Better Days

“DJ hiyo ni mpya sjaskia”

I’m at the local. And a bunch of middle aged mamas are blowing smoke up into the ceiling and wielding black and brown bottles by their necks. One of them says that to the bartender that doubles up as the resident deejay. The deejay let’s her know that the song, valu valu, is as old as her first born. She grins and asks him to turn it up.

They all have scarfs around their necks. The silky flowery kind. One has a purple pullover while the other an atrocious red sweater. I look at the sweater and gauging by her age she bought it at some swanky joint; where the attendant probably threw in designer among a string of other vernacular words to seal the deal.

I’m alone. Babysitting a cold one. A day before the Madaraka day celebrations. Back home I have no one to go to, just a warm bed, a bottle of half downed whisky and dinner. An older guy walks to this group of ladies. Wrinkles on his forehead, an accent heavier than the ladies red sweater, and a lethargic walk. He has a slur. Drunk. Also his accent doesn’t help matters. In his hay day he probably would drive a probox but he looks monied and probably has some V8 German machine sitting pretty in his parking. He looks old, like when Jesus turned water to wine they poured libation to him. And he has an attitude he carries around like a camel’s hump. Feeds off it. He thinks he is the shit. I know he isn’t because the ladies are talking smack behind his back. These are ladies with kids and men. Husbands.

I just walked in and my beer is still fresh from the fridge. But around me there’s drama. Some youngin wet behind the ears, and with no car to his name is claiming a lady. His lady. A mid thirty something in the company of the mid forties. The old guy won’t have any of it. He has been buying drinks. By extension, he has shares. Actually he is a majority shareholder.

“You know as a man…” he starts.

At this point my beer is warming up. I’m eavesdropping on their conversation. Mid sentence one of the ladies plants a hot one on his lips. Cracked lips. Not that I stared at them, no. Just a quick glance for the purpose of the story. He loses track of his words. You can hear the blood drain from his cranium. He staggers back and looks at me; I ignore the old bugger. Put my hoodie on. He whispers something in kuyo; to which I only hear nigwedete and nyege.

“If lady wants drinks I cannot refuse.” He shouts. A clear declaration of his financial muscle.

Some of the ladies cheer on and laugh. He is a spectacle. A drunk one. Oversized grey t-shirt hanging on his wiry frame. Glasses. Thick. On his nose. The cheers get to his head. Faster than the blood that left. Faster than good sense. Almost as fast as the brandy he is drinking. He raises his hands as if to ask why. Then poses a question.

“Who am I to refuse?”

Under my breath I whisper. Somebody’s grandpa. I snigger and wear a smug look. Wear it like expensive cologne. Let it cover my face in content. No one sees it. I take another sip let the beer fizzle in my mouth. Satisfied that the cold froth is well brewed I let out a subtle aah. Concentrate on the screen in front of me that’s  tuned to National Geographic. Entertain a thought that the old guy should be featured. As a fossil of course. I take another sip and almost choke on the laugh that’s making its way out.

By now the background noise has faded into oblivion. I’m watching a documentary on bears mating; to the background of Diamond’s mellow voice. It doesn’t get more romantic than this. Real definition of wild sex. And who said wild sex had to be all chains and cuffs and blindfolds and death metal in the background? There’s a light tap on my shoulder. It’s a very warm tap. And soft. I imagine those fingers haven’t done a day of laundry in the past two decades. Hardest work they’ve done is stay still for hours for a manicure. Maybe press the buttons on the remote and adjust the radio volume in a sedan. These are fingers that have servant fingers do the fingering for them. Fingers that have spa days. Fingers that talk in a mixture of English and Swahili with an accent. They probably say something along the lines of “aki si I’m telling you that jamaa was hot”. Yes these are fingers that will talk about a jamaa while they sip on cosmopolitans.

“Hi…” she starts.

The lady in a read sweater. Her voice isn’t scruffy like I expected. It’s a bit low but melodious. Like scooping out smooth peanut butter and placing it in your tongue. She smiles. Her smile is as warm as her tap. There’s a glint from her earrings. It gives her a whole Beverly hills demeanor.

“Do you mind moving over to the next seat. Please. If you don’t mind?”

Here I thought for some reason my youthfulness, had attracted me one of those sponsors everyone is so broke about. I was about to join the elite. Buy an iPhone and an iPad and anything else with an apple logo. I was going to say goodbye to the brown bottle and switch it for the more sexy, more lithe green one. The tides were about to change for me. I thought I had gotten the relationship green card. Or master card. maybe master card; to swipe all my worries away. Kevin and his credit card would have nothing on me. He would run his mouth, we would run the bill and I would run the card. Call up baby and tell her I spent a few thousand. Of course she wouldn’t mind.

But no. I was being asked to move seats. A seat I’d warmed. I was going to let my warm seat hug someone else’s bum. I was moving to a colder seat. A seat that didn’t give a rat’s behind about how warm you had it with the other seat. This seat that was just as cold as my bank account. Colder than my beer. That’s all I looked good for. Moving seats. Moving godamn seats! Didn’t even offer to buy me a drink or anything. Just a warm smile. The irony.  The old man now wore the smug look on his face. Like he had just conquered Italy. I wanted to coerce my warmth to desert the chair and let him feel the brunt of cold seats. But my warmth knew better. Maybe it thought it had hit the jackpot. Mingle with a rich man’s heat? Epitome. It was no longer my heat. That bastard heat deserved to fall into a gorilla pen.

When everything is clearly not going your way. When you’ve lost your heat to an older man. When the cool liquid is no longer calming your nerves; because you’ve been thinking about a more lithe, more sexy bottle. When your smug look has been robbed off your face; yanked off.  Then you go home. You walk the fuck away. And go cry into your pillow. Pray for better days. Because they do come. At least, that’s what they tell us.



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