HOME IS A CASTLE OF STORIES

MEETING MAGUNGA



My first attempts at writing happened when I was in class three. I remember scribbling letters to my Mum, Dad and brothers. I don’t recall if it was a class project or toddler experimentation. But that image of a class three me, conjuring words on an exercise book, sticks, vivid, like it was yesterday.

After that, I went into a literary coma. I don’t remember writing anything. Other than compositions about weddings going sour and kidnappings or bank robbers. I enjoyed writing those compositions. In class seven, I made an attempt at writing a novel. Fourteen chapters it was, captured in a 200-page exercise book. The book got lost, with my first draft. I rarely think of it. I wonder how the class seven me wrote?

High school came along. And here is where the seed of writing was truly sown. If I had attended a different high school, chances are I couldn’t be a writer. Kapsabet high school made. I found myself in this class with loads of wannabe writers and poets. Dreamers. Young boys, all of us talking about Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo, John Grisham, Jackie Collins, and William Butler Yeats and John Milton. This were the guys we were reading. Other folks would be alienated in our bullshit, teenage intellectual discourse. Quoting Shakespeare and feeling like some spectacled professors in Oxford.

The real reason I gravitated towards writing in high school, my grades were awful. I managed to get into law school but I think I could have done better. As a way of running away from mole concepts, I wrote poetry and commentary on high school life. I was on a fly, each time I would hold the pen. I felt home, I belonged. When we were doing KCSE, in the afternoons, I would sit in class and write some short story collection, which I later misplaced. While other muggers were furiously revising, I was banging copy.

Before campus, I spent almost six months in Kisii. This were blank moments, lost time. A lot happened. I got a certificate as a certified website designer, but I can’t build a website to save my life. Those classes were in the afternoon. Whenever I went, I would be mildly drunk or high. And when the peer pressure was right, I would be on the other side of town, shooting pool or PlayStation. Yet my parents forked out 5k so that I can earn to build websites. Looking back, it was grossly unfair to my parents.

Around this time, I was reading a lot and posting short writings on my blog. A friend sent me a link to Magunga’s blog. I read the first story and had that feeling of discovering home. I thought to myself, this are the kind of stories I want to be writing. I would spend the rest of my time on Magunga’s blog, feeding the storytelling monster. While I had been writing for a long time, I was yet to find a part of the craft where I belonged. Reading Magunga gave my writing form.

I joined law school.

Now, I wasn’t interested in law school. Only that after looking at my grades, it seemed like the only course I could take. After two law classes, I checked out. That wasn’t for me. I was extremely active in those two law classes. And whenever I run into guys, they ask me why I left, yet I seemed to understand the law so well. First, I was only active because I did not want to sleep. Second, I am a noisy guy, and if people are talking, I will join the conversation.  I’m not used to watching from the sidelines. 

I walked out of law school.

My dad was calm about it. He’d told me before to do a media thing, but I had ignored him. My mum went nuclear. She’d told everyone about her son becoming a lawyer, and here I was running out of law school. She ignored me for some time. My uncles convened a kangaroo court to help salvage the situation. A member of the bloodline had to be a lawyer.


Thus, I went back to law school again. Then left again. This were months filled with confusion. But what made me leave law school completely was this email from a brand. They were requesting I endorse them on my young blog (remember I am still using blogspot). That email opened up a world of possibilities, I thought to myself, there’s something here. We never got to work though, what they were offering was plainly disrespectful. And even though I was hanging on to life, I wasn’t going to pick up crumbs. Where I come from, you either eat good food or you die. I wasn’t going to beg. But that email lit a fire in me. If I kept at this, then something might just pop up. So, I quit law school, for good.

I talked to other writers about it and Magunga’s response has stayed with me. A guiding light in this testing waters of choosing between a mainstream career and making noise on the internet. He replied to me on facebook.  With newfound vigour, I wrote more. Words of encouragement are underrated. Trust me, when someone you look up to fires you up, you can go on and on.

A year down the line, I have been lucky. I have made a few coins from writing. I have been to a few places around Nairobi, where I couldn’t have been there doing anything else. I’ve met CEOs and shared a little, made friends, lost friends, this couldn’t have happened without writing. Months ago, my article appeared in The Daily Nation (My Network). I remember going to the Nation-building to meet the editors, it all felt so surreal. I couldn’t believe it that the boy from a forgotten village in Kisii was seated across from The Daily Nation editors. I was blown away. A photographer stood on the far reaches of the room, taking photos.

Thus, when I saw the poster on Magunga’s twitter that he would be speaking to a group of Rotarians, I knew I had to attend. Maybe this was my only opportunity to meet this giant who influenced my writing.

I arrived at Bihi towers at around seven. And there he was, flesh and blood, talking to this crowd of almost forty. He had a kitenge shirt, a black khaki, and black shoes. A Shambala dangled lazily on his left arm, I have no idea how it read. Three wisps of hair marked his chin, like dotted acacia trees in a desert. He had a small pauch. The white cap he so praises was doing its job.

I guy offered me his seat, it was right beside Magunga’s, his voice roaring through the room. I pinched myself, Yaani this was Magunga. I felt like jumping and hugging him, luckily, I controlled myself. I wonder what those Muthaiga Rotarians could have thought of me. They were a self-assured crowd, in their early twenties to early thirties. Their faces screamed of youth and vitality. Beautiful chicks, handsome young men. They would ask questions. I sat there, reeking of Rongai dust. It was fun though, the whole interaction, regards to the Muthaiga Rotary club for organising such a function, to more of such, blessings.

I took a photo with Magunga, sent it to my mum, who asked if he was a college mate. Hell no, this was one of the fellas defining the modern-day writing space in Kenya. That photo is a relic. A watermark, that at one point in my life, I stood beside greatness.

I left Bihi towers around eight-thirty in the night. Elated and tired in the same measure. Moi avenue was bustling with life. Two hot chicks hugged in front of me, partying ways and promising to call each other. I thought to myself, how I hate goodbyes.

Sabina Joy was open for business. Of course, she is the true face of Nairobi.

Street families were curling up for the night. I saw this woman and two toddlers. One corralled in her lap while the other played beside her. The sight of them, under the lights, the rest of us humanity walking on, broke my heart. I wonder, who fathered those kids? What could he be doing at this moment?

I jumped to a Rongai bound Nganya. Deafening music rocking it’s interior. If you board silent buses while riding to Rongai, you’re missing out on a whole experience. Trust me, there’s something healing about the rowdy Ongataline. The music, the glittering interior, how they navigate traffic, cutting through air like timeless beasts.

The silence of my bedsitter greeted me.



6 comments:

  1. I'm happy writing is doing you good but it's important you finish your law degree or enroll and do something you like.Education is important. Ask Magunga,he will tell you so

    ReplyDelete
  2. fantastic read, i loved the word choice, theme and tone in your writing. Magunga is a real gem. He's witty and inspires

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your writing is growing by the day.kinasisi is going to be the next bikozulu.And more of that.You have inspired me.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice piece,seems I have been left behind in terms of reading,guess law school is the cause๐Ÿ˜‚

    ReplyDelete

Your thoughts?

© All rights reserved. Kinasisi. 2020