HOME IS A CASTLE OF STORIES

GOODBYE, 2019.




I was tending tables at a seedy pub in a recess of the city. A couple walked in. Man and woman. They had the ashy lips of seasoned smokers. It was around 1 p.m. They ordered a jug of Keg. I sat on a far corner and watched as they slowly emptied the jug’s contents. The man produced a cigarette, they shared it. The smoke drifting above them like incense. They seemed like travelling hippies. People like chatting and opening up, I enjoy listening. They began sharing their life stories, which came out more like biographies.

The man was a former professional football player. As a teenager, he had a chance to play in France. The coach took his son instead. The son failed at the trials. Our hero, who should have been there, lost the opportunity in a bluff. I wondered, what could have happened if he made it to France? And made it in soccer? Things would be different. Maybe he wouldn’t be in such a pub drinking Keg. The dark hand of greed had snatched his dream and luck, right under his nostrils. I felt sorry for him. 

The woman, a dancer in her heydays. Time had eroded her godhead but she still had that look on her. A fleeting icy glance. A gaze of hubris, beauty and satisfaction. A look which tells you that she’d once been the queen of the party. There was a time that men lusted over her and would go to the extent of exchanging blows. It’s funny when you think of the extent primates go for mating rights. Those days were inevitably over though. She had the worried face of a mother and wife. A woman shovelling and battling through life.

They were dreamers who never reached the zenith of their dreams. Which made me think, ‘yes, we have a free licence to dream. But those dreams may never come to pass. It’s a sad fact of life.’  The woman relieved her party days. Dancing in videos of DNA and Kleptomaniacs, Kalamashaka and many more old school music big wigs, chaps I have no idea they existed. She recounted tales of countless parties and events. When the husband allowed, she would dance a bit. She had that twist of waist; you could feel the faded energy. She was silent most of the time, focused on clearing the Keg and smoking. It’s the man who did most of the talking.

Apparently, they were husband and wife. They had a son, in Form One. “I pay everything for him. He never misses a thing.” He said, a proud father. The wife was pregnant again, she was due in a few months. Biology claim that smoking and drinking ain’t good for pregnant women. I wouldn’t say that to them though, maybe biology is wrong. Furthermore, it was none of my business. I shelved my self-righteous talk and watched them. There was an unchained beauty about them, glorious honesty. I don’t know of a couple which drinks and smokes together.

Before they left, the man came up to me. We fist-bumped, he spilt more beans about their life. Whenever he suspected the wife was promiscuous, he would beat her up till she came clean. I cringed at that. He whispered to me, “We are headed home. She will rip off all of her clothes and ask that I have my way with her. Sometimes I am tired. I won’t do it.” He dragged at his cigarette and walked out. At the door, he said that I was a cool guy and should be at the pub often, I smiled and told him we’ll see each other again. The definition of a cool guy haunted me? I am not remotely interested in being cool. Though, sometimes I am, evidently.

Encountering that couple was my top moment of 2019. Their simple harshness and non-conforming lifestyle stood out for me. I liked them immensely. They lived in defiance of all societal laws, and yet they managed to cling together, raising a family.

2019 has been a good and bad year for me. I’ve had my wins, I’ve weathered loses. I’ve made mistakes, learnt lessons, made friends, lost them in a blur. All round, it’s a year which will stay with me for long. Here are my top moments of 2019.

My writing published in the Daily Nation.

It was a lazy Friday, around midday. A friend called, I ignored, I was doing dishes. I texted him an hour later. He replied that he’d seen my article in the My Network pull out. I thought he was messing with me. Then he sent a photo. Boy, have I been shocked? I half ran, half walked to the mall and bought the paper. Staring back was my writing and pseudonym, Osoch Ogun, I was walking on water. Checking my phone, there was an e-mail from Nation, they wanted to meet me. Weeh. The week seemed endless.

I walked into Nation centre on a Thursday morning. I met with Pamella Sittoni and Caroline Njunge. These are power women, shaping narratives in the editorial section. I previously only saw their names on the paper. Now we sat across each other. We chatted and took photos. I was on the moon.

I have been writing seriously for a while now. By seriously, I mean I wouldn’t do anything. My writing appearing on Nation was a show of possibility. Of what could be. And more. It fuels my hunger to try again. You never know what awaits on the other side of the curtain?

Celebrity moment of the Year.

Magunga Williams. There is a school of chaps who’ve revolutionised the rules of storytelling and risen to the top. Magunga is the head boy of that school. Him, and the headmaster, Bikozulu, have shown us that the writer doesn’t have to be the broke fella who drinks beer alone. The writer can be suave, snazzy and have hot chicks on his arm. I am still seeking admission into this school of writers.

I ran into him at a Rotaract event. He’s charming, loud and boisterous. If you don’t know him, you have to ask, “who is that guy?” You ask me what kind of writer I want to be when I grow up? You probably have your answer. Meeting folks like him as you try to climb the creative ladder inspires you to try harder and get better. Thank you, Magunga.

Running into Nick Mutuma
Coincidences are crazy. I was in Senteu plaza, Kilimani. I was supposed to meet some chap and discuss a few agreements. The guy was taking a long time to show up, Kenyans and time. I sat at the reception, ihub, watching folks come and go, geeks and computer maniacs. Suddenly, a presence was beside me. I looked and looked again. I had seen the face somewhere.

Then it all came flooding in. “Shuga, The Nivea Ad.” I still wasn’t sure if it was him (Nick Mutuma). So, I did something that a detective would do. I tagged him on an Instagram story, he viewed and stared around suspiciously.

We got talking. But I would certainly like to interview him again. So many questions I did not ask. Funny enough, he was on the wrong floor, at the wrong reception. What do you call that?

Celebrities have this energy you can’t explain. He had that vibe. By the way, have you watched his latest movie? YOU AGAIN? It’s out on YouTube. It’s a great flick. I think he’s slowly revolutionising the Kenyan movie industry, creating stories which reflect contemporary issues.


I’ve always dismissed that talk of being ‘lonely’. I thought of it as a myth, propagated by folk who did not have better things to do with their time. I mean, there’s so much to do. Then I found a place of my own.

Loneliness isn’t not having people to talk to or who understand you, it’s the absence of sounds, the feeling that there’s nobody else around. That the world could end and you would have no idea. Loneliness is the void that social media can’t fill. Weekends would find me with zero plans and ideas. I would sleep in, get food, sleep again. I struggled to cope, the first weeks. I even toyed with the idea of getting me a girlfriend. But that would be unfair to the other party. You don’t get into a relationship because you want to satisfy some instinctive human urge to be social.

We humans can get used to anything. Over time, I’ve fallen in love with my place. It’s nothing much, a bedsit hovel. A CASTLE BLACK. This is where I’m charting out the voyage of my life. Living alone teaches you a lot of things. First, the need to get comfortable with oneself. You have to love yourself to spend loads of hours alone. The discipline of cleaning up, cooking and doing your dishes, ultimately there’s nobody else to do it.

I get visitors and all of them have one biting question. “How does it feel to stay all by yourself?” There’s only one answer, you have to try it. It’s an experience that can’t be transferred by words. Like your first time, only you can feel it, it stays just with you.

Books of the year

I don’t belong to that cabal which has reading targets. I don’t belong to any reading group, honestly, reading groups make me sick. They seem like places where depressed folk gather and break bread. Most say they want to read 52 books a year, equalling one book per week. Which is absurd, superfast reading. I am a slow reader, without targets, but yet, this year, I read a lot.

The book which stood out for me most was SHOE DOG by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. He narrates his journey into creating Nike. How he started from scratch and made it a global behemoth. It’s honest and insightful, full of wonderful storytelling. I’ve read it thrice this year.

Mark Manson's THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F**Kchallenged me and saved me from me. That book is beautiful. Forget the title, it teaches you mostly on what to care about. Finding the important things and caring about them. I read it when I was going through a rough patch. That book saved me.

One book left me scared, THE GAME by Neill Strauss. It’s a true account of his life as a pick-up artist. It’s amazing how he translated the pick-up world into such a story. It made me wonder about the end’s we men are willing to explore, to acquire mating rights, be on top of the sexual pyramid. Anyway, it had amazing insights into female nature and our total evolutionary psychology as a species. It makes you look at relationships and attraction from a different perspective. And you realise that the human mind can inevitably be tricked.

I discovered Binyavanga Wainaina. His death wrecked me. There are writers, I would pay money to meet, he was one of them. His writing is so simple yet so amazing. His memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place is a pure artistical triumph. Rest in peace Binj. Read his Caine winning short story, Discovering home. Some guys are born to write.

What’s life's end game?

This year, the world opened up. Life caught up with me. I’ve experimented a lot and explored. In a way, I’ve looked at things from a different perspective, looked at people from different angles. I learnt to stop judging. And it’s okay not to live up to your promises. The Bible tells us otherwise and morally it’s not okay. But what if yesterday you wanted to do this and today you don’t want it?

I’ve lost touch with friends, I’ve walked away from jobs, I’ve avoided some relationships. I’ve been broke to the last coin. I don’t wish to sound philosophical, that would be corny. But what’s the grand scheme of life? We go to school, we amass certificates, we look for jobs, we want money, we get lovers, maybe have toxic relationships or marriages, then what???

For me, the end game is that it’s never that serious. As long as you’re breathing, you’re eating and sleeping well, life can keep up. Everything else is musical chairs.

My favourite article

I am sorry to announce but this year, I don’t have an article I so liked. I’ve gone through the blog and I can’t find one. I enjoy my writing, I love the process of creating, but somehow, I couldn’t choose. All pieces seem similar, maybe you tell me that which you enjoyed.

The most awesome crew

You the readers have made my 2019. Writing is a weird craft because you never know who you’re writing for, it's an audience of ghosts. I’ve been able to meet some of you and it’s amazing. There’s some saying “You can like an artist’s work but you may not like him/her as a person.”  If we ran into each other and you thought I am some chap you don’t want to meet, ever, it’s okay. I am human, I have my deficiencies, a lot of them.  Those we haven’t met but talked on social media, thank you for trusting a stranger with your most intimate thoughts. It's mind-blowing.

A fan told me that I seem a party animal, absolutely not a writer. I enjoy clubbing, won’t deny that. But then, we writers don’t have uniforms. We are normal people. Leading normal, disturbed lives. And writing, at least for me, is a job like any other. There’s nothing mysterious to the craft.

A simple question

A romantic relationship, is it truly about honest love and companionship? Or there’s some motive? We were arguing with a friend on such lines? And why would someone decide to settle with someone they don’t particularly like or enjoy being around? Final part of the question. Why would someone claiming to be in a loving and fulfilling relationship, still make moves on other fellas? I mean you’re having the time of your life? We see selfies of you guys having those ‘goals’, but somehow, you still want a taste of folk who will certainly ruin those good moments. But why? (insert laughing emojis?)

And finally

I had fun telling stories on this platform and would do more of it again. I don’t know what 2020 holds and I can’t wait. You know how the feel of a new year fills you goosebumps, and hunger to chart out new horizons and pursue fiery goals.

By the time this goes on air, I will be hurrying to move my life. I want to head home, smell the morning Kisii sunrise and spend time with my Dad. There’s something healing about home. Home is beautiful. Home is a castle of stories.

Those who never bothered to comment, this is the last post, say something, don’t be locked out of 2019’s history.

Merry Christmas. And a hopefully different 2020.


















13 comments:

  1. Nice one Osuch Ogun, I like it!

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  2. Nice one Osuch Ogun, I like it!

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  3. The year comes to an end and I'm yet to get your pen

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  4. Replies
    1. Ha ha ha ...that really seems very strong, brother.

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  5. A job well done.
    Can't wait for more content next year. Cheers.

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  6. Amazing blog ....this is our only home , a castle of sweet stories

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  7. Kazi nzuri Kaka... future is bright! 😉

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  8. I immensely enjoyed reading your work.

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