Love Lies Bleeding

Chocolate, roses, dinner on a plane en route to a secluded island, gifts, presents, Uji in bed, a drive out of town, chocolate, a surprise, flowers, something spontaneous, presents, more chocolate, more dinners and more flowers. These were the answers I got when I asked a variety of women, ‘what, to you, is a good valentine’s day?’  Very few indicated that these things were to be enjoyed with a loved one or a significant other. I got the vibe it was with anyone who was offering. Only a few mentioned love.

To the men, I posed this simple question-because men, be they rocket scientists, nuclear physicists, cardiologists, lawyers, cart pushers, P.E teachers or school bursars are really simple beings-‘What’s your take on Valentine’s Day?’. It sucks, it is a day full of lies and pretence, I don’t know, tricky, it’s just a kawa day, it’s a sad commercial creation that tries to monetize love, it’s lazy, it has nothing to do with love, a bit over hyped were some of the responses to that simple question. No mention of love. Love kicked to the curb where it lies, bleeding.

But what is love really? And does it have anything to do Valentine’s Day? I asked myself. Here is the thing though, I shouldn’t write about love. To write about love is to pretend to know about love and that’s a very dangerous thing to do. I can feel the adrenaline rise already. My writing about love can only be compared to a Matatu driver lecturing on road courtesy. Not that I’m reckless that way, it’s just that I’m clues on the subject. But I’ll go ahead and do it because the moon told me to do it. Yes, the moon tells me what to write when everyone has gone to sleep and the night is pitch dark.

I believed that the different views on Valentine’s Day drew a certain picture that had a great measure of truth about love. These views drew a line that I was going to delineate. But I learnt something instead. Back to love though. I learnt that love has no single definition. I learnt that love is big. And it is serious. So you should be sure before you declare your love for someone. I learnt that Love is many things. It is a feeling, an emotion. But it is also more than that. It is more than infatuation, than eroticism, than intimacy and more than romance. Love is a child and a parent. It is a child of infatuation and romance and it is a parent. Love gives birth. Its’ children include trust, compassion, happiness, respect amongst others. But the respect for your boss doesn’t count because that is a child of the corporate structure. Love is a fire but it’s also what remains after the fire burns out. Love is like light; it travels the distance and illuminates. Love then is a journey and not a destination. Love is a process and the product of that process. Love is more than love, it is a decision. Love is a commitment-think of a binding contract. Love then cannot hide. It is always visible. Love is not the words but the actions so to if you have to ask someone whether they love you, then you are missing the point because you should already know.  Love, sometimes, wanes and waxes but it never morphs into a monster I always hangs around, in the background. Love doesn’t follow the heart, it leads it. Love’s avatar shouldn’t be a red rose. It should be a photo of those couples that endured; the ones that are sometimes featured on the Saturday Nation for celebrating 50 years together.

I believed, and still do, that Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with love. And I still do. My pal Linet(who believes the kirinyaga are kenya’s  44th tribe) told me that women just want to outdo each other’s ‘story’. Joey said that it’s overrated because love is supposed to be sweet, constant and intimate not red, pressurized and exaggerated. Yes, there were women in the men crowd holding anti-valentine’s day placards. But it was one man who stood in the middle and said something different. He, my neighbour Cheruiyot, is married. Has been for some years(not more than 5 I believe). He said that for him as a man, it is a day to rededicate his commitment to his wife. He said that a present matters for the ladies and as such, he has never missed to get one. It is a day I would observe, it makes a difference, he added. There, he just gave Valentine’s Day another meaning, his own meaning. And it has nothing to do with dinner, roses or getaways. Not that they won’t be there, but they are secondary to love.

That is the problem with Valentine’s Day; it pushes love aside. It makes it about one day. It fights love by bringing in unnecessary pressure because it is billed as the day of love. What about the 364 days? What about love?

Don’t let love bleed this Valentine’s Day

I’m out. *Deuces sign*

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Posted in C'est la vie, People; 6 billion and counting, Relationships and realationships | 3 Comments

Folie a deux; behind bars

In February 2003, Kenya was a country very different from the one we have come to know. Back then, Kenyans wore optimism like it was their favourite cologne. The spirit of anti-corruption hung in the air like thick fog blinding progress. A people so used to misrule and the abuse of the law now talked about the rule of law like they learnt it as a kindergarten rhyme. A people to whom bribery had become a way of life now stopped short of lynching anyone who brought it up. Heck, they even arrested cops who asked for bribes. Everybody suddenly had a duty to uphold the law. It goes to show that Kenyans get carried away fast.

It is this passing wave of patriotism that got me behind bars.

This Monday morning finds us in a Matatu; young adults headed to work where we perpetuate the evils of capitalism by helping retail merchandise at the family business. In my wallet is kshs 3500, in my back pocket is some change and in my front pocket is a fake kshs500 note which had been confiscated from an opportunistic customer at the shop. And which, when I was left in a dark room with no one watching, I decided that giving it to a Matatu conductor would make me happiest. I know it’s wrong to brag but in my mind, my plan was perfect. The road to maximum security prison, I would come to learn, is paved with such brazen search for happiness.

Here is what happened; when the conductor asked for the fare, my conscience was still sleeping(Monday morning blues and all) so I gave him the fake without blinking. One look at it and he said it’s a fake. I quickly pointed out that it can’t be. How could it? He firmly told me, and every other passenger, that it was a fake. I explained that I must have gotten it unknowingly. I even asked to have a look so that I wouldn’t be duped the next time. Then Kenyans started weighing in with their self-righteous opinions. ‘He looks like he knows what he’s doing’ some woman said(She was right). ‘These people think everyone is stupid’ quipped some guy(Right again). ‘You got away with it during Moi’s time but this time you can’t!’ added another guy(He must have been tortured at  Nyayo House so I forgave him). ‘Take him to a police station!’ yelled some unnecessarily irate man.  The atmosphere was now getting hot. I wanted to tell them off but I sensed they would lynch me in the name of a better Kenya. ‘Look, I swear to God I didn’t know it was a fake! Do I look like I someone who would knowingly give you fake money?’ I asked the conductor. And then, quickly before he said yes, gave him a hundred shillings for fare. Things calmed down but I still feared that he might act on the calls to take me to a police station. We were on Thika road coming into town. At the Muthaiga roundabout, the conductor told the driver to ‘take them in’. The driver turns and makes a stop outside Muthaiga police station.

The conductor goes inside and starts talking to a cop. I have half a mind to bolt but I imagine that my fellow law-abiding Kenyans might disagree with that idea as well. The cop comes towards the Matatu and conductor points me out, almost poking out my eye in the process. I am hoping that Jesse won’t be arrested so that he can bail me out but hope on that particular morning was not on my side. The conductor insisted he was an accomplice. We were quickly escorted inside and our names entered in the occurrence book. In my mind, all I had to do was look for an officer who’d take some money and the matter would go away. But then it struck me that with all the ‘down with corruption’ wave, that might get me arrested for bribery. For a moment, I panicked. We were told to record our effects which included the money for which I was given a paper indicating the sum. A lady officer standing nearby seemed very interested in the money. We were escorted to the cells after depositing our belts and one shoe.

In Muthaiga police station, the women cells are adjacent to the men’s. You enter the women’s cell first where you’ll find the door to the men’s cells. When the first door was opened, there were several women one of whom was sinfully beautiful. I’m going to love it here, I thought to myself. I came to learn that she’d stabbed her boyfriend. That’s the sinful side of her beauty. But before I joyously sat down, another door opened and I almost fainted. I had never seen a corridor with so many heads. They seemed to be hanging from the walls like bats. And they were all looking at me. But just before I fainted, this big guy introduced himself ‘Hi, I’m Oti Karibu member.’ Ok I kid. The moment the door was locked, 157 hands went into my left pocket, 36 into my right, and a total of 358 into my back pockets. They were looking for cash. Imagine their disappointment when they didn’t find any. They were not happy at all and it showed. They told us to go to ’44’ aka Kamiti corner. I didn’t go but if you are wondering, it the farthest corner which stinks to the high heavens. I struck up a conversation with the resident big man and was allowed to sit next to the door which is no mean feat at all. I have half a mind to put in on my CV. Jesse, by virtue of my schmoozing with the   guy, went a little down the corridor but far from , by virtues of my schmoozing with the big guy, went a little down the corridor but far from 44.

In jail, you are like a politician; you don’t work. What people do is kill time which is a very ironical thing to do because you can’t kill time. Time kills you, eventually. People swap war stories back and forth. The guy next to me had been involved in robbery and was caught. Before I excitedly told him how when I was 5 I had ‘robbed’ some milo from my uncle’s shop, he added nonchalantly that the police had recovered a gun. ’I see’ I said then quickly turned to the guy on my right.

‘What are you in for comrade?’

In jail, you are all comrades because at that particular point, you have a common enemy which is the penal code.

Jesse down yonder was regaling his comrades with tales of our near heist. They were not amused. They couldn’t believe someone could do something so stupid. They gave him a lot of stick for acting so recklessly. ‘Money like that, comrade, you take to a butcher’ one guy told him. ‘Or to koinange street, you cow’ added another. They wise counsel kept coming as did the insults. It was a good time not to be Jesse.

Now as with all places, there was the elite; elevated members of society who enjoy privileges that are not available to the common man. In this case it was the mungiki. They had a room all to themselves and seemed to have endless visitors who brought all kinds of foods which they shared equally as they cracked obscene kikuyu jokes. Life in jail, for them, was one endless party. It could only have been more fun if they had a Vuvuzela in there. But then again some might argue that a Vuvuzela, even in jail, is ‘unelite’

To cut a long story short, my dad, whom I had refused to call due to my foolish pride, found us at around 3 PM. He found us by going to all three police stations along our path to town. Next stop was the mortuary, he told us. Lucky for us, he knew the OCS from way back when he was a constable. Knowing a big man helps.

Over Christmas, at home, Jesse, and I laughed over these stories as we killed time. It seemed like they happened in another life time. For many hours we talked about the past, and many more about the present and even more about the future. Then we parted ways.

And into the madness of life, we went.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Folie a Deux

When I was 8 years old, my dad bought me a bicycle.

It was not in any way extraordinary. It didn’t have the water bottle holding thingamajig, it couldn’t monitor my heart rate and it most certainly didn’t have gizmos like iPod docks. Not that I needed them. It came during that golden age when a father is a hero in the eyes of a son. My dad came home one lazy holiday afternoon riding a green bike like it was no big deal. It was a big deal. It was a Shimano Equipped, green in colour and bigger than my eight years. That green mountain bike defined my childhood.Twenty years down the line

In our family, women always were first. The first-born is a girl whom I followed two years after. When our parents had another procreation wave, it was a girl who led the way followed, three years later, by my brother. My sister and I we’re alright. I mean we sometimes fought bitterly but that was par for the course. I fought because it’s what boys did. I don’t know why she fought but I think she had some beef with me. In one photo, taken when she was two, she is clearly trying to strangle me; all the while smiling for the camera like she’s doing it for charity. I survived. That’s how I know God has big plans for me. It is in this pioneering spirit of my sisters that I found myself outnumbered at home. Initially, this didn’t bother me one bit because we lived in the same neighbourhood with my cousins; three crazy boys all older than me with whom we wrecked havoc on the neighbourhood in the name of fun. We even, briefly, dabbled in crime in the form of nipping monies from their shop to go buy chips, sausages and mutura. And as if to distinguish ourselves from real criminals, we stole Milo. It ended badly. However, and sadly, we moved to the outskirts of the city and I found myself surrounded by women. It wasn’t just my sisters but the neighbours too seemed to be girls. Back then, that was an outrage-oh, the bliss that is ignorance. Then came the bike.The fight for my life

This is a story about friendship, the kind that lands you in a police jail cell on a cold Monday morning. It is also a trip down memory lane.

That bike gave me wings. It gave me freedom to move. It made me friends. All I had to do was show up and if I liked you, give you a ‘round’. Then you’d follow me around. See, that didn’t start on Twitter for me. I was a neighbourhood legend, near and afar. Everyone knew ‘the kid with the green mountain bike’. All the glory that comes with winning the Tour de France can’t compare to the glorious ‘rounds’ that started on many a Saturday morning atop that Shimano. But for a story like this to be really complete, it needs a sidekick. There’s always a sidekick in these stories. My kid bro was born when I was ten so apart from sending him,I had no other use for him. That’s where Jesse comes in.

 

Folie a deux, to put you out of your misery, is a French term for madness shared by two. The French know a thing or two about madness. After all it was their queen Marie Antoinette-wife to King Louis the XVI-who, in a moment of epic madness, when told that the peasants were restless because they didn’t have bread to eat, retorted “Let them eat cake!” This sparked incidents that led to the bloody French Revolution and to her death at the guillotine. They didn’t have cake you see. Eating cake has never been the same ever since. My dad would never have taken part in such a revolution because according to him, bread was for kids.

In Meru, the hilly place I call my second shags, kids never had much. They never had wires and tins to make ‘cars’ or water guns to shoot each other or TVs to watch Tahamaki or Derrick. But they had the innovation to make carts out of wood that rolled downhill at formula 2 speeds. It’s from these hills that Jesse came from to live with us at the onset of my teens. He was one year older, mildly disliked   authority and loyal like a dog. The bike became our bike.  Together, we took on the institution that was my dad and, on many occasions, won. All we waited for was a directive and we’d do the exact opposite. He hated us. You could see the venom in his eyes when talking to us. Another guy who bore the brunt of our mischief was our gardener, Wamzee. One time, while we were waiting for my mum at the stage at night, we decided to be fake thugs and scare people. It worked. We’d just appear from behind and say ‘simama!’ then watch with glee their subsequent flight. It was downright hilarious. However one of the ‘victims’ reported that there were thugs at the stage. They came looking and we hid when we saw them but they found Wamzee sitting innocently at the bench. They gave him the beating of his life. I would like to tell you that we did not roll on the floor when he narrated it to us. I would like to tell that we learnt our lesson. I would like to tell you that Wamzee didn’t suffer at our hands again. But I’d be telling lies. We carried on without losing momentum. Allow me to state something glaringly obvious: we we’re a riot. We were involved in many a reckless prank that cannot all be told but I’ll tell you about the final one, the one that had us spend a whole day at Muthaiga Police Station.

One cold February morning in 2003, before the infamous 100 days of promise had lapsed, before MOU was popular amongst kenyans, before Kenyans stopped being the most optimistic people on Earth and before politicians had broken our naive Kenyan hearts collectively, around 7 am, we’re arrested for possession of fake currency.

To be continued.

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Minority’s Report

It started with a Hi, as do most AA meetings. Always start with a Hi. It is ambitious questions like ‘How are you?’ or ‘Have you been?’ that are open to abuse. You ask an innocent question like that and there are chances you might spend the next hour nodding vigorously, and approvingly, and giving nonsense answers to questions like ‘Was it wrong to invest my life savings in the pyramid scheme when everybody else was doing it?’ (It wasn’t wrong mate. I’m sure if you had another chance you’d do it all over again) ‘How would I have known she ‘the clap’?(You couldn’t have. No one could have. Only government doctors know these things and you are obviously not one). But a Hi is abuse proof because you say without missing a step. And you can say it with a smile so that you come off as a nice guy. And trust me; you want to come off that way to your neighbours because when neighbourhood crime soars, it’s the guy who keeps to himself that’s on everybody’s mind first. Never mind that you were trying to mind your business.

And so it was with me and Cheruiyot on Saturday after we bumped into each other when he was taking out trash. Here’s the thing, I have never had a word with him but I know he’s a nice guy because he smiles when he says hi. I said hi and then we talked. Look, it was a Saturday morning and I could have even spared a couple of minutes for an annoying out-of-town relative. Also when he came out, I was standing motionless using my phone and to say hi and walk away would fall under ‘odd and suspicious’ behaviour. Odd and suspicious behaviour is how people get on No-Fly lists and makes the local shopkeeper raise prices when you enter the shop. It turned out that Cheruiyot is a swell guy.  His son, his name is Kiptoo, joined us. Too, that’s what they call the boy, started talking about a dog that lives in the sky and makes goat sounds instead of barking. In a short while, his wife called Too to have his porridge. Too was reluctant so his father had to take him. He asked me to join them for breakfast and I declined; with a smile of course. He insisted and I gave in

It turned out that Too doesn’t like porridge and what Too doesn’t like, Too goes to great lengths to avoid. He had the tact of a seasoned Kenyan politician; think Moi. He sat down and refused to touch it. When his father threatened to beat him, said that he couldn’t drink because the sun was burning him. He was moved to a shadow of the house. He still wouldn’t drink. His father picked a stick. Too started pouting he said that couldn’t drink it because-wait for it!-iko na sumu! We burst out laughing. At this point I wanted to know his age; 3 years. He repeated several times and it was funny every time. It didn’t work. We didn’t buy the political assassination angle. Ever the wise guy, Too said he’d drink it but first, he needed to drink water. It was now apparent that the kid was not going to touch the porridge without some motivation. It came in the form of a little smack on his thigh and it got him started. Too wasn’t going down without some threats. There was some minor construction going on and Too pointed to one of the guys and told his dad ‘That’s my uncle and he’s going to beat you up too, you just wait!’. Halfway through, his mum took over, and he thought she would have it easy on him. She didn’t. When he refused to touch it, she smacked him. It now dawned to him that there was no way out so he changed tactics. He asked her to apologise for smacking him. She did. Then he told her, ‘Now say Too is a good boy’ She did. She had to because Too was playing the power card. He’d realised that she needed him to drink the porridge more than he needed to drink it. I told his father to instead enrol him in a politics school, like they do footballers, because he is oozing raw political talent.

In the afternoon, Claudette tweeted how her small sister had asked her why the sun doesn’t burn God if he is up there(notice the if). I thought that the road to atheism is paved with questions like those. Biko, ever the smartass thought that she should be told that God uses sunscreen. But that got me thinking about kids and what they know about God and in the evening when my nephew Jeff came visiting, I quizzed him. It was frustrating. He’s been to too many a Sunday school classes because he wouldn’t give me anything juicy. The closest I came to that was when he told me that heaven is full of grapes, apples and all kinds of fruits. ‘Then what does God eat then?’ I asked him. ‘Apples, grapes and all kinds of fruits’ he replied. ‘Even water melon? I asked him. ‘Yes, even water melons.’ He replied without batting an eyelid. That’s it folks, fruits will the food of the afterlife.

 

 

 

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Going to Boston

On a cold winter Tuesday in October of last year(ok, it was sunny as hell but I’ve always wanted to say that), I sat down with two friends at The Mug, one of the increasingly many Somali-owned restaurants in Nairobi. I had looked forward to the ‘meet’ because l hadn’t seen her in a long while. There was only one tiny problem; a friend had innocently tagged along. Not just any friend, a very good mutual friend. It was awkward. But only for us, not him. I guess he assumed that we were going to talk about the weather and he’s the type of guy who does cartwheels when you mention the weather. But we weren’t going to let that spoil our ‘meet’. We ordered some sundaes and begun catching up.

‘How have you been?’  ‘How are your potted plants doing?’(she’s a small scale farmer) ‘How are your people?’ She said everything was fine so we moved on to a rather intriguing story she’d promised to tell me over the phone. Her elder sister had gone to Boston. If you rock is your type of music then you probably know a band called Augustana. They are …nice. This is to say that they are not angry at their fathers like most rock bands tend to be. Augustana make nice music. Their first hit song was called Boston. It’s about a girl that’s tired of her life and the people in it and as so she’s thinking of going to a new town and start over where no one knows her name. Just leave everything behind. She thinks Boston would be nice. And so it had been with Rehema(not her real name), she ‘went to Boston’. One day she’s there, the other there’s a letter saying she’s gone for good. No forwarding address.

The family was shocked, as any family would be when a loved one disappears without a trace. From the outside, she hardly seemed like someone who could abandon everything that mattered in her life. At 25, she had done well with her life. She was a fast rising banker who had a managerial position at one of the biggest banks in the country and the only way was up for her career wise. She was pursuing her Masters’ degree and happened to be on the dean’s list which is to say she was an A student. She had a boyfriend who had a good job in an oil rich Middle Eastern country. They were engaged. What more could a girl ask for? Nothing much really except to pray that Murphy and his laws stay away from her life. They didn’t.

To Rehema, though, that glittering life felt like it had stopped glittering without warning. It was her boyfriend who set the wheels in motion. At this point, because her letter never explained anything, this is all speculation from the facts that were pieced together after she left. Mr perfect wasn’t Mr honest. It turned out that he had been let go from his ‘good job’ but had inadvertently chosen to keep that information. In his defence I guess he didn’t want to disappoint her with a wedding looming. This was the first of many wheels that would fall off that wagon. Her school records indicate that on or about this time, her performance dropped. It was followed by a period of skipping classes and eventually, not attending them all together. No one in her family knew this. Her routine never changed so there was nothing suspicious. She had become withdrawn but no one made much of it. She got wind of her boyfriend’s deception. She was stupefied. There had been talk of moving to the Middle Eastern country and that went out of the window. Even worse, he had been in the country for some time without contacting her. When she found out, she was devastated.

It’s true what they say that a rolling stone gathers no moss. What it gathers is speed. When the wedding fell through, the bottom fell out. Rehema quit her job. But she no one in the family knew about it because she would leave in the morning and come back as usual. She felt like her life was collapsing in on itself. This was not how she had figured her life would turn out. She needed out. A month later, Rehema left. She just woke and left. Without a trace. All she left behind were pictures, memories, a letter, unanswered questions and agony.

Nonah, her sister was livid. She thought it was selfish of her to put her parents through such pain and anxiety. She believed that nothing warranted such behaviour. Not even her parents who she admits to be quite strict. Rehema would later send an email saying she missed her family but she didn’t indicate any desire to come back. I disagreed. I tried to get her to put herself in Rehema’s shoes but she wouldn’t hear of it or understand. I understood and therefore didn’t judge.

On Monday, this week, Nonah and I were texting each other when she told me via text ‘I kinda get my sis leaving’. I told her ‘I told her I told you so’ but in so many words. I told her something that I have come to learn the hard way that judgement is a luxury that is only affordable to those who have not had the misfortune of carrying the burden.

You see, Rehema found herself in circumstances that were not of her own choosing. And in those circumstances, there were limited options out. The right option to those judging is very clear but to the person who has deciding it’s not because heavy is the head that wears the crown. Rehema was just a victim of circumstances that she did not choose. I am not saying that she did the right thing; all I’m saying is that it’s not right to sit on a high horse and point out how wrong she was when you weren’t in her position.

People are always quick to judge; but only because they can. When they find themselves in tough spots and make seemingly smart decisions-because in the eye of the person making the decision, it is a smart decision-and are judged harshly, they find reason to complain. I made a conscious decision to just let people be because you don’t even know half the reason why they did what they did. In any case, what do you gain when you judge someone? Apart from feeling good that is?

PS: Nonah, if I mangled the story, forgive me. October was a decade ago.

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When a man walks into a room….

When someone, during conversation, drops a seemingly nondescript name expecting you to know it, you can do one of a few things e.g. roll your eyes at them(works best if you are in class 1), sneer and tell them to get into an Effective communication programme or pretend to understand but silently think to yourself, “What a loser! He probably knows Paloma too” I went for the latter when Biko, a blogger of note, mentioned Don Draper. I said poor fella and ignored the whole thing. I did it because I didn’t have the guts to tell him to get some ‘Effective communication programme’ help which I would assume requires one to expound on all things nondescript. But Biko kept at it, post after post contained some Mad Men lingo and eventually I decided it check it out. I googled it and lo! It had nothing but rave reviews. Next, I called Lexy, my movie guy, and told him to get me all the available seasons which are four.

As far as television series go, Mad Men is a classic. It is different. Not different in the there-are-vampires-and-were-wolves-living-with-people manner but different because first and foremost, it’s set in 1960’s New York. It’s different because each season has only 13 episodes. It’s different because it’s different damnit! Mad Men is a series about people; people who work at an Advertising agency, the ad agency of Sterling Cooper which later becomes Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The thing is, they do more than make ads. They drink liquor, a lot of liquor. They smoke even more, like their lives depend on it. And if that’s not enough, they sleep around. These things they do on the job. The sixties were a great time to be alive. Maybe.

The lead is this guy called Don Draper. He is the creative director of the agency and is quite the character. He is a seemingly devoted family man married to a beautiful wife but who he cheats on whimsically. He, like everybody else on Mad Men, has secrets. He is flawed. He is immature, sometimes. He is irresponsible, most of the times. He is self made, even had to make his Don Draper identity. He lies without a thought…in short he is man. He is human, like you and me and you will love him. You will invest emotionally in him and he will let you down. Don will disappoint you endlessly. You will want to know him better, try to understand his actions. But that will be difficult because Don talks less and keeps everyone, viewers included, at an arm’s length. The only one person who truly understands him is Anna Draper. And she isn’t his wife.

The creators of the series did a mighty good job of creating the characters. They put them on a pedestal and then knock them down by exposing their hidden flaws. The show takes a peek into the human psyche. It reflects the viewer’s lives. But it’s in the 4th season that Mad Men has out done itself. It is the season of change. It is an annus mirabilis for Don and in some way, the agency. Don hits rock bottom. He loses his best friend Anna to cancer and nothing seems to be going right for him. But he does something no one expected, he decides to change. He decides to reinvent himself.

In episode 8 of the season, the episode titled ‘The summer man’, Don decides to change. Cold turkey. He starts keeping a journal which offers the viewers, for the first time, a peek into his mind. He wants to cut on his drinking because ‘they say that as soon you have to cut on your drinking, you have a drinking problem’. He wants to have a modicum of control over his mind and life. It’s in this episode that he accepts that he is not perfect but proceeds to say that neither is anyone. He writes in his journal ‘when a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere, just ask him. If you listen, he’ll tell you how he got there. How he forgot where he was going, and that he woke up. If you listen, he’ll tell you about that time he thought he was an angel or dreamt of being perfect. And then he’ll smile with wisdom, content that he realized that the world isn’t perfect. We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and, wish for what we had’. That is Don’s wisdom. But can Don really change?

I can’t help but root for a man who is trying to change himself, to conquer his demons. How can you not cheer such a man on? Especially when that man is Don Draper? But I really don’t believe in the new Don because Don is Don. And people love him for him.

Mad Men is a series that is fresh, fresher than most. If you haven’t watched it, you are missing out on a really good thing.

On a different note, I saw this beauty on twitter that people just can’t seem to understand; two men walk into a bar, the third one ducks.

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Tag, you’re it

She looks at me with searching eyes. And I look back. There is silence as we carry on our staring contest. I am thinking about her, wondering why she is here. Will this affect her later in life? I’d pay to know what’s on her mind but I doubt that she is thinking. She is now babbling about something. I can’t make out the words but I think she is asking whether I like Friends the series. Of course, I tell her. I start to explain to her how it was just the one but she’s not interested. She’s looking at some kid playing near us. That hurts my feelings. It’s very rude of her. I am supposed to make her happy and that would in turn, make me happy. I am afraid that she might pee on me. Yes, these girls have been known to do that. See, that wouldn’t make me happy. Or mad. You can’t be mad at this girl. Then she babbles something else. Something about playing tag, you’re it. That’s where I draw the line. We won’t play that game here, I firmly tell her. You can’t even walk dear, I make her see. Her name is Dorothy. She is beautiful. The females would say ‘she is so cunyo’. She didn’t tell me her name. I had to ask around. But at least she is smiling. That is a good sign. It’s a good start. Me and her are gonna have us some fun. I am at the New Life Home, Kilimani. Here, they give shelter to abandoned children. Dorothy is 5 months old. She is one happy kid, very easy to please. She laughs heartily and that tickles my soul. It does. And it saddens me at the same time. I imagine her abandoned at some place all alone crying her heart out as toddlers do. It’s sad.

But at New Life Home, they have a home. There are over 30 kids there. I wondered, fleetingly, how they come upon these kids. Where do they find them? Do ‘abandoners’ drop them there when no one is looking then run off?(Like the kid in The curious case of Benjamin Button) I wondered this because I have never come across an abandoned child. This is a real home not some ramshackle place that will take you to the cleaners, which happens a lot down in Coast-o(must be the cocaine and the heat, bad combination) Here, this kids are home. Here, they live and get love. At New Life, you can donate time. They are short of hands so anyone can go help out. You can also donate foodstuffs. I can’t think of a nobler cause than putting a smile on these little ones. The good thing is that you don’t have to be Mother Teresa to visit; you don’t even have to be a nun. They welcome all kinds of visitors. The management is very humble; they send you a ‘thank you’ e-mail for your efforts.

I am here with a friend and she’s taken up with this kid called Martin. She’s looking at him the way she would a fancy handbag; like she wants to take it home. That worries me because she might try to stuff him in her big handbag. Then we might get caught for stealing babies, like Deya’s wife. That is someone you don’t want to be in the same sentence with. Anyway once you enter the place, you have to wear these aprons. They are ladies aprons and they gayish on a man. The management really should provide gender-sensitive aprons. Only the fear of baby pee and puke-which is very real here- makes me put them on. The only thing worse than wearing these ladies aprons would be photos of me in them hitting facebook, so I issue mungiki strength warnings about such photos surfacing anywhere public. I’m in luck; I don’t come across crying babies. Or maybe they are happy it’s Saturday. Their milk time comes when I’m with some kid called Noel, 3 months old but heavy as a rock. I have to give him the bottle which he guzzles in a jiffy he only pauses to babble about something. That scares me because I thought he was giving me a pee-on-you-heads up. This one better give the tipple a wide berth, I think to myself.

In all, we spent two hours there, long enough to help put them to bed. Those were a good two hours. They made me appreciate life, my life. These kids wait for a stranger to like them enough to want to adopt them! Such is their life. How can that not make you love your life? I swore to myself to go back soon. Spending time with these kids felt great, putting a smile on them beats many things you’ll do for fun out there. The best thing about spending time with them is that they won’t look you up on facebook and poke you. They won’t notice your handbag doesn’t match your outfit. They won’t berate you for drinking Fanta in a pub or give you a long lecture on why you should keep time, they are kids for god’s sake! The only thing they might do is pee on you but let’s face it we’ve all peed on someone at some point, most of us when we were kids(the exception here being R Kelly)

Posted in C'est la vie, People; 6 billion and counting | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments