The thing about living in an apartment building is that it shreds you of privacy. I live in one. Mostly because it is affordable, and my kind of work is not financially romantic. A labour of love. I’m on the ground floor. On my side is a young family composing a fairly Rubenesque jaber, an omera with a skin darker than limbo and a toddler. Above me lives a bachelor I seldom interact with. In fact, I do not realize when he is around until late at night. Especially after 10pm, when the gate shrieks open to announce the arrival of a couple of feet that fumble up the stairs.
My friend, Malik, also lives in an apartment building on the other side of town. He has his own tales about the bane and boon of sharing a wall with other households. He has neighbors who are not really married, but they stay with each other, and they have a complicated relationship that entails a lot of fighting dirty. Many a night he has been dragged into their arguments that are always fought with high decibels.
“You brag so much to your friends, and yet you are a kid. Grow up and act your age” says the deranged girlfriend. Then she defies the Rubicon and mentions the size of his phallus, which comes close to a toenail long.
“Oh yeah? Maybe it’s like that because you give head like a drunken rat, gnawing through my mhoigos!”
Malik complains to us when we meet about the disturbance. I tell him that his situation is better, and he would only realize it if we exchanged neighbours.
On one hand I have a couple with a baby who bawls out its little lungs at 3am, and its parents seem to ignore it. Most of the time I feel like walking over there and changing its damn diapers myself.
But that is nothing compared to the fella above. The mystery bachelor (let’s call him Mureithi) whose floor is my ceiling. My woes with this guy started a few nights ago. He got a new girlfriend, and decided to go steady with her. This I know because this new chick cannot keep a lid on herself when the plot of their lovemaking thickens.
The first time it happened, it was a little after midnight. When the night was so quiet that you could almost hear ghosts breathing. A slight squeaking came from above, and for a moment I imagined that there is a rat infestation in the building. Then the squeaking grew louder. The walls quaked, and my ceiling began to tremor. The trembling increased, as did the volume of a woman’s voice giving orders.
“Stop, go, yes, No. Not there. Okay hold it there. More please. Oh Jesus! Go on!” She sounded like a traffic cop on Nyayo Stadium roundabout.
That is when it struck me. This was no rat infestation. The earthquake was not a sign of Armageddon. Jesus was not coming. She was.
Truth is, in such a situation, a bachelor wishes that he were the one on the other side of the ceiling, having all the fun. Especially when he is on one of those nasty dry spells when it is just you and your left hand. He imagines himself at the receiving end of those orders.
I did too. But then after one week of this experience, my envy of slowly turned to jealousy, then to anger. I have come to loathe Mureithi.
I listen to him every day, in the heat of the moment, asking her who her daddy is in between desperate attempts to catch his breath, and I wonder why he needs that kind of daily reassurance. For Pete’s sake she already told him that he was the man just last night. What strain of selective amnesia is this?
He even spoils my Sunday mornings bana, ruining my Couchside Ministries moments, thus invariably forcing me to curse him out. May that lucky bastard get stuck, or bruise his penis as punishment for engaging in hard (hehe) labour on Sabbath.
Then there is the other thing about her soundtracks. Why does she keep bringing God and His son into this? First, she knows the Lord’s reservations about fornication, and then goes ahead to shout at Him while at it. Nothing says a middle finger more than this kind of sacrilege.
And then, why is it that her first reaction to having an orgasm is to say “Oh God I’m coming! Jesus fucking Christ that feels good.”? Beside the fact that it is ludicrously blasphemous, as a man, I find it offensive for a woman to be calling the name of other men when he is inside her.
Give God what belongs to Him, and Mureithi his credit.
Once, I sat in the living room at 6.00 am waiting to catch a glimpse of Mureithi’s new squeeze. I wanted to bear witness to the reason why I suffer artificial insomnia. As soon as the stilts rattled downstairs, I drew my curtain. There she was, wrapping her fingers around Mureithi’s suited arms as he opened the gate, rushing to work. She wore bright legs that dominated her short dress in a contest for attention. Also, her face was a taut mask of embarrassment. Her makeup was rough, and her hair was a forest of fig trees.
Maybe I just didn’t like her. Maybe. Lakini enyewe this is the kind of woman who should church-mouse her sexual events. Not ati sijui let the whole block know what she has to say about it.
To be fair, I do not think it a nuisance when the guy next door gets lucky enough to score sufficient brownie points to bring a birdie home. I think anyone who has a problem with it shouldn’t have business living in a neighbourhood like Langata. This is the cesspool of debauchery. It is made up of men who fake love and finances, in order to bed a woman who will fake an orgasm. Fair trade, donge?
However, I would be excusing myself from reason to say that there’s no discipline that comes with getting laid. It is okay if the man next door shows off what a Mandingo he is in bed once in a while.
Here is what I will do. I will find the unsexiest song in YouTube’s library. Something dreadful, like those Ohangla jingles. The ones that last as long as a movie. Something by Osogo Winyo. I will play it at full blast with the speakers pressed up against these shared walls.
Soon enough the real perpetrators will realize that they have an annoyed audience.
Look here guys, as men we get it. We understand that at times a man’s got to change his oil. Indeed, it is an incredible thing when two people come together, or come together. We understand that when she screams and asks “Oooh Mureithi where did you learn to do that?” and you reply “Talanta sio gumba, kairetu,” it is all just necessary vanity. The throes of passion give people the simple pleasures of lying with permission. Because we both know Mureithi is just winging it. Guess work.
But Mureithis of this world, sometimes we also need a good night’s sleep. I mean come on yawa! (Not literally hehe). We are all mere end results of people who couldn’t resist the urge to orgasm. Meaning we all get our turns eventually, and you wouldn’t want us to be such a dick about it. So turn it down a notch bwana. It is just a matter of mutual respect between bachelors sharing thin walls.
If you do not know how to approach your woman about this, then tonight, while lowering her knickers, sing to her Trey Songz’s Neighbors Know My Name.
“Take this pillow right here, grab this. And I know you’re so excited if you bite it, they won’t hear.”
She will get the hint. Women always do.
COVER PHOTO: Design CloseUp
Catch more of my Bachelor stories on my column in Modern African Guy