wetwool

because you never forget that funny smell

Category: travel (page 1 of 4)

They have destroyed a good name

Land of the Free

It has been said that in settling on a name for their new-born child the lucky parents are handing over the first of many life tools to their child. The given name, distinguishing each one of us from all other individuals is something that most of us will make our own and take with us, wherever we go, for the rest of our lives. Continue reading

The river between

July 2018

Aisha put away the letter and looked at her phone to see that it was 10:00 am. Almost time to leave. She folded a light jacket over her arm, picked up her back-pack and stepped out of her room. She walked down the corridor towards the front of the house. She stopped suddenly. The living room door was slightly ajar and she looked inside. Baba was there, still in dressing gown and woolly hat. Continue reading

malaika

Is it just me or do you also find that hardly a day goes by without someone sounding off about the Environment, Climate Change and Recycling. Television, Radio and the newspapers are all full of it. New companies spring up daily promising to supply “green” energy using all types of weird and wonderful renewable sources from wind power and sunlight to cow manure and biomass.

A few years back our local council embraced recycling in a big way. First they issued every household with a brand new wheelie bin. All rubbish would only be collected if it was stashed in these bins. Next, they cancelled the weekly collection. Rubbish is now collected twice a month. Further, householders are required to separate out the stuff that can be recycled from the general rubbish that eventually goes into landfill sites. There are three different bins at the front of most houses each for different items of household waste. The system suffered teething problems at the start but it seems to have taken off now and the city fathers claim that the city was coming close to hitting the recycling targets set by the EU. Councillors like to remind us that for programmes like these to work we need to inculcate a sense of civic pride and people must accept their own responsibility for the environment and global climate change. This would include reforming the throw away culture. We needed to look carefully at the Japanese idea of Mottainai, popularised by Kenyan Nobel laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai.

Imagine then, my good friend John’s surprise when he took Malaika to see her doctor recently. I know the good lady well and whilst she is no spring chicken she looks really good for her age. She has been with John’s family for just over 12 years.

The family acquired Malaika, a white, 1980s VW beetle from a German couple who had toured the country by road, spent all their cash and decided to sell their car for food, board and bus fare for the journey home. Malaika may have been of advancing years but she had never once let them down. She had remained a loyal friend getting them from A to B and back again, come rain or sunshine. The lower parts of her body were beginning to show her age but John did not expect the rude reaction that he got at the garage when he took her in for an MOT test. The older mechanic laughed out aloud at all the rust showing on Malaika’s lower body. He asked why John didn’t just scrap her and save himself the hustle.

The younger mechanic respectfully explained to John that this model was obsolete and it would get more and more difficult to obtain parts. Further, the rust problem was getting worse and he’d noticed that Malaika had had several previous welding scars. There was more welded material than original bodywork on Malaika’s backside and for that she would fail her MOT test. Another man who seemed to be just standing around asked John to sell it to him for what sounded like an obscenely tiny amount. John asked the man why he’d want to buy the car and the man’s answer left him speechless. This man’s son was a drag race maniac. Together, they bought old cars changed the wheels, souped up the engines and then went off to race them in the mud. John could not imagine dear Malaika coming to such an undignified end and so he told the man what he could do with his twenty-quid.

Vintage

As they drove out of the garage, Malaika noticed that the driver’s mood had changed. Johnno, as she called him was like an open book. And for that she loved him dearly. She could read his emotions by the way he handled her. When angry he always pushed the accelerator pedal right down to the floor. It made her scream and hurt her throat. When Johnno was happy he whistled and tapped on the steering wheel, tickling her. When he was in a good mood he drove slowly as if wanting the moment that he was inside her to last forever. He liked to sing out aloud when he was alone in the car and this always made her heart melt. She loved his deep crisp voice which made good harmony with her own high engine sounds.

Malaika had never seen this side of John. He was not just angry, this was something different. An emotion she found difficult to place. Was it guilt? shame? She concentrated hard trying to read the vibes in the air. She tried to remember what those dirty mechanics had said to him. The rude men used words like trade-in, newer model, scrap yard. What did it all mean? They were now driving along the winding road that went up ‘Dead man’s Hill’ near the rock and sand quarries. Johnno did not play a tune on the wheel. He held the wheel firmly, staring at the road straight ahead.They were just getting to the top of the hill. The road here followed a winding path to the bottom and extra care was required when driving along this part.

Now Malaika’s mind went back to a warm Sunday in July, many years ago. She was hot and dusty. Johnno had come out with a bucket of cool soapy water. He wore one of those nice string vests. He used a soft sponge to scrub her white body slowly, making sure that he covered her entirely in that sweet smelling foam. He was happy. A neighbour came over and said that if John continued to wash the car like that, rain would fall. John told him that this was the love of his life. He liked to take care of her, give her a good wash and shine. He would never trade her in for a newer model!

Now she understood. She too was angry. She pulled the accelerator pedal down, herself, right to the floor and locked it there.

As Malaika suddenly gathered speed, Johnno lurched backwards into his seat losing his grip on the steering wheel and all control of the speeding car. Moments later they flew off the edge of the cliff, hurtling down towards the rock quarries several hundred feet below……….

Would I lie to you?

I was in Babu’s office, seated across the desk from him, waiting patiently for him to end his phone call. He spoke in hushed tones and I barely made out what he was saying. I guessed it must be a sombre matter; perhaps some elderly relative was gravely ill, or had even died. He spoke for a further couple of minutes before saying goodbye and replacing the handset with a deep sigh.

“Whoa!” he said. “That woman is fuming. She’s spitting blood!” He looked at me, eyes twinkling over his reading glasses and asked, “Woolie, bwana, what have you done to make Ruby so angry?” I shook my head, surprised. “Me?” I asked. “I’ve done nothing – what’s she accused me of, Babu? Whatever it is, it wasn’t me. It’s not true, I haven’t done anything wrong. Would I lie to you, Babu? That woman just hates me. What am I supposed to have done?”

I was getting angry now. Commander Ruby Mwekundu of the Nairobi Regional Crime Squad was Babu’s pal. She made no secret of the fact that she loathed me painfully. She still referred to me as Mr Mbuzi even though she knew my name was Woolie Kondoo. I chose to rise above all that petty stuff, knowing that she was great friends with Babu. He was speaking again, now, repeating what commander Mwekundu had threatened to do if she ever laid eyes on me again. Apparently she had vowed to cut out my kidneys and roast them on a slow fire. It occurred to me that she may have referred to different body organs but Babu was ever the diplomat. He said “Stay out of the way until whatever ‘this thing’ is blows over.”

I wondered what ‘this thing’ could be. We rarely crossed paths, Ruby and me, and each time that we had met in recent times we had always parted ways courteously and without drama. Why was she suddenly on the warpath?

I did a quick rewind mentally to the very last time that I had seen the commander. This was when she had called round at my flat, the Friday morning before I was due to leave for work in Mombasa. It had been a short friendly meeting. She had brought a couple of parcels that she had asked me to take down to her relations in Mtwapa and we drank tea, chatting amiably about her niece’s wedding the following Saturday.

I remember how just as I had been complimenting Ruby on the wonderful preparations for the Big Day and my own regret at being unable to attend the nuptials, her official driver had come up to the door in a state of slight distress. “Very urgent call on the secure car-phone line, madam.” he proclaimed. Ruby had dashed out of the house and into the car to take the call. I could tell at once that this was a grave matter. After she had finished the conversation she lowered her window, her face all drawn and explained to me that there had been some serious breach of security somewhere and she was going straight back to Police HQ.

“I also need you to do me a really big favour, Woolie.” she said. It’s for the wedding tomorrow. Go to the shop and get another pair of long (arm length) gloves, please. Drop them off at my house and when I get back in tonight I’ll deal with them.” She stretched out her hand to give me some instructions, written on a piece of paper torn from her police note book. She also gave me a wad of notes.

From Police Notebook

I put the note in my pocket and offered a self-conscious salute. Ruby smiled sweetly and said, “We’re all counting on you. Please don’t let us down, Mr Kondoo.” And with that the car sped off in a cloud of dust.

I showered and shaved quick time and prepared to go to the shop as detailed in Ruby’s instructions. It was just after 11:00 and the sun was quite hot. At the shopping centre I noticed that KK’s bar was open for business so I stepped inside and ordered a swift Pilsner to wash away the dust. I had just put my favourite track on the jukebox when two pals from shags walked through the doors. They were down in the city for their monthly shop. The married couple were known around here for their love of mayhem. They would wine and dine Friday afternoon, dance away the night and then wake up to buy their provisions late on Saturday evening before heading back to the village. I had plans so I only had two beers with them. I began to feel the effects of 4 Pilsners on an empty stomach. If I was to accomplish mission Ruby and finally prove to her that my IQ was not a single digit, I had to make a move.

I found a taxi driver who was familiar with industrial area. Next I was looking for the small piece of paper with the name and location of the shop. It was not in my jacket or shirt pockets, nor was it in my trouser pockets. Should I call Ruby and ask her to text me the info? There was an unread sms on my phone. It was from Ruby, some 2 hours ago. “Hope you got the gloves. In a meeting till late. Bye xx” Oh no!

I nearly panicked but lucky for me I have a photographic memory. I knew where we wanted to go. I asked the taxi driver to head straight for Junction Road. We were there in twenty-five minutes, bless the kind man’s soul, At the corner of Junction Road was a row of shops. The middle one was called Mjengo Welding Supplies. I walked through their doors just five minutes before they were due to close. The man showed me his selection of gloves. I paid for a pair of full(arm length) gloves which came in a secure box. We dropped them off at Ruby’s house in Kilimani and then headed back to my flat where I packed a suitcase. The taxi finally dropped me off at the coach waiting room and |at nine-thirty I boarded a night coach to Mombasa.

Babu had listened to my story without interruption. Now he picked up the newspaper and slipped it across to me saying, “Open page 36, the classified section and look half-way down the page.” The advert gave me a cold empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.

M&J Wedding Supplies

Collision Course

So earlier this afternoon I was standing by the bus stop waiting for the number 10 when a young lady emerged from a side street pushing a baby buggy in a bit of a hurry, nearly running into the old lady who stood in front of me.

“Hey! Look where you’re going.” Said the woman. “There could have been a collision.”

The young mother mumbled an apology without pausing in her mobile phone conversation and hurried off.

It struck me at the time that the baby in the buggy seemed rather large. I mused that perhaps the near-miss had been caused by the fact that it must have been quite a mission for the petite mum to control this heavy buggy with one hand as she came down the very steep hill. I dreaded to imagine what nature of a collision would have happened had the lady tripped on a paving stone, say, and let go of the buggy for a second……Our bus stop is at the junction of a very busy road.

It has often been said that you hear a new word one day and then you find that for the next few hours and days you are coming across the same word so many times. The same thing happens when you buy a car, dress or jacket. Suddenly you find that the whole world is full of cars, dresses and jackets just like yours but you had never noticed. Today’s word of the day was Collision. When I switched on the telly at Rubina’s flat later in the evening there was this wonderfully boring science programme about mechanics, velocity, motion and all things collision.

Don’t get me wrong when I say boring. I enjoyed the show. I really loved physics way, way back in my school days. The principal reason was one bright scholarly girl: Condoleezza Ajiambo. She was the light of the class, no… the light of our school. She demolished the old (silly and somewhat chauvinist) ideas of a less enlightened age and inscribed in every school boys heart at the time that smart girls were nerds and Beauty X Brains = K. Condoleezza was consistently top of the class. She was clever, witty and very pretty and had what is sometimes referred to as a heart of gold; she was a gracious soul. Everyone liked to be near her and every night I said a prayer for the physics master because he had instructed me, the slowest kid in the group, to sit next to Miss Ajiambo in the physics lab.

The master himself was something of a phenomenon. Back then the older kids joked that he had taught Einstein most of what he knew. I believed them. The guy suited the part of the nutty professor perfectly. In his lab he was King. If you asked him a question he would swing round on his heels, and armed only with a piece of chalk he did battle on the black board producing obscure (to us) characters. He would tweak them here, cross-out there and adjust there and in a few minutes he would derive another masterpiece of an equation.

One morning, after another satisfactory equation exhibition, Master asked if there were any questions. Ms Ajiambo, or Condi, as we called her stood up and asked “So Master, how do you think this world will end?”

The physics master smiled, pulled out another piece of chalk and said, “There are many ways in which the world can end but my favourite ones are as follows”

He swung on his heels turning to face the board and wrote:

1 The sun burns itself out, suddenly like the flash in a camera so that the earth has no source of energy and life, as we know it ceases to exist.

2 A most powerful volcanic eruption that would crack the earth’s core killing most life on the planet.

3 My worst case scenario is the very probable prospect of an unstoppable body moving fast and colliding (that word again) with an immoveable body, (our planet)

heavenly bodies

The master went on to explain that outer space was full of debris from the break up of larger heavenly bodies, asteroids and such like. This debris travelled across space at “astronomical speeds” and If even one such body say about a quarter of the size of our moon was to crash into the earth…….He painted a scene of devastation of cataclysmic proportions and concluded by saying that even now as we spoke there were many objects hurtling through the universe, faster and faster on a collision(Ha!) course with our planet. Impact was most certainly assured. It was simply a question of when, not if, this would happen.

Astronomical

Much time has passed in between and over the years we lost touch with one another. Sometimes, I do wonder what I would ask the master today. What about Condi? If I met her today I think I should like to ask her whether she might agree with me that there is a new unstoppable object sweeping rapidly across the planet, almost as fast as the moon’s shadow racing across earth during an eclipse.

This object is on a deadly collision course with the rest of humanity. I describe the rest of humanity as the immoveable object today because it is totally oblivious to the nature of the threat that it faces. The rest of humanity has no response and watches in awe and confusion as killing and maiming, raping and beheading, burning and looting rages in almost every continent.

Last week’s attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait drew swift condemnation and anger coming as they did in the Holy month of Ramadan but like numerous attacks in Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and other countries, tough talk about tightening security, punishing the perpetrators and the all important War on Terror do nothing to hide the most inconvenient truth of today: We don’t know where or how the next attack will be carried out. Like the physics master’s dire warning it is just a question of when.

King’s treasure and the rogue zero

They arrived at the venue with moments to spare. It had been hurriedly arranged, almost at the last moment. Weeks ago Babu had offered Woolie a pair of tickets to a public presentation by the National Archaeology Unit. The event had been billed as “A show that will blow your mind.”

Woolie had wanted so much to take Rubina to this thing, whatever it turned out to be. This would be quite different. He felt unsure about asking her. He hardly saw her at all these days and when he called her on the phone she was always busy. It just rang and rang. She never returned his calls, which displeased him. He considered, with some irritation, how this new guy at the office opposite had just breezed in and had now managed to take Rubina to the cinema one weekend and then to play tennis, yes Tennis! On the following one. The new boy was clearly a mercenary! Would Rubina really be interested in going to some stuffy lecture about bones and stuff, he wondered. He waited almost two weeks, putting off asking her, like it was some ordeal.

When he finally asked her, just two days before the event, she said it was a lovely idea and she’d love to go. “Yay!” Woolie thought, totally delighted.

So here they were now at the National Museum. They run up the stairs and entered through the big doors to join the others in the beautiful Louis Leakey Auditorium. Once everyone was seated the Director, Professor Aden welcomed them all. She went on to introduce the Curator, Mr Shu Kabatt who drew up to the stage in his electric wheelchair. At his signal the lights were dimmed. The curtain went up and everyone looked at the huge cinema screen expectantly. The curator introduced the show in a deep, steady and sombre voice.

“laaadiees and geeeentle meeeen, it gives me great pleasure toniiiiight to welcome you all as you join us in our first showing of what is a truuuuuuly amazing story.”

The music playing in the background was an instrumental version of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song.

“As you all know, “ The curator continued, “The SafariGone Railway Coorporation won the contract to build and operate a South to North train service between Namanga and Juba in the Republic of South Sudan. Construction work in the Rift Valley was progressing steadily until about six months ago when the contractors reported that they had stumbled upon something quite unexpected.”

On the screen the audience now looked at what seemed like footage taken by the construction crews. The advance party had come to a halt before a dry and rocky plain upon which stood a hillock which was right in the path the proposed railway line. The engineers decided to tunnel through the hill. They had enough explosive to blow up the whole hill if it was necessary. They prepared their dynamite charges, cleared the area and blew open a big hole at the front of the hill. The loud explosion echoed across the plain sending flocks of huge birds flying in all directions. The dust soon settled and the contractors came back to survey the results.

The film footage showed clearly how the dynamite had smashed the large rocks at the front of the hill into small pieces. It soon became clear that the hillock was quite hollow inside. They had blasted open an entrance into a huge cavernous space. The ground sloped gently into the earth as the men ventured cautiously further into the cave. The men wore helmets with powerful torches attached which lit up the cold, damp space inside. The inside was huge, like a large cathedral. The audience were watching open mouthed when the leading men stumbled upon the first human remains. There were audible gasps as the camera panned the cave to reveal more human and animal remains, There were skeletons belonging to humans, goats and camels. Woolie glanced across to see Rubina completely engrossed in the unfolding drama.

Meanwhile back in the cave, the Chief Engineer suddenly blew his shrill emergency whistle and called out. “Stop! Stop where you are. We cannot carry on like this. You, turn off that camera. This is probably an ancient burial ground. We do not want to desecrate it. Don’t touch anything. Let us turn round, right now and walk back the way we came.” The men muttered to themselves but they did not argue. They turned around and walked out of the cave to the bright sunshine outside.

“And this is where we come in.” Said curator Kabatt, importantly. SafariGone were astute enough to realise the gravity of the situation. They reported the discovery immediately to the National Museums and we are able to secure the site. As you know we have executive authority over all areas of Natural, Scientific or Historical interest in the country and our powers can only be revoked by Executive order and Only in matters concerning National Security.”

The next piece of film on the screen looked more professionally done. As Kabatt continued to narrate the story the audience saw a team of archaeologists arrive and take control of the entire hill. They went into the cave again, photographing and documenting all their findings. They retrieved the remains of about 900 men, women and children inside the hill. There were also hundreds of farm animals – goats and sheep, chickens, pigs and cattle, It now looked as if the people had gone into the cave to seek shelter from some natural calamity. Radio Carbon dating put the remains at 1000 years old meaning that the tragic events leading to the deaths of an entire community took place in the year of Our Lord 1015.

The film continued to explain how further investigations by archaeologists showed that around AD 1015 there had been a series of huge earthquakes in this region. The land all around was flattened and some mountains had been swallowed back into the earth. The scientists bagged and tagged the stuff that they found amongst the human remains. One day they came to a depression in the ground. It looked almost like a shallow pit. In the darkness they struggled to see what was inside. The film crew then shone their powerful halogen lamps into the pit. The audience was silent as they beheld the breathtaking view. A deep pit nearly 10 metres wide by 10 metres long and 10 metres deep and full of gold bars. They had found the King’s treasure.

“Take me home, Woolie. I’m tired and hungry.” Rubina said. In the darkness of the auditorium, Woolie took a moment to process this. He had forgotten where he was. The story of the caves and everything had arrested his imagination.

“ Yes, yes of course.” He said. “Let’s go at once.”

They stood up and made their way carefully through the darkened auditorium. In the car Woolie asked, “what do you fancy for supper?”

“ Haha, can you make me something?” I don’t really fancy take away, Rubina said.

“You don’t mean cook right now, surely, Rubina. It’s so late.”

“ Late shmate Woolie, you’re not even working tomorrow you can stay up as long as you like. Unless you don’t want to cook for me.”

Woolie put his foot down hard on the accelerator and said “I’ll make you anything you like, Rubina. Just name it.”

“Anything? Anything at all?” Rubina was not sure if Woolie was being serious. He was driving quite fast now down the highway towards South B, where he lived.

Woolie said, Ok then I’ll make you a surprise dish.
The arrived soon after and by force of habit, Woolie went round the house, drawing curtains and checking that windows were locked. Rubina hung her coat on the hook by the door and came back into the living room.

“I want to help.” said Rubina, “What can I do?”

Woolie opened the glass cupboard and brought out two glasses. There was a bottle of Blue Nun in the fridge and he filled their glasses, rolled up his shirt-sleeves and washed his hands. He found a block of mild cheddar cheese which he asked Rubina to grate.

Woolie found a pan with a heavy base and placed it on the hob on medium heat to melt 80g of butter. He then took 80g of plain white flour and stirred it into the melted butter as Rubina watched. She fished out a whisk from the drawer and passed it to him and he added milk whisking the mixture quickly to produce a smooth thick pasta sauce. Rubina added salt and pepper when the heat was turned down.

Bolognese

“Now pass me the big pan in the fridge, please, Rubina.” In the pan was the Bolognese sauce which Woolie had made earlier like they did in the cookery shows. He brought a large glass pasta dish and started by placing a layer of Bolognese sauce at the bottom.

Pasta sheets

He placed dried pasta sheets to cover the sauce and then poured white sauce over the pasta sheets. He then put another layer of meat sauce and repeated the process another couple of times. He placed a final layer of pasta sheets on the top and covered that with white sauce. He then sprinkled a generous amonut of the cheese that Rubina had grated.

white sauce

all covered

Ready

With that done they placed it in the middle shelf of the oven at 180 degrees to cook for 25-30 minutes.

“ Now while we wait for your lovely lasagne, perhaps you can tell me why you don’t call me any more, Woolie.” Rubina was smiling as she said this. Woolie looked puzzled. He said, “I call you nearly every day. You never return my calls. I’ve been wondering about that.”

It was Rubina’s turn to look puzzled. She said, “I haven’t seen any missed calls from you, sir and It is you who doesn’t answer or return my calls.”

“Wait…” Woolie thought a moment and said, “ Do you have your phone nearby?” Rubina nodded. “Call me right now then”, continued Woolie. “I know we can get to the bottom of this.”

Rubina got her phone, looked up Woolie in her phone-book and pressed ‘call’. It indicated that it was dialling and shortly after there was a sound to suggest that the dialled number was ringing, Woolie’s own phone, meanwhile, lay quietly on the table quite oblivious to these proceedings.

Rubina asked Woolie to call her number, which he did and as before the phone made a ringing sound to say the dialled number was ringing but Rubina’s own phone remained silent.

Curiouser and curiouser, they both thought. How does this happen on a Friday evening in the month of May?

Shortly after, Woolie said, “ I must turn off the oven. Look up the number you have under my contact details and write it here. I’ll do the same.”

And just as they thought. They both had wrong contact numbers for each other. The digits were all correct except for one What made this mystery even more puzzling: It was the same editing. The last number had been altered to a zero

Woolie had growing suspicions. He refused to accept that it was just coincidence that his calls to Rubina had been sabotaged soon after the new guy had arrived in the office. How easy was it to edit someone’s contacts via an email application on the work computer, he wondered. They were always walking away from their desks and leaving everything logged on.

Woolie did not want to spoil the evening. They agreed to revisit the problem the next morning.
The lasagne was gorgeous. After they had had two helpings each Woolie brought ice-cream. They retired to the sofa where they settled to watch the late film.

Rubina had been right. They could stay up as late as they liked.

The end

Binti’s hotel room

Jacqueline54@email.com

Dear Jaki,

I got your email address from the hospital receptionist this morning. Please do not be angry. All my attempts to get in touch with you so far have proved fruitless. You’ve changed your cell-phone number and all my emails to your old address have gone unanswered. I am grateful that fate had lined up the stars so that our paths would cross today.

We are in Nairobi just for a few days. Binti is taking a short break from her world tour. She says amepata a bit of exhaustion. I think she’s getting her anxiety attacks again. We’ll be leaving for Johannesburg on Sunday evening to continue with the tour.

Seeing you this morning at the emergency room was a most wonderful surprise. I have carried a buzz of excitement in me all day! How can I convey to you how great it felt to experience again a renewed hope in the future?

You must tell me right now – how you have been – when did you qualify? How long have you been working at the Emergency Department? Are you in a relationship?

I know we did not leave things in the best of ways. Everything happened in a whirlwind and I was so confused. Why did you cut me off so abruptly? I would very much like to re establish contact with you again. There will be a charity performance at the Herbivore Club on sato night before we leave for Jo’burg. Filanga free to drop in and say hello. You will be most welcome!

Very best wishes

Fred

ps don’t be a stranger

* * * * * * * * * *

Waiting for the diva

fredmsumari@nails.com

Hey Fred,

I hope that you are good. Thanks for your email. It was indeed a surprise for me too, to see you today. I was on my way to the trauma unit when you walked through the doors wheeling that old chair. The patient you were pushing wore very dark glasses and I assumed it was an elderly relative.

I am sorry if I appeared rude and hasty this morning. I had just received a call that we were expecting a large number of casualties from a road traffic accident. As it turned out there were fewer seriously injured people than we thought. We cleaned most of them up, stitched up the rest and sent them on their way. 😀

Soooo….Kumbe that was your Binti Pepo – world famous soul diva? Has she lost weight or something? We are none of us getting any younger. She was looking well and truly lost. I hope she is feeling much better now. You looked quite stressed yourself, carrying all her coats, bags, blankets and things.

I am quite happy to keep in touch with you, Fred, but I would much prefer that we leave everything from the past right there – in the past!

“We did not leave things in the best of ways”. Fred, are you serious? Is that the best way you could have worded that? Need I remind you how we ended…no, how You ended things between us. I promised I would reply to your email without getting angry – but it is just not possible. Not when I remember how your precious Binti Pepo dumped you once before. The unceremonious way in which she left you for that con guy who promised to promote her in Germany and Austria ha! You came to me in tears telling me that she did not need you now that she had hit the big time. Big time my foot!

Fred when you said that you and me, that we could make a go of things – that we could be happy together – you said you’d stand by me and I would finish medical school and after that we would travel to all those lovely places that you know. When you said all those things did you still carry a torch for her? You are such and idiot.

You know, I saw you for just a moment today, less than a minute, I think. We said hello and I looked into your eyes. You have been with Binti now for over two years and I know that every day you keep telling yourself that this time it will be different. Your eyes, Fred, your eyes say that you don’t believe it.

I hope that you don’t mind when I say I will not shed a tear for you, Fred. Not after the way you went against my advice and signed up to work for Binti again, as her manager, after the Austro-German gig failed to materialise. She just snapped her bling fingers and you rushed off to her like the poodle that you are. Where is your spine man?

The other thing I can never forget is how you called me from Binti’s hotel room that evening. You said she was playing the cabaret. I think that she must have been standing right there next to you when you said to me “ This is not working. It is not you dear, it’s me.” Ha! You ended our relationship on the phone with that cow standing right next to you. You told me that you would be staying the night with her.

I saw much later how I should have seen it coming many weeks before. You had been spending far too much time with that witch. And everytime we spoke it was Binti this and Binti that. My Uni assignments were keeping me busy 24/7 and I trusted you with my life. You knew how much I wanted to complete my degree. When I needed your support the most, you had gone to the arms of another woman.

How did I feel when I got that phone call? I was so confused. I actually thought that it was noble of you to give me time to get my things together and find another flat. I thought you were the perfect gentleman when you said I could keep all of the deposit – use it for my new place – in the crucial stage of my degree course, Fred. Damn you!

I promised myself that I would not get angry. I am seething right now. You should not have opened these old wounds. How dare you talk of hope for a bright future. I am moving on, Fred. I read the social media pages too, from time to time. Lots of rumours about your Binti. I know it is mostly celebrity gossip. Your next leg of the tour takes you to China, no? That is one place she could really make it Big. What will happen to you then, Fred?

Of course I will maintain email communications with you Fred but our lives must remain like parallel lines never to meet again. You see unlike your Binti Pepo, I would never make the mistake of taking you back again, ever. 😀

Be good. Strive to be happy.

Jaki

Captured on camera 3rd instalment

Caught on Camera – continuation

The story of the Man who caned The Politician continued to make ripples. Newspapers and social media were full of jokes and commentary providing a welcome relief from the real woes of day to day living.

Meanwhile, at 10:30 am at the down town offices of Uchoyo Property Developments, Gregory Uchoyo sat at his desk. He was staring at the newspaper photograph absently adding sugar to his milky tea. His sister, Baridi sat opposite watching him, unamused.

“You take too much sugar, Greg, It’s disgusting. Nkt. And why is the tea here always so milky?” She looked around the room, her lips curled downwards. Continue reading

My burden is light: Decluttering for dummies

The holiday season is upon us once again. Schools are now closed. Looking around this city you’d be forgiven for thinking that this town is coming like a ghost town. Notice how quiet it is as most people have gone away on their holidays. In their place is a whole new lot of tourists together with European and Asian language exchange students. The Spanish, French and Italians make up the bulk of European kids and most Asian kids come from China and Saudi Arabia

Taking it easy

Whenever Woolie and the clan go on holiday as a family, there is always the great debate about how much stuff to pack. Woolie likes to go with something for every eventuality. They have such a small luggage allowance. Taking just what you need, so that your time off is not cluttered by possessions or decisions about what to wear is an important lesson in living daily with all we need.

Do you look at your emails inbox daily whilst on holiday? What about twirra? Na Skype je? Being held hostage to the clutter of life is bad for our relationships. It is all too easy to be keeping in touch by email with everyone around the globe, 24/7 and at first it seems like such fun to be constantly available. But to be free of such distractions, even just for a short while, refocuses our lives on what is really important. Twitter and Facebook must be shown the door if you are to enjoy your break.

Clutter is anything that takes up our time, moves our focus away from what is really important. A recent survey in the news indicated that the average adult in the UK now spends more time each day looking at laptop, mobile or tablet devices than sleeping. But resting in is vital if we are going to be aware of everything that goes on around us. Baggage can literally weigh us down and hold us back from listening to our families and friends or sharing our lives with them.

There is a great danger that the baggage of modern life will fill up our every waking moment, becoming even more falsely important and ambushing us at every turn. We need to travel light.

Like the good book says : ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

Ten O’clock Prompt

I feel sad when someone turns up late for an appointment and I get annoyed with myself when I am late. Lateness is rude. It suggests that you have no respect for my time and by extension for me. It is said that punctuality became history with the arrival of mobile telephony. People can now be late with impunity because they can call to let you know they will be late.

One Friday evening last month I stopped by the swanky offices of a city law firm to pick up a friend. As I entered the threshold I glanced up at the large clock on the wall above the receptionist’s desk and it said tick tock tick tock tick tock (sorry). The time was showing 5.50pm.

I was a few minutes early. I always like to be early so that the person that I am meeting feels relaxed. I grew up in an extremely time deprived home background, always the last kid to arrive at a party and the last one to be collected by the parents after everyone else had gone home. If we were going to catch the 7.00 train we would leave the house a few minutes to 7.00. Everything we did was so last minute that I grew up to become a clock watching tyrant.

Rubina had said she would be finished in the office at six. I had arranged to take her to see a short play as a surprise. I thought she would like Oscar Wilde’s The importance of being Earnest by the Mashinani Theatre Company. There would just be enough time to have a quick coffee before the seven o’clock performance. I hoped that after the play perhaps we could do something else. I was thinking dinner; or dancing if she preferred. We would see. I picked up a random magazine from a pile on the coffee table and sat down in the middle of the large brown sofa.

I was leafing through the magazine in an idle sort of way when an article by well-known writer and commentator caught my eye. I wish I could tell you the name of the writer or even the magazine. Sorry I just don’t remember. The article’s main theme was that society was in terminal decline. According to the writer we were heading the way of the ancient kingdoms of Ashanti and Old Zimbabwe. All that would be left of the modern east African cities would be ruins for archaeologists and anthropologists of latter years to pick over.

Now you might be thinking Wars, Insurgencies and Revolutions or Corrupt Politicians and Tribalist Leaders or maybe Al-shabbab and Boko-haram lunatic terrorists. You might even think Global Climate Change or perhaps Catastrophic Seismic Events and Solar winds as the most likely candidates to lead to the end of life as we know it. You would be wrong. You see according to this eminent writer our society is doomed because of our failure to understand the importance of punctuality. Interesting, I thought

I was just turning the page to read more of this fascinating theory when the double doors opened and Rubina stepped out of the lift. Sometimes one comes across funny writing and strange sentences like ‘She can light up a room just by walking into it’ and one often thinks : sweet sentimental poppycock. I honestly don’t know. The big clock had stopped ticking – or perhaps my racing heart was pounding in my ears, blocking out every other sound. Whatever the case, I have no recollection of anything at all that occurred before six pm that Friday evening in late June.

We now fast forward events to this morning to find that I have woken up with the early birds before 7.00 am. I have a shave and a quick shower. I am ironing a shirt when the phone rings. Rubina has called with some information regarding our current case. We talk shop for a while and once that is over she asks me what time the wedding will start. I am looking at the invitation card which they sent and I say to Rubina, “It says here that The service will begin at Ten O’clock prompt.”

“Is that Kenyan time”, Rubina asks, drily. I laugh and after a short while we conclude the conversation.

The time now is 10:57 people have been seated quietly in the church for nearly an hour and still there is no sign of the bride. Ushers and other important and stern looking people are walking quickly in all directions across the floor looking at the clocks on their phones and tut tutting. There are parents with restless toddlers. Earlier they were looking at one another in some bemused sort of way but now it seems some are getting slightly agitated. Nobody seems to know what has caused the delay. One man remarks how it is incredibly unfair for people to keep others waiting for so long. A lady usher observes quietly that this is a record in lateness for their church. Still we wait.
A fellow guest seated beside me says ‘Brides are special. We need to give them time. It is our Kenyan way. Let’s just grin and bear it.’

‘But it is unfair, I retort. ‘Other people have made sacrifices to be here on time. There are folks here from different countries too. What image are we giving them of ourselves?’

My friend chuckles and says, ‘Look, there is literally nothing you can do about it so stop fussing and just relax. You are their captive for the day. You should have brought a book or something. Better yet avoid the church ceremony altogether next time.’

It is 11:20 am now and reports are filtering through that the bridal party have been held up in a traffic jam caused by a serious traffic collision on the highway. We are assured that they are not too far away. Everyone is more understanding. Nobody likes to hear of traffic collisions and most people are just relieved that there are no reported casualties.

At 11:41 am a huge cheer goes up. The white stretch limousine carrying the bridesmaids has been spotted turning slowly into the road that leads to the church. In front and leading the way is a yellow old type classic car. Travelling in this car the bride and her father look out to see the cheering and waving crowds. The one overwhelming feeling that is coming across is that people don’t really care that they had to wait so long. The person they had all come to see has finally arrived. That is all that matters. The wedding ceremony begins late but is already showing the signs that it will be a great
success.

Finally here

I feel sad when someone turns up late for an appointment and I get annoyed with myself when I am late. Lateness is rude. Have you been punctual for all your appointments this past week?

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