In one of the lonely benches of a mall. Benches that when you sit on, other shoppers or is it ‘mallers’ are likely to quickly judge that you don’t have money to buy yourself a spot in one of the food joints or fun spots. That you are the kind that goes to malls to build castles that are probably bigger than that mall. Or maybe you don’t have any other place to go to and chill. God bless the hearts of those who figured that not everyone who goes into a mall can afford the good things of life it offers. So they put those benches for them and though they don’t put a sign saying it’s free to sit on them, they make it obvious in a way I don’t know that it is free. But that is the problem of humanity. It is in our nature to assume the worst and think the most awful things about people.
Like the way those innocent benches have been branded to be for the lowly in life. But in essence, they are just there. Period. The reasons those benches were put there are created by us and our brain cells. No I am not about to make a joke about brain cell one and brain cell two. Come to think of it, is it not better to accept the fact that you don’t have money to shop around so you just sit and chill on a bench in a mall unashamed than the mjangos who are keeping up with the Joneses in those posh beauty shops in malls for instance? All for an outward appearance that says they’re living lush lives but if they were to undress; (Brain cell 1: God forbid! Brain cell 2: Hallelujah Lord!) Maybe we’d find knickers that will proudly testify of how broke and indebted they really are.
Call it living beyond your standards. Using the negative power of assumption and what we have seen and heard, we both know the extents which people go to just to earn quick money. Needless to say, these things that are just enough to be called sins – some of us have done them or still do them.
But I guess we may never know the truth about them. Maybe because we will never get the forbidden chance to see them undress just before they walk into the shower or a small bathtub made by Kenpoly Company. Most of you mjangos are quick and anxious to tune in to any true story about other people that shows how they take the wine they have been preaching against. But the truth is, if we were to taste the water you preach about, we will be tipsier than the wine taker. You never want people to talk about your shit. Nobody does. If you ask Jackson Biko like I did one day whether it is a good thing or a bad thing he’d say it’s just a thing. Because when you hide your torn knickers below designer clothes, you may never get to change it. And at the same time, when we don’t get to look like what we have been through, or do in the dark, it makes the world a beautiful place. Thank the heavens that it does not shame us publicly with those things. If it were to do so, we would be living in an ugly world. Imagine walking all over the streets with your crap smeared all over your face.
Wait, or maybe it’s a good thing. Because we will never again dare to laugh at other people and criticise them when we see or hear of their crappy lives and experiences like we are fond of doing. At least we won’t get to think that we are better than others anymore. Anyway, I hope you see what would happen if God was human like you and me.
So I sat on that bench in a mall as I waited for him. If you haven’t sat on such a bench in a mall you should try. I sat their once and when I got up, I felt like I could do a TED talk. The evidence lies before you in this blog. Okay that’s not the reason. I was just using free Wi-Fi that made me wish he didn’t come on time. So who said nothing in a mall is free? He was sporting a black denim that went well with the black boots. And before I could proceed any further, that bench heard more from our conversation than I am documenting here. He has a neat hairstyle and a healthy body figure. One that the ladies will not obviously say yes to but at the same time cannot say no to. Just like every other mjango, he doesn’t look like his story, be it what he has been through or what he still goes through.
After the formalities of catching up with our lives since the last time we met, the main agenda was brought to the table. It looked like a pie. Sliced accurately into portions and has a spicy look that says, “Take only what you can eat.”
He began, “Buda! Everyone has a secret battle.”
I nodded, “That’s true.”
“Nobody chooses what binds them in life. It’s like a number of traps set in life that you may fall into a few but there is just one that you will fall into and it turns out to be the hardest place to come out from.” He paused. It’s like he was reading a speech he had written in his head. So fluent and organized in thought.
“Even if you come out of it eventually one day, a time comes when you miss that place. That trap, so to say, is no longer a trap. It is now a comfort zone. You go there to relieve yourself from stress. You go there because your body scolds you and goes on a strike; nearly boycotting every function because it demands for it. And like a slave, you go back to that trap turned into a comfort zone. Unfortunately, some choose to stay there because they have given up in trying to live without it. Others try so hard to live without it but circumstances just show them that the only way to move forward is by visiting the comfort zone, even if it’s for a minute.” He said and all of a sudden it felt like the mall had gone silent and everything had stopped just so that they could hear his words of wisdom from experience match out in troops straight from his heart with every troop of words greater in wisdom than the other.
Afraid that I would interrupt his chain of inspiration, I dare to say, “So that’s why it’s a secret battle. A push and pull of forces with different motives.”
“Exactly,” he says.
“So what’s your secret battle, for the record?” I giggle, “Since I already know. That’s why I asked to have this interview.”
He chuckles, “Okay yea. Bhang it is. That dreaded drug that enslaved me for years.”
I was meticulous enough to note the tears of a man that flow inwards clogging his throat from a far while flowing down to his stomach.
The rewinding of a tape in his life he wishes he could crush and trash and act a new takes a lot of heart from him. But he is teaching himself, as part of the recovery process to take it out, rewind it and play it again to anyone who needs to hear. He says there is no point in hiding it or being mendacious about his life. It doesn’t help him and anyone else with a secret battle to get any better because human beings are social. We cannot do away with the need to depend on other people for whatever cause. That means even when we go through the things that haunt us at that very moment we are away from people and we don’t want people to know the menace it causes us, we still need those people to help us fight that ghost that is only brave enough to attack us when other people do not see us.
So he tells his story to me, in hopes that he will inspire someone else who is going through pretty much the same thing or worse. Above all, he wants to keep on inspiring himself that he is still strong enough to fight against it.
“I started smoking weed when I was in form three. But I joined the company of friends that introduced me to it in form two.” He says with a smile on his face as if to ask himself, “What the hell was I doing back then!”
“How long did it take you to become an addict?” I asked.
“By form four I was an addict. Books were just blocks of rocks without it. I don’t know why but I became very dependent on it very fast. Unlike other people who have smoked it a number of times and one morning the decided to stop and wallah! They just stopped like a bus and alighted. They have never felt the need of going back to it.”
“That’s interesting by the way, come to think of it.”
“Yea you feel me now? It’s like that was not their demon.”
I shrugged when he said the word demon. “Huh! So it’s the devil?”
He laughed, “Yes and no.”
My smile faded immediately. “No?”
“You’re a Christian. If it was entirely the devil, we could cast him out and he would go, right?”
“Yes.” I said.
“But why doesn’t this secret battle or this particular demon go away for good? Imagine how many people have prayed for us? I know my mum has been praying and still prays for me like she is being paid.”
He paused. I was deep in thought.
“I’m not saying prayers don’t work. They do help and eventually, coming out victorious from a secret battle is God’s grace. Not human effort. The devil is on his own assignment to set the trap and his job is done. The rest, he will do while he is seated. He will whisper to you over and over that you need that comfort zone he created as a trap.”
“So are you saying we enslave ourselves?” I asked.
“Correct. It is both the working of a higher power and us. Let God deal with the higher power as we deal with ourselves. But interestingly, He deals with the higher power by giving us strength. And one way to get that strength, is to talk to people about it. Get help!”
He sought for help six years after his first encounter with the burning stick of dried leaves. People had started to realise what was affecting him but only the people who were close to him. Talking to people about it was his mode of acceptance that he had a problem. And that, he says, is the first and most crucial step to recovering. The demon still haunts him from time to time. Sometimes he wins over it, sometimes he doesn’t. But when he doesn’t win, instead of beating himself, he cheers himself up for another round of battle. Having gone a day without a puff is a considerable victory. Though the rule is, “Don’t live in the glory of yesterday. A greater challenge awaits.”
“Do you ever regret having been an addict of weed?”
He said, “In my current understanding of life, I’d say no. Though I used to regret. Because there was a time I gave up and said to hell with it. So I don’t regret since it has taught me several things about life and myself that I would probably have never known. It has also taught me to be dependent on God.”
“You say you’ve learnt to live without it but being a secret battle, you never fully win. So at what point do you find yourself running after the comfort zone of puffs? That is if you do go back to it sometimes.”
He sits up and straightens his denim jacket, “When I’m stressed. I said I won’t lie. Not all the time when I’m stressed though. But there’re times I’m really stressed to a point I can’t think straight or even sleep. That doesn’t mean the end however. There’s something my uncle told me that keeps me going. He said, “If you really have to, it’s okay. But don’t let it control you.”
We later went to have pizza. Hehe. So, see the mall bench is not to the penniless.


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Written by The Mjango

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Kelvin Kariuki
Kelvin Kariuki
5 years ago

Its really fine…..Congratulations Vic