BY MIKE MUTHAKA
I have a rug in my room. It’s a dusty old thing that makes me sneeze every time I walk in but it goes well with the color of my walls. It has shades of yellow and walnut, this dusty rug, and if you know where to look you will see a charred spot, a reminder of the time I was finding out what a cigarette could do.
It’s on this dusty rug that I do most of my writing.
In the months after we moved to the digs we’re living in now, I always thought my room looked empty. I mean, it had fancy wardrobes and some nice floor tiling but I still couldn’t shake the fact that the room still somehow felt naked.
That time, I had just got onto my writing path and I spent most of my time in bed, writing one story or the other, eager to finish and show it to someone who would go on to spur me on. It was flattering as hell, and, just to show how serious I was with this writing, I would search for newspaper articles on everything literature, slice them up with scissors and plaster them on the wall. At some point there were so many of these clippings that I ran out of wall. My room looked like something out of CSI.
Then one day, at the computer, as I pensively tugged at the little hairs on my chin, it dawned on me that I couldn’t write anything. I had a story in my head but that’s all it was, in my head. I was livid. I couldn’t understand what was going on, how I could be writing my heart out one day and then the next I’m painfully searching for words on the ceiling.
And I thought, If this is how tormenting writing can get, then count me out.
So what I did was, with surprising rage, I approached my wall of paper clippings and tore it down. It must have really looked like something out of a movie, I thought. Only, in the movies, they don’t show you the part where you have to clean the mess you’ve now made.
While I was carrying the crumpled pieces of paper to the bin I thought, So what now? For one thing I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, without the writing, and also because my room had gone back to feeling like a hollow with nice floor tiling.
So after a while I started to think what I could to the room to make a bit homier. And I decided the best way to do it was to throw in more things.
First I got a book shelf that would double as a night stand. It has two small doors that open up to rows of books and their colorful spines and it smells like watered trees in there. Next, I got a lamp and put it atop the bookshelf. I got one with an orange shade and a silver neck and it was the lightest thing you ever carried. The lamp light would bounce off the pages of my books as I read at night, and the lamp’s close proximity to my pillow would surely save me the trouble of having to get up and go all the way to the door to find the light switch.
And then there was the TV. When my old folks got another one for their room, and after a bit of arguing with my sister over who should get the damn TV, I won on account that she had the bigger room and that she couldn’t even carry the damn thing. I took the TV to my room with a smirk on my face.
It’s a bit heavy, and it has one of those big behinds that call to mind an era long gone. When you plug it in it lets out a loud sigh, like it really doesn’t feel like entertaining you. There was also a DVD player somewhere and I grabbed that as well.
The rug was the icing, the final touch to this little piece of heaven I was making. At the end of it all I felt mighty proud of myself. I was ready to curve up a career in interior decorating, to tell you the truth.
But, because I’m a lazy bum who never cleans his room, my Ol’Lady really didn’t want me having the rug. “It’s unhygienic!” she said. Wondering out aloud, she added, “Why would you go through all this trouble just to put yourself at the risk of a lung disease?” I said nothing. Before she gave up on telling me to get rid of it, I could have sworn that every time I stepped out of the room she would come in and taken the rug away back to the store so that when I brought it back in, I would sneeze my eyes out of their sockets.
I don’t blame her, though. She doesn’t see what I see in the rug. She doesn’t see that it takes away the problem of putting my feet on the cold hard floor in the morning, and that it now becomes less tasking to go down and do some push-ups. She doesn’t see that, for me at least, the rug takes away some of the untidiness of things strewn about on the floor. She doesn’t see that the color of my rug goes well with my lamp, and that it gives the room a warm cozy feel. Mostly, she doesn’t see how I can sit cross legged on the rug and write.
I don’t much like to write in bed these days because it makes me lazy. It becomes much easier to lie down with one hand down my crotch and think about nothing instead. The rug doesn’t support this habit because it has tight weaving, so when you sit on it there’s not much difference than when you’re on the floor. It still has the ability to numb your behind though, but you’ll be too busy sneezing to notice anything.31