One night I spent over an hour poring over old Facebook photos. I laughed and shook my head at the silliness I used to get up to.
Remembered good times spent with friends, some now casual acquaintances, others nearly strangers and others still the good ol’ friends I made years ago.
Ah, the good ol’ days.
What happened to the good ol’ days?
Why do we look back on the past, the happy past, and cherish it so much more than we did at that actual moment?
Do we not recognize happiness in the present?
Does happiness seem more apparent when looked back upon?
Why don’t we cherish happiness presently?
Why does happiness seem to be a faraway construct, etched in the past as the ‘good ol’ days’ or in the future as something we intend to feel once we have fulfilled a certain need or desire?
Be happy. Now.
What’s keeping you away from making the happiness choice?
The words I thought
were all I needed
for the most suitable
seem to fail me lately.
How are you?
Good, I say,
much needed detail.
I worry a lot about the future,
and I think I’m growing shorter.
I may be mistaken
but I think my hair has grown
three inches longer.
And that’s not even 1/3
of my current state of being.
What do you think of him?
Oh, he’s seems nice.
Yet, he’s a great conversationalist
though he stares a lot,
and talks with his mouth full,
is what I meant to say.
Yet good, nice, fine, OK
are the only words
I seem to come up with
what neither a thousand words
could do justice.
This little poem?
I think it’s OK.
It is with great shame (well, not really. Maybe just a moderate amount of shame ) that I present the third and final instalment of the ‘Let’s go to prison’ series that I did at the end of last year. Ideally, this should have been posted here shortly after the first two but due to many, honestly, avoidable circumstances that prevailed upon me, it wasn’t. Should you wish to refresh your memory, here’s Part 1 and Part 2. Better late than never, right? Enjoy.
Within no time, I was busy sandpapering the walls with a large group that included prisoners and wardens, after which we commenced painting. I really enjoyed painting. Peter Marangi would have wept with pride had he seen me.
I have to admit that all this time I was hoping for a photo opportunity with an inmate. Or some sort of interaction where I’d casually ask, “So, what are you in for?” Then when he responded with whatever crime he was in for, I’d nod nonchalantly and say, “Cool, cool.” I know, I know. Pretty lame. I did, however, get both of my wishes a few hours later when someone mentioned how hungry they were. We all must’ve been. We had been working for some time, in the hot sun, sandpapering the outer walls of the hall. *Morris, one of the inmates, happened to be standing nearby and we jokingly asked him what they had prepared for us for lunch. “Msije mkadanganyika. Chakula cha huku hamwezani nacho. (Don’t be fooled. You cannot handle the food here),” he said, loosely referring to the warden’s earlier ‘buffet’ statement. At this point we all got curious about their meals. It was the usual ugali and sukumawiki (kales) with a few pieces of meat, among other meals like githeri. I wondered how bad the food actually was. Soon enough the moment I’d been waiting for came. I asked what he was in for.
*Morris is from Tanzania. He is in for drug trafficking. He was arrested in Kenya en route from Brazil, for heroin possession. He explained to us how theywould swallow 13 gram sachets of heroin, to later pass them out in their stool before selling them. “Eeeeeww!!” Those were my thoughts on that. *Morris is serving a nine year sentence. He’s already done eight years in the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, and currently has a year to go in the medium security prison. He gets out in December 2012.
He told us that he had every intention of going back into the drug business. By this time, a small group had formed around him to hear his story. He went on seemingly oblivious of this. He was not at all willing to get back into employment, he explained, a tinge of arrogance in his voice. We were all saddened by this. We tried to convince him that there were other vocations he could pursue and that he didn’t have to go back to a life of crime. Someone told him about Jesus. I could tell that he regarded us a bunch of silly youngsters who knew nothing about life. He intends to go international. Maybe head to China, where he said that some laws are lax or something to that effect. At this point I had completely drifted off and was busy trying to get a photo next to him without seeming too obvious.
Seeing this, everyone suddenly wanted a photo with him. Copy cats! :p He didn’t seem to mind so we clicked away. I was a bit embarrassed by our behaviour but hey, how many chances do you get a photo opportunity with an inmate? There I go again.
A short while later we were done painting and it was time to kick back and be entertained by the inmates and some of the wardens, who were all rather talented. I was impressed, especially by the acrobats and dancers.
Unfortunately, I could not stay till the very end as I had planned to attend #WamathaiOct. As I left, accompanied by a few members of our group, one of whom was dropping me at the matatu stage (it is quite a distance away from the prison), I noticed at the far end of the prison compound where the cells were located, a few inmates who were locked up trying their best to catch a glimpse of the on-going performances their comrades were enjoying. The warden escorting us out told us that they were mentally disturbed and usually not allowed to mix with the rest of the inmates. I felt sad for them.
The elderly Asian inmate I had noticed earlier on walked past us. I asked the warden what he was in for. Multiple bank robberies. This was his third time here. “A good number of the inmates are repeat offenders and keep coming back for the same crimes,” the warden informed us. So much for rehabilitation.
I was free to leave. I could go wherever I pleased. I had freedom of movement! Do we take this freedom for granted? I thought about all this as I left. I could not imagine how great that first step of freedom felt for an inmate who had served a five or 10-year (or longer) sentence. The air must seem fresher; the birds must sing louder; the grass has to be greener for them. Freedom tastes good! I suppose.
“Come again.” I was told severally as I made my way out. I smiled and nodded while thanking the wardens for their hospitality. I’m not sure I’d like to go back.
“I heard your pancakes were seen on Twitter,” says mother.
“What Twitter? How?” says father, who has little, if any, understanding of what happens on social media.
I go ahead to explain Twitter and how people update what’s current, what they’re doing or what’s happening in their world. Father shakes his head, bemused, at the fact that anyone would want to share with the world what they were currently eating or cooking for that matter. I’m on my way to the kitchen to make their evening tea. “Why don’t you also put that on Twitter?” says father, somewhat sarcastically. I laugh quietly to myself (what is now referred to as LQTM) as I walk away.
This conversation took place a day after I had made and tweeted about the said pancakes using the hashtag #radicalpancakerecipe. Radical, because I thought it was pretty cool and unique to make pancakes with raisins (being a dried fruit enthusiast), before I googled ‘raisin pancakes’ and found out that they actually existed. It’s been done before ladies and gentlemen! Bummer! :-/
Anyhow, I followed the usual pancake recipe, with a few modifications. These made me about 18 pancakes.
2 ½ cups of self-raising flour
2 ½ cups of milk
Half a packet of raisins
2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
1 teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of sugar
Nothing extraordinary. Just your usual pancake recipe.
Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large bow. For some types of flour, sifting is necessary. I didn’t need to sift the type I used. Make a hole in the middle if this mixture and pour in the milk, raisins, lemon rind (skin), egg and margarine (which incidentally needs to be melted in advance. I never did this). Mix all these until smooth. If you happen to have one of those electric mixers, even better. Nifty little gadgets, these. Effortlessly giving you that perfectly smooth and fluffy mixture.
After this heat a lightly oiled frying pan. Avoid high heat. Medium high heat is recommended for this. I tried pouring and spreading the pancake mix on the pan using a large spoon, but I found that this makes them rather shapeless. For that nice round (well, not perfectly) shape most of us like in pancakes, try pouring a small amount of the mix into the pan then evenly spreading it round the pan by tilting the pan around till the mixture fills it, then shaping out the edges with a spoon. This worked for me. Ensure the pancake browns well on both sides, but not too much that it gets crispy.
Some people like to cook their pancakes in butter or margarine. I’ve tried margarine but found that it made them acquire a slightly salty taste. I use cooking oil. Use as little as possible. You don’t want your pancakes oily.
You’ll find that the raisins sink into the pancake mix, so you might have to scoop deep into your mix to ensure that you get some raisins on every pancake. Alternatively, add the raisins manually after pouring the mix onto the pan. Ensure that the side with the raisins (because they tend to fall on one side) browns properly. Also ensure that the raisins are evenly distributed, not too many or too little on one pancake.
When your pancakes are ready, sprinkle some fresh lemon juice on them. You could also try honey or syrup, whatever your fancy. Enjoy them with a glass of cold milk, juice or tea, again, whatever tickles you fancy.
P.S. I actually refer to my parents as mother and father….in recent times. I find it makes things rather interesting and weirdly formal.
Unsaid But Written wishes you a tasty 2012!