HOME IS A CASTLE OF STORIES

MACONDO FEST X BOOK FAIR



A year and a half ago, I decided to get my life in order. There were no motivational speakers involved, no Joel Osteen quotes. It was a decision, rational and final. That enough was enough, I would no longer lead a hedonistic life. I would only do things that better me. No more being driven by toxic vanity. I haven’t succeeded in all that, most of the time I forget. But one habit I have managed to cling onto for the past many moons. Every Saturday morning, I go to the gym.

This has its downside; I can’t get wasted on Fridays. I can’t have dates on Fridays. I sleep early on Fridays. Most people find it hard to understand this arrangement. “Friday is fun day, but you’re losing it because you want to work out on Saturday. it’s bullshit thinking. You’re throwing your youth away.” My buddy told me.

I don’t blame him. He’s a party animal, I am not. I enjoy clubbing, but it’s one thing I can live without. I won’t fall sick if I don’t hail an uber at 5 a.m to take me home. I have no idea what you do with your Fridays and Saturdays. However, you spend them, I think that’s how it best suits you. For me, fitness comes first on Sato. Well, because the gym is deserted.

Last Saturday, I veered of tangent. I staggered out of bed at around 8 a.m. A mug of coffee made its way down my stomach. Good coffee tastes like whiskey. I was alert as a new solider on the watchtower. I skimmed through my phone, ignoring messages, replying, cursing those who’d ignored me. Then the call came. It was Kimaru Kim, of kokota tales, an upcoming fella in this writing business. We go way back with Kimaru Kim. I try not to call him ‘Kim’ because that would sound gay. Yet we are straight negros, straight as arrows of God. And once in a while, we trade stories, women the focal point.

Kimaru was on his way from Woi university. His destination, the book fair at Sarit centre. I thought to myself, this is pure love for books. Who leaves Eldoret and heads 600 km away just to see books and talk to authors?

I gobbled up my breakfast, two boiled eggs, deformed bread, and coffee again. Full, in my element, I dressed up and jumped into a matatu headed to Nairobi. I could have said ‘town’ but you folks will bash me. You claim that Rongai isn’t Nairobi.

My destination, Macondo literary festival, going down at the national theatre. I have been grappling with fear about writing of late. For some reason, I have been feeling like I am walking on glass. Living a bubble, which might burst anytime soon. So, I wanted to hang out with those writers and listen to their stories and journeys. And boy I did learn a thing.

Accomplished writers are mythical figures to me because they’ve made it to the top of the pyramid. And chatting them up, in a way brings that feeling that you’re not drilling the wrong tunnel. Yvonne Owuor thank you for organising such an event. You were warm, full of candour and welcoming. And you seemed so young. What’s the secret? Have you read DUST by Yvonne? Go get it.

Adam Ibrahim fascinated me. I didn’t get the hang of what you were saying, homeboy was busy taking photos. But by reading your books, maybe I’ll unearth secrets hidden. Peter Kimani was Peter Kimani. A little observation, Aleya Kassam is hot.
I also ran into a reader of my work(blogposts).

Kimaru strolled in late for the festival. I could tell his heart wasn’t in it. He wanted to be at Sarit centre, rubbing shoulders with top honchos in publishing. And he kept goading me, that we make a swift exit, prison break style. Melt into the shadows like water over a crack.

We swallowed two quick chapos at this stuffy Swahili cafĂ©. Had Yvonne sign our DUST copies, and we evaporated from Kenya national theatre. We made a quick getaway, Kimaru was so happy, he could have jumped to the top of UON towers. We had to be discreet though, we didn’t want Macondo guys catching feelings and banning us from subsequent festivals.

To the organisers and everybody who made the festival a success, thank you. We learnt so much, can’t wait for the next edition. God bless you.

It’s Saturday around 2 p.m. We’re headed to Nation centre to pick up some of our buddies who are into the book fair thing. To be honest, I care less about the book fair. I don’t understand Kenyan publishers. I going because we will be catching up with Kimaru. Him regaling me with ridiculous tales from Woi, me listening. And he’s paying my transport, of course, golden guy!

We meet our friends behind Nation centre. After they’ve made us go in circles. Saying that they’re in this corner, kumbe they’re not in any corner. Waiting for someone in Nairobi is an extreme sport.

Shiks is doing her internship at nation media, editorial. She will run things in days to come. Her short story was recently published by The East African. She’s a ball of energy. Dan is on his internship too. Epic guy, he tells me how he’s served on various media houses, one rollercoaster of a ride. The long days, the hard work, the unpaid internships. I envy his stoicism. At Nation media he found a home though. He is having the time of his life. He smiles shyly. Dan knows something we don’t. We bundle into a westi matatu. The four of us, our faces glistening with youth and dreams.

Sarit centre always appears snobbish to me. I know, it’s the villager deep down. Indians strolling around in sandals like they’re in Punjabi. Mzungus walking heads high, you would think they found a second home, they have. All western brands. Cafes selling shots at absurd prices. You get my inconvenience, or maybe it’s my brokenness showing?

Anyway, the book fair was happening at the topmost floor of Sarit. A far cry from the usual calmness of Sarit. The book fair was more like an open-air market, only that this one, dealt in books. We moved around like phantoms, meeting people. Going to stalls, buying books. I found myself in this talk with a boring emcee, guy kept giving us challenges, I dozed off. My mates were busy buying books.

The highlight of that event was meeting Prof Kihumbu Thairu.  A mellow, aged, scholar. The pioneer of med school at UON. He gave me his business card, I read his tittles and Goosebumps just popped up. Where are men like those made?

8 p.m. found us at the national archives. Shiks and Dan disappeared mysteriously. Kimaru stood in line waiting for a super metro to Juja (sin city). I walked along Moi avenue. All I could think of was the next day, Sunday.  2019 CBA Africa Concours d’ Elegance awaited at the Ngong racecourse. 






2 comments:

  1. i love your work man big up sana...link from linkedin then staight to kinasisi. all the best

    ReplyDelete

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