Nature is Hell!
Let me ask you something. What makes a man to question the whole foundation of his very existence? Apparently, when you suddenly have episodes of rushing to the toilet with hands clutching on your throat. Mouth full but lips zipped together. And a feeling that your guts will soon gush out of your emasculated body. Man’s bound to feel like a pregnant baboon. But seriously, you will ask yourself questions. But its nature and nature is hell. Let me tell you your story.
It’s a typical morning. Lethargy here. Laziness there. Hopelessness here. A bit of self-esteem down there. A prayer here. A bit of expectation for the day there. You know, typical stuff. This and that. Much louder now, the alarm rings, seemingly getting pissed off by the constant snoozing. It reminds you of the bet you had placed the previous evening. It would run till midnight and the night’s prayer was targeted at arousing and waking up the millionaire in you. You hoped to wake up to a message that would change your life forever.
If I win, I will buy my workplace and my boss with it. You gave yourself courage. But you know and understand too well the meaning of a no message from these betting companies. What do you think man? It’s January, man. Even for the mhindi. You start second guessing yourself. Wishing you had altered your bet slip a little bit. I knew Barca would lose. Messi is stressed over tax issues. One is bound to underperform. You think. It is nature. Your have to regret and second guess. You have to think you would have done better decision-making. But its it is what it is and you are on your miserable bed instead of preparing for work. Well, it’s gone and that’s nature. Because nature is hell.
The alarm signaling that its time to go to work shakes you out of your stupidity. You have alarms for everything. Early waking up. Mid waking up. Actual waking up. Speak-now-in-the-meeting alarm. Heck, you even have an alarm for when to fake the rigor of orgasm! You jolt up and head to the bathroom and the water is too cold and your spirits do not do you any form of justice by being low. You just wash the face and get into your costume. Your Blue Capellano suit over a white shirt noosed by a yellow tie that reminds you of the gallows that your you call your job. You look at yourself in the mirror and you like what you see. The only good thing this morning is the Capellano Suit. The places you have gone without being stopped at the gate! The hands you’ve shaken just because of the costume. You look serious! The Executive Salesman! Ouma is talented. You think. Perhaps I should go and become his apprentice. You think of the possibility but the thought meets angry objections wondering what Ouma would think of you. Leave that alone. He won’t easily convert a customer into student of his craft. But he is a marvelous guy. How he came by the brand name is still a wonder. Capellano? Damn. Sounds like those exotic household names that only find there way into the uptown malls. You got to give it to him though. Capellano! From a soap opera, perhaps? A pinch of smile appears at the helm of what you would call the left cheek and disappears almost as soon as it starts to form. Prematurely. The alarm signaling your arrival at the bus station chants your accursed name. Warning you of the looming doom. Your boss will cling on your neck the whole damn day!
The calm breeze of the morning atmosphere presents you with an adequate opportunity to breath in the Githurai dust and to gulp the stench from the armpits of the Matatu conductors who are ever too willing to deliver their body odor. For free. But its nature. It is full of chaos as well as it is noisy. Nature is hell.
Thank God for the people up there, who in all wisdom, call for long and tedious meetings to go on about things that you already know. Throwing in clichés here and there they feel they have achieved the great feat of motivating their juniors (something that better remuneration failed to accomplish, in the first place) and rebuking the non-performers-those who seem not to have the business’ interests at heart. Throughout the four hour-long meeting, you sit quietly feigning profuse attention. You look straight into the manager’s eyes as he explains the organizational needs and the obligations of the sales employees. “it has come to my attention that the team has become overly insensitive and indifferent about the monthly targets…how NFI…TAT…” the acronyms fade away like his receding hairline that has yielded to its abusive relationship with his forehead. The traces of what you would call hair on his head are brownish tough follicles. A color they have acquired from unstinting application of black dye. You look at his keen and experienced eyes as he goes on with his speech. His mouth seems tired and he swallows hard. How much does he earn, again? It should be more than that at that age. Nature makes you ask yourself how much you have in your pockets. A rap song comes to your mind and you’re about to sing along in your head.
Sit down…Be humble… sit down… be humb….
Your phone vibrates. Damn! It’s the alarm. Time to speak up. You smile, thinking you are genius for inventing the formula that guides the alarms. Nobel Peace Prize, where at thou? “Tell us,” he says, offering you a stern look. Apparently it is your turn to speak. Say what you’ve done for the month. How much business you’ve brought in. And your future plans. An interview all over again. But because nature is hell, the headmaster reads into the deceit deep seated in your crawling oratory skills. “some of us are dragging us behind,” you understand the direction of the shots fired and the meeting ends on the usual go ye and sell note.
You exit the establishment chanting all kinds of gospel songs in a bid to clear your path of anything that will hinder your prosperity as a salesman today. The afternoon sun is scorching and, for a moment, you ponder on the direction to take. Yesterday, you took a right, so it’s prudent to take a left today. But that isn’t fun. You decide to do it better. The traditional way of fixing a situation of horrendous dilemma. Collect a substantial amount of saliva in your mouth, empty it into your palm, and hit the sorry looking paddle with the index finger of the other hand. Done! Whichever the direction the two-thirds of the fluid splashes-that is the direction to pick.
Apparently, you will have to go right again today and the urgency with which you walk after that can make a clueless observer think you are a CEO, who has just had a million dollar worth of epiphany. But nature does not like you. Nature will remind you that the motorbike guys straight ahead of you are your chosen audience. The message from the great benefactor organization, which cares very little about its profits, but works around the clock to provide all life’s solutions to the ordinary citizen down there! (Sarcasm does not favor anybody or anything). “Vipi afisa. Twende wapi?” one of the motorbike operators beckons. You know him from a previous encounter but you are not sure where. You rake and ransack your mind on how to make your pitch suitable for him and his colleagues. It is a tough one. Your work is to make an Eskimo to buy a freezer. You remember the salesman mantra. But it isn’t working. You spot an idle dry log next to the park of riders. Leo acha nikae na nyinyi hapa kidogo. They notice the despondency in your voice and eyes. They understand and an eerie silence ensues. A salesman in a blue Capellano suit squatting on a log among ten, or so, men, each swollen like balloons from their puffed up jackets. This could as well be a mini political rally or an evangelical session. But nature has it that, no matter how much you try, there is not much you guys can talk about. But at least you feel a bit rested and you have had a chance to gasp for some air.
Fuck this! You jump up and leave focused to find the next Matatu. You are going home. It is only one o’clock, though. Who does that? Who leaves work at half day? You are ten minutes gone, walking with a dropped face and drooping shoulders. You wonder why life has to be this tough and think about the many possibilities that could become of your bottom-bound life. That is when you remember not saying a word as you left your pikipiki buddies. Must have been a rude gesture. You are about to turn around. Go and say a proper goodbye. But the three guys swaggering towards you take your attention. Of conspicuous note is the one in the middle-a head taller than the other two, a red cap that looks like a chandelier loosely siting on his head. He has a relatively oversize T-shirt, which is half complete fabric and half a carelessly woven net from the chest, downwards, to his waist. The upper part has the number 45 printed in white. It reminds you of Githurai 45, the cradle of all that is mischief. You look straight into his eyes and follow the direction of his gaze. Watch him smile and drool as if he has just seen the most magnificent, well-carved camel toe. You are interested. When you follow further you are directed to the rectangular shape imprinted on the right side of your trouser. Your phone. Instinctively, the stronger of your hands rushes down to seal and protect your pocket. You have suddenly realized how naked you are. The look on the 45 lad’s face changes in an instant. As you swerve a curve past them, he mutters something in the vicinity of huyu ni fala. Kanajifanya kajanja! But it’s a victory for you, as you cannot imagine losing a phone on a hot cloudless January afternoon.
The injustice of hunger then reminds that nature is hell. You are so famished you could eat a whole pig. Your pockets cannot speak well for you at this moment- the eighty shillings you have are budgeted for. You need to get to work tomorrow- but nature does not understand that you are a broke salesman. Nature thinks that your stomach worms have to be fed. Nature is hell! So in your dilapidated and inundated mind you look at every corner of your ka single room back at the apartments to see if there remained anything edible. Three smiling oval eggs! It’s a eureka moment. The zeal for getting home has been renewed and you walk faster, your Capellano trousers gathering all the dust they can muster. You are smiling at everyone. The smiles are short-lived and that is nature. Because when you get around the corner to the Manjoro Apartment, you are well aware that Njoro is around. He comes around for one week at end month. He just wants to look at the tenants, who take their sweet time with his money, straight in the eyes and tell them, “I wiu Ndeport you!” (I will deport you) This is another challenge. The Manjoro Challenge, you call it. You have to hang around the corner, pretend to be in the mood to play with the children who have turned all shades of brown from playing in the dirt. You don’t like these children because they speak some very arrogant sheng. The sheng that will grab you by the neck and tell you to produce all your valuables. You wonder what sort of non-school going kid would address you, in your Capellano suit, Brathe! But you suffer this for twenty minutes or so with only the three eggs on your kitchen counter giving you hope and dreams of better days! Relief comes when you hear Njoro’s old Peugeot engine whiz lazily to life. It coughs three times without igniting and, for the first time, you offer a benediction to the benefit of Njoro’s car. Lord if the car moves now, I will pay the 10-month tithe that I have been promising!
Beating the dust off your Capellano, you walk majestically towards the apartments as Njoro’s Kwashiokor infested car diarrheas its way along the dusty alley, waking all the children having their afternoon siesta in the neighborhood. But that is none of your concern.
Hambali Mblogger! (Hi blogger)
Hambali Kilunda! (Hi Kilunda)
You exchange short pleasantries with the caretaker, who goes back to high-fiving some women with whom he is sharing the daily dose of gossip. What is it with Kamba men, anyways! But that is none of your business too. Your take the stairs, four at a time, and in what seems to be a century of climbing, you get home. And you smile back at the robust joyful eggs. The highlight of the day. Sometimes, even the smallest of things will make you happy. You think. Without further ado, the three eggs unite in the pan and create chapatti-looking environment. It’s such a joy. You realize that there is a strange presence of soup in your pan, but you shun the thought. It could be nothing other than the effects of extreme salivation as you were frying them. Your reach out into you kitchen cabinet to get some salt to sprinkle on the final product. What you find is another source of orgasmic ecstasy. A pack of Joggoo maize flour stares back at you. You grab it and take a quick look inside. Not much is in there. But it’s enough to produce a feast size of sembe. Father Christmas might have as well come to my house in January! You think. Five fat and lazy minutes tiptoe their way as you prepare your white gold.
Sometimes happiness is just simple. A full stomach. This is deep. You think. You raise your two legs, one on top of the other, and place them on the table, lean back on your bedbug infested couch, and reflect upon this quote that you have come up with. You are about to make a call to the Kenya Intellectual Property Authority to patent your quote, but the toothpick container in front of you captures your school of thought. Two toothpick sticks lean idly on the wall. One is male and the other is female. You presume. Sorry guys, no work for you for now. You say as you begrudgingly push some air, in a hissing sound, across your teeth-the best troubleshooter for clogged teeth. You feel like there is actually work for the toothpick. It is human nature to find work where there is none. And Nature is hell! Of particular interest is the boundary between your pre-molars and the molars. You stick the pick there, pull it out and observe for two good minutes. Magnified by a well of tears in your eyes, you identify what the toothpick has speared. A well-fed brown worm (Kudni, dudu, etc. whatever!) with a dozen segments. You walk like a goofy homeless man towards the sink and look at the remains of the Ugali you ate. They are stuck all over on the pieces. Some of them still whining and twining on imaginary twigs. Tough as Tardigrades! Nature is hell!
The Chinese eat rabid dogs and poisonous snakes and they are headed to be the richest and most powerful people on the globe! The French eat snails and they speak a very sexy language. Our forefathers ate insects and they defeated the British. Who am I to create a fuss… You try. It is nature to try. But then you feel a tingling sensation against your left cheek. Like something with numerous legs crawling towards your mandibles. You give up. You reach for your wallet to eject your only savior-The NHIF card- as you wonder whether to say a prayer or curse the day you were born. After puking like a pregnant virgin, you decide to go to sleep, making sure you have removed the passcode from your phone and updated the next of kin’s number at the top of the call log, as well as, placed the card strategically on the table. If you wake up, fine. If you don’t wake up, still fine! Because that is nature. And Nature is Hell!