I read a piece where Wambui Kamiru Collymore, the widow of Bob, said something that inspired me to write an entire poem called ‘The Mixed Scent.’ What she said was that, in her grief, ‘burnt toast smells like rose petals.’
Wambui also revealed how the Guyana-born CEO pre-organised his own memorial, down to the Adago 4 string quartet to be played in it. When I go, the only song I can think I’d like played is MCR’s ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ (dirges from church choirs are bloody depressing). Also, mourners should be forced to listen to the last 13 poems from my poetry collection ‘Literary Gangster’ (because that’s probably the biggest captive audience I’ll ever have).
The widow also revealed that Bob liked to say we should ‘exercise for the body we wish to live in,’ and from our acquaintanceship, the chap really did love art and music (Wambui is an artist). Mr Collymore also believed in good eight-hour sleep, from 10pm to 6am.
I have a colleague who struggles with insomnia; she has these three-hour sleep cycles. I used to be a four-hour sleeper, then five, but now can barely keep my eyes open after 9pm. My body clock does come awake at 3am almost every weekday, though – and I am happy it is so because those are my most creatively productive hours, long before the sun comes up.
Back to Bob, the truest thing he ever said was that it is ironic that mobile phones that connect us to the world are also the devices that disconnect us from the people closest to us – hence his ‘no phone policy’ after 9pm (he’d put it in another room, and only pick it when leaving his house to go to work).
Think about that statement for a while and see if it applies to your own life - ‘mobile phones that connect us to the world are also the devices that disconnect us from the people closest to us ...’ These days, you will find a very generic scene in the sitting room.
A teenage lass is on her phone, earphones plugged deep into her eardrums, watching endless videos on YouTube, curled into a chair like a cat. Her 10-year-old brother is on another armchair in the same living room, his brows burrowed in concentration as he maneuvers a Formula One car in a game on his phone to score ‘F1 points.’
The man and woman of the house are seated next to each other on the sofa, but they have barely exchanged a word all evening (as the DM in the kitchen prepares the family meal). The man is on his phone, going through memes and letting out an occasional chortle or guffaw that irritates the woman next to him.
But she is also on her phone because she belongs to a million active WhatsApp groups - from the family one (with her sisters), to the gossipy one with her chama friends, to the one with her BFFs (whom she’s known from high school) and if you knew the things they discuss, including about you, you’d get either heart attack or a temper tantrum on the spot.
*True Story loading. My lawyer friend, who works in Mombasa, used to fly to Nairobi on weekends to see his fiancée, let’s call her Gia, until the counties’ lockdown after Easter. He got corona ‘trapped’ there. He drives up to Nairobi, and is re-united with his girl after three months. But she’s a bit much on the phone, in a way he cannot recall her being back in April (Gia started a new job in January, but has been working from home half the time these days, like many of us).
Anyway, lawyer dude, in the middle of the night, sneaks to the living room where her phone is charging. Password pap, opens it, and finds a thread going back many months with her new boss. It starts harmlessly enough in mid-April with lots of WFH work issues, but turns to jokes, chats, suggestive songs and forwards, to finally the Boss pouring out his heart to Gia about his marriage. ‘And they have a work trip for a week in early August,’ lawyer told me. ‘How did you know her phone password?’ Easy. She’s a narcissist. I just guessed and keyed in her birthday – 221190. Boom!’