10.58 PM. It is a chilly Sunday night. It’s been a while since I last felt this aware of myself. Of where I am and where my life is headed. It’s been long since I had this kind of clarity. Maybe it’s the vodka. I have had triple double shots of the devil’s piss. The weekend has been largely disappointing. First, we lost to a team we shouldn’t have lost to. I was looking forward to declaring myself fit for the playoffs next weekend but now my recovery from a fractured finger is for nothing because we’ve been knocked out. So now I’m stuck with this monstrous cast in my hand for another two weeks as there is no need to take it off earlier than scheduled.
The most inconveniencing thing about having a cast on your hand is not that you have an extra kilogram on one side of your body to balance. You’ll appreciate how difficult this is especially if you have a prominent head size like me. It’s hard but do-able. It’s not even the fact that you have to alter your sleeping position to accommodate the orthopedic accessory. The mockery of your friends about it is also not that bad. In fact, after some time their jokes about it get so dry that you could use them to light a fire. It is the inability to properly wash yourself. As I have come to learn, you need both hands to attain proper hygiene. Also, you can’t hold onto your phone properly when you have a cast on one hand.
Then this wheeler of deals I was to meet directed me to meet a guy who landed in an airport 100 km away from here so he gave my number to another guy, presumably a smaller fish, who rescheduled our meeting to mid week because he had a girlfriend to take on a safari over the weekend. Oh, and Manchester United lost yet again.
So here I am, with my glass of vodka in hand sitting on this wet seat outside the bar. It rained for the better part of the day and because they close at 10, you have to use the outside seats past the closing hours or go home. I wasn’t willing to go home since I had just gotten here.It’s been close to an hour since we moved here from the comfortable sofa inside the bar.
A man never drinks alone, because no man is an island! I am listening to Nyongesa’s stories about drinking, academics and ambitions. I can’t decide if he’s more lunje than my great friend Steve, a man with whom I have had ugali at all times of the day. We have had ugali at 2 am under the cover of darkness, 1 pm under the scorching sun. Think of any time of the day and we have had ugali at that time. 5.30 AM in the morning? We were waiting for the water to boil. 4 PM? We have had ugali at that time too. Steve also knows more luhya women in Nairobi than a MCA candidate in Kawangware.
It’s interesting how far I’ve come with Nyongesa. No, we are not old friends. I met him late last year at the military mess and he didn’t like me at first. He thought I was loud, which is true, and was too familiar and comfortable there yet I wasn’t a soldier. Too bad, I can’t help it. I am the sort of person who could come into your house for the first time and feel at home. Anyway, we are now friends. I am great with turning foes into friends, I think. Even the 48 Laws of Power recommends turning foes into friends as it inspires more loyalty since they have a point to prove.Nyongesa sprinkles random luhya words in his speech despite the fact that my grasp of the luhya language is about as sound as the government’s control on run away corruption. He reminds me of how COTU secretary general for life Francis Atwoli completes his sentences in luhya when his vocabulary fails him. As it does most of the times.
The fumes from the vodka sting my nose. I didn’t know vodka was this volatile. Hell, vodka has never been this volatile. Especially on a chilly night like this one. I am not here tonight to drown my sorrows. Just a little something to warm my internal organs on a cold night. Nyongesa says, “Tukikunywa leo haimanishi hatutakunywa kesho.” (It doesn’t mean we won’t drink tomorrow just because we are drinking today). I nod my head in agreement. “So lazima tujipange,” he adds. I mumble something in agreement because he sounds like a sage.
When a man has taken triple shots of vodka, everything sounds Solomonic when said with the right vocal tone. Naturally, the conversation drifts to women and relationships. He is married and I am not, so he does more of the speaking.
There is something about alcohol, especially vodka, which makes men think they can understand women. Beer makes men political. When men take beer,they talk about Baba and Kamwana. We speculate about who teargased Wetangula at his presidential launch, and why Baba did not attend. Beer makes men discuss Kamwana and his development track record. Men talk about Cord and Jubilee by the third beer. Beer makes men talk about the direction the country is taking and its future. Vodka, on the other hand, makes us think that we can figure out the fairer gender.
Men think they know what women want when they have had sufficient amounts of vodka to lubricate the thinking process. We can figure out what women want when we under the influence of Russian exports. We can’t just remember it in the morning. We can’t remember if you want some space so we’ll just go watch football with the boys till the wee of the morning because we can’t really be sure if that’s what we figured. Vodka makes us know why women cheat. And why they want the toilet seat down. Or the password to our phones.
Unfortunately, on both occasions we don’t know what we are talking about.