‘You’ll be well big bro, in time. Just from Jack’s burial…’
That was a text message I received from my kid brother last evening on updating him of my eye’s status after a Doctor’s visit. I was taken aback, seriously. Successive texts followed…
‘Jack is dead? Are you for real? What happened? My goodness, this can’t be. I have not seen him in ages!’ … My little brother is slowly growing to have Dad’s sense of authority. I say so because I can sense it from the tone he replied with… ‘He was an alcoholic…’ I didn’t know what to answer back. I managed a ‘May God rest His Soul in Peace…’
So, who’s Jack? Jack is my childhood friend. When I was in upper primary, their family moved back to the farm. His father retired early. Jack and I quickly bonded like old friends. He spoke very good Kiswahili, perhaps from the fact that they had lived at the coast for a while. He had good manners and still remains one of the most polite people I have known all my life.
I spent the evening recollecting what childhood was as we grew up with Jack, and other kids whom I hope are not dying somewhere. We rode bikes in the neighborhood and courtesy of my friendship with him; I used to get free entrance on occasion to the father’s ‘movie theatre’. By movie theatre I mean those countryside kinds of places we paid a shilling, two, and five to watch some Rambo, Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee movies. Memorable Highlights from back then bordered heavily on Jack’s dad giving commentary on the movie… ‘Sasa hapo Chuck Norris amekamatwa… atabaki mateka ama atashinda wapinzani…’ with the commentary delivered in flawless Kiswahili from the coast.
Being young was nice. We worried less and dreamt more. We had fun and hurt less. It was all about getting good grades in school, riding bikes in the neighborhood and talking about what we wanted to be, having when we grew up. I had striking passion to be an architect back then. I drew a lot, constructed little dummies of houses and generally anything building. I cannot quite remember what Jack wanted to be, he was quite good building toy cars from wire mesh though. He was also fast enough to impress a girl. I remember coming home for holidays when I was a freshman in high school. I noticed a girl in the neighborhood, Natasha*. It felt dreamy looking at her. She had beautiful long hair, endless legs and walked about with the elegance of a peacock. I asked around, Johnny, a cousin told me she was taken; Jack’s girl. This was my first fight with my resting friend. Needless to dwell on that, I still had the fire of a Moran in me, I took away the girl from him. He still graciously told me its ok, ‘mtu akipenda amependa…’ As said, Karma is quite something, Natasha* eventually slipped from my grip the very same way she did from Jack’s… This time to my all time bro…
This weekend I spent time observing and reflecting quite a lot. I went golfing with an old acquaintance I have always looked up to. He asked me how life has been for the last one year or so and all I could manage was narratives of sad stories; from losing extensive amounts of money, to rolling a car, heart breaks and eventually being bombed. My company didn’t even have much to say to me, he was just quick to tell me I shouldn’t despair because what has been, only death could be worse. Yeah, I know, I like practical people. There was nothing emotional about the conversation, not even a sorry… Just points delivered with fact and firmness… It pretty much sounds like what I used to be not long ago.
On Sunday I played some cricket with kids outside the court I live, nothing constructive. They were throwing the ball around and running about with a sense of satisfaction when one of them, Raj asked me to join, his team was short. I have never played the game before. The most I have identified with cricket is when our national team has excelled and in typical Kenyan ways I’ve screamt at the top of my voice at a sports bar and such. So I learnt some basics, ran a bit, threw a bit and before long, I was sitting by the pavement exhausted. I am quite unfit. Raj came to tell me about their family, the dad is a Doctor in town. He wants to be a Doctor too. I asked him if that’s what he wanted. For a nine year old he seemed quite determined to become one, whatever it took. Later on as I lazed in bed I asked myself many questions. At what point does the rain start beating one? One day you are a very innocent kid running about with a sense of unrivaled cheer, unquestionable determination and easiness in appreciating what life is… then someday you’re drinking yourself silly, not so much in celebration but in attempt to put to rest, at least for a while what life has become. Someone somewhere is committing suicide in a rented motel room in the middle of nowhere as others fight their battles in ways only they can understand. Adulthood for sure robs us off life as we grow knowing it. Growing up isn’t exciting really. I’d rather be forever young.
I last heard from Jack in 2008. He was based somewhere in Eastern, or Central… I do not quite know those places much. He was doing something with teaching I believe. We were to link up sometime when he came to the city en route to the countryside. He never called, neither did I. Now Jack is Dead. May his soul rest in peace.
“I’ve heard that it’s possible to grow up – I’ve just never met anyone who’s actually done it. Without parents to defy, we break the rules we make for ourselves. We throw tantrums when things don’t go our way, we whisper secrets with our best friends in the dark, we look for comfort where we can find it, and we hope – against all logic, against all experience. Like children, we never give up hope…” ~ Meredith Grey quote (Grey’s Anatomy)
Playlist: Hapo Zamani ~ Miriam Makeba
Till then, Cheers!