Granted, some things take time. While that may be true for things like honest wealth, true love and trusted friends, there are other things that are not so patient. They come in hard and fast. They are an impetuous wrecking balls. And may God help you if they hit you in the wrong place, the way one of them did me. Perhaps you could say, ‘What did you expect, Bruce?’ and you will be completely justified in your own right. But let me tell you something, there are some things that we men have no control over. You, you sit here with that white coat and that curve white thing on your head that has a red cross, and you imagine that you are better than me. You imagine that you could have done things differently. You have asked me why I am here today. You have asked me why I am not with Kasi. Ati it is advisable for us to be here together. Well, I am not here for advice, really. There is nothing you are going to tell me that I have not read in a book, seen on a billboard, been frightened by in one of those horror films that Raphael Tuju made us watch in primary school. I am not here for banter. I just want to know where I stand and then leave.
But since we have a few more minutes, let me then tell you how we ended up here. I would rather keep talking to distract myself from all this, otherwise the snails that are crawling up in my belly are going to kill me.
You do not look that old. I see you here every day, always taking orders from the other mzee that is usually here. The one that so old he looks like he was God’s college roommate. Is he like your boss? Or father? Is this like a family business? Did you ever want to be a nurse or, going by that hairstyle, did you want to be a poet? You look like one of those people who like snapping their fingers at punchlines – a slam poet, actually, the kind that other poets call Empress. I have never understood that by the way.
But I digress. Please do not take offence if I am being too forward. I mean, this may be the last time that I get to be honest with anyone. Plus, it is going to rain very soon, and there is no better time to say the truth than when the heavens are responding to a call of nature. Anyway. That mzee you work with over here. He said that I should come back after three months. That was in February. I have been sitting on pins and needles, counting days till today, April 18th 2016. And at exactly 2.37pm, when I walked in here, it marked the end of the ninetieth day.
Ati why am I really here?
Aki I swear you people are so linear. Surely I would not be here if I did not have to. I do not make it a habit to walk into places like these to make small talk. I am here because on the 15th of January 2016, the year of our Lord, I listened to Wes. Naturally, I do not make the habit of going on a bender in the middle of the month, much less in the middle of January, but then if you ever meet Wes one day, then you will understand that there is never anything like NO to him. So when Wes said, “Aaai, Bruce kamoja tu. Just one. I promise. I will buy you one Tusker and then after I perform, we leave.” I accepted.
Lakini you know how these things happen, sindio? I mean, whoever goes to a club to buy just one drink and then leave? There is an order, a custom so to speak that we Langata gentlemen adhere to. First, there is the opening ceremony; three shots of whiskey for activating the throat. Then there is Libation which is basically that round that we drink in honour of our forefathers and every other great man who could not be with us that evening, either by design or accident. After that is when we can sit down to drink.
Yes, yes, yes. I know. I know. Libation is supposed to be poured on the ground, but that is a tradition for old men and their wives who spin ridiculous tales. For Wes and I, our dead do not live underground. They live in our hearts. And pray, tell me, what is the best way to get to a man’s heart? Enheee! Thank you!
Now, Club Killjoy has this Friday night special for talent shows, every third Friday of the month. Wes has always imagined that he is God’s gift to music. Whoever made him believe that he was born to sing, made him also believe that if he was to fit the profile of a serious musician then he would need to have dreadlocks and start talking like a man from the Caribbean. When he got on stage, he was no longer Wesley Ochuodho from Kanyada. He became Your buoy, Mister Byad Man Kijana Wes oooh awuooh! who was ready to mash up di plyes. He morphed into this completely unrecognizable stranger who wore those nauseating long vests that are never worn with shirts, and beneath, those trousers that look like dresses. Aki you must know those hideous pants. They have a ka-flap thing in between the legs that makes men look like overgrown babies who have shit their pants.
That Friday night, Wes took the stage in that dreadful regalia, and the moment he started, “Mo faya! Bullet! Kaboom! Pang pang pang! Wollan selektah, yuh too fast. Inch it back from di top,” by George! All the chicks started screaming. All the men began to holler with hoarse beer drenched voices. But then again, dudes and chicks at Killjoy scream for anyone on stage. The crowd always roars. The speakers are always breaking glasses just after grenade explosions and shrieking like ambulances. Any artist who thinks all the noise is for him suffers from the kind of foolishness that makes cockerels take credit for the dawn.
My phone vibrated. Is the one drink done yet? She asked.
Two blue ticks responded.
Me I can never tell hookers from normal revellers. They all look the same. And I cannot even say ati Dominique was a hooker, really, just some chick I fucked without effort. We were dancing. You know, the kawaida way that people at Killjoy dance, with me rubbing my crotch on her ass, and her shaking it in all compass directions. If I was telling this story to that mzee you work with here, he would roll his eyes, because to people that old, there is nothing normal about a man rubbing his crotch on a girl’s ass.
How did I meet her? Well, si Wes was over there putting up appearances about his Jamaican heritage and I was alone? And from across the room, her gaze arrested mine. Just like in the movies. I could tell she was the designated G4S of the night– you know, the girl who has to watch other girls’ handbags and coats while the rest wiggle their behinds on the dance floor. The baggage surrounded her. And in front of her was a packet of Del Monte, half of it poured into a glass that she sipped with the loneliness of a lost puppy. I smiled at her and made a soundless “Hey”. She could read my lips. The lighting was not that bad. She said ‘hey’ back and I nodded my head, gesturing at the empty seat (Wes’ seat) nest to me. She shook her head and gestured with her head at the items she was guarding.
Fuck it, I thought. If I was to stand and leave, of course someone else was going to take our spots. But then here I was, bored out of my wits and there was a girl exchanging a soundless “hey” with me. I thought, What’s the harm? Soon Wes will be done with his performance in a few minutes and we will leave.
I do not know how it happened after that. All I remember was that I went to her. We spoke, I think, about things that bored strangers talk about in a club – perhaps about the weather and how the moon was out that night. Whatever happened, happened. The second Tusker after libation was already getting to my head, so I am pretty sure I was talking from my ass. What I remember is that me and this stranger lady, (let’s call her, for the sake of conversation, Dominique) spoke way after Wes was done with his act. Once in a while one of her girls came, sipped from their bottles, exchanged knowing looks with Dominique, and then disappeared again into the darkness and music. The next thing I remember was us kissing, slowly at first, then hungrily. And then we were laying in the back seat of Wes’ mom’s Premio at the parking lot. Dominique unbuttoning her blouse. Me fumbling with the zip of her skirt and cussing at why they always have to wear tight skirts. Her unclasping my belt, lowering my jeans so impatiently that they only stuck on my thighs. I remember soaking my fingers with saliva and rubbing them on the hairy junction of her thighs. I remember her palms on my ass. I remember the taste of vanilla on her neck, and the coconut oil in her hair. I remember wishing we had come in a bigger car and how the Premio creaked as if to cheer me on. I remember wondering what would happen if the Killjoy watchmen outside ever caught us. I remember the sweet taste of sin and the six times she mentioned God thereafter.
I know what you are thinking. You are probably thinking that I am such a terrible person. A colossal, flaming, cataclysmic arsehole – that is what I am. How could I betray Kasi like that? Well, here is the thing. Regardless of what you may think, I have always loved Kasichana more than anything. But I refuse to sit here and admit to you that I felt horrible after fucking Dominique. I did not. I cannot lie to you that monogamy has always been a viable lifestyle choice, or that I have ever promised her that she is the only girl I will ever be with for the rest of my life. That, my friend, is what Indians like to call, A Big Fat Lie. What, you do not think Indians speak English?
Oh please, daktari, let us not bring God into this. As far as I am concerned, I never made that man any promises. Ati thou shall not commit adultery? In fact, if we were to give context to the Ten Commandments, you would quickly realize that they were laid down for a lot of guys living in the desert. If He is going to burn me for succumbing to feelings HE gave me, then so be it. Let Him do His worst. I will do my best.
That is how I ended up here.
At first I thought it was nothing. That it was just an itch on my mhoigos that would soon go away. It did not. Sunday night, standing before the bowl, I noticed that my stream was a bit funny. It was pinkish. My stream is never pinkish. It is either yellow, like morning sunlight, or white like midday. But never pinkish. Then Sunday morning I was awaked by a nasty sting. Damn. That shit was hurting, so I rushed to the loo and when I peed, it burned with the fury of seven hells. And my stream was redder. I looked down and I did not recognize my little man. He was deformed. He was so ugly, I instantly disowned him. If there was ever a time when I would have taken a panga and deforested myself, it would have been three months ago. But I did not. That Monday afternoon, I came here and explained the situation to that mzee. He said it was a good thing I did not delay, otherwise I would have burned my entire manhood. I would become an empty trouser.
He gave me tablets to take, but said it would get worse before it got better. Oh, and worse it got. Heheeee! I may laugh now, but let me tell you, there is no worse torture than being burned. You get an urge to pee every thirty minutes. And when you pee, it feels like acid running through your shaft, eroding every bit of flesh it meets.
The pee is not even something major. Most of the time it is just two drops. Two drops! Imagine you are at work, sitting through one of those protracted status meetings, but you cannot keep still because two drops of urine are baying for your blood. Literally!
But that is not the worst part. The worst part is having to come up with excuses to explain to your Kasichana why you do not want chudex. You will come up with hangovers, headaches, indigestions, malarias, influenzas, TB, and everything short of the Black Plague to hide the Red Plague in your pants. Being the caring girlfriend that she is, she will make you swallow Mara Moja, Panadol, Lansoprazole, Malariaquin, Flugone, deworming pills…and when everything else fails to work (and you have refused to accompany her to the hospital), she might even offer you Emergency Contraception Pills. Because now what can she do, yawa?
It took me almost one week. Seven bloody days to completely recover. And on the day the last piece of Dominique came out of me, I was standing at the urinal of one of those shopping malls on Ngong Road. Eyes closed, enjoying the relief of a painless flow, listening to my stream depart from me. Then I felt something unusual exit. It was not liquid, but solid – and when it hit the ceramic walls of the bowl, it sounded like a piece of metal. I swear I am not making this stuff up. I tried to look for it but then it disappeared. That last piece of Dominique rushed out of me as quickly as it had come, hurried down the drain and into obscurity. Just like the memory of her face.
Good riddance, yes?
Well, kind of.
I am not sure Dominique really left me. That is why I am here today. Three months ago, that mzee told me that I was clean. But to be completely certain, I had to come back after three months. And so here I am. And there you are. I have spoken for long now and my throat is dry. I still have to recount this to Kasichana; explain to her why I dumped her the way I did, shortly after meeting your mzee. I was too scared I was going to make her sick, and surely, nobody deserves that.
Nights must be cold for those without warm memories, daktari. I do not know how people who have never been loved before handle lonely nights. It has been exactly 79 days since I left Kasichana, but who is counting? And you can do a lot of soul searching on icy nights like those, when you are alone covering yourself with memories of someone you wronged so badly. When you are trying to forget the sweet things that you took for granted, and reminiscing about how you had it nice and fragrant and perfect for a while.
For now, before I go meet Kasi, I figured I should know where I stand in all this. If I am to be any the wiser, what the hell difference does it make now? But I still need to know whether that bitch still runs in my veins. So pass me that paper. Let’s not keep fate waiting.
Wait. Daktari, what did you say two stripes mean, again?