INTIMIDATING ALLURE

0023ae82cb0c13b1c81e03

NOTE: In memory of Westgate attack victims

Colour

That come with intimidating allure.

Red

That sharpen memories that fade.

Blood

That fluid make me mad.

Night

That each day make me cringe tight.

Sounds

That to my ears are like hungry hounds.

Existence

That haunts with pestilence.

#thewordbrewer

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A MESSAGE OF FOOD

time-100-influential-photos-kevin-carter-starving-child-vulture-87(1)

photo: Kevin Carter
1993

It was mid- January. The sun was shining more out of spite than out of passion to light the world. Not even a misty appearance was visible. The sky looked like it had been swept clean. The wind was faint, dry and hot. Occasionally, thick dust rose up turning the air into a brown smoke screen. Trees stood still in their nakedness facing the heat with a reckoning desperation.

A faint hollow wail punched the air. Its frail edges were distinct and characteristic. It was a cry that could be traced to only one culprit; hunger. It was a cry, even though inevitable, dreaded by Leshao. She turned to look lazily as she whisked flies off her face. Her eyes were barely a slit open. There was absolutely nothing she could do and soon the kid succumbed to fatigue and dealt with his demise in silence filled with pure agony.

Leshao peered beyond something that looked like a pool of water at a distance. She knew it was a deception, a making by the evil one. Hope had long withered in her heart with all the green leaves last year. She turned away from the falsehood with resentment and her gaze landed on carcasses of her husband’s last heads of cattle. Dust was concealing it from the face of extreme suffering.

Vultures fought over the surface pieces displacing sand around the dead animals. Each tore a piece of flesh off with a lot of effort. Leshao wished she could act like the scavengers. That small piece of rotten meat meant a lot to her family. It was the difference between sunrise and sunset. She was even ready to consume it now but she was too weak to stand a chance among the cruel birds. She could lose her life in the process and end up in the vultures’ digestive system.

Humanity at Kachepin was on the verge of extinction. Leshao was certain of that. She wished she had moved with the rest of the community when they were leaving for places with better pasture and water. But her love for her husband could not let her. She had to wait for him. She knew he would come back to take them to Kitale or somewhere with life and government.  

Tears had long dried out from Leshao’s sunken eyes. She only wept with her heart. Wept hard for her eight children who were better off dead. She wept for her two dead children and their gone grandparents. She wept bitterly. But her face remained expressionless or it had gotten used to the expression of pain and suffering for it was constantly in the form.

Her skin was dry, loose and dark. Her legs were thin, so thin that all the contours of the bones were visible. Almost all the children had awkwardly big heads with scattered hair on the scalp. They all looked dull. In their eyes was a lost glare.

A yellow bowl rested a few yards from the leaning hut. Leshao had been waking up to its sight for the whole week. No one but the wind shifted it around a little. Sand grains and fine dust were collecting in it.

Kachepin locale fell silent. Leshao felt strongly that something bad was going to happen. Her foot was trembling. She tried to hit it against the sand in a desperate attempt to stop it.

She looked at her children. The youngest laid strewn on the animal skin breathing like a sick dog under the sun’s glare. Something churned in her bosom. She did not want to lose him. Neither did she fancy the sight of his suffering. She hated her past, her present and direly loathed her future.

The foot trembled more.

For the first time in that day, she decided to take a walk around the hut. The sun was scorching outside. The sand too was just too hot to stand on bare feet. Joints creaked and Leshao groaned as she struggled to get up only to fall back onto her sitting place the same instant.

She fell dizzy. Her sight lurched into darkness and her skin crawled. The world was spinning fast. Leshao remained still like she had done for years. Certainly, it was a bad idea to get off the ground at the time of day.

(TO BE CONTINUED…)

#thewordbrewer

PATRONS

PATRONS

Last night while the world held its breath

And the silence made lots of loud noise

And my shallow breaths nourished my lungs with pure gulps of air

And dogs coiled into rings against walls

And the cats made love in the maize plantation

I had a dream.

I ran a bar with a personality for ages

Whose name was binnsword

Whose drinks were beer and whiskey only

Whose color was dark mahogany with a hint of maroon

Whose smell was delicious smoky aroma

Whose patrons were sophisticated folks

Haboring a taste for literature in their tongues

And a binoculars for art in their eyes

Loyal individuals

Who trooped to the well with the weight of sorrows weighing down upon them

And like maasai men leaving their spears at the entrance to manyatta

Stolled their troubles by the swinging double doors

And let binnsword massage joy into them

And energy

And esteem.

And I was the bar man

With the caramel skin

A  skill to die for

And mute.

#thewordbrewer

Prisoners of War (continued)

kenyan-soldiers-attend-memorial-service-victims-al-shabab-attack.

AFP

I was taken back to the events of the fateful day. When the whole world was on fire. Big yellow flames lit up the camp. Loud noises of thunderous blasts mixed with groans of pain from fellow soldiers. People scampered around yelling. I could hardly hear what they said in their guttural cries. At a distance I could see a man wavering while a gigantic tongue of flames licked through him. Gunshots everywhere.

More out of instinct than training, I stayed down. Still struggling to comprehend the happenings in the aura. From all around, my colleagues let out their last shrills of death. The smell of fire and burning tires filled the air. Sweat draped my body and my jungle shirt was all wet.

A soldier on the run was shot in the back and his body fell on me with a thud. His head lay on my chest with warm blood quickly travelling all over my body. I trembled in the heat of bewilderment. The air was awash with their commands and husky voices. They jumbled their Arabic and all I could hear was quarrels. I lay still as a dodo expectant of the worst.

Isolated shots hit and rebounded across all rooms in my head. I knew they weren’t taking any chances. They were here for nothing but to steal, kill and destroy. I tried to put my composure on a handle as I waited impatiently for the bullet. Or to be taken as a POA. The bullets I had been instructed to riddle into the body of my enemy were now about to turn on me. How disloyal.

All these while, the blood of the fallen man laying lifeless over my body oozed and gave me a bloody bath. I persevered the smell of fresh human blood as it glided over my numb skin. Insanity gripped. I wanted the blood to flow into my mouth so I could taste death that hovered around like a dragon fly over a river. My head was blank, plunged into darkness. Suddenly the dead man was followed into his death by a bullet that spread his brains all over my face.

I died long before death descended. But I woke up to gunshots in the air and the heat of the sun. The brutal militants were celebrating their victory. The taste of victory was rife in their celebration. To them, this one win meant universal win against these people who only harbored opinions about humanity. There was a smirk of pain to put on any face that thought life was any special. Every burst of the shot shook my being to the root. I wished I was among those who were already dead. It is always better to wind up dead than have the misfortune of the thought of death while breathing in air smelling of its horrid escapades.

With their heads swollen with pride of having brought down a whole military camp that had thwarted their existence, the wild brutes were at it again. Their voices came in and suddenly, someone was holding my leg. Instinct instructed me to act, perhaps kick whoever it was in the balls and, once free, take off but common sense lurking in the shadows of dread opposed. Clearly the prospects were thinner than a spider’s thread.

I wondered what the militant wanted in a dead bare black leg. Clearly, there was no boot to steal, for the shameless thief who steals from the dead. In retrospect however, this one was into far worse endeavor. He tied my leg with a rope and I was dragged on the hot sand of somali land like a log. Dust flew into my nostrils and I dared not sneeze. I could perceive shuffles of more bodies being dragged by my side. Friction did its part in tuning up the intense pain I was undergoing thus I was knocked unconscious and offered a worthwhile break from the fire.

Later, I could feel the wrath of the sun on my legs. My whole body was on fire, from the pain, from the heat, from the bitterness. Something passed me a note instructing that I lay still if I was to ever look at the faces of my torturers and grin.

The pain became unbearable. I was approaching a breaking point and indeed I snapped and sat up. And I imagined myself looking nothing shot of a zombie. It felt like there was a ball of orange coal logged in my chest. For the first time, I unclosed my eyes. The hot noon sun forced a squint on me. I could only behold a hazy world of dead soldiers strewn all over. Dust repainted their uniform, for those who had any, brown. The militants stooped facing mecca with their wrapped heads moving up and down from the ground.

The same instinct which had been leading me ordered me to leap to a nearby thicket and weigh my chances from there. Between hope and I was darkness. I was not sure if I still had that opportunity to hope. It all ends at the grave. And looking at my situation from all angles, I was headed there real fast.

I sneaked away while they wobbled. In the temporary safety I lay on my back and sighed hesitantly. Whoever their god was had found it in his heart to gift me with a breather. I seized the opportunity to stack up my life. To focus my last thoughts on my wife who had dedicated her life to me. She was beautiful, tender and softhearted. Being a lover of country music I hoped my situation won’t be like that in the video of Brad Presley’s Whiskey Lullaby. The thought of whiskey reminded me that I was thirsty. My tongue was dry and swollen.

Suddenly a wave of grief consumed my soul. I began mumbling to myself how sorry I was not to fulfil the promise of returning to my wife. The shatter of her heart would be heard in my grave when finally she learns of my demise. Tears mixed with blood, brain matter and dust particles and raced towards my ears.

I hated myself for making promises I could not keep. Regrets wielding excruciating pain consumed my soul and smothered the pain on my body. However, I congratulated myself for trying to wear the patriotism jersey that always ended up haunting its bearers. Soon I was to join a team of veterans like Dedan Kimathi who drowned in puddles of their patriotic blood. Somehow I found comfort in that even if there existed zero chance that my statue would make it to the city center or anywhere else for that matter.

A rattle snake glided towards me. Death is like a fisherman. Once in its hook, successfully unhooking yourself never translates to salvation. I lay still, a trick I was now an expert in. The brown snake with black patches slithered over my skin and headed straight into a hole a few yards from my hide out. I let out my breath only to behold two thin militants wielding AK47 rifles surging forth.

I was thrown into the sharp blades of dilemma. It was a game of tiger or woman. However, this one was custom; tiger or tiger.

I willingly chose to die by snake venom than to endure torture from the brutes I so despised. For its worth, it is far better to die by the fangs of an animal itself than those of one passing for a human being. I slid into the anteater hole. The snake, disturbed from its siesta, engaged me in a staring contest. We locked eyes until the viper gave up and crawled out. And I knew I owed him one.

Sounds of sandal crushing on sand drifted closer in doubles and I held my breath. The conversation grew louder and went mute immediately they were near my hiding.

Soon, the whiff of fresh shit filled the air. In my hole I didn’t mind for the stench of death was far much worse. The militants having emptied their bowels walked away feeling good. What with the victory still riding their air. The steps faded away until they merged with the gush of blood in my ears and I let out the breath.

The warmth of the dark hole and the intensity of the pain worked together and sent me into deep sleep. Perhaps it was my last before I was eventually dragged into everlasting slumber.

I woke thundering sounds of helicopters flying over El- Ade town and bombs detonating like the ones in the morning. I suspected it was the KDF rescue team giving the militants a taste of their own battle. I clunk to hope like a kid clinks to its mothers dress when being dropped at school for the first time.

I crawled out and I met images of a town on fire. Tables were turning. What a great way to take turns in setting each other on fire like drunken dragons. I stood stock still, unsure of what to do next. Just then, I heard a commanding voice behind me saying.

“Wewe ni nani?”(who are you?)

And before I could answer we were at the Defense Forces Memorial Hospital. The smell of the medicine made me sick. Corporal Tabut was still mute. He only took instruction as the military regulations clearly stipulated. We lay on our respective hospital beds, with Corporal just across. I stared on the cream walls but actually saw fire embedded deep within the reflection from the overhead fluorescent bulb. And I drifted into sleep.

Saturday, 16th January, 2016 three days after the indelible experience, I was discharged. Corporal Tabut was still mute, unable to speak a word of his meeting with the Lord. I called my wife at the bus station informing her of my arrival. She wasn’t excited at all. Her voice was flat and doubtful.

That evening I arrived home just when the sun was setting. Creepy veins of darkness were starting to show up. The sight of my village gave me a sigh of relieve. I looked at the door to my wooden house and smiled at the fact that behind that door, waited my wife. Behind that door, I knew, was where home was at.

I knocked hesitantly.

I adjusted my packback and entered triumphantly only to meet head on with a sharp cold steel. It drove deep into the side of my neck and I fell. I saw my wife in all her glory leap over my body and embraced the thickening darkness. The world got dingy until I could see nothing. I struggled to see the face of whoever had drove the machete into my flesh to no avail.

As I drifted into gallows of death I had fought with defiance, I received a revelation. I was not only a prisoner of war from the ruthless militants. Behind my back lurked dark figures that had engaged me in an unending battle I did not know I was in. For the fallen in the field, their names made it to the silver plate in the memorial wall at the barracks. For me, I had died a death not befitting a soldier.

#thewordbrewer

PRISONERS OF WAR

AFPkenyan soldiers

NOTE: In memory of El Adde attack fallen soldiers

Ours is not to ask why,

Ours is not to reason why,

Ours is to execute command and or die.

That their country came tumbling down was their doing. That all forms of governance are crippled is their endeavor. But they made a mistake when they came for the sovereignty of ours. And we chose this path. Both to fight for our pride and feed our families. For these and a little more we became prisoners of war.

I humped down the steps of the small military plane. Grey clouds hovered over dimming the day light as if forcing grief on everyone else who was on our side. I took in large gulps of the fresh air smelling of safety. The kind that let me breathe easy, at least for that while. People in tight military gear and disturbed faces stood straight. Their mournful eyes fixated on the door of the plane.

Silence.

Gen. Samson Mwathethe was there to dispense upon us his salute. Survivors of an early morning ambush. Fallen heroes in caskets draped with the glorious Kenyan flag. The red strip of it screaming louder than ever in the gloomy weather.

Defense cabinet secretary was only there in body. Her red lips hung loose while her eyes were glistened by lingering tears. She hugged the four of us and when it was my turn I felt searing pain on my stomach. Still, I sunk deep into her embrace.

Soldiers stood in oblique lines. Stiff and alert. Their boots shone even in the slight glint of the struggling sun. Their faces were expressionless. Once a casket was out of the plane they hauled it as is required of them. For them, as it is for us, the clock is always a taunting chime.

I sat in the ambulance. Silent and still shaken. My thoughts wondered back. Way back to my childhood when I used to look up to men in uniforms with so much adoration. The idea of being a soldier in those beautiful jungle uniform seemed godly. Then I grew in the thoughts to the memory of my wife. I knew she still prayed for me. She always seemed desirous about those prayers especially after I was deployed to Somalia to wreak havoc upon the Shabaab insurgents.

Corporal Tabut sat by my side. His left arm was suspended on a blue sling. He was lost in his own thoughts. Perhaps he was dumb after having met with God. As the ambulance took us further from the war field, his stare lingered on the window. He was looking into a horrifying scene. Or his own translucent reflection.

I was taken back to the events of the fateful day. When the whole world was on fire. Big yellow flames lit up the camp. Loud noises of thunderous blasts mixed with groans of pain from fellow soldiers. People scampered around yelling. I could hardly hear what they said in their guttural cries. At a distance I could see a man wavering while a gigantic tongue of flames licked through him. Gunshots everywhere.

More out of instinct than training, I stayed down. Still struggling to comprehend the happenings in the aura. From all around, my colleagues let out their last shrills of death. The smell of fire and burning tires filled the air. Sweat draped my body and my jungle shirt was all wet.

A soldier on the run was shot in the back and his body fell on me with a thud. His head lay on my chest with warm blood quickly travelling all over my body. I trembled in the heat of bewilderment. The air was awash with their commands and husky voices. They jumbled their Arabic and all I could hear was quarrels. I lay still as a dodo expectant of the worst.

Isolated shots hit and rebounded across all rooms in my head. I knew they weren’t taking any chances. They were here for nothing but to steal, kill and destroy. I tried to put my composure on a handle as I waited impatiently for the bullet. Or to be taken as a POA. The bullets I had been instructed to riddle into the body of my enemy were now about to turn on me. How disloyal.

All these while, the blood of the fallen man laying lifeless over my body oozed and gave me a bloody bath. I persevered the smell of fresh human blood as it glided over my numb skin. Insanity gripped. I wanted the blood to flow into my mouth so I could taste death that hovered around like a dragon fly over a river. My head was blank, plunged into darkness. Suddenly the dead man was followed into his death by a bullet that spread his brains all over my face.

I died long before death descended. But I woke up to gunshots in the air and the heat of the sun. The brutal militants were celebrating their victory. The taste of victory was rife in their celebration. To them, this one win meant universal win against these people who only harbored opinions about humanity. There was a smirk of pain to put on any face that thought life was any special. Every burst of the shot shook my being to the root. I wished I was among those who were already dead. It is always better to wind up dead than have the misfortune of the thought of death while breathing in air smelling of its horrid escapades.

With their heads swollen with pride of having brought down a whole military camp that had thwarted their existence, the wild brutes were at it again. Their voices came in and suddenly, someone was holding my leg. Instinct instructed me to act, perhaps kick whoever it was in the balls and, once free, take off but common sense lurking in the shadows of dread opposed. Clearly the prospects were thinner than a spider’s thread.

I wondered what the militant wanted in a dead bare black leg. Clearly, there was no boot to steal, for the shameless thief who steals from the dead. In retrospect however, this one was into far worse endeavor. He tied my leg with a rope and I was dragged on the hot sand of somali land like a log. Dust flew into my nostrils and I dared not sneeze. I could perceive shuffles of more bodies being dragged by my side. Friction did its part in tuning up the intense pain I was undergoing thus I was knocked unconscious and offered a worthwhile break from the fire.

Later, I could feel the wrath of the sun on my legs. My whole body was on fire, from the pain, from the heat, from the bitterness. Something passed me a note instructing that I lay still if I was to ever look at the faces of my torturers and grin.

The pain became unbearable. I was approaching a breaking point and indeed I snapped and sat up. And I imagined myself looking nothing shot of a zombie. It felt like there was a ball of orange coal logged in my chest. For the first time, I unclosed my eyes. The hot noon sun forced a squint on me. I could only behold a hazy world of dead soldiers strewn all over. Dust repainted their uniform, for those who had any, brown. The militants stooped facing mecca with their wrapped heads moving up and down from the ground.

The same instinct which had been leading me ordered me to leap to a nearby thicket and weigh my chances from there. Between hope and I was darkness. I was not sure if I still had that opportunity to hope. It all ends at the grave. And looking at my situation from all angles, I was headed there real fast.

I sneaked away while they wobbled. In the temporary safety I lay on my back and sighed hesitantly. Whoever their god was had found it in his heart to gift me with a breather. I seized the opportunity to stack up my life. To focus my last thoughts on my wife who had dedicated her life to me. She was beautiful, tender and softhearted. Being a lover of country music I hoped my situation won’t be like that in the video of Brad Presley’s Whiskey Lullaby. The thought of whiskey reminded me that I was thirsty. My tongue was dry and swollen.

Suddenly a wave of grief consumed my soul. I began mumbling to myself how sorry I was not to fulfil the promise of returning to my wife. The shatter of her heart would be heard in my grave when finally she learns of my demise. Tears mixed with blood, brain matter and dust particles and raced towards my ears.

I hated myself for making promises I could not keep. Regrets wielding excruciating pain consumed my soul and smothered the pain on my body. However, I congratulated myself for trying to wear the patriotism jersey that always ended up haunting its bearers. Soon I was to join a team of veterans like Dedan Kimathi who drowned in puddles of their patriotic blood. Somehow I found comfort in that even if there existed zero chance that my statue would make it to the city center or anywhere else for that matter.

A rattle snake glided towards me. Death is like a fisherman. Once in its hook, successfully unhooking yourself never translates to salvation. I lay still, a trick I was now an expert in. The brown snake with black patches slithered over my skin and headed straight into a hole a few yards from my hide out. I let out my breath only to behold two thin militants wielding AK47 rifles surging forth.

I was thrown into the sharp blades of dilemma. It was a game of tiger or woman. However, this one was custom; tiger or tiger.

I willingly chose to die by snake venom than to endure torture from the brutes I so despised. For its worth, it is far better to die by the fangs of an animal itself than those of one passing for a human being. I slid into the anteater hole. The snake, disturbed from its siesta, engaged me in a staring contest. We locked eyes until the viper gave up and crawled out. And I knew I owed him one.

#THEWORDBREWER

Tuesday Jazz Night

NOTE

THIS STORY IS A BINNSWORD PERSPECTIVE AFTER SAVORING BIKOZULU’S MASTERPIECE TITLED ‘THIS MAN AND HIS SAXOPHONE’ PUBLISHED IN 2014.

ENJOY!

SAX

As a waiter at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Balcony Bar, I have witnessed men of means sway in with an air of power. Men whose hand stitched leather shoes equals my entire year’s salary plus all the tips put together. Corporate women whose suits have a better reputation than I do. And their entire existence seems to be riddled in silence or little whisper-like talks. But they laugh so loudly their quiet music fades into oblivion. This is on any ordinary day when I smile professionally. But then there’s Tuesdays. The sweet Jazz night. When patrons troop in to get hypnotised along with the celebrated jazz aces.

On this blessed evening Hellon and his band drive the troubles of our hearts away. Under the misty blue and green and red lights, he exudes a kind of confidence that further enhances his passion for good old jazz. Tonight he is bold in a pink shirt and tie. His Italian suit matches the rich dark tone of his skin. In the consortium of the lazy lights, his hair gleam along the curls making his head look like a pine cone.

The golden watch dangles restlessly on his wrist as if trying to outshine the glinting sax clasped solemnly in his arms. Deep in a hubbub of a conversation, the patrons sink into the lounge chairs. Lonely souls who have come for the weekly revival service swirl their drinks while listening to the throb of the fountain underneath the lush balcony.

I wade around, taking orders dutifully. Listening to complaints and apologizing as if heavenly doors will draw shut upon me if I don’t. Cleaning tables with a dump white cloth I am supposed to carry around as if it contains the waiters’ creed that I am struggling to memorize. In this endeavor, the corner of my eye is ever fixed on my GM who is busy interacting with guests more to spot my flaws than to encourage them to keep coming back again and again until the day either one of this two happens; he loses his job or gets promoted to glory.

As I stand next to a pillar dearly holding on to my silver tray, I defy the rules and take a peek at this man and his saxophone. His eyes are clung shut and I can see his neck muscles bulge. His hands fondle with the breast of the instrument and out of it oozes music for the soul. It buoys through the room like a lazy wave. Its blunt edges tickle my ears and I wish I had a glass of whiskey; just to go with it. Damn the rules.

I drown in the moment and consequently lose track of the GM. The next I know is him standing next to me. He shoots at me with an eye that says “you better focus on clients” and sends me over to a table with a man with a prodigious forehead. Having borne that burden on his head all his life, the GM offers to buy him a drink. Maybe.

Without staring directly at his forehead, I tell him that Mr. Manish has bought him a drink and ask him what he will have.

“I have a very early morning tomorrow. What do you recommend that is light?” he can’t keep his eyes off the platform.

“Courvoisier, perhaps?”

“I have had the VS before…. But wasn’t exactly tickled.”

“Perhaps you can try the XO?”

“Is it any good?”

“It’s premium, sir.”

I’m not going to brag but I will have to describe to you how Courvoisier XO is served. The brandy glass is placed on a glass of steaming hot water. The steam warms the brandy releasing its rich bouquet, which is then trapped in the mouth of the glass. Mr. Forehead seems intrigued as I make my way across the balcony bar with a white towel draped over my arm.

I walk back to my spot and watch him take a sip and feel the cognac in his mouth as if unsure of its taste. He then sways his forehead across the room, perhaps barring some patrons from having a view of the bearers of the instruments that soften up their evening, and raises his glass to Mr. Manish. The GM, as he always does, nods in acquiesce.

The evening slowly wears away and with it the thrill of the lulling music. Patrons get drunk and get louder. They begin ordering more and more and tipping more as well. Hellon plays on, undeterred by their drunk shouts. One after the other, they wave at him and totter away.

#THEWORDBREWER

 

Uncertainties

desert

Sometimes the rain soaks the sponges of our regrets

And our hearts become heavy to bear.

Sometimes the wind, in its gentle breeze,

Whispers the secrets of freedom into our ears.

Sometimes the scorching sun teaches us to persevere.

At times he turns warm and sweet on the skin.

Sometimes the silence makes lots of noise

Awakening the buried memories.

Sometimes the time tell tales of a better future.

Sometimes our thoughts speak to us and keep us sane.

But on other times our hearts take charge

And lead us into beaten paths.

Or unbeaten ones.

Sometimes we listen.

Sometimes we don’t.

And thus make a toast later

Or drown in it.

It’s all uncertain.

#thewordbrewer

Wasted Ink

download

When finally the trumpet flares and my eyes freeze in death, so many words I never saw will be lying in a book somewhere. I shudder at this thought. Those words deserve justice if nothing more is not to come forth. That missed word deserves someone who will mull over its meaning and even wonder how he can put it in a sentence like a tailor tries to fit cloth into a patch.

As I walk stealthily among these tall woods of beautiful books, I hate to imagine that somewhere out there lies a book in a shelf, its velvet cover gathering dust and facing an immense risk of being buried beneath it.

I go after those well-tailored words and how they collectively form sentences without whining about their differences. I hate to speak at this moment when I’m busy summoning the madness that allows me to construct a few sentences in an effort to thrust forth this idea lurking in my head. If I dare open it, the demons will disintegrate as the words roll out of my mouth in a soft voice.

The way the machete cuts across the oats throws me into obscurity and I feel a compelling urge to say something but remember just too suddenly that I am in a session. Thinking about books, words, shelves and writers.

My thoughts wander towards the realm of books going for decades without a finger flipping through its pages smelling of aged words. What a waste of precious ink. Isn’t it enough that someone purged himself apart to get the book to that shelf? Is the effort too transparent to be noticed by a single pair of eyes?

When I will be gone, no one will hunch over the humming laptop to hammer out words out of his head with such extravagant fury. The towel around my waist holding on desperately like a book constantly beckons a reader to its alluring pages will be gone, from dust to dust. I will not remember to look for it so we can reminisce the days we’d bang out words without giving a damn about the flow. I know he would smile and remind me of the smell of my balls. I would give him a long face and go back to grieving for those wasted words.
#thewordbrewer

The Tarmac

road

Kimeu withdrew his gaze from the newly Tarmacked road winding down the slope like a stripped black snake. The whole village was awe struck by the most recent development project from their member of parliament who was best known for his empty promises. Once again, they’d fooled into voting him back into office. Just for this little effort clearly meant to boost his image and earn him votes.

His friends were talking and chatting lazily. They had been on the same spot since morning, gawping at the tarmac which was more of a tourist attraction than another piece of infrastructure. The hunger pangs were now quickly catching up with him. Kimeu had dreaded it for long but knew well that it would finally catch up with him.

In his pocket was a crumbled fifty-shilling note. A treasure; the only meaningful thing in his life. He had earned it after helping push the MP’s car after it was stuck at mud last week while he was attending his first Harambee in four years. He had avoided spending it at all possible costs. Kimeu therefore perfected the art of showing up at neighbors’ houses just when meals were being served. Being African, sharing was among top values in their culture. Now, he had thoroughly exhausted all ‘visit able’ homes and had nowhere to call on anymore.

He braved the hunger in silence. The intense afternoon sun forced him to squint. The scarce eyebrows bowed almost touching. The wrinkles on his brow looked like deep sweet potato furrows. Sweat glimmered from deep these charcoal dark skin folds.
The others were conversing with great effort. Pauses were as rampant as their days without food. They beat down a subject almost the very moment it was put up. With their little knowledge, they could barely hold a conversion that would last their narrow hunger distracted spans. Kimeu joined in occasionally to dispute a comment. Normally, a heated debate would ensue. The basemen, as they referred to themselves, would then split into two. The exchanges had to end up in sulks, and even insults.

“Now that we have a tarmacked road, I am a worried man.” Kibe said faintly.

“Ata mimi. Especially during such dark months.” Mukwas supported him.

“Mukwas acha ushenzi. This is a month like any other.” Kimeu chipped in.

“I too don’t like August that much. Do you remember Sach Angwan tragedy? In what month did it occur?” Rotich had been silent.

“That was just a coincidence.” Kimeu was almost shouting.

“I thought you people go to universities to rid yourselves of such stupidity. What a disgrace.” Mukwas shouted.

Kimeu looked up the slope, his liquid eyes trained on the dark road. The gaze met something like a pool of water right in the middle of the road. He hated to be reminded of his useless education. The veins on his temple pulsed. In the brokenness, he peered farther until the road sunk away at the edge in between tall trees along it.

The basemen stared at each other like strangers. They all knew they would come to this. Rot pulled a blade of grass and chewed it. His oval face darker than his neck. His lips were a shade darker and swollen. His hands trembled heavily while he held the blade to his mouth.

A soft engine hum dragged Kimeu’s eyes onto the road once again. A white car emerged from the sunken road, between tree canopies, proudly. The road was good. The engine was good. It was a Toyota saloon. As it raced by, Kimeu scrutinized its rear windscreen for the ‘wash me’ writing previously common with most vehicles when the road was dusty. It was conspicuously absent.

“Rich people have it easy nowadays uh?” Mukwas remarked.

No one said a word.

As if it had waited for the car to clear off the stretch of the road, a heavy engine roar was heard. It was a lorry. The way it moved towards the onlookers, it seemed to be rising up off the road lifted by unseen forces. Kimeu knew right away that it was one of those that ferry petroleum from the newly opened oil refining plant in the next county whose governor dealt with so much backlash thanks to his visible development stunts.

Everyone else looked on but Rotich.

Suddenly, the lorry swiveled uncontrollably from lane to lane. That was odd. Kimeu thought the driver was having fun on the smooth deserted road. His lips curled into a smiley expression only to be cut short when the lorry suddenly veered off the road and rolled into a ditch. Definitely that could not be part of the fun.

They gasped in unison.

“That’s petrol right there basemen.” Mukwas broke the silence.

“No. It’s an accident. What do we do?” Rotich said.

“It means only one thing. We are rich.” Kimeu was excited.

Kimeu thought of the hunger haunting him daily like a ghost. He thought of the misery of joblessness and poverty that had befallen him. After graduating, he had planned to get a job and start a business from the savings only to meet a harsh reality out of the university comforts. He ‘tarmacked’ for three years after which his shoes gave up, and then he did. Bit by bit, all the battering from master life reduced him into a timid, useless human who couldn’t be set apart from uneducated lot.

In his quest for any kind of job, he had met the basemen. Men who had lost clear picture of the future if indeed they had any. He dived into the world of casual jobs simply to stay alive. Their main motivation became to survive until the day comes and they would go to their creator where they’d be clothed in white robes and set to pluck fruits and drink honey. For them, their treasures were in heaven. But then, they had no hope in that so much hyped Promised Land.

“Yes, it means we are rich.” Mukwas was nodding his bushy head.

With the ambitious thought, Kimeu, Kibe and Mukwas sprang into action. Rotich shook his head in disbelief and remained stationery.

Minutes later, Kimeu returned carrying six twenty-liter capacity containers all tied together by their handles using a climbing plant’s stem and hoisted to his shoulders. Looking lively once again, he grinned at Rotich. Then Mukwas arrived ceremoniously with a blue plastic drum stuck to his shoulder and a jerrycan dangling on his other hand.

Under the hot sun suspended on a blameless deep blue sky, Neti center burst into action. People trickled in with the hope of scooping just enough Petroleum from the accident site. The driver and whoever aboard were dragged into oblivion. Even God himself would understand that under the tough economic times, no single drop of the black gold deserved to be lost. The petrol had to be saved first.

The wind blew gently. Most petroleum hopefuls picked a strange whiff. Someone exclaimed that the air was becoming foully. Two lousy drunkards looked at each other suspiciously and rushed off towards the fortune.

As the immediate witnesses, the basemen less Rotich were the first people headed for the windfall. They were the head of a gigantic procession unique with its baggage. From a distance, it looked like the tribe of Israel leaving Egypt in search for honey and milk.

The closer they drew, the more intense the strange smell grew. Excitement nullified any urge to mind it. Kimeu could tell that the smell was familiar. He wondered if he could remember where it belonged. His memory was refreshed when he approached the half-wreck. At the side of the lorry’s container he met a whole different inscription from what he expected. He shoved his large dirty fingers up the holes of his nose and read out loud to the benefit of the basemen; HONEY SUCKER.

#thewordbrewer

Chocolate Man

choco
He is a queer man who chooses to lug behind the shadows. Very little about his features is in the public domain. With every nerve in his being, he disowns camera fame. He wants to be that figure hovering around. Dark and formless.

He whines about his forehead. It seems to be so big it could fit in a room. And then he seems to be troubled by the silence he keeps listening to when he thinks of his father. The most he can remember is the towel clinking to a waist and a lathered beard and a blade. Perhaps wisps of the soap.

Due to his love for whiskey, he so glorifies it in his pieces, one can be forgiven to envision him sitting in a bar while his sturdy glass oozes a golden luster as he studies the room for anything worth penning. He reads faces alright and later fits them in whatever scene he dims appropriate.

Whenever he settles to write, he is a man in the robe about administering justice. He can be many things but a good writer is not one of them. Because he is great. His words easily fall upon each other to form a pattern that is luring. It takes on shapes never before imagined. He makes his sentences snappy that they leave the reader writhing with desire for more.

And then he is thoroughly addictive. A single article wadding in the waters of his blessing goes a long way in towing you into digging for more of his work. The marks of his pen are like a sidekick woman. She is not your legal wife but you find yourself trooping to her place again and again.

This man paints with his pen. He has made the saying a picture is worth a thousand words literal. While a photographer is killing himself finding that picture, he hurls ink on paper and ends up with a beautiful picture. Certainly he knows the right paint for the right picture. He might add a little flavor but still it serves to alleviate the end product.

In pain and in pleasure he writes. Even after recently losing his tooth to a dentist who offended him by calling bwana. He stays true to his pen, perhaps it is because it feeds him. But that notwithstanding he can still show love for his work.

He has a blog that is stooping due to a multitude of followers. People are fighting over parts of his witty sentences. Laughing their hats off at the comics he exudes. No one stops at refinement from the story for after the baptism by fire, they share with anyone they can reach who in turn share. A classic case of spread like wild fire.

Evidently, all his prowess comes from voracious reading. He loves reading so much that he fantasizes meeting a woman who after sex sinks into a swinging chair in her nakedness and loses herself into a book. He confesses to munching on this stories even late at night while everyone is sound asleep like a form one student crunching biscuits under blankets at school dormitories.

There’s more to this man than meets the eye. So much more to explore and appreciate. But for now it would be wise to make do with the little he rations. One day he will pull it off and dump at our feet. And then start hiding again.

#thewordbrewer