Sunday morning. The sun is up moving across the sky, covering the stretch of the horizon. It has covered quite a portion and I just realize how early it had woken up…early and determined.
I fix something for breakfast. While at it I stretch my arm towards the drawer for the book just on top of the others.
I stare at the pile of books on the top shelf of the drawer and I feel the taste of bile form in my mouth. They are not many books…a pile good enough for a rookie discovering the vast world of writers and readers. I bought some of the books…few actually from Inama Bookshops. You know Inama Bookshops? But most of the books are gifts from friends and family. People who know the kind of hunger you face and are ready and willing to feed you to your satisfaction. My little pile is made up of a varying category of books. Sometimes I feel the urge to get rid of all the books I have but only a few that touches on particular topics that are of interest to me…the need to read as wide as possible and the desire to maximise on particular areas of interest. But then it dawns on me that I am just a rookie. I cannot categorize my book collection and say these are books on governance and leadership, and these are philosophical, and these are just novels. In short, it is just a collection of books. And my reading, a friend said sauntering best describe the culture. Of all words Kelvin!!! Rolls eyes.
I am digressing, back to Sunday morning. I pick my current read-The Autobiography of Malcolm X and head straight to Satan. The chapter where Malcolm X is brandished Satan by his fellow inmates at Charlestown State Prison because of how intolerant he was to the Word, and how impatient he could get when an inmate started a talk on the Word. The name not only summarizes his view on and the relationship with the Word but also his relationship with the inmates who feared him as death itself. Malcolm X, the true street hustler, Detroit Red from his conked red hair, he lived his life, wild and free.
Another digressing. Sunday morning. At nine but it feels like it is three in the afternoon. The heat both inside and outside the house is unbearable. I marvel at the amount of lip balm that is being consumed at the moment. Petroleum jelly is not finding peace at the moment you would think that some lips are metallic parts that need greasing. And then there are guys who also walk around with the lip balms in their hands, greasing or is it oiling their lips? Sometimes I question the masculinity of such men. Where I come from a dude’s lips should be dry. Hard and dry and cracking. That is how a real hustler is known. Not the Malcolm X type of hustler. Not even the Ruto kind of hustler. Just a regular guy out looking for ways to make ends meet in a descent, legal, and peaceful way.
Outside, there is some noise. Not noise that would not otherwise draw any attention but noise that distracts…noise that will not allow me to pick Satan’s mind on a hot Sunday morning…noise that coupled with the scorching heat of the sun makes living hell…noise that will not allow me to have my quiet, easy, and slow Sunday as I would have wished. Slowly I put Satan and his mind on the table and head to the door. I head to the door not to check where from or who the noisemaker is, because I know him-Kim, but to breathe some fresh air. The room is stuffy…and hot. Away from me Satan!!! Take your mind with you but leave me some fresh air!!!
Kim is four or five. I am not sure. He shouts, makes noise because just like Malcolm X before he was old and knew enough to be called Satan maybe he has realized that “you only get what you want when you make some noise.” I cannot tell the reason for his yelling and squeaking but I am somehow wishing that it does not turn out to be because of the heat, because Satan will not flinch. Satan will not let you have the comfort of picking his mind in a cooler environment on a Sunday morning. Kim shouts and sings all at the same time. The song he is singing along, probably playing on the radio or the television is in the local dialect. I try to listen keenly for the words and all I seem to capture is “wíkú”, before the other words vanish in the hot air. Kim repeats that word over and over again, probably why I could capture it, like it is the chorus or forms part of the chorus. I want to go out and scare Kim into letting that word be before it wears out. But I hesitate because I know where I will catch him.
I step out at four in the evening for my routine walk. Apart from just strolling and watching people come from their places of worship, some headed straight home yet others opening their business stalls, today I have a task. I always have a task-playfully carrying Kim on my shoulder immediately I come from my walk. A routine I had promised to break to admonish him for his yelling. I want to ask someone what “wíkú” mean. That word that keeps ringing in my head since hearing it repeated severally by Kim. It does not take long before I find the meaning which loosely translates into “where are you.” My mind rushes back to Kim standing on a chair by the window asking the whereabouts of someone or some people. Kim looking out through the window in anticipation but no one comes forth. Kim calling at the top of his voice to people who only he can tell who they are.
I picture Kim growing up into a young adult. He finishes primary school education and unlike his elder siblings or cousins and nephews who studied before the era of Matiang’i, Kim will be called to a school located deep down at the shores of L. Victoria. Good school but Mama Kim will be hesitant. Mama Kim will be hesitant to send her kid across the lands to seek education. She will hesitate not because she has experienced anything that is worth being afraid of but because she is a mother. She will hesitate because of the news feeds she has been reading on her Facebook page and the hash tags on her Twitter account. She will hesitate because of the political atmosphere that she notices all around her. But as a lover of the Whiteman’s knowledge she will allow Kim to travel to the distant lands by the lake in search of the knowledge.
Kim will join high school and overcome the prejudices. He will make friends of same and opposite sexes. He will be exposed to foods, a people and a culture as unique as his second name to the people he had barely thought of getting in contact with. Kim will realise the need to learn the local dialect and with a little determination he will learn to say a few lines. Lines long enough to say hello and thank you. Lines long enough to make requests and sometimes demands if need be. Lines long enough to show potential bullies that he also belongs. That he is part of the bigger picture…lines that when he goes back to Karatina will invite envy from his mates because apart from the three languages that most of them will have knowledge of, Kim will boast of the knowledge of a fourth language. Lines long enough to ask a lady out. Lines loaded and beautifully choreographed to say hello to Akinyi and a little more…lines that makes it easy to get past Akinyi’s pride and into her pants. Or is it her heart? Winks.
Kim will finish high school. Score good grades and be given a chance to pursue a business related course. All along Kim will not cease to hear the sound of that song play in his head. He will go through life asking that same question each day but without a tentative answer. He will finish college, get a job at a coffee factory as the Chief Finance Officer but the question will still ring in his head. He will wake up each day as a co-worker, a husband, a father, an uncle and all through the day he will be trying to answer that question in a different way “wíkú.”
What if just like Kim that is how we live our lives. Each day waking up asking that similar question and going through the day trying to find a different answer from what we previously had? Not really looking for someone but ourselves. Kim may or may not end up finding the him that he is looking for. But he will still ask that question each day that the sun pops up in the sky. He asks that question “where are you?” everyday hoping that he finds the answer…at least for the day. He looks for answers in the books he reads…in the friendships that he makes and keeps…in the movements and clubs that he joins…in the conversations that he strikes with pals and strangers… in the crooked and straight paths that is life. Today he searches for the answer. Tomorrow he still asks “wíkú?”
Photo courtesy: Stegman.com