malindi

He also knew how the sea was with certain people, how it needed them and they it.- Dragonfly Sea, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor.

You have to tell yourself I’m proud of you over and over again until you believe it.

Some good ways to do that are:

Surviving a week in South Korea where a woman gives you an 11.27a.m. deadline and then asking the Malindi bus conductor what time you expect to arrive and he says Ni Mungu tu ndiye anajua Madame.

Sitting in the hot water pooled between the Indian Ocean and the Sabaki, alone for as far as you can see, hugging your knees to your chest, looking at all the blues the ocean manages to make beautiful, saying I love you, I’m happy for you, I’m proud of you.

Riding on a bajaji on the highway from Malindi to Mambrui, stealing glances at the impossible beauty of Kingi’s eyelashes through the side mirror, letting the wind attempt to apologize to your nyama choma back for what the sunshine did.

Saving the purple bougainvillea from the water over and over again until you realize that it likes that electricity generated from having so much life that death’s closeness is hidden.

Finding a child whose soul comes out of her body with the same force the waves used to break against the cliff and splash onto us. Watching the zebra and lion and cheetah blush from her affection.

Never getting enough of your shadow as a star-shaped heartbeat drifting on the swimming pool floor.

Cold passion juice with the seeds still in it, pasta, seafood, noting all the places with the white waves and waves and the everythingness where Kingi claims the ocean cannot swallow you. In the hypnosis, letting Uwem Akpan write his way into your life, first with the caution one does new people on first dates, then with the abandon one does friends of friends with whom it just has to work, I guess. (He writes: “Selling your child or nephew could be more difficult than selling other kids….”)

Hashim says (and Hashim never lies) that the blue which the shakwe bird keeps flaunting is from when he steals the water’s fish and the water tattoos him in return. I want my home to be fierce when I’m taken away from it.

I feel like I belong on a bookmark with a deep quote when I seat on the plank outside my bedroom window and read under the moonlight with the clouds above me and the oceans and the town’s lights in the distance seducing my eyes.

I waved at the cat with the shiny black fur and the glassy green eyes. It followed me home.

The water came for me again. I looked My Life in the face and she was a beauty. Water likes to break the lock on the door of My Life, walk in while dangling his keys, whistle and sway his stomach left to right before telling me that I will always belong to him. This time My Life told him that’s ok and then said but are you sure and for the first time Water did not leave a stench only I could smell when he left.

If that lobster- which looked like those genius Nigerian artists had found it and painted it orange and that it now belonged only on a throne- had been my last meal, there would have been dignity in my death.

You- you learned to lure my spirit back from the Grim Reaper long before you learned to claim my body back in the same way.

Akwaeke Emezi said that they have an image of what it is they want in life that helps them go through the little tasks that can feel annoying. For me, that is a tie between the feeling of sitting at the top of the boat in the middle of the ocean listening to Afrobeats and that of standing on a windy cliff and gulping the view of the ocean with greed but never finishing it.

When numbers loved me I found that there were two ways to calculate a truth. The first is by making logical step by step efforts to do so. The second is by starting from the result and working backwards. I’m glad that the result for us is happiness even if I do not yet know the steps that led to it.

 

*Psst I am soft launching a Patreon for paying readers, in which I will duplicate okasungora pieces (because open access). If you are capable, sign up to support my work: https://www.patreon.com/posts/malindi-26357664 Thanks.

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seoul

This is what I think about when I make it to the tower at the top of the world while I shake my head right to left and rub my nose on the blue shawl I am glad I “borrowed” from the airline.

I say I love you to myself over and over again like a prayer.

Every time I say my own name I remember her and I think about sadnesses that are so fat they are unable to go through the vessels of the heart except in shrunken unrecognizable pieces of their former selves.

I say maybe there are other ways to live, maybe I should stand at the edge of all this and jump down and see what happens when instead of planning descent, you let the things that want to catch you do so and lay in their embrace for as long as your welcome lasts.

I realise the transparent glass box I rode to the top of this mountain did not scare me because no action was required from me for it to stay afloat, unlike the day that I capsized off the canoe after everyone promised nothing wrong could happen. Water has always wanted me in that jealous way of smoky-eyed lovers that are hiding darkness underneath their skin.

I have missed cities where the night does not mean that you must rock your soul in your palms like a baby, shush it, shut the door and tell your soul locking it indoors is what’s best as you sing Lala mtoto lala.

I buy a lovers’ padlock for half the price of stories I sell and write my own name on it and then I lock it onto the terrace’s fence, close to one that has come undone that says, “In this moment, life is good for Stephen.”

This is what the telescope whispers to my eyes: what defiance it is to think yourself special in a city that can blink another you into existence if it feels like it.

I summon an eight-year old version of me and she comes in the form of a hologram thumbing through magazines like Msafiri and the Marriott my father brought home and I tell her I can’t believe we made it.

This sorcerer child had a vision of the woman god made from me exactly as she came to me in real life six years ago, and that’s why when I tell my soul it’s just us now, she looks back at me like there may be a lie in there but won’t say anything about it no matter how much I beg her.

She said I belonged to her and I grew into a dragon and breathed out red-orange fire and roared Never. There are ways to be beautiful without being one.

I never realize how much people love me until I  stop seeking them and they start seeking me, like someone keeps hitting Kickback during poker.

You- you come to me every time I touch a pen but never actually leak out into the ink, like a permanent need to clear my throat.

That one time you let my ink find you it came out beautiful like the henna that woman at Mombasa Beach printed on my back.

You’re right to be careful. My fingers- they have thought themselves god and written worlds into existence before.

*Psst I am soft launching a Patreon for paying readers, in which I will duplicate okasungora pieces (because open access). If you are capable, sign up to support my work: https://www.patreon.com/posts/seoul-26120001 Thanks.