I'm a writer, a poet and an International relations relations student from Kenya. I'm also a guy who believes in the power of the written word and it's ability to transform and give meaning to life.
I dream of home. I dream of my mother’s wooden built house. I dream of the lovely smelling boiled potatoes she cooked every Tuesday Evening. I dream of her touch of re assurance when worry disrupts my living. I dream of her yelling at me when I Pinch my younger sister just to satisfy my wicked inhibitions. I dream of my father telling her not to involve herself in children’s quarrels. I see my father later telling me to get a pack of cigarettes from Mr Njoroge’s shop in the town centre. I dream of him yelling at me for losing my change while playing on the way back. I dream of going back. I dream of living again. I dream of being a man again.
I desire my bed . I want the warm mattress my big brother left when he married and left home . I want to feel the satisfaction of being warm in the middle of the cold Aberdare ranges . I want to be in a place where there is no winter . A place where the God of Agikuyu and Mumbi grants upon his people the rainy season for the food to grow and the dry season where the manifestation of his blessings are upon his people in form of harvests. I want to be in a place where green is all I see and not the site of filth in the damp looking lanes in the Southside of Queens.
I am cold . I am starving. The bench I slept on in the park yesterday left my back aching. Maybe tomorrow I will be lucky enough to find a bed in the homeless shelter. The food given there makes my stomach sick but that is better than having nothing all day . How did it come to this , I wonder. Back home my father’s farm has the best produce in the whole district; up here I have to beg and steal for a pinch of vitamin. It was never meant to be like this . I was never meant to live like this.
The aim was to be a doctor . That was what they all knew I would be as they waved me away at the airport. The whole family was there. Nephew and nieces looking at their uncle in admiration like a god from a Greek mythology book . My siblings looking at their brother like I was their only hope for the future . ‘Read the white man’s books and come back home . Come back and heal your people from the suffering they brought upon us' my father’s mouth uttered with pride . Pride from having a son bright enough to have the Chance of flying away in the wave they called education . Bright enough to be accepted into what people in the land of opportunities called an Ivy League school . It’s all a blur now . Those aspirations have since become a thorn now. A thorn to pierce and remind me of what I was meant to achieve but couldn’t . It was all so beautiful . Never thought a beautiful dream could turn into a catalyst for a life of misery and regret.
At the beginning life was great . The angelic feeling of seeing the tower of liberty for the first time. The first sip of Abraço coffee in West village . I never knew coffee could be so sweet . I was intrigued. ‘This is the life ' I said to myself at the time. The classrooms at Columbia i fell in love with. The international students club I joined in earnest . ‘Conquérir loin de chez soi ‘'Conquer while far from home' our motto was .The friends I made . The parties I was invited to in Brooklyn and Manhattan . My apartment in West Harlem which I shared with a queer I was okay with . My favourite spot at Morningside park where one never had to look for me twice. Life was all good . What could have gone wrong? What could have held you back in this land of opportunities?
At first it was stuff like foundations of clinical medicine : Easy stuff I nailed it . Molecular mechanisms and diseases : such basic Studies simple as it could ever be . In class I was a pro. With the professors I argued . With my peers I was way ahead . A year then two . All this I could handle .Then three and suddenly slowly I was becoming overwhelmed . First it was being torn between attending that party some miles away in Jersey or staying In and studying for that cat in forensic pathology . I am a survivor attend the party and later recover , I would tell myself . Then comes the decision of going to buffalo on that weekend getaway rather than finishing that paper for that Neanotology class. The good decisions are too exhausting to carry out . Why would i want to get bored while studying while I could have a good time with Meaghan the whole weekend anyway?
A year later in Columbia and what is supposed to be my final year in medical school . I should’ve been glad . This should be my finishing line . But the decisions are slowly catching up . That paper I did not finish . That exam I did not attend because I was on a couch asleep and drunk in the upper West side apartment Meghan lived with her cousin . The regrets came all over sudden . Why was I so stupid ? Why did I succumb to such easy temptations ? Maybe if I had been In Nairobi it would have been easier ! Thika is to Nairobi what jersey is to New York but at least down there my people would not have relayed their desires to me and made me part of process of fulfilling them! The regrets are there but at least I had Meaghan . The girl who always had a solution.
Take a year out and come back prepared to recover . Let’s enjoy each other in this year and worry about life the next . At the time the advice was great . A whole period without worrying about books . The parties come and end fast when you are not doing anything else and the life is great . At one I try out a pill . Back home they knew the only pills I was involved in was the ones I was learning about and planning on using to treat the chief’s kid in future . Back home my mother was the envy of the whole village for having a son who would come back a doctor . Back home I was a source of pride while up here I was slowly sinking into the unknown . I was slowly sinking into a hole I would never recover from.
The year out became two . Time was flying first . Meaghan , Parties . No time to think about going back . I couldn’t remember where the registration office was anyway having not been to that part of NYC in two years . Everyday was a party . A shot of coke a day and Meagan and I in our apartment in Queens fly away. Did not call my mum in a year . Maybe she already knew a son was lost . The regrets were never felt this time . The only thing that mattered was a fix and life was good. This time the memory of wanting to be a doctor was a bother . That was a tiny part in my mind locked away in the chaos of coke, Parties and Meaghan.
Another two years and Meaghan left . Went with Maina, my kid . Named after his grandfather who died months earlier waiting for his son to come back home. She left me for a pusher who was going to provide her with a satisfactory fix . Satisfying two junkies is a hell lot harder than one anyway . At least one was gone. At least I had the apartment . Overdue on rent but in a building full of junkies , leniency is a common virtue. I wondered what home would have been like. Maybe Maina would have grown up in house in umoja not a pushers house in Corona . Maybe he would have loved football not the Basketball all Americans are obsessed with . Home is good I thought . Home would have been great for that kid. At home he would have known how to talk in Kikuyu and Swahili . At home he would have grown up a cultural African man not a stepson of a pusher in the corners of New York. I had failed my people in letting their son live in such a place . I had failed my people in letting their son have no chance of ever knowing them. I had failed and would always be ashamed for it.
Leniency wears out and eventually your fellow junkie landlord kicks you out . So by now the only home i know is this bench in Roy Wilkins park or if am lucky enough the bed I will get tomorrow at Restfull Nights shelter in this place named after a country I have never liked ; south jamaica . I cut down on the fixes some months ago but once a week is still a norm. I am still thinking of home . I am still thinking if I was down there at least I would have a house built in cow dung if not iron sheets for a poor man in Africa has more dignity . I would still have a family if I want to. I would still have Maina by my side. If I lacked water I would go and wash in the magical river Turasha; sourced from the Aberdare and magically becomes seasonal as it makes its way to the mouth in lake Naivasha . Better than the Mississippi.
Wish I could go back . Wish I was strong enough to accept the shame . But am not and all I have to live with is this yearning . The yearning for a place I belong but cannot bring my self to go . The yearning for a place I left aiming to become a doctor and become less of a man along the way in another. The only good thing about being here is that I can go and look at the Atlantic in the New York harbour and view the horizon dreaming and yearning for a home far away beyond the ocean . A place I belong and I was always meant to be in but I am not.......