MEMO FROM THE SOCIAL AFFAIRS DESK
A very weird thing happened to me this weekend.
On Saturday, at around 3.30 p.m. I was standing outside the Nation Media Group towers on Kimathi Street. I was to meet two people around the time. One of them had switched off his phone. And the other was in Thika and would only “make it to town around 6…” which means 8.30 p.m. Kenyan time.
I contemplated going into the bar. But I’m now in that “cheers baba” stage of life where an innocent walk into the bar for one beer somehow ends getting you home at 4.a.m. to a justifiably pissed off wife. Wives inspire the fear of God in men who arrive home drunk after 1 a.m. Wives are something else. Thrice, last week, an innocent drink bought at around 7.p.m. has seen me tip-toe into the house at 3 a.m. and let’s just say, it is not the right thing. Wives hate that sh*t like crazy. So I resisted the temptation. If I tried step in the bar, I was guaranteed to get home earliest 3 a.m. My peoples will not talk to me. Next I will start getting rude, in defense, the boy inside me urging me that a woman can’t boss me. And that is how families are destroyed.
I didn’t know what to do with my life. I had just bought a Bob Dylan biography from the guy who sells books on the left side of the Twin Towers, and I was checking the jacket blurb when I had a familiar voice shout NYANCHWANIIII!!!!.
Out of a Range Rover, steps an old friend, in white pants, crispy white vest and golden chains hanging from his neck like a chained dog. He also wore a cap like 1990s washed up rapper from Brooklyn. He was a tad over-excited and melodramatic to see me, so I played along. We did the male shoulder to shoulder thing. Then we hugged, him slapping me on the back and it hurt like crazy.
“Kwani ulirudi?” he asked.
It is exactly year since I have been back, but despite being noisy on Facebook and a chief idler in the CBD, some people still ask me when did I come back, why I came back, or if I’m back for good.
Without asking me what my plans are, he told me we get into the car and “chapa raundi kiasi”. Not sure why I boarded, but I have never been driven in a Range Rover (without a doubt, the ugliest SUV ever conceived by man), so I became opportunistic.
About my friend. I used to see him in campus, but I’m not sure if he was at all student. He has always been dubious, but I know for sure he went to Kisumu Boys because he used to hang with the notorious Kisumu Boys gang. I don’t know what he does, but the few times we have seen him since campus, he is always driving some pricey machine.
So, we chat a bit. I tell him I was waiting for a friend who will not get to town, until 6 p.m. So we are three of us (a young man, probably his relation who he had asked to sit in the back seat so that I can ride shotgun). He tells me he needs to pick some chicks in Hurlingham. So, we speed up Kenyatta Avenue, Valley Road, Argwings Kodhek and we pick the girls from that Petrol Station opposite Yaya. They climb onto the back seat.
They are light skinned, one has some acne issues that she has tried her best to cover up in cakes and cakes of makeup and she speaks in a slight GEMA accent. The second one is shorter, may be 24, but she looks the type who has been around Nairobi long enough. You feel like you have seen her in all the nightclubs since you were 19. She was chewing gum loudly, and that annoyed me. As we make a turn towards Kileleshwa, still catching up with my friend, he tells me, they are going for some photoshoot in “Westie”, and it will last 20 minutes before we go have some drink. At the back, the girls launch into mother tongue you would think they are in a matatu plying Mukurweini-Nyeri.
We get to Westlands, they go to the agency and we step out for my friend to smoke as we wait. 20 minutes go, the girls are not yet done. Another 20 minutes go, the girls are not yet done. One hour, my friend decides to call them but they don’t pick even when he goes at them so persistently. Pissed off, he angrily thrown the cigarette butt and utters something in Dholuo which doesn’t sound good and he tells me “let’s go”.
Moments later, we arrive in the CBD, and he says we should eat at Kosewe and in we go. It around 5 p.m. and my boy is restless. He talks to his young relation in Dholuo and the young man picks his phone and I can hear a young female voice talking from the other end. Food arrives. We eat, the table is cleared. Drinks arrive and I start getting apprehensive. This is not going to end well.
Around 7 p.m. the friend in Thika calls to say he is almost done, I should wait for him. That is how lowly my friend thinks of me. Around this time, two girls arrive, much better looking than the previous duo, much better dressed seemingly for the night out. Hugs are exchanged. They sit. They are ordered to eat and they say what they want, and the young man goes to pay for the food. One ordered chicken. And another matumbo. That Kienyeji chicken of Kosewe is so hard, I wished her lucky in my heart as she will try to rip the meat from the bone. I didn’t know that women eat matumbo, but this is Nairobi you learn something new every day.
Anyway, I was merely an ornament for my friend. He introduced me as a writer who writes for The Star. The girls are clueless. They have never seen my name nor heard it anywhere. Sensing the disappointment, he tells them, apropos nothing, “he is the mukimo guy”.
The chicken one holding the drumstick midway in the air, and the matumbo one her spoon almost in the mouth, pause, and as if on a cue: “weee shida yako na mukimo ni nini?”
“I read that thing, it was so full of hate, aki!” the chicken one says.
“Wewe uko na issues na wakikuyu!”.
My friend comes to my defense, praising me but I’m totally lost. So, I play cool. Fly on the wall. Upon finishing they debate on what club to go to. They settle for some joint in Hurlingham, and for no reason whatsoever, I join them. Same sitting arrangement.
We arrive at the club. The girls know the bouncer on first name basis I note. We notice once we arrive that the the place is not yet packed. Mid-month stuff.
We sit and drinks are served. Not sure how the hours go, but when I check my phone, it is 10. p.m. and my friend in Thika had tried calling me around 9.30 p.m. when I didn’t pick, he sent a text that said, there was some slight jam at Parklands. My friend really ako na madharau.
If you go home at 10 p.m., your wife can forgive you. But more drinks arrive. And while the body is willing to leave, the spirit is weak. My friends and his relation disappear for like an hour leaving me with the lasses. Not sure what to talk with them, I still maintain my silence which unsettles them. But they are comfortable in their own company.
Honestly, I don’t how to talk to women. I tend to veer off and start talking about the problems China has with Taiwan, the nuclear crisis and the Venezuelan debt problem. And women hate that sh*t. Only one in a million will be interested in that. For men, it is easy. You just lean over and tell him, “man I didn’t know that Niger has a huge uranium deposit?”
“Come on, and the way the French have been exploiting them…” before he proceeds to give you a lecture on Francophone Africa politics. The drunker you get, the more intelligent he will sound.
After like an hour, my friend arrives back. No apologies. He cozies himself to one of the ladies, but I notice they are not interested in him. He calls for shots that cost arms, legs, kidneys and everything. He tries to dance with one of them, who I notice is the one he is eyeing the most, but she is not interested in him at all.
Meanwhile the bill is shooting up. It is approaching what a two-bedroom apartment in a place like Umoja will cost. His young relation seems to be so awestruck in his presence and he is more obedient to his orders than a dog.
Past midnight, I’m examining my life’s choices. I have wasted an entire evening in a night that has not added value to me. Wife has not even asked where I am, and that makes you eerily uncomfortable. Better a wife who nags you because it shows she cares.
So, my friend after trying to entice her, the girl does everything he wants but she is not in the mood AT ALL. At some point, he even tried to kiss her and she shoves his sorry face away and I have never felt sorrier for the boy child. I was mad.
Maybe, they date and the girl is not really into him or she was punishing him for some misdemeanor. Her friend was on phone throughout the charade and the young relation was watching some girls dirty dancing across, itching to go there.
At some point, the girls leave even without telling us bye. And my friend suggests we change clubs. He suggests some club that is thronged by highly questionable women and men. At that moment, while still sober I tell him I have to be home, because the following day I have to go to church, there is a fundraiser. I lie. He doesn’t ask much.
Then I looked into his eyes. There was an emptiness about them. A hollowness that I could not describe. Despite being reasonably loaded (the dubious sources of cash, notwithstanding), despite driving a Range that as far as I could tell was his, he had been turned down by two sets of women.
Whereas he is full of bullshit, he is a kind soul. I wondered what can fulfil him. I know why he would decide to go to a den of strippers and commercial sex workers, no hassles down there, just pay, get what you want and carry on. But on my Uber home, I wondered what can fulfil such a man?