Love Is A Poor Man’s Menu

Last week I got wind that my friend was unwell. I called to wish her quick recovery, but also to tell her to hold on a little longer, if she was keen on dying, because if she died, chances are I would not be among the 15 people present in her burial. On the second ring, someone with a masculine voice answered and said, “She can’t talk right now, can you call back later, please?” I said sure and then waited for a minute before calling again. “Who are you?” he said he was her boyfriend and kwani who was I? I said I am her friend and then hang up. I knew I left him with more questions than answers and was waiting for him to call back and say, “Ati you are her friend? What kind of friend, if you don’t mind?” and I would say, “The kind she can’t fart in his presence,” and then we would have a brawl over the phone which would end with him threatening me and I would say, “You can’t do me nothing, bwana, kwani who do you think you are?”

But he did not call.

Later that evening my friend called. She sounded weak but insisted she was feeling better. I wished her the best, and then asked about the guy who answered her phone. “Is it true he is your boyfriend?” she laughed and said, “Yes, but can we talk about it on another day?”

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From Kisii With… Witchcraft? 

“Why do Luhyas have to be so strange? I mean, they eat locusts, can’t have any other thing for dinner but Ugali, and the worst of all, they must marry more than one wife! What’s wrong with these people?” A friend of my friend’s girlfriend wondered loudly before sipping her whisky. She was in a red off the shoulder dress that showed no cleavage but which enhanced her massive breasts, standing on her chest like an impending calamity. She had a dimple on her left cheek and her tiny nose stood out. It’s like it didn’t want to be there. Or it did not want to be a nose in the first place. Perhaps it wanted to be the forehead, which is massive, but God said, No, you will be the nose, I already have set aside an acre of a forehead for her.

We were seated in a noisy, dingy club in town, one which horde all the fun. Everyone you see in this club is unhinged. The women here do not sit pretty, cross their legs and dub their lips with a napkin after every sip. No, they dance and shake their butts and sing along to every music that plays. And they are all very beautiful. Not the inner beauty, of course, but the one we can all see and therefore verify.

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Am I Homophobic?

brianmbanacho |

No judgment, but we have men who are turned on by being tickled with a feather under their feet or armpits, preferably a duck’s feather. For others, it’s the sight of their women dressed like a plumber that does the trick. But of all the fetishes people harbour out here, a story about how to wash Sufuria Ya Ugali did not feature on my top list of things that can give a man a boner, but then I do not know people. I posted the story both on my page and Let’s Cook Kenyan Foods Group. It was a hilarious story meant to make people laugh and not teach them anything. As expected, friend requests start streaming in and I did a lousy job of accepting them because I am that lazy.

One man, tired of waiting in line, decided to go a step further because you only get ahead by being extra. Together with his Biblical name, he matched to my inbox and said, “I choose to request to be your friend, after reading your story about sufuria ya ugali!!! imeweza.”

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The Honourables

On the other side of Afueni Hospital, Anna, a bubbly short woman with an air of importance, laughed at something her customer said. Widely known as Mama Ndizi, Anna was popular for her healthy ripe bananas that screamed your name, and her infectious, cackling laughter that had a pause to it. Those interacting with her for the first time always thought her laughter had morphed into a yawn, only to be surprised by her final stretch of roaring laughter that left her chest heaving and shoulders rocking as if she were in a traditional dance. It was foolish laughter, some said, the kind that made one laugh at their mother’s funeral. Long after her funny customer had gone and she was adjusting her white head wrap, a boda-boda flew past, leaving a trail of floating dust. Anna cursed loudly in her mother tongue, blaming the rider’s mother for giving
birth to such a useless son.

‘I wonder why she insisted on keeping him,’ she said, as if she had been present when the boy was born and had even suggested he be buried together with his placenta to save the world from his impending foolishness.

Agnes smiled. She was watching Anna from her ward’s small window, enthused by how she was able to switch moods like unpredictable weather. The woman belonged to the acting theatre, she thought, yet here she was, wasting her time inhaling dust from the roadside. After a while, Agnes turned to her husband who sat with his face buried in his hands. They had not uttered a word to each other, but she did not need anyone to tell her what she already knew.

‘Sweetheart,’ she mumbled with great difficulty, ‘we will try again.’

Juma raised his head to look at her. Across his face, a feigned smiled tried to conceal the sadness he was caked in. He reached over and placed his palm over her hand. ‘Now is not the time’ he said, ‘let’s focus on your health and worry about other things later. Besides, I still believe God’s time is the best. He will give us children at His own time.’

He spoke as softly as only he could, but the words did nothing to comfort her. It would have been a great idea for God to prevent her from falling pregnant if the time was not right, rather than “blessing” her womb with a baby and then taking it away just as the joy of motherhood started knocking on her door. If the timing was not right, He should not have allowed her to fall pregnant the second time and then the third time, knowing too well the fate that befell her first pregnancy sat on a stool waiting. She could not claim to know all that God knew, but she was sure God was aware of more polite and less painful ways to let them know it was not yet time for them to be parents.

But she was not ready to discuss God, His timing and methods; for Juma was a staunch believer who despised anyone who questioned God and His ways. She instead nodded in agreement, faced the other way and shut her eyes to discourage the tears from welling up. She could not help but worry about the fate of her marriage. Juma was being easy and understanding now, but soon the words of his relatives would get to him and he would change his mind. He would forget his belief that children came from God and start demanding to know why she was unable to keep a pregnancy. It was hard to imagine her loving husband of five years giving her a hard time because of her miscarriages, but she knew every man had a breaking point.

She was admitted for three days. On the evening she was discharged….

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The Honourables

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The Deal-Breaker

I know of men who claim the size of a woman’s ass is a deal-breaker for them, but the same men will salivate at a woman’s big ass only to take off once they notice one of her upper incisor teeth is too big for her to shut her mouth. Or men who say if a woman is light-skinned he will pita with her even if her boobs are the size of pastor Ngang’as brain, only to take off on realizing she has crooked eyes so, to see what’s on the West, she faces East.

Anyway…

I went into this club to have one or two for the road. I hadn’t touched alcohol in a while and wasn’t going to but I was stressed because my phone needs fixing and this fundi everyone had described as the best iPhone fundi, and who always seemed like he had ants biting his buttocks, had said, “I tried my best. There’s nothing I or anyone else can do.”

It was devastating because now all the nudes on my phone were gone? Haha? Because, let’s face it, unless you are Bakari, you don’t backup nudes. You just don’t do that. I needed to forget about that phone for a minute and alcohol was going to deliver results. I had had a couple of beers when I looked to my right and saw this lady in a short black dress. She had really brown thighs, and I say really brown thighs because even her face, still brown, wasn’t that brown. I must have stared at her thighs for far too long because when I looked up I met her curious face.

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Mama’s Boy

He had long noticed how her forehead wrinkled and mouth frothed whenever he talked about his mother, but he thought nothing of it. Or if he did, he said nothing of it. Why would he when not even once had a kangaroo court been convened to settle a feud between his wife and mother? Why would he when he and his wife slept and woke up under the sometimes moody sometimes bright Nairobi Sky, while his mother yawned all the way in Shinyalu, wrapping her head with a white wrapper before milking her cow, Rose?

He decided not to fix something that wasn’t broken until last December when she told him she didn’t want to tag along to Christmas in shags. He was in the shower when she said this. At first, he wasn’t sure she was talking to him so he stopped scrubbing his buttocks and, with squinted eyes, asked, “Are you talking to me?”

“Yes.”

“What did you say?”

“That I am not feeling this idea of going to your shags for Christmas.”

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9 Daughters

“Where in Nairobi do you live?”

“Pardon?”

“You said you are from Nairobi, right?”

“Right.”

“No offence but I am struggling to believe you. So if you don’t mind, can you tell me where exactly in Nairobi do you live?”

“I am from Nairobi, believe me.”

“Only after you tell me the name of your estate.”

Watching this exchange between the caterer and this middle-aged woman depressed and tickled me at the same time. The caterer, a tall dark skinned woman in an orange shirt and black jeans, had a no-nonsense face because if you attempt to feed mourners with a smiley face they will eat you alive. The woman she was picking a bone with had no legs to stand on. She was obviously not from Nairobi. All she wanted was food and seeing as the line for ordinary village folks was not moving, she and a battalion of other hungry moaners decided to join the Nairobi queue and now they were being called out for it.

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The Writing On The Wall

The writing was on the wall. In black and white. You couldn’t miss it even with squinted eyes, but Mariam believed in focusing on the good side of humans. So for a long time, five years to be exact, she looked past the constant beatings her boyfriend unleashed on her. They were so many, these beatings; she had to recount the major ones otherwise Java would have offered to lock us in as everyone went home. She told me of the day she visited his house only to find five condoms when she left ten, and when she confronted him he offered nothing but a resounding slap across her cheek.

“I have told you before, you just don’t use that tone on me,” he retorted. “There’s a way you talk to me!”

He’s a Kalenjin man, born and raised to be the Alpha male. He wears his rage on his sleeve and he never shies from unfolding his sleeve to set free his rage. She understood him even when she didn’t have to. She apportioned some blame on herself and with that, dusted herself off, smiled and continued to love him the way an ‘African’ woman should.

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My Husband Was The Other Guy

brianmbanacho |

When she met her husband, Metrine was still mending a broken heart. Her first love, the man she met in her first year on campus and whom she dated up to two years after their graduation, was not only a drunkard but abusive. He turned her into his punching bag and because he was her first love, the man she lost her virginity to, she held on to this broken relationship until he knocked her up and gave her the one thing she doesn’t regret about that relationship—her daughter.

You would imagine that with the entry of their daughter, her boyfriend would think maybe it was time he changed his ways. But turned out he is not the guy you place in front of the camera and ask him questions about how fatherhood changed him because he has no inspiring story to tell. He continued beating her, occasionally threatening to kill their daughter. One day he took their baby to a pub and showed her off to his fellow drunkards like you would a trophy. Metty’s male friends came together and after minutes of foreheads touching and whispering, they decided to corner her boyfriend and proceeded to give him a beating of his life. From there on, he never touched her again. But even that was not enough to keep her in that relationship. She left.

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Ebeneza

It’s my fault, really. I should have known with a name like Ebeneza, the services in this Barber Shop will be mediocre. I know… I know… It’s a Biblical name that shows how the business is grounded and aligned to the word of the Lord, but no serious trade names themselves Ebeneza, unless they offer Repentance and Healing services, which I wasn’t looking for at that time. When the barber was done with me and suddenly my neck looked longer and the remaining patch of hair on my head resembled that of a Kulukulu (Bata Mzinga), I knew I was fucked. I watched him shift his weight to his right leg and tilt his head in a manner suggesting he was proud of what he had done.

“Boss, I was hoping to walk out of this place looking sharper and dapper. Now I just look like a Kulukulu that’s hit menopause.”

“Excuse me?”

“No, you excuse me. What the fuck have you done to my hair?”

“It looks nice, what are you talking about?”

I was looking at him in the mirror but now I had to turn to face him. He is a short, muscled man, wearing grey sweatpants hauled to the knees, a floral jacket and a beenie. He is also wearing flipflops and my first impression of him was that he tried to be a gym instructor but all his clients ended up looking like Johnny Bravo and so he was fired.

“It looks nice? You think with this hairstyle a girl would agree to marry me? What kind of dreams do you think I will have at night?”

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