It is the second Thursday of the year of our Lord 2019. I am in Westlands at 11 am. Very uncharacteristic of me. The constitution clearly forbids writers from being awake before midday. I am on the hunt for a good story. We meet at Park Inn by Raddisson Blu. The one just past the Westlands Stage. I am the first to arrive. The people here are exceptionally courteous falling over themselves to serve me. It must be the new cologne I am wearing. My wife has been on my case regarding my default perfumes. It seems a combination of Nivea for men and “bint el sultan” is not particularly palatable to everyone. I choose the seat at the corner of the restaurant. It allows me to see everyone. A waitress magically appears at my table. She has a menu in one hand, and a fabulous watch on the other hand. She has no ring, this means nothing. After all this is Nairobi. When a jilted man is clobbering the hell out of you for trying to bamboozle his woman. Her not wearing a ring is not an acceptable defense.
“Do I want to order right now?” She asks.
Or perhaps, they can bring me a drink while I make a decision. I blush a bit, it is not every day this son of Murang’a gets treated like this.
“I will have some water please. Tap water. I will complete my order when my guest arrives.“
She gives a slight bow and vanishes. Wallahi! It is witch craft the way, they appear and disappear at will. At my kalocal, you can hear “mama Gathoni” coming from 3 miles away. Her employees are always trembling when she is around.
“Otieno, hiyo ugali unataka ikuwe keki kwa moto? Na wewe Kariuki ongeza thufu kwa hiyo stew. Ulisikia tulikuja kutupa pesa Nairofi?”
He arrives some minutes later. He is wearing those checked grey coats that Kikuyu business men, who have made it in life love. He has brown khaki pants and car keys in his left hand. I hoped it was not a probox car key. I stand up to greet him. I extend my hand, instead he hugs me. He is wearing a Jubilee Tshirt, I half expect him to shout, “webe ni ule ule” instead he says, “hello brother, I am Tim.” I am not sure which part of me makes him imagine we could be brothers. His face, has hair all over it. My face has acne all over it. My family is allergic to facial hair. My ancestors, I firmly believe were naughty, and the gods punished them by decreeing their lineage would look like ugly girls for the rest of their existence.
I am a bit disappointed he did not greet me in the “webe” way. It would have been awesome seeing the patrons of this establishment looking at us in disapproval. The “maitre’d” would run over to ask us to pipe down and stop causing such a ruckus.
He orders an early lunch. He wants a well done steak, served with something that made my ears itch. I am disappointed there were no potatoes in the order. His taste in food is at odds with his fashion choices. I do not mention this. I order juice, pineapple juice with a slice of cake. It is my solid belief which I hold very dear to order only things I know from upmarket menus. I once ordered sparkling water when I was trying to impress a hot mama. She asked me severally, are you sure? “Mimi nani!” I insisted. It was my money after all. I had to pretend to enjoy it, even though it tasted like dilute carbonated vinegar.
As we wait for his food and my juice we engage in small talk. Getting people to tell their stories is always dicy. Kenyans hate opening up, the vulnerability necessary to tell their stories is mind numbing. It feels almost like we are courting. I put a foot forward, as if I’m asking, “do you like it.” If they like it, they put their foot forward too. Too hasty, and often they clamp up like a Nairobi girl’s handbag at Muthurwa market.
I ask him if we can begin, he nods. I click on the sound recorder app and I place my phone in the middle of the table. I apologize for leaving my recorder at home. I lie that I forgot it in my rush to get here. There’s no point letting him know I am a poor writer, who cannot afford one. He nods, he understands.
He asks me where he should start. I tell him to start from the beginning. He laughs. It started beautifully he tells me. In a bar, as all beautiful stories involving thin, pot bellied men start. His local was just outside his estate. He lived in Kahawa Sukari. The richer side though, where if you sneezed, your snot did not end up on a Kenyatta University student. He met his boys at the local after work. It was not too pricey, so he could grab a drink there even in the middle of the month.
She was a waitress. They always are. Not the beautiful kind. No, she was the other type. The type who serve you, take your money and disappear quickly. His friends told him she was vicious if annoyed. There was a general agreement that her behind was off limits. There would be no accidental fondling as she opened a cold one.
What she lacked in faces, she made up for in double portions of booty. When the creator was making her, he not only added sugar, spice and everything nice. He accidentally added baking powder, it worked beautifully.
She had been there for only a month. His boys had a bet on who would bag her first. He preferred not to engage in such silly bets. He was a family man. He respected his marriage vows. Of course, he accidentally slept with other women from time to time. But he was respectful about it. His pastor had told him after the last pre-marital counseling session that the key to a happy marriage, was never to let the wife find out. The pastor had winked at him after saying this. Though looking back, he figures he was in the wrong church. That pastor is currently serving time for fondling an underage girl’s breasts. Apparently, the government is not too forgiving of these things as Jesus is.
Tim had a strict rule to never bring strange women home, especially when his wife was around. He sometimes brought them home when his wife traveled, as she often did. He stopped this, when he noticed his neighbors seemed to have an unspoken pact with his wife. They reported his movements daily to the woman. He had recently found out that the lady who ran the motel he liked to frequent, went to the same church as his wife. He was yet to find another one.
This is why he found himself on a lonely road at 11 pm, in the back seat of his car ready to shag the life out of her. The waitress not his wife. After bringing him his 3rd double shot of whisky. She had let her eyes linger on him for a moment. His boys did not notice. He stood up to go to the loo. They did not notice he had carried his phones and car keys. He found her just outside the main door. They did not speak, he walked quickly to his car and when he opened his door, she opened hers. In his 3 years drinking in that bar, he had never reversed out that quickly.
It took him 5 minutes flat to drive from Kahawa Sukari to that lonely road that connects Thika Road and Mwihoko. There are few cars here during the day. At night, only God’s angels, thieves and cops use it. When he parked by the road. She knew what to do. She threw herself in the back. It was difficult fitting them both in the backseat, her ass cheeks. He was a thin man, with a pot belly and waitresses in his hood typically were on the higher end of the small to large spectrum. She had happily plopped herself on top of him. One thigh on the left seat and the other on the right seat. He had loved the smell of her in the car. A gentle mix of cheap booze, tobacco with a sprinkling of unwashed armpits. The last thing he remembers was opening her bra, and throwing a nipple in his mouth. It tasted like medicine.
He woke up 3 days later in a hospital in Limuru. His breath smelt like vomit. The consequence of his body vomiting everything for those 3 days. He was conscious for 10 minutes, he saw his wife crying with his mother. As he fell unconscious, he figured this was it, he was dying. As his eyes closed, he thought this was a poor way to go.
He came to, 2 days later. He was in Kenyatta Hospital this time. He had lost 10 kgs in those 5 days. His wife was seated in a chair to the left. His mother was at the foot of his bed praying. She had a white rosary in her hands, and her mouth was busy binding demons. The wife said nothing, she only held his hands and looked at him. He has never felt more ashamed in his life.
The steak arrives, and Tim goes silent for the first time in close to an hour. He picks his knife and fork and quickly throws himself into it. I am tempted to throw the damn steak on the floor put a knife to his throat and shout, “finish the story Tim, finish it or honest to God I’ll cut your throat.” Instead, I pull my slice of carrot cake closer to me. I cut a small piece of it and throw it in my mouth. It is moist, wet and profoundly sweet. An interesting combination. The pineapple juice feels like it was milked directly from the pineapples on the Delamere farm next to the Nyeri-Nairobi highway. Those female pineapple’s are zero grazed. The workers bring water, nutrients and love to them daily. Then in the evening, one worker, who has worked long and hard sits down to milk them.
He probably oils his hands with arimis. Calls out to the first pineapple, “Njeri muthaka, oka.” And because all Njeris’ love being called beautiful. She runs into his lap, jumps into it and bares her small pineapple udders. He then milks her gently, whispering all the while, “Njeri muthaka…prettiest of all Njeris.”
I would like to report that I was patient and waited for Tim to finish his steak, but no. I jumped the gun. I had too many questions. Why did the waitress’s nipple taste like medicine? Was it a syrappy taste or was it tabletty? Why did he wake up in Limuru, si he was supposed to be in Kasarani? Kwani, there are no cops in Mwihoko? Because in my hood if you stop a car by the road for some hanky panky you’ll just see flash lights and a GK uniform. Then you’ll have to swear an affidavit that you meant no harm to the young lady in a short skirt with legs smoother than a boiled smokie. The most important question for me however is, what did his wife say when she finally spoke.
Tim dilly dallies, figuring out how to say what he wants to say. The waitress, had pasted some drugs on her breasts. I do not ask whether she enjoyed the pasting. When our dear Tim cleaned it with his tongue, he was knocked unconscious. She took his car keys and drove all the way to Limuru, before throwing him out just past Kimende. It was the last time he would see her or the car. A good samaritan, picked him up and took him to Limuru Level 4 hospital. It was probably a mzungu, because Kenyans do not stop to pick up unconscious strangers at night.
It happened last year in October. He has not touched a drop of alcohol since. I ask him what about a titty? He laughs. He had not touched one since. His wife left him after that. He deserves it. This is the first new year he spent alone without anyone. Even his mother was disappointed. He wolfs down the last morsel of that well done steak. He dabs his mouth with the napkin like a proper gentleman. He lays the napkin down on the table, sips some water and looks at me directly.
So, what did his wife say when she finally spoke?
He still remembers the look of utter disappointment in her face. Him in the bed, trying desperately not to shit or puke on himself again. Her hands on his face. She said, “goodbye love.” She then left immediately. His world broke. He knew she was serious when she left. A part of him knew it. I ask him, how did it feel when she was walking out? Like God had left him. Like everything good that ever happened to him was leaving with her.
When they finally discharged him, he went home. It was no longer home but a house he lived in. There was nothing in the house that indicated she had once lived there. I ask him, isn’t it hypocritical to value her now that she is gone. He never valued her this much when he had her. He winces, he knows the question has some truth to it.
He wonders is there a moral lesson in his story. One that maybe I can see that he cannot. I smile, this is not a high school composition. There are no happy endings in our stories. No lessons that will change who we are. He pushes back, what if there was a lesson. What is he supposed to learn? I smile. The lesson is clear.
“God is a woman!”
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