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Let’s suppose that you’re a singer waiting for your turn on the stage. You’re young, eager to prove yourself to the world, yearning to make your mark on the world. You take a deep breath, drawing air deep down to your belly, then you slowly exhale, just like you’ve been practicing in front of the mirror. Only that before the mirror, you only had your reflection to conquer. Now, the whole world is looking at you with unabated anticipation, their eyes shining with expectation, their lips slightly parted. When your name is called, you steps into the spotlight, your feet treading on the red carpet, your heart pounding heavily inside your chest. The walk to the centre of the stage seems like eternity, and as you takes one step after another, you fully realize how large the crowd before you is, and feel the stage fright welcoming you, hugging you like a lost friend, making you weak at your knees, feeling your heart with a sense of inadequacy. …


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Imagine yourself falling in love, whatever that means to you. Let’s say it happens the conventional way. You bump into her at a party, or in church perhaps. A week later, you two are an item. It becomes disruptive, your life turns upside down, priorities shift like political alliances. Mornings become a time for anticipation, will you wake up to a ‘good morning baby’ text from her? Gradually, your head space becomes invaded with constant thoughts of her. Scenes of the two of you together invade your imagination, holding it hostage. …


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Imagine yourself plopped up on your office seat with your elbows leaning on your desk, your fingers punching furiously at the keyboard of your computer, and your eyes squinting at the screen in front of you. There is a mug on the desk, half full with coffee that has now turned cold because it’s been a couple of minutes before you took your last sip. It’s one of those days when your in-tray is overflowing with work, ambition is flowing in your veins, and you, determined to clear that tray, sit through the afternoon, until the golden rays of the gracefully setting sun streak in through the large office window as if to say goodbye, then the dark sets in to keep you company. After a while, silence and solitude follow, as the city quietens down for the night. …


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I picture a young rapper standing on the stage, he’s dressed in a white tee shirt and blue jeans and sneakers. His right hand is holding a microphone, his brow is dripping sweat, and his eyes are gazing beyond the crowd before him, gazing at a place only he seems to see. The crowd starts chanting his name, his face lights up, and I imagine the butterflies in his tummy evaporating away as confidence comes in to fill his nervous body.

He raises his mic to his mouth and shouts;

‘Nimeshika mic mkononi, mfukoni nina light,

Then he points the mic’ at the people and they…


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When you hear the word ‘millenial’, what picture comes to your mind? For me, the most vivid picture is that of a young guy in his mid-twenties trudging wearily in the streets of this city in the sun, bracing the scorching afternoon heat because he is a man on a mission. He’s wearing a white shirt tucked into beige khaki pants, black official shoes and a frown on his face. There’s a brown envelope tucked under his arm, inside is a CV that reads ‘Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering’.

I picture him walking into one of those imposing buildings in the middle of the city, and into the offices of a corporate firm, a smile plastered on his face, his heart palpitating with hope and anxiety. It’s one of those offices with polished floors and glass doors that open into lavish offices. Perhaps there is a boardroom where the CEO sits every morning trying not to be distracted as he listens to a presentation, then raising his hand two minutes into the presentation to say, ‘Erm, sorry to interrupt, but at what stage does the money start coming in?’…


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There are times when we run out of things to distract us from ourselves. During those times, we’re compelled to endure that emptiness that lives somewhere inside of us, that void that we spend most of our lives looking for things and experiences to fill. For some reason, there is always someone who feels that void more than others, it comes like a tinge of sadness that never seems to ebb away no matter what he does. It makes a nest in his soul and stays there like an unwanted guest. …


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There is no tale as heartbreaking as that of a life full of potential going to waste, to never again have the opportunity to explore the immense possibilities that come with the gift of being alive.

Sometimes I picture this young guy, what do we call him? Let’s call him Kim. Our story begins when he’s still in his late 20s, still a ‘millenial’. He is staring at the blunt squeezed in between his thumb and index finger, noticing how slow it burns like incense for the gods. He watches the thick, curly smoke rising up before fading into the thin afternoon air. He takes another puff, inhales deeply and feels the burn in his throat as the smoke forces its way down like an unwanted guest. A cough escapes to give room in his lungs. The cough is accompanied by smoke, which rises up into the air like a bird which had just found freedom from a cage. Within minutes, his head feels slightly light headed, then an overwhelming sense of peace and calm engulfs him, like the world with all its troubles has packed a bag and left him to his peace. He is preparing himself for some ritual of sorts. …


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Do you know the feeling that comes with crossing over a decade? Let me tell you about it; when you’ve just hit 20 and puberty is waning like the embers of a dying fire, you’ll think that the world is your oyster. Your body is still energetic enough to handle the charged nights out with whiskey and ice and repeat it every damn weekend. Adolescence is paving way to youthful elegance, acne is clearing from your face, and your skin is picking up a smooth caramel complexion. Beards are growing on your chin, you’re morphing into a man. It is a good time to be alive, believe me. Even your folks now agree with you that you’re ‘not a kid anymore’, so eventually, they let go off your hand, the same hand that they held for the past twenty years, and whisper in your ear, ‘You’re a big boy now, go into the world and become’. Then they stand there with tears welling up their aging eyes and a prayer building up in their big hearts as they watch you leave because to them, you will always be their chubby little boy. …


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It was another typical Saturday night; the unforgiving midnight cold sending shivers down my spine, a DJ on the decks masterfully switching from hip hop to dancehall and finally to local music, then repeating the whole process. An inebriated sea of party lovers dancing to the tune and asking for more. Wooden tables filled with bottles of beer, whiskey glasses being refilled again. The occasional clinking of glasses at some corner where peeps are making a toast to something. Smoke rising into the air like incense. The typical club scene.

Interestingly, it was around that time when the year is about to end and everyone is in a party mood. I wasn’t really in a party mood though. Why was I there then, you ask. Well, two days before, a long lost friend had given me an unexpected call ”It’s been a minute, we should meet up soon, why don’t we do 1824 this Saturday?


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Back in the 90s and all through to the very beginning of the 2000s, our local TV space was dominated by one station. That station was KBC. At that time, having a TV set was a delightful privilege, and so was having a mobile phone. Remember Nokia 3310? It was a status symbol then and a preserve of those who had made it in life. Speaking of making it in life, if you thought that having a TV set was the only mark of culture and opulence, just imagine the kind of fame that was bestowed unto you if you appeared on air. In fact, just having your name mentioned on the news was the epitome of success and would earn you talking points in any conversation in which you had any stakes. …

About

Ben Mokamba

|Writer| |Idealist| |Introvert| For more of my stories visit my blog at https://benmokamba.co.ke/

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