To My Little Sister
It’s quiet here. I’m writing this at night. If I push back the curtains it’s pitch black outside with the exception of tiny flashes of light gleaming from the various houses surrounding mine. The crickets are extremely noisy, I guess they have been paid overtime or they haven’t been paid at all. They’re making a rumpus, brandishing ‘haki yetu’ placards. My stomach is jumpy, something I suffer from a lot as a bachelor. To be honest I miss mom’s cooking. Yes, even the njahi, bananas and potatoes mixture flooded with water dishes we used to complain about. I know you don’t cherish mom’s cooking now but you will someday if you ever decide to move out or if a lucky boy whisks you away. Are you still eating those big, five bob samosas at the local that are the size of an adult’s hand because they are value for money? Stop. Those things will kill you.
I’m still chasing this writing thing. Let me tell you sis, they’re days I want to say ‘screw it all’ because it takes so much from me. This writing thing is like a needy, jealous wife who demands that everybody who wants to get close to me should play second. I can’t even begin to tell you how much my t-shirt is soaked with tears from writing this. You would think someone soaked it in a bucket full of water then handed it back to me to wear and I obliged. Sometimes I want to say ‘fuck it!’ and get a nice job as an accountant in the seventh floor of some building, remitting tax returns. I know dad would be pleased. I see it in his eyes when I talk about writing. He has struggled all his life chasing elephants and he doesn’t want the same thing for me. He would prefer it if I had something stable, something that assured my future. But I can’t do it because I will be empty inside and I would rather be in tatters and writing than empty, driving a Mercedes.
I put out a few applications for publications I want to write for and a few of them have said my work is good and they’re considering slotting me somewhere. Others are dragging their feet. They continue like that and they will get stuck in a pothole somewhere. They’re so many of them on our roads, thanks to our good politicians who will obviously blame the rain and everything else but their incompetence. I got an M-Pesa last week for a writing project I did and it felt surreal. I guess I will never get used to getting paid for doing what I love. I’m still working on my book but it’s not quite what I want it to be and it’s driving me up the wall. There are days I want to pick it up and throw it in the recycle bin or print it out and make a nice bonfire, but I have to push through it even when I know the hard part of selling it is yet to come. Where am I going with this, sis? I guess I’m trying to tell you to dream extensively. I want you to know that it’s okay to run blindly after your dreams and punch that wall that stands in the way as hard as you can, with all you’ve got till it gives way.
I was in town earlier today and I quickly passed this beggar kid and her mom like I always do to that kind and then the kid who was smaller than Milan in her tiny, red hoodie and tiny, grey trousers started running after me and I walked even faster and she gave up and went back to her mom. I got to the corner and I felt so sad that I turned back and gave the kid something small because that might be her only meal for the day. Speaking of Milan, you know she looks up to you. She thinks you’re cool and you have to be a big sister to her, set the bar somewhere for her.
I hope you find someone you can love. Someone that truly loves you. I haven’t been very lucky in that department myself. But there’s a girl I like. I’m even crazy enough to think she likes me back. She’s smart as a whip, short, a bit crazy and she has this fire about her. That means she’s exactly my type. She’s your namesake. How weird is that? Maybe something will come out of it or nothing will because my jealous, needy wife will get in the way or I will get in the way like I always do. You’ve grown up so much now that sometimes I’m intimidated to talk to you, what with all the social media likes you get on your pages. I hope you don’t get carried away by that. I hope you don’t get a big head and think that you are bigger than you actually are because you get a hundred likes on a photo. We all have to do our time in the trenches to become who we truly want to be. I hope it doesn’t dent your self-esteem either, because you’re beautiful with or without boys liking and commenting on your pictures.
I scroll your instagram and Facebook from time to time. Sometimes I’m afraid to click your instagram stories because I never know what might pop out, but most times whenever I do, I smile because you behave exactly how a girl your age should behave and that says you’re not skipping steps and that’s good because you’re getting all the mistakes out of the way at the right age. You don’t want to be thirty having your ridiculous captions and still thinking boys who smoke shisha are cool.
You’re twenty one, twenty two in October. So I know you’ve interacted with boys. By now you know that they’re very few genuine ones. Most of them just want to be seen walking around with a pretty girl and even more of them want to touch your blooming breasts and get inside your pants. If you decide to let them, that’s entirely up to you but remember that choices have consequences. Those boys are not emotionally prepared to handle responsibility, they know nothing about it. A lot, if not all of them are still getting an allowance from their parents. They’ll tell you they’re men because they can get an erection and they have hair growing sparsely around their chins but they’re far from men. Because being a man is not about sagging your trousers to the point where your draws are seen. Being a man is not about smoking shisha hookahs and emitting smoke from all the orifices in your body. Being a man is not having countless women in your bed every week. Being a man transcends that. Being a man demands that you don’t start fires you can’t put out. It demands foresight. It demands being responsible for your actions. It demands leading from the front.
How is college? I enjoyed my time there. I loved the library. And the computer lab. Those are two places you would never miss to find me. I used to stay till late reading philosophy books and bypassing the varsity proxy to download YouTube videos. Ah, how I felt like a young Zuckerberg when I did that. I remember there was this time we did a project in our programming class and the lecturer said it was way too good to have been done by commerce students. What a limiting remark, I thought. Don’t accept the limits people put on you. Don’t be in a hurry to grow old. Try and find something you truly love and give it all you’ve got.
Life, as you know by now is not a straight path. It meanders and shifts every day and it will throw a lot at you as you grow older. You will be forced to learn and relearn a lot of things that you currently believe in. You will be hurt. You will be disappointed. But stay fearless, stay curious. Don’t let failure cripple you, instead learn from it. To quote James Cameron (he’s that guy who wrote and directed the Titanic and Avatar) “In whatever you are doing, failure is an option, but fear is not.” And that other guy who made the iPhone, Steve Jobs, “Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”
This is going up on the blog even though it’s so personal. I would have preferred that it stayed between you and me but it has to go up because there is a tiny chance that it might speak to another young girl like you.
As I finish this, it’s grave silent now. The crickets that were making a ruckus earlier have gotten tired and taken their placards back home, where they’ll probably complain to their wives about their good for nothing government. If I push back my curtains, it’s charcoal dark outside with the various lights that were glinting off the various houses now switched off. I’m tired, worn out even, because this, like any other piece of my writing took a lot of emotional energy out of me. I want to turn in and rest. Sis, if you don’t take anything from this, take this: those big samosas the size of a man’s hand you like will kill you if you keep eating them.
Editor credit: Shiku Ngigi
Hey there, we don’t (yet) have the budget to buy space on prime time TV or full page ads in the Daily Nation, so your shares are what help us get discovered. Feel free to whisper us to a friend and leave a comment.
Thank you for uploading this. When you say, there is a tiny chance that it might help another young lady, I think not. Your sister and I are agemates and how I wish my brother would script something as good as this for me, he is no writer though, so there goes my dream.
Thank you again for the emotional energy that was this piece.
Very deep piece.
“… those big, five bob samosas at the local that are the size of an adult’s hand because they are value for money…”
I still eat them any time I see them.
Damn they were good.
So deep! Thank you so much for sharing.
You would rather be in tatters writing than empty driving a Mercedes! I need to find something I love this much. Your article will help so many girls your sister’s age. Thank you.
Sweet and well written.
Keep on writing!
Most definitely I will share man, keep up the good work!!!
Now this is too good…. I am that other girl…felt like a sister. Life is hitting me hard in the head with a brick……but am not going to lose faith.
Nice piece. Keep on writing. Wish all bro’s were like that to their sis’s.
This is awesome…and true…and deep.
Wow…and here is another girl who found these words helpful. Keep the faith. Keep the faith.
I love how raw this piece is! Big up to you for having already identified your self actualization journey ~ keep writing. The tatters will soon metamorphosize to glory.
Small sister here is additional advise for you: While making the mistakes that your brother has alluded to, have some pride; maintain the pride. There are some ‘gang’ mistakes you don’t have to make. You can be part of the gang but don’t have to ascribe to all the ‘habits’ ~ wacha wakuseme wachoke. Watawika unaringa lakini years later, the same people will come back and appreciate that ‘maringo’.
Nice! So I feel as if I am the sister here since am also 21 and all. Message received. Great piece!! Keep it up.
Reading some of these pieces drains a lot of emotional energy out of me too. I would still do it again and again. “Don’t be in a hurry to grow old”; I’ll remember that. As always, well writ.
Loved it. I have recently discovered your articles and I am reading all of them one by one. Keep on!