“Be patient and don’t be so quick to judge.” She said.
I welled up. Grown man welling-upness. The vulnerability. So our Valentine’s escapade was ‘messed up’ and all we had was the One Night Stand: The Enigma Experience to fall back on. I wasn’t looking forward to that either. Phuck poetry. Phuck Valentine’s. Phuuuck you.
That was a few hours before noon.
6.39 p.m. a text:
“At ONS. It’s beautiful. Compose yourself don’t ruin this. Poa?”
Damn. Who is this woman? She knows what to say when it has to be said. But the ego in me said, don’t play soft, Mike. So I texted back, “You ruined my day.” At the back of my mind: what day, nigga? St. Valentine’s? You are fighting with your girl over some holiday dedicated to some imprisoned Christian saint called Valentinus in Rome? A day so skewed that The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates it on July 6th and July 30th? You’re supposed to be a rebel, son: a non-conformist! What happened to you? Love happened; now shut up! I yelled at the ego-centric voice in my head.
Expletives. Packs stuff: CDs, print-outs and a stripped, baggy hoodie. She hates the hoodie. Says I wear it ‘too much’. That’s my street uniform, shawty.
7.20 p.m. She is at the reception. Bouquet of roses, tickets, attendance form and a plate of fries. I swallow hard because she’s so breathtaking in that sleeveless top and a stripped tight mini skirt. I pass like a ghost in Kiplombe cemetery. Caetry is there too, looking good. I bet, being the bosom buddies that they are, she must have told her that Mike’s ass is tripping like a lousy waitress today. Okay (insert Kevin Hart’s annoying voice here).
In the hotel hall, there’s a mike stand on a Maasai lesso as carpet (which I learnt later was Simon Chege’s), behind there’s a keyboard, a laptop, speakers on either side and chairs placed closely to replicate the intimacy of the evening. This must be Oyatsi’s idea. Brilliant fella. I like him. And he has a new i-phone. That’s what one month in Nairobi does to people. Upgrade your lifestyle or die a broke conservative. Unwritten laws of the urban jungle.
Sweeping my sore eyes through the audience, Ordinary Mind is tete-a-teteing with a lady, whom I learn he brought all the way from Athi River to the event. By virtue of his erotic poems, I don’t trust him around any female; friend or not. Elenah the MC of the evening was there. Jacob, her longtime boyfriend was there. Steve was there too. A very quiet but very wise gentleman. He has always looked like the younger version of PLO Lumumba to me. Add his command of written English to that semblance, then you have a father-son similarity.
Calton and his beautiful nurse girlfriend is sitting meticulously in the front row. Michael Ollinga is joined by Mercy Afande (these two are budding newspaper journalists with The Standard, very talented poets and friends). Mercy’s tight dress. Enough said.
I come back to the reception. I’m still mad for no reason. Her smile takes that away like a magic wand (something out of Witches of East End). I assure her that things are okay. Let’s ‘fight’ after the event. I give her a rose and my CDs. Street Cocktail LP is the sweat, sleepless nights I put together to share with my people. It’s not your typical mixtape. Sample this: Hiphop, Pop, RnB, Audio Poetry and a soft copy collection of 60 written poems. My work, my passion. It goes for 200 bob and folks just swooped on it in no time. My evening was taking a different turn. A silver lining served in dusty clouds.
The poets. The evening. Performances. The list:
Brian Bolo “Breaking the Boundaries Within 254”
Ordinary Mind “Atieno Will Go To America”
Mercy Afandi “A Thousand Sunsets”
Evah Shiro “Valentine Things”
Steve Otieno “To Whom Is Crush”
Antonio Sanchez “After Valentines”
Love Poems “Toilet Monologue”
Evan “L’amour De Toute Verite”
Victor Ochomo “I’marggedon”
Elenah Kim “Simba In My Mara”
Nyaguthii Ndirangu “Somehow (The Adventures…)”
Kennedy Njau “Not Now”
Wudz “In Love”
Brian Bolo “Beauty Unspeakable”
Ordinary Mind “Second Wife Material”
Evah Shiro “Michael”
Steve Otieno “The Neglect (No Applause)”
Antonio Sanchez b “Balls”
Evan “Only You and Nothing More”
Elenah Kim “I Waited”
Kennedy Njau “Where Do I Come?”
Wudz “Something Pretty”
Michael Ollinga “After Valentine’s”
ENIGMA (He kept the poem titles as a surprise for the evening.) Yes, when you are a star, you set rules! I liked this.
As usual, the open mic session starts kicking some few minutes past 7.30 pm. Brian Bolo was there with witty wordplay, then Bonnie, Sanchez, Love Poems, Oyatsi (who recited “Catharsis: How to Write Erotica” written by yours truly.) I came in with “In Love” which was subliminally a dedication to her. Mercy and Ollinga did their magic too. Hol’ upp a minnit! Mercy performed the same poem twice because a gentleman in the audience requested that. Doo-whoop. Her tight dress again. “A Thousand Sunsets”. Her tight a…
The room was literally red. The chairs, stage, rose flowers, dressing. Bleeding love, it was. Love…
I checked to the washrooms only to pump into the man of the evening: Robbin “Enigma” Mathews looking coyly cool in a dark green African silk shirt. A fresh haircut. I gave the brother a hug and light punches on his chest. He’s well-built. Good spirited.
She came with “Michael”, a poem that got Sanchez and Calton making suggestive gestures in my direction. Fire in my guts. Telepathically, I looked at her. Our eyes met and I nodded and winked back. This must be love… Anyway, the show must go on. Steve read “To Whom is Crush”, Love Poems did a poop poem, I mean a poem about constipation! We have all rushed to the toilet only to crouch there for 30 minutes and nothing comes out. The audience was “waiting for something to happen” as Ordinary took the stage with “Second Wife Material”. How does he come up with such material? Victor Ochomo, the dude with the accent and stage presence did “I’marggedon”. I did “Something Pretty” a dedication to beautiful women who are in love with ugly men. Kristen Bell & Dax Shepard or Jay & B kind of Ying Yang. Life is a duality. Phuck being perfect.
The Enigmatic Hour:
Finally, the love guru’s hour was nigh. He came to the stage sandwiched between two beauties and roses. Evah and Mercy (doo-whoop) made me a little envious of the brother. He looked like a messiah landing from the 9th cloud with two angles and in tight dresses on either side. (Wish a nigga would!)
Enigma alias Robbin Mathews Nyakundi. Enigma. Enigma has this voice and articulation that elevates the spirit. He should have been a monk in a parallel universe. He had had a whole month of writing and rehearsing and the result was something out of the 18th century Romanticism. The hush in the room was a breath of God in meditation, only to be exhaled by sighs of love or laughter at his clever anecdotes. You know the audience loves you when folks are so dead quiet, phones held carelessly, eyes on you and you get so intimidated but you breathe and exhale pure thought forms.Timelessness. Robbin’s voice. Kinda like God’s telepathic echoes to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Yes. 30 minutes morphed into seconds…The enigmatic experience. A man lost in his poetic reverie and he drags you along like a Victoria’s Secret wedding gown in the streets of Athens…
The curtain closes:
A plateful of smokees and fries. A flower in hand. Display of Elenah’s Shambala beads. My CDs exchanging hands. Photo session. Hugs. Laughter. Random shoulder taps. I and Cynthia Atieno on the balcony sharing her latest pyschic happenings. We promise to compile a book about her paranormal abilities.
There is this uneasy awkwardness when a good show comes to an end, especially if you had no plans for the rest of the evening like grabbing a couple of hot chicks for a threesome. There were more ladies (single) dressed to kill that kept my eyes and neck rolling from seat to seat. What an evening! All this because I fell in love with a poem. Poetry gave me her. Pearl.
A confused DJ was ‘backspinning’ and ‘flanging’ my audio poems with Virtual DJ at the set. I could spit in his face. How do you mix poems? Really? ‘Siren’ sample on that tshi too? Really?
(Silence down the elavator from the 6th floor.)
Ochomo, I and she hit the streets, withered bouquets in hand. Bought more roses outside Nakumatt from Caetry. I love artists who know how to grind.
Money and poetry is not a bad combo after all. My grey coudrey back pockets had mounds of notes from the LP slanging.
Life is good.
Addendum: I’ve learnt the essence of patience. Thanks to Pearl, St. Valentine’s and a withered rose on my table.