…. She stood in a pink shirt that hugged her to her knees and she asked me why I smoke. She rolled around my bed and she played with my matches. She said she couldn’t want anyone who had black lips and a black heart. But she grabbed onto my neck and she pushed her mouth further into mine. We were upside down in a trance at 4.20 in the morning when she told me she loved me. She didn’t even look at me when she said it. We’ve never talked about it since then. But every time she falls into my chest and every time she drags me back to life, I wonder what it is I feel about her. I can tell by the way my body reacts that I need her. From the electrolytes in my hair strands to the ever hungry pit in my stomach. And I can tell by the way she makes my heartbeat stop when she does certain things that I am still just a man. But she leaves for days and I don’t think about her once. She screams about her pain and I cannot feel an ounce of it. She cries her heart out and I just sit still, lost somewhere in my mind. A place where there’s nothing wrong or right. All the walls were painted plain white. We are like the contrasts that inevitably destroy each other. She feels everything at once and I feel nothing at all. I’m not sure which is worse.

Oh desperado…


On some days though, we find perfect rhythm. On some rare occasions, we get to that elusive point of completion and on such days, the thrill is exhilarating. We spend the days digging into each other and slowly killing each other. But when the night comes and everything else dies, we are left standing underneath the spotlight of life. Just the two of us, naked to the bones and bare to our toes. And she starts to dance to an invisible tune, swaying left then right. She starts to hum in the lights, a sad slow song and my hands move after hers. She strays close to my heart without fear of consequence. She looks straight at me and she sings about how we found heaven in this hopeless place. She steps into me and then I feel the lights on my back. I feel the warmth of her dying soul and I feel the hopes of her relentless heart. And slowly, mine begins to beat. Steady at first then it breaks into a trot before finally running away with her. To the place where we make our own and at the point where time stays irrelevant.

Oh, desperado these things that are pleasing you will hurt you someday


A long time ago, before she told me that she loved me, I told her that I loved her. The memory of that time is like half the dreams you aren’t sure you had at night. The only evidence of it is an uncanny feeling when certain things trigger it. She was probably just eighteen then and I was a little older. Old enough to not know the first thing about love. I remember it was a weird kind of night because I was lost at eight p.m in the city and she was leaving the next day. I remember because I had run away from home and I had come after her. Sometimes I miss that naïve heart. So I was lost, somewhere 25kms away from her and her phone was off. I left my heart in her voicemail. And then she was gone. But I swore I would wait for her. Oh, desperado ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away.
That seems like another life I lived in another time. Just another reminder of how cruel time can be. And how I’m slowly fading away. My original intention was to burn out but intentions are only roads to hell. I feel conflicted about letting her go or dragging her down with me. So I hide behind the illusion of choice. But I know somewhere inside that she’d follow me to the ends of the earth. She cannot leave and I can’t let her go.

Oh, desperado it might be raining but there’s a rainbow above you

You better let somebody love you

Before it’s too late



Outside The Weston Hotel just below a huge footbridge that most pedestrians ignored, a woman stood talking into her phone. She was bearably pregnant and wore a plain white jumpsuit that impressively accommodated the lump. She seemed undeterred by the noise that evening traffic made on Lang’ata road as she spoke, her eyes on the passing cars and her left hand slightly bent to hook a big loose black handbag. She spoke into the phone for a little over thirty seconds and pushed it absently into her bag when she hung up. She was watching the cars going towards town more intently now, and her face relaxed when she saw a black Mercedes slow down and pull up beside her. It had gold rims and gold edges that breathed affluence into the black mass. She stepped back a little as the back door swung open and she got into the vehicle. It smelled of rich and new leather inside and there was almost a thick black taste to the air. A man in a black fitting suit and a white shirt sat next to her. He fingered a black tie absently in his left hand and was eagerly typing on the 5 inch phone in his right one. Scrolling through about a dozen football prediction sites. He did not immediately take notice of her so she had to nudge subtly against his side. He looked at her face and saw her staring at him with mild irritancy. He slipped the phone into the pocket of his coat and leaned in towards her, smiling with a half an apology. She hugged him back but broke the contact in less than three seconds.
“You kept me waiting. Again.”

She put her handbag on the space between them and leaned into the headrest, her right hand relaxing on her baby. She closed her eyes.

“Sorry love. The traffic was a nightmare.” He replied and added,

“How are you feeling?”

He supported his weight on his left hand on the seat as he turned his body towards her, letting her know that she had his full attention and then he placed his right hand softly on hers and smiled.

The touch of his warm fingers startled her for a second but she did not move. She allowed herself to feel them both and forgot that he had asked her a question. For a moment she forgot that she’d grown to detest him the more she loved the baby inside her. She remembered how simple love had been before all the money came. She remembered her greed and his ambitions. She opened her eyes and she said

“Tired and thirsty.”

She saw the expression change on his face and she added

“I’m joking. Jesus.”

“Are you really?”

She didn’t answer him. She didn’t know how to. She was a stranger to what she really wanted. She felt like was slipping away at the point when her body needed her mind the most. He was a stranger to her. He was speaking again but she didn’t quite come out her reverie in time to catch what he was saying. She wondered why they were still parked.

“Why aren’t we going home?”

“I…uh need to do something for minute.”

She knew what that meant but she was too tired to fight today. She just lay back to her comfort corner and heard him mumble some apologies. For the thousandth time he explained why she’d have to go home alone. To sit in their cold new house watching stupid shows on cable wondering what whore was sucking him off at that time. She sighed when he slipped out; to wash the anger and the pain away.

She felt the car come to life and join the traffic. She half hoped one of them would get knocked to the death by a quick crash.

Inside the hotel was warm and yellow and it smelled like plastic air. There was some sort of comfortable illusion of peace that made him forget all his troubles. He welcomed it as he crossed the marble floors and made his way through a sea of black suits to the back area where the open pool gleamed like a blue gem in the night skies. Around the pool about a dozen small and round tables were scattered. He proceeded to one in front of him where a woman in short black skirt sat sipping her drink seemingly without a care in the world. His pace decreased slightly as he approached her. He felt a little nervous. He hoped she wouldn’t smell it off him. She didn’t bother to stand as he reached her and opened his coat to slip into the seat next to her. For a minute all they exchanged were ambiguous stares before she spoke. With her glass half between her mouth and the table.

“You look stressed sweetheart. I don’t like you looking stressed.”

A waiter approached them with a glowing Ipad tucked in his bent left arm. He stood above them a few inches from intruding their personal space. He was going to ask something before she said,

“He’ll just have a glass of water.”

As the waiter walked back, he knew better than to get offended by her.

“You’re wearing me thin Daisy.”

“It’s not me. You know I’m just a collector.”

He sighed.

“You could get me more time.”

She chuckled. Amused at his desperate albeit makeshift innocence.

“It doesn’t work like that.”

She set her glass down and leaned on her elbows towards him, her voice now just above a whisper. 

“You got rich off their odds and they noticed it. Hell, everyone did. You know the deal. You signed the damn contract yourself.”

He looked like he wanted to say something in his defence to protest but she was not done yet.

“Don’t get greedy now love. For both our sakes. Pay the goddamn money.”

She leaned back and took a long sip from her glass as the waiter approached. Hand out and all fake smiles with an expensively packaged bottle of water and a glass.

He watched her as the waiter set the bottle on the table and felt oddly conflicted. Something about her soft ruthlessness attracted him to her. And something about her smugness repulsed him. She had become the mascot of all his troubles just a few months after she’d been lady luck shining in the night.

He silently bemoaned his senselessness and hoped she wouldn’t ask more of him that night.
They were waiting for her that night when she got home. They were parked outside her gate in their very conspicuous red 504 Peugeot and they seemed to overflow in shadows out of the car. As the automatic gate pulled open and her driver entered the compound, she glanced out her window and got ready for her stomach to twist with the dread that they always came with. It did not. There was some kind of emptiness and resignation instead. Perhaps she was just tired. Either way, she was not going to fret figuring it out. She welcomed it as the gate closed silently in the security lights behind her. 

The car pulled to a stop outside the front door and she picked up her handbag and opened the door to step out, slowly. The driver too got out and came around to help her out. He took her left hand gently and she felt his hard muscles beneath his black cotton shirt. He was tall and was built like a soldier. She found some little faith in the fact that once upon a time he had been in the army. 

“Thanks.” She said as soon as she was on her feet. He nodded back as she passed him.

She stopped at her door and turned back. 

“Only two of them can come in.”

He walked towards the gate as she unlocked the door and slipped into her living room. It was cold and dark, the only light sneaking in from the half moon outside in single rays through the half open drapes. She felt for a switch on the wall but changed her mind. There was some comfort in the shadows and she also did not wish to glance upon the misery that seeped from the walls of the house. She walked to the kitchen in slow strides, dropping her bag on the floor as she went and her left hand fingers brushing on a sofa softly. The open kitchen had a marble counter that faced the living room and she turned and settled her elbows on top of it, waiting, watching, and thinking. She glanced at the empty wine rack on her right and cursed him silently. 

“You’re in no condition to be drinking.” He had said. And while she knew he was right, she felt more and more in need than she had ever felt before. 

Her eyes now adjusted to the darkness, she saw a couple of shadows block the light on her front verandah. She saw them through the glass on her door and she yet again waited to feel her stomach to twist with dread. Again, it did not come. She raised herself up and walked to stand in front of the kitchen. She leaned on a wall and waited. 


Are you afraid of the dark?
Is your soul afraid of the shadows in itself?
Do you sleep alone?
Do you choke in your sleep?
Of the sadness
And the pain?
I see a child of the dark in you
I know by heart,
Have mastered in depth
The deepness of you sorrow
The devils in your past
And the lust in your wombs
I see you hide
And I see you flee
Flee from your home and into my life
This place where people come to die
This is the last pit stop to hell
But I’m not the devil’s henchman
And you are not an angel of the lord
The impurities stain both our bodies
Don’t be scared of the dark.
You know you want to go in

A Little Tilt to the Left


A little out of touch
A little loose on the edge
A little far from home
A small small cry for help
And a little hope for love
For all the things lost in this world

She bends on her curves
And she breaks by her bones
She waits by her bed
For her lover that comes with the light
She cries when in her arms
She watches dawn come and go

Some ways above board
Some parts a dying heart
Some of the time a raging flood
Somewhere in the night, an empty shell
But always an aching need
For all that love couldn’t give

Her hopes and her despairs
In his eyes that plead
Her pain that he bears
Her fingers that feel  
His welcoming heart
Against her dying one

Stay Stay Stay

 The city in the evening was a nightmare. Especially to him. He did not quite like being touched. By anyone. His skin would freeze up against his bones and he felt almost assaulted. Then here were people, albeit with ignorant intention, shoving into him and pushing him around as he cleared the streets and headed towards his bus terminal. They seemed to be an awful lot of them today. A Friday evening. He felt himself die a little every time he walked into a rough, uninvited shoulder bump. Ten minutes after he had left the office, he heard the sound of his phone ringing in the breast pocket of his leather jacket. He was just turning into the paved walks outside The Kenya National Archives. He thought about ignoring the call, heading to the caution that comes naturally after you’ve had one or two phones snatched out of your hands in places as crowded as this. But he also felt like it could be important. After all nobody ever called him just to say hi. So he looked around and saw a somewhat safe spot outside a fashion store where a bunch of students in all their attention seeking attires had decided to cluster. He only took out the phone and answered it when his back was safely against the walls of the building. The people traffic continued like a haze in front of his eyes.

“Hey grandma, are you okay.”

“Come home now, Andrew. I’m dying!”

Her voice was a rash and urgent whisper that should have at least shocked him. And it would have, were it not the fourth time he was hearing her say that in as many months. She was dying, of course. Slowly. All of us are just slowly dying, he thought, but in her case they knew what was killing her. She had been living with the disease for about fifteen years. But she was not dying today, he told himself. Just calm her down and it will be alright.

“It’s okay grandma, I’m on my way home right now. You’ll be okay,”

“Kuja haraka!”

She hung up.

He stood there feeling mildly irritated and for a second, he considered delaying on purpose. He could not allow himself to be manipulated like that but he also knew that she was a 72 year old woman and her delusions inevitably overlapped into her sense of the real world. He had also promised his mother that he would take care of her. So he put back his phone and started to walk again, his paces now in perfect sync with the rest of the world. He did not seem to notice any shoulders that pushed him around anymore. Probably because none did anymore for he only had but a hint of concern in his mind. Thirty minutes later, the matatu he was in was just turning the roundabout at Nyayo stadium and into Lang’ata road. He checked the time on his phone and found himself hoping of there would be little or no traffic. But it was just after six p.m and he knew only the best of luck had him in Kiserian before eight.


He sat by the window on the right side of the vehicle and leaned his head lightly against it. He felt exhausted. The traffic turned out to be a little bit bearable and in the stillness that he had found, he felt a little pinch of anxiety start to creep in. And with it, came a restlessness that would not allow him to sleep. He turned in his seat to pull out a pair of entangled earphones from the back pocket of his black pants, brushing against the naked arm of the breastfeeding woman next to him. He started to murmur an apology but her eyes were closed and she looked even more tired than he felt. The baby in her arms was sleeping silently too.  Undoubtedly coxed by the nipple in her mouth. He felt a little envious of their rest as he plugged the earphones into his phone and ears then settled to watch the evening yellow lights slowly pass by outside.

He tried not to think about his grandmother and failed. There was that little voice inside his head that kept shaking around, whispering, what if this was it? What if the time had finally come for her and he was going to be left all alone, once again? The low and heavy growls of Paradise Lost in his ears seemed to add to the sense of impending doom that suddenly overcame him. He closed his eyes tightly and tried to will his mind into submission. But calm had long since deserted him.


When he checked his phone for the time again, it was twenty minutes to nine p.m and he was sitting in a skillfully crafted wooden armchair in their home verandah. It was a delightfully warm January night and there was an occasional draught that raised the hairs on his skin and tasted a little like dust. His grandmother was propped up against the arm of a low sofa next to him, covered to her waist in a beautiful African leso. She did not look frail or weak. She just seemed so small with her legs stretched out briefly in front of her. The scarf on her head was pushed back a little, exposing the few strands of grey hair that looked like her eyes. There was a sort of unsettling feeling in her chi He had found her there and she’d said that the house suffocated her. They lived alone on about an acre of family land. The overhead light bulb stuck out in the darkness and shone upon them almost affectionately. She looked into the night and began to speak, slowly


“You have to leave this place Andrew. The minute I am gone you should too. Really, you should have left four years ago when your mother died but I know I kept you here and for that I am sorry. I was weak and I dreaded losing you to the world the way I had lost her. But this place is dangerous now. Your home has turned into hunting ground for its children and I’m afraid for you. There is so much hatred and resentment in this place Andrew.”

She lingered on that last sentence for a little bit and then sighed and turned her face to his. He saw that she bore in her eyes the strain that she kept from her voice. Something terribly sad had passed behind them and lingered, swallowing him too. But nevertheless, she continued.

“Your uncles and cousins are poisoned. They are bitter and they will not stop until they get this land. I have held them off for as long as I could but I’m dying my son. And they know that. They’ll come after you and they will take everything.”

A small pause. Then another sigh. Then her voice was low and hollow and broke his heart.

“I have failed terribly. I alienated them. I made them feel worthless and now you will be the one to suffer. I should have let them have a little bit of it.” She seemed to be talking to herself more than she was to him as her gaze once again left his face and fell on her covered feet.

“But none of that matters now. There’s nothing left for you here anyway. Quit that job and go. I know you hate it. We both know it. Quit it tomorrow and get your camera and some clothes and all that money in my bedroom and go. Go see the world. I have a friend in Mombasa. I already told him to expect you so don’t even think about saying no. Go and never come back. I don’t want you to get consumed with that fleeting feeling of home that once in a while blinds you. This is not your home anymore. This is just a house with a lot of painful memories.”

She stopped and took in a long breath. He had not interrupted once. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the pillow then sunk deep into the sofa. He couldn’t speak for a moment as all the things she said and all the things he had known sailed through his mind. He felt her hand touch his on his right knee and looked at her face. With her eyes closed, he could feel the energy seep out of her body. He knew in his heart that she did not have long and a tear dropped on his cheek. He whispered to himself and to her cold hand that he lifted and pressed on his lips. Stay, stay, stay. Over and over again.

He did not hear the front gate open and he did not see the spot lights that approached the verandah in the night. He only looked up when he heard a voice over him.

“Time’s up, son”

A Drop Of Conflict

Once upon a time ago,
I discovered my greatest flaw
It was recognition
I wanted to be recognized
See, I had lived all my life in the shadows of contentment
I needed no more I asked for no less
I was perfect in my little pleasures
The small specks of random admiration
The closed room of a congregation that
Smiled occasionally upon my makeshift brilliance
I thought it was all I needed
That I was free
But then, the truest of me rebelled
That part in me that I could not deceive
That little manufacturer of guilt
Restlessness crept in
Doubt caved in all around me
And the smoke from the rubble chocked
The pretend life out of my breath
And while I fought through self destruction,
Recognition floated with a halo and glided in the air above me
Like a savior from the Old Testament
Its light glowed and I knew it was
My Savior

So when I was whole again,
Cleansed of all the stains,
I pursued the symbol of my faith.
The instrument of my survival
The forger of my will of stone

But as is the inevitability of the circle of life,
Dictated by the roundness of a universe you cannot control,
It is that seasons come to an end,
Only to start again
The same doubt that I thought I had buried in the past,
Rose from the depths its tombs
And made me question again
I had sought a flaw
And thought myself perfect
I had destroyed peace
For a drop of conflict
And I had called it


Eveything Has Changed

The light on the balcony shone white rays into the bedroom through the cream curtains on the window. It was just a little past midnight on a Monday night and he could not sleep. It was not an uncomfortable night either. The temperature was just right and the streets below them were quiet. It was some a subtle uneasiness that had found a way into his head, into his body and into his heart. He felt a familiar kind of strangeness. For the better part of an hour, he had watched the way the light fell on the door and bounced off the aluminum doorknob in different positions on his side of the bed. He was careful when shifting not to wake her up, as she slept softly by his side. With her back gently by his side and her left hand curved in a v beneath her face. Her right hand was resting on her side, the fingertips feeling the seven month bump in her stomach. He would look at her resting frame occasionally during that hour and he would be calm. Lost in the beauty that seemed to take away all anxiety that shadowed him. The pregnancy had been a surprise to them both but surprises don’t last long. After a month of doubt and nights of heart griping fear, here they were, already used to the baby they decided to keep. But as the reality of childbirth slowly crept in, the anxiety came back, along with it.

He made his mind up and started to slowly get out from under the covers. He felt her squirm a little in her sleep as the cold took his place against her skin. As he stood up, he made sure she was all covered up and then he remained there for a minute. In his boxers and t-shirt, with his toes in the cozy rug, he looked like a black hole in the shadow. He felt like reaching into her stillness and loosing themselves in it. He felt her light shining at the shores of his troubled depths. It would all be alright as long as they were alright. He turned slowly and made his way to the living room.


The living room was in complete darkness. He felt around the wall and switched on the softer side lights on the adjacent walls. He closed the door behind him and walked across the floor straight to the kitchen. He passed an impressive layout for such a small apartment. There seemed to be a strange sense brown in the whole place. The polished wooden furniture and the huge painting by the window on the opposite wall were largely responsible for this. It screamed modesty and beauty. He walked into the kitchen and then stopped at the sink to fill a glass of water. He stood by that sink window and drank slowly, feeling no taste of it. He watched the road below him, lit dimly by a lone street light at a corner. There was no sign of life outside. He felt himself sigh. He turned and sat on one of the two raised seats at the small kitchen table that absorbed some light from the living room, glowing. He opened the laptop computer on the table and booted it up as he took another sip of the water. Out of habit more than need. He stared at the screen and thought about all the things running through his mind. He thought of the things he couldn’t say to her and the way they weighed on him. He thought of all the things that he wanted for his little daughter. He thought of all the ways he was unsuitable to raise a child. And he thought he could write about them.

He clicked on the Notepad icon on his desktop and waited, thinking of some order to his jumbled up thoughts. Three minutes later, he was staring at the blinking cursor on the white background that invited him in and waited patiently. He knew it was a fruitless hope. He could not write like this. So he thought of the next best thing and turned on the webcam. It did not blink as he started recording and he stared into the red light and began to speak.


“For the longest time, I have taken for granted the fact that I never really had a father. I thought it was just one of those things that were and could not be changed. And because I was so young when he was taken from us, my perception of him remained just sort of an incomplete feeling. This helped the process of disregarding the reality and importance of the father. My mom tried with me, fact, she did more than try. She did it the best way she knew how. I was pointed to father figures and I was gently probed towards male role models. And most times than not, she was both my father and my mother. But I was different then. My anxiety was more violent in the way that it affected my actions. I did not see the need and I definitely did not need that kind of pressure. Because family is pressure. And I was so young. I was so lost and I did not know I was lost. I thought I knew exactly how I felt about the world.”

He took a small pause to take a breath before continuing. He could feel the flow coming.

“And then you gave me this little gift that completely overwhelms me. Every time I think about that little life that grows inside of you I feel like my life finally makes sense. I feel like this is what it was all about. It feels like all the roads I have taken in my life have led to this moment. All my time to this stilling and all my pain to this healing. I look at you and you look so beautifully happy and I want to cry because for the first time ever, I have given someone so much. And you have given me even more to be happy about baby. You have made it all shine again. But with this bliss, there follows a distant uncomfortableness that sticks like a patch in my delight. Then slowly fear creeps in too and suddenly there is a thousand little what if’s. Then I finally figured it out. My own father. The person I was becoming in less than two months and by scientific definition, the person I already was. And I know that deep within me, all these uncertainties would have been bearable if he was still around. Or if I had an influence like his on my life. And then I miss him so much. Which is weird, because you cannot miss something you never had.”

He noticed that he had begun to pick a pace and a pitch with his words and he thought he should probably talk a little slower and more silently. He did not want to wake her up. So he continued, as soft as he had started out.

“But I cannot do anything about that now and the reality is I am going to be a father real soon. So I am going to have to go about it the best way I know, and I feel how. So I want to promise you something honey. I want to promise that I will be as loyal to our little girl as Jesus is loyal to God. I am going to make up things as I go along…”

He stopped suddenly as he heard the sharp honk of a car from the other side of the building. It was a late tenant asking for the gates to the apartment buildings to be opened. And he thought, as we all do, that someone else would get it. The second and third honks however, came in quick succession and a scream followed.

“Nisaidieni! Wezi!”

He startled out the chair and fumbled for the keys on the table in a sudden panic. He rushed to the bedroom and saw that she was still peacefully out. He then threw on a long trench coat and proceeded to open the door and walked outside. He banged on his neighbor’s doors a couple of times as he rushed down the single flight of stairs, fumbling for the key to the main gate. As he came to the ground floor and turned into the parking lot that covered most of it, he saw the night watchman fumbling at the gate, while the headlights of the car that had kept on honking shone through the spaces. He half ran and half walked towards the gate, seeking to help, the sandals on his feet making a sound that was drowned out by the now incessant honking. Then he heard the unmistakable sound of a car charging forward just as the watchman began to pull the gate away. The car leapt forward and pushed open rest of the gate, throwing the watchman clear over a short distance.

It was coming at him like a light bomb, fast and bright. He did not once notice the sound of braking tires on the floor as it hit him on the side of his stomach when he tried to dodge away.