Long Nights

Nights means dreams. Mostly I dream of the little girl in the coma, lying there, her small fragile hands in the hands of her mother, her face impassive, the face that lost a body. Machines breath for her. Other times I dream of her running in this big field of brown grass on one of those evenings that the big orange sun seems to take a tad longer to sink behind the hills. Sometimes I dream of her sitting at the edge of my bed, wiping my sweaty brow, and shaking my shoulders gently, willing me to come out of the sleep. Then there are nights I wake up because I can hear her crying, these brittle sobs that snap like dry twigs, only to realise that it’s the cats outside in the modest maize farm behind my room. Those days I wake up with a jolt, heart racing and I lie on my back on that small three by six bed, my blanket half covering half of my naked body and I listen to the the swaying branches of the tree outside scrap the corrugated roof outside our window.

One night I couldn’t sleep so I woke up and pulled up my shorts and I eased myself out into the corridor. It was just after 3am, a nice warm breezy night. I walked, barefoot and barechested, down the long verandah and sat at the steps of the dormitory, with my view the old blue gate and the big mango tree in the middle of the compound. It’s shadow curled over the verandah . The whole center was silent, the admin block empty and in darkness, a mothership that has powered down for the night. I could smell the dew settling on the grass. Nights are the toughest because you have to be alone with your devil. There are no group forums to sit around talking about the days you woke up in strange bedrooms next to strange girls with very dark nipples.

I sat there with my chin resting on my folded knees, staring at the little security house at the gate, now dark. An occasional dog barked in the distance. Lone dark clouds slowly glided up in the pale blue sky. I stared at that gate hard and thought I could just walk over and jump over it. I could simply up and leave this place and these broken people. I wouldn’t even need a shirt. I would leave everything back here because I wouldn’t want to carry the smell of this place with me. The smell of self doubt and dying hope. What do I own anyway apart from my Bible,  four pairs of trousers, five shirts, one pair of canvas shoes, a pen and a book? Clothes that don’t even belong to me, clothes that hang onto me like a disease because I have wilted down to half of Jeff’s size. I look ridiculous in them, trousers folded at the bottom, shirts folded at the sleeves and collars big enough to fit another neck.

I could easily walk away from all that. I could jump over that gate and disappear into the night. It would break mom’s heart. Mom and Jeff.

Suddenly a long beam of light shone in my face from the security house at the gate. I didn’t even flinch because my reflexes have become so bad. I have reflexes of an old elephant. The torch remained on my face for what seemed like an eternity and I stared into it without blinking. Finally it went off and I saw the lumbering figure of Ochi, the ageing security guy shuffling over to me, mumbling in the process. He came and stood right before me.

“You know this is not allowed, Larry.” He growled like an ageing dog. “You have to get back to your room.”

I stared at his booted feet, the toes worn. He had big feet. He smelled of old cigarettes and a warehouse; mouldy and craving of sunlight.

“Get back inside or I will have to report this to Father in the morning.” He said.

“I can’t sleep.”

“Then stay in your bed,” he said, this time his voice softer.

I didn’t move. He shifted from one foot to the other, unsure of what to do. I didn’t care if he reported this to Father or to God himself.

“I dream of this little girl every night” I said to myself. “ I dream of her and of these wheelbarrows. She is always asking me to pick one of the five wheelbarrows to push her in and we have this arguments and she starts crying saying, ‘why won’t you let me choose the wheelbarrow I like? Why can’t I get my own wheelbarrow?”

Ochi stood still like a watchtower as I talked to his shoes. There was a long hollow pause filled only with the sounds of incessant crickets.

“How old was she?”

“Can I have a cigarette?” I mumbled.

He sat the end of the staircase and leaned on the pillar near it with a long sigh, as if this small story had completely worn him out. “I can’t give you a cigarette, you know it’s against the rules here.” I could feel his stare on me. His gaze was warm against my skin, like an open fire.

Then I started crying. I hated when I cried. I seemed to cry a lot since I came here. He sat there, slumped against the pillar like a bag of grains. I sniffled, wiped my face with the back of my hands. An owl howled.

“Do you read the Bible, Larry?” he asked.

I shook my head. “No,..not lately, my wrists are too weak.” He chuckled.

“Read, Galatians 5:1 tomorrow morning when you wake up.”

“Galatians 4?”

“No, Galatians 5: 1. It’s not a long verse, so I’m sure you can make time for it.”

I mumbled it trying to keep it in my head. Galatians 5:1.

“What does it say?”

“Just read it.” Then he struggled to stand up, holding the pillar for support as he heaved his body up. How this guy is entrusted with the security of this place beats me, maybe God helps him.

“Come on, tell me.”

He sighed and lit the furthest part of the compound with his torch. Without looking at me he said, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”

“I wasn’t a slave.”

“You are a slave of alcohol, Larry. That’s why you are here. Now go back to your room.”

The next day was Sunday and we were allowed to call home. I hadn’t called home in the five weeks I was here. There was one phone in Father’s office which you had to book for a three minute call at a specific time.

Mom picked on the third ring. I could hear a cow mooing in the background.

“Is that a cow, mom?” I asked.

“Larry, is that you?” She asked excitedly.

“Yes it’s me.” I said. “Is that a cow?”

“Are you okay?” She sounded panicked. “Where are you calling me from?”

“From the rehab mom,” I said, “I haven’t escaped yet.”

I could hear her breath a sigh of relief and maybe controlling her tears. Mom was as teary as I had become.

“How are you? How are the meals? Are you exercising? Do they allow you to go play outside because it’s important? Are you reading your Bible, are -”

“Mom,” I said, “Calm down. I’m fine. I walk around the field sometimes. And yes, I’m reading my Bible. Was that a cow I heard?”

She blew her nose. “Sorry, I have a cold. It’s cold in Eldoret, it rains all the time.” She blew her nose again, this time louder. I waited. “How are you feeling, Larry?”

“I get these dreams mom, about these wheelbarrows and about the girl how is she?”

She paused a bit.

“Same old. I talked to the mother last evening.” She kept quiet for a while, gathering her thoughts. “What kind of dreams do you have?”

“You know, of that girl. She talks to me, at times. I dream of her and wheelbarrows, blue wheelbarrows. I can’t sleep, mom.”

She sighed. “You have to pray. Do you pray?”

“I do.”

“Prayer makes everything better.”

“I don’t feel better.”

“How do you feel?”

“I feel sleepy during the day.”

“Then sleep during the day, don’t they allow you to sleep during the day?”

“If this was play school they would.”

Mom blew her nose again.

“Larry, God’s way is difficult to comprehend.”

The next person to use the phone came into the room, a tall guy with spectacles. He was in for drugs. He reminded me of a fox with his hollow eyes.

“Mom, I have to go – “

“Larry,” she said, “remember to read your Bible.”

“I will,” I said quickly. “Was that a cow I heard earlier?”

***

This is an excerpt from a small novella project I’m currently working on. The protagonist, Larry, is a bit of an ass. But what’s a novella without some ass?

165 thoughts on “Long Nights”

  1. Wabushes says:

    Great

  2. rolex says:

    OHHH..L.MAKAU I MADE IT..let me go read it now

  3. Hadi says:

    Nice read

  4. Lewis Martin says:

    Some days you think about someone you miss so much, you then dream about them and wake up feeling all happy and just hope you were with them at that time. Dreams does wonders.
    Looking forward to the novella, from the excerpt it will be a good one.

  5. Miira says:

    Nice. I can’t wait for the whole thing.

  6. makaumutheu says:

    I can’t wait for it, seems like the type to keep me glued all night, waking up next morning with red puffy eyes. I thought we were past that first to read nonsense.

  7. EVelyn says:

    Great work

  8. Njooro says:

    Keep at it. Alcohol and drugs are ruining our generation. Hope this will open people’s minds to dangers of addiction.

  9. Nyakio says:

    #3 great one Biko

  10. Tehillah says:

    Oh God!!!

  11. Mohammed says:

    loading……

  12. Gudy says:

    Awesome read

  13. Watitwa says:

    Well, cann’t wait for the whole novella.

  14. ROZZY says:

    awesome

  15. Mark says:

    Interesting novella, Biko.
    Can’t wait to download it illegally. Muhahaha 😀

    https://thispostisabout.wordpress.com

  16. i was kinda lost before l got the story line … l love the suspense it keeps you reading!

  17. Sylvia says:

    Awesome read.

  18. Njeri j says:

    Tell us where to buy it when its done. No matter how short it is

  19. pesh says:

    Sounds like a good one to watch out for…
    I wonder why Larry was insisting on the Cow?
    Did he hit the kid into a coma while drunk-driving?

    What a story!

  20. Kevin says:

    Great piece

  21. Watitwa says:

    Well….looking forward to the novella.

  22. Lauryn says:

    sounds touchy….can’t wait to read the whole of the novel

  23. J.A says:

    Am curious about the girl…

  24. I cant wait for the book Biko,,, very psyched up already

  25. Suleiman says:

    Finally we’ve got a novel coming up….

  26. Dickson says:

    Nice read

  27. Miss L says:

    For a moment I thought it was Joe Black. It reads a lot like Joe Black.

  28. Rael says:

    Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
    http://www.shesatomboy.net

  29. You know at the start I was wondering why you are having strange dreams Biko. Then the story eased me in an I figured this is not you. I like Larry. He’s an ass but then I have already stepped into his bubble. I feel like his mom forced him to go to rehab and Jeff stood there that day as they signed him into the front desk, head bowed, saying nothing. And Ochi is a good man.
    This will be a good one.
    Good read as always.

  30. IamOrtis says:

    A good sneak peek.

  31. Emily says:

    Brilliant

  32. Elsie says:

    wow wow ….Nice …the last novella I read was A walk in the dark

  33. Ben says:

    You said the Novella is underway? Jakendu you wouldn’t have said that. Now waiting for it to be reddy will take forever.

  34. Moreen says:

    I was almost sure this was a guest post but then you were written all over the piece.Keep the excerpts coming

  35. We are all slaves to something. Mainly money. And capitalism. And family. And our dreams. And insecurities. There is always something. That verse is null and void. Adulting is a vicious cycle of slavery.

    Happy Tuesday everyone.

    • Rene says:

      True, we are all slaves to something. But i disagree that the verse is null and void, because, yes it doesn’t dispute that we are slaves but we should not be burdened again because Christ set us free through His death. Happy Tuesday to you Sir

  36. Kim says:

    What a story it is! Already. ION – I saw a tall dark dude running in Kile this morning. With a humongous forehead of course. Was that you Biko?

  37. @clif_the_tall says:

    ” I would leave everything back here because I wouldn’t want to carry the smell of this place with me. The smell of self doubt and dying hope.”
    This got me thinking hard. How does dying hope and self doubt smell like? Thinking of it, in life and as we live, there are so many scents with just as many meanings. Some attract while others repel. Scents are very instrumental for identification purposes and indicators of different phases in life. I think in one particular time of our lives we have had these types of smell, such is life anyways.
    Great piece. Can’t wait to lay my hands on the novella.

    • Rene says:

      Speaking of scents. I remember one time when i was 5 years, my dad was hospitalized at Nairobi Hospital. Every time i would visit there was this scent that just wouldn’t leave me. 30 years later and i am abroad and at times, i’ll be going on with my everyday life and this scent just wafts by and takes me to those days at the hospital.

      • Dee says:

        I have these two scents. One of diesel from my hearse that brought my aunt home and fresh coffin, from three people that is always the smae. Sometimes even when seated at my desk at work, it just comes. I imagine maybe it is their spirit saying Hi!

  38. Abdullah omar says:

    Nice read very nice

  39. Anastasia Gitonga says:

    This is one puzzling and scarely bio im still shaken by the dream. It’s like a horror movie where you’re scared of the next scene

  40. Jude Paul says:

    Nice read Biko, I nearly got lost before I got the story line though. Can’t wait for the novella!

  41. George says:

    Great piece, but i was waiting for you to introduce a guest writer. i didn’t think it was you writing this. I did not feel you in those words untill the very last paragraph where you actually admit this is your work.

  42. Ken says:

    This post got me thinking…

  43. Victoria says:

    Great piece Biko. Can’t wait for the novella.

  44. Kioko says:

    Does he ever get to choose the wheelbarrow he likes? …anxiously waiting to find out.

  45. Rene says:

    It reminded me of A MILLION LITTLE PIECES by James Frey. It tells the story of a 23-year-old alcoholic and drug abuser and how he copes with rehabilitation. I look forward to reading more of the novella.

  46. Elvis Jonyo says:

    Great Read Looking forward to the complete thing

  47. asterix says:

    Finally Biko you are embracing your fears and writing a novella, though you still call it small, yet we know its always big with you. We are all slaves of something be it alcohol, fashion or debts.

  48. “Nights are the toughest because you have to be alone with your devil”…or your God.
    Looking forward to the rest of the novella.
    You may be sitting on a goldmine or bestseller.

  49. Xtine Gits says:

    Great piece Jack. Can’t wait for the novella

  50. Kui says:

    Deep – I can’t wait for the rest of the story.

  51. Onyango Ongoya says:

    My two cousins have been to rehab. this story has made me understand what they go thru.It’s just a tip of the iceberg, am waiting for the whole novella

  52. Cnjeri says:

    I read the first line and thought, ‘Could this be Chanchori, the Uber Story Guy?’ Looking forward to reading that novella.

  53. Eve Gakahu says:

    Novella!!..Yes. about time..it will be one of those books that hold a proud place in your library shelf..hopefully

  54. Neno says:

    Looking forward to the novella

  55. francis says:

    Sounds good…I get those dreams sometimes not of little girls and wheelbarrows but of people I should not be talking to and chapters I should have closed. Turning into a pillar of salt does not help when you ant to move on, to get to terms with it. I especially dislike it when the dreams come while driving.

  56. Sian says:

    It is beautiful. Real.

  57. Akeyo says:

    The imagery, the suspense…interesting piece.

  58. sk says:

    ‘Is that a cow I heard in the background?’
    Still stuck on this line. There’s something about it.
    Nice read.

  59. carolyne says:

    am just craving for the next piece….waiting for the novella..

  60. Rose says:

    indulging

  61. Kish says:

    A book at last! I too thought it was joe black…
    Looking forward to the rest of the story… Especially to find out more on Larry’s obsession with the cow 😀

  62. Raha says:

    I am burdened by a yolk of slavery!

  63. Finally a novella from you, really waiting for the launch

  64. Chelsea says:

    What’s a novella without some ass?Just some boring shit!
    Release the complete novella already Biko; we wait.

  65. Jorgè says:

    I had a dislike for first person narratives but yours is an exceptionally a good read. I will be amongst the first to buy it

  66. MDG says:

    “Was that a cow I heard earlier?’
    Larry’s crazy.

  67. Rugie says:

    Was that a cow though?

  68. preston says:

    Patiently waiting for the novella….and that cow…

  69. wanja says:

    This excerpt reminds me of a books I read afew months ago by James Frey,A Million Little Pieces.
    I’m eagerly waiting for this one!!

  70. Imelda says:

    I’m kaodo not sold on the story though, toa like another chapter.

  71. Eunice says:

    But what’s a novella without some ass? Nice one!

  72. Nimo says:

    is he mad too? does larry have an over active imagination?
    is that why his mum ignores his cow question? questions, questions!
    FINALLY A NOVELLA… Cant wait

  73. Dun says:

    I can offer my two cents Biko

  74. Betty says:

    Looking forward to this novella

  75. Kadipo says:

    Who does your revise/copy editing? There are some simple but silly grammatical errors that aren’t expected from your majestic pieces

  76. Rispa Andika says:

    This was a fantastic read. Can’t wait to read your novella.

  77. Ythera says:

    FINALLY!

  78. Faceless Piranha says:

    Should we help you write the story Biko? We can give you ideas;-)

  79. Clement Ndege says:

    Finally!!!Thank God you didn’t say it’s Larry Madowo’s grass to grace story…
    Waiting for the novella and yes, I did not think it’s you in the beginning…

  80. Ben kabi says:

    Was that a cow…..Nice read ,waiting for the Novella

  81. Ann says:

    can’t wait

  82. Alfred says:

    Strange dreams about wheelbarrows and cows mooing in the background. Can’t wait for the novella. Great read as always Biko.

  83. Muchuna says:

    Great Mr. Chocolate.Waiting for the complete novella.

  84. alice says:

    Larry wont be going home soon….that cow is in the head. Am waiting Biko, am waiting

  85. Eve says:

    Not sure I like it as much as your blog posts. It is sth. Wish there was more conversation..that’s sth I cherish with your works. He is too much in his head.

  86. J0J0 says:

    Read this while listening to Kevin K.O Olusola cello cover of ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus and the combination just made it holistic in a certain ineffable way.Can’t wait for the novella!

  87. Rose says:

    Im glad its a book. I was starting to get really sad.

  88. Karen Giathi says:

    Nice…not in the usual Biko style of stories told with humour that make an awesome read. But waiting to see how this one unfolds

  89. kioi says:

    Finally.

  90. Austine says:

    This is long over due. Finally, something massive is coming out of that creative, big forehead. Chocolate Man, we really need to touch, kiss, smell your well woven words and ideas wrapped up in a book. This is the beginning of a tangible bikozulu legacy. Big ups Sir.

  91. WayneBruce says:

    But was that a cow though?

  92. Bacchus says:

    By the second paragraph I had guessed two things right: Rehab and excerpt.

  93. SN says:

    Quite wordy in the beginning but sounds like it’s building up to something unpredictable. Nice.

  94. Cee says:

    Now look at what you did. Not fair Biko, not fair at all. Now I have to tell my mind to stop wondering about the cow, the girl and the fat security guard. Teasers aren’t kind.

  95. Jen says:

    Well. It is about time!

  96. Julius says:

    Finally, something to last… waiting for it… Great step.

  97. The Black Kennedy says:

    Oh Snap!

    Was it a cow in the background?

  98. Ben'z says:

    First person(i hope) to comment from Sofia, Bulgaria!! Beat that!

  99. Charles Kagana says:

    I disagree with all ‘the above’ sycophants egging you on. This is not for you. After two (or should I write ‘2’) paragraphs, I can bet my left nipple that 99% of these fans scrolled down to check whether it was Larry Madowo – or some or some other guest writer with a similar name – who had come in to hog their space.I would suggest another try, perhaps in third person this time, as although your real-life reflections in first person come out well, the fictitious,in my view, do not.

    • Kay says:

      Guilty…LOL I just said something similar before seeing ur comment.But its an interesting story all the same. Don’t discourage Biko.He is brave putting this out there.I agree with you on the third person approach

  100. Mwakisha Makoko says:

    interesting read can’t wait for the novella, hope it explains why Larry keeps asking “Is that a cow”

  101. trish says:

    really good piece…You do have a way with words

  102. Kay says:

    I got a bit lost before I finally got into it.But its an excerpt so I guess that could be the reason why am slow to it.plus no sleep#newbornmanenos.It however does make one curious as to where the story is going,thus wanting to read more about Larry’s journey(this name makes me think of Larry Madowo.LOL. So good job.,

  103. MissKiki says:

    “He smelled of old cigarettes and a warehouse; mouldy and craving of sunlight.” Your imagination is spectacular!!

  104. Nava says:

    I love it already

  105. Laurine says:

    Haha… “Was that a cow i heard” this line will be reverberating in my head. .great piece!
    Looking forward to read the book

  106. Lucy says:

    Thought of Larry Madowo too( gosh!) I enjoyed the piece. Please let us know when the book is done and out.

  107. Gus says:

    Nice read

  108. Jacky says:

    I loved it

  109. Frank Mwenda says:

    Bring Larry on! We are waiting for him. Not like we love asses… but, cannyou do without one?

  110. aduke lydia penina koii says:

    very good piece…i cant wait for the novella

  111. Sir says:

    Hahahaha.nice one.

  112. Kisenya Jesse says:

    When I started reading, I knew this wasn’t one of your ordinary pieces.I can’t wait for the novella!

  113. Emmy says:

    good work Biko

  114. Mushie says:

    This will be an interesting one.Can’t wait to read it.

  115. peter says:

    Waoh… Can’t keep my eyes away on this

  116. Catherine Mamwa says:

    Suspense is real from the Pic, the first paragraph and the cow. Interesting read.
    .

  117. Rujeko Moyo says:

    Engaging…very

  118. Kizito says:

    The descriptive narration is on point.

  119. IceBreaker says:

    curious to get that book just to find out if it was indeed a cow mooing in the background or Larry’s drugs were doing rounds in his head.

  120. MM says:

    That novella sounds like someone I know who keeps on escaping from a rehab for alcohol addiction.

  121. Arimartha says:

    The face that lost a body…brittle sobs that snap like dry twigs…smell the dew settling on the grass…the smell of self doubt and dying hope…reflexes of an old elephant..
    These little pieces of imagery really paint a bleak picture. You’ve done well setting the scene.But, you want your scene to be impeccable. Clean out the mistakes (not many, but they take away from your presentation.
    The pace will pick up, right? With the wheelbarrows and Mom’s evasion of a seemingly harmless question, you plant a seed of interest. Why won’t she just answer him?

    I’m watching this space…

  122. Nduta says:

    Long nights…I have tried getting past the first paragraph but still unable to read the whole story and scrolled to the comments for a mwaks and now I have an idea why for a whole week I couldn’t bring myself to finish this.Biko has a way of starting you off and serenading you to the end and an email alert of The Iron Curtain has jolted me to finish what I started,so off I go,hoping to read all of it.

  123. eunice says:

    good stuff educative blog I love such reads keep up

    we salute you at Nairobidating.co.ke

  124. Avanzilani says:

    Yaani we are not going to find out if that was a cow?

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