Growing up, Josh was a happy kid. All kids are happy. Whether in Kibera or Kile, kids don't mind. Oblivious of their surrounding, before the world pumps it's poison, life goes on an even keel. Suddenly, life happens, it unleashes it's fangs. Children are transformed into young adults, slowly, the world begins taking shape. They start bombarding parents with questions lacking answers.

"Why do Kina Bob have car? Why don't we have one too? Daddy, si we buy a car too?"

It's asked with innocence, but carrying with it  a childish envy. A kid finally becoming part of the world.

Josh never asked such questions. He never gave a damn, why should he? His father had the biggest guzzler around. Each morning he was dropped from school, picked up in the evening. Other kids used the school bus but God forbid Jack uses the school bus.

"You might get an infection."

His mom always said.

Primary school flew past without incident. While boys and girls his age were experimenting with their first crushes, he was experimenting with PlayStation. You can't blame him really. He says that he liked girls,  but somehow, girls didn't show any interest in him. He was around fourteen then, he didn't give a hoot!

"To hell with girls, PlayStation was the true prince."

Highschool happened.

High-schools are not mini prisons, I am never for that colloquial. It's in them that people discover themselves, their bodies. What they want in life, who they admire, who they hate and such. It's in high school I decided that I'm going to be a writer, I have never looked back. It opens you to the realities of life. Opens you to people. Good people, bad people, savage people. Goons who don't give a monkey's ass about what you feel. Spoilt brats who make fun of you at any instant. He had never thought of himself as fat, he thought he was just okay. But naah! He was in for a rude shock.

"On reporting day, I was assigned to sleep  above a certain form four. When he come to the hostels, guy tore right through me with his words."

"Fella, you're too heavy. You might collapse on me at night. There's no way you're sleeping above me. Find another place."

I don't know if you can, but I do smell the brutality of those words. The wounds they caused as they cut through Josh. Reminding him that he was heavy, he was fat. Making him alive to the reality that he was different.

The battle began.The self depreciation, viewing himself as nothing. He would sit in class but wouldn't understand shit. All ringing on his mind was,  "kwani how fat? I'm  I? "

Teachers mocked him, students toyed with him, called him names. "Baby elephant." Inquiring whether he swallowed his food without chewing?? Or how he did it? Even cooks would whisper when he passed. Security men would giggle while searching him. It was hell.

Somehow he could deal with that but then, girls happened. Men can deal with any kind of rejection, but not rejection from the ladies. I mean that hurts as shit. In funkies as people bonded and made out, our hero would hide himself as in the hostels. Only showing his skin when the coast was clear. When the girls had left. He felt worthless, he thought of committing suicide. Getting a bomb and blowing all those motherfuckers who made fun of him to hell.

All this time, the rugby coach had been watching.

"That man changed my life. He took me out of this massive hole and set me in light. Changed how I viewed myself, told me I could do it. And trust me, nothing does wonders like when someone has such a strong belief in you. When somebody, sees something in you, beneath all those layers of fat. And he doesn't care where you're from or who you're. All he wants is to make something out of you. He said that in me he saw a ember, which if fanned correctly, would burst into an inferno."

A fire of fires. And boy! He did burst into a fire.

Gradually, he started working  out. Going for morning  runs, training with rugby players and such. Their was no noticeable change. At times he thought of giving up. Remain fat and all rounded up. Kwani didn't fat people go to heaven. Would angels rub out his name in the book  of life just because he weighed more than everybody. Would Satan say.

"Hey you fat boy, if you've been rejected in heaven what makes you think you'll  find sanctuary here. Hell is not for fat people. Off you go. Don't  set foot here again, you might extinguish the furnace. Please  just leave, we have too much garbage. Please let us burn in peace."

Somehow, I picture him walking out of hell and I laugh. There he is, our hero. All fattened up, trudging slowly, tired. I'm  making fun of all this, but guy must have been devastated. Sick with rejection.

Life rolled on. He continued doing  his thing. Waking at 5 am. While the rest of the world slept, he was out in the gym, grinding.

"And see, the thing with most people is that nobody wants you to change. They all want you to remain stuck in the same place. They don't want  to see you progress, they think you're becoming better and it really chews them up. They continued taunting. Telling me I couldn't  do it. Calling me names, "Taxi". And all kinds your imagination can conjure. The secret is that I blocked out all that outside noise.

I did my thing, silently, alone. There were tears, lonely nights, cold mornings and in the end, it was worth it. There is  saying that when you hang around a Barber shop, soon or later you're going get an haircut. I did catch my break.

All those hours started paying off. My body changed, more muscle showed. People who used to walk straight ahead when they saw me, started smiling. Girls who never talked to me in the hood now did meek "hellos" and grinned like damned rabbits. It taught me the most important lesson about humans."

And what was that? 

How can put it. See, most people want the finished you. The shelf you, the perfect product. They don't want to hang in there when you're down. When you're nothing, when you're pure crap and all you have is your dick in your arms. That which pushes you is a dream or a vision of better days. Few people want that, but now when your dream starts taking shape. Suddenly you're in the mix. You're the minaret of attention, people say hi in the hall ways. People say goodnight, you get calls inquiring how you're doing. They somehow want to  know how you did it. Nobody blueticks you anymore. It's all fucking smoke and mirrors. You start appearing on WhatsApp status and Instagram stories. I don't know what... Blah blah blah. It's disgusting, but that's our society and we can't fight it."

I happen  to go to the gym each morning, and there I run into Josh. I told him I'll do a story and he was like.

"It's fine."

He is a man of few words. Smiles a lot though and makes sure you're doing the right thing. He always comes up to me.

"Don't put that arm that way. Don't put your legs far apart. You skipped yesterday, today go do the treadmill."

Here I always balk. Like God why? Why dear God did you give me such a fitness instructor? Must I do the damned treadmill? I don't like running. I don't even like treadmills furthermore, how that machine looks, how it sounds. But then Josh always encourages, pushes you to the limit because it's for your own good at the end. Thank you Josh.

The gym is a smorgasbord of dreams, wishes and blurry imaginations. There people who've come in to cut weight, others wanna to have bulging muscles. Some just want to keep fit. Guys like me just show up because we have nothing important to do. Because I'm curious of what goes in there and I'm always in search of a story.

It's a place which reeks of tales. Most are unsaid but you can smell them. How some ladies walk in, overweight, short of confidence and the works.

They start working out. Josh works his magic on them and a smile always shows at the end of each session.

One small observation.

Josh always takes the ladies for a "private session" in a certain backroom.Nobody is privy to what happens, but they all emerge happy. Smiling like NYS looters with no fucking worry in the world. It should be investigated, what Josh does to the ladies back there. Honestly, let's say my girl comes to work out. Ahem! Yes, my girl. There's no way I'll allow her to have a private session with Josh. I must be there to watch. To see what really goes on behind those closed doors. You can never trust men. Never. More so men like Josh.

Those sessions work magic though. The ladies emerge better. Lively, more confident to take on the world and workout more.

All in all, going to the gym can work wonders for you. It makes you feel good about yourself. Lighter, unburdened. For men, it makes your heart stronger and boosts your libido as blood rushes to  all parts of your system. More so the mjuols, you don't wanna be in the heat of the moment but then, your mjuols can't rise to the occasion. So get up, work out. Then go hit it right. For ladies, hit the gym too. There are some weird exercises which can help to firm up your ass and help you have a flat tummy. There are reports from some sources that it can make you tighter. That is unconfirmed. The gym though, can't help your boobs. There's this urban saying, "there's no hope for fallen breasts." Ho ho ho! Sorry, but the gym can't help in that department. A plastic surgery maybe.

I have few questions though?

Why do gym instructors somehow think that they have made it in life? That they have worked out so much? That they're so huge? That they are the toughest negroes around? You should see how they strut around the gym. Arms akimbo or the pocket. Sniffing the air, occasionally telling you to do this or that.

"Don't do it that way. Do it this way...Ah si hivyo Osoch. I said this way."

Oh please! The gyms might be your dens, but just let us be.

*Names have been changed.

Photo credits [sao.nelson on Instagram] provided by @gymshark .

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