My best village life memories: Bird-trapping

Meanwhile, down there at PK, just past harvesting season back in Uyoma…
Back in the days, before the advent of global warming, we had two planting seasons where we harvest twice within the year. First one runs between July and August, then a smaller one done between December and January. In Luo, we call the smaller one ‘Opon’. It is mostly done targeting the short rains that falls after harvesting. Hardworking and relentless farmers plant the seeds even before the farms are fully cleared and the weeding follows immediately. The benefit of this is that the soil is so fertile with dry leaves of the previous harvest that most of the time the proceeds are bumper and it makes work easier. For this to be effective the farmer needs not to have practiced mixed cropping, a common practice in Uyoma where folks plant beans, peas, groundnuts and others in between the rows of maize. With groundnuts, it is particularly tricky since it matures way later and might cause you to miss the timing of the short rains. In case you opt to do the legumes only, when they are uprooted during harvesting, it leaves the rows clean for planting news seeds.
Post independence, this region was known for producing cotton as the principal cash crop. This was done both on small and large scale. Others used fallow lands purely for cotton farming, while others used the opon window for cotton during the rotation period. A majority also did not see the need to do the second planting purely for personal reasons or just laziness. In those days, there were large tracks of lands, overpopulation was alien and more often, folks could finish up farming activities within the homestead (orundu) then embark on those further away. Community participation was the in-thing and people loved helping each other. The reward for the assistance is a decent meal, served to the group then closed with a traditional brew. During ploughing, those without bulls or an ox-plough would organize a one day marathon dubbed ‘saga’ where they would prepare a feast for those invited to help in their farms. This was also replicated during weeding and harvesting for those who do not have any means to hire farming support. No one was left behind…
After harvesting, many farms especially those far away are always left with remnants of crops either due to poor maturity or destruction by bad weather or wild animals and pests. These remnants are a source of income whereby anybody (not farm owners) would walk in with a sack and comb through the entire farm keenly picking everything left. This process is called ‘fulo’. The ‘intruder’ would then shell the maize at home, dry them then sell at market price. For village pupils and other adults alike, this income was cherished and reserved for buying new clothes and other items during festive season.
When all is done, everything remains empty; the animals are now allowed to graze freely on the fodder. This is the best period in time for a herd’s boy like my senior Owanoh Remmy Elias, our cousin Odero Owego (remind me to tell you more about this guy later) and myself. We are to prove our patience, creativity and the ability to provide. For the entire season stretching late September till December, we will be trapping all kinds of birds; from sparrows, doves, weaverbirds, small garden birds (oyundi), speckled mousebird (oluru), and its cousin the colius and the northern mocking bird (tunda). The last one was our favourite. The process to be ready to trap tunda starts the previous evening. We collect a small portion of dry banana leaves, roll them up then evenly tie it all round with sisal fibre to make a circular ring, about 15cm in diameter. Sticks are then poked on that at specific intervals just enough for the bird’s head.
The sticks are then tied at the top to form a corn-shaped structure. The next step involves tying another tight strand across the sticks, about 5cm from the base of the structure for stability. Elias made this to precision for the three of us. The next task entailed plucking cow tail hair which we would carefully plait and tie into loops across the holes left below the strand; this is actually the trap that will hold the bird once its head moves inside to pick the bait. We are ready!
After lunch, we leave with the cows but before then, Odero is sent with a small empty plastic jelly container to pick the sorghum stalk borer which will be used as bait. These white juveniles were found deep inside the stalks and could survive even after harvesting. I watch the animals while Elias surveys the vicinity for any northern mocking bird around and once he spots any, he will signal us to let the animals wander off in a different direction so as not to spoil the fun. Owego is dead happy at this time and I skip a beat too. The location has to be strategic consisting of a raised area when the bird will perch then be able to spot the insect inside our trap (structure). The spot is cleared nicely then the larva is pinned with an acacia thorn to the ground so it doesn’t escape but can suggestively wiggle itself to attract the bird. The trap is then placed on top and the plaited hairs set properly awaiting their duty… the bird inserts its head to eat/pick the insect then on withdrawing its head, voila!
We spread out in a triangular direction then keep an eye on the bird. To lure it to the trap, we spread our arms wide then make motions like a cricket umpire giving a wide signal, with both arms outstretched when the delivery is out of the reach of the batsman and he is unable to play a correct cricket shot. At this point, we whistle too …and finally. The bird lands at the spot. Everybody stands still. Then squats but all eyes are fixed on the bird, breathless…. Will it land or will it fly away? The emotion is palpable, tension, high. Then the victim drops on the ground, circulates the trap, for the best space to dig in. It’s in!
We do a top speed sprint to the spot, laughing, shouting… It’s a victory, our first catch for the afternoon.
#AmazingVillageLife #LexairDiaries #Birdtrapping


The day dad made me walk to church

Meanwhile, back in Uyoma, it’s a lovely Sunday morning…

There is something special about Sundays when you are a budding teenager hoping to lead an upright lifestyle in the village. The previous day, there was a gathering for the Small Christian Community-Jumuiya – visit at home and I was selected in absentia to do the first reading in church. You see, at home, herding is a preserve of the young boys and this time, it fell squarely on me. So on Saturday, I took charge and after watering the animals and having lunch, I headed further afield away from home. We were always warned and it became a tradition that when it’s your turn, you take the cows as far as possible and return in the evening with healthy happy cows.

I returned as the guests were just leaving so not much was said until after I had finished all the chores involving the domestic animals. Mum called me aside and knowing that I could not easily accept standing in front of the congregation reading the bible; she gave me cash to purchase some goods from the shop and happily added that all the balance from the shop are mine even though she knew that there was very little left. Am trapped now and will do all her wishes. In no time, I was back from the shop and busy enjoying my sweets from the balance promised. Mum is in the kitchen doing the utensils and being a large family, there was always excess tea for anyone to quench their thirst. The jumuiya team left some too and beside the three stones fire place, I can see a big aluminum kettle. She read my mind, offered me the bench beside her and says ‘nyathina iol sana, bed piny imadh chai bang tich matek (my child you seem very tired, please sit down and have some tea after tough job).  She has a leso wrapped around her waist, I sit beside her, our backs touching each other; she stops a bit to look at me, that motherly gaze, scouring pad in her right hand, medium sized sufuria in her left hand, water dripping from both hands… Yes, she has me all figured out

Am relaxed, I feel at home so I grab a clean metallic mug and fill it with tea. Mum instructs me that there is githeri so I grab another plate and scoop some. The githeri is warm, full of beans from first harvest and the aroma is welcoming. I wash my hands then dig in. This time mum is rinsing the last plate and the feeling is just perfect! Dusk is fast approaching. I don’t want to leave the kitchen. I feel I belong here… We are bonding. Mum then tells me to empty the dirty water somewhere. We had some banana plants behind the kitchen and I decide to help the suckers reproduce quickly. Everything is clean now and well arranged so we have time to chat more and that’s when am informed that I was selected to handle the first reading in church tomorrow.

Supper went well but I could not sleep that night…just picturing myself in the pulpit, facing the congregation, everybody listening only to ME, a small black potato-head boy with dimples, beaming with shyness, walking from his seat to the ambo, after the hymn, then open the chapter from the old testament and say the words audibly and have people’s attention. This was my moment; I must not let anyone down. I woke up pretty early, very early and since dad is an early riser, I had hoped of enjoying a ride on his bike which he was very cool with as mum had prepared the way before. So he knew he would carry me to church, about 3.4km from home. Since home is downhill from where we are heading to, we walk a bit to clear the steep as baba cannot ride uphill with a 40kg boy at the back.

Before making even a hundred metres on the main road, more congregants join us. Dad knows them, so the enthusiasm by which he greeted them was a very clear sign that it was going to be an interesting journey on our way to church. Dad had a trademark baseball hat branded Chicago Bulls.

Dad (‘with all his ivory outside’): Amosou kanyo, Ruoth oyaonwa piny kendo (Greetings to you all, God has granted us another day)

Congregant 1: Kamano Gabriel, wachieo maber (That’s correct Gabriel, we woke up fine)

Dad: Wabende eri wasewuok wadhi lamo (We are out on our way to church too)

Congregant2: Lamo ber, tinde ndalo tin wamak mana Yeso (It’s good to pray, people don’t live long these days, let’s just stick to Jesus)

I walked to church…

I managed to practice the scripture reading a couple of times before mass.

In a checked shirt, brown khaki pants and black sandak shoes, I sat pensively behind the choir members.

It’s time. The Priest approached with the altar boys and the Entrance Chant is sung. He arrived at the altar and after making a profound bow, he venerated the altar. After the introductory rite was concluded then came the penitential act. The absolution then followed and this time, my heartbeat is racing double. We sung hymn but am mumbling, butterflies racing in my stomach when everything finally came to a stop, the song is ended. We are in the liturgy of the word.

I read and concluded ‘Word of the Lord’

When the church was ended, I left using the back entrance and from a distance, I saw dad with a group of friends, his friends. The narrative he was spreading was, ‘that first reader was my son’. I had rightly earned that ride back home. But not before he made me greet people as we walked past the church compound.

I could smell pride somewhere but as for me I just wanted to get home and eat some chapat that mum preserved for me when the guests came yesterday…

Saved my friend with rice and fried liver

Meanwhile, it’s a fruitful day and am energetic…

I am finalizing my research on street children in partial completion of my college course.  The trip takes me to Kangemi, on the outskirts of the city where I plan to interview street children on reasons that resulted in their lives turning out that way. How did they end up in the streets? Its mid morning and I have spotted some, am nervous, visibly scared stiff and wondering if any of them will talk to me… how will I introduce myself? Will they ask for money, which I didn’t have? What if they consider me a spy sent to trick them into doing something they are uncomfortable with or I accidentally promise them something I cannot deliver?

My dad taught me that courage makes a man; people will laugh at you but the eventual satisfaction that you achieved something that you set out to do is priceless. People will respect you and talk about what you did and how you made others feel for decades to come. Just be bold and do something! I summoned my guts and crossed the road to where this group of street children was seated. Some were sleeping; others were lazily sniffing on the symbolic glue. Now something about street children I observed from my research is that they are organized in groups and senior members are always on watch albeit from a distance and any advances to any member of the team is treated with suspicion. They will easily mobilize to counter any threat or mistreatment. If they have assessed you are harmless, they will certainly ask for some coins or food from you. I approach one of them who was sitting alone then introduced myself and requested if I could ask him some questions. He was about sixteen years old and later on, he revealed his name as Kyalo. He came from Mazeras and the reason he joined the street life is because his step mum began mistreating him after his mother died. One day he had when he had had enough, he walked up to Mombasa-Nairobi highway then hung onto a petrol tanker up to Mlolongo, where he spent the night in the cold. He had a few coins and bought bananas to survive for the night. His first night was tricky. He saw one of the harlots arguing with a truck driver and moved closer to eavesdrop and little did he know that he was her saving grace. The driver thought he was in a group with other guys and it could spell disaster. They lady gave Kyalo some money for ‘saving’ her. Tomorrow’s meal was guaranteed. Kyalo began ‘enjoying’ the life and each night, he could hover around to scare away men and gain something in return as each night brought with it a share of controversies between the prostitutes and the truck or tanker drivers from Mombasa on their way to Malaba.

During the day, he would sleep at the Bus Park or some quiet place. ‘Business’ became tough and Kyalo had to walk to the city where he joined a group based in Muthurwa. This is just one case, other boys had their reasons too. They are from other parts of the country; Kiambu, Maseno, Kamakowa, Chiga, Kakamega, Tala, etc … it was amazing how they opened up. People began wondering what was going on and I was beginning to be surrounded and you would wonder if it was a Bunge La Wananchi episode outside City Hall. Am satisfied, my courage paid off now the challenge was how to break free and bid them good bye. All this time, I was taking notes and I had gained their trust and taken charge of the mood. They reciprocated that by listening carefully and honestly told their stories. Am closing my note book and capping my pen now…

With me, I had Kshs 370; a two hundred shillings note in my wallet, one hundred shillings note in one pocket and seventy shillings in the other trouser pocket for my fare back home. You guessed right…I removed my wallet right in front of them and gave them everything that was in it and told them to share or buy anything of their choice.

The hundred bob is for my lunch so I obliged and ate something in a nearby kiosk. The previous week, I had fulfilled another assignment and was sure I had been paid so incase of anything, I would just walk into an ATM and get some cash for transport or better still, empty the entire account as it was very little anyway. Why don’t I eat some mango instead as I wait for the bus to town. Mmm no, let me alight in Westlands then walk to Sarit Center ATM lobby and get some transport money. Shock on me, the account is reading negative; the bugger has not paid me. A chill runs down my spine and it dawns on me that I might have to strategize how to get home early before bus fares are increased. Its approaching 1PM. I take my transaction receipt from the ATM and walk away. Yes I will walk to CBD. So I take Muthithi Road, and then cross Ojijo Road into Kipande Road. Why am I still having the ATM receipt in my hand? I tore it and threw the pieces beside the road. Mistake… Some youths who had been hired to protect and maintain the now Michuki Memorial and Recreational Park saw this and immediately apprehended me. They frog matched me to their operation base inside the park beside Nairobi river and ordered me to sit down with the others with a similar offence of littering park.

A gentleman is rumbling how people don’t see the benefits of preserving the environment, three more join in and rhetorical questions begin. And in that instance, my phone rings. It’s my friend Jerry. I can’t ignore, am in trouble anyway so I might have the chance for a last smile, laughter or at least inform someone of my situation.

Me: Vipi mtu wangu( Hi buddy)

Jerry (With happiness): Niaje Aleki, maze leo kameingiana (Hi Alex, man today am lucky)

Me: Usiniambie umeshinda jackpot (don’t tell me you won a jackpot)

Jerry: Wachaga ufala… Kuna yellow yellow flani hapa job kwetu nimekuwa nikiotea lakini saa hii amenipigia ako area na angetaka kujua kwangu. Nimemshow akuje digs niko solo. (Don’t be silly…there is a light skin lady I have been secretly admiring and she just called to say she is around and would like to know my place. I have invited her to the house as I am alone.

Me: Basi kuna shida gani tena (Then what’s the problem?)

You see, my phone’s earpiece was a mess so I had to put it on high volume that means everybody can hear what am saying. And I don’t care now, Jerry needs my help…

Jerry: Maze kuna shida moja. Mbele nyuma niko na three chwani lakini hiyo hamsini ya juu usihesabu coz nataka kubuy nayo credo. Niokolee mtu wangu. (Man there’s one problem. I only have Kshs 350 but don’t count the Ksh50 since I will use that to purchase airtime. Bail me out buddy)

Spanner is in the works now

Me: Whah! Jerry! (At this point, all the other culprits are looking at me and fully following my conversation with my pal). Ok, kwa hao uko na nini? (What food stock do you have in the house?)

Jerry: Maze huku kuna tu kitungu moja, nyanya mbili kubwa, na rice. Mafuta ya kupikia pia iko (I only have one onion, two large tomatoes, rice and cooking oil)

Me: Nice, chukua soo mbili ubuy nayo maini halafu hiyo ingine nunua nayo half litre ya soda, change nunua nayo dania na royco. Panga hao pia poa, niko njiani nakam utanichapia story baadaye (Use Ksh200 to buy liver, for the remainder, buy half a bottle of soda then other food additives like Royco and Dhania. Also arrange the house properly, am on my way. You will tell me the story later).

Back those days, two hundred shillings would secure you a large piece of liver so everything was sorted.

Jerry: Asante sana mtu wangu, nilijua utatatua hii story (Thanks buddy, I knew you would handle this situation)

Me: Usijali man, wewe ni wetu( No worries, you are ‘ours’).

Everybody burst out laughing including our accusers. Then one of the ladies remarked “Haki ya nani hivi ndio wanaume huwa wanateseka. Haya, tuondoe kwa hii shida pia’’

….they let us free with a warning; the men said they have never thought about a plan like that on their first dates. Everybody was happy and main man Jerry was lucky too.

Christmas saved…everybody is home

Meanwhile, it’s Christmas Eve and the mood is just perfect…

Everybody is back to their ancestral homes or at least a majority and those in the big cities have traveled back to be with the loved ones.  As for dad, he was away, for about a week now, working, doing what he knows best away from home. This time the project has taken him to Sindo in Mbita. Dad could not spare a chance to work, get money and he always followed leads whenever it takes him, be it building the nation in Miwani, Fort Ternan, Gem Ulumbi, Yala, Kisumo, somewhere around the great Uyoma peninsula or the larger Asembo or Sakwa. Baba would go and he would carry his crew with him if he had to.  A time like this, being Catholics, everybody attends the vigil mass at night. Just before this there are concerts performed by altar boys which precedes the joyful moment of to celebrate the birth of Christ.

As is tradition, to celebrate with the loved ones, most urban dwellers would be back home at least two days before Christmas. I have not seen any signs. My senior Francis Owanoh is in the seminary and the bigger one Lucas Owano is working in the big city but I have not seen anyone and they rarely miss home for celebrations. We always looked forward to this…you know, the opportunity to have new clothes, the lively homestead, the noise of happiness (the laughter of Owanoh Francis could always be heard kilometers away),lots of chapat, juice… you feel me? I have gone herding and am very worried. Will this Christmas really be successful?

Mum is a great strategist, she had instructed me to return home early in order to help in chasing the rooster which will be slaughtered for Christmas. She had bought some packets of wheat flour for chapatis and as usual, Berita Atieno will help in cooking mandazi or kitumbua as she called them. This is still not convincing for me. Where is everybody?  I decide not to herd so far away from home just to ensure I don’t miss anyone coming with the goodies, people from town.  Everywhere, folks are upbeat and the roads are buzzing with happiness and sounds of festivities. The cows are now watered and since River Mawira is not so far away from home, the animals could easily trace their way back to the shed but I decide to take a different route to avoid meeting all the happy faces. What are they laughing about, can’t they see am depressed?

My immediate senior, Owanoh Remmy Elias was not bothered at all, his life was easy and free and since it’s an easy day, he has gone to take a stroll. The dude is visiting friends and window shopping at Madiany Shopping Centre where he will come back to prepare for the vigil mass. It crosses my mind that I can as well delay and return very late with the cows when it’s almost darkness but then I will not find peace as the cows will make all the noise when they need milking or at least to see their calves. Sorting the mess would take me too much time and I will miss the concert in church which was the hallmark of the vigil mass for me anyway. Those altar boys were just too damn funny; they could dramatize the birth of Jesus precisely from the visit by Angel Gabriel to Mary through to the Nativity, Three Wise Men… entirely to birth with anecdotes that always left everybody gasping. It’s 5pm am on my way home.

There is the chasing of the cock for slaughtering, milking is in the programme too before I shower. Elias is back and is busy organizing the next move, he has some two friends and mum capitalizes on this opportunity and involves them in the chase after pointing at the fattest one in the group. They run a few cycles behind the main house, towards the fence before they eventually corner the hapless bird.  Just as this was going on, two bike riders with luggage pulls over at the entrance of the main house. Am smiling, these are not ordinary luggage. It’s a large suit case and a huge carton, yes those ones with the label “This Side UP’’

‘Whose are these?’ I asked. ‘You come with us to carry the others still left at the bus stop’ one of them responded.

They had decided to meet in Kisumu and travel home together.

I missed the concert, dad also arrived by 7:30pm with two large ‘nyamami’ fish…

When Dad is Smarter…#makatichronicles

Meanwhile, it’s Saturday morning…

Back in Uyoma, mum is fixing tea in the kitchen. Normally this is a lazy day where everybody wakes up at leisure. You see, we had many cows and this forces the boys of the family to rise up at break of dawn to catch up with the milking.

My senior, Owanoh Francis has taken charge of milking this time.  Manuar is an expert; his turns always deliver more milk. He is very articulate for the entire process up to the end. He perfectly times the breaks (what we call ‘ajieke’) so accurately that the calf doesn’t suck all the milk. This is the fourth cow, three more to go, Frank is patient.

Back at the main house, Berita Atieno is busy preparing to report to school for the Saturday tuition, she has bathed, has perfectly applied that oil and is now shinier than Dumu Zaz. Bera wetu loves water and mum always complained about the time she takes to bathe…girls take long to shower anyway.

Far away, my other senior Owanoh Remmy Elias is tethering the goats. He is almost done. Am hungry and since am still young, love is in the air and possibility of my wishes being granted are so high so I alert mum that we should buy bread today for breakfast. All this time, I have been near the three stones where tea is being prepared, roasting maize, keenly turning the sides so it doesn’t burn. Am observing too, at mum’s excellent culinary skills where she only scoops one handful of sugar, a table spoonful of tea leaves and that’s enough for the whole family.

Then there is dad. He has no errands or a planned schedule today so he decides this is the best day to fix his bike.  In no minute, he turns it upside down. Saddle on the ground, break lever and shift are dismantled, chain and crankset are loosened, he is now unscrewing the skewer to fix some broken spokes and probably check on the fork as well. At this point, I innocently ask mum again if she can signal dad to buy bread, at least for me. The hot brands this time were Elliots, Sunblest and United, which came in two variants, a yellow sweeter version and a white type which came in slices. Mum sends Elias to deliver my plea to dad. Elias was athletic, well built, great physique, you know… So in case there was luck, he could run to Pap Kodero market both ways without stopping unless he forgot what he was sent if they are more than five items

Elias: Mama kwayoni imiya pes makati (mum is requesting if you could give me money to go and buy bread)

Dad: Mabati…!Mabati otimre nade? (Iron sheets! What has happened to them?)

Elias: Makati baba, miya pes makati (No dad, bread, money for bread…)

All this time, am strategically standing at the door so that should be feel generous enough, he has the liberty to send me into his pocket and get that money since his hands were dirty with brake fluid oil.

‘Can’t you see am fixing the bicycle’

We ate sweet potatoes with tea that morning….374646_3111866562142_1612648044_n

Daily Musings of Nairobi City Life

Meanwhile, back in the city, I left the office in good time to go home. I get to the stage and as usual, I find a large group of other commuters waiting patiently albeit nervously. There are a few mathrees; three maybe four and Kama can be heard shouting, ‘Raonda Seventy, Raonda Seventy fifte, GM Cabanas …’ x100. In the mix too, Tush wails, ‘Imara, Imara, faster bradhe kuna karao mbele…kuando, kuando (whatever that means)’ I hope into the Embassava Sacco minibus and sit infront with the driver. More mixed  sounds ‘fifte,fifte, seventi, raonda, cabanas and GM’ still engulf the air and moments later, Kama signals the driver and says ‘mrefu gari iko krom tothie mani…’ He hands Ksh100 to Gogo and Ken to share for their service in helping to call commuters into the minibus. We are off.

A short distance still on Mombasa Road, Mrefu the driver notices there could be heavy traffic ahead. He decides to take Kapiti Road irrespective of those who had planned to alight at Belle Vue or Aitel stage. We navigate through Sore Road, through to Plainsview then back to Likoni Road. All this time, the traffic jam seemed like a seven minutes thing and by the time we hit Likoni road (20-25mins later), from a distance we could see vehicles moving pretty fast on the main highway and since we are approaching from the feeder service lane, we have to careful wait and enter only when the route is clear. We rejoin Mombasa Road highway. Panari, Standard Group Ltd, Sameer Business Park,  General Motors and finally we are at Cabanas.

Mrefu instead chooses again to use Eastern By-Pass through the express way, this means the passengers to be dropped at Kobil Stage will have to balance well to cross the trench as there is no drop off point, the mentality here is that he will have to hide under the cover of heavy traffic jam and illegally stop for people to alight. The hawk-eyed Kama spots traffic police officers strategically standing opposite Bollore Africa warehouse and this spells bad news for commuters who had envisioned to alight at Co-operative, Kitindo and Transami stages in that order so in a split second, he alerts Mrefu and makes the final decision and says ‘kuna sanse(cops/police) pande yangu, oya stage ingine ni Taj Mall tukirudi, wa Kitindo, Co-operative and Transami wote washuke hapa na jam’’ The mathree is leaning on the left, am uncomfortable and since naenda mwisho(Taj Mall) I decide not to alight.

Ladies hold hands to cross, men jump over the trench and we continue. This means we will have to proceed up to Saku Business Park then turn at Kirinyaga Construction site warehouse and head back to Taj Mall underpass. I have wasted much time already, not my fault so I take out my phone and plug in my ear piece to listen to some Indian music and some mellow blues to clear my head. At Taj Mall, it’s another gridlock and since SynoHydro Tianjin crew are still constructing the road, I opt to walk since it would make me an extraordinary idiot boarding another vehicle to Fedha Stage. As I walk, my mind is cleared up, I breathe fresh evening air and it clicks in my brain and mandazi craving kicks in. I smile at the thought and think of Nancy Owande. This lady can perfectly cook mandas praboro in a very short time. So I call this lost gem but no one picks… I later concluded that she was probably looking for some kachumbari, bhajia or maybe she went to buy crisps ama she was humming some English SDA hymns and the phone was on silent mode and far away or maybe eating ugali but then unga prices are up there so most likely she was doing something else.  Anyway, since I had extra bonus call minutes thanks to Safaricom, I decide to check on my senior, his Royal Toughness Owanoh Remmy Elias, to see how he is doing, the kids, everything. Again, the dude is away, not picking. Maybe he went to chase something, someone in the plains of Kajiado who had refused to pay for services.

Elias is designer and a master fabricator, show him any design you need made of steel and he will carefully and articulately make it for you and deliver if you want…doors, windows, beds, gates, access barrier, bull bars, chairs, burglarproof doors, curtain rods, hino shelves, everything. All at a good price. He is the man. I get into Tumaini Supermaket, head to my favourite milk section to buy mala and guess what….Yes, guessed right! Mala Onge! Nil! Nothing! Hakuna!

Am almost home now and as a last dash of luck, I decided to visit my namesake, Yours Truly Alex Mkala at his beauty parlor. He has a big couch, strategically placed near the entrance for tired people like me. This fella knows everything mail grooming. So I come in and luckily, I was the only customer so will enjoy all the services, without any pressure.

Alecky says, ‘karibu mwanaume, umepotea sana…’ I say ‘sio sana mtu wangu, ni shughulu tu za hapakule, nikihama pia nitakushow lakini mimi bado niko area kama bacteria ya malaria. Hapa hapa tu, siendi popote’ Alecky knows my hairstyle so I take the seat, he wraps the hairdressing gown around me and few minutes into the haircut am in another level. So relaxed and I doze off. So nice is the hair cut that am carried away kumbe Alex has been telling me a story. I woke up when he began the warm-towel-chemical session. Mr Mkala is the best, I smell nice and look handsome so I pay and thank him. We are both happy….And then before I go further, Nams sends me that sweet SMS then tops it up with good night wish.

Day made, I can as well miss that supper….

Being Visibly Queer

A Boy and Her Dog

darn-butchI was visibly queer before I was conscious of being queer. Back then, I was one of those kids you could spot a mile away and say “She’s going to be a lesbian when she grows up.” Now, you’d probably say “That kid is going to transition as soon as they can.” I’ve never been able to hide it. I never tried to look “normal”.

I didn’t know that I was trying to manage my dysphoria, I just knew that I wanted to look like a boy. I knew that every compromise hurt.

All through elementary school I wore dresses to school because it was “the law”. I wore the least feminine dress possible, but a dress is a dress, even if it is olive drab. Putting a dress on felt like a punishment for waking up. I swore that when I grew up I wouldn’t get married, have kids…

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