They say there’s nothing as dangerous as a wounded lion. It wants to express the pain and agony it feels but that comes out in forms of heavy roars and vigorousness that is taken for annihilation by human beings who are always protective of their kind and repulsive to what they have never seen before. The core of my being had been pummeled and stabbed at the same time by the cruel hand of life. It made me think that life is only good at crafting ways of bringing trouble to people’s doorsteps; like a daily delivery of the newspaper. It is in that newspaper that you read your fate. Whether you choose to read it aloud for the whole neighbourhood (people in your life) to hear or read silently, it still remains that the facts of your fate have been scripted before you. There’s no saying that you didn’t know or you now do not know or you weren’t ready. Okay, you can say whatever you want but it doesn’t change anything as such.
(Read the previous episode here.)
The world had become a whole new arena for me. Multitudes of spectators had just watched me receive the greatest knockout both in history and in my history. I believed there was no waking up from that. I might as well remain bloodied on the ground and bleed to death because if I stood to fight, I’d still get beaten again and die anyway. So that was the new course of my life. I’d stay lying in my own pool of blood. When it’s deep enough, I might as well swim in it and even have a Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi would be my new chill spot. My perfect way to die slowly.
Well this might sound crazy. In my mental picture of the arena that I had just received a lifetime K.O, I couldn’t shake off the possibility that I had a gun tucked under my belt. The gun had one bullet. I had a choice to either shoot myself and end the show early for myself and everyone else or shoot something more worth it. But while lying there with black eyes and squinting, I couldn’t see what was worth the last bullet. Shooting myself was my next best option but I was hesitant. Like some flame of hope kept me from taking my life away abruptly.
I stayed at my Aunt Tina’s for some time. My relatives said without actually saying that I needed a mother figure. I just snorted. My aunt didn’t handle me like a premature egg though. It’s like part of her wanted to let me be the man that I am. Like she believed that I’d know how to stand again and find my own path although she also had her own picture of how I could achieve that.
One time we were having dinner and she said while serving, “Mwamburi you should get a girlfriend.”
I chuckled and said, “Like you know me that much auntie.”
“Ah, so you already have a girlfriend.” She said while smiling at me as she craned kaimati to my plate.
Her daughter in class six said, “He doesn’t have.” I gave her the ‘you little devil’ eyes. She knows more than she should at her age including tons of family gossip.
“Then go out there and get one or two if one is not enough,” My aunt said.
“Why is it so important to you?”
“Well you know, at least you will have someone who will care about you more than you would care for yourself. Isn’t that what men want ladies for?”
In my mind, I answered, not in my generation. First of all, in my generation it’s vice versa; ladies want men! Not all ladies though. And it’s not that men don’t want ladies but ladies want men first. They’re swifter than we are and sly to some extent. They have become the move-makers. Not that it’s a bad thing. It just depends on how you take it. Besides, in my generation, not all men want ladies as people who would care for them. I’m not sure if I wanted a lady myself. It wasn’t in me that a lady would be the right candidate to vent out my sorrow.
“I don’t know, what does it matter anyway. I can take care of myself.”
She gave me a look that said, well let’s see how well you will do that.
“You mean not even a tiny bit of you was looking to try out chics?” I asked.
“I hadn’t thought about it Mjango. Let’s just say I was on a freefall of a kind. Where I’d land I’d explore. I was just waiting for the first place I’d land.”
“So maybe this is the part I should buckle up. Where did you land first?”
“Aha, I got a call,”
“Eiy bro wassup?”
“This is?” I answered.
“It’s Telvin manzeh.”
“Waaah Telvo!! Wassup bro. Damn long time mahn!”
Telvin was my deskmate in high school since form two. We got along well throughout high school but there was always someplace our worlds didn’t meet. Telvin is like the opposite of me, or rather the opposite of what I used to be. He is the mjango of the people and so to say, the man of the ladies. He has his way with words and he has connections all over. You need someone to bail you out from the cops, look for Telvo. You want someone to hook you up with a date, just get a way to find Telvo. You want the dopest crack available in the market, Telvo is only one call away. You want to buy something from the black market, Telvo is the black market itself. You want the hottest hookers ever born into this world, Telvo can call ten of them with just one sneeze. Be it light skin, dark, chocolate, pointy, any tribe, any nationality from African to Asian to Arab to European; name it. From as young as 18 to as old as the age that turns you on. From the amateurs to the mercenaries of all hookers. In short, Telvo is just a businessman and a friend with the world at his disposal.
Surprisingly, Telvo doesn’t look like what he is. He is neat and very organized. His locker and box in high school were always arranged. On my bad days, my material life would just look like my day. He sounds like a proud guy, right? Well, he is very humble and outgoing. Too humble for someone who runs the town. He is a don of a kind, though he doesn’t like the name. He was not so good in class but he was too good in math. We made a deal in form two that he’d help me in math (although I was equally good) and I’d help him in all other subjects especially chemistry. That’s how our friendship began, officially. He was a ‘don’ in school too by the way. I have never suffered in school since we became friends. He was always there to offer something whenever I lacked. One time he found me being bullied by form fours when we were in form one. I reminded him of this when we were hanging out after we met and he laughed his way to the floor. Anyway, the big boys cornered me when I made a wrong turn into their cubicle in the dorm I was at.
“Weh kijana kuja hapa.” I stopped dead on my tracks. (that’s an old line we used to use in compositions in primary.) I was now sweating in all the places I don’t normally sweat.
“Ulikuwa unaenda wapi?”
The well of words in my voicebox was as dry as the devil’s scalp.
“Aya kama hauezi ongea, basi utaongea na mama yako. Hiyo huwezi shindwa.” The rest of the crew started laughing. It became boisterous when the ‘leader’ of the cubicle ordered me to pick up his shoe which had probably been his only pair since form one – and use it to call my mother! Who does that!
You can be sure I did call my mother and we spoke. Well, I spoke to her but she didn’t speak back. But when schools closed for the first holiday, I told her that I had once tried calling her, using a shoe! That was accompanied by cries that I didn’t want to go back to that school.
So Telvo (led of God maybe, I don’t know how he showed up there) found me with an old shoe held by the ear doing the unexpected, talking! The big boys were dying in stitches. What made me know that Telvo was a good friend is not that he just said, “Mabuda! Wacheni ujinga huyu ni brathe,” and there and then the mjango said, “Kijana enda.” It is the fact that he didn’t laugh at the time. It told me something about him; he doesn’t like seeing mjangos go through hardship. I asked him about it after we became friends in form two and he said, “I have this thing about solution to problems. I love helping people with the solutions to their problems. However much I can help, I help. And I’m loyal too.” I still don’t know why the big boys respected him that much.
“Eh bro it’s been ages. How’ve you been mahn?” Telvo asked.
“Been alright bro,” I said with that alright sounding like it’s not all right. “How’d you find me after all this while?”
“Ah kaka you know me too well to be asking that,”
Before I could respond, he said, “Heard you lost your mum bro. That’s some heavy shit. So sorry mahn.”
I can swear to hear him say that touched me.
“Yea mahn. But all is well now. Thanks manzeh.” I said.
“As always bro. We should meet and catch up. Let me treat you bro. You must be having a lot of shit to let out.”
Telvin and this word ‘shit’ by the way. He uses it in almost every sentence. Will I be wrong to say he says a lot of shit? Or he is all about shit. Or he is into shit. Or he is the shit man. Ah, shit!
“I hadn’t thought that that would be the beginning of the tailspin of my life. I just imagined it would be one carousel in the name of seeing the ample pleasantries life had and I had denied myself of for a course that was no longer living.”
“Did it ever occur to you that it wasn’t your fault and there is nothing you would have done to prevent it?”
“It did. And that’s what hurt me the most; that I couldn’t do anything about it. I would do something about our financial status that would perhaps even be able to help her health and every other welfare, I was sure of that. But I felt defeated. There was nothing else to fight for.”
It was on a Friday when I met Telvo in town. He picked me up in his Noah, the car that campus students floss in because well, it can carry many of them at a go. It’s spacious enough to hold a party in it, maybe. It’s been three years since we last saw each other. He looked all manned up with some thickets of beard and a broader shoulder. He also had small locs which I found to suit him well.
His crib is in Langata. I didn’t know what to expect until well, I got there and knew what I should have expected. It was a mansion in one of those estates where you don’t have to suffer from showers of dirty water from balconies of people living on the floors above you. Or loud music from neighbours who didn’t believe they could own a home theatre but thanks to Kilimall, they acquired one cheaply. Or having to go through the test of generosity when neighbours come to borrow sugar or some sufurias or even kiberiti because they will be having visitors from their upcountry.
I didn’t bother to ask but he said it was his own investment. He has an inheritance from his late dad but he has only used less than 10% of it. “I want my own wealth and shit, you feel me?” He’d say.
On our way in he said, “Bro, let this be like your retreat. You can either turn into a monk while in here or a stripper.”
“Stripper?” I asked.
“Yea. I don’t need to tell you that there are male strippers for women who also want to enjoy the show.”
I didn’t inquire further.
The house was bigger than any house I have ever been to. And you know what, it was resided by not only Telvo but his people too. Okay, his people means the members of the club. And so it was a clubhouse. Members would stay for as long as they wanted but only if they continued to pay. There was an agreement of privacy and confidentiality to be signed before joining the club. And once you’ve joined, you enter into a free world. The house has everything necessary for both survival and luxury.
The house is made to offer any desired environment for anyone’s definition of retreat. So he was not just talking. If your form of retreat is to do yoga or play video games or watch movies on a big screen or have a steam bath or swim topless or chill in a spa or get a massage or join a swinger’s party or get high or just talk to someone, it is all under one roof. So apparently, there’re people working there and they take shifts. Most of the crazy things happen at night. He showed me around the house telling me all that and I thought, that’s where I needed to be.
It was 2pm. Telvo led me to the pool and offered me a change of clothes to an outfit that clearly shouted ‘relaxing mode.’ A vest, beach shirt and short and a pair of fancy slippers. Oh and sunglasses. For the record, the ladies there were not topless, yet.
“Oh wait, meaning they were topless at some point?”
“Eh Mjango relax man. The show is just about to start.”
“Oh haha go on then,”
We talked for four hours just catching up with our lives while wetting our mouths with mango juice. I told him that I had never tasted the other side of life because it was my way of staying on course to make my mum proud and offer us a better life. With her gone, there was no point of any of that anymore. I told him I wanted to explore new ways of living. He said I didn’t have to but I said I wanted to and asked him if he did want to help me through this, then that would be the best help I’d want.
Telvo said, “No shit bruh. Who am I not to help a brother get the perfect retreat? Then welcome to the club.” He raised his hand slightly and I met his palm with mine half way down.
I said, “Thanks man, ” and asked, “So where does my retreat begin from?”
“You ever been high before?” Telvo asked.
“You sure don’t want me to answer that manzeh. It’s embarrassing to answer that in this place. But maybe high on sugar.”
He laughed, “Nah don’t you be ashamed of anything. We family here. Come on let’s go.”
“Mwamburi, where did that guy take you now?” I was on my second round of milkshake. I couldn’t have enough of it. He didn’t even drink half of his tea. He said he is gradually trying to start being able to take tea again. If you know a little more than the average things of life, you should be knowing that mjangos who have been into alcohol and drugs don’t do so well with tea. So he ordered water. He has drunk more of it than I had with my milkshake.
“Wait, I’ll be back. I need to take a leak.” Mwamburi said and excused himself.
The idea of going to the washrooms while in a restaurant, bar or café is a tricky affair at times. You never know who you will find there waiting for you. But anyway, that’s just unnecessary paranoia. Although movies have succeeded in making us picture washrooms to be the best hideout to get kinky. Now I’m reminded of Charlie and Eva in the Perfect Match movie. If I remember well, Charlie showed up for their date and upon arrival at the restaurant, Eva wasn’t at their table but instead, he found her tho… Oh look, Mwamburi is back. (Hehe)
“Sorry Mjango that was one hell of a leak,” he said while taking a seat.
“Nature calls need no apologies,” I said.
“True. Anyway where was I, oh at the clubhouse,”
“He first took me to the bar of the house and later to a huge room in the basement where all kinds of crack is found and served. They call it Mt. Everest.”
“Damn! I suppose it so-called because it’s where guys get high.”
“You’re right Mjango. Very high in fact! That’s how I was going to use my last bullet.”
To be continued…