The alarm goes off, you wake up and slog to the shower. The hot water plasters on your body as your senses awaken. In thirty minutes or so you’ll be out of the house and into the traffic that leads to corporate Kenya offices. You’d imagine by now your body has gotten used to this routine but it tires you the more each day. But you still do it nonetheless, what other options do you have?
While in traffic, you try to read a book on your mobile kindle. A sad book. Lately, you’ve gravitated towards such stories in your reading. It’s one of the ways you escape from the reality of this life, the other being getting lost in the world of booze and weed during the weekends and almost every evening back home after another struggle through traffic. What started off as just chilling, has turned into an out of control habit that helps you cope. Now, it’s doing you more harm than good.
At the office, you dive into autopilot mode and do what you’re meant to do for the money. You check mail, attend meetings, sit to think of solutions to problems, respond to mails, go for lunch break, get back to an afternoon meeting, on and on it goes until you leave the office a few minutes past seven. While in traffic, you fantasize about the taste of the devil’s piss on your tongue, the halfway done bottle you have back at the crib.
You pour yourself a drink the moment you get home, fix a quick assortment of meal from the fridge and catch up on a series you’ve been watching lately. Life as it seems isn’t all that after all, you think to yourself as you wait for the insomnia to turn off so you can turn in for the night.
Forty winks later, you’re back at it again.
You can’t take this anymore, you feel like a lion in a cage. Not only are you restricted physically, you feel mentally restricted too. One September afternoon at the beach while on leave, you tell yourself you’re done. It’s time to pack your bags and leave. Time to break off the cage and be the Simba you were born to be. Free.
In October, you stare long at the email then hit the send button. A sigh of relief comes over you. The next thirty days have a new air. You serve your notice and walk out the office, into the elevator door and into the jungle. You’re free at last.
You tell yourself you need a few weeks break to think through your life before getting back to the grind we all have to do to put food on the table. Your alarm sets off much later these days. You don’t have to rush through making breakfast anymore. You smile more often these days. Your daily walks reveal how the neighbourhood actually looks like. You spot a girl at a restaurant. A girl you could date.
Soon, you learn the hard truth no one ever told you. Freedom comes at a price. You realize you have a lifestyle to sustain and you make adjustments. You start delaying on rent and it pisses off the potbellied landlord with a loud voice. You change friends, ‘expensive’ friends who know nothing about the gig economy.
Despite everything, you tell yourself it’s all worth it. The freedom, and the chance to chase something you love. It’s worth the peace of mind you have enjoyed and the sound sleep you get when you’re not thinking of the next debt to pay. You stay the course. You steel yourself from the cost you have to pay to be free.
Only that things don’t get better as fast as you imagined they would. The lion is wandering in hostile territory. Sometimes there’s lack yet the reserves are long exhausted. Every territory seems to be taken, dominated by another pack. You grow a hard skin and stay the course.
Again, things get even worse. You imagine the cage. You see it for the good it had. At least you didn’t lack, neither did you have to wander aimlessly in search of this elusive dream that’s hard to reach. You imagine eating humble pie and heading back to where you thought you broke free. But then you remind yourself why you left in the first place and gain more strength.
This debate rages on inside of you. On one hand, you are happy to be free but sad to be broke, on the other hand, you remember you were once less broke but propped up in a cage. It’s a sad life you say, backed up by a YouTube comment you once read, ‘It’s truly a meaningless existence. Living to work and working to live.’ There’s no better way to explain how you feel.
You tell yourself you have one life to live and you decide to live it on your own terms to the best of your ability. Yes, it won’t be easy and it might take some time before you get it all under control (which might never actually happen), but you live a day at a time trying to live for something and not merely exist.
You roam the jungle long enough to understand how it all works. You build your bones and fight for what is yours, especially your peace, sanity, happiness and love.
Remember the girl at the restaurant? Yeah. You make it part of your life’s purpose to love her. You realize she is the best thing you have because against all odds she loves you and has stuck with you through the seasons of life. One day you will wife her, you say.
Sometime later, you will stare out the window in a rainy day and think of how life could have turned out differently had you not broken free from that cage. You wouldn’t be who you are, where you are or with the people around you. You smile.
This is the hope that keeps you going, but for now, you roam the jungle, free.
Get a copy of my first novella here. Enjoy.