Originally posted on mikemuthaka.com

I was going to tell you a story about a boy called Stewart. I grew up with him. I wanted to tell you about the adventures we shared as kids, the mischief we caused, and how all those memories ended up in tears, mine.


I’ve been crying a lot lately. I don’t understand it, it happens at the most random of times. I might be in the shower and a flood of emotion just wells up my gut. It’s the devil’s work I swear.

I wanted to tell you how this book, Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini reminded me of Stewart. Of how the narratives are so similar it’s uncanny. Most of all I wanted to make you cry as well.

So on Wednesday I sat down to pen it, only I came up with about 10 words, and stuck there.Oh great work Mike, only 990 more to go.

I have this rule, it’s called the -don’t look up- rule. When I’m writing I do it without looking up at the screen, I write the whole thing first then look up only when I’m done, when I’m editing. Looking up, it slows me down then I second guess myself like hell. That day I stopped and looked. It was a bust. And then I thought ah, it will come, it always does sindio? Just chill. It will come. It didn’t. Not on Thursday and not on Friday either.

I felt miserable. I needed a beer. I wanted to cry goddamn it.

And then I remembered a text that I got, from this girl that needs help.

I think most of my audience here is young. Like me, or, around the same age as me. Although I’ve met people who tell me I don’t write like I’m 21. “I expected someone older,” they say. To which I reply with a coy smile and nothing else. Otherwise I’ll try to be smart, try to come up with some apt line about age to sound clever. It never works.

I think we share almost similar problems at this age. We find ourselves fresh out of high school with characters we’ve absorbed. We harbor dreams and strap ambitions to our backs. We get lost in the freedoms of not being monitored by the teacher on duty, no more Math, and no more three inshas a week stifles. We create Whatsapp groups so we keep in touch with fellow alumni, and we feign interest in each other’s lives. We decide that we’ll be meeting weekly in town where we’ll get greasy fries and talk about who took who to bed. The more risqué ones go out and get cheap liquor, drink in the open and paint the town. The world is ours.

And then the grades come out and we celebrate. You flunked? Ha Ha, take another sip of this, get drunk some more. What the heck, we cleared high school, it’s never that serious anyway.

A week later we start to think about the next step. Our parents sit us down to talk about the future. What comes next after ICDL and driving school? Some fade; they move away from the city to chase life. Two three maybe four guys remain close.

Some get into campuses that were not in their selections, taking courses they never planned for. And we get more friends with who fell in the same pit. Friends who serve as security, power to the masses and all that comrades shit. We sing solidarity. Some get their footing right, they decide to make lemonade and everything goes just fine. Some don’t.

So this girl I’m telling you about, she’s lost her bearing. She dropped her compass somewhere along the way and now she’s too far to go back. It all started when she asked me how I stopped smoking. “You just stop. Throw away all your cigs and get your shit together,” was my million dollar advice. And then she sent me the long text now, explaining to me why it wasn’t so easy. It goes something like:

Michael, I’ve always been a sad girl. I had depression in class 8 for God’s sake. I had eating disorders. I had illnesses that took 1 year to get rid; I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone one about. I am such a mess Okay? I started cutting myself so long ago, it reached a point in high school where I was cutting to lose blood and die. I’ve given up on God so many times it feels weird when I haven’t. And I’m never going to let anyone date me or love me because I HATE my face, my awkwardness, my everything and especially these dark moments.  I just feel like everyone else is better off. My friends think I’m okay because there are emojis. And I’m tired of faking happiness. You know what? I can put up the brightest smile for people in the morning. I think in this world that’s all that matters.

I didn’t know what to say. I got offline so I could think about it, what to say to her, how to help. I ate my supper and then thought some more. Nothing. Yesterday I decided to write about it instead. First I ran it through her and we agreed on an anonymity thing. We shook hands with emojis and I got on with it.

My small plan to take care of the world, so St. Peter will have my ticket ready at the gate. A few words for this girl…

This war that you’re in, it’s been fought before. And those who won realized they were beating themselves. They left their blades on the ground and went back home. So stop cutting yourself, it doesn’t do any good to your skin. You don’t want to die now, it’s too damn early, wait till you’re 95, when you’re turning into a cabbage then you can consider it. But if you continue to turn to nicotine every time something doesn’t feel right, you won’t get to see sixty for Pete’s sake. (See that, St. Peter?)

I have a funny relationship with God, who doesn’t anyway. So I’m not worthy to discuss matters faith, to tell you the truth. But what do I do? I get my ass to church on Sunday, join the rest of the confused flock and hope to go to heaven when my time runs out.

And what about the guy that you’ll finally date? The one that will love you despite your mess? After all the bad boys, with their sagged pants and their weed, that guy will come along. I don’t think you want to die alone no matter what badass face you put. He will know how to handle you and your baggage. He’ll be the nice guy that you’re not paying attention to right now, and you will love him back. One day you will get married, one, if not both of you will want children, but you’ll have destroyed your body so much it wouldn’t be able to conceive the idea. Hehe. Cool it with the smoking.

Mirrors don’t lie. Look into one and see that you’re young and beautiful. There’s time. A bit too much if you ask me, if you’re not careful with it you’ll stagnate, and everybody else will always seem better off. Capitalize on it, make it count. You’ve enrolled in a course that you don’t see light in? That doesn’t make you happy? Get up and leave. Go do what you love, paint or something. Paint the world. It’s yours.


Published by Michael Muthaka