Leftover 2

Some excerpts edited out from a few of my Jalada pieces. They either did not fit into the piece or were simply weak and not working.

From Sketch of a Bana Nyonka in a Kamfai:

After being told we write like Europeans, Jimi Hendrix and I have beers by the swimming pool. Tantric techno calls out for the bana nyonkas. Long dusk shadows cool the air.


“You were calm. I thought you would react. What did he even mean?”

Jimi Hendrix waves his hand, waves his bottle, slowly, controls time so he can collect something. Jimi Hendrix collects light at dusk the way a lone barman collects bottles and glasses from tables after night is done and dead.

“We write more like Americans. What Europeans? What’s our problem if they can’t see what we read? What can I say? Even these guys like New Mom and Baba Segi’s Wife and Makambo were looking at me. I am not even a stage and crowd guy. The woman even called me white, ‘are you white?’ and such things and when I say it’s my mother who brought me into reading she catches that and now wants to become my friend.”


Notebook entry following morning: Some bottles had at the strip club, some at the dance bars we hoped through. Mistake was to eat the rolex. The chicken and beer in my belly. Puking the whole night, what a bad night. Migraine that pain in the corner of the right eye. Cinema Demon came and knocked on my door as I was bent over toilet bowl. I cracked open the door and talked to this best of writer friends in dismissive fashion. She can go eat breakfast by herself.

Notebook entry in the late afternoon: Cinema Demon called out my arrogance at lunch. The sweetest hours are when the hangover is wearing off. My body started to acquire lightness. Spent most of the afternoon at the bookstalls. Buying the old masters. I got back to my room and put them in my suitcase and they filled half of it. Spent rest of afternoon reading THE MAN DIED. I even tried a few pages of his SHUTTLE IN THE CRYPT but understood nothing. He writes strange.

Notebook entry in the night: It has been the night of asking for forgiveness. I had said many bad things about New Mom’s story. All through the week he hated me. Some days back I did try to greet him and he said he wanted to kick my ass. I said I’ll buy you beer. He said ok. And there we were, by the swimming pool drinking beers. We spoke frankly. And before me was revealed a man who was childlike, eloquent, perceptive of details of this confused world. And what broke through the rainforest between us was his love of DeLillo’s UNDERWORLD, so we drank one bottle more and discussed that great work.

Notebook entry very deep in the night:  We all spent the last night in the pub of the Old Man. The pub was his room. I played some chess with him. Then the Old Man didn’t want to play chess as I was too strong, revenging my loss to him of the day before. The Old Man gave away his vodka bottles to whoever came. He saw I had no interest in them. He saw I was looking at his books on the dressing table. I picked out AUSTERLITZ. I have never read Sebald, I told him. Why don’t you take the chessboard, he asked. I am giving it to you, you like this game a lot. I told him I have too many boards at home. Then take the Sebald, it’s philosophy. I took the Sebald.

From Akefest Memoir:

There’s a trick to her smile. There’s the crowd here who perceive her at the level of nice teeth, lips and book. Then there’s the world which stands outside her aura: Taiye the brand, Taiye the speck of white noise I carried in the head on my way to the airport, carried in the pressurized fuselage at thirty seven thousand feet — Yaoundé gleamed under me — something was growing — I accepted it as a bearable itch — carried it, hell, dragged it through the Park Inn hotel tunnels, the itch now grown heavy like a bag full of books.

And now I have arrived at the moment of the trick.

From Madagascan Vanilla:

Hi, my name is Chanyado Njugu George and last night I was an on-flight house boy. Dederick Cinema here talked about the zananna of aeroplanes, well, I was airborne together with two ladies. We were on one of the nineteen DC-9s that took off from Wilson Airport in the first hour of the Saturday Nairobi night. A rumour says there was a scuffle on-board one of the DC-9s, a brave boy refused to be tied up like a buffalo and be put in a sack and become a bomb, so that plane somehow drove out of Wilson Airport and got onto the long Langata Road and took off from there. It is understood the survivor was on this plane and he was a brave boy.

You sit there on the black sofa looking at me and what do you see? A man in faded trousers and a very creased shirt because I have no electricity for the iron at home and the detergents my wife uses are too strong because they are cheap. I have a body shaped by this city and it is a strong one. I pushed a whole DC-9 to the Wilson Airport runway. Let’s go back to that dark house you were in as a small girl. You saw your mother struggling to make you that glass of milkshake. Now you look back and see those kinds of small sacrifices your mother made so that you could become who you are now. But you forget she only had to do all that because I was not there to do it for you. Because I was a house boy who did not show up for work that day for a thirteen hour shift and do those tasks, like make you milkshake and let your mother rest as soon as she came home. So, I was on an aeroplane making amends.

The DC-9 is an old aeroplane taken from the photos inside the family albums of the 1970s. The ladies found the old aeroplanes in a forgotten hangar at Wilson. Now I was inside one and the fuselage looked like a ribcage. No windows in the fuselage, just random openings in the aluminium skin. I could put out a hand through one of them and touch the wingtip of another DC-9 flying nearby. This was an extinct animal brought back to life for one last journey. No seats, just the fuselage floor packed with bombs. The loud and mournful zananna of its engines, the slow crawl across the city sky.

Who was I but the on-flight house boy?

The bombs were arranged in parallel rows. Dark brown, lithe, with pointy cones. The light in the fuselage was dim. Then the pilot opened the dropping bay. We were above the starry city. Saturday night lights. Discos and garden parties and families in cars going to a movie.

It was just two ladies. One was the pilot. I didn’t know what she looked like. I saw of her only when she jumped out from the cockpit. She didn’t tie up her long hair because I saw it flying about in orbit around her head as she went down with her open parachute. That’s all I saw of her. The other was with me in the fuselage. Kicking the bombs as she walked up and down the fuselage. She was short. Top of her head reached me at my chest. She was the height of my wife and I can be more specific. If I was not wearing a shirt and my wife was embracing me she could be kissing my nipples. This lady was only telling me to lift the bombs and drop them from the edge of the bay. She was shouting at me. I had to be careful not to drop down myself. The bombs were warm, like they were bodies alive.

The city was then on fire. Blowing up here and there.

The short one jumped and I heard the pilot open her door and jump too. I saw two parachutes gliding over the city. Then I saw a third one. No mistake about that.

No one was flying the plane and I was on it. It started to fall into the city. I could now feel the heat of the fire. The city was burning. People were burning and I could smell them. I was lucky. The plane was going to crash and it was now over Nairobi dam. So I jumped, hoping the water was deep enough to catch me like a big soft pillow. When I crashed into the water it hurt but I survived. The plane crashed on the other side of the dam and all the fuel leaked as the wings had cracked like bones and the dam became the dam of petrol. I swam fast and came out of water. I don’t remember if the dam ever caught fire.


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