Ladies and gentlemen,
Heri ya mwaka mpya.
I am extremely sorry to have given you so much uneasiness by not writing; however, you know good news is no news or vice versa.
It is an awful while since you heard from me. You should have heard from me before this. I hope I may not be punished. I am very sure that you do love me as your very brother. I have seen it in your continual anxiety for me to deliver.
I was thinking what hindered me from writing so long, for I have so many things to say to you, and know not where to begin. It is only fair that I couple myself with you in this speech on something that may be considered as good or bad news, depending on who you are.
Mid last year, the pendulum swung. I had made up my mind. I was going to leave my home, my friends and loved ones for what is now my new home, somewhere in the orient. So, it is not by design that I have not kept in touch. I have a good excuse; I am lazy as hell – that you know already.
However, that is not really it. For the last five months, I have been on the move, to towns and countries that my wallet could permit me to travel to. And, I cannot write while my spirit is fevered in a contrary direction. Also, writing is not hard. It is easy. All one needs is that first word, that first line, that toe in the frigid soul of the harmattan. And that is, most times, hard to find. Believe me.
After nineteen hours of another tolerable journey from my hometown to this city in the sun – the perfect destination for East Africans who want to be “where things are happening” – I am now safe in one of its suburbs, Ongeta Rongai. Motivated by the “gold” on these streets, a portion of which I want, moving here was a decision I was comfortable enough to make last year when I stayed in another suburb, Westlands, precisely on Lower Kabete road.
As a matter of course, I shall come home full of news for you, and, for fear I should chock you by too great a dose at once, I must make you used to it by a letter or two.
Now, all I can tell you that I did not start this year like I did the last – by sleeping in a couch in a friend’s house- but in a flat of my own. One which the last tenant tried hard enough to make me dislike as I spent close to two days cleaning it, thanks to his irresponsibility. The tenancy agreement stipulates that we must leave the houses as we found them. He should have read that. If he had tried to be a little cleaner – not that he had to anyway, he’d have saved me all that time.
So, through my curtain-less windows – then, on the Friday I arrived, I could see people partying on while poor me was inside busy trying to combat an invasion by cockroaches.
And, if he had left it like he found it, I would never have known that he is a filthy social scientist who works in the forestry department, likes travelling, and has a child who enjoyed scribbling on walls with pieces of multi-colored chalk. I find that when people move houses, they always leave simple things which could be used as important details but, unfortunately, to their disadvantage.
Shopping for it was a hustle as well. I definitely would have used a pair of strong biceps, or a tuk tuk, or even better a mkokoteni to help me carry the numerous bags from the Masai Mall. Worn out, I had no option but to hire the services of one of the very scarce boda-bodas. The couples I rubbed shoulders with in the mall, saw on the way home, and met on the flight of stairs were reminders that indeed, when you are not married, you do not know what you are into, and also, what you are missing. I was missing another pair of good biceps.
I thought dealing with those two would make me feel better. I was wrong. Yes I’d have been save for the really lonely moments which keep recurring. The place has literally eaten me up. All my friends and people I know stay far away, in other suburbs. When I don’t go to town, I spend my time on my favorite part of the house, the balcony, partaking in my newly found hobby; people watching and reading an Ali Mazrui book my friend Felix Ombura brought me when he visited: Teach Yourself Swahili. I will need to perfect my poor language for it is ridiculous to ask people if they speak English in order to have a conversation with them. Equally, it is not the thing to be a complete stranger in a land of people whose only difference with you is their beloved language which is their identity as well. Ah, the bloody perks of changing countries!
Thankfully, in my neighbourhood is a comrade I went to law school with, Chrispus Mutabuuza. A source of wonderful company, so far, as we understand one another for nothing is lost in translation. We link up at his or mine and trudge together, like lost sheep in a country where people are always on their toes.
Living in the midst of bars, I hope he will encourage me to taste the uniquely giant sodas we’ve spotted somewhere and not alcoholic beverages again. If I don’t, I will have passed the test. If I do, then, like things often change, a promise will be broken.
I hope that we will eat more mutura together because I have always believed that when something tastes good, you go for the whole of it.
I hope that with time, all will be well, that we will settle in quite well, make friends and with them take the road that will lead us to awesome.