In my husband’s house: at once in Detroit and in Kakamega

By Atieno Nyar Kasagam.

Take a minute. Queue for this reading:

Do you know what home smells like?

Have you been somewhere, and was arrested by the smell, in a good way, in a reminiscent way- because perhaps it smelled like someone or someplace you loved, or you visited memorably, or you grew up in?

Everytime i walk into our backyard,
Behind the garage,
Between the greenhouse and the goat pen,
I walk into my grandfather’s boma,
‘000s of miles away,
in Kakamega.
I am in my husband’s house,
and then in my HUSBAND’s house.

My uncle, Hannington would always tell me,
nibbling on my ear,
when I was a young child,
that my grandfather was my first Husband.

Yes, he was always a little creepy,
maybe a little inappropriate too,

but what did i know then?

Funny how we don’t know who we are,
but who we are knows who we are,
and finds us,
wherever we may be,
in Detroit,
I wake up to milk,
Wangari and Yaa,
to feed,
to water,
to do things here,
I could have never imagined myself doing,

‘000s of miles away,
I am drawn back into a way of life,
that is my grandfather’s way of life,
and my grandmother’s way of life,
and I am struggling,
and resisting,
because in spite of the wonder,
and the magic,
and the love,
in this work,
my education,


my education says,
go get a job,


because what you are doing is not a job,
go get a boss,


go get in good with somebody, somewhere,
don’t matter mcdonalds or walmart or chrysler,

9 dollars, 10 dollars, 13.50 don’t care,

all of the talk,
after all of the talk,

after all of the watching,
Malcolm, Martin, Marcus,

Where do I cash in on my freedom?
Where do I claim my right to sovereignty?

go and submit yourself,
to another man’s imaginations,
to their empire,
to their money,
to their schedules,

go and subordinate yourself,

go and silence yourself,

go and contract yourself,

go and machinate yourself,

for a living.

for a living?

that ain’t any type of living!

How can I reconcile,
The fact that in my mind,
I dont yet feel that it is enough,
to live this life that is just,
I don’t yet feel that I am enough,
In spite of what I believe
to be true in my gut.



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