What do you do when a god shakes your hand and says he likes your hair? How do you know it’s really him? It’s not like you’ve seen him before.
Well, you do nothing.
You remain rooted in your seat and wait for your heart to beat normally again. You watch him walk away to shake other hands, you didn’t even get a chance to say thanks. Something crawled up your throat and grabbed your tongue.
You start to notice his height and how it seamlessly commands the room. For a few minutes your eyes don’t leave him. You get flighty. You get struck. You want to kiss his forehead and tell him how much his art has weaned yours.
But you don’t do all those things. You’re a man. You summon all that’s inside you to keep it together. You bottle all that excitement and cap it. That, my friend, is a subtle description of how it was when I met Biko. Very subtle.
I didn’t know what to expect from the class I told you about here. I didn’t know what kind of people I’d meet. I wasn’t even sure I was fit enough to sit at the table. The picture in my mind was that the people in there were writers who’ve done their time and put a small dent in this business. That they only needed some sort of vanity fuel then they’d sleep better. Not really to learn much. And there I was, a kid wet behind the ears with shaggy hair who writes on a blog in search of himself.
But this story would be incomplete without me telling you about the Email that started it all.
The day I got that Email I woke up balanced. You know how that feels. Like the good Lord has cupped his hands on your shoulders, like the sun will shine from your shirt. You even do a jig on your way to the shower. And then coincidentally that was the day I got this typewriter. It’s a positivity birthing positivity thing.
I love that typewriter. A fragile little machine with a musty scent, feels like it’s going to break while punching a key. And you really have to punch it in otherwise the words won’t be clear on the paper. I love it because you write on it and it feels authentic, like you’ve really gone to work. Your fingertips numb and your wrists hurt and you feel like Hemingway. I love it.
So the Email, it was from this chic called Bett. Apparently she got my contact from a fellow blogger. Thanks a million Mdaleene!
I’m reading the mail in the car: Our next class is from 8 to 10th June from 9AM to 4:30PM. Venue is Hilton Hotel.
A wide smile has splashed across my face now. Until I see the charge per participant, then I want to cry my eyes out. 15k! I swear if you were seated next to me you could hear the sad chuckle in my head.
Almost half heartedly I ask Bett if there’s a discount for guys still on Yahoo. She tells me a story about sijui how Yahoo is like the Nokia E63, basically telling me to upgrade, and then goes on to ask when she can get a down-payment. By this time it’s a shut case in my head, I know there’s no way I’m going for this class. So I tell her I’ll place a Sportpesa bet then see what happens.
But our God does not sleep. I was able to pay in time.
See, I like the smell of eggs in the morning. It calms me. It’s the smell of a productive day you know? On Wednesday last week that was the smell that I walked into at Hilton, only it blew a cold breeze right into my socks. There was a knot in my stomach and I wanted to turn back, make a run for it. Ask anyone with social anxiety, they’ll tell you how it feels.
There was a stony silence when I walked into the conference hall where the class was to be held. Only about 5 people had arrived. Everyone was busy on their laptops, the smell of expectation emanating from their machines. I took a seat next to this guy in a suit and we got acquainted. “Muindi, without an h, like Muindi Mbingu,” he says.
Look, I’m straight as a hot bullet okay? I have to let you know that because this is about to get a tad dramatic. And it’s too late now.
Seconds later Biko walks in and says hi to Muindi, asks his name then turns towards me. Boy was he tall. It was like standing at the foot of a watchtower. Overwhelming, like looking at a low full moon.
There’s a flushing in my feet. And then a sound. It’s me. I’ve swallowed a ball of fluid.
“I like your hair man,” he says. And then he’s moved on. Poof! Walks away just like that. Doesn’t even ask what I had for breakfast. I will myself to remain in my seat. A sad feeling washes over me right after, I start to miss him. I feel like the three days are over. Everyone goes in their direction and we never see each other again. Poof!
The class starts, introductions are made and the ball is set to roll. Biko talks, Bett talks and then Biko talks some more. They both tell us of their journeys, how they ended up writing and all. I remember this grass green envy coming over me when Biko broke down his gigs in detail. I remember questioning my abilities, if I could handle all that pressure. I remember deciding to get my life in order.
Next we talked about voice. How to nurture your own voice and sticking to it. They fed us this phrase, you are what you read. That part of the class is what inspired this post. Here’s how:
I’ve been reading Biko since high school. I first came across him on ManTalk, and then I found his blog and I haven’t stopped reading ever since. I have admired him for the longest time you see. I have read and reread his pieces, which is always a fun thing to do, he clearly knows his shit, but now I have to stop. I have to pick up my spear and go hunt for other writers to read, as I also write, do my 10,000 hours in the trenches.
There’s a line in the movies that’s totally full of crap, that if you really love someone you let them go. It’s been an honor Jackson, hehe. It’s not you it’s me.