Sometimes I am told a story and I know exactly how to write it. Those are good days. Those are days that your boss doesn’t ask for too much and there is a gorgeous sunset at the end of a productive day. Days when you pass by a butchery and get yourself a ka-quarter just because. During these times, life is easy. You figure out your purpose. Other times, I am told a story worth writing about, but I still feel it lacks that je ne sais quoi. Something is missing. A tragedy, a wedding, sometimes even a wheelbarrow. These times I hate. These times happened with this story quite a lot. But I will do as I do and let the gods decide.
We will start this story in a matatu. A rundown beaten but still roadworthy matatu. We are seated on the solo seat [you know the one I mean] and the driver is a man just tasting his thirties. He is clean, a testament to his doting wife fussing over the creases on his work shirts.
“See this crease here,” she might say to him. “This crease determines whether people get into your matatu or not,” and he might protest saying, “But sweetheart,” [because he must sweeten the common sense to make it common] “the people getting into my matatu are determined by the tickets they purchase, not my shirt” and she will give him a look that lets him know who is boss. Anyway, I’m trying to say he is a family man, our driver.
Somewhere between his venacava and aorta, he has three individuals. A boy, a girl and a toddler, male. They have their bare necessities. Basic needs are taken care of and they have parents who make sure there are no creases on shirts and all vaccines are up to date. This is his family. He thinks of them on the drive to Nairobi and back to Nyeri. Sometimes, if he starts early enough, he might think about them 4 times. He dies on one drive to Nyeri.
The accident is not dubbed a taboo. They talk about it. The toddler grows up just hearing of the word ‘Father’ without really knowing what the word represents. He is told, though, of how meticulous the shirts he wore were. He is told of hands that carried him and of the rise and fall of his voice.
Now that this story does not have a wheelbarrow, I will give it one. I met Evans in the course of one week. We had snippets of conversation until he suggested I write something on him. Usually, I say I cannot. That my brain is not a faucet of activity that can just be turned on and off at will. Usually, I say no. I say that I cannot write about something I cannot form two sentences on the spot about. But I saw the love in his eyes as he peered through. You see it in him, and you know, even before you see the photo itself, that it is a masterpiece.
There is a crinkle on his forehead as he focuses the lens on a subject. A tiny frown that lets the world know Da Vinci is reborn. He holds the camera delicately, as a man would hold something he loves. As I imagine he would hold his woman. He holds it as if he is afraid it would leave him for a man with a yacht, and that would break him to his core. Once, in the week I was around him, someone else grabbed his camera from the table and tried to twist the lens and he almost twisted in his seat.
His brother had one of those cameras that our parents tell us about. You’ve heard those stories. How photos would take a month before you saw them and even then, there was no guarantee that these photos would be what you posed for. Sometimes you didn’t even get your photos after this wait. His brother was one of these cameramen. The tailors and carpenters of that time.
He would watch, forever forbidden to touch any of the equipment because he was just a child, but the seeds were planted. It was the kind of love that grows without sprouting. The roots dug deep but provided no branches to see. No stem to look at. But you can be sure that the roots spread deep.
The first time he worked with one, the first time his hands held his love, it was magic. He produced works that were never before possible. His love loved him back. They were made for each other. Granted, he had to kiss a few frogs. He dabbled in acting, among other things, but they did nothing for him. They did not rouse his inner beast. They never made him growl in the night. But the camera did.
“I was working with a friend of mine at some organization,” he stands before a few of us while he says this. “And there was a sentence on the wall. I can never forget it. It said ‘Your first 10,000 photos are nothing’. I live by that statement.” He says he is nowhere near his ten thousandth photograph. He will do more, seek more, take more. He plans to take photos until they have to create storage space for them. He envisions his photos before he takes them. He knows what it would look like before he peers into the camera. And every time, every single time, he comes out at the other end with magical results, appreciates it and tosses it aside because he is on a journey to 10,000, and he is not even halfway yet.
I ask if he remembers his first job.
“I can just say nilianza nikilipwa 250 per job,” he replies. “But God came through for me. I now have my own camera and my shots were always masterpieces.” He recalls taking better photos than those of his mentor at one point.
I ask about his childhood.
“I grew up in Meru. Raised by a single mom. My dad died in an accident when I was one-year-old. I’m the last born of three. One bro, one siz.” He texts. “I don’t know much about him so I don’t know what I can say.”
“Was he driving?”
“Yes. PSV za Meru to Nairobi.”
The first photo he took was during a graduation party in 2016. It was not is camera, and the gig was of a friend [I hope my friends are seeing what other friends are doing for their friends].
I had wanted to talk about some of the photos he sent me as samples. With that idea, I was to talk about each photo. What I see, what it feels like, what I think he ate right before or right after that image. I didn’t have much to work on with this story. And, I lost my notes of the first interview we had, then realized the recording I had taken had not recorded shit. So I sat in front of my laptop and started typing whatever came to me…and I think I did a good job regardless. Some of his photos are featured down below [Lol, so youtubey]
Also, tomorrow is my birthday so Yay!
[PS: If you have a Young Love story, hit me up. I am (@mir_awu) on IG and Twirra and there’s a facebook page (mirawuofficial). You can also act grown up and send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org]
“I have loved a few guys. Some amazing, some that make me ask myself how…it doesn’t make sense after the breakup. Some I still think I could get back together with…no, actually, we are kinda still together. We’ve never really said it’s over so we somehow find our way back to each other. His name is Dickson. It’s really funny cause he can be a real d**k”.
For anonymity, she chose Nomi. I remember her eyes. She was blessed with these big brown eyes that get you lost in them until reality jerks you awake and reminds you to study because she was your academic rival. We are friends. At least I would like to think so. Outside of class, we would do almost everything together. what we never did, and this I categorically remember, was study together. I cannot explain why, so please don’t ask.
It is important to note that Dickson is not her first love. “It wasn’t anything close to love at first sight,” she texts. It may have had something to do with the fact that they met in a dark room, so she didn’t know it when cupid shot his first arrow, but the bow was empty that Wednesday evening. “I know it was a Wednesday because I only went out on Wednesdays for karaoke,” she adds.
We lost touch in between high school. The universe has a funny way of bringing you back together with people you think about constantly. I don’t recall what exactly I was doing in town that afternoon, but I remember seeing her and floating right back to us washing our plates together and seeing the blue color of her metal box in the dormitory. We were lost souls reunited, if only for about a week. That was the week she told me her favorite color was grey, and I knew we would always be friends.
The morning after karaoke, she went back to school in the company of some friends but the gatekeepers refused to open for them. It must be a unit in Watchmen School to ruin people’s lives…especially if you are stationed at a place where you have to deal with students. How to Be a Dick to Students 101. Left with nowhere else to go, they decided to head to the Doctor’s Plaza (noun: an apartment in the hospital where the doctors who are on call rest while they wait for cases) … [Yup, they told you to read and you ignored them, huh? Look at you now]
“We were lucky enough to find beds, but there were three of us and only two beds, so my two friends slept on one and I on the other.” Okay kids, say it with me. He came in a little later and was forced to share a bed with our Nomi… and he gave her his number. Classic dick moves. “I swear I told myself I’d never get in touch but I did a few days later [Cupid’s bow was empty after all] … it was a boring day don’t judge me too harshly.”
They started “meeting”. That is the word she uses. Not going on dates. They were meeting. You know where a relationship stands when what you do is equivalent to a briefing about few mandazis in the canteen. After a few of those “meetings”, they became a thing. “It was so good cause he can be super romantic and he’s also a good cook – I know every female wants one of those or so I believe” I did not tell her this, but I disagree. Now I am not every female, but I want consistency and honesty and being true to his word. I want truthful and real and a whole lot of nasty. Cooking I will deal with, no problem… but then again, I am not every female.
And just as quick as it began, things became different. “Everything was going well until I found out he was seeing another girl [the main mama]”. I ask how she found out. “I came across some notebook in his house. It belonged to the girl he currently stays with; Maggie.”
She says that at first, she thought Maggie was from a different school. “When I went back to school, I asked my roommates about a certain Dr. Dickson and one of them asked if he was the one rumored to be dating ‘Maggie’”. This is the part in the movie with slow music, right? When the rain starts pouring and there is a locked door somewhere. Where the lead owns three umbrellas but for some strange reason left them all on this rainy day. Where they walk, and cry and our hearts break for them as if we loved the guy or girl as well. This is the part where a fluffy dog runs away in slow motion. Where the color fades from cheeks and the screen. Black and white.
“Btw I messed up kidogo.”
“It’s okay,” I say. “Messed up wapi?”
“Everyone messes up. What happened?”
They lost touch after she found out about Maggie. I believe in fate. In everything happening because it was meant to happen and letting the universe craft its own path. 10 months later, they bumped into each other in a club, went back to his place and did mahanjams [Yes, I made up a word to mean sex. Deal with it]. She got preggers.
“Did you tell him about it?” I ask, because these days girls just raise kids on their own without “needing anybody’s help”. She told him.
“I laugh every time I remember what he said. He texted ‘tutafanya nini na bado hatujalipwa?’”. Men. The scummiest of the scum. This was during one of those prolonged doctor strikes. Dick [I was itching to call him this], was among the doctors who had missed their salaries for some months. But she asked what if she wanted to keep it and he, a grown ass man, gone to medical school and done all that pertains to being an intellectual, told her that she was too young to be a mother. I mean, are all doctors this ignorant of all the teen mothers of the world? Were they not mothers because they were too young? Does this understanding come with being a doctor? And if so, where do we sign up all the scum that make mothers out of young girls? Nomi kept the pregnancy. “He saw her jana for the first time in 2 years.”
I ask if they talked after that. They did. He got paid. Bought a car. Lived life. Drove his new car, probably with Maggie in it, and claimed a considerable number of times that maybe the child wasn’t his. Dickson. A fitting name. “He claimed that I only said the baby was his because he had a job… because he had the money. Then at some point during the pregnancy he called and said he’d take care of the child. That he would never let his baby suffer.” Then there was mention of a DNA test to “confirm” and a promise to send a monthly stipend until she delivered. Picture what would happen if Moses’s staff did not part the sea after travelling the desert, okay? That Moses would be Nomi’s Dickson.
Maggie got pregnant after hearing of Nomi being so. It can be disputed that this was pure coincidence. And I am a believer, trust me. But this…this seemed suspect.
Fun fact: Did you know people from Tharaka Nithi are called Tharakas? That’s where he is from, this Dr Dickson. A Tharaka sounds like a guy who was thrown out of home at the age of seventeen because he measured cocks with the man of the house. A Tharaka sounds like the name we could use to describe these men who sit by the road and harass women just for existing. Those makangas who touch you for no reason when you are getting on a jav? Those could be Tharakas, with a small ‘t’.
“Do you regret meeting him?”
“Sometimes,” she says. “He can be difficult. But when he wants to, he can be the best man on earth.”
“Isn’t that just him pretending to be a good guy?”
“I swear I think the same sometimes but I know deep down he’s inside he’s a good person. [Girl, date his insides then] “But I’m trying to wean myself off of him so I don’t end up wishing him a ton of bad things every time he does something, I don’t deem to be right. In another life, I’d be his girl.”
I ask for examples of things he does that she things are wrong.
“Making so many promises and keeping close to none” [A tharaka is someone who makes promises and keeps close to none]
I ask how long he stayed when he came to see their daughter the day before we spoke. “I went to his house [typical tharaka] I wanted him to stay with my baby so I can find something to do to save up some cash cause I still have internship. But he promised he will take care of that”
“You trust this Maggy to take care of your kid?”
“It was the only option I had left.”
“Do you love him?”
“I do. So much.”
Do you have a Young Love story? Anything you love to do, to be, to have, to wear, to look at. Find me on Facebook (Mirawu), send me a DM on IG and Twitter (@mir_awu) or just text me on Whatsapp (+254 729288583). I will text back. We will send voice notes and memes and I will listen, without judgement.
Here’s a story. Boy meets girl in campus. Boy promises girl the world. Boy impregnates girl. Boy takes girl to his parents. Boy’s parents are ecstatic! He had been a problem child. To have found a wife for him would have been an issue…but here was Boy, with a girl. A university one nonetheless! Cause for celebration! Boy’s parents go to visit their in-laws.
Now girl’s parents have their doubts. They try asking if this is what Girl wants for herself. If she is sure. She says yes because what other option is there? Raise a bastard child in her parents’ home? That was never the plan. The plan involves escape. Freedom. She prays Boy would give her that, and leaves with him.
Boy drinks. Obviously. He has a wife and child on the way. He is a legend in his early twenties. His village friends call him “Mheshimiwa”. He might run for office. But for now, Boy enjoys being in the moment. Nothing phases him. Not his pregnant girl nor his failing grades. Not even the birth of his daughter. He will love her, without a doubt. But Girl will be in a different prison to that of raising their daughter in her parent’s home. The world Boy promised becomes the eyes of her 4-year-old daughter. She gets pregnant again.
This is a classic story, deserving of a place right up there with “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “The Notebook”. Everyone has heard this story. Most have lived it, either in the eyes of their parents, siblings or in first-hand experience. But there is usually more than what meets the eye. Boy has struggles. Girl has dreams. Sometimes they overcome and achieve whatever they wished for themselves. Other times they drown in a pit that life and circumstance dug for them.
It might be cliché that I want to write about love. You may be sitting there thinking “Well it’s about time this blog took a normal turn” just so you have the excuse to dismiss me, but I won’t have it. I want to write about love, because I love Love. It’s a curse in this day and age to have a heart that believes in people. That thinks there is someone out there who will at least come close to the famed soulmate. But after writing on alcohol all through last year, I realized one thing. People die. And yes, it might be sadistic to think this, but go with me for a minute.
Life happens once. There is no do-over, no matter how many movies have lied to you and how much people will tell you about coming back reincarnated as an animal [But, universe…a panda please, thanks]. So, yeah. We only get one chance at life. And with the way we are structured, we are born to love. However tough you want to look to the world, however much you proclaim that love is for pussies. The heart is a fragile thing. It sees what it sees and takes what it wants. So let’s write about it.
This year, I want broken hearts. I want stories of people who loved and lost through death and through society. People who believed and had their wishes washed with the waves of disappointment. I want dread of that four-letter word. I want hate, because…well, it is a thin line. I want loathing so real you see someone you once loved and want to run to Paris and bury your face in croissants and forget your sorrows in the Seine River.
I also want tough guys. Those buff ninjas who say they have never loved. I want to talk about their tender moments. To talk to men who have no fear of this word. To men who have grown from a world of nameless sexcapades to giving their hearts to one. But I also want men who loved and got broken, and then decided to get into the societal agreement of what a man is.
I want love. Stories of people who saw each other across a room and heard the rise and fall of Ed Sheeran proclaiming the gospel to their hearts. I want movie love. To know where and when you bumped into them and how and if you knew at once they were the proverbial “ONE”. I want to hear about letters and text messages and late night phone calls.
I’m not going to lie to you. When I started writing on the first blog, I wanted to write about love. I have always written about love. Maybe it felt familiar. Maybe I wanted to write about what I knew truly existed. But then I felt I didn’t know enough. And I would have made two posts and left it at that. But doing AA last year has really put a lot into perspective. Going for what I wanted to do and actually doing it, has given me so much belief in myself. That’s why I’m doing this. You are right. It’s about time.
Tell me of how much you love your cat or your pillow, or how that one book changed your perception on fairy tales. I want pure love and the toxic kind. To hear of nights filled with shouting matches followed by tight cuddles. I want to at least hear of a love that made you forget to breathe. A love that shook you to your core. A love that you will tell your grandkids about.
I want photos of letters they wrote you and memories that bring pain in your chest. Bruised hearts, stitched back together hearts, unloved hearts. I want it all.
But I am not going to give you love stories from fairy tales. There will neither be Belle nor Cinder. I will tell of pure, raw experiences. Might throw some of mine in the mix…but…all I ask, is that you trust me with your heart the same way you trusted me with your liver in 2019. We will call this “Young Love”.
The rules are the same. You get to pick your name. Please pick something cool. Something you would have wanted to be, or do, or are trying to become. Pick something random. A cloud, a shoe, a city. I will give you the power to become whatever you have wished to be. And I will tell your story in the best possible way. I will love your love and your pain.
Do you have a Young Love story? Find me on Facebook (Mirawu), send me a DM on IG and Twitter(@mir_awu) or just text me On Whatsapp (+254 729288583). I will text back. We will send voice notes and memes and I will listen, without judgment.