yes I can.” I turned to her ready to say, “I’m fed up. Fed up with your fake personality. Fed up with your thirst for attention. I really hate how you’re always up my business. I am uninterested in some of the private things that go on in your life. First, you aren’t honest with yourself. Second, you fail to respect boundaries. I do not want to change you so please, stop trying so hard. Others will understand you; I can’t.” All of a sudden her phone rang making me realize that I was gawking at her reciting the words with my head instead of saying them to her. “I have to go. My man just arrived. We’ll talk later. Bye muffin,” she says walking away. I feel less burdened. Then it hits me. There will be next time. A next time where I’ll still have to pretend I’m concerned. Well, maybe next time I won’t blow my chance. Maybe I’ll grow some balls and say what’s on my mind.
Making my way out of the supermarket, I recall her question ‘Why did you stop writing?’ Did I stop writing? I did not. I just took a break. The breaks we take to figure ourselves out. To find out why we are dedicating our time and energy to something.
-My sincerest apologies to my loyal readers for having kept you waiting. I’d like to believe the wait was worth it. All in all, I’m back.

An Uncircumcised Woman

In my community, one is considered a grown man after undergoing circumcision. If he then wishes to make a dozen ladies pregnant, no one will question him. Sure, some might judge his actions, but he isn’t deprived of the title ‘A man’. Now that’s for men. For females. Circumcision is a no-no. In fact, it is considered an abomination (insert a Nigerian accent) so what differentiates a lady from a woman? Some may say it’s her womanly features, others may say it’s the way she talks and reasons, others may say it’s her behavior, others it’s whether or not she’s married while for others it’s a matter of whether or not she has kids. In my community it goes deeper than that. Deep to the point of differentiating a circumcised and an uncircumcised woman.
Alice Wandia endlessly paced back and forth. She had lost count of the number of times she had counted the letters that made up the welcome sign that hang on the door. On she tapped her fingers against her hips in a rhythmic manner that could make certified beats. Those seated in the waiting room had their eyes fixated on her-but who could blame them? I mean, she was putting up a show. Even so, the attention she was drawing worried her less. A phone rang making her jump. There and then it hit her; she was over her head. Halt. Gazing at those who had been watching her, she let out a sigh and took a seat. Sanity finally dawned on her. Trying to avoid the stares, she busied herself by going through her phone. Well, more like staring at the calendar. The same calendar that stated it was a week to her 13 year anniversary with the husband she was waiting for outside the office of a marriage counsellor. God, why hadn’t anyone warned her before? What was taking her husband so long? Why had she agreed to let him walk in alone? Was the doctor a man or woman? If a woman, was she one of his side-dishes?
The absurdness of her thoughts was getting the best of her. So she took a deep breath and sat back letting her mind wander. Wander to what brought her comfort. To what had once made her feel as if she had found her personal Paris. To when she was happily married to the man of her dreams. To when she would have walked on fire just for him. When she couldn’t eat or sleep without him. A teardrop went down her face. Then the door went open as her man walked out. Towards her he walked. “You may go in,” he said. Alice wished she could ask what had transgressed but she couldn’t find the right words. Towards the room she walked. As soon as she stepped in, a sense of calmness and nervousness dawned on her. On turning, she came face to face with the counselor. He was a man! On his desk was a small board written Dr. L. Wambui. (Later she would come to learn that L stood for Lucas) Taking a seat, she focused on the vase that was placed next to the tag. Something about it fascinated her. Something more than the beauty of the flowers it held.

            “So Alice, tell me something about yourself,” went the counselor breaking her concentration
            “I’m a wife. I have 2 kids. Alice is my name. I’m in my late thirties. I work and I try to be there for my kids. And now I’m here,” she replied.
            (Laughing) “Of all those I’ve attended to since morning, you’re the first to make me laugh,” he replied with his response making her smile and loosen up. “Mind if we start again?” he asked.
            “I don’t mind. I’m Alice. A jovial soul. A lover of art and music. A mother of two boys. Describing myself will take ages so I’ll just cut to the chase. I’m a wife to the man who just walked out of this room. I’m here because I need your help-we both do,”
            (Impressed by her straight-forwardness)” Tell me more,”
            (Chuckling) You are a counselor. I’m here for counseling. I mean, a cow can’t go to the cattle-dip if it won’t go in the dip.” She said with a laugh. “Thing is, my marriage is on the edge,” she said with a tone of sadness. The sort that makes you sense the guilt and fear in someone.
            “Keep going. What’s wrong with your marriage?”
            “Ben married for the past 12 years and we are blessed with 2 sons. Everything has been great. Well, until a year ago. I guess things just fell apart like they did in Chinua Achebe’s book, Things Fall Apart. See, Eric and I were doing everything to keep the fire burning. From spending time together, to creating time for our kids, to being good parents, to shutting out the temptations that come with marriage and now to this- a marriage on the verge of sinking deeper than the titanic ship,”
            “For a woman who is as stressed as you are, you seem to have maintained your sense of humor,” he said seeming impressed. “What happened for your marriage to get here?”
            “Where do I start? (She asked in deep contemplation) It just happened. I started getting busy with work and everything. Without knowing it, the interest I once had for my man started fading. I really don’t know how things escalated. He noticed the change and gave me my space. I guess he assumed I was going through a phase- I thought so too,” she said as she got lost in her thoughts. As if she was calculating what had gone amiss.
            “In most cases it is usually a phase that lasts for a short while. What made you feel or get stuck in that situation?”
            “If I say it plainly will it make me less terrible than I already am?”
            “I’m here to help not judge. Please go ahead,”
            “There was always some hidden chemistry between Eric’s main man and I. Coincidentally, he had always hoped a miracle would happen-it did. We started snooping around and eventually started sleeping together. Biggest mistake of my life. I thought it would be a one-time thing but the thrill kept me going back. This prompted to me completely losing interest in my man. Eric and I started fighting. In my eyes he became less of a man. I started doing things on my own. See, I knew our marriage was on the edge but I didn’t have the time to save it. Anyway, one day Eric lost it. He came home pissed and sent the boys to their rooms. Noticing his mood I saw it best to ask what was wrong. Wrong move. He started questioning me. Questions I had answers to but just couldn’t answer. My silence accelerated his anger making him lose his cool. Hell broke loose. He started talking about my affair with his best friend, how it made him feel betrayed. How he had lost all trust in me. His regret of marrying me. The amount of disrespect he felt towards me. I thought it best to comfort him. You know, I thought my words still had some power over him. That worked out well (she said with a smirk on her face as she rolled her eyes) I don’t know what came over him for he just blurted out ‘I’m even glad I slept with that worthless friend of yours, Carol,” she narrated as she battled with the tears that were fighting to go down her cheeks.
            “Alice, let the tears fall. Express your pain. Get lost in it,”
            “I’m scared that I’ve lost my man forever. I still love him- I really do and I don’t want this to be the end but even so, I can’t fight for my marriage having lost all the respect I have for my man and knowing he feels the same. I get it, we both cheated, but it’s still not enough to make me lose him. I just want to know how I will save my marriage” she said almost choking on her tears.
            “In my village, a lady is considered a woman once she’s declared circumcised. Not the literal circumcision but by the way she talks, behaves, acts and communicates a lot. Marriage says a lot about a woman. Mainly says that she’s grown enough to keep a man and commit. But how a woman keeps a man is what determines if she’s circumcised or not. A woman who talks about what’s going on in her marriage to others, gossips about others, goes home drunk, neglects her kids, cheats on her husband and fails to respect or listen to her husband is considered an uncircumcised woman making her unworthy of the title a real woman. But a woman who knows her place and does the total opposite of all the above, now that’s a circumcised woman. When my grandfather first told me this, I was confused but with time, it came to make sense. Point is, how you get back from the mess in your marriage defines where you lie. True, you messed up but I can tell that you still love your man and he also loves you. People mess up all the time. I can’t fix your marriage for you but you can fix it. Your man is ready to do so. It’s all up-to you,”
            (Wiping the tears on her face she looked at the counselor) “I’m ready to fix things,”
            “You should be telling your husband that”
Alice rose from the chair and walked out of the room. The number of people in the waiting room had reduced. Slowly, she walked towards him as he stood up on seeing the tears in her eyes. In his arms she fell and he crossed them locking her in as she lay on his chest. God, she had missed him. Alice looked at Eric. Eric looked at Alice.
“I’m sorry,” Alice said as tears streaked down her face.
“I’m sorry Alice. I really am,” Went Eric.
            “I’m ready to talk and fix things,” she said with a smile on her face.
            “I love you. Let’s talk and fix things,” he said with a laugh as he held her hand.
As they turned towards the door to make their leave, it finally hit her. Hit her that the vase on the counselor’s desk fascinated her since it was similar to the one that was on the table her husband and she signed their marriage certificates on. Mother Nature really had her way of making things fall in place. A smile spread on Alice’s face. It was time. Time for her to be a circumcised woman.

Death Disguised As A Second Chance

Abel Kaikai. He silently sat in the room feeling tired of the number of times he had analyzed the pictures on the wall together with the invisible roach hideouts. Repeatedly he tapped the desk in front of him-who could blame him? Again, he gazed at the antique clock then turned to his watch as if the time indicated by the clock was inaccurate. It had only been 10 minutes. The door-knob turned. Adrenaline and anxiety surged through him. In the doctor walked with an envelope in his hand. “At least the hospital had the decency to wrap sad news,” he thought to himself. Placing the envelope on the desk, the doctor took his seat, crossed his hands and leaned back as if he was about to break news about the commencement of the third world war which he clearly had zero control of.
            “What’s your greatest fear?” the doctor asked
            “Dying poor,” Abel responded
            “Interesting. Abel (he paused) I’d love to give you good news but sadly, today just isn’t the day,”
            “Mind telling me what is wrong?”
            “You’re suffering from fatal familial insomnia and I’m afraid you only have about 10 months to live,
            “How is this possible?”
            “It appears you’ve already gone through the first stages of the illness. You're lucky not to have already developed dementia but it's still inevitable.”
Silence. The doctor’s words turned to mere lip movements. Abel rose from the chair, picked the envelope in front of him and walked out of the room without saying a word. Totally unaware of what was going on around him, he walked to his car, got in, ignited it and drove off towards the main road which was free of traffic. His phone rang- his girlfriend was calling. Today was her birthday Goddamn it he had forgotten! Confidently hitting the reject button, he focused on the road and branched onto a deserted route. Minimal distractions allow one to think, for Abel, he chose to recall how his now confirmed illness began.
One fateful night, his tired-self came home bushed with high expectations of how he’d quickly fall asleep. To his surprise, he ended up tossing and turning endlessly stressing over what he termed less important. Eventually he fell asleep, but little did he know this was just the beginning of such nights. Being the ignorant man he was, he dismissed the matter with the thought that maybe it was because he was exhausted. He even went ahead to console himself with that it was because of his girlfriend’s absence. The nights that followed were peaceful-as if nothing had happened. Well, not until two weeks later. Again, he couldn’t fall asleep. This time it was for a series of hours. Hours that made up a whole night allowing fatigue to torture him the following day. See, this time he decided to do something about it. By something I mean Googling ways to help him sleep. A single night turned to a week which eventually turned to weeks. It wasn’t that he hadn’t come to the realization that things were getting worse. It was just that attending to it seemed like a waste of time.

Maybe at this point he should have paid close attention to his health. Maybe he should have decided to consult a doctor. Instead, he chose to be the opportunist he was. The hours he couldn’t sleep, he buried himself in work. His mantra being, ‘Lack of sleep is my blessing.’ (People say the love for money is present in everyone, I think in Abel it would be termed as an obsession) Nights turned to hours characterized by lack of sleep. His girlfriend was getting concerned but as always, he paid zero attention to her. The sleeping pills he had earlier on popped lost their charm. His insomnia was now characterized by panic attacks especially while driving, his levels of paranoia increased as he also began to suffer from hallucinations. Hallucinations that rapidly intensified. This he had failed to notice till one morning. During a briefing, he burst out shouting, ‘No mother. You’re wrong.” The stares he got from his employees made him shamefully walk out of the room without offering any explanation. I mean, how could he offer an explanation to something he himself barely understood? Again, he chose not to pay much attention to his condition and self-persuaded himself with, ‘Everything was because of his exhaustion’. Not until he got into a fight with his girlfriend and she brought up the issue of him being sexually uninterested in her. That’s when it hit him that they had not been intimate for about two months and he was still disinterested. See, he had forgotten that lack of sleep has its consequences. Consequences that range from aging of the skin, gaining or losing of weight, impaired attention, fatigue, poor concentration and even reduction in one’s sex drive. Unfortunately, for him it had totally killed his sex drive. This had been his cue to go see a doctor.

A stop sign quickly brought his attention back to the road. Lucky enough, his car stopped only a few meters from the edge of a cliff. Out he got from the car taking with him the envelope. There is no sky like the African sky. As he leaned on his car staring at the clear sky, he wondered if God was watching. Was HE watching him go through Hell? He walked towards the hood of his car and sat on it. Gazed at the glorious breath-taking view that lay beyond the cliff. Streaks of sweat poured down his face; not because of the sun but because of the anxiety that was in him as he took out the sheet of paper that lay within the envelope. Funny enough, he even found himself wishing that the sheet of paper contained his HIV test results. At this point, he was very ready to lead his life as a HIV positive person instead of counting the days to his death. But the doctor had made no mistake.
Drugs, women and ego. These are the things he did his best not to let control him. As he repeatedly read through his medical report, everything on it screamed, If only you had known you were a ticking time bomb. His phone rang again, it was his girl and again, he hit the reject button saying to himself, ‘she is a pain.’ There and then it struck him. Struck him that he had control over the remaining phase of his life. Struck him that the first thing he needed to do was write a will and get rid of his nagging girlfriend. Opening his phone’s notepad, he began working on a to-do list of what he intended to do for the remaining months. It seemed satirical for him to be preparing for his death. I mean, he was a living dead man. When he was done, his focus went back to the sky. The sun was setting- just as he would be in a few months. With the sun set came a new dawn of hope. Relaxation is what he now felt. He was ready. Ready to live his remaining months to the fullest. Ready to leave this world in peace. Every inch of him found himself appreciating the beauty that lay in front of him.
What if he had done something earlier? What if he had chosen to pay more attention to his condition? What if he had chosen to be with a girl he actually loved? What if this- what if that? See, he did not have control over his past. However, he now had control over the few months he had left. Putting his phone back in his pocket, he walked back to his car. Ignited it. For some seconds, he wondered if he should drive off the cliff or if he should drive back home. The latter won and he slowly drove off starting his journey back home. Or rather, started his journey as a changed man.