HOME IS A CASTLE OF STORIES

FINAL LANE

This past weekend I ran into my grandfather. And I'm not saying that with tongue in cheek. Like I was in 1824 hammering Jameson, on the rocks, then out of the blues my Grandpa shows up.

"Osoch, kumbe you're also here. Is this what you we sent to do in Nairobi? Huh! Hapa ndio utapata degree?"

In my drunken haze I jump to hug him. Guy is freaking tall, he dwarfs KPLC posts . And despite his advanced age, his back is still straight, like a eucalyptus. He has been a fit man all his life. He used to ride a black mamba back in the days, in recent years he graduated to a TVS motorcycle. Age caught up with him and you can't ride a bike that long. Your muscles become wasted, they take time to heal. Your youthful energy and vigour starts to waver. He's good on his bike though and trust me, despite age issues, he can out ride those Moto GP frauds. The likes of Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez will see dust in his wake.

(Back to meeting him in 1824)

"Don't be like that Grandpa. Let's live for once. I mean drink some. It's all on me, don't hold yourself back. Be a man for once, this is Jameson you know.

"Ati it is all on you. Can you say that about your school fees? Is it on you??"

Here he will say something about God punishing alcoholics and I'll be jolted back to the moment.

Anyway, I was with the geezer for a long time this past weekend and I wonder what it's like to be old. I had all this questions but I couldn't ask them. Because who wants to upset an aging man? You might ask something and he will catch major feelings. Guy may not  talk to you for as long as he lives. He will just be cursing.

"That boy! Silly bastard. How could he be my grandson? There's foul play mahali. Boys from my bloodline don't think that way. Ama nilichezwa?"

Might this be the thoughts of an over 80 years old man. A patriarch who has executed his role in the world perfectly. Raised his family, seen grandchildren like me blossom from diaper shitting bastards to a guy who writes in some peculiar blog. I no longer shit in diapers, but I'm a bastard still. I'm a hustle to be with, I ask silly questions. Questions people struggle to answer, so I didn't want to get my Grandpa in such shoes. I didn't want to ask anything which might antagonize him, or God forbid lead to a heart attack. I can't live with myself after that. I'm a professional question asker. But luckily, I managed to keep  my curiosity under wraps.

The extended family has been at war, we've not been seeing each other eye to eye for sometime now. We meet once a while, share pleasantries and act up like it's all well. But shit ain't that well, we're divided. And this leviathan of an ocean lies between us. It's not inheritance we're battling. Our bone of contention is the biggest deceiver in the universe, LOVE. A monster in its own right, I am not a specialist in matters love, but I always say, tread carefully. It's a savage toying with our hearts.

My grandma passed some years back. I was in class one then. I didn't understand life or death, I don't understand it now, but I cried lakes in her burial. I had no idea what happened, people were crying around me, my mum, my cousins,my uncle's, my everybody except my father. Guy didn't even blink, the iceman. I wasn't going to be a tough cookie like him. I balked like I was being paid. I remember my mum pulling me closer, telling me it's gonna be fine. But I knew it was never going to be fine, I balked more. Death rips us open you know. All those layers we have, are masked open. We become homeless,naked, we're like confused antelopes in the sights of lions. Personally, I don't fear death, it's the aftermath which makes me shit bricks.

After we buried my grandma, we stuck around for a while, grieving, asking God why he took her away. But no answers were forthcoming, only her fresh grave mocking us. I went back to school, life moved on. I never forgot my grandma, I can’t. Now years down the line, I wonder how her death affected my grandpa. To be honest, I don't think it did, not that much. A few moons later, word reached me  that he was scouting for a soul mate. This rocked the family tenfold. There was a united outcry, my mum and my uncles swore that no lady was going set foot  in Grandma’s room. It was pure wrong, against the laws of the church, for christs sake, they had tied the knot in God's presence. Grandpa didn't give a bat’s ass about matrimony in the church, she was dead, she wasn't coming back. And he had needs, so he started dating once more. I wanted to ask him all this,how does dating feel like when you’re in your seventies. Maybe he could share some insights into this uncharted lands. Right now I am in my late teens and the dating scene is one madhouse. People are in it because they wanna seem cool, they want to be seen as the kinky ones. People are in it because they are horny and they want to shag someone's daughter. Few people have a clear plan on whether they have a future or not. Why should we though? We still have time, we can make mistakes and  rise from them again. I had this truckload of questions, but I couldn't ask, so I watched him. A man in his twilight years.

He sat there by the balcony in my aunt’s place and looked to the expanse spreading below him. It was afternoon and all gloomy, the sun is never up in Ngong. Clouds were meshed together in dark congregations and a smattering breeze swooshed by like it had nothing else to do. Such damned breezes. He sat by the balcony for a long time and  never said word. I am not much of a talker either, as he watched the world, I watched him. It was picturestique if you ask me. Two men, one, the curtains are about to be drawn on his life while the other, the curtains are being raised.

I wonder what was streaking through his mind at that instance. Did memories of his boyhood haunt him? Did he regret lying to chicks that he loved them, while he only wanted  to shag them and get on with it. What was truly running  through his mind? Was he proud of the woman that he had married? Or was he mourning some other bird who had never caught his vibe?
He turned to face me and spoke with a measured cadence. Like his voice was the only thing that remained of him. It sounded like an echo, like it was coming from the deep reaches of an ocean. And it passed across to me like a ghost. Floating over chairs, avoiding tables, and it finally got to me.

“Grandson what happened to your hair? You look like a wild animal.”

There was no way I could get back at him. Try to explain that it was just a hairstyle. So I sat, my had bowed as he butchered through me. Telling me how it was unholy to have such a bush on my head.  He talked of how God loves morally upright fellas. Of how I should work hard in college as only education can liberate me. He did not stop there, he admonished me further on wearing bangles on my arm.

“God loves people without fault.”

He went on and on until I felt like a sinner. Like I would burn in hell should the world come to an end. Then he asked me to pass him a bible and I was like Whoa! Whoa! the end is surely here,I’ll get baptized now. But he opened it and began reading in silence, like I was never there. I admired how he could shift his gears seamlessly;moving  from one activity to another without taking prisoners and making people feel like sinners.

Later in the evening my big bro showed up, we are talking media jargon and somehow the stories gravitate towards the Nairobi night life. How media personnels in this city are spoilt brats, always in the thick of things. Whenever there's some shindig going down, you'll find us there, lurking like wolves on the hunt; foraging for stories and imbibing free alcohol. We deserve it though; the free booze. It's not easy to bang out copy every week, telling stories about a boring people in a catchy way. In all this city talk, grandpa seemed distant and ridiculously out of place, this filled me with dread as I thought of aging.

In sixty years time I’ll have grown old, no doubt about that. I would be on my last erections and women wouldn’t be in my radar no more. I’ll be sitting in some deserted house full of books and writing some philosophical bullshit. Or maybe I would have given up writing long ago. It never came through for me and I  would be regretting decisions of my youth. Being around 80 seems like Light years ahead but it's coming for sure, like death and taxes. How will it be? I need a blueprint on how to approach those final years. Will I be afraid of death?  Will I be surprised when my grandchildren talk of their escapades? Will I have turned to God, will I seat by my window each night and read the bible memorizing verses from the new testament?  

Growing old scares me. It scares you too, I'm sure.

Photo credits [ @likerome] on Instagram.

They post epic pictures about Rome. Wonderful architecture merging with top level photography. Thank you likerome.

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