Feathers and Sawdust

Uuh, hi…

How are things?

It’s been a minute.


Kila mtu ako sawa?

Tuko salama. Labda nyinyi.

Hatuna neno. Ata ndio nafika hapa town kidogo…


Tuesday. 12 noon. A black crow is perched atop a street-lamp along Argwings Kodhek. A lady in a tight green dress is standing on the curb –waiting for a break in traffic so she can cross the road.

The crow has been watching the girl. Her jet black hair ran down her back and her eyebrows looked weird. They were unnaturally thick –gone too far down the side of her face. The crow thought the girl looked ghastly, at best.

For the third time that day the crow marveled at the queerness of these humans. As if cutting trees and inventing Trap music was not enough, now they wanted to draw their own eyebrows. But at least they stopped obsessing over quails.

A few meters away, a uniformed police officer was directing traffic at the roundabout. Over time the crow had noticed that, at around this time, the cops were way more attentive to the motorists. No error went unnoticed.

You got pulled over for not clipping on your seatbelt. You held the wheel with one arm and a bulky police officer waved you down and asked you why you were using your phone. You were seen hooking up the Aux cable and straight away you were told to ‘weka gari kando.’

This flurry of activity was always helpful to the crow. It signaled his favorite part of his day. And Tuesdays were always best because, at any moment now, a stew of students would trickle out of the chapel.

Some of them would sink back into the school grounds. And some would branch out and begin trudging uphill, further west. The latter group was the crow’s target. They were on their way to purchase some tasty wrappings of chapo smokie.

The crow dropped off the lamp-post and flapped its wings thrice –picking up altitude. A few seconds later he was gliding over Ngong’ Road. The air was warm and dotted with dust motes. A stalled tractor sat on the periphery of the tarmac –flanked by men with helmets and reflector jackets.

Crow landed on a tree close to the chapo smokie vendor. She was a plump woman with meaty arms and she always served her customers with a smile. She dabbled with fruits, too, and when she didn’t have customers flocking to her shop she would be slicing pineapples and packing them into plastic carriers –for the to-go kind.

The pineapples looked so yellow and fresh, and the crow had to accept that he was never going to have a chance at the pineapple. As it was the lady had put up a make-shift tent around her wares. It was hard navigating a clean snatch.

Then Crow saw the string of students heading his way –backpacks, sagged pants, earphones and crotchet braids. It was just a matter of time now.

Crow seriously hoped a few of them would be the to-go kind. Those ones would walk and talk and eat. Not many of them could multi-task that well, certainly not in the face of that mouth-watering meal.

And now the crow spotted a boy in a blue shirt. Unkempt hair. Badly fitting jeans. Perfect target. The boy, after walking a few steps, would reach to pull up his pants. Maybe the boy forgot to wear his belt. Either way, this created a nice window for the crow to swoop in.

Crow watched as the lady handed over the goods to the boy. The whole thing was wrapped in a serviette and the boy used his other hand to fish out some coins from his pocket. The crow straightened his legs and spread his wings –ready to drop.

The crows had a saying back at the tree-house: When it’s lunch you plunge.

He plunged.


A damn crow went with my chapo smokie. It was quite the spectacle, really. Heads were turned and people laughed. There was a period of delay before I realized what had happened. One minute I’m pulling up my jeans and the next, a black shadow is crashing into my face.

Some of the kachumbari spilled to the ground. I felt as though I might hurl a rock at the bird. This was highway robbery for chirssakes!

My love for birds reduced significantly after that. Up until I started rearing them…

Now I keep chicken. Yep, yours truly is now a poultry farmer. We got about 40 chicks and one mother hen who refuses to eat or lay eggs. I don’t like her very much, to tell you the truth.

We built a little house for them in the verandah. The place smells like feathers and sawdust. I love it. I love feeding them. I love the smell of the chicken feed. I love how –when I enter- they all assume I have food and they hop about with excitement. They come running towards me and stop at my feet –beaks turned, waiting. Expecting. I love them.

In fact when we first got them I said I’d name all of them. I noticed mother hen has an air of superiority around her. A bird with an attitude. So I named her Sheldon.

There’s a white one with a black spot on her wing –that one is called Daisy. And then there’s another chick with grey feathers and a long neck and long talons –he was the most active of the bunch, and was aptly named Falcon.

But there’s something they don’t tell you when you have chicks. Their chances of survival are a bit low; and that if you get attached to them while they’re still young they might break your heart. About 10 of them had died barely a week later, and it gutted me every time I found them – cold and hard and flat on the ground, lifeless.

Usually I’d find them in the morning. I’d be forced to pick them up and toss them out, then I’d walk back into the house –shoulders slumped and sad as an Eeyore. I hated those mornings. It’s really no way to start the day.

They were dying at an alarming rate and I racked my brain trying to find the cause. First I thought maybe we weren’t feeding them properly. So we changed the feed and gave them some vitamin boosters. And when that didn’t work, I guessed that maybe they were just too many. At night they’d all crowd in one corner so I figured maybe they were suffocating themselves. So we put up a partition and separated them.

At some point I even fancied they were ganging up on each other. Maybe Falcon was running some sort of murderous sect in there and I couldn’t be the wiser.

I honestly dread the day Falcon will die. I’m almost certain I’ll cry. It’s the ones you love that hurt you the most, I suppose.

Now more than half of them are gone. Falcon has grown fat and Daisy pretends not to see me during meal times. I’m not even going to come up with names for the rest. You just never know with these chicks, so I’m trying not to get attached.

But they’re all getting bigger. They’ve developed an appetite for cabbage and they love basking in the sun. I just can’t wait to see them bloom enough to crank out some eggs.


I know I’ve been absent. My apologies, friends. I’ve been over at Craft It –making my bones on Dusty Rugs. Yesterday I submitted my last piece for the year, and it was about one of my favorite topics –masturbating women. Hehe.

Craft It is Bett’s brainchild. We launched in September and she gave me my own space and it’s been a hoot. Under her wing my writing has taken another shape, not the usual jerk off-y way that I’m used to.

She’s teaching me how to go deeper –to zoom in and out on my subjects and to pepper my copy with dialogue and description.

It’s a different sort of animal over there. And it keeps me up late at night and it makes me cry and it makes me happy in equal measures, and I haven’t found a more gratifying feeling than meeting a deadline. Even the chickens don’t make me feel like that.

I try to put my back into it as much as I can, and I must have done it so much that I even forgot how to blog. You have no idea how long this post has been sitting in my draft box.

And the other reason I haven’t been blogging, of course, is that –and boy do I love saying this– they don’t pay me enough for this shit.

This would have been the year that I hit 100 posts. I’m going to have to hold off on that dream because I feel like I’ve run out of juice. I really need the holiday. Otherwise Bett still has me on a leash. She says I’m to write on Instagram in the meantime so the grease doesn’t run out. I wonder if they have a policy for masturbating women.

Happy Holidays!






4 thoughts on “Feathers and Sawdust

  1. Hahhha. Falcon and Daisy. You write about them as if you’re writing about your own kith and kin.

    Well, here’s to laying (more) eggs in 2018: here and wherever else they demand to be laid.

    Happy Holidays!


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