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What happened to the King’s gold

I have never felt comfortable writing a post on birthdays, whether past, present or future. Perhaps it is the random streak of shyness within me that made me ask: What merit can there possibly be in one shouting out that they are another year older?

Now all this was before I read the numbers game which is a beautifully engaging post celebrating life and a making a play on the number that is one’s age. Notice how every birthday one is obliged to pick a new number: 20, 25, 30, 45, 50, 55. And yet they are the self same individuals. No wonder someone important once said that age is just a number. What does it feel like to be 39? or 89?

I did not have to wait too long for my next birthday treat. I came across a post which can be called Just do it. I got my teeth into this excellent high velocity, energetic post as it cruised along at about mach 5. The theme here: goals and achievements. There is no time like the present for one to push the boundaries and realise their true potential. Tomorrow might be too late

I allowed these ideas to percolate in my mind as I searched high and low for my final birthday offering which suddenly appeared one day in the shape of Father Time.
It was a wonderful evaluation of the changes that had taken place in the past year. Time was the theme as the title suggests. What had changed as the hands of time had made their revolutions around the clock- face? A coming of age type of story.

After reading these 3 pieces I had clearly experienced an instant radical change of perception.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I woke on Tuesday morning with a start. My breath came in quick, short gasps. It was as though I had been running for a bus in my last dream. I glanced over at the alarm clock by the bedside. It read 05:33, a whole twelve minutes before my alarm was due to go off. My body shook in silent laughter in the darkness as I recalled an old saying: why keep a dog and then bark yourself?

I got up from the bed and opened a window. The air in my bedroom was stale, reminding me of boiled cabbage, rotten eggs and bad drains. Perhaps I should have given that cold mutura at the pub a miss last night, I thought gravely. I moved about the room with a dangerous, lithe spring in my step. Today was my birthday.

I quickly shaved, showered and moisturised, and twenty minutes later I was locking the front door. I stopped by the early morning kiosk to pick up a paper, a bag of peanuts, some tissues and a bottle of water. I ran recklessly across the street to catch a mat bound for the city.

I arrived at the office to discover that the others were all there. My general plan was to not say anything. I did not expect them to remember what day it was and I was not going to tell them. Why should I tell them it’s my birthday? They’d probably think I’m desperate for cards, prezzies and stuff. I would pretend it was just a normal day.

Babu was looking over some papers at the receptionist’s desk. He glanced up at me when I entered and grunted a greeting. The photocopier man, standing nearby handed me a box of toner to take to the cupboard and promptly disappeared. As I walked along the corridor to my office I noticed Commander Ruby accepting and signing for a package from a delivery man. She saw me and casually placed a newspaper over the package on the desk. She came to the door, said hello and pressed an empty coffee cup into my hand, asking if I was going to the kitchen. I said hi, declined the coffee cup and went into my office. I shut the door in despair, disappointed that not one of my work mates had even though for a moment about the significance of this great day.

The day wore on. It was busy as normal. There were clients to see, emails to reply to and phone calls to return. Before I knew it it was 5.45 and time to disappear. Rubina was just getting back from the courts. She asked me to wait, saying she had a present for me. She had managed to obtain a wonderful film for my birthday. It had been delivered today. Her plan was that we should go back to my place and watch it. She also presented me with a beautiful birthday card and a lovely brand new copy of Okot P’Biteks, Song of Lawino.

I was ecstatic. Rubina had come through. I wondered what to do about my other forgetful colleagues but when I stepped outside the building, I discovered they had all gone home.

Rubina had gone to fetch her car from that dark and damp place, that is the basement of the building. She pulled up beside me and I jumped into the passenger seat. We went by her place where she offered me a coffee while she picked up some overnight things. We left almost immediately with Rubina negotiating the city roads with considerable skill. It was quite dark now. A few moments later we had arrived at my flat in South B. As we got out of the car we were giggling with excitement. We had managed to outfox the rest of the work colleagues and now we could spend some quality time watching a good film all by ourselves.

Had I been a more conscientious fellow in my day to day domestic affairs I would have had the light bulb in the porch area, inside the front door, replaced months ago. Perhaps then I would have noticed that something odd was going on. As it happened this area at the front was in total darkness just like the rest of the house.

I opened the door to the sitting room. What happened next was the last thing that I would have expected that evening.

“Surpriiiiise !! Came the loud shout of about twenty or thirty voices all at once as they switched on the lights. They had all been lying in wait, in the darkness. Somebody turned on the music nice and loud and Babu came up and hugged me as he gave me a present. Someone else put a drink in my hand and slapped me cheerfully on the back. I looked at Rubina. Her face was like a blank sheet of paper. It was impossible to say whether she had been in on the joke or not. I said to her, “Looks like we’ll have to watch the movie next time. What film did you get, by the way?”

She smiled and took out a package from her coat pocket. It was the very same one that I had seen Commander Ruby signing for in the office earlier that day.

“Happy birthday Woolie.” said Rubina and the Commander in unison as I ripped away at the wrapping paper. I finally got to the DVD. It bore the bold initials of the National Archaeological Unit. The title of the film was “What happened to the King’s gold?”

Christmas cheer and small talk

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!

Frosty

I am writing this on December 29th 2014 and I think that if I hear that greeting one more time I will do someone an injury. But no,seriously, what is it about the end of the year that makes it the season for small talk? I wish people would just stop being so……fake! 🙁

Check it out : There are people whom we never talk to all through the year. I am not talking about total strangers, so stop shaking your head. I mean work colleagues, people from my local, my street, my estate, my neighbourhood. I also mean estranged family members – people who barely acknowledge one another for eleven months of the year. Suddenly come Christmas week and hey they are all smiles and politeness, with good wishes for the season, asking if you are all ready for Christmas….and then, after the event asking if you had a good one. Everybody being kind to one another. How nice. Ptuh! If I wasn’t made of sterner stuff I would ask for a bucket!

Don’t get me wrong now. I am not a Scrooge and I love Christmas like everyone else (perhaps not always for the right reasons). I find the religious celebrations and the coming together of family and friends most enjoyable. Christmas comes but once a year but who says we can’t we spread this politeness and kindness across the whole of the year?

And the other thing that got me itching today. What is it about people and small talk? I am always amazed at how people behave when they meet others for the first time. We seem to have an unwritten protocol that states: make everything and everybody awkward.

Humour me for just a moment here. You meet someone for the first time at a big house party and the busy host/ess is not nearby to do the formal introductions. How do you break the ice? For kids in a playground in all their innocence nothing could be easier. They just ask “What is your name?” Could you simply ask someone for their name? I’d love to see you try. What about those funny types that like to ask directly what one does for a living. It tickles me no end.

So the small-talk continues. You ask the stranger, “Did you have to come far?” or even “What did you think of…( insert some inane subject that will not offend on the grounds of religious, cultural, gender or ethnic sensibilities) And on it goes. We have become a mobile nation as peoples from every corner of this great republic live, work and more recently party together. So we speak about the weather and the shortage of green peas, the traffic and the cost of petrol and leaving small children with suspect nannies. Bleh You wonder why people are constantly consulting their watches and smart phones?

I don’t know if, like me, you are unbelievably hopeless at remembering people’s names. How do you honestly tell someone with whom you are having a conversation and has already referred to you by name that you can’t remember their name. Most awkward. It happens. A third party, a friend of yours, say, suddenly comes over, and wait for the introductions. Put yourself in their shoes. Have they forgotten me because I am a random, inconsequential person.

I learned a trick this Christmas, how to get out of that one unscathed. All you do is say to the person, “So sorry, I forgot your name..” Making sure to use healthy gestures and body language, eg. pointing to your head like you’re a bit eccentric (screw loose). The person will say “Mariah” with all the dignity that she can muster. Now you, in your most charming voice say, “I knooow that silly, what’s your suuuurrrrnaaame!” Try it, really… it works!

The closing year has been one of achievement and tragedy. The best nature of man was shown as each day health workers from around the world joined their colleagues in Sierra Leone and Liberia to treat and care for victims of Ebola. The evil that we are capable of carrying out is also playing itself everyday as al shabab, islamic state, boko haram, and other misguided religious bigots wage a bogus war at home and abroad.

As we give thanks for the blessings of 2014. I wish you a very happy, safe and excellent new year. Enjoy the song again. 🙂

Slumming it in Kerugoyes

Fred Musumari
Royal Palace
Kerugoyes

Jacqueline Salawi
Accident & Emergency Department
City Medical Centre
Nairobi

18th November 2014

Dearest Jaki,

It is with a joyful and rapidly beating heart that I pen these few lines to you. I trust and pray that you are in good health. I hope that all is well back there in the peoples’ garage, as you occupy yourself in the noble undertaking of repairing the sick and panel-beating the wounded back into shape. 🙂

At this point I must send a quiet word of sympathy. Surely there was serious damage done to your finger-nails and to the keyboard on your lappy; you wrote some really hard-hitting words. I will not play the fool. I totally deserved all those horrible things that you said. I spoke to a pal later that day and they said that you did not mean to send that email. Ha! They don’t know you like I do. And today is not a day to reopen old wounds. 🙂

If you have received this you are probably wondering why I have suddenly gone all analogue and sent you a letter by post. Has Fred lost the plot, you wonder – is Fred doing that thing of wooing me with letters in blue envelopes with SWALK written on the sticky flaps? No, my dear. The reason is far more mundane. We are slumming it in Kerugoyes – a small mountain kingdom bordering South Africa.

When Binti did that charity gig at the Herbivore, (I was disappointed when you did not show) apparently she made a huge impression. We were back in her dressing room afterwards when a young lady came in and said that the King of Kerugoyes, a chap in his late twenties would very much love for Binti to visit their beautiful Kingdom and to perform during their independence day celebrations. That was a fortnight ago. We’ve been here ever since.

Binti is treated like royalty here and she doesn’t want to leave. The royal palace is vast and has every comfort that one would desire. Binti has several staff at her beck and call. I was banished from the VIP quarters at the palace when I failed to stop the King’s pet cheetahs from eating Binti’s white rabbit – she normally has it on her lap when she’s posing for pictures. So now I chill out with the palace staff, downstairs kicking my heels and wondering when this novelty will wear off so that we can finally head off to South Africa!

There is no internet in Kerugoyes. The young king believes that social media is the tool of the devil and a source of so much misery. Ha!

Let me end by wishing you a very happy week. If our royal holiday should end before this letter arrives I will try and whatsapp you from Johannesburg.

Fondest best wishes

Fred.

Ps you prolly guessed – things between me and Binti are dodgy right now, hence my sleeping in the staff quarters. I blame the King. 🙁

* * * * *

Fred Musumari
The Royal Palace
Kerugoyes

08th December 2014

Dear Fred,

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Kwenda wewe! Ati you guys are where now? Hahahahahahaha. Where on earth is Kerugoyes? I’ve never heard of it before. I hope you’re not just making stuff up!

Everything goes well down here at the peoples’ garage, as you call it. We treat patients from all walks of life who come in with all manner of complaints. Our part, the trauma unit is most busy with road accident victims but we also get a fair share of violent attack victims – robbery, domestic that sort of thing.

I am glad that you acknowledge that your actions might have caused serious damage to my keyboard. I had to vent all that pent up stuff. Who said that I did not mean to post that email? It was good that you wrote back though, despite the slow mail service. Your Kerugoyes adventure has put a big smile on my face. Fred, it doesn’t sound like you are having much fun out there in the mountains. Does it get very cold at night? Shall I get my sister to knit you a woolly hat?

You say this king was besotted with Binti at Herbivore and now she has pushed you to the kerb? (I could not come to your gig that evening as I was on a night-shift). It doesn’t make any sense. You and Binti – you were made for each other. I feel for you, Fred, really I do. Why don’t you cut your losses and come back home? You can do so much here with all your talents.

I know that was a difficult question. Do have a lovely week, wherever you are and write to me whenever you can. It’s good to hear from you.

Best wishes

Jaki

x

ps woi…. the poor rabbit! The boy-king has pet cheetahs? Nkt!

Booty connection – guest post

Blog writers and readers wherever they may be can be wonderful at inspiring one another. Today, we find great pleasure in introducing a guest post from a reader who has read from many of you. Your own writing has inspired him to share with us a lovely piece. Without further ado I present Lenny and his guest post: The Booty Connection

*December 25th 1994*

This raggedy, hilly place had a feeling of unwantedness but I felt like giving it a further go deeper into the high oak trees. My car heater had been blowing for a non-stop 3 hours as I tried to resist the winter freeze-up.
“Well, my dear loving husband I wish you were here as fast as you can for the romantic meal awaits us both.” Continue reading

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