Well, I’m 20
I have lived happy
But I still smile
I still live
Because there are many who no longer do
I still love
Because there are those who have never felt it
I still get to feel crappy
Because bad days are always right there
Life may not be clear
Mainly because I will still love
And for this I will still get burnt
But I’m only 20
And nobody gets to judge
Because being 20
I am allowed mistakes
I am allowed to bend some rules
Allowed to make my own decisions
So if you look this way
And feel like walking away
I too will not judge
Till I’m older
I decided on the sleek Mercedes taxi because I know he never liked the ordinary. I needed him to know that I still knew him, even in the details he hides from the world.
Three months apart had done its damage to us, but now that I was back, I was going to look him straight in the eye and say that I was going nowhere. That he is stuck with me. That no two month piece that he had would destroy us. Now that I was back, we would pick up from April. So I walked up to his door and knocked.
At first I thought he wasn’t home, then I remembered I had told him that I would be coming over. He couldn’t have left. I turn the knob and it is unlocked, so I push back the door and he is standing right there, behind it. Why didn’t you open when I knocked? I want to ask. But he looks so different. He looks as if he died and was just resurrecting on my arrival. This is not the man I left behind. Perhaps my leaving sucked the life out of him.
So I hug him. Because I fear he might collapse before my very eyes. I hold him close to me to affirm that I will not ever leave him alone. That I am back for good. In this moment I look around, and it seems as if he has been living on his own. I sigh. I doubted him for no reason. Surely this house lacks the all-time coveted female touch.
But then there is a voice in the other room, and I pray to my ancestors it is not what I think, my prayers turn out vain. She pops a messy head from my kitchen. “There’s no milk. Could you get some?” I can’t believe this! How dare he let me hold him in comfort when he still had the floosy in the house? I had told him I was to come so as to avoid something like this. But he did not respect me enough.
I turn to take my leave. I cannot stay in here. The air is too thick. I can’t breathe right. I need to leave to avoid a scene. I was never one for them. He says my name. So softly. So sweetly. The same way he said it before I left in April and my heart breaks.
Without turning to him I turn the knob the other way, open the door, close it behind me and put my back to it. My chest burns like hell. He said he would wait. He promised he would. I slide down his door and find the ground. I don’t remember when the tears started falling.
I have this friend, who I love with all my heart. I love her to the moon and back especially because she has the brightest of souls. She brings light to a room when she walks into one. She is the kind that I know I can count on, no matter what. Let’s call her Shirley.
Shirley is amazing. And I’m not just saying that because I want a pack of oreos next time she comes visiting. I’m not saying she is so just to get a couple of eclairs from her next time I see her. But I like to think that Shirley is a magician. She has this one trick; The Disappearing Act.She is genuinely a remarkable being, when she is single that is.
Shirley totally changes on me when a guy touches into the folds of her heart. She goes inside out on me, one of her best friends. Shirley totally blocks me out. She builds a wall in between her life and the new catch. She goes all in every single time. Reason: She has found “The One”.
When Shirley has a boyfriend, you could make plans, because you miss each other and it has indeed been a while, plan everything out, the food, the venue, how many people are invited or it is just the two of us, and she won’t show up. She will, probably a month later, tell you that the boyfriend called or needed a hug that one cold night.
Shirley becomes a moth drawn into a flame that is the opposite sex. She becomes a hyena to a lion’s scraps. She gets so attached that nothing can break her concentration on the guy.
Woo unto you if you dare tell Shirley that her new boyfriend is a cheat or a flirt. Tell her even that she is too good for him and see your contact get deleted right in your face. You are doomed if you say you have heard rumours that he isn’t at all a saint. Because to Shirley, her boyfriend is her Messiah. He is the one good grain from a pile of chaff, which you have now joined.
And I’m used to this. Every time Shirley shuts me out, I wait one or two months at most to get that ever so farmiliar text on Instagram or facebook telling me to text her and that she “lost all contacts”. I wait on that text because it always comes, and Shirley comes a-knocking, with my oreos and eclairs, to cry on my ever warm shoulder, till the next catch arrives. And I don’t mind it. Because I know she is always there, somewhere.
I love you Shirley.
It’s me, Julia. I hope you still remember me. I hope I don’t need to re-introduce myself to you. That would simply be sad. Sadder than me while writing this letter to you. I hope all is well, and that you are happy. I always did want the best for you. Remember?
Anyway, I know I am not supposed to write to you. I promised you that I wouldn’t any more. But I can’t keep this in, and I think you need to know before I can move on with my life and find someone to take genuinely happy pictures with. I was with my friends last night, and the girls were talking of their new catches. It’s funny that I didn’t have one. I can’t bring myself to like anyone else. I miss you.
I remembered one thing though, as I was looking through their galleries full of smiles. I remembered you said forever. Forever your Julia. And my heart broke once more. Because I don’t believe forever is as short-lived as we were. I’ve had enough of this pettiness. I know you have too. But all I am is broken right now. I can’t move with the same rhythm as before. The beat of my steps is uneven. All because I crave you.
Forever was such a beautiful word, with little James and Jackie in the back seat. Now it only means mornings healed with coffee and evenings curled up in bed. Forever is lonely now, My Love. These days, forever is only a farfetched lie that you whispered to me before we slept and right when I opened my eyes. These days, your Julia is no more. The smile you loved so much, I have missed seeing it in the mirror.
Don’t get me wrong, Love. I am not saying I need you back, because I know you will still walk out on me with the same lame excuses you gave last time. I do not need to die once more. I’m only saying that I miss you dearly, and I wrote it here because I know you will not read it. I know you will see it is from me and put this in the trash. Yes, I know you that well darling. But that is the one thing that gave me the courage to write this letter to you. To tell you that I need to forget forever. That I need to tell my heart and mind that I am no longer your Julia, if only there is a way.
Goodbye my love.
I am disappointed in my father’s generation. In the generation that has taught most of my peers what we know and the beliefs we hold close. I am displeased by their preaching without action. That they have the audacity to tell of peace and prosperity when we saw first-hand what they did in the 2007-2008 aberrations that cost many their lives and had my fellow country people affected.
I am discontented by the words of my leaders when they say that we are united yet I still see people politically affiliated according to their own tribe. No…I was told it is “ethnic group” now, because tribe is too brute a word. I am saddened terribly when I still see a grandma being cruel to a daughter in-law because she does not belong to the same tribe as them. Yes…for this article, I will use this god forsaken word, if only to open the eyes of my father’s generation.
I have lived only two decades on this earth, but I have seen my fair share of this disgrace. When a father passes on and children are chased away from the only home they have known because their mother is not one with the community of her belated. When a woman is stripped of her inheritance because her late husband’s people own it and she does not belong to the tribe. When lovers are forced to live star crossed lives simply because they have different tribal customs.
It is not right. I believe it is not right that our parents have upheld this vice and yet we still continue with it like it is second nature.It is not right that we have the capacity to embrace one another regardless of their geographical birthplace, but still have to think of what our parents will say when we take home a best friend for a sleepover and their last name is not satisfactory. It is not right. And I know many will disagree with me, but look around my friends, and tell me if I am wrong.
Tell me that employment does not still rely on where one is from. Tell me that first class treatment is given to people from the lake region in the central part of this country. Tell me that my aunts and uncles from the same central part can comfortably flash their identity cards in the lake region while there on holiday. It has gone to as far as my tribe having a name specifically for the other. I am owning up to this disrespect today. They call them “Okuyus”… And yes…it may sound like a privilege, like at least they get some recognition in the other part of the nation, until you hear it in a sentence, used by an old mama, saying how the “Okuyus” have robbed the land of all its provisions. It is still not right. My father’s generation has failed us.
Now, they did try to do something about this. They taught us to forget about our tribes. To forget the parts that define us first. That one part that, even without our names, we already belonged to. This generation of masters of pretense taught us to forget where we come from. Right now, if one of my friends is randomly asked, “And hey, what ethnic group are you?” the first thing, the first instinct, is usually to ask “Why?” Why would a stranger want to know where I am from? What intentions do they have? They could be having a hidden agenda…so we have trained ourselves to turn defensive when this question is first asked.
After this, comes the disillusion that we have fed ourselves. Since the question Why is not satisfactory an answer, and the stranger could most definitely go on to probe so as to find out more, we have adapted an answer that is so outrightly outrageous, I wonder why it is not fitted right after The Wildebeest Migration in the “Seven New Wonders of the World”. We have taught ourselves to say “I am Kenyan”. My generation has become so gullible as to name my country a tribe, and this upsets me.
We have been deceived, deluded and made a mockery of by our parents and their parents. We have grown up believing a lie. We are not of the tribe Kenya, but of that one Great Nation that comprises of 42 amazing tribes that we should be proud of. Some of us have been given white man names and lack the identity of their tribes. Children grow not knowing the language of their fore fathers and are out here claiming to not belong to any “ethnic group”. Claiming to be “Kenyans”…but that is not true. We lack a sense of identity because our fathers’ generation has made it so. We have no sense of belonging or fulfillment in our backgrounds. It breaks my heart to know that if only we were raised to know that all tribes are amazing and exotic in their own way, then maybe, just maybe, we could have grown up appreciating one another the way it should have been.
But sadly, my father’s generation has shortchanged us.
I killed her
I killed my granddad’s one true love
The one that made him smile all day
I killed his happiness
And I am cursed
Because there is none like her
I stare down at her lifeless remains now
A tear drops
He will kill me in return
My heart breaks
I am a murderer now
I will have this follow me forever
Granddad will be back in an hour
I look for words to say but nothing comes to mind
Why did I disturb her?
Why did I have to make her fall down the stairs?
A little jealousy has cost me my evening tales of the military
Jealousy had cost me the love of my grandfather
It had cost me the hot chocolate talks with my favorite person in the world
He will never look at me the same way
I will always remind him of Lucy
Of how it was all my fault that he lost her
He will hate me
Perhaps I should also fall down the stairs
Just so I can also die with her
I killed the one my granddad truly loved
Even Chica the cat did not get that kind of love from him
She was his lifelong partner
His ride or die
And in one swift swing
I had murdered her
I had destroyed granddad’s life
I had lost my favorite grandchild privileges
In the next forty seven minutes
Granddad will walk through that door
And have his heart broken
Because he will see Lucy
Lying there on the floor
With me standing over her
And he will despise me for this selfish act
He will hate me for what I have done
He loved her too much
The kind of love that cannot be replaced
Lucy was an old soul
Her caramel skin flowed for miles
She had a beauty about her that left many stunned
And I had killed her
I should call the police
Thirty two minutes
I can’t move
I look at my hands
Her blood on them
Granddad should be walking home now
Home to see Lucy, Chica and me
Only that he will find two of us alive
His number one lifeless on the floor
My heartbeat fastens
No words can get me out of this
No amount of hugs can salvage her now
Lucy is gone
I can’t breathe
I am stuck to the floor
I can’t move
Still standing over Lucy
I bend down and touch her head
I hear the gate open
And granddad’s voice
He is singing one of his old songs from his band when he was younger
He sings of peace and prosperity in the country
An old independence song
I brace myself
He is right on time
Couldn’t even give me two more minutes to compose myself
Not one second to come up with an acceptable tale of how beloved Lucy died
Another tear drops
He opens the door
“Pa’…it’s…it’s… I’m sorry”
He looks at me, confused
Then I see grief fill his face as he stares at my hands touching Lucy’s head
He stares at his true love
“Pa’… I didn’t mean to… it wasn’t my fault…”
He closes the door behind him
And walks up to me
I see him lift his walking cane
And I fear he wants to strike me with it
But he hangs it on the staircase railing
And puts his hands around me
I fear he wants to squeeze the life out of me
Kill me like I did his happiness
Like I did Lucy
His body starts to shake
He sobs on my shoulder
“Pa’… I’m so sorry”
He looks up at me
His eyes are bright
He has been…
“Sweetpea” he says
“It’s just a smoking pipe. I have hundreds of those”
I look at him
“But it’s Lucy…you love her!”
“No Sweetpea. I love you. Not a silly old pipe that you broke”
He kisses me on the forehead
“Want some hot chocolate?’ he asks
And I laugh at my own madness
It was just a stupid old smoking pipe
I dust the ashes from my hands