It’s 7.30 PM on a Sunday. Nairobi doesn’t recognise weekends. Streets are still bustling with life. Reluctant kids from a boat session down in Uhuru park sad to have to go home but tired all the same. A lady at a corner with a long sweeping skirt that’s handing out pamphlets written “Power of God” in bold green. I don’t take one. I don’t know why. But I do stop and say hi. I’m here meeting a friend.
On a Sunday evening. Date of sorts. But she’s late so I have to find a place and keep busy. On a Sunday it’s hard. Bars are off limit. I don’t want the temptations of crisp golden brown liquids calling out my name.
I dodge the cars lining the streets. Sidestep a guy in dreadlocks that can’t seem to walk straight and dash into a cafe. I figure a warm drink while I wait isn’t such a bad idea. Plus I have a lot to write. And think. Write more. I take my seat and order a latte. Single. I don’t know coffee to save my life. But I found a comfort order. It’s never too bitter. I don’t embarrass myself by grimacing with each sip. It’s bearable. Plus it comes with fancy art. I sit and wait for my order and her to arrive. For the first time I ignore the wifi zone signs. I have a story to write. About my weekend. So I get cozy. Wait for my drink. Destroy the beautiful latte art with a long slender silver spoon. The spoon was so long and slender they reminded me of sanaipei’s legs. So while I waited. I wrote. Enjoy
Seated alone at a two seater table. The seats are a breed between a stool and garden furniture. It’s what you’d get when bamboo and scrap metal had an artistic baby. I’m in a polo t-shirt and a bow tie. A lady. The bartender. Walks casually towards me. Looks at my bow tie and thinks this must be one of those proper men. So she asks in English. How may I be of service. It’s unsettling. Because it’s a local. So I ask for my usual cold tusker. She walks away. Unsettled too like she expected an accent. Proper English. Damn bow tie. The Green glare of a Heineken neon light is right in front of me. Slow rhumba is playing. I feel out of place. Rhumba dictates a protruding belly. I don’t have one. Instead I have a struggling six pack. Struggling because with all the beer drinking they want to disappear.
Two ladies walk in. One is tall and slender. She’s wearing an orange blazer. She looks like a traffic cone. She has a resigned look on her face. And almost matted weave. Looks like it might smell. Ooze her woes. Financial January woes. The delayed el nino. Her neighbors pillow. She looks like she steals her neighbors pillow. Don’t ask me why. She just does. Kind to make silly demands to. During coitus. Like what’s my mother’s name! What’s the best matatu on our route! Itisha mbili pewa moja.
Her friend is shorter and stout. In dreads. They look faux. Faux. Who says that? I sound prim. Raised on cereal for breakfast and English tea with muffins at 4. The locks are black and some a hue of copper brown. As she walks in she let’s out a sigh. Must be the smelling weave on her friend. Looks like she’d enjoy a Guinness. They walk past. Not even a glance. Sneer. Nothing. I’m invisible. Just how I like it.
A gray cat walks towards my table and seats next to it. From its laborious gaits and bulging tummy it either enjoys a good pint or is pregnant. Theres something sinister about a pregnant cat. Do you ever see them, you know, in the act? Do cats talk dirty? Wouldmt it be weird when it said ‘i want to eat your p****’? It has black stripes on its gray fur. It gives me a funny look. Like it knows I can make a good cat joke. Kind of nods. Slightly. Or maybe it was looking at a passing fly. And leaves.
Two gents walk in. One in spectacles. And a checked lumberjack shirt. Brown. The other in a black t-shirt and jeans. They seat adjacent to me. They are a bit noisy but the rhumba muffles them. The lady in a white blouse walks up to them. In my head I hope she talks to them in kiswahili. I can’t help think that what we had wasn’t special. I don’t hear what she says but she saunters off. Comes back with a basin a metal jug that looks straight out of King authors table and a Dasani bottle with a blue liquid that should be soap. The guys have ordered meat. Typical. The cat lingers around their table. Cats are such meat whores.
On my second beer. The two ladies walk out. Typical. They only had one each. Probably off to cook. I could hear the weave complain. It doesn’t get to go out any more. It feels caged. Might have belonged to some brazilian horse that won races. From having wind in its tail or mane to a stuffy local reeking of dark brew and the stale chapati smoke in a kitchen somewhere in a seven floored flat. The place is getting full. Men with bulging tummies. Thick spectacles. Beat leather jackets and polo shirts walk in. Some in company of arm candy. Others in company of other men. None alone. It’s time I left. Plus the beer was too expensive for a local. If I’m going to have expensive beer it should be served by ladies in dresses shorter than a Nyamira’s man temper.
I don’t like how the bouncer feels me up. His hands are uninvited. I almost feel violated. He feels something in my left blazer pocket. Asks twice what I’m carrying. It’s a pack of cigs and a lighter. He waves me in. Satisfied I didn’t have an IED. The music is much louder than the local. More urban. The place is fuller. Of people and life. The waitresses here are clad in white mini skirts, black stockings and god knows what color blouses. I didn’t pay much attention. I was in good company. Drinks were flowing. Sticks were lit. A good time was being had.
I wonder what days of the week would smell like. If they had smells. Imagine Mondays. They’d probably smell like boredom. I don’t know what boredom smells like. But if Monday had a smell that would be it. Friday would smell like fun. Carpe Diem. Sex and alcohol. A little bit sweaty and hints of deo. Marinated chicken breasts. Sugar spice and everything nice. Friday would smell like her. The girl next to me. I don’t remember her scent. But I’d like to think it was nice. Subtle. Silently sexy. Like her smile. The curios mystery that danced in her eyes when she spoke.
Friday nights are dangerous. In a good way. They make you feel alive. Run an adrenaline rush through your veins. Like when we were seated at the balcony. Wind blowing through. Smoke lazily swirling up into the cold air. The sounds of muffled conversation. Drunken banter. Unynchronised singing. Watching people dance. Having some of them too close to your liking. In their short dresses. Shaking and gyrating their hips. Inching closer. Carefree.
I’m now writing this in a mat. They’re playing Tanzanian music. Bongo I think. What’s chekecha? I’m from the streets. They’re no longer bustling with life. They’re dying down like the last embers to a fire. Sparse. They are almost eery under the fluorescent lighting. I saw a guy. Or his silhouette. Building a bed out of cardboard. He calls the street his home. He might be hungry. I think about that for a moment. I’ve had something to eat. Pizza to be exact. Courtesy of one Pretty Prissy. Late valentines she called it. We went to Pizza Hut. The one along university Way. It’s too far. I had the pepperoni. She had the sweet chilli chicken. Hers was better than mine. So if you’re ever there order the sweet chilli chicken. Thank me later. Met a former classmate while there. I didn’t remember them. But they remembered me. My name. I hated having to look like a snob.