Frankly Put: A Dollar Dream

Frankhie Muthumbi
5 min readMay 22, 2024

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Photo by Frankhie Muthumbi

The room was warm with the afternoon sun doing a great job of enveloping it with its rays. Outside, the chickens clucked as they went about their merry business and occasionally the sound of farmhands having a conversation would sneak past the window.

He lay on his back on the couch with an arm across his face. The frustration of his employment had begun to dig its fingers into his skin and threatened to never let go. He and hope had become enemies in the game of life and he was a knife in a gunfight. In his mental torment, he felt the weight of the world pegged on his indecision and that perhaps he had finally spread himself too thin.

There was the sound of a soft clatter and he moved his arm to scope out the noise only to find his grandmother hobbling over to him and a large sack of something right next to her.

“My son,” she started affectionately. “You are still where I left you in the morning!”

“Ah-ah,” he roused himself from his stupor. “I was just thinking. I promise you tata I was not sleeping. Look, see my eyes are not red.”

“I see, I see,” she gripped his chin and twisted his face to get a better look.

With a confirmation nod, she tapped his cheek gently.

“You look so much like your father when he was a little boy,” she quipped.

“Ah, surely tata,” he exclaimed. “Look at me, I am a fully grown man!”

“I still see the little boy,” she retorted. “The same one who got lost in the maize playing some game we will never understand. You sat there crying out and when we found you, your full face was tears and mucus. I don’t think you left your mother’s side for the rest of the stay.”

“That was years ago, surely,” he defended himself.

“For me, it feels like just yesterday,” she chuckled as she balanced her weight, readying for the sit-down.

He extended his assistance until she was sitting on the couch before he moved to the sack. He easily hoisted it off the floor and onto his shoulder; an imitation of Sisyphus. Walking in his long strides, he was in the kitchen and out before she could finish her sentence.

“And what is happening with the job search?”

“Uhh,” he started as he cleared the table of the plastic plates from his hearty lunch.

“It’s going okay.” he was back in the kitchen and returned with a glass of water in hand.

“Thank you,” she received the glass and took a deep swig. “It doesn’t look like it is doing so. You have looked very beaten up for the past few days.”

He scoffed and shifted his weight from one leg to the other. She patted the cushion next to her and he obliged. He sat with a huff looking only to the wall where in a normal house, the TV would have sat.

“Now I have been talking to a lot of young people and I have heard about how the job market is maddening at this time,” she consoled. “I am sure there is something out there and it will find you. Maybe before you find it.”

“That’s not a problem,” he spoke with a tone like a little boy.

Oyo,” she looked at him, bewildered. “Then what is that problem that is eating you so much you are losing weight.”

He smiled at her harmless jab.

“The issue I am facing is not the lack of opportunity,” he continued. “It sounds very proud and ungrateful to complain about…”

“Go on,” she urged softly.

“I think it is too many options.” He cringed. “I think that I am overwhelmed. I know that people would dream to have these problems that I claim to be having and that makes it so much harder to talk about it. I feel trapped because I see it as an issue and it’s making me freeze and that’s costing me the opportunity because I have too many things.”

“It feels selfish,” he sighed. “I just keep asking what would dad or mum say in this situation to try and figure it out but I can’t picture that because…. Well. Anyway, today after lunch I got phone calls and I lost my last offers because of taking too long.”

“It does sound very privileged,” she teased once more.

Tata,” he complained.

“I am only teasing,” she raised her hands meekly. “It is to be expected. Not the losing opportunities but the having to juggle so many and make sure that the one you are picking is the right one and that you are not losing out on anything by foregoing the ones you left behind. Ah! You are your father’s son. If he was here, he would agree.”

“I don’t think that he ever told you but he was our village champion that boy,” she spoke with fond nostalgia. “He was bright and could go so far in life. Although, because of it, his father was so hard on him and I think it scared him so much that he would become so indecisive about so many things from what subjects to do in school to what tie to wear on the day of his wedding.”

He scoffed.

“Also, because of it, he always left things unfinished trying to balance all he could in his hand but I kept telling him it would break him,” she adjusted her dress. “And it soon came to and he was so miserable for so long. It seemed like everything he kept on trying for a while would just crumble in his hands and we started to ask ourselves where that little great boy went.”

“I suppose he was swallowed,” she looked at her grandson. “He learnt from that low to be so pessimistic you couldn’t even give him your hopes, he would crush them. I think you felt how strict he became. I think by the time you came he had started this farm. It was a one-shot thing. He believed outside it he had nothing else because he had nothing else. Maybe a dollar. He refused our help completely. Safe to say, it was his negativity that made it thrive so well. He had a dollar and a dream here.”

“Maybe it’s time you find this for yourself,” she smiled. “A dollar dream.”

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Frankhie Muthumbi

Perfectly Imperfect || Human, Alexithymiac Poet, Writer, Musician