Zuri Kabinda : The Birthday Party – Part 3

Heavy rain woke Zuri from a deep sleep.  She sat up on her bed, rubbing her eyes as she tried to shake off vague dreams.  Rain pounding on her window cleared the remaining cobwebs.

“No, no,” she said, as she bounded out of bed to her window.

Throwing back the curtains, she stared at the dark clouds overhead, and the water running down her windows.  It was six o’clock in the morning. She’d planned an outdoor birthday party for Mrs. Tolinda’s daughter.  That gave her approximately five hours to find tents.

Sleep escaped as she grabbed a pair of jeans and t-shirt from her closet.  Taking her phone, she hurried out to her small kitchen to start a pot of coffee as she thought about whom to call to get tents on such short notice.

She’d found a vendor by the time she made it to her office at seven o’clock.  The problem was he couldn’t deliver the tents because of a previous engagement.  She had to find her own transportation.

Anjik found her pacing their small reception hall with the phone pressed to her ear.

“What’s going on?”

“People want an arm and a leg to get tents from Kikuyu road to Lavington.”  Zuri sighed and ended another disappointing call.  “I need someone who’ll do me a favor without cost.”

“Call Devin,” Anjik suggested, dumping her bag on her desk.  “He’s always doing things for you.”

Zuri frowned.  “Now why didn’t I think of him?  Anjik, you’re the best.”

She grinned at Anjik, pulled up Devin’s number on her phone and dialed.  He answered on the second ring.

“Zuri?” he answered, his voice sleepy.

“Did I wake you?” she asked as sweetly as she could manage.  “It’s not too early, is it?”

He yawned on his end.

“It’s seven o’clock in the morning, gal.  What’s wrong?”

“Do I only call you when something’s wrong?”

“Then did you call me because you missed me?” he asked, his tone way too hopeful.

She chuckled, filled with guilt.  “Devin, I always miss you.  How’s your company doing?”

“Fine,” he said.  “Zuri?”

“Yeah?”

“Just tell me what you need help with.  It’s painful to listen to you beat around the bush.”

She bit her lip.  “I actually do need your help.  You have a Pick-Up truck and I need to get tents to an event in the next two hours.  Are you available?”

There was silence and then Devin cleared his throat.  “Yeah, sure, I’ll get ready.  Where do you want to meet?”

She sighed in relief.

“How about in thirty minutes?  Pick me up at my office and we’ll go together.  The tent place is on Kikuyu road.”

“Right, sure,” he yawned.  “You owe me breakfast.”

“Anything,” she answered and hung up.  She jumped up and down happily.  “Thank God for Devin.”

“You should really pay more attention to that guy,” Anjik said with a slight sigh.  “Ask yourself why he never says no to you.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Zuri said, slinging her handbag over her shoulder.  “I’ve no time right now.  Time to find out if Amari Bakery is on time.  I’m sure I can convince Devin to help me pick up the cake and party favors on our way to Lavington.  I’ll meet you there later.”

“Think about it, Zuri,” Anjik called after her.

****

Zuri got Devin a huge travel mug of coffee and mandazi from a shop close to the tent office.  They got the tents and headed to Amari Bakery on Ndwaru Road.  Maureen, the Bakery’s owner met them at the gates with the party favors, and the Birthday Cake: a four kg. Chocolate cake decorated with chocolate shavings.  Just looking at it, Zuri knew the birthday girl would love it at first sight.

Thanking Maureen, they headed out to Mrs. Tolinda’s home in Lavington.

“Where have you been this past month?” she asked Devin.

“In Nyeri,” he said, sipping his coffee.  “I got a huge contract to set up computers in a primary school there.  The job turned into five and suddenly the month was over.  You didn’t call me.”

She shrugged.  “I had a few problems of my own.”

Devin glanced at her for a second. 

“You sound sad.  Did something bad happen?”

“No,” she said, shaking her head, “just had a serious dry spell.  I was worried I might have to close my business if I didn’t get any clients.  It’s a scary thing.  I’ve sunk everything I have into it, you know.  I keep thinking what would I do if I closed Binda Events?”

“Find a job,” Devin answered casually.  “Get married, maybe start another business.  I don’t think you’d stay down for long, Zuri.  It’s not your style.”

“Get married, really?” she asked, looking at him.

Devin Makoto was those lean guys that just seemed never to gain weight no matter how much he ate.  He was a genius with computers and had managed to create an IT company that had clients all over the country.  He was innovative, easy going and industrious.  She could see how women would find him handsome: he had a cute face, and boyish charm.  He never failed to make her day.  They’d known each other since nursery school when he’d shared his juice box with her because he liked her strawberry jam sandwich.

“Don’t you think it’s something you’ll do soon?” he asked.

“I’m busy waking you up at seven o’clock in the morning, running around trying to make Binda Events work.  What time do you think I have to get married?”

“I was just asking a question,” he answered mildly.  “Jeez, Sonnie is right.  You have tunnel vision these days.”

“When did you and Sonnie talk about me?” she asked.

“She calls me all the time,” he said with a smile.

Zuri blinked.  “Well, good for you.  Maybe you can marry her then.”

“Now you’re getting pissy,” he chided.  “Relax, I was just teasing you.  You don’t need to get married.  In fact, I think I like seeing you live alone.”

“Such caring and warmth,” she teased.

He laughed, and turned onto the street Airi lived on.  Mrs. Tolinda’s house was opposite Airi’s house.

Devin backed up the driveway, going around Mrs. Tolinda’s house to the backyard.  She was glad to see the staff she hired standing in the garage, sorting through decorations.

“Okay, time to get to work,” she said and opened her door.  “Thanks, Devin.  I know I don’t say it enough, but I really do appreciate this.”

He smiled at her.  “You’re my girl, Zuri.  Call me anytime.”

The expression on his face made her pause, Anjik’s words flitting through her mind.  Did Devin like her?  She squelched her suspicions as fast as they came and got out of the truck.  She instead concentrated on getting tents erected for the party, as well as getting the bouncing castle up for the younger kids.

By the time they finished, her jeans were muddy, her t-shirt sweaty.  She spotted a new cut on her palm.  She’d gotten it helping Devin and the crew put up the tents.

“It looks great,” Devin said, coming to stand beside her.

The tents covered the back yard keeping away the rain, and creating a warm ambiance.  She’d scattered tables along the edges of the tent, leaving the middle for the kids to play and dance if they so wished.  The bouncing castle took up one end of the five tents.

They had set up a stage in one whole tent for the Deejay she’d gotten for the party.  Sweet sixteen birthdays were about being cool, and having music at your party.  She had gotten Deejay Dre, an up and coming entertainer, who’d give the kids a good time.

She set up the caterers in the open garage, and the cake was safely kept in Mrs. Tolinda’s kitchen.

“I didn’t think I’d make it,” she said after a minute.  “I can’t believe it’s finally done.”

“Time to change,” Devin poked her left arm, “you stink, Kabinda.”

She cuffed his shoulder.

“Whatever Devin,” she said, shaking her head.  “You look worse than I do.”

He grinned when she reached up to wipe mud from his jaw.  Conscious of Anjik’s earlier warnings, she stepped back and gave him a slight smile.

“I left a change of clothes at Airi’s house,” she said then.  “I’ll just head over and get a shower.”

Devin nodded.  “Sure thing, I need to go anyway.  I’ll see you later?”

“Sure, Devin,” she said and practically ran away from him.

****

“You ran away?” Sonnie asked with a laugh.  “You ran…”

Zuri scowled when Sonnie burst out laughing.

“Hey, that’s not fair.  It’s not my fault I started thinking he wanted me.  Blame Anjik.  That darned girl speculates too much.  She’s making me paranoid.”

“Well,” Airi said, coming to help her zip her dress.  “Anjik is not speculating anything.  We can all see how much Devin cares for you.  I mean, you drag him out of bed at seven o’clock and he comes running without complaint.”

“He demanded breakfast,” Zuri pointed out as she swept up her braids into a top ponytail.

“Yeah well, that was more like his woman feeding him,” Sonnie said still chuckling.  “Devin likes you, Zuri.”

“I’m not listening to either of you,” Zuri said decisively.

If she did, she would have to reevaluate every conversation she’d had with Devin, and that was just too much work.  It would break her concentration on her business, and she couldn’t afford that right now.

“Fine, we’re just putting it out there.”  Airi sat on the couch beside Sonnie.  “So, where does this event put the business?”

“We’re in the black, but it’s shaky,” she said with a sigh.  She sat on Airi’s bed.  “I need to do serious marketing.  I’m going to need a few more clients before I can breathe at all.”

“Well,” Airi said, shrugging her shoulder elegantly.  “I can help with the marketing for now.  At no cost, of course.  I don’t have anything to do, and I liked talking to Mrs. Tolinda for you.”

Zuri beamed. 

“What would I do without you two?”

Airi grinned.  “Stumble along blindly.”

They all laughed.

Later at the birthday party, Zuri stood in one corner sipping a glass of orange juice.  Her gaze sharply taking in the events as they unfolded around the tents.  The caterers ran a smooth shift: no one had missed any food.  The Deejay had the kids jumping up and down with excitement.  She smiled as she watched the birthday girl scream happily when her favorite song came on.  Their parents sat talking at the tables she’d set in intervals.

Everyone was having a good time.

Zuri smiled because Mrs. Tolinda had given her a check ten minutes ago.  The amount would go into her bank and finally clear any arrears she had with the bank.  She also had extra money to clear Anjik’s salary and pay back Sonnie.

“You look happy,” Sonnie said, coming to stand beside her.

“I am,” she said, watching Airi talk to Mrs. Tolinda.  “I’m glad I’m in the Trep Zone.”

“Trep Zone?”

“Entrepreneur Zone,” she clarified with a smile.  “There are bad days, like two days ago when I had no idea where I was going to get money.  And then, there are really good days, like today.  I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”

Sonnie nodded and slid an arm around Zuri’s waist. 

“Well, that’s great.  What about days you realize your guy friend likes you?”

Zuri groaned as she watched Devin walk into the party all dressed up.

“I call those ‘feign-ignorance-days’.  I can’t afford relationship drama right now.”

****

<—The Birthday Party – Part 2   

To be continued…thank you for reading!

Zuri is joined by her two best friends, Sonnie and Airi.  They’re the people she relies on, especially when she’s down on her luck and the world is imploding.

Zuri Kabinda is a story about a young woman in her late twenties, living in Nairobi and struggling to make her Event Planning Business work.  Follow her as she works through the various challenges young entrepreneurs face, especially in a city like Nairobi.

All baked goods mentioned refer to the Amari Baking Center

Zuri Kabinda: The Birthday Party – Part 2

Airi to the Rescue

That evening, back in her one bedroom apartment, Zuri grabbed her towel from the foot of her bed and turned to Sonnie.

“Where are we going again?”

“You’re not the only one with problems.  Airi called me earlier.”

Zuri groaned.  “What’s wrong now?”

“Her boyfriend has flown out of the country and he didn’t tell her for how long.”

Sonnie sat on her bed as she rushed into the adjoining bathroom.

“One of these days, Airi is going to have to make a choice.  Living like a kept woman is so not cool.”

Zuri sighed and closed the shower door.  She turned on the shower, made sure it was steaming hot before she jumped in for a quick wash.  The heat soothed her tired muscles, and she closed her eyes as she took in a deep breath.  The day had ended much better than she’d imagined.  Her loan was paid, Anjik was paid….sort of…she’d paid the girl half her salary.  Now all she needed was a client.

She was thankful for Sonnie.  They’d grown up together, gone to the same high school and university.  They’d also worked in the same advertising company until Zuri quit two years ago.  Sonnie grounded her when her world was imploding.  Together, they grounded Airi who was always having problems with her longtime boyfriend.

Zuri washed up quickly and stepped out of the shower in five minutes.  She grabbed a towel and heard Sonnie call out from her bedroom.

“Don’t forget to shave your legs.”

Zuri put toothpaste on her toothbrush, stuck it in her mouth and reached for the razor.  Propping her foot on the toilet seat, she grinned at the thought of an evening spent listening to Airi complain about her boyfriend.

Five minutes later, she hurried into her room to find Sonnie had laid out a white and pink sundress for her.

She grabbed a bottle of lotion from the top of a chest of drawers set against the wall and sat in an armchair by the window.

“I wish Airi would leave that man,” Zuri said with a sigh.

“I don’t think she can,” Sonnie said lying back on her bed.  “She’s spent the past three years holding on to him.  She’s invested time, her heart, emotions…do you think she’d give him up so easily?”

Zuri concentrated on dressing.  “I guess when you put it that way it makes sense, but surely,” she shook her head.  “I don’t understand why she needs to keep staying with a guy who treats her like a second thought.”

“Fear,” Sonnie said sadly.  “Fear to be alone.”

Zuri pulled on the dress over a white short slip and turned so that Sonnie could zip it up.  When it was done, she reached up removed the hair band holding her braids up.  The long braids fell down her back and she ran her fingers through them with a relieved sigh.

“Aren’t you afraid of being alone?” Sonnie asked getting off the bed.

“Do I look like I have time to be concerned about loneliness?”

Zuri grabbed a tube of lip-gloss from her dresser, used it negligently, before she dumped it in her purse.  Taking a beaded flower ring, she slipped it on her right middle finger and smiled at Sonnie.

“How do I look?”

“Pretty,” Sonnie said leading the way out of her bedroom.  “And stop changing the subject.  You can’t tell me you’ve never thought about it.  You’re twenty-seven years old.  I’m sure your mum keeps mentioning it.”

“She’s open-minded,” Zuri said stopping in a small closet in the corridor to take out a pair of white wedges.  She slipped them on, and watched Sonnie take her own purse from the coffee table.  “She’s more worried about my lack of a steady income.”

“Well, you’re lucky,” Sonnie said as they headed out.  “My mum thinks we should have married at age twenty.”

Zuri chuckled.  “No she doesn’t.  Your mum just worries about you, Sonnie.  She’s very sweet when we talk.  Yesterday, she called me to ask the best place to buy wholesale flour.  I directed her to that shop we like in Kawangware.”

“Come to think of it, should I be jealous that you get along with my mother better than I do?”

“You get along with my mum too.”  Zuri pointed out as they went down the stairs.

Sonnie chuckled.  “I guess that makes us even.  Should we walk up to take a forty-six bus?”

“Yeah, it’s easier than taking a matatu here and then connecting.”

****

Airi Kwetu lived in Lavington, at a two-story house that belonged to her boyfriend Evan Latema.  They’d lived together for two years.  Zuri couldn’t remember a time Airi had ever lived her life without Evan drama.

Airi met them at the door, dressed in grey sweat pants and a t-shirt.  Her eyes were red, as though she’d been crying all day, and when she ushered them into the living room, Zuri sighed when she saw the bottle of Baileys sitting on the coffee table.

“How long have you been in here?” Zuri asked, although the used tissues on the coffee table told their own story.

Airi might have used an entire box; used tissues piled a tray on the table.

“All day, I was watching movies,” Airi said quietly.  “Thanks for coming ladies.  I’m so glad you came.”

“You know what, sit.  I think it’s time we changed what you’re drinking,” Zuri said.  “I’ll make some coffee.”

Sonnie drew Airi to the couch and Zuri grabbed the tray of tissues, the bottle of Baileys and the used glass.  She took them to the kitchen, grimacing when she had to discard the tissues in the trashcan.

She started making coffee and rummaged in the stocked cupboards for food.  Fifteen minutes later, she went back to the living room with a fresh pot of coffee, and a plate piled with peanut butter cookies.

“Airi’s thinking of getting a job,” Sonnie announced when Zuri had served everyone.

“What kind of job?” Zuri asked, sipping her coffee, careful to wear a blank expression.

Airi’s business ideas were perishable, like flowers blooming at night and withering in the morning.  The last time her boyfriend left, she’d decided to start a fashion business.  The idea only lasted until Airi registered the business name.

“I don’t know, maybe consulting,” Airi said softly.  She stared into her coffee mug.  “Maybe, I’ll join Zuri in her business and help her plan parties.”

Zuri winced.  Airi was bossy, and demanding.  She couldn’t imagine working with Airi on a day-to-day basis.

“Well, we could work something out,” Zuri said cordially.

Sonnie gave her a skeptical glance before she turned to their friend.

“Airi,  you need to take a few more days before you jump into any serious project.  If you want something to do, help us find Zuri an event to plan.”

Airi sighed, still staring into her coffee, and then she looked up with a small smile.

“What?” Zuri asked when the smile only widened.

“I might have something,” Airi said happily, the shadows in her eyes disappearing.  “Remember Mrs. Tolinda?”

“Your neighbor?” Zuri asked, with a frown.

“Yeah, we had an estate meeting the other day.  I heard Mrs. Tolinda wanted to throw a sweet sixteen party for her daughter.  I’ll give her a call.”

Airi jumped up and ran off to find her phone.  Zuri met Sonnie’s gaze and smiled.

“At least she got off the couch,” Sonnie said, biting into her cookie.  “Jeez, I think I have to go to the gym tomorrow.  Between you and Airi, I’ll end up gaining a ton.”

Zuri laughed and they both stopped in surprise when Airi returned dressed up in tight black jeans, top, and vibrant red heels.  There was no sign of the lost woman who met them at the door.  She was with purpose again.

“Come on, ladies,” Airi said, waving her car keys.  “Mrs. Tolinda wants to meet.  I think we got Binda Events a gig.”

***

← The Birthday Party – Part 1

To be continued….thanks for reading ^_^

Zuri Kabinda is a story about a young woman in her late twenties, living in Nairobi and struggling to make her Event Planning Business work.  Follow her as she works through the various challenges young entrepreneurs face, especially in a city like Nairobi.

Zuri is joined by her two best friends, Sonnie and Airi.  They’re the people she relies on, especially when she’s down on her luck and the world is imploding.

All baked goods mentioned refer to the Amari Baking Center

 

 

Zuri Kabinda: The Birthday Party – Part 1

“Please.”

Such a simple word, a pleading word, Zuri Kabinda thought as she said it again.

“Please give me time.  I will make the payment in two weeks.”

“Miss Kabinda, why did you let it get this bad?” Sylvia, her loan officer, asked.

The woman spoke as though she hadn’t made her payments on time.  Shaking her head, Zuri prayed for help from a higher power.

“I’m trying to make you understand my situation.  Business was slow last month.  The money I had paid my business expenses.  I’ll do my best to fund raise for this last payment, but it will take me at least two weeks.  Please, don’t blacklist me.”

“You’re making things hard for me.  If you can’t pay your installment in time–”

“I have paid on time for the last six months.  This is the final payment, please.  I’ll make sure it’s done.”

Zuri owned an event planning business named Binda Events.  She’d started Binda Events two years ago, after quitting her advertising job in an international firm.  Her mother had not taken that move well.  Start-up was hard and challenging, most months she struggled to make ends meet, but this month was especially hard.  She hadn’t gotten any events to plan in two weeks.  With no income coming in, she was strapped for cash.

Sylvia let out another sigh and Zuri crossed her fingers on her lap.  She really needed this woman to consent.  She’d woken up this morning to a call from the bank urging her to pay her loan arrears.  A loan she’d taken six months ago to expand her business.  Six months ago, she’d opened an office and hired an assistant to help her with the influx of clients she’d gained.  Her clients seemed to have dwindled this last month, bringing her sales down.

Last night, she spent the evening paying bills and counting the amount left in her personal account with apprehension.

She needed a client and soon.

“Miss Kabinda,” Sylvia interrupted her thoughts.  “I’m giving you two weeks.  I’m counting on you to make a payment on time otherwise; we’re both going to end up in a tough position.  Do you understand?”

Elated, Zuri held out her hand to Sylvia and when the woman shook hers, she smiled.

“Thank you so much.  I’m not going to let you down.  I promise.  Thank you.”

Letting go of Sylvia’s hand, she grabbed her handbag and dashed out of the cubicle before the woman changed her mind.

She left the bank in a state of anxiety.  The sun blazed above in that merciless January way.  She still had to walk to the Binda Events offices.  Biting back a groan, she crossed Kikuyu road and headed toward the Riruta Catholic Church.  Her office building was along Naivasha Road across from the church.

Zuri hoped her assistant had gotten one client even if it was to plan a small tea gathering.

A stone caught in her shoe and she paused to get it out.  Her feet were dusty from walking up and down this morning, trying to raise enough cash for rent.  Her phone buzzed and she reached for it with a frown.

“Binda Events,” she said, as pleasantly as she could manage.

“I’m not calling for money,” her best friend Sonnie said with a laugh.  “Jeez, cheer up. What did the loan officer say?”

“She gave me two weeks,” Zuri said with a relieved sigh.  “Where are you?”

“At your office, hurry,” Sonnie said.  “I got you something.”

Sonnie Togo ended the call as abruptly as it started.

Zuri bit back a chuckle and increased her pace heading to her office.  She reached the small shopping center across the church and slowed down.  The apartment complex where she lived, dwarfed her office building.  She’d been lucky to get an office so close to her home.

Passing a butcher and a salon, she entered the reception area of her small office to find her assistant Anjik and Sonnie laughing merrily.

“There she is,” Sonnie said and stood up holding a white cake box.  “I have the fix for all your problems.”

Zuri grinned as Sonnie opened the box to reveal nine delicious chocolate cupcakes.  Taking one cupcake, she took a bite and sighed in appreciation.  She always loved Amari Cupcakes.  Soft, moist, and so full of chocolate, her worries disappeared at the first taste.  She took a seat on one of the reception chairs and dropped her handbag on the seat beside her with a sigh.

Taking another bite-,

Mmm…chocolate could cure all problems, she thought as she demolished the cupcake.  She glanced up to find Sonnie and Anjik watching her.

“What?” she asked.

“Was it that good?” Anjik asked with amusement.

“I was starving,” Zuri said.

Sonnie laughed. “It’s a good thing I bought the box of nine then.  Anjik, get some coffee please.”

When Anjik hurried off to their tiny little kitchen in the back, Sonnie turned to look at her.

“How bad is it?”

“My loan is overdue and the loan officer was threatening to blacklist me this morning.  I just spent the last hour convincing her to give me time.”

“At least she agreed,”Sonnie said, reaching for her handbag.  Zuri ate another cupcake as her friend got an envelope from her purse and held it out.  “Here.”

Placing her cupcake on a napkin on Anjik’s desk, Zuri took the envelope and opened it to find ten thousand shillings.  Zuri felt a lump of tears lodge in her throat. She took in a deep breath to get a hold of her emotions.

“You don’t have to do this, Sonnie.”

“What are friends for?” Sonnie asked with a small smile.  “I have the cash, and you need it.”

Zuri moved then, wrapping Sonnie in a tight hug.

“Thank you,” she said,the word sounding inadequate.  It was so small; it couldn’t possibly express her gratitude in this situation.  “Gosh, Sonnie, you’re like an angel sent to me.”

Sonnie patted her back with a small chuckle.  “Relax, I didn’t do it alone.  Airi contributed too.”

Airi Ketu was her other best friend.

“But you put her up to it,” Zuri said pulling back, hugging the envelope.  “What would I do without you two?”

Sonnie winked.  “Stumble along blindly, but you’d be okay.  What happens now?”

Letting out a relieved breath, Zuri smiled.

 “I’ll make the loan payment, which is four thousand,and then search for a client.  If you know someone who has an event, direct them my way.”

Zuri put the envelope in her handbag and met Sonnie’s gaze.

“I’m insane.  I mean, giving up a regular paycheck for this, you’d call me crazy, right?”

Sonnie shrugged studying her cupcake.

“I think you’re brave.  I’m in a job, and I wish I was you.”

“What part?” Zuri asked with a laugh.  “Broke, messy hair or the cupboards full of noodles?”

Sonnie laughed. 

“Your independence, you’re your own boss, you own a business…should I keep going?”

Zuri smiled and shook her head.  “Thanks Sonnie.”

Anjik came in with a flask of coffee and three cups.  They sat around Anjik’s desk, enjoying Amari Chocolate Cupcakes.  Her world wasn’t perfect, Zuri thought, as she listened to Anjik and Sonnie talk about who to hassle for an event, but it was almost there. 

Now, if she could just get a client.

***

To be continued…Thank you for reading!

Zuri Kabinda is a story about a young woman in her late twenties, living in Nairobi and struggling to make her Event Planning Business work.  Follow her as she works through the various challenges young entrepreneurs face, especially in a city like Nairobi.

Zuri is joined by her two best friends, Sonnie and Airi.  They’re the people she relies on, especially when she’s down on her luck and the world is imploding.

All baked goods mentioned refer to the Amari Baking Center

Life on the Fast Track – Track 23 (Final)

Track 23 – Our Life Together

Danny drove Jasmine home, after calling Jimmy to pick up her car. Ignoring the messy dining table, she sat on the couch and took the glass of water Danny got her.  After, he sat with her and she told him about Daryl’s situation with their father.

“He makes it hard for the rest because of me.  I refused to follow Daddy’s plans,”Jasmine murmured, studying her hands.  “I’m the eldest, the one supposed to show a good example.  When I moved out and chose different, he cut me off.  It seems like he’ll never forgive me for going against him.”

“Jazz.”

“I told you my dad is not like yours,” Jasmine murmured.  “He’ll take one look at you and shake his head.  You might never get along.”

Danny smiled then.

“Are you thinking of introducing me to him?”

Jasmine looked at him, her heart racing.

“If it’s what you want too,” she said.  “Just so you know, meeting my dad—

“I’m in all the way,” Danny cutin.  “I want you for life, Jasmine.  I hope that’s what we’re discussing here.  “I want nothing less”

Jasmine bit her bottom lip and nodded.  She looked away after a moment.

“I’m sorry my father will be a pain, when your dad was so nice to me.”

Jasmine shook her head.

“Dads are supposed to be over protective when it comes to their daughters,” Danny said, pulling her into his arms so that she rested against his chest. “We’ll face him together, Jazz.”

Danny’s together sounded like a gift.  She didn’t feel so alone hearing it.  The world seemed bearable with the sound of that together.

Jasmine took in a deep breath and let it out, feeling relieved for the first time in hours.

“Thank you, Danny.”

****

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon,Jasmine finished filing invoices from a distribution company in Mombasa.  She shut down her workstation for the day and got up, ready to leave.  Stretching her arms above her head, she winced when her back cracked.  A bitter sweet release from tension.  Her phone buzzed and she dropped her arms,her gaze on the lighted screen.

She answered the call with a smile.

“How did you know I was leaving?”

“I know you,” Terry said with a small laugh.  “Come out.  I’m waiting by your car.”

Jasmine had not seen Terry since the day she left Danny’s house, the night of the race.  They had written each other short messages,but not really talked.  It was weird not talking to Terry about everything.

“How did you get here?” Jasmine took her handbag and her sweater in a hurry. She left her office and waved at the receptionist who gave her a thumbs up as she ran to the front doors.  “You should have told me when you reached.”

“I used Taxify,” Terry said.  “I was just finishing with him before I called you.”

Jasmine saw Terry first.  She was leaning on Jasmine’s car, looking fabulous as always.  Jasmine ended the call and walked fast to her car.

“Hey, you,” Jasmine said, when she reached Terry.

Terry pulled her into a tight hug as though they had not seen each other in ages.

“Danny told me you and him are official,” Terry said into Jasmine’s shoulder. “I’m really happy, Jasmine.  I always hoped but dared not say anything.”

Jasmine smiled.  “Hoped for what?”

“That you’d be my sister,” Terry said, still holding on to Jasmine.  “I would have hated it if you two broke up or something over the racing thing.  I’m glad it’s all worked out now.”

Jasmine rubbed Terry’s back, gentle strokes designed to soothe.  She had not stopped to think Terry worried about losing her.  She had not thought that at all.

“Terry,” Jasmine leaned back to look at her.  “You won’t get rid of me that easily.  Even if Danny and I don’t work out, I’ll still show up at your shop and make you dress me.  You know I suck at finding clothes.”

Terry chuckled, and agreed with a nod.  She stepped back and touched the pink blouse Jasmine was wearing today to compliment her black jeans.

“This does look really good on you,”Terry said.  “And you had refused to buy it, saying it didn’t fit.”

Jasmine smiled and pressed a kiss on Terry’s cheek.

“I missed you, Terry.”

Terry pinched her cheek and waved to the car.

“Well, let’s go.  I heard your brother was hanging out at Danny’s garage today.  You wanna go check on him?  We can go celebrate after, have dinner or something at Dad’s place.”

“Sounds great,” Jasmine unlocked her car as Terry went around to the passenger side.

The drive to Danny’s garage went fast as Terry told her about getting new clients for her boutique.

“I’m so glad the Adrian saga is over and done with,” Terry said.  “Did you hear about Tyler?”

“What about Tyler?” Jasmine asked as she turned on to the street where Danny’s garage was.

“He helped the police arrest Adrian, and provided them with evidence to put him in.  He’s taken over Adrian’s businesses.  I didn’t think he had it in him.”

“Wow,” Jasmine drove into the garage and parked in the parking lot, next to Danny’s car.  “Who would have thought?”

“Jimmy says that Danny talked him into it,” Terry said, shaking her head.  “I believe it.”

Jasmine turned off her car and stared at Danny’s business.  The garage was alive with activity.  Three clients standing by their vehicles as Danny’s mechanics checked tires, and engines, and whatever else.  It annoyed her that she didn’t have the knowledge to name whatever else.

“I think I have to start learning about cars,” Jasmine said, the thought suddenly so clear.

Terry laughed, long and hard.

“What?”

“Welcome to the family, Jasmine Lima,” Terry said as she opened her door.

End of Track coming up!

Jasmine followed her into the garage, stopping in a corner when she saw her little brother having a serious talk with Jimmy.  Their heads bent over a car engine, with Jimmy using a screw while Daryl helped.

Terry started to walk over, taking her along, but Jasmine refused.  She didn’t want to take this away from her brother. He looked happy and at home doing what interested him.  It was enough watching him work with Jimmy.

“Jazz.”

She turned and smiled wide when she saw Danny.

“Hey.”

“You came.”

Jasmine nodded, waving a hand to take in the garage.

“I thought I should see where you spend your days.”  She lifted her shoulders.  “I can’t move engines, but I can drive a car, manage the receipts or arrange the new oils.  After work of course.”

Danny grinned and opened his arms.

She walked into them and he laughed when she jumped up and wrapped her legs around his waist.  Danny hugged her to him and whirled her around.

Catcalls and whistles greeted their embrace, Danny ignored them holding her tight making Jasmine feel as though she had finally found her place.

***

Life was not about the happy ending, but what happened after.  Jasmine embraced a new world with Danny.  Sure,she held her breath when he joined races. Sometimes he won, other times, he lost and was in a terrible mood for a week.  She learned to coax him out of those bad days.  When Daryl moved out of home in protest of their father, Danny helped her cope with the constant calls from her father.


Life was not about the happy ending, but what happened after.  Jasmine embraced a new world with Danny. 

She loved Danny even more for letting her little brother stay at his house, and work at the garage for money.  When their dad discovered what his son was doing, he agreed to pay for any degree Daryl wanted.

When Jenny was stranded on the road because her purse was snatched, Danny was the one to pick Jenny up and take her home.

So many little things that amounted to so much.  A year after the Adrian saga, Jasmine sat on the couch at her parents’ house facing her father once more.  Danny sat beside her dressed in a formal dress shirt and trousers, looking more nervous than a new mother.  Wanja busied herself with pouring tea for them.

Taking a deep breath, Jasmine held Danny’s hand and smiled at Duncan Lima.

“Daddy, this is Danny Kihome.  I’m going to marry him.”

Duncan Lima glared at Danny, and a new tale began.

****

End of Tracks….Rough Road ahead!

Thank you for reading Life on the Fast Track!

Life on the Fast Track – 22

Track 22: My parents make me want to lose my isht….still, I love them.

What a day, was all Jasmine could think as she drove into her family home.  The one-acre plot was set up like a farm.  Her mother dabbled in farming: growing house veggies like cabbage, lettuce, carrots and herbs.  Her father kept two cows, for fresh milk.  His pride when looking at those two cows was enough to ignore the amount of energy spent finding food for them.  It was good luck that her parents hired a workman.  Otherwise, Daryl and Jenny would never escape the duties of milking in the early morning before the birds woke up.

Jasmine chuckled as she parked her car in front of her parents’ cute ranch-style house.  A grey cat stood outside the front door, staring at the new arrivals.

Kanyau was a permanent fixture here.  Once, when she went missing for a day, the whole house was outside looking for her.  Only to discover the cat was stuck in the ceiling trying to catch a rat.

Jasmine shook her head.  The memories in this place were too many.  Some fond, others…her father stepped out of the house, and she grimaced.  Others, she preferred to forget.

She got out of her car, watching her mother greet her dad with a wide smile.

Wanja had driven her car home, knowing Danny would bring Jenny and Daryl home.

Jasmine walked to her father.

“Daddy,” she said, and he took her hand pulling her in for a hug, holding her tight.

“Look at you, you grow beautiful with time, Jasmine.”

Jasmine chuckled when her dad stepped back to give her a good look.

“Have you been taking care of yourself?”

“Yes.” Jasmine nodded, urging him into the house after her mother.  “What about you?”

“I’m an old man worrying about my children.  How do you think I’m doing?”

Jasmine bit her lip watching her dad settle on the couch.  The Sunday paper a mess on the table.  Her father liked to read the paper on Sundays.  Doing the crossword puzzles and checking the answers from last week’s paper.

Wanja had gone to the master bedroom, so Jasmine sat on the armchair across her father.  Catching up was easy, her dad was a great listener.  Jasmine found herself telling him about her work, the good days, and the frustrating ones.  Two hours passed by, and Wanja entered the living room carrying three mugs of coffee.  She handed one to her husband, and the other to Jasmine.

“Jazz, tell your dad what brought you here today,” Wanja said, as she sat down to drink from her own mug.  “It’s getting late, and tomorrow you have work.”

Jasmine placed her mug on the coffee table and met her father’s frowning gaze.

“Jasmine?”

She took in a deep breath before plunging in.

“It’s about Daryl.”

“If Daryl has something to say to me, he should come and tell me.”

“He has tried, hasn’t he?” Jasmine asked.  “You won’t listen to him when he says he doesn’t want the military, accounting or medicine.”

“You’re the one encouraging him to fight my plans,” her dad accused.  “He left the house the last time we were discussing this topic.  Jazz, don’t fill his head with ideas.  I know what’s good for him.”

“I’m only supporting my brother’s ideas about his own life, and you should too.”  Jasmine shook her head.  “Sometimes it feels as though you’re making us fulfill the dreams you didn’t finish.  You must have wanted to be an accountant, or a doctor, as you’re in the military already.  Jenny did what you wanted, and now you want Daryl to study something he doesn’t like, or get into the military, like you.  Why do you have to be so unfair?”

Duncan Lima stood to his full height and Jasmine followed suit, facing her formidable father.  She curled her fingers into fists determined not to back down.

“That military career you’re looking down on gave you kids the life you now live,” Duncan said, his eyes narrowed.  “It paid for your university, Jenny’s and now it will pay for Daryl.  Why don’t I have the right to suggest what I think will work for Daryl’s life?  You’ve always been too stubborn for your own good.  I couldn’t do anything about you, but Daryl—”

“What?” Jasmine cut in.  “He’s the one to continue the bloodline?  Your precious heir?”

Duncan growled, taking a step toward her, the coffee table the only thing keeping her from his wrath.

Wanja stood then, placing her hand on Duncan’s rigid arm.

“You test a man’s patience,” Duncan said after a minute.  “I’m your father.  I don’t deserve to hear you talk to me like that, Jasmine.”

“Daddy,” Jasmine said, gentling her tone.  “I respect you very much.  You’re set in your ways, and we all try to get through your stubborn ideas, but important things like this…”

Jasmine broke off and shook her head.

“This is Daryl’s life we’re talking about here.  He is really smart, better than—”

Jasmine bit her lip stopping herself from saying Danny’s name.  Her dad did not like Danny.  She met her mother’s gaze for a moment, then continued.

“I don’t understand half the things Danny talks about when he gets into it.  He’s always wanted to do engineering.  Why would you stop him?  Why take that dream away from him?”

“Because we have to think of life and if he can maintain a life with his dreams,” Duncan replied.  “Dreams won’t provide you with a good life.  They won’t plan your life, get you married and have you living comfortably.  You need a steady job for that, a guaranteed job.”

Jasmine nodded.

“I guess that was meant for me,” Jasmine said, with a little scoff.  “Administration work in a warehouse is not your ideal job.  It might not be something to brag about to your friends of course, but it maintains the life I want.”

“A life without direction,” Duncan spat out.  “Who knows what you’re doing anymore?  Or where you’ll end up?  Is that ideal for you?  Where did we go wrong with you?”

Jasmine stepped back at that jab and picked up her purse.

“I’m not here to talk about me,” Jasmine said, biting her lip hard to keep from crying.

“Daryl is my son,” Duncan said, turning to sit on the couch.  He picked up the paper, his expression dismissive.  “I know what’s best for him and his future.  Don’t interfere, Jasmine.”

“You know what, you’re right,” Jasmine agreed.  “Daryl is your son, but he is also his own person.  Think about that too.  Don’t let him live a life he hates.”

Jasmine met her mother’s gaze for a moment, then turned and left the house.  She got in her car and drove out of the compound in a hurry.  She had to pull over a few miles after when the road became a blur.  Changing gears to park, she leaned back and allowed the tears to flow free.

Her worth as a daughter to her father…she couldn’t define it.  He never looked at her with pride for having refused to do as he wanted.  She had refused a career he thought would be perfect for her.  The life he had planned out down to the year she should get married.  His ideal son in-law was in the military or a doctor of some sort.

Well, joke on him because she was definitely not going to be giving that to him.

Jasmine punched the steering wheel, letting out a hard sob.  She’d built her life by herself, she held down a good job, she was taking the world each day with courage.

Would her father never see that?

Jasmine hugged the steering wheel and cried hard.  A few minutes into it, she gasped in the middle of her tears when her door opened.  The doors must have unlocked when she parked the car.  She stared at the figure standing over her.

“Who is it?” Danny demanded.  “Tell me where they are and I’ll get them.”

“Danny,” Jasmine sobbed out, covering her face with her hands.  “What are you doing here?”

It didn’t do for him to see her this way.

“Jazz.” Danny crouched down beside her and stared at the mess she was.  “Jasmine.”

Reaching in, he pulled her into his arms and held on as she cried harder than she had in a while.

***

←Previous Track

So, this story is coming to an end, can’t wait to write post the last 2 tracks.  Thank you for loving this story of mine.

Calculating Self- Publishing Costs in Kenya – Non-Fiction Books

Break out the calculator!  It’s all about the Word Count!

So, I’ve had a few questions about what the process of self-publishing a physical book in Kenya looks like.  What does it take?  How much does it cost?  So, let’s calculate it in this post.

Are you ready to self-publish?

Writing in Kenya is a journey! A myriad of experiences that sort of take you through very high highs and low lows, but when you find the perfect fit, you end up in a sweet spot.  You can lower your costs depending on how hard you decide to work.  I can only share a snippet of the journey my sister and I have traveled under The E.i.N Company on our publishing journey.  As you know, or are now learning, hehehe, my sister and I run Amari Baking Center.  The center has published recipe books and a How To book on the baking industry.  To get the Business Baking book published has been quite a process.  I will share some of that with you here, as documenting it all would take a few pages.

Is your manuscript finished? 

This is a question you need to ask yourself the moment you write the last word on the last page of your work.

  1. If your answer is yes, then seek a Beta Reader before you find an Editor.  Beta readers are test readers.  Your first test reader.  You can have one, two or five, have them read your work and let you know what they think.

A good beta reader will give you valuable feedback.  They help you clear your mind, refine your thoughts as you want to lay them out in your book. They don’t mind having a discussion with you about your content, and they save you thousands, helping you refine your manuscript.

Listen to each beta reader if you get five, you can also have just one who really gets you, and that is also important.

Best places to get a Beta Reader:

  1. A Friend/family with the same interest.  Someone who will not coddle you, and is honest about your masterpiece. (I played this role for the project along with two others.)
  2. Join writing groups or critique circles.  Be warned, you might go through a few groups to find the perfect fit.
  3. Online resources – Goodreads has a Beta Reader group, explore it.  Writing.com, join the community and find a group that you’re comfortable with.  You can even get critiques on your work.  Absolutewrite.com the forums are a great resource.  Facebook Writing groups like this one: Beta Readers & Critiques.

Find your right Beta Reader fit.  The person who makes you comfortable enough to discuss your work and how to improve it for the better.  If you are not relating with your Beta Reader, stop and seek a new relationship.  Sort of like dating…hahaha, get your right fit.

Cost in this part of the process: Your Time. Beta Readers are beautiful souls if you find someone willing to gain the experience at reading/editing, it costs you nothing cash wise but work and a willingness to listen to your beta reader.

Once you are satisfied your work is ready, find an Editor.

2. Invest in an Editor.  There is no way around it.  I’m serious.  They are gold to your work.  Find someone who is willing to work with you, and if you find you are not melding with your editor, please, stop and find someone who is singing to you.  That way when they yell at you about the commas you keep adding in the wrong places, you won’t hate them for life.

Our cost in this process was as follows: Cost: 0.20 cents per word, or Kshs. 45 per 250 words. (We had about 35,000 words in the manuscript the end cost was Kshs. 6,300)  The service included the following: 

  • Proofing for spelling mistakes, typos, punctuation problems, capitalization errors, and awkward grammar.  The overall structure of the manuscript.  Which includes managing your content flow, word choice, clear narrative, and offer research help to ensure situations and scenes are factual.

The process took a little over two months as we worked to ensure everything was just right.  Inputting time for Re-edits, and general discussions among all involved.  Quite a process.  When it was done, it was time for the cover.

3. The Book Cover – The first cover for this book was simple.  It cost Kshs. 500 to design.  I had taken on the role of publisher at this point, so we had numerous chitchats, and we weren’t really looking for something expensive looking.  It was an industry book, one we were testing out, so that’s about how much we felt it deserved at the time.  We printed out 50 books to start, but more to come on the printing. Here is the first cover.  Pretty basic, but it was the first, and so still proud of it.

Book Cover1

The second cover we worked harder.  It cost about Kshs. 2,500, and it now included the ISBN barcode.  Very proud of this one as well.

Amari Cover

What to know during the book cover process:  Understand your budget, and the person working with you, and what kind of book you want to sell.  This creation process took a week, though with the second cover there was a lot of back and forth, going almost to two weeks.

Now: The first cover had no ISBN and we had not even gone searching for copyright, so those costs didn’t factor in.  However, it’s good to get copyright and your ISBN the first time you get published. So, here are the ISBN and Copyright Costs.

ISBN – Kshs. 1,500 (confirm with Kenya Libraries on this as you get yours)

Copyright Costs – Kshs. 1,000 (The price at the time, confirm with their site as well)

In total our book cost:

First time Print:

  1. Editing – Kshs. 6,300
  2. Book Cover – Kshs. 500
  3. Printing – (Kshs. 180 x 50) = Kshs. 9,000
  4. Total = 15, 800 (We sold it at Kshs. 500)

We weren’t happy with our first print.  Pages misprinted, and arranged wrong, about 10 of the books were given for free. So, that first time was a bit of an experience.

Second Printing

  1. Re-editing – Kshs. 2, 000 (There were a few changes we needed to make)
  2. ISBN – Kshs. 1,500
  3. Copyright Costs – Kshs. 1,000
  4. Cover – Kshs. 2,500 (included the ISBN bar code)
  5. Printing – (Kshs. 180 x 50) = Kshs. 9,000
  6. Total = Kshs. 16,000 (We sell it for Kshs. 500 still, but now all we need to do is reprint for restock)

A very generous and kind client of ours shared the Publish4All  contacts with us.  A simple email actually. (p4akenya@gmail.com). He said they print really well and this book would come out so well with them.  They were really fast to respond, and very helpful. So, that’s how we redesigned the cover and sent the book to Publish4All for second print.  The end result was amazing and they even helped us sort delivery, becoming our perfect fit at last.

Do note that Publish4All requires you to have your book edited and formatted for print, as well as formatting the book cover for print.  You can reach out to them and learn more.  Remember, word count is key.  The larger your book, the cost rises as well.

So, this is the process of printing a non-fiction book in Kenya.  The end product has 102 pages, and the cover, pages neat and sealed to perfection. You have a snippet of the costs to get you through a first print. Be brave and try and get something printed, it’s the only way to know what works for your work.

Friday June 8 2018 167

Friday June 8 2018 173
Sis proudly spreading the news! She’s awesome.

With the book in hand, the rest is marketing in all shapes, forms and sizes.

Thoughts on this process:

Before the first print, we had walked all over Nairobi trying to find the best printer.  There was a printer who had the best product, but wouldn’t take our book without us printing 500 copies in one go.  Imagine our shock, that was a low, because we really liked their work, but couldn’t afford all those copies at once.  So, you shake it off, and keep looking. We went to the second, and a third, I think we found the first printer after talking to six printers.

I believe it depends on the amount of money you are hoping to spend, and the end product you are hoping for.  So, shop around, don’t be in a rush, just be sure to have all the information you need before you start investing.  That is what this process comes down to.  An investment in your manuscript.

Then, start marketing like the end is tomorrow.

I hope this post is of insight to you.  I will work at compiling an editors in Nairobi list that you can use for your editing process.

Keep writing, and sharing, let’s get published!