my four year-old nephew
asks too many questions–
my forty nine year-old mother
my four year-old nephew
asks too many questions–
my forty nine year-old mother
brownie sits under my feet with a bloated tummy.
“he should fart this gas out”, whispers the king’s praise singer. i ignore him and continue eating. i have been eating for three days now. all night long. and, all day. eating at the table in front of the three million others standing behind me. behind the table in front of me.
the praise singer’s voice is irritating.
i continue eating; listening to the three white men discuss me in third person. as if, i weren’t here. as if!
“he is a great singer.”
“no, he is not.”
“he is not.”
slowly, i am becoming the singer i was not.
an acacia tree stares at my disillusionment with disapproval. its small brown leaves winking at its trunk. (i ignore). its branches stretch across the horizon begging the king to make it stop.
“it’s too quiet here”, says one little shrub with extravagantly green leaves.
“so?”, asks the acacia in disgust.
“let’s have an argument.”
“i don’t know”
“shut up then”
“no, i won’t”
“alright, let’s have an argument”
“you started it so, tell me”
“we already did”
“no, we didn’t”
“okay, i look up to you so, you decide”
“jesus fucking shrub”.
the shrub laughs. the singer has stopped; the three white men continue murmuring.
“you all shut up. and you (pointing at me) stop eating. jesus fucking glutton”, bellows the king.
there’s nothing, but silence. brownie farts into the silence. he farts till there’s only smell.
“i’m lonely” yells the acacia into brownie’s smell.
“how do you know you are lonely?”, asks the king.
“how would you like it if you were a brown-leafed acacia tree amongst overly green shrubs?”
we laugh. at the king. the acacia leaves have turned into slippery worms crawling on the backs of the three white men.
when i turn back, the three million others have died. of hunger and brownie won’t stop farting.
“where is the king?”, i ask the green shrubs
“where is the king’s singer?”. suddenly, i know who i am. (it must be nice to be mistaken for someone else.)
“jesus fucking shrubs! where are the white men?”
(how does one person with a bloated stomach bury three million hungry bodies if he no longer remembers himself?)
i came here with nothing but soles swollen from carrying my pastness and a mind that rots with overbearing memories of loss.
there are worms everywhere and no one will remember to blame the acacia tree if brownie keeps eating his own ears.
twice in a week, i die in a therapist’s room— with my grandmother;
in my everyday, dying has marked itself in the cuts on my wrists and the
hurt in my heart.
mother: that’s some white girl nonsense, drop it.
in the cartographies of what was, what shall be and what should’ve been,
i have become fictional, inventing a story of who i was,
because i can no longer be who i was, is or shall be.
i exist in the cracks of feet of toiling women in Burundi and
the wrinkles on faces of hausa men pleading with camels in slaughter
houses in Sokoto, Kano and Kaduna.
on my grandmother’s grave, my body shall return,
egoli swallows, we claim but die.
he vomits us into seas that swallow & vomit us into distant lands.
lands that unfreed our ancestors and shackle their descendants.
lands that demand that we speak imperial. englishness swelling up, taking up spaces that our souls occupied. before.
a year and three attempted suicides later, i return. to a city appalled by its own and cats that maraud streets for left-over hangovers & sexing that mentions no consent.
egoli your after-taste is a teaser for rev. bani-bani‘s miracle-healing crusade caught up in cushions of irrelevances of clientele legal‘s “misfortunes can befall anyone”.
(would jesus be an appropriate insurance policy for azania’s children tired of funeral covers profiting from black death?)
what happens to souls that die lonely?
do they wrap themselves up in brokenness;
soar into the skies; like contrails left by passing planes mix with clouds,
what becomes of the soles of feet that have walked miles of lonely;
thirsted for waters of unwanted love and lust?
what names are conjured up by tongues that no longer curl in languages of lies patched on hearts of fake desire?
forgive me for all the ticks of time at which i loved you in a foreign language.
I have been carrying you on my mind for a few days now so I thought I’d check on you.
Tell me, how are you doing since your first tweet?
Did your mother get well or is she still in hospital? In what ward is she so we may visit? How are the nurses treating her? I hope she gets better sooner. How are you guys managing to pay the bills? Yes, yes I know that the health care system in Kenya is as broken as our spirits and bills can really shoot over the roof often despite the poor services. Please let us know what we can do to help. No one should bear such a heavy load alone. I am really sorry that most of us have become quite apathetic, myopic and disinterested in changing the system but you know what, one day– may be one day– Kenya will change and things will get better. But hey, really honestly sorry about your mother. I hope you and family are coping.
Also, I was thinking of how your friend who got cancer is doing. How have they been since the first chemo cycle? How many times have you prayed for them today? I hope you did and that the gods listened. I truly do wish them the best. I know this is hard for you but take it step by step. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Find ways of being supportive of your friend. I mean very practical ways beyond “my thoughts and prayers are with you”. Ask your friend what they need you to do for them even if they say “just to be left alone”. If they want to be left alone, please do; it’s a hard time for them too and they do need time and space to process but keep going back without making them feel harassed. It helps. A lot.
And then there was the story with your landlord. Is that sorted? How many months do you owe now? Did you try negotiating with them at least? Eish, landlords can be such a nightmare sometimes. Anyway, I hope that you can get your work situation sorted sooner so that this unnecessary stress is off your plate. My friend (from what he calls Umoja III) tells me that some landlords are so ruthless that on day three after the first warning about rent arrears, they can even organise to have your roof (literally) taken off. By day four, he tells me, the landlord will move into your marital bed. I laughed when he told me but it’s really not funny especially with these unpredictable rains! Nairobi is so rough man. Mi narudi ocha, wacha ikae. But hey, I’m here if you need help.
By the way, do you remember Lucy from your primary school days? She used to play netball and at some point she left for a diplomatic thingy with her parents to Guinea Konakry. I met her on Saturday and she spoke of you very, very fondly. I told her that I had never met you but that we followed each other on twitter for a while till I said something you didn’t agree with. Of course I didn’t mention that you unfollowed and blocked me. I mean, why would I do that to you? I have kind of learnt to not shame people especially if I really don’t know them well. So, I didn’t want Lucy to walk away thinking that you are an intolerant asshole or that you are a prejudiced prick (excuse my language but hey, that’s what people will call you on the internet if you disagree). You know people can be mean even without thinking of how hard life is for all of us. We need to protect each other against this dangerous world especially online where all of us are at risk of being cyber-bullied.
Sorry I went on a tangent but in fact, what I wanted to also tell you is that a very good friend of mine and a huge part of my chosen family, Binyavanga Wainaina has been quite ill in the last one month. Of course you know that. A lot of us have been in a lot of pain just watching a friend and brother go through such a tough time and the uncertainty that comes with illness. Aren’t we all just dealing with so much?
So, I was wondering about your tweet. How did such a hateful message make you feel? Did it taste like ice cream with caramel topping or like overchewed sugarcane that only hurts your gums? I am trying to understand your pain and anger. When you walked past the woman who sits outside Barclay’s with a manilla paper explaining her burns did you ask her if she was ‘straight’? Have you ever asked your favourite Premier League football player if he is gay? When you used that brilliant James Baldwin quote on your Facebook did you know he was gay?
Please help me understand who first taught you to not be compassionate. Tell me why kindsight isn’t a word or why you won’t go to Kenyatta National Hospital because some of us non-religious, ass-eating, penis-sucking, anal-fucking, and mostly asexual human beings have paid taxes to subsidise government funding. Tell me where you’ll be sitting in heaven so that I don’t pay my ticket.
But above all, please let me know when you need assistance. I will definitely come through and I will remember to not contradict your worldview also known as the absolute truth.
I hope everything works alright for you and yours.
Yours in the struggle,
Decolonising & ancestral venerating certified gayist and chief lesbianist.
what shall we call the wall we erect to defend ourselves?
& how high shall it be?
under whose phallus shall the wall fall?
whose shame will this wall carry when ten times, ten & forty seven souls can no longer be appeased by thoughts sent between a collective blaming & reflex prayers?
“walls of phalluses can no longer protect us/erections are exercises in futility”, I hear you say Japuonj but, Ok ang’eyo.
tell me what about yourself you hate so i may know what not to love, tomorrow.
(how else should i say this?)
her brokenness has mastered mine —overwhelmed by feelings of mutual twathood— inviting us to staring contests at insomnia o’clock.
his dictaphone has a single message:
“i can’t fix you; I’ll carry you”.
(does anyone else know this is happening? probably not.)
in outerspace this morning sat a bird on my headboard
twittering in a language they call love.
(binya, if love were an act, what would it look like?)
suppose love were a verb that does, and outerspace a place
would you get into this steel pipe and slide with me?
(i have a confession to make):
if i touch the plunger to brew coffee
lift this phone to text and call
sit on this chair to fake work
stay awake to not dream
think i aint thinking of you when i am
everything leads me to you.
So, please tell me one thing:
can i love you out of this?