It’s Jamuhuri day so I’m taking it easy. I’m having a lazy day. Just lazy, not polite. Polite is when you’re doing something decent with your life and keeping quiet about it. Something worthwhile. But I’m just here sprawled on the couch with nothing on but a pair of old blue shorts. A packet of crisps an arm away.

Our court is quiet today. The lady upstairs who keeps dragging her furniture is away. Probably on a date with a guy she met in church. A very conservative guy who tucks in his t-shirts. She goes to Winners Chapel. I know because she has this sticker that says ‘I’m a winner’ on her door. Si basically that’s how you identify folks of Winners Chapel, ama? I’m still tryna figure out how to pick out folks of Mavuno in a crowd. Methinks they like shiny things. They are all about image. Any way we seldom talk with this chick. There’s this evening she gave the guard a tongue lashing laced with tribal undertones for having opened the gate for her, the majesty, a minute late. She said things like “una uluhya mingi sana” to ostensibly mean poor guy is daft, or shao, I dunno. That didn’t sit well with me. But I dared said no shit. I wasn’t in the mood to start wadding in some murky conversations about tribes.

The showy guy downstairs who plays awful Bahati songs isn’t around either. Perhaps he’s gone to catch a tipple and show off his Mercedes to chicks. Yeah, he drives a Merc. Enough evenings he’s driven in with blaring music. I don’t understand him. I don’t understand why anyone would play blaring music in a Merc. Some nerve! I think it’s just so wrong. Sacrilegious even. That car deserves respect. Go get a bloody Subaru if you must crunk up your volume.

Anyway the place is super tranquil today and I’m savoring the serenity that comes with it.

I’m playing Ferre Golla back to back. Ferre doesn’t sing, he croons. He serenades the soul. Then there’s that signature drum that vibrates thickly at the back ground of his songs. And he’ll chime in with his bass every so often so say things I believe are very important to humanity. Which makes me hang on to his every word. Words I don’t understand {ha-ha}. Some times I listen to Poison de’Avril, or Kamasutra with my eyes closed. Because Ferre is a master of his craft. Ferre is a smash. This guy is the shit.

I’m watching this song he’s done with our very own Victoria Kimani titled Tucheze. And I’m thinking, damn! Doesn’t she have a killer voice, Victoria? The only downside is that she’s trying to bring slay queen manenos to rhumba by singing in that fake – and annoying – Nairobi accent. Which, again, is just sacrilegious. Rhumba demands fidelity to authenticity. But of course Ferre pacifies things by his posh Swahili. He sings; kama mutu anaomba sasa huruma, umusikie sababu hasira ni mubaya.” Damn! Hawa batoto baCongo bananifurahisha kweli.

So generally I’m having a pretty laidback day until I realize I haven’t looked at my phone for like an hour and yet I’m expecting m-pesa from somewhere. I rummage for the phone beneath the pillow, swipe it and quickly thumb my pin. And voila! There’s a message… only that it’s not an M-pesa message. It’s a terse sms from my kid bro Rodger.

It reads; Morgan is dead.

And I think, wow, what an amazing way to break such news. So cute, so lovely indeed, huh? You deserve a head of state commendation for your deftness in breaking such news.

I read the message again, and again, and again. My mind gets frozen. I call 30 minutes later. My voice dry and shaky.

“what happened?”

“Road crash.”

“Where is he?”

“Referral, Eldy.”

I say sawa and hang up.

Now, I know this week I was to pick up from where I left last Thursday about my campus escapades, but I’m just not in that space right now folks. Just allow me go behind that hut and cry. Please.

Morgan is that cousin in shags. Older than you by say six or seven years. Married, with three kids, all girls. Cute girls. He’s the reserved and laidback type. And because opposite attracts, the wife this bubbly, happy-go-lucky girl. Awesome couple; warm, welcoming, kindhearted. A couple that laughs a lot, kindred spirits.

You used to go to his place when he was newly married and with only one kid and you could have a helluva time over the four o’clock black tea with groundnuts, and in the evening he could buy beef and the wife could make a sumptuous meal out of it, and long after the meal, you guys could talk and laugh late into the night. You could call other cousins and put them on speaker and do a conference call that could only come to a close because you ran out of air time. You could then toss a mattress on the floor and sleep like a kid only to be woken up by an aroma of pancakes. Him doing the magic in the kitchen. He could then give you fare back home. Not that he had much, Morgan. But because he could share anything he had. He was a gift that kept giving.

But then life happens and you move to the city and he moves further west, close to Uganda. He gets two more kids. Sends you their pictures every so often. Beautiful, beautiful girls. You keep promising to go see them. But you never get around to doing it because you’re still trying to get your footing. He keeps calling to check on you, to ask if you got a job, worried about how you’re pulling through, tells you to be tough and hang in there. That it’ll soon be well. You hardly call back. He texts you. You reply some, you ignore some. You’re too busy, right? He hardly asks for money. In fact he never asks for money. He just wants you guys to be in touch. He wants you to go home and do some manicuring on the grave of grandpa, and see what project to do to take care of grannie. But you keep procrastinating. You tell him, “I’ll roll down when I get money.” It so happens you never get the money. You’re always waiting for the time to be right. Time disappoints you because it never gets to be right. He tells you, “don’t allow Nairobi to swallow you, bro. Don’t forget family. Just come even if you don’t have anything. It’s been a minute, man.” You promise to roll down in December. You’ll have Christmas together. He tells you sawa.

He then goes quiet. You don’t even notice his silence because you’re so sucked into the rut race. Once in a while you see his posts on Facebook, you ‘like’ them as you scroll down. You forget him – again. You move on with life. You promise yourself that you’ll meet guys during Christmas. Only that on 12th December you receive a tart sms telling you he’s no more.

You’re now going to rush home and spend the amount of money you’ve never spent on him. You’ll hug his daughters and tell them how much you love them. Which won’t mean much because it could have been more beautiful telling them as their dad watched.

Deep down you know you such people who are genuinely interested in your wellbeing and friendship are a rarity. You know you might never have such a person in the family again. you know the only guy who was genuinely interested in keeping the family together with no vested interests is no more. Maybe he was tired of this fruitless endeavor. It stings you. It now dawns on you that you never know the importance of something until you lose it.

Rest in peace bro.


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