I was there on Friday evening fighting policemen and NYS boys who kept pushing us back with batons. I was one of them – braving a terrible cold that made me breathe from my mouth- blowing vuvuzelas and waving the American flag, waiting to bear witness. Around me were even more excited men, who were not so excited about soap and water. They did not help my flu. The stench from their armpits pierced through the blockade of mucus in my nostrils and tortured my senses. Many of them were in green Gor Mahia Tshirts that were clearly not on talking terms with hygine. They reeked so bad that if their stench had a face, it would be as pretty as Jehova Wanyonyi.
But I stayed. There are only so many times I can be afforded the opportunity to see the world renowned eight inch thick armour-plated Cadillac One Limousine – better known to the likes of you and I as The Beast. And surely, what kind of a Luo man would I be if I did not go welcome Obama to Nairobi in the good old patriotic fashion of waving flags and chanting “Beast biro…yau ne yo!”
The cold July wind sighed in anticipation of his arrival. The sky changed its mood from the jovial evening orange to the night’s dull dark blue hue, but we simply did not give a fuck. Nyayo Stadium flood lights took over from where the sun had left. I tried to blow my nose to unblock it, but it only left me with a loud ringing in my ear. Kidero’s grass stood a better chance of growing than my nostrils had of doing their job.
Nairobi was sagging under the weight of Obama’s homecoming. It felt as though it was the Son of Man himself who was finally coming back for the second time – after making us wait for a soon that lasted over 2000 years (proving yet again that God is an African).
However, let us just be honest here. Engaging in the whole razzmatazz of Barack Obama’s visit was really a sideshow on my part. Of course, I was just as thrilled as the next Luo man, but deep down at the poetry of my soul, I was running away from something. Dirty Dishes. It was my turn to clean up the sink, and trust me, when you are living with three girls, you will know when it is your turn to wash dishes. There is no running away from it. They even draw up a timetable – a blahdy timetable!- of who is cooking on which day and who is washing dishes on which day.
Friday is my day owada.
Having female housemates is a huge adjustment for me. It was very easy when I used to stay with a jamaa, especially one I knew from campo. But then stuff happened and my Langata housemate, Mukundi, had to move back home. I would have told you all about it, but he has insisted that I keep that information on a need-to-know basis.
Anyway. He peeled himself from my bachelor existence like old paint from a wall.
On Friday nights, I miss staying with Mukundi. We had an understanding. When we first moved in together, we signed an unspoken MoU that I would do all the cooking and he would take care of dishes. Well, it was not even an issue really. We both knew the limits of our talents; he can cook as good as Obama can dance. When he cooks, the smoke alarm comes alive to cheer him on. I, on the other hand, am a lazy asshole. I hate washing dishes. It tops a list of things I hate that includes but is not limited to people who eat chips in matatus, people who call chips ‘fries’, and people who eat chips in the matatu on a hot day when the air is humid and you are hungry and they do not offer you any.
As it happens, for the eight months we shared a house, everyone was happy with the grand scheme of things.
I miss those days these days. I miss the days when we weren’t feeing like doing shit, we would simply hit Oxygen for a tipple, perch on our spot opposite the loos and kick it. As the night grew wearier, we would chill and watch ladies line up on their side of the bathroom, crossing their legs tightly as if hiding a secret that is dying to be told, and wait for the one who would say “fuck it!” and run into the men’s bathroom.
I especially would pity those hapless souls because for us men, the world is our urinal. If the toilet it full (which it never is) we can just step outside, and push out a long curved one at the side of the road.
Nobody actually cared that much about dirty dishes on such nights.
Lakini now I stay with three girls. One is the Jaber (read; girlfriend –NOT a sponsor). Another is her friend. While the other is Jaber’s cousin who is visiting the country for a while. I always wondered what it would be like to share an apartment with female housemates. Back in the day when my pubes were still a small rash, there was a TV program starring Nini Wacera –she was bald at the time- in which she stayed with her girlfriend and a dude, and they had this love triangle that left me debauched for a long time.
Now here I am. Those two realities are chalk and cheese. By the way, guys, forget it. Staying with female housemates does not allow such shit. In fact, when you have female housemates, they only place you have in their lives is the back seat of their friendzone bus.
Let me explain why.
My Jaber’s girlfriend is the kind that parties like a rockstar but can never, for the life of her, recover like one. She is one of those that checks into at Harlequins at 10pm and gets back home at 6.30am when the sun is yawning awake. She is also single, which is allows her certain privileges like coming back home with a jamaa once in a while. We really do not judge. Nobody cares here. In this house, there is no such thing as a walk of shame. There is only a stride of pride.
So this one time she brought home a guy. That morning (they came in at 2 am) that man followed Obama’s lead and slept in an undisclosed location. They proceeded to turn our house into a hotbed of terror. Thankfully, there were no soundtracks to their passion.
Kumbe, Madam Housemate here pakuad nyegese really good…so good that Mr. Smokie Funga could not just cherang’ cherang’ mbugaaaa (eat and run). No. Yaani when she hit it, she wrote her name on it. That following weekend afternoon, Mr. Smokie Funga wanted another lick at the honey pot, but she was not feeling it.
She asked me “Aki G you will need to be my wingman. Please cockblock this guy for me. Do not leave the house. Just stay and do something.”
Another rule in this house is that we always look after our own. So when Mr. Man came around, eyes dripping of lust, ready for another bite at the cherry, I did not let him. Instead, I went to the loo and achiliad a good one with a door opened a littu, spraying the house with the intoxicating aroma of my undigested lunch.
The ultimate buzz kill.
(Dear housemate, if you are reading this, and I know you are/will, I have shelved that favour by the way. I will call it in someday when shit hits the fan.)
So yeah. You can never get the woman you stay with. It is taboo. And they will never let you cross that boundary. Good thing for me, I am sorted.
It was never the plan to wind up in this situation. Yet man plans and God laughs. This time He laughed so hard that I found myself in a duty roster for cleaning dishes.
One would be misled as I was to imagine that if I pull some shady bullshit (say, call in sick or pretend to be welcoming POTUS to Kenya) I would come back and find the girls have washed my dishes. Nothing! Dishes, unlike us mortal humans, cannot do themselves. You will come back and find the dishes there waiting for you. Oh, and if by some sorcery you manage to sleep without washing on your day, your duty day is carried forward with the additional dishes on the previous night.
There is no escape omera.
Also, being the only dude in the house, I always wash dishes after a chick has cooked. It easy to know when a woman has cooked. You will know from the mountain of greasy plates and sufurias. They use everything – one would imagine they were preparing The Bread of Life.
On that day I came back from receiving Obama, I walked into the house, took a look at the sink and my jaw slapped the cement off the floor. A whole pile of utensils; sufurias, plates, spoons, forks, and food warmers (we had not even eaten yet!). I do not understand why these girls use the whole kitchen; and it is even more frustrating when all they are really cooking is some spaghetti and kachumbari. Aki si that counts as cheating? Using so much to do so little. How is it different from those Nandi County MCAs who use 50 million to build a gate that says Welcome to the Home of Heroes? 50 flipping million they used. Kenyan shillings. And it’s not even the goddamn Pearly Gates of Heaven.
Lakini mguys help me out here. Am I wrong? If a ngeus is only preparing ugali, sukuma wiki and avocado, how do you reconcile that with the presence of a recently used frying pan on the sink? Eh? Kwani what was she cooking? An excuse?
Bottom line is, dirty dishes in this house are like small sins we commit in our youth- they always catch up with you. And you have to deal with them. That is why after watching The Beast drive past Nyayo Stadium roundabout, I dragged myself back home. As soon as I walked into the house, I went straight to the kitchen where the sight of unwashed plates, cups, saucers and sufurias welcomed me the way Nairobi welcomed Obama. Like a Messiah. Waiting for me to wipe their slates clean.