How many times have you lost it and felt like it is the end? Like it is gone and for some weird reasons you just cannot connect? You see it slip from your arm where you thought you had it well tucked and falls!!! You see it go and there is only so much you can do. You cannot bring the mojo back to life, you cannot just rekindle it. Together with a friend, Teiya Soipei, we came together and wrote this piece to reflect on what artists go through.
You are on your creative trip, like you always did three years ago. You call it ‘creative’ because from that the heavens usually open to allow you connect with your inner self, your creative self. You pray the lights turn green just as they usually did, so that you get to stop. Not because you are observing the traffic rules but because you want to observe the city, your city as it stands motionless and still and empty, the skyscrapers forever maintain a gait that you’ve always found astonishing. You notice how a lot has changed, including the weather. It starts to drizzle, then suddenly comes to a halt. You want to stay still behind the wheels, rest your back on the driver’s seat so that you get a good view of the city. For a change, unlike always you pick Kimathi Street. You want something different, something new.
The guitar, your guitar is on the front seat, the passenger’s side. Exactly where you usually have it when you are not using it. Tonight your hands are not doing any strumming, it is your eyes that you plan to put to task in the hope that after all the ‘sight-seeing’ you will come up with something, a note maybe.
It is Wednesday. You are reminded that after seeing a few revelers walking down towards Tom Mboya Street. You can tell they are revelers from the way they are walking and holding each other, rubbing against each other and humming songs. You are reminded of your friend Mitch’s invitation to a party that you declined to attend. You never felt like partying tonight. You wanted sometime to be alone, to put things into perspective, things you barely understand, but can feel. You can feel it because it is getting in your creative path, blocking and hogging your mojo. The sight of the revelers walking down the street across the road just a few steps from your car remind you of your girl, and the fight you had. That is when it hits you that you declined to join Mitch in partying because you were afraid you would meet her at the party. You fought but you still have common friends, Mitch being one of them. You knew she would attend; she always attended parties, even on the nights you just wanted to have some alone time, you and her.
You see them hold hands and whisper things into each other’s ears, the revelers. You do not care if they are a couple or just total strangers out on a razzle-dazzle, all you see is an orgy night full of debauchery, in the sin city. They remind you of her, your girl. Only that she is not there with you. You steal a quick look at your phone that has oddly stayed silent tonight. There are no calls, no messages and none from her. It is three in the morning and there is not an iota of sleep in your eyes. You refresh your whatsapp chats the umpteenth time and still nothing, no message from her. She is not even online.
You revisit the reason for your fighting. You remember the day too well, the trip that forever changed your life. You took out your anger on an innocent, well truth be told he was a ‘big’ man’s son, guy in the crowd. Why did he have to pick that particular day to boo at your performance? The crunching sound as your guitar broke his jaw still gives you chills to this day. You reach out and stroke it seating pretty at the back. She had accused you of neglecting her. Even claimed the band was more important than she was to you. The greatest atrocity had been the dreaded question, ‘Where is this thing headed?’ You had stormed out. A performance that night should have been the perfect antidote.
That was three years ago before serving your sentence, a sentence you still feel to this day she was partly to blame. It has been a few months, three actually, since you were released. You are yet to see her. She doesn’t get it. You had the guitar repaired with the hopes that the familiarity would get you strumming again. Running your fingers over the strings feels like an alien act. You had never played while in prison. It had felt wrong. There was a missing link. But at the back of your mind you played hits. Millions of songs. But the energy never flowed outwards. You stare at your fingers. You flick your middle finger. Would you ever play the strings the same way?
The vibration of your phone distracts you from your thoughts. A message from your boy Mitch. He wants to know whether you would still be making an appearance. I could save you a drink. His exact words. Probably he sees this as the perfect homecoming gift for you. You close your eyes. Taking in a deep breath the demons in you tempt you to go. You contemplate your decision. As you turn the ignition the blood rush feels like the high of an addict.
The two bulky men at the entrance of Farhrenheit seem not bothered by the guitar strapped to your back. It sounds like karaoke night from the off key song being sung. Slowly you go up the steps. Each step you take you reckon turning back and running away. From this place. This moment. This reality.
At the door you scan the club. The dancehall is empty except some drunken lady giving dance a bad name. The bartender is pouring a shot. Across the room you spot her. You caress the initials engraved on your guitar. LR. Her initials. She is staring at her phone. The light shinning on her face brings memories flooding back. The stage is empty. Your eyes lock as you walk up to the stage. As you sit on the stool and adjust the microphone, you have a good feeling. You know you are going to play. She doesn’t get it. She has always been the fuel that gets you going.