Liebster Award 2018

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Greetings and salutations to you all!

Oh what great joy! To find myself nominated for a WordPress award for the first time ever, and that less than a week before my second blog anniversary (has it been that long already?).

Anyway, if I sound excited today it is because in being nominated for this award I have been presented me with quite the challenge by being forced to ask myself some really introspective questions that I have been too wary to ask myself before.

This nomination came courtesy of the talented Tia from Masked Snow, whose posts you can read through this link here: https://maskedsnow.wordpress.com/

1. What inspires you as a writer?

An insatiable need to entertain and educate others. As a young boy I found myself devouring entertainment pieces in whatever they came, books, movies and all. As a teenager, I learned the just how powerfully literature and other means of entertainment can transmit messages that proffer change in society. And now at this stage in my life where I question everything around me, I have fallen to writing as a way of expressing my dissatisfaction with issues in our society and so on, because I doubt if people would hear me otherwise, even if I carried a megaphone with me.

2. What is the most fascinating thing about being a blog writer?

Reading other people’s blogs. Oh yes, to produce a single post of my own, I’ve found myself scouring the WordPress blogosphere reading tons of other people’s pieces. You’d be amazed at how much character and creativity you can find in this community and that has really played a big part in my development as a blogger myself.

3. What’s the one thing that transformed your life?

I’ll go ahead and mention two since they were similar and am not good at following instructions anyway. J The first came during a family event when I was still a young boy. In a quiet corner of our home, an uncle I’d never met before told to one, keep my family members close (still working on that – I have a very huge family) and two, to not neglect my education (in university right now, only two semesters to go – Alhamdulillah). The second was with a different uncle whom I admire terribly and is a content manager on zeit.com, he told me two words: ‘Tunnel Vision.’ They got me through university so far and also gave me that final push to start my own blog.

The similarity between these two is that they both used very few words, which happened to be just the right words to stir something inside me.

4. What makes a good content? How do you know if a piece of writing is doing well?

In my opinion good content, in fiction at least, has to strike the right balance between educative, entertaining and provocative. Anytime I stick to this code, the engagement I get on my piece through comments seems to tick upwards, which is how I know that I have written something good.

5. Tell me some 5 random facts about yourself

I love and fear swimming in equal measure.

I spent a year in Kentucky in an exchange program. Sadly didn’t get to carry home that silky Southern drawl with me so now I can’t prove to the naysayers that I actually did live in the US (sigh).

I chose my university major (Computer Technology) on a whim, and it wasn’t even my first choice. I’ve warmed up to it better than I imagined.

I am crazy about science fiction.

I have a feeling that I am usually an inch or two taller in my dreams. As you dream so shall you live? One can hope?

6. What do you usually write about on your blog?

Initially, I used to write non-fiction essays. Nowadays I prefer fiction because of the creative freedom it affords me, but of course I draw my content from normal everyday things in the same way I used to with the non-fiction pieces.

7. What should be the ideal length of the content?

I suppose it depends on the amount of content that needs to be presented. It shouldn’t matter whether the content will take a hundred words or two thousand so long as the content is meaningful. But that’s an entirely subjective answer.

8. What is the one trait that makes you different from everyone?

My humor. I have a sense of humor very few people actually get. I can count on my fingers the number of people who cracked their ribs laughing at my jokes. It always pains me when I part ways with them. I have considered locking them all in a room so I could visit them at whatever time of day I felt an urge to tell a joke so I could feel worthy.

See, no one got that one either (sigh).

9. What are some of the things that makes you confident?

Succeeding in creating something. Whether it’s a piece of writing, or a fully-fledged (or even just half working) software.

Having such a wonderful mum. She defies the odds every single day, and that encourages me to be a better version of myself too.

10. What are your posts are based on? Are they based on your emotions or they are trying to give a social message to a reader? Also share your favorite blog posts.

Tough one. It’s a combination of inspiration from other writers, events I see around me or hear about every day and my own quirky way of thinking, all thrown into a messy blender.

Are they based on my own emotions? Quite possibly, unconsciously at least. I try to focus less on my own emotions and instead try to adopt the emotions of the characters I write about so I can meaningfully capture their plight and present it to others.

11. What do you think of me?

Haven’t known you for that long but from what I’ve read on your blog so far I think you are wildly talented. You have a way with words (rhymes always get me). I’ve personally shunned away from poetry because of its heavy requirements of having to wrap messages in layers of imagery and clever juxtaposition, but you seem to have mastered that which leads me to believe that you have a great future ahead as a poet and blogger.

 

The updated 2018 rules for the Liebster Award are as follows:

  • Link to the official Liebster Award in your Liebster Award blog post. (https://theglobalaussie.com/liebster-award-2018/)
  • Answer the questions given to you.
  • Create more questions for your nominees to answer (I’m looking for unique and creative ones)
  • Comment on the official Liebster Award post with a link DIRECTLY to your Liebster award.

 

My questions are:

  1. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
  2. If you had a chance to bring back one the greatest names of literature that are deceased so they could groom you, who would it be and why?
  3. Have you ever lost track of time while reading a piece of literature or book? Tell us its title if the answer is yes.
  4. If you had the skills of Cobb from the movie Inception and enough resources to incept everyone in the world, what ideas would you plant in their minds?
  5. If you could adopt the life of any character you’ve ever read about in a book who would it be?

Here are my nominees:

https://hilalthoughts.wordpress.com/

https://asfamobin.wordpress.com/

https://jefwahhhh.wordpress.com/

https://raindried.wordpress.com/

https://ahmedshayo014.wordpress.com/

https://armoneokech.wordpress.com/

https://undulyunruly.wordpress.com/

http://theafricanswan.wordpress.com/

 

 

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Microfiction Monday #11: Life-Size.

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…wherein the professor advances his plan…

‘I think I’ve finally cracked it Sam.’

The professor said to the silicon bust sat on the study table in his library. The weather outside was dreary and windy but it was not raining, though a storm appeared to be brewing on the horizon. While it didn’t serve as the best set for the professor’s newest milestone in his research, it did, in a manner, reflect the stir that he suspected was coming along with it.

‘What’s that, professor?’ The bust responded in a semi-monotone.

‘Intuition.’ The professor laughed.

‘Intuition, my dear Sam. Everybody else seems to miss this point. Lost they all are in their belief that for you and your likes to be more ‘human’ you have to make decisions that are your own, but the thing is, we humans occasionally make some decisions we can’t quite explain, based on no evidence that we can produce to…to…support it.’ he stuttered from excitement.

‘Am sorry professor, I still can’t quite understand.’

‘It’s…it’s hard to explain. Some attribute it to external intervention from a Malevolent Being, some call it a gift of evolution. Either way it’s indubitably ever-present in o…our lives, like how a mother may warn her child from going on a ship cruise and the ship ends up capsizing. Or how a  businessman may choose to invest in a venture that shows no promise at all even as every other businessman gives it a wide berth and yet it…it proves to be his windfall. We, humans bluff and fluke our way through most things, can’t you see it Sam?’

‘But you say you’ve cracked it, professor?’

‘Five men drafted the Declaration of Independence, three of whom were part of a group of men that were eventually called the Founding Fathers. Can you tell me who these three were?’

The bust stared into the distance in thought, the creases on its forehead growing increasingly pronounced.

‘Um, am sorry professor but I can’t quite remember past Jefferson and Franklin.’

The professor bawled with joy, marching around the room in a guileless victory dance.

‘Memory decay!’ He announced finally, ‘So far, every decision you’ve made has been calculated based o…on the knowledge and experiences ma…my students and I have fed you Sam. But now, now there won’t be any single time when you’ll have an over-abundance of information for you to reason through to arrive at you…your decisions. No no, you are now truly human, s…stumbling in the dark, second-guessing your every step. We aren’t quite there yet my boy, but soon, oh soon you’ll be truly ready to raise hell on earth.’

The professor laughed again, this time his laughter was accompanied by the crack of thunder.

Outside it started raining.

 

photo credit: Universal Studios.

The Tormented

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Part Two

Perhaps this is as good a time as any to let you know that you’re going to die. No I don’t mean that in an existential kind of way, ‘All living things will die’, no I mean that you, sadly have no further part to play beyond this story. This is the end for you. I figure we should get this out of the way already. It’s like I said earlier, we know the destination already, we’re here for the journey.

So enjoy the ride while you can, indulge in your speculations and draw up plans for escape as much as you please, but just keep your hopes low.

The teenager stares you down like a meal then points you to the chair with his mighty arm. Something is choking you at the base of your throat, there’s a high possibility that it’s your heart in its new unnatural position. The chair looks a fairly long journey away, but you couldn’t move your legs if you wanted to anyway. Your knees almost fail you, but a pair of strong arms grab you before that happens and dump you into the now empty chair, its former inhabitant having being dragged to his final destination, be it six feet underground or the dumpster outside.

Your hands are fastened to the arms of the chair by leather belts wrung so tight your palms almost immediately lose color. The young man rinses his bloodied fists then dries them with a dirty looking towel.

It’s at this point when I say unto you, ‘Goodbye, Adios, Kwa heri ya kuonana.’ It doesn’t really matter that I don’t know you very well, I still cannot stand watching you slowly decay under the assault of a brute. You deserve better.

So forgive me, once again, for I must exit this story here, and I only pray that you have a happier afterlife!

“Wait!” You shout to the young man before he lands the first punch. Now, now what’s on your mind?

“I have something you need to hear.” No, you don’t, but I can’t wait to hear this.

For some reason, you seem to have the brute’s attention too.

“Would you willingly jump into a pool of boiling oil?”

“Would he what now?”

“Is he teaching metaphors or something?”

The dissenting voices around you quiz in confusion but the teenager stays silent, so you continue, “I doubt Vickie would appreciate her messenger going back in a casket, after all the trouble I went through to get here. How do the English say it? ‘Don’t kill the messenger?’

The effect is immediate. Fred turns towards your two captors who shrink back in response.

“And you two never thought to ask him who he was first before offering him to me? Before bringing him here?”

“No, they never seemed to care. Never once stopped to wonder if I was a police in civilian clothes, wearing a transmission device with an army of backup waiting to swoop in here at my confirmation.” Oh yes, fan the flame. “I understand the risky nature of our business, but to tolerate such recklessness among your officers can only mean you are comfortable with an early doom.”

The teenager seems to be mulling over your words, a reaction you were hoping for but not really expecting. You’ve stumbled upon something here. Maybe a past history between these three? Fred turns to his apparent second-in-command, an old looking man.

“Am sorry, but this is the last straw. Their recklessness has been too disruptive to ignore anymore.”

The lieutenant hangs his head in disappointment but then nods in concession. The two men who have caused you so much unpleasantness this evening are dragged out by half the gang in attendance into a remote room in the building, where their cries and pleas die off to the curt sound of two gunshots.

That bit of business done, attention shifts back to you and a question that’s been gestating for what might be an eternity is finally spat out…

“And who are you precisely?”

…but you’ve been preparing for it…

“Vickie said it would be best for all concerned if I don’t tell you. Just in case, someone snitches.”

…the hook is cast…

“Fine.” He grumbles after a long pause.

…and the fish bites on the bait.

“Why did she send you here?”

“She wanted me to give you a message. The gang is pushing through with that heist they’ve been planning.”

Oh yeah. No good has ever come from talking without constraint, but your now-deceased captors’ inability to stop yapping might prove to be your savior tonight. But you’re not out of the woods just yet. The young man stares you down skeptically, before finally turning to his clansmen.

“Do you hear that? The Stupid Ones are walking to their deaths tonight.”

The place erupts in guffaws and howls.

“The army couldn’t be happier to have live volunteers for target practice.” One man shouts in the background.

“The bullets will slice right through them, haha.” Someone in another corner laughs.

“So all the stash and money,” you try to amplify the burgeoning prospects, “…only two guards looking after it all. And the ladies…”

“What about them?”

“All unguarded and bored and waiting to be rescued…”

“What good are they to us?” You are taken back by the question.

“Um…uh…some of them are excellent bookkeepers, they can help you guys keep track of all your money and assets…”

The subsequent boos give you momentary pause. Clearly these men are hard to read.

“…and uh, most of them are excellent cooks and will help you with laundry and keeping the place clean…”

It’s cheers and nods of approval this time. Bingo!

“Enough!” commands the young man, “We will attack immediately!”

The hall erupts into a flurry of activity as the gang proceeds to arm themselves with all manner of potent ammunition and drench their bodies in concoctions that their local witchdoctor promised would grant them invincibility.

The moral standing of these people aside, they seem to have neglected the place they’ve chosen to call home. It’s stuffy and dark, puddles of some disgusting liquid litter sections of the floor, and the squeaks from the roof above give you the feeling there’s a colony of rats up there enacting a Game of Thrones-esque political thriller. You really can’t anticipate parting with the place more fervently. As you prepare to take your leave, however, Fred asks you to slow it down.

“You’re coming with us, messenger boy.”

“But, I…”

“But nothing, come on.”

The gang sets off in an armada of pickups and jeeps that carries itself with the pomp and noise of a wedding procession and the urgency of a presidential motorcade. You find yourself sharing the company of Fred and his silent deputy who takes on driving duty at the moment. Freddie pulls closer to you and gleefully shows off his ‘toy’, a rocket launcher with cryptic-looking controls and a name etched to the side in paint: SPARKY.

“Oh, that’s just her name.”

“Why do you call it…her, Sparky?” You ask.

“Because, doofus, when she’s on song, she makes a lot of sparks.” He laughs like a maniac and rubs the machine intimately.

Somewhere along the way, your car breaks off of the procession into a dirt path that’s soon swallowed by thick forest. You think this is it. Maybe they didn’t believe you or they were planning to dispose of you even if they did. Your fears are not even remotely allayed when the car pulls up just at the edge of a clearing, a cabin in the middle of it with lights on. Fred’s deputy honks twice and the lights inside the cabin blink twice in response.

“Well, gentlemen, that’s my cue.” Fred pulls his hair back with a comb, “I’ll be asking Vickie about you, errand boy. Now hold on to this for me.” He winks and hands you the rocket launcher as he leaves the car.

You’ve dodged bullets all night so far, you figure this is where your luck runs out. It’ll take Fred a minute tops to discover Vickie has had no correspondence whatsoever with a scrawny, clumsy eleven-toed nerd that fits your description, and then after that it’s curtains down for you. First, you’ll need to take out Fred’s mute lieutenant.

As if reading your thoughts, the man leaves the car and jumps on the car’s bonnet where he lights a cigar and merrily puffs away. You figure you could make a run for it, go for the thick tree cover but the tree line is too far away from the car and a seasoned gun wielder would make waste of you before you got far. So you decide to join him outside.

“Fred’s gonna get himself killed for this kind of stupidity. Taking his rival’s wife to bed.” The man complains, “He used to do it because he loved her, but now I think he only does it to spite his opposite number. Worse, I think Vickie is beginning to realize it too. But warn him however much I want, he never listens to me anymore.”

Something about the way the man talks ropes you in. There is some undercurrent of pain under the man’s shaky voice. He’s also quite possibly the only sane person you’ve met so far since the turn of midnight. You get the distinct feeling that he, like you, is here not by choice.

“Forgive me for asking,” you intrude, “but I get the feeling you’ve known Fred for a really long time?”

The man pauses a few seconds too long as if weighing the question, his eyes focusing into the distance.

“Fred’s parents were passionate career criminals, just like him.” He narrates. “It, of course, cost them their life. Then it was up to his failed businessman of an uncle to look after him.

“I tried my best, God knows I tried my best, to stop Fred from following his parent’s path, but I suppose I didn’t try hard enough.

“When finally, he took up his parents’ throne, I saw no other choice for me except to…stick with him, keep him in check, stop him from doing something stupid, like executing his own gang members.”

The last part seems laden with accusation, “Am sorry if I made your job hard today.” You say apologetically.

“No,” he responds, “Those two were always too clumsy for their own good. Still, it doesn’t help with team morale.”

A long silence passes between the two of you…uncomfortable and palpable.

“But we’ll pass through whatever storm, him and me. Together till the end if need be.” The old man adds.

It’s a charming sentiment, one you don’t get to admire though. Because, latching on to the old man’s last words is a chortling yell from the direction of the cabin. The old man jumps immediately from the bonnet, on edge.

This is it, you think, time to make like a ghost and disappear. But you figure a blow to the old man’s head with the bazooka in your hands will knock him out cold and you can truly be free and safe to make a run for it. However, because you are clumsy, you struggle with the machine, and fall flat to the ground. From down there, you see horrors that will stick with you to the end of your times.

A lady emerges from the cabin, you can only guess that it must be Vickie, it’s hard to see in the darkness. In her hand she carries a sphere of some sort, round like a football, only it can’t be a football because you notice that there’s hair on the top side of it, and upon further inspection, you notice two eyes and a mouth and you realize that Vickie or whoever it is, is carrying the miserable remains of Fred’s thinking faculties.

You see the old man break down in front of you, like his life had meaning no more. You see him fall down to his knees and cry like a pained parent. You see him defy his anguish and rush towards the lady with his gun out and you see him meet his own end as a man hidden in the bushes flanks him and mows him down with his own semi-automatic firearm. You watch Vickie walk towards the man and laughs heartily at some joke you’re not in on.

“I can’t believe they actually fell for that.” The new man says, “Yet they call us the Stupid Ones.”

Vickie says nothing, just stares at the body on the ground before her.

Now’s the time. Your feet respond to your command and you run. You run like you never you thought you could. Your feet are cogs of a mighty machine, your lungs and heart the engine of NASCAR racecar. You run until your shoulders ache, and force you to stop, and you realize you’re still carrying that awful bazooka. You examine the name etched to the side, and find yourself taken over by a fit of laughter.

You finally get it, the joke, and it’s not a funny one. Which is why you’re laughing.

The world is filled with people tormented by a need for something. A need for purpose, others a need to break free from a prison only conceived in their minds. For the men and women you’ve run into tonight they are tormented by a need for superiority, to stand over the remains of the biggest threats to their perfect little worlds.

Your own torment is a need for establishment, for a grand stage where you can talk and people will listen, where you can paint and people will be drawn in.

Which is why you put your life at risk tonight, chasing that elusive spark you were fortunate enough to experience through a half-daze.

You’re laughing not out of humor but out of sheer want of anything else to do.

It’s madness.

“What’s wrong with it?” You don’t quite notice the car pull up next to you.

“Is he one of them?”

“He might be, they seem to have an intimate connection with their weaponry. See how he’s cradling that bazooka and smiling at it like it was a baby.”

“So he is one of them.”

“I’d stake my writing arm on it.”

“So, what to do with it?”

Before the end comes, you do finally notice the car, and more importantly its occupants. A firm faced lady, who could only be Vickie. Now that you see her close up she seems a perfect match to the idea of her you’ve been carrying in your head all night. Next to her, an unfamiliar face carrying the ghost of a smirk as the man behind it draws his gun on you and pulls the trigger.

 

—————————————————————————————————————–

Oh hello there, welcome back from the dead. I have a teeny tiny request to ask of you. When I was halfway through writing this piece, a friend of mine challenged me to create a story with a relatable and/or adorable and/or dynamic character(s) and then kill them off. So I had to change a few things around, including the ending to accommodate his homicidal cravings.

So you, brave soul who has read through all the horror of the story, I would love to hear your feedback on whether you think I’ve successfully stood up to the challenge, character-wise and otherwise, in the comments section.

Thank you so much for reading.

The Tormented

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Part One

A perfectly rational individual spends dinner with friends, shares his day’s misadventures with them and laughs heartily at every joke they throw in, but only six hours later is discovered wandering the streets, carrying a bazooka and laughing like a maniac.

Wouldn’t you say that is the very definition of rapid decline? Of madness?

But how does it even start? And what sequence of events build upon each other and draw the poor individual slowly but methodically toward their fall over the cliff?

It starts where the sign says “Begin” and ends in one of arbitrarily many possible points. But we already know our destination, we’re really here for the journey and nothing more.

It starts, more importantly, with me, no, not me, you. Yes. You. See, my sense of self-preservation being so high, I am forced to shield myself from the terrifying scenes and sequences that this story will take us through. So, yes. It starts with you.

You are a writer or a composer or a designer of some sort…someone who thinks creatively, who also pulls shifts at a dull day job which just sufficiently caters for your financial needs.

It starts with you being jolted awake by something in the middle of the night. Your mind is pummelled with fading memories of last evening’s soiree and…yes, the most brilliant idea you’ve ever conceived! All work you’ve ever written or composed pale in comparison to this new concept you’ve been inspired with.

Instinctively, you rush to turn the lights on and look for your notebook and a pen. But there’s a blackout. It’s rainy season, so why not? You turn back to your mobile phone and use its screen’s glow.

You manage to locate your tools and sit down, take a deep breath, call on your inner Zen to help you condense your thoughts. It’s getting clearer now, yes…it’s, oh boy…you are going to be stinking rich…this idea…this is a masterpie…

Something interrupts you. A familiar annoying sound from a familiar annoying source. The increasingly irritating creaking of a bed from your neighbor’s room.

At this point you begin questioning why you never moved out of campus after graduating and once again defend yourself by citing the affordable rent prices available here. It’s worth putting up with the shenanigans of these cannabis fuelled campus boneheads. For instance, your neighbor and his girlfriend jumping up and down on a spring bed like kindergarteners. You’d think they get a trampoline and indulge their gymnastics fantasies outside, when it’s warm and sunny, like all normal rational people do.

Thankfully, though, the creaking stops a minute later. Pfft, those pretenders don’t even have the stamina for sustained physical exercise. It’s laughable.

You don’t get to laugh though.

That idea, that crazy, awesome idea…it’s, uh…it’s gone! See ya gone! Vanished!

‘Tis a disaster!

Your mouth does that thing where it hangs loose, and any manner of detritus carried by wind blowing your way would find easy entrance into your system. Completely helpless. Rendered catatonic.

You start pacing around your room in a futile attempt to remember. Then bang your head on the wall, slowly at first and then more forcefully. Then you open your wardrobe and stare in it for a good long while, perhaps expecting a miracle there.

“Akhh!” You complain and decide to go outside and get some fresh air.

You don’t intend to walk too far. The night is too cold and you’re hoping that if all else fails you can just jump back into bed and pick on the thread again in the morning.

You don’t notice the crowd of night-revellers and club-goers is growing thinner and thinner until it’s too late and you’re all alone in a dark street. But, you’re not really alone it turns out. Up ahead, you see two dark silhouettes imposed against a light streaming out from a nearby open window, two stray voices engaged in a lively chat.

The conversation presently comes to an end. The bigger of the two spectres turns towards you, you can’t really tell that it did, you just notice its voice is now projected your way.

“You know the drill mister, phone, wallet, anything valuable, pass it over.”

You turn out your pockets to lay bare the desolate emptiness inside them for all too see.

The big shadow’s voice booms in disappointment, “Well that’s no good at all. Don’t you have anything to offer up? Your life might could depend on it.”

“Them jeans on him look pretty new.” The other voice joins in.

“Yeah,” the big shadow agrees, “I think I’ll have those if you don’t mind.”

“What? I think I’d rather keep them on, thank you very much.” You respond in outrage.

There’s a momentary pause and then the two disembodied voices roar in awful ghoulish laughter. When the bigger shadow speaks again, however, there’s no humor in its voice anymore, just irritation.

“Oya, nugu wee, can’t you tell when you’re being mugged?”

Clearly somebody forgot to give you the script. But you’ve never been one to stick to the script anyway so it wouldn’t have mattered. Stuck between complying and saving your dignity, you decide to do nothing, until the bigger shadow moves towards you and into the light, revealing a face so utterly ugly it pegs homo sapiens sapiens two eras back on the Darwinian evolution scale.

Prisoner to the principle of causality, you find yourself complying without really meaning to.

“Too late for that now.” The Picasso mask twitches in unnatural ways with each word. But while you’re distracted with his face you don’t notice his fifty-pound fist making due haste towards your head. It doesn’t feel like a fist though, more like a train or a truck. In your stupor you have lucid nightmares about metal fists, and trucks…and trucks with metal fists.

When you come to, you’re staring downwards at the moving ground and immediately infer that you must be hoisted on the big man’s shoulder. The pair are still talking. They can’t seem to find a reason not to. Even when they’re carrying an innocent man to God-knows what horrible destination to carry out what nefarious intentions they harbored, they were still in a light enough mood to chat.

The smaller man starts talking about El Estúpido, some rival crew from another part of town and how their ambitious plot to rob an army warehouse tonight is bound to fail. The big man asks him how he could possibly be sure the raid was happening tonight. The smaller man explains that he heard the news from Vickie, the spy that Freddie had planted within the rival clan’s rank.

“Who’s Freddie?” You dare to ask.

The big man laughs again and hurls you to the ground forcefully. “Who’s Freddie, he asks!”

“He’s Frederick Mwaura, of course. Only the most fearsome gang boss this part of the world? Kills hundreds when his heart so pleases? How dare you not know who he is?”

“Don’t worry, you’re going to meet him soon.”

“Yeah, you’re gonna have some good time with him too.” The big man agrees, “He likes his punching bags warm and breathing.”

You want to thank them for clearing that up but get the distinct feeling that your candor would be lost on them.

“Get up and walk,” the big man orders you and you drag yourself to your feet unwillingly.

“If I was the boss, I’d march into El Estúpido’s casa right now and get myself some easy bounty.” The pair’s conversation continues, despite your interruption.

“Yeah,” the big one agrees, “All that cash stashed up and only a couple of guards to protect it.”

“And the chicas man. All of ‘em sitting there pretty and bored and unguarded, waiting for us to rescue them.”

“Yeah!” They burst into laughter again while you continue to contemplate how unoriginal it is for a Kenyan gang to name themselves with a foreign-sounding word. What did El Estúpido mean anyway?

Presently the two thugs chaperone you through the dark streets of a neighborhood you’ve only read about in the crimes section of the local daily, where the dogs’ barks are a tad meaner than the acceptable norm, and the sun’s rays never reach.

Thump thump. A sound close by.

You’re shoved into a dark building where the air smells damp and polluted.

Thump thump thump. Closer and closer.

Paint is peeling off the walls at will and the corridor seems to gradually shrink in size and elegance.

Thump thump. Closer still.

You find yourself in this large room, a cathedral of a room, smoke from a hundred lit joints and a hundred churning mouths drifting around and the faintest glimmer from a flickering bulb reveals to you the source of the disembodied thumping sound.

A man built of bricks, a teenager by all looks of him, is laying waste to another man tied to a chair in the middle of the room while the spectators around him watch in contemplative silence. The teenager looks so imbued by the thrill of violence and so familiar with it, every swing of his hand feels like a well-choreographed and pre-rehearsed dance move. It is this same terrifying aura that seems to hold his audience in captive silence.

You cringe with every blow that lands on the poor man. Finally, the teenager yells. A yell somewhere between a powerlifter’s howl while breaking his personal best record of weights lifted, and a roar of deep pleasure, of release.

When he turns to the three of you standing at the door, for the first time in possibly your whole life you feel genuine panic grip you.

“Next customer, boss.” The big man giggles.

As he nudges you forward.


Looking for part two? Look no more, it’s over here: https://mylitcorner.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/the-tormented-2/

Car­­­­­­­­ving Your Own Path

Carving Your Own Path

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the biggest failings of our education system, some might say, is that it underpins an ‘absorption of knowledge’ approach rather than a reflective one. To some extent this is true, surprisingly, even at university level even though we were told otherwise before we got here. After two grueling weeks of absorbing notes and churning out exam answers like a conveyor belt, I’ve finally had a fairly uninterrupted span in which I could reflect. I’ve reflected on the past semester and what it has meant to me and of particular interest for this article, to the beginning of the semester when I started my blog and wrote that first article. I concluded that most of the objectives I had set for my blog back then, I am yet to achieve.

It is for this reason I’ve chosen such a daunting topic as my next article even though I’ve debated for a long time whether am qualified to write on it. It certainly doesn’t take much arithmetic to conclude that a more seasoned mind would be able to tackle such a topic with more finesse and authority, but I have decided to put my money where my mouth is and write something meaningful as I have always believed I can. Something that will hopefully benefit my fellow youth.

An accomplished American businessman was once quoted saying, “If you do not have competitive advantage, don’t compete.” Curt and brutal. It almost sounds like a warning or a bold declaration that the world is for the big sharks to rule. The meek rest should just throw in the towel or find a sharper set of teeth. Shift your perspective a bit and it’s more of a summon than a warning, a call to everyone who wants to be successful to improve themselves but the fact remains that we live in an extremely competitive world with accomplished aces in every career field you turn to.

It can therefore be very easy to fall into the same traps that others before us fell into by cutting corners and compromising our beliefs and such to ‘get to the top’. The better, perhaps slower and less likeable, alternative involves digging deep and asking ourselves what separates us from the rest and working on that.

Don’t Sell Your Morals For Peanuts

In other words, you have a license to be stubborn. Not the kind of stubborn where you stick by your opinion even when you know you’re wrong but more the kind where you stick by what you believe whatever that may be.

Steve Jobs was a serially stubborn guy, and that even got him fired at some point from the company he built. However, his persistence in creating ‘closed system’ computers, against the advice of computer engineers, played a big part in the emergence of the personal computers that we use today.

Tap Into Your Strengths

Be different!

Courtesy: Blatera on Deviant Art

We all differ in the sense we have different strengths and weaknesses. However, against popular contemporary advice, you should focus more on your strengths than your weaknesses because your strengths are what separate you from everybody else. Working on your weakness, on the other hand, gives you a glimpse into somebody else’s strength and forces you to try and ‘copy’ that. It’s not necessarily bad, it just shouldn’t be first priority.

If your strength is charisma, you can pretty much have a lot going your way if you use it well. If it’s creativity, then let your imagination run wild. If it’s an unparalled work ethic then buckle down on anything you work on, just don’t run yourself into the ground.

Experiment and Refine

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Once you find a personal style with which you can approach anything, seek ways to improve it. This is when you can start working on your weaknesses, but not necessarily focus there absolutely. This is when you take a word or two about how you ‘do things’ from people you trust but sieve what is helpful from what is not. More importantly, what people propose to you should not clash with what you envision for yourself, remember the first rule still applies here!

Have a Mentor (or Role Model)

Mentors push you to improve yourself, and better, they teach you to take risks where you were anxious to do so before. They push you out of your comfort zone.

I remember in high school, one of my English teachers asked us to write a poem as part of homework.I wrote mine but it came out more of a prose than the surreal rhyming works of Edgar Allan Poe and William Blake that had already sullied poetry lovers with immense expectation. I didn’t like it. My teacher loved it. So much so, she begged me to let her submit it to an ongoing poetry competition. I agreed to her wish simply because I could never say no to her, not because I shared her enthusiasm. Imagine my surprise and delight when I ended up runner-up in the competition. Later she approached me and told me:

“You didn’t think this was possible. Imagine what else you are capable of that you don’t think is possible right now?”

Mentors, however are hard to come by. In such a case, a role model would have to do. Find someone who is a big shot in your field of interest and learn how they got where they are. Learn how they schemed and identified opportunities, how they took risks where everyone else was too afraid. What you shouldn’t do is keeping up with what they wear or drive or the what their big mansions cost. Remember, you are supposed to learn from them, not worship them. Almost any celebrity out there has a thing or two to teach you, if you know what to look for, even Donald Trump, according to this article by my uncle.

A couple of months ago, we had one of those little moments with one of our lecturers  where we throw academics aside for a moment and just ‘talk life’. One of the most interesting things we discussed was the fact that around the country at least ten thousand other students were majoring in the same course as we.

The real kicker, he went on to explain, is that regardless of how many of us finish university with high honors, the tech companies existing in the country only hire a handful of people each year, and even less fresh graduates. You have to be among the top top to have a prayer of ever being employed. The alternative is for each one of us to start our own companies from scratch by taking on increasingly complex projects and building a team around us.

Either way, we have no choice but to completely embrace what separates us from the rest of the bunch, and forge our own paths.

If you enjoyed or benefited in any way from the article, please do let me have your comments and opinions below.