I talk with him sometimes. He’s called Kim, he’s a cook. I would not call them conversations. They are not solid. They are scattered, unformed niceties that any decent human being would engage in especially with the person who prepares his food.
“Uhoro wa rucini, kuhana atia?”
“Gutire na ka-uru.”
“Muriukuo na mwathani?”
I don’t think much into the interactions but recently I noticed he started digging deeper into my life. Asking where I stay and what I do. I took all this as the building blocks of small talk and obliged him with the information without knowing that he was creating rapport. Weighing me to see if I measure up to his scale.
“Guedete todo duri mueteo,” he said the other day and then continued to tell me that he has a son that just finished Class Eight who will soon be going under the knife and could I maybe talk to him? Give him some life hacks about manhood and how I got to where I am and the red flags that he needs to look out for. I was flattered that someone out there thought that I was upright enough to be his son’s mentor but then I felt a gash of insecurity open up underneath my feet like a black hole.
“You’re the one who should talk to him. You know fathers rarely talk to their sons. My father, for example. We don’t talk much and I am sure there is a lot that I could learn from him,” I heard myself say.
“You don’t understand me,” he went on. “There are some things he will tell you that he can’t tell me and there are certain things you will tell him that he will hold dearer than anything I have to say.”
I hesitated in replying.
“I can bring him to you if you are busy. That is not an issue.”
“No, no, I’ll pay him a visit but I don’t want to commit to anything because my week is sometimes very flooded.”
It was a lie. A rotten one.
“We will talk,” I told him pussyfooting and I could see in his face a look of disappointment. I left feeling horrible but I later patted myself on the back because who mentored me? Who held my hand and showed me the way? Nobody. I had to learn things the hard way. I failed. I was broke. I went hungry. I missed opportunities that I shouldn’t have missed. There is a saying that a man has to be beaten till he is wrought then the good Lord can mold him into the man he is meant to be.
The little boy needed to do his time in the world and get beaten till he was wrought, I convinced myself, but my core knew my line of thought was misguided. The right thing to do was to visit the little chap and have a bit of man talk with him. Give him one or two sagacious gems about life that, had I known prior, I would be a better man for it. So I thought I would come here and write him a missive while I wait for my mentorship boots to check in.
Dear man boy,
Always be on the move. Always be doing something. It will keep you out of mischief and from misery. There is a reason our heavenly Father worked six days of the week. Work gives you dignity.
If you’re going through something difficult share it with someone. Don’t allow the idea of being a man keep you from getting the help that you need.
Be kind to people. Judge them from their actions not from hearsay. A lot of times people say about others not necessarily what is true to their character but a reflection of who they are, their insecurities and the atmosphere of the room at the moment.
Emotions are fleeting; they come and go like a woman’s moods but words are living. Think things through, choose your words carefully. What you say manifests.
The knife cut off your foreskin but it did not make you any more of a man than you were before. Just because a tiny piece of skin was removed from your crown jewel it doesn’t mean you can step into bigger shoes than the ones you’re wearing now.
Your ego won’t take you far. Don’t pretend to be somebody when everyone knows you’re not yet anybody. Put it aside and put in the work. It is true, Rome was not built in a day and neither will your dreams. You will have to go to the trenches even when all your peers are pretending to live the life.
Don’t fake it till you make it. You can’t do it in this age of the internet—people will sniff you out. Show us the process instead. What are you doing to get there? Show us what’s going on behind the stage. It’s better that way. For you and your wellbeing.
Short term thinking is okay. It will buy you shoes and meals in nice restaurants, heck, it might even buy you a car but if you want to leave a legacy, if you want your kids’ great-grand-kids to remember your name you have to think long term.
People overestimate the power of a year and underestimate the power of a day. Reduce your big dreams into small daily tasks and have the discipline to move the needle every day. You will be surprised by how far that will take you.
Don’t be in that bracket of people who have the audacity to have big dreams without an execution plan. People who hate Mondays. People who only live for Friday evening and then nurse their hangovers the entire weekend. And when the year comes to a close they whine about goals that never saw the light of day and they start rushing into their archive of bullshit resolutions.
I have been miserable with love because I’m poor at commitment so I can’t really give you relationship advice but I can give you dating advice. Treat her like a lady. Take her out to a nice place, pull her chair, pour her drink and if you have a bit of money put her in an Uber back home. She will respect you.
If you happen to end up in bed with her, after the deed don’t jump out of bed like a mad man to go and watch TV. Hold her. She will like it.
You don’t need to tell your boys who you’re bedding—it’s the quality of inferior men. Sex is not a prize. It’s something two consenting adults agree to. Please have bigger goals than bedding women from every tribe and every nationality.
Even though you’re more of a boy, you are a man in every sense of that word. It doesn’t matter that you don’t lift weights. It doesn’t matter that some woman thinks you’re not man enough. You are a man. Don’t break your back trying to prove your manhood.
If you don’t feel man enough at any particular time in your life no amount of sex will fill that void. There are so many women you can sleep with and I will promise you after you’re done you still won’t feel man enough. Work on your inner self and on excellence instead. It’s the surest path to not only feel but be man enough.
Always remember that you are highly privileged: you have a family that loves you, food on the table and a brain in your head. Those are enough tools to take you straight to the skies.
You are what, fourteen? That means you have over ten years to experiment with what you think you like. Give close attention to the things your heart gravitates towards. The youth don’t realize that just as much as people in their forties and fifties have their big cars and houses, they have time. I could trade in a heartbeat to be fourteen today.
Read exhaustively; fiction, memoirs, self-help books, recipes. Feed your mind constantly. It’s the one thing you carry in every room you enter.
Life is fleeting and capricious. You might make all these judicious choices and it might still hammer you on the head. Don’t despair, remind yourself that this life owes you nothing beside what you’ve earned and watermelons. This life should at least owe you that.
See you soon. I hear my door creaking those might be my counsellor glasses coming in.
PS: I know I have been away for a while; it’s not out of lethargy. I have been working on a few things behind the scenes. The sequel to The Engagement is done, we are in the polishing stage. I’m writing another book but I am doing it differently. It’s on Wattpad and it’s available to everyone. I’m currently on chapter eighteen. Eavesdrop on my creative process here. Read while I write and maybe add a comment or suggestion.
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I like to think of myself as a reader who writes, a Pan-African who thinks with the tips of his fingers, but when I'm not molesting the keyboard I'm usually destroying yogurt (not Frusion) or staring into the vastness of space.