Wednesday, December 13, 2017

When other brains were discovering nuclear energy and launching revolutionary mobile money transfer systems in Kenya, I was thinking about sex.

“Welcome home, dear. You are tense, and look tired,” Lilibeth observes. “Would you like a massage?”

“Not now, Lily,” I say as I lean in for a kiss.

“Of course, sir,” she replies, and her status light turns from bright green to amber. She goes to the kitchen and leaves me to my machines, the screen in front of me showing the images of the son I never showed how to be a man, and a daughter I never protected from the world.

The emptiness in my heart is like a tornado, the numbness pounds my brain, and tears cloud my eyes. The shear nothingness takes hold of my soul and threatens to engulf me entirely.

One day I might grieve for my wife, but first I would have to be convinced that I meant anything to her. But for now I hold every memory of her back. Instead, I grief for my heart and the pain she caused me, a hurt that snowballs as memories from our failed marriage ambushes me.

“Supper is served, sir,” Lilibeth tells me.

I come back to earth and devour the scrumptious meal. The TV screen mounted high on the wall in the dining room shows me what awaits me after supper, whetting my appetite.

I wish she could eat.

I clear the table after eating, and let the machine do the washing.

Lilibeth is waiting in the bathroom, the bathtub full to the brim.

Her hands are like rubber on my back, every pore of my body coalescing into fluidness. Faint and far away, I hear: “God, you’re so beautiful. I love your body.”

I imagine my wife saying such words. Not in a million years.

“I want you to try the new Rapture pill, G. You will like it.”

“Then you’ll remind me to contact my physician if the orgasm lasts an hour or longer,” I say. “God, that’s not practically possible, Lilibeth.”

“Trust me,” she says. When she leads to the canopied four-poster bed and pushes me down, I go into a dream.

This is where she gets real wet, incredibly wet, for me. I issue the command ultrasonically and close my eyes for the ride.

Hours later, cuddled together like teenagers, I whisper, “I love you, Lily. Love you to bits.”
And she, “Feelings are like temperatures: attraction is warm, curiosity is warmer, and anger is boiling. Hate can torch, but it can also freeze. Love ... well, that’s a temperature best left under neutral.”


Lilibeth is my creation. I created her, from silicon. I customized her according to the traits I found appealing, with pre-programmed personalities like shyness, adventurous, wild, and others that I wanted. Put it blatantly: according to my idea of an ideal wife. She likes what I like, dislikes what I dislike. She has moods just like a real woman. She can be sleepy, conversational, or she can ‘be in the mood’!

And that’s how my company, Maisha Raha Ltd., came to be.

 “If a woman (sic) can have a vibrator, why can’t men have a sex robot?” I asked one of the moral police crusaders during a live TV interview.

“Because that’s not the plan God had for man,” replied my opponent, a prosperity Gospel pastor.

“There are many disturbing aspects to the rise of sex robots,” another one interjected. “Replacement of real, human relationships, for one; but that’s not why I’m against them. They portray subservient female traits, the rapey connotations of making a move on them, are the most concerning. Women rights are under threat across the globe, men have moved from ‘grabbing them by the pussy’, and now sex robots? It is women under attack here.”

Jeez, feminists will never lack feminist shit to say.

“That’s the same reason my marriage failed,” I said. “Women always thinking that men force themselves on them. Till such time women realize that the pashmina that holds marriage together, according to men, is sex, as men have known that women need emotional connection, marriages will always fail. And it has nothing to do with subservience …”

“I disagree with you,” the pastor said. “If you base your marriage on bodily desires it will fail.”

“Sex is a powerful union between two souls, a deeply spiritual act that bonds two people who are committed to each other. It builds strong relationships, keeps our souls healthy, and our self-esteem high. That’s what I yearned for from my wife, but she didn’t give it to me,” I said. 

“Let’s be logical here,” I continued. “Even in the Bible it is written that it is better to marry than to burn with passion. See, if Jesus didn’t think sex is important He wouldn’t have had a lover …”

“Blasphemy!” screamed the pastor.

When the conniption cooled down, I continued, “I agree that these sex robots are not a mere fetish or just another sex toy. Their emergence and increasing use points to something darker and deeper within our culture, a retreat from the ideal of marriage and the real reasons why a woman and a man decide to live together. Blame it all on the wave of feminism and the so-called ‘women empowerment and rights’ that has ravaged the world ...”

“Yes, times are changing, but a dreadful sign of the doom looming for the era we are living in. And many people aren’t weird or offensive until the free market gives them the permission to be so. Gilbert, you were not like this before the evil idea of satisfying your bodily desires consumed you, saw a ‘business’ opportunity, and began selling your sinful products to your ‘sophisticated’ clientele to drag them with you to hell,” the pastor was not stopping his pontificating.

Well, what I did not say then was that despite their increasing popularity, thanks to my advertising, sex robots were alien to consumer culture and many men would rather contract STIs from prostitutes than buy my geloms.

Maisha Raha aims to create sex robots as much of a physical likeness to actual women but with more intelligence (albeit artificial) as technologically possible. My bots feel human to the touch, they mimic the movement of a real body, get real wet, and can talk to you nicely than women nowadays. The good thing is that they cannot break up with you, or walk out; no independence or anything that may disrupt the fantasy of total servitude. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Interview by Benson Macharia of the Kenya’s newspaper, Daily Nation.
Vincent de Paul is an author, editor and founder of Mystery Publishers- a self-publishing platform with editors from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
He spoke to about his journey:
What was your inspiration to become an author?
I developed an interest in writing while in high school. I was inspired by the urge to right the society and revoke vices through my writing thus I participated in national writing competitions. I wrote the article titled “Stop Child Labour, School is the Best Place to Work” for a competition that was organised by Centre for Law and Research International (CLARION) in 2003 and was among the top five winners. Ever since then, I have not looked back.
How long did it take before you published your first book and what were your biggest challenges as an aspiring writer?
From the time I finished the draft of my first book in 2004 while still in high school, I spent seven years before I published it, First Words, in 2011 which is a collection of poetry. The book had won the 13th Nairobi International Book Fair Literary Awards in 2010, which were organized by the National Book Development Council of Kenya.
The biggest challenge was to get a publisher to publish the book in Kenya.
I knocked doors of all main stream publishers in Kenya but they rejected the manuscript—they said Kenyans don’t read poetry and that they wanted a book they could sell to schools.
A year later, I gave up on looking for a publisher and a Facebook friend from the USA introduced me to self-publishing.
Read the full interview HERE.

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Most soldiers, while in the battlefield, fantasize of palm-fringed beaches, sex, and alcohol when, and if, they get back home; not necessarily in that order. They watch poor quality porn on their phones to remind them of what they are missing, and how the female body looks like. That’s most soldiers, but I am not most soldiers. All I think of is murdering my fiancée.

I have not slept. Most nights I don’t. I am thinking of tomorrow when I leave Somalia. AMISOM 13 is over. I am in the last batch of my unit to leave. Others went back piecemeal since 8th Battalion the Kenya Rifles arrived.

From my sentry post I stare at the wide panoply of stars and luminous darkness that rules the night. A loud shrill of the muezzin’s call for fajr pierces the pre-dawn silence.

It is the dreaded hour. Al-Shabaab come at this time. Reports received yesterday indicated that the dastard bastards were planning to attack a KDF camp in Sector Central, none in particular. We are used to the fake reports by now. Since we took over a year ago, they were planning to attack a KDF camp.

The guy who is supposed to relieve me wakes up and joins me.

“How is it,” he asks. “Anything suspicious?”

“No,” I say. “These intelligence guys know nothing. They send us reports to keep us on toes. They just want to stay relevant.”

“Why don’t you sleep?”

Sitaki kushikwa kwa mkono al-Shabaab wakija,” I say. “Did you see the photos of those soldiers who were caught sleeping in Elade and Kolbiyo?”

“But you don’t even sleep during the day like most of us.”

“Well, I’m not most of you.”

“You’re a strange man, Patoo. I wish I had your endurance.”

We sit in silence, then he says, “What would you do when you get back to Kenya?”

I feel like God is sending an angel to warn me, but I tell him what I expect would happen: “I heard we will be granted block-leave. I will go to build that house I have wanted to build in the plot I bought before we came here.”

“Afadhali wewe uko na plot,” he says. “I’m still paying my sisters’ school fees. I don’t know when I’d be able to acquire my property.”

At the mention of the word ‘fees’ my stomach muscles go taut. I don’t want to comment on it; I told my father to educate his children.

“Do you think we should leave Somalia?” he asks when he senses my disinterest in private life talk.

“If we did not leave after the Elade attack, we will never leave Somalia,” I say. I was in training then, and when I saw the photos of the attack online, I almost ran away from the recruit training school.

I don’t tell him that I think the system is fucked-up, that nothing matters to me anymore, and that I want him to shut the hell up.

I spend the day packing. Of importance is the belted ammo of my light machine gun. I make sure I get enough, anything can happen along the way. Even after thirteen years in Somalia we still travel by road when direct flights from Mogadishu to Nairobi resumed eight years ago. Most Kenya Defence Forces bases in Somalia have airstrips, military aircrafts could airlift us, but they don’t. They just come for casualty evacuation missions only.

Belesqoqani does not have an airstrip. We have to travel all the way to Garissa. Well, all troops to and fro Somalia travel by road through Garissa, save for those who go to Kismayo and Mogadishu. It is the roads that are riskier—al-Shabaab ambushes and IEDs everywhere.

At midnight, the Officer Commanding summons us. He says we’re leaving: surprise al-Shabaab.

We arrive in Garissa at around 1500hrs. The town hasn’t changed. We go to the camp, but I leave immediately after. I want to extol the virtues of drinking and the warmth between the glorious thighs of Somali women. 

DRC Club is the home of soldiers in Garissa. With the soldiers coming from Somalia, loaded with AMISOM dollars, it is full. All the good Somali women are few now, women have flocked to Garissa from the neighbouring Kitui County—from Mwingi to Thika—for the dollar rush.

I throw money around like a drug lord, spent it like it don’t mean anything. I am generous with the ladies, and one of them tells me she doesn’t like her work. She would love to be a housewife; what I hear instead is she would like to have a house.

I get back to the camp long after midnight, at unnerving three o’clock in the morning. I can barely walk, and I am bleeding. I have received quite a beating: the bouncers were not merciful on me for beating one of the women. Njeri was her name. The bitch wanted to spike my drink. Well, for someone who has spotted al-Shabaab from hundreds of metres I couldn’t let mchele take me down.

The Guard Commander at the gate throws me into the guardroom, pours water on the floor, and locks me in. When I come to, my OC is towering above me. He is livid, and rightly so, but he can’t leave me behind.

I hastily get ready and join the others. Our journey to Nairobi continues. Today we’re painting the city red.

When we get to Embakasi, I defy the OC’s directive not to leave the camp without cleaning the weapons and returning them to the store. I can’t wait to see my fiancée.

It is not hard to dodge the Company Sergeant Major. After all, I have bribed him severally to look the other way when my conduct was unbecoming.

My house at Nyayo Estate is out of place, dusty. The bitch hasn’t come here? I sit on the bed and think about the next twelve hours. Later, I go to Tuskys and buy takeaway food—chips, chicken, and yoghurt.

I’m ready.

Love killed me: I look at the note I have written, signed Patrick. But on second thought I decide not to leave any.

Long after midnight, I unpack my rucksack. I take the binoculars that I borrowed from the Platoon Commander’s runner. I switch off the lights and walk to the window. Most apartments in the third floor of the block opposite mine are off, but the one I want are still on. I can see silhouettes moving, but the night-vision-enabled binoculars will show me everything.

I see everything, for thirty minutes. She’s always been wild in bed. As though to tell me they are just getting started, my fiancée turns around, lifting her tight ass up to him. He enters her from behind.

So far they have done it in all styles and positions. I seethe with anger: towards him for reaping where he did not sow, and her for taking me for a fool—for fuck’s sake, I refused to pay for my sisters’ school fees so I could pay hers. I can’t take it anymore, and I want to teach them the error of their ways.

I check the belted ammo I had packed while leaving Somalia: 6,000 rounds. My beloved Negev Light Machine Gun has never failed me, and I have a night vision telescopic sight. I won’t miss!

I open the window and place the gun at an angle. I look through the telescopic sight and all I want is to end my misery. I synchronize with his thrusts and fire. A burst. Blood jets from his neck, though I can’t see the rivulets with the scope.

I see them go down. They couldn’t all be dead, but I want to make sure they stay down, forever. I aim and traverse the gun in the room, on the two lumps I assume to be them on the bed. And I don’t stop. Even if I won’t get them, ricochets will. I can see the door out of the bedroom, it is still closed, now riddled with bullet holes; if any of them survives I won’t let them get to the door.

A wave of adrenaline passes through me, I ain’t letting go of the trigger. The pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop! of the gun is not stopping. It’s like it has what we call ‘gun runaway’.

I’m so engrossed that I don’t notice the police armoured personnel carriers arrive, and the police taking position in the parking lot. A moment later a hail of bullets hit my window. Soldier instinct kicks in and I turn the gun on them.
At this time the adamantine faith to control my own fate is a conceited deceit. If I ain’t mistaken, I have seen army trucks arriving after the police.

If I must die, I won’t die alone. The barrel of the gun is red hot, but there is no spare. I must fight to the end.

In the battlefield you’re told not to focus on the front and forget your rear. That’s the mistake I made. An explosion goes off at my door and, before I act, the dreaded Recce Company commandos barge in.

I turn and face them. I expect some kind of telepathic communication, to let them know that I am one of them, to share my pain with them, but their portent eyes say it all—their orders are to shoot to kill.

I want to scream ‘Allahu Akbar!’, but I don’t want to die a terrorist. I’m a soldier. Soldiers don’t surrender.

I raise the gun, but I realize I can’t kill myself with a machine gun. Instead, one of the Recce boys does it for me.

I fall into a dark, bottomless pit, but what I see is Marya’s face and us kissing in the moonlight. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

I have never stopped berating God for plonking me in the middle of humanity as the only child. You may think it is a blessing, but, when all is said and done, it’s a curse.

I look at my mother with contempt. Her face is as withered as a flower left to waste, her face clothed in wisps of white hair she has refused to conceal in those horrendous weaves women don. To my eyes she represents everything I loath.

“You have other children, you know,” I tell her.

“A male child is the beacon of the family,” she says.

“A child is a child …”

“Your father would be disappointed with you.”

“Not as much as I was with him.”

There is no memory of my father that flashes in my mind. The old geezer dropped dead, literally, on his way from work the day I was born. But he had it coming, Mother told me when I was old enough to understand. It was the alcohol. He didn’t even see me!

“How do you expect me to go and live in my daughter’s house? The ways of our people don’t …”

“Suppose I was not born.”

“But you were.”

“Mom, you’ve got to go live with one of them: Mueni, Kasyoka, or Mwende …”

“Over my dead body.”

I steal a glance at her. She is just another woman beaten down by old age. Her porcelain face has withered, her skin a frail layer, thanks to stressful migraines. To her I am a soul lost to the shadows.

“Why should I be the only one to take care of you? My sisters …”

“Your sisters have their own homes, husbands. Our culture doesn’t allow us to go live in our daughter’s husband’s houses. Did you see my mother, your grandmother, coming to live here? She did not even spent a single night here.”

Flashes of her making friends with the other ‘inmates’, some toothless and blind, go on in my mind. 

“What do you expect me to do? I have to work.”

“Why do you think God gave me you only, no any other son?”

Questioning God is not something I do over breakfast, so I say nothing.

“A son takes care of his parents in their old age, perpetuates the family. Girls are married off, they find other families, but a son takes care of his parents and buries them.”

I feel like punching the air.

“I asked ‘what do you expect me to do?’ We’re going to Somalia in three days. You don’t want to go stay with Mueni, or Kasyoka, or Mwende.”

“You should have married a long time ago …”

Not marriage again, I want to scream.

I scroll through my phone while she goes on and on.

I want to tell her that I have impregnated my Platoon Sergeant’s daughter, the one who did her KCPE last year; that my ex faked DNA tests and came to the camp with a letter from the Children’s Court and the CO didn’t listen to me when he wrote a letter to DOD and told them to be deducting my salary from the source to pay for ‘my child’s’ support.

“And have my wife living in my mother’s house?”

“All this is yours. I don’t need it. My time is almost over. She will live here …”

Marriage is the last thing on my mind. Half my salary is going to that conniving bitch who is stealing my money. Ati child support! The other half is going to the Platoon Sergeant’s daughter. I hope she will flush it, as we agreed, otherwise her father will take me to court for defilement if he doesn’t kill me in Somalia and blame it on the enemy.

I have made up my mind. I want, no, I need, to go Somalia. African Union allowance is a tidy sum, not to be sniffed at. I will be away from all the madness. I might as well die over there and not worry of that gold-digger.

“Then I will take you to Nyumba ya Wazee …”

“What?” she screams. She shuffles her unruly hair, throws her hands up, and begins to wail. “In all my life I never thought you would insult me that way.”

“How have I insulted you?” But she doesn’t hear me. She is hysterical.

“Did I take you to a children’s home when you were born? I took care of you, nursed you.”
“It’s not like that …”

“Don’t tell me what it is like. Now you don’t value me, your mother. You want to stash me in a home for the elderly, suppose I took you to a children’s home, where would you be today.”

She is almost going berserk, and for an instant I fear she will drop dead, like her husband.

I don’t know what to do, what to say. Instead of calming her, I recoil and watch her. If I feel I’m not going to get out, I remind myself. I want to live free, happy, not a normal life. If you’re not there life will move on, I affirm to myself. She will take care of herself.

When I stand to go, the first step is the hardest, but I take it. All I am thinking is I want to get myself out of the curse of being her ‘only child’. My spirit is bubbling from deep inside. It is that liberating. I will go and forget I had an elderly mother. I won’t look back, I decide. Even when, and if, she realizes that daughters too are children who can take care of their parents, I won’t come back, I tell myself. I am getting away from the curse, taking back my life.