It occurs to us that this blogger has been AWOL for a whole month. What he now tells us is that he has been trying to take time off to revise his work for a bunch of literary journals and magazines and return to writing his memoirs- again. (Oh and some of us heard him on radio the other day, no? What exactly is the deal with that Mr. I Do Not Do Interviews?)
Well we managed to catch a sneak preview of those memoirs and all we have to say is that though they reveal him as not being the city boy we always made of him, they prove that the urban space and the pursuit of yuppiness has taken toll on his village voice. Just take a peek at the last paragraph where he goes all aspirational on us and ruins a good story.
IN THE CITY: ARRIVALS
The city is fast. Too fast. See all these cars. Rushing past... here, there, here, there. I wonder, wonder where they will all be going. Wonder where they was. And those daughters of mothers, aren't they beautiful. See how they walk: kabich! Carrot! Kabich...!
Ngai! How do they get here, to the city?Get here without wearing many clothes? Me, my sister, hapana... my mother wouldn't let her out of the house dressed like this one here. Look at her thigh- yellow like Mombasa mango.
Woman, who is your mother?
I came into the city today. Yes. Wanted to walk but I got lucky. I got a lift into the city. That boy, Ngamau, his father is the only butcher three ridges over- you know him, eh? Ngamau gave me a lift today. Yes, yes his father is the one who has that brown Datsun twero. He has a Mitsubishi Canter? Yes, yes, a bluish one, I have seen it outside Chemsha Butchery. What? No, that is not true- aki gishagi people and their siasas!- the only reason they do not use both cars at the same time is because they have to use the battery to watch television and not because they cannot afford iruri!
Anyway, it was Ngamau that gave me a lift into Nairobi. Me and him go a long way since stadi one. I tell you, even nursery we were desk-mates. But mother says I never went nursery. Like she would know about school or not seeing that she was picking coffee when these women of baggy cars were eating big books. Mother don't know school from last weeks ugali. That goes for the rest of my family too. Apart from me, obviously. Me I go school many times. See, I speak English like queen. Then I write good story. I tell you, all the time in school, teachers were calling me Ngugi wa Thiongo.
But that is no matter. This here butcher's son, Ngamau, he gave me a lift into the city. It was market day today and he had to take a couple of goats, they had bought to the kichinjio at Dagoretti Market. So Ngamau said to me, “Potash, son of my mother...” (yes we are always calling each other that because we have grown up like we were of the same mother. Their was the only family on our side of the G_ River with a TV- a Greatwall, black and white that must have cost about two million shillings or thereabouts- and I was always visiting to watch Tushauriane.
Sometimes her mother would insist that I stay on for supper. When the meal was served and I saw all that nyama, I would instinctively yell, 'Merry Christmas!,' then remember that I wasn't at our mucii and blush.)
Now this Ngamau, who is the butcher's soon and also a friend of heart to me gave me a lift into the city. To tell you, my friend, the truth, I wanted to come and then again I did not want. You know mother has the sugar disease, eh? Always had it these last fifteen years but now it is too much. Last week, I think it was on Wednesday, sijui, Thursday.. but then the next day I saw her digging up arrowroots on Gikonyo's garden. And that was after she had gone down there to fetch water and off to K_ to barter the arrowroots for firewood. And all that time I was sitting there, outside my cube, with Karanja and Gitiho pulling jiggers out of our feet and me saying, 'Ngai is great for mother is well...!”
Today. Today I wanted to stay home and look at mother because she was in a bad way again. “Well,” Ngamau jeered. “You might not get another chance to see the place of lights.” Of course that bothered me many because in all these eighteen years I have been eating Githeri, I haven't looked at the place of many lights. So there, standing outside Chemsha Butchery watching that fellow who herds baba Ngamau's goats- his name is Ngunjiri, isn't it?- loading the twero, i begin to think, what if my luck works in eighteen year cycles? The next time Mwene Nyaga smiles at me, I could be long dead from all this typhoid, bacteria or kumi kumi.
So to the city I had to come. Today.
There and there I decided to come into the city with my friend- my best friend who I must have already mentioned to you also happens to be the butcher's son. Yes, yes... we came in the twero. Oh, the goats? The goats were right there at the back.
What Ngamau was telling me all this time is that as soon as we sold the goats, we would drive into City Center and he would buy us many beers. Can you imagine that, real Tuskers, for me and him like grown men with office jobs?
Sick mother or not, can a young man say no to such things?
I jumped into the twero.
Next to him? I wish it was so. He suggested that I sit at the back and watch that the goats stay tethered. And there I was, riding at the back. Astride randy goats. Ouch... it does send a cold flea... uhm, something... down my throat to remember!
But, really, I wish no one beat a picture of me. Me sitting there on top of those goats. You know I could get rich and infamous. In my next lifetime, you are saying. And to imagine that I never thought of you as an enemy of my development. Anyway, imagine one day when I make money in this Nairobi and I am eating with Honourable So and Sos and then someone gives those pictures to those people of newspapers. Can you see Nairobi Scar screaming: Beast of Burden (I being the beast and the goat, well, burdened.) Then Kenya Inconfidential will shout: Potash Rides Goats (who needs prepositions?). And the racist Nairobi Bureau chief of (some) Times or other will, as a nod to to Frantz Fanon and other noble savages before me file: The Wretched of the Earth.
The city is bright. Too bright. See all these lights. I wonder. I wonder who lights them. Oh, see they off. Haiya, see they on again... Mwaaa! Where are the lights staying when they are not on, in that globe?
The girls here... look at this one, Kwanza... they are showing too much. Me, my sister, hapana... mother wouldn't let her show what this one is showing to me. Not even let her show it to that boy who is bringing goats next week.
“I love you!!
Woman, can I touch here?