We had Brian Guserwa, way before we knew of Biko, we had Brian and not your just your lewd or daily randy ordinaire. He burned both hot and cold, fire in his veins, ice in his capillaries, he was an icebox in a Dakar Rally. He was nothing lanky and nothing wiry, he was a mere in betweener with looks that birds dug for endless days and a little sly dimpled smile to kill for. He looked like the kind of chap that would stick a knife in between your ribs while having a wry demure smile dancing on his lips, my stance still hasn’t changed, Gus is a cat too cool and too coy to be a normal human.
He was and still is a mean wordsmith, one that had me on the edge and still does. He was a word virtuoso that had us on a rope a dope kind of dance on the ringside. If literature was anything musical in the sense of the word, Gus would have been Maseno Schools smooth operating pied piper, he is a world connoisseur. If a lass ever received a letter written between 2007 and 2010 written in a neat tidy scrawl like a cultured girl and with words that packed a punch from Maseno School, I confess that you were the first-hand witnesses of Brian Guserwas handwork, he wrote all our letters back then. You should all tithe your dowries to the bugger because he did the heavy lifting for quite a number of uncreative bastards who wouldn’t write to save a cat from drowning in a pothole puddle.
I asked him to pay us a small time visit and the Duke from Kakamega with duchesses for sisters gladly complied(I had to mention your sisters mate, they were a torture back then).
Sometimes, home is where.
Where the gate knows you by touch, and the front door still bears the oil from your palms. It is where the couch remembers the shape and density of your bottom, so that when you sink into it, it shifts you and nudges you until you’re right in that spot you have dented over the years, with the shape and density of your bottom. The spot that feels just right.
Home is a kitchen whose smell you can pick out of a lineup. You can lay that smell on a table and break it down, pulling out its individual constituents like threads from an old sweater. This here is the Garam Masala my mother uses for everything, you can say, your nose in the air like a rat named Remy in the middle of a taste test. Those faint lemony notes would be the sifted remnants of your father’s miracle cure for the common cold; a melange of limes and ginger and honey and prayers. Ah, but that coconut smell is tricky… Yes, yes… it is not, in fact, the coconut oil that the family is sometimes surprised with after people watch a few minutes of Gordon Ramsey. No, that heady Mombasa scent is in fact the body lotion slash face mask slash occasional lube your househelp keeps under their bed.
Home is where the water doesn’t taste like anything. Where you trust the glasses, even when you can see the large thumbprint on the side that means your old man couldn’t be bothered to rinse it out after using it last.
It is where you know how to navigate the incessant squeaking of your bed when you’re showing Lillian from next door the constellations on your ceiling. Turn thirty degrees this way, hold on to something, keep the grinding to a minimum, use a forward thrust— forward and up, not down and down— so that the weak headboard doesn’t slam against the wall and wake her father…
It is where there is a faded poster of Tyra Banks on your bedroom wall. And, plastered to the underside of your mattress, a thick woolly sock that is both very dry and very sticky.
Where there is a bag full of old clothes and boxers you haven’t worn in years. Obviously, you’re too embarrassed to admit you once walked around with the catapult underwear, and you would happily go to your grave before admitting to anyone that you once thought Supras were cool. So you stashed them in an old Adibas duffel bag and tucked it away, your eternal shame, in the corner of your wardrobe where roaches go to smoke and complain about taxes.
Home is where they let you sleep in, but where they also complain in carrying whispers that people in that house will be asleep when Christ comes back for his bride.
It is where you know which shower knob does what. Where the aux cable is frayed and tired. Where the TV acts up when it has been showing three straight hours of Sam Okafor, and it needs to be smacked on the side, or rubbed lovingly to work again.
Other times, though, home is a who.
Home is a narrow face with striking eyes and sardonic lips that are always curling at the corners. A long nose. A Caucasian nose. Or a gap in the teeth. Or an earlobe shaped like a padlock.
Other times, home is a neck that goes on and on. Or legs that won’t stop.
It is a nice, hefty pair. Well-rounded. Not large, just the right size, dripping, hanging down like a teardrop, sitting nice and comfortably in the palm. The kind you can get a hint of as it fights to free itself from the shackles of a blouse, the kind which jiggles enticingly when its bearer moves. The kind that pokes through, agitated by a shift in wind currents or the swipe of a randy forefinger.
Home is a body whose smell you can pick out of a lineup. A body whose scars and spots are stories you know by heart. That Nike gash is the time a thistle weed grazed her thigh as she was skipping over the neighbour’s fence. The indent in her hip, that dimple that seems to be winking in low light, is the result of a stubborn gene from her mother’s side. And that map of the Vihiga superhighway, her various branches of stretch marks, are a reminder of that time she gained weight and then lost it all in a month. Stories, memories. A body which is a tapestry of happy days. Sad days. Fond days.
Home is a hug you understand. Your head goes here, your left hand there, and your awkward boner over there. A hug whose timing is perfect. Just long enough. Just tight enough. Often, it is a hug that segues into a furious assault on each other’s items of clothing.
It is a conversation in the dark. Calm. Unassuming.
It is a silent hour in a warm embrace. Comfortable silence. It is a question not being asked but being answered.
It is a folder in your phone, nameless, but more precious than anything else you own.
Sometimes, home is the random memory of a girl you met on a random day, one whose smile lit up your world and whose laugh made you laugh.
It is a devastating day when you discover it; that sometimes, people are not just people, but whole cavernous places where you visited and have since been unable to leave. Or whose depths you can no longer visit, but which haunt you every time you close your eyes.