Shortages, we are riding on all sorts of them; fuel, milk, rainfall na kadhalika. Like George Strait’s song, ‘This is where the cowboy rides away’ I can’t help but think that this is where Wanjikū rides away. But as usual, we haven’t had enough yet, we still want to be trampled. I however think back in time to when milk was in such abundance. Back to the days where all roads led to the defunct Kenya Cooperative creameries. In those days there was such a milk glut that even Baba Moi decided to woo us with the ‘maziwa ya nyayo’ initiative. Ooh how we’d lay in wait for the rumble of that lorry carrying crates and crates of the pasteurised and homogenised goodness; thank to Louis Pasteur. We’d drink it at breaktime, during lunch and while going home. We’d even take to those at home and eat Ugali with it for supper until we became ungrateful brats. Yeah like the children of Israel complaining of the endless manna meals. We’d kill a frog and pour milk on it and claim that it was inside the packet. Look at us now, see our lives, we are the same ones going to the supermarkets and finding the shelves empty. Kwa kweli, gūtirī wīriraga agīthiī ta agīcoka.’ noone repents while going like when returning. I hope there’s light at the end of the tunnel sooner than later but for now lemmi take a sip of this royal goodness from Mukurwe-Inī Wakulima Dairy Co Ltd.
‘It’s raining, it’s pouring The old man is snoring He went to bed but he bumped his head and couldn’t get up till morning.’ that’s how they sing nowadays. Those days we sang, ‘mbura ura ngūthīnjīre, gategwa karī iguku, na kangī karī iguku kaugaga atīa mooo.’ which translates, ‘rain rain, I slaughter for you, a humpy bull and another humpy bull which mows..’ They say when it rains it pours, I guess it’s not true anymore. It’s drizzling and roaring, I’m scared, then I remember I’m not the tallest creature around here. As a matter of fact I’m very short, my only consolation is my grandma’s words, ‘gūkuhīha ti gūtinio.’ shortness is not being cut.’ I continue to walk in the drizzle as the thunder continues to roar at a distance. Over the horizon, the mountain stands astute, glowing in it’s splendor. A bitch and a stud square each other. They are trying to gauge each other wondering if it’s time to make babies again. I think the cold wins, I walk past them and don’t look back. Life still goes on, the world is still spinning on its axis, oblivious of the fuel crisis, of the numerous traffic jams caused by the acute shortage, of a thousand boda boda operators queuing for the precious commodity. Oblivious of Wanjikū paying for this tug of war between the government and the fuel lords. After all they say, ‘ fahari wawili wapiganapo, ziumiazo nyasi.’ When two bulls fight, the grass feels the pain. I’m feeling bullied, meanwhile I keep walking. I guess Johnnie Walker was right. April is poem month, I guess I tried. Give me marks out of ten.
Lakini why is treasury failing to pay these fuel subsidies? Wanjikū and I are on the receiving end because this hoarding of fuel by the gas stations is only adding to our list of unending problems. First, it was cooking oil prices, now it’s gasoline shortage. Si watengeneze engine ya maji ngaenda hapa Thiba na pipe ngaeka maji.I remember those days when traders would hoard sugar, at least bado gatubia would come in handy. Now travelling is mostly gasoline powered. I’m here asking Wanjikū which way do we go now, me and her and I haven’t got an answer yet coz she too is dumbfounded. I wonder if we should go back to the good old days when route 11 (footing) was the way to go. Back to those days when Sammy Muraya wa Waire was singing, ‘thiī na magūrū, thiī by buti.’ I remember a day when I trekked from Nyeri town to my home in Kahiga village a distance of 16 kms. After finishing my A levels, my old man coerced his cousin/ friend to employ me in his bookshop in Nyeri town. I was earning 2K and feeling very richness 😂. One evening I had to go home to grab something I can’t remember what. I didn’t have a dime to my name so I only did what I knew would take me home; push one foot ahead of the other. Determination was fuelling me and I walked and walked and walked. Let me tell you Maina, I walked. I didn’t want to hitchhike coz you know I’m no relative of that Beatnik guy, Jack Kerouac. Also I didn’t want to be the sacrifice in some occult festival. You know the way they’d scare us about getting lifts from strangers? My two feet endured the long walk past Rūrīng’ū, Skuta, Thūngūma, Wambūgū farm, Gatitū, Gwa Kīgera, Kwa Mūrungu onto our Mississippi cotton picking delta town and finally to Kastone. Country roads sure took me home, but by the time I arrived, I dropped dead on the bed and only woke up when they mentioned food. I wonder if I’d be able to cover such a distance today. But who knows about our spirits; they only need to be provoked. Stop provoking us.
April fool’s day is here with us. I remember a story in a courtroom whereby they say that an atheist went to petition against there not being a holiday for atheists. The judge read for him that part in the Bible that says, ‘the fool says in his heart there is no God.’ He banged the gavel and said, ‘there you go April fool’s day is your day, next case.’ And talking of fool’s, I once found myself in that department. Asusena and I were having an afternoon nap on our divine mattress cum world bank. You know those days we’d dig holes in mattresses and keep Mama’s change despite her not asking us to ‘keep change.’ So we are in bed and Asusena decides, ‘lets play a game.’ I’ curious to know the game and she suggests that we eat bar soap. You know that white star bar soap that had become so popular back in the days. To make matters serious, she already had a small leftover bar. I look at her like she is some space alien but she goes on to cut a piece from the said bar and munches it like it’ the juiciest mango south of the Sahara. She gives me that look of, ‘you mean you can’t do that? Don’t blame me but the Gakware in me wanted so much to prove my badassedness because I grabbed the bar and tore a piece and started munching on it like, what the hell! The torture I endured as I downed the soapy goodness could not be compared with the look of triumph as I looked into Asusena’s cunning eyes and told her, ‘you thought I couldn’t?’ What I discovered next however left me jaded for life. Kumbe Asusena had a roasted sweet potato in place of the soap. If you want to know what happened to Gakware next after I thoroughly washed the soapy taste off my tongue, please read my chronicle on the drive.👇👇 http://thechroniclesofnyarkaheti.com/2022/01/02/the-drive/ After all mūndū mūūgī ndarī mīheere ya ūhoro. I was the fool, I guess I could sing the Asusena that Whitney Houston’s song, ‘ I’m wiser now, I’m not the foolish girl you used to know…..’ But that will be after I finish sipping this kadrink. I don’t ever want to remember that soapy taste ever.
Trying to pull a Whoopie Goldberg look in the jungle is not easy. A Boomerang might pass by and decide to say hey, or you might sit on a skin shedding python thinking it’s a log. And talking of skins, they make shoes from them, don’t they? Which reminds me of the Moccasin shoe and how it found it’s way back in the runway, but that how fashion is; it always follows a cyclical path. Who would have thought that the platforms would come back in form of wedges and all. Same goes to bell bottoms resurfacing as hipsters. I guess this only confirms that life is a circle and that the earth is round. Away from all things geography and glaciation. Writing has always helped me in expressing myself. Most often than not when I speak misunderstood. That is why while in High school I got tired of living with the flood in my shoe house, I decided to pick my biological weapons and surprise my old man like in guerilla warfare. These weapons consisted of a pen and a paper, an envelope and stamps. The letter went something like this.
Dear Father, First and foremost is to thank the Almighty God for giving me an apportunity to write this missive, Secondly is to tell you that I am doing well in my studies and I emerged number one in our class in the midterm exams. Thirdly is to tell you that my shoes are giving me a thousand problems. They are torn and are staring at me like they are laughing. When its dry, soil is collecting inside and my socks have transformed from white to 50 shades of brown. That isn’t all father dearest, when it rains I feel like my legs are in Noah’s ark congested with all the animals except the ark isn’t dry. It’s hot and humid. My toes are about to drop down from frost bite. I’m kindly urging you by the mercies of God to buy me a new pair of shoes. Yours truly, Gakware, Dota.
It seems like this letter softened the old man and when I went home for the holidays a week before schools reopened, my old man visited Kīricū dairymen’s Cooperative society for his monthly milk payout. Upon arrival he called me and instructed me to visit a certain cobbler at Kīricu market who he’d already given instructions to make me a new pair of shoes. I visited the cobbler’s shop and was given a seat. I was instructed to place my leg on a piece of paper. Funny how what starts with paper ends with paper, remember the letter? So I placed my foot on the paper and the cobbler drew the layout of my skinny foot. One week later, I was the proud owner of a moccasin shoe. I guess you could say, I wrote the songs that broke her heart 😂😂 sorry you could say I felt like a mheshimiwa.
When we were growing up and the digital world had not been borne, it would take a week to know our exam results. Right now you just need to send the index number to a certain number and pap, the results are sent to you in the blink of an eye. You don’t even get a minute to engage yourself in a pep talk.
Back in the days, the results would have to be taken to the provincial headquarters, then from there they’d trickle down to the districts, divisions and zones in that order. Only then would the headteacher would be able to get the much awaited results. By this time the students would have sweat and almost died of dehydration while also crossing their fingers even in their sleep to ask the stars to have mercy on them. Talk of bado bado kuumiza matumbo.
By now you already know that my old man was no joke. Being a member of PTA meant that he was in the good books of the school administration. He walked into the school compound and received my results before I even knew they had arrived.
So when I was just there at home minding my Gakware group of companies businesses, I de hear, ‘mwarī wa maitū’ my sister; you know Kikuyus naming policies and all; I was actually named after her only sister. I tensed when I saw him holding a piece of paper. He was quiet for a few seconds and you could have heard a pin drop like in that Kenny Rogers song, ‘coward of the country.’ Yes, even when the said pen was dropping on the soil.
I looked straight in his eyes waiting for what would come next, he maintained the silence like he was enjoying torturing me. Then he smiled and handed me the paper saying, ‘ tongwīraga nīwe ūgatuīka ndagītarī gūkū.’ I’ve been telling you that you are the one who will become a doctor in this house.’ I’m still contemplating whether I’ll ever be able to hold a syringe and inject someone’s bum bum 😂 with these my shaky hands.
If I ever do I’ll make sure to let you know. For now lemmi take this thing for a road test. You know what they say, ‘ndūkanairīre gatinga hunyū,’ ‘do not scorn a tractor because of its dust.’ I bet by the time I’m back it will be dusty.
To parents; if your child did not perform well don’t humiliate them. Remember that popcorns are subjected to the same heat but some pop faster than others. Each child has his/her own pop time.
Listening to music is therapeutic to the soul, that’s why in 2009 when Safaricom Ltd decided to capitalize on it by launching the skiza (listen) tunes service everyone was thrilled. We’d change from tone to tone in a split second. Not wanting to be left behind like in the rapture story. I think Richie spice had just visited the country and I’d fallen in love with his earth a run red and grooving my girl tunes. I decided to download the former as my skiza tune and was ready to entertain my callers with pure niceness. Guess who called next? Mbosiwe aka boss; In a twinkle of an eye he was reading for me (kunisomea) a speech almost the size of Psalms 119. He be like, ‘what will customers think of you when they call and hear that tune? Remove it immediately…….’ He went on and on to admonish me on how customers would not take me seriously if that was the tune they listened to when they called me. I was working as a salesperson back then and life was not working that well for me. However what he told me went in through one ear and left through the other ear at the speed of light years instead of the speed of sound. I refused to change the tune like a thumb sucking child and whenever he’d call me he’d get super annoyed and lecture me on the reason why my sales statistics were hapa kule. Guess reason number one was what, you guessed right, it all came down to my skiza tune. And talking of thumb sucking; I remember when I used to do it with such zeal and my siblings would try all manner of things including rubbing 🌶 on my thumb. Nothing could deter me until one day when our gate was sent by Karma. Nilifinywa kidole and blood clotted on the nail portion. My sister Mugz convinced me that it was a cockroach and I swear I never sucked my thumb again. Character development nilichapwa kitambo 😂😂 wacha hii ya Covid. The skiza tune story went on for a while until I remembered a mountain proverb, ‘ndūgacindane na njogu kūmia.’ Don’t compete with an elephant in pooping. I removed the skiza tune and just like that I’ve never considered returning it again. So if you call me and wonder what kind of a person is this who doesn’t have a skiza tune, now you know where I’m coming from. Do you have a habit that you were forced to relinquish. Leave a comment. For now lemmi sing row row row your boat.
The recent Police recruitment drive has taken me back in time and striked a rare chord. You may have read my chronicle on tarmacking/ job hunting, I feel like this is a top up to it. I don’t remember how I came to know that there was an armed forces recruitment in my areas back in the days maybe it was via the radio since Newspapers we only saw them on the ocassin that matumbo (offals) graced your meal . After years of ruthless tarmacking I thought to myself, ‘why not give the army a shot, maybe this is my destiny.’ On the material day, I woke up in the wee hourd of the morning and took the short route to Marūa town as dew fell heavily on my canvas shoes. You see I had to wear a light shoe because we’d heard from previous selections that running was a must and so I had to brace myself for that eventuality. Upon arrival at Marūa town; Kahonoki, the ever faithful face me matatu was earnestly waiting for me like the ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom. That is before they dozed off. I boarded Kahonoki and she decided to wait a few more minutes for the usual town workers. I was literally sitting on my legs wondering what if I had enough coins to hire Kahonoki to drop me at Ruring’u stadium sooner than later. Somehow Kahonoki filled up pretty fast and we were those. We cruised through the dilapidated road that was currently undergoing recarpeting and by the time I alighted at Ruringu I was smelling and looking like dirt. Not to worry though since I’m a daughter of the soil and the good book says from dust we came and to dust we’ll return. I marched through Ruring’u dirt roads like an already recruited army general and finally arrived at the stadium. The only other time I’d set foot there was when we had gone for an ASK show back in primary school and saw all the weird stuff like a speaking head on a plate and that Incy wincy spider, creepy. Upon arrival I found other enthusiastic armed forces recruits and we chatted our minutes away while awaiting the recruitment generals. They came in their array of coloured uniforms and ordered us to queue. Ladies were allowed to stand but boychild, woooii wewe ulikosea nani? They were ordered to remove their shirts and sit on the still wet grass. Masaibu ya ndugu Jero haya. The army men were assigned queues and we stood attention waiting for the sentence to be pronounced and slowly but surely they inspected the guard of honor only it wasn’t the usual guard of honour. The first officer was in charge of checking your papers to ascertain that you had really gone through the education system and passed with walking colours and that you were not from Nyakemincha primary school. I passed the first mchunjo/ eviction and had started raising my hopes up when the second officer arrived at my spot and started checking me out from head to toe. It felt like he liked what he saw until he asked me to open my mouth and voila! I had lost my first tooth immediately after finishing form four and as the officer uttered those four words, ‘meno siwezi samehea wewe,’ all my hopes came tumbling down like the walls of Jericho. I started cursing all the patcos, Koos and tropicals I had enjoyed all along. I stepped out of the line like a chicken which had been dipped in the chilly Thagana waters. Ooh the walk of shame, I guess like Nikita I’ll never know how life in the force would have been so let me continue listening to Elton John’s Nikita you’ll never know instead. However listening to my fellow villagemates discuss about what they had endured made me think my experience was not that bad after all. One boy was told that his feet actually looked like a woman’s. Another one was told that he weighed like a feather. And just now I’ve seen a tweet on NTV that police are more concerned about the teeth than the mind.😂😂 I guess you’ll need the teeth to feed the mind after all. So here I am, still your chronicler.
I would have become a physicist were it not for Maheni Muchangi kunipiga character development when we were schooling at Kaheti Boys. Dude scored 95% when I scored 45% like those 45 pockets in Githuruarī gīakwa , sorry gīa Kamande wa Kīoi. The one in which he used to put 50 cents in each pocket. So now I only watch Science of Stupid on Nat Geo and the anomalous expansion of water in my fridge from a distance. Hiyo physics ingine niliachia wajukuu (grandchildren). I know you are wondering whether I lied that I went to Can Go Free High School (Kangūbiri.) Well I did but only my body went with me. My mind and spirit were always in Kaheti, you know like that George Strait song that goes like, ‘all my exes live in Texas.’ That’s why now I’m a writer of chronicles. That is the reason why when I decided to jump out of that Mūthubari aka KBS aka Kenya Bus Service at the intersection of Kenyatta Avenue and Kimathi Street, I should have remembered the term inertia. Now back in the days there was this dude who came to school to teach us about inertia, a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force. The guy went ahead to remind us of how when a driver suddenly applies the emergency breaks and as the vehicle screeches to a halt the people inside usually say, ‘īī nīatīa.’ Inertia 😂. That’s why I still can’t fathom why my mind did not remind me of this concept. If you have been following my chronicles, you’ll remember the one christened asphalt. If you are new, here’s the link.👇 https://thechroniclesofnyarkaheti.com/2022/02/17/asphalt/ So I was in this Mūthubarī bus from Kawangware, Ungwaro or kwa Ngware or however you may want to call it. As we entered the CBD at the intersection of Uhuru Avenue and Kenyatta Avenue traffic began to build up as is the case of most major cities in the world. The bus slowly adjusted into the new momentum and since it got slower and slower by the minute, the passengers started to alight while the bus was still in motion. This happened severally and by the time we are around that Sanlam House, I Nyar, daughter of Kaheti couldn’t have a better inspiration. I advance towards the bus exit with such gusto, you’d think I was approaching the pearly gates and Brother Peter was opening the gate a wide smile on his high cheek bones. On reaching the door, I exhail and jumped out of the door and voila my knees connected with the Asphalt and I was suddenly on my bruised knees and it’s like the cards had been turned. Instead of St Peter opening the pearly gates, Lucifer was standing there fork in hand addressing me to follow him to hell just like I did while on earth. With the look on his face I had to tow the line. That’s how I ended up limping in town like a spotted hyena. For now let me watch my steps lest I reconnect with the earth. No worry this time though. I’m a true daughter of the soil.
Muthenya wa ngū nī wa ngū or so they said. A day of firewood is a day of firewood. This a proverb used to admonish people not to leave something half done just because it has taken a longer time to complete than they deemed necessary. They should embark on completing it even though it takes the whole day, after all a day of firewood is a day of firewood. A long time ago people would go to the forests to collect the firewood and since the forests were far away they’d go in the morning only to return in the evening their backs laden with said firewood. However the chilling stories about encounters in the forests leave me wondering if I’d endure such real life movies. The Ndemi age group that dates back to (1792 – 1826) decided they’d had enough of eating bushmeat and so started tilling land. This is probably the age group we should credit for coming up with our Gītheri delicacy. So this age group cleared bushes and tilled land which meant that forest land soon became miles and miles away from people. Have you ever been advised by someone on how to confront a lion in the jungle, alone. They’d tell you to cut a branch and sharpen it on one end and when you encounter a lion and it roars at you, you insert the sharp end into its throat. SMH. Then there’s this one about a leopard and how it would lie down on a trail wagging its tail waiting for you to pass. If you passed by without any drama, the same leopard would pass through the thickets and surprise you yet again by lying by your wayside. This would go on and on again until you reached home. It’s like the said leopard was escorting you and if you remained dramaless all would be well. How I was supposed to pass by a leopard calmly and not scream at the top of my lungs is a phenomena my adrenaline glands cannot fathom. The last tale however is the most hilarious: It’s a tale of when an elephant would lift you on it’s back using it’s trunk. As the elephant continued to move through the thickets and bushes you were advised to cut branches and load on its back. When the load was heavy enough for the elephant to still think you were still on its back you’d surreptitiously hang onto a branch and off it would go believing it was still carrying you. Haha now Mr Elephant did you still think you were wiser than the sons and daughters of Gīkūyū and Mūmbi? Even though I’d love to ride on an elephant in the afterlife, that is if there are elephants on that beautiful shore; I still can’t think how I, Nyar Kaheti can pull such a stint on a 15,000 pounds mass of flesh. But for now let me chill and think of what to cook with this firewood. I’m back after a whole day in the forest. Gatubia is in plenty.