For purposes of full disclosure, I admit I am a little post-wine hazy. And I get sentimental when I have been drinking red wine. It makes me want to write love letters; long rambling intimate winding lush love letters. So I am writing this one to you.
First let’s get into the mood. You know when the evening mellows and you get comfortable with where the night is heading. You are surrounded by great company and any jagged edges have been blurred out by a lightness. The day falls off your shoulders and wit rolls off your tongue. You lose track of time and get lost in sparkly conversation. Then your favourite song comes on and you lose your shit! There is shrieking. And dragging of friends to the dance floor. And forgetting that you are in a public place. And wearing heels. And that people have phones that can record things and put them up online.
I went too far…. back to that favourite song moment. There is a bizarre, completely disproportionately sized euphoria in that moment. Yesterday morning I had one of those. I woke up, went to the Bloggers Association of Kenya website to check the nominations for the Blog Awards and scrolled down the list with one eye open. It’s weird how we do that. As if the magnitude of disappointing news will be halved if you only see it with one eye. There it was! Lil ol us, Chanyado nominated for Best New Blog. I lost my shit. Shrieked. Did a jig. Thankfully I was not in a public space and there were no recording devices.
You see, when you start a blog you don’t really believe anyone will read it. Well, maybe your family; your mother out of maternal obligation and your siblings because you stand over them and threaten bodily harm if they don’t. You obsessively look at the back end of your blog and experience real delight when your view count goes from 5 to 6. Somehow, slowly, your view count starts to hit double digits, and you think gosh, real non-related-to-you human beings are reading your writing of their own free will. That is a giddy feeling my friends. Positively heady. Then someone shares it. THEY SHARE IT! They want other people to read it. You are now in unicorn hopping over double rainbow territory. It is a little unbelievable. You fight the urge to stop them and ask if they are sure that’s what they intended to do.
Not that it is all melted cheese and Maroon 5 songs. On my very first piece, someone calling themselves ‘JustBeingHonest’ commented:
Excruciating to read! It seems the readers who have commented before me either know you personally and just want to encourage you by giving false praise or perhaps it’s just that they cannot discriminate between something that’s written tastefully and something that’s not. You can do SO much better. Do something better with your time. Please stop.
I wanted to curl up in corner in the the foetal position and rock myself as I wept. Not only did they leave this withering remark, they felt impassioned enough about their opinion to create a special email address specifically to leave this comment. The email address was ‘Justbeinghonest@xxxxxxx.com. Then I thought, you know what ‘JustBeingHonest’ I will show you! Ridiculous. As if I had something to prove to ‘JustBeingHonest’. And every post I wrote, I thought, oh dear. Maybe that’s all I got. What if I have only a finite amount of words in me to be written, and I have exhausted them all. But I would sit and write because of you. Because you read what I wrote. You were my kryptonite. Stop rolling your eyes. This is a love letter. I am allowed the occasional cheesy line. And let me tell you something. There is no greater gift in all the universe for a writer, than to have someone read their work. I can’t tell you how much it means. To allow yourself to be swept up into someone else’s world. There is true generosity in that.
I think us bloggers are a spoiled lot. Novelists and writers in the pre-internet era would slog for years, typing away, creating vast worlds, pouring their lives onto pages, drowning their insecurities, ignoring their families, ruining their posture and rotting their teeth with coffee and vodka, to create a piece of work which may or may not be published, and may or may not be read by anyone. It would take years for them to receive any mass feedback, any sense of how people were responding to this labour of love they gave their years to. Us bloggers, we write, we post and within minutes we know what people think. It is addictive that instant response. You start itching for your next fix. So in a sense, you are my drug, that hit that makes my body tingle and my brain vibrate.
And you live in over 141 countries. Living in Nairobi, writing about one Kenyan’s life, it astounds me that people all over the world read Chanyado. Who are you? How did you find us? Why do you keep coming back? I think about you when I am sitting in traffic, watching the city wake up and trying to remain calm amidst the chaos of Matatus skittering by. As I sit staring at the asses of cars, I wonder, what is your view over there in Curacao? Is it all sandy beaches and blue skies, or are you cursing at some idiot cutting you off as well. As I sit in the stifling heat of a February midday in Nairobi, I think, what sort of day did you have over there in Serbia?
And I wonder about some of you who leave footprints in the shade of Chanyado. To the lady who left me a note at the end of ‘Closing the Book’, saying that you read it soaking in the tub in the aftermath of a separation from your child’s father, I hope it was a bubble bath and there were scented candles, because you need to feed your soul pleasure from wherever you can. And I hope there was no one else in the house, so you could wail and break down into the kind of ugly hiccupping that your body needs to purge it of the sobs it needs to expunge.
I never know which pieces you are going to like. The ones I really love seem to just plop undramatically into the ether. There are others that catch some sort of public sentiment and whizz around. Those ones frighten me. Because there is only so much that you can communicate in 1000 words. And people inevitably think they know all of you that there is to know from those 1000 words. But you have taught me, you can only be responsible for what you write, not for what others read.
A few of you come by Chanyado accidentally. And judging by some of the search terms that get you here, I hope you are sorely disappointed by what you find. These search terms can be very specific:
‘a clip of a indian woman wearing a sari who is seducing a young boy shaving his beard’
How, please tell me how, that led you to Chanyado! Also, please tell me what is with this obsession with women in sarees releasing their bladders?
The wine is fading and I feel myself becoming more self-conscious about this love letter that seemed like a brilliant idea a while ago. What I really wanted to say, is thank you. For reading, for caring, for sharing, for supporting.
I checked out our competition in the Best New Blog category and they all are rather beautiful. I feel a like we got caught on camera before we had time to brush our hair and make sure our shirt was not inside out. Voting is open for the next two months even for those who live outside of Kenya. If you like it over here in the shade, please do vote. (Even you, Mr ‘sunburned fanny photo.’) Tell your friends, relatives, nosy neighbours, that smelly stranger in the matatu reading this over your shoulder.
The link to vote is here: http://www.blogawards.co.ke/vote/ – there are some fabulous blogs also nominated, so take some time to wander around the other categories.
Regular non-inebriated programming continues next week.