For a considerable part of my life, I have been the kind of guy who always wanted stuff done in a morally conscious (upright?) manner. I don’t know where that stemmed from, maybe it was the birth order thingy or it was from my maternal grandma-she’s the type not to hurt a fly. Either way, I seemed to have departed from that persona with the double dating situation.
I sat on my bed agonizing over the predicament I had gotten myself into and possible ways I could extricate myself from it.
However much I agonized, no plausible solution forth came. Sonia’s exoticism, cheerfulness and warm personality made her anything but dispensable. Tina on the other hand was down to earth; easy to connect with on numerous fronts and diffused warmth and friendliness-she was the kind of lady you would want to introduce to your mother without worrying whether they would get along or not.
I do not recall for how long I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling but it sure was long because it had gotten too dark that I had to switch the lights on. Johnny came in and asked if I was in the mood to go on a bender, to shake off exam hangovers. I replied in the negative and he shrugged his shoulders, changed into some swanky outfits and left for what I assumed was going to be a long night of partying. I wished I could join him but I was sure my moodiness would make me bad company. Besides, I am averse to social gatherings where I’ll be tempted to take alcoholic drinks.
I got off the bed, slipped into some sandals and shuffled downstairs to the new café that had just opened adjacent to our hostels. It was filled to capacity, so I ordered a take-away and headed back to the room. I was in no mood to wash utensils so I just ripped the paper bag containing the food and started eating straight from it. Swaleh came in from the bathroom all wet and drippy, grabbed Johnny’s towel and dried himself up.
“Aye bro, what are you having there?” he asked as he dried his long silky hair.
“Chips kuku.” I replied as I struggled with a chicken bone.
Before I knew it the gangly fella had already grabbed the other piece of chicken and was chewing with one hand as he dressed with the other. There were only two pieces of chicken and the one he grabbed was bigger and fleshier than the one I was chewing, I had saved it for last. He could see the disappointment registered on my face but he just shrugged and shoved the remaining piece into his gigantic mouth.
“Sorry dude, I just had to have it. C’mon am headed to the café, will buy you a full chicken.”
Though he said it jokingly, I knew I could take his word, he was a generous guy. So I politely declined, crumpled the paper bags together and threw them into the trash can.
“You going out tonight?” He asked as he sprayed perfume all over, from his ankle to his hair (why do Somalis do this?).
“Nah, not in the mood.” I replied as I opened the window.
“What do you mean not in the mood? Aren’t you excited the exams are over and the holidays are looming?” He asked looking genuinely shocked.
“I am, only that I got some stuff bugging me and I need some time to think through.”
“To hell with whatever is bugging you, be ready, am picking you shortly.” He said, banging the door shut after him that I had no time to protest. I decided there was no harm in letting myself get out of the comfort zone a little bit.
Swaleh came back a short while later and we left for his cousin’s club in Eastleigh. The partying mood was set right by the mathree we boarded, aptly named Quagmire. It was tastefully pimped, complete with some insanely loud dancehall music and a kaleidoscope of LED lights that washed it various patterns.
Once in the club, we went straight to the bar section and Swaleh ordered Smirnoff Ice Red while I settled for Guinness. Turned out Swaleh was a popular guy in this joint for no sooner had we settled with our drinks than a gang of his cronies swarmed our table and started conversing in Somali, effectively locking me out of their animated chatter. It always irritates me when we are in a linguistically diverse group and some members decide to delve into their mother tongue without a care. As much as everyone has a right to converse in their tongue, it’s only civil that you keep in mind those that don’t understand it.
Now back to the club, Swaleh’s gang had ordered rounds and rounds of hard stuff, some of which had exotic names and cost astronomic figures. Soon they got on their feet and swayed towards the dance floor. Swaleh was gracious enough to try and tag me along but I told him I was fine and waved him off. I wasn’t big on dancing anyway, and my two left feet didn’t help-not unless you count those moments when a nice jam plays and I start a dance move that lasts 5 seconds tops, or some nice rumba plays and its completely pitch black (someone said there is nothing called ‘rhumba’). The Guinness was getting into my head and I was tempted to get on my feet and join the rest of the sweaty torsos blindly bumping and grinding into each other, but I just could not overcome my shyness.
After the fifth bottle, things started appearing hazy and the room was now spinning. I decided to go out and take in some fresh air to clear up my head. Wrong choice, getting off my seat was no mean feat. I stumbled along, leaning into figures and righting myself on others. I accidentally grabbed someone’s breast…
“You perve!!!” She hissed.
“So…hic…sorry, lost my…hic…my bal…hic…balance.”
“Idiot! Watch your step! Shot another when I stepped on some toes.
By some grace I finally made it out in one piece. Staying on my feet was a monumental task so I squatted for a while, only to trigger some nauseous wave. I crawled on all fours to a nearby ditch and emptied the contents of that evening. Swaleh must have realized I was missing in action for I heard the bouncers telling him ‘ndo ule amelala pale kwa mtaro.’ It was the last thing I heard before I blacked out.
Sharp rays from the late morning’s sun roused me from deep slumber. My head was aching like hell, I could feel the eye bags and my stomach was growling with hunger. I got off my bed and gingerly made my way to the bathroom. The cold shower seemed to alleviate some of the discomfort. I got dressed and slowly made my way to Mama Karis food joint. Being a weekend the place was already swarming with clients.
“It’s been some time kijana yangu, how have you been?” She greeted.
“Am good mathe, was a little busy the last few weeks.”
“Ok, your eyes are bloodshot and you look weak, are you alright?” She asked, looking at me like a scientist examining some specimen.
“Yea, am fine. Slept late after watching movies all night.”
“Ok, what can I get you?” I could tell she wasn’t convinced but I thanked my gods she was too busy to go on questioning.
“Tea, and 2 chapos”
She served the tea as one of her waiters slid a plate with the chapatis my way.
The tea tasted bland. I tried some more sips but gave up. A customer next to me chuckled to himself.
“Itisha supu mtu wangu, chai na hangover hazipatani.”
“Manze.” I concurred with him and asked for a plate of soup which I devoured with the chapatis.
I paid for the food and left, feeling much better.
Christine and some of her pals were at the gate gossiping when I approached. I dreaded her seeing me in that state but it was too late, she had already spotted me and didn’t let her gaze waver as I approached.
“Hi?” I greeted them.
“Hi.” Came in the chorus reply
Some of the girls were giving me the look of some mischievous rascal who has just found out a secret.
“I can see you’ve managed to get up and around.” Christine said with a straight face.
“Yea.” I replied with a raised eyebrow.
“Stop pretending, you know what I mean.”
I wanted to protest but experience has taught me better than to argue with a stern-faced lady, you just cannot win.
“Can we talk about this later?” I tried to evade a scene that was about to unfold.
“Sure, you need lots of rest to beat the hangover.” She taunted.
“Am not doing this.” I shot back and took the flight of stairs to our room.
I met Johnny on the doorway with a glass of water on one hand and a toothbrush on the other. His eyes were red and puffy.
“I can see you already up and about.” He said, with a mischievous smile.
“What’s up with everyone today? Why are you looking me like that?”
“Ease up dude. The question you should be asking is ‘kwani jana kuliendaje?’
“Ok, kwani kuliendaje?” I swam into his tide with curiosity. He set the glass on a window sill and delicately balanced the toothbrush on its rim. This signaled he was relishing every moment of what he was about to tell.
“You were high as a kite man, Swaleh had to call for help to get you up here.”
God bless Swaleh, I thought to myself.
“What’s unusual about that?” I asked trying to make it trivial.
“Good question, it has never happened to you. Man, you hate going out anyway and you had clearly stated you were not in the mood. What changed your mind?”
He laughed out heartily.
“And it would have been lame for me to stay here on my own as you guys had fun out there.” I added.
“True that, can’t agree more. YOLO!” He winked at me as he took the glass and made it for the bathroom.
Swaleh was still snoring, his mouth wide open and his eyes half-closed. I waved over him to see if he could see me, no reaction. Rashid and Jimmy were also deep in slumber. I envied them.
Sonia called and for a moment I was glad she wasn’t around to witness my embarrassing moment of glory. How mistaken I was.
“Hey you, how is everything?” She asked in a lovely birdy tone.
“Hey, am good. And you sweet one?”
“Am fine. Are you sure you are okay?”
“Yea, is anything the matter?” I tried to sound innocent.
“You tell me. Yesterday, no-early today, you called mumbling some incoherent things”
“I did? That must have been accidental.” Damn! I thought to myself as I fumbled with the phone menu to see if I had called her. To my dismay, I had indeed called her at 3 in the morning.
“No, it was not accidental. You were trying to converse but had a hard time talking sense. You were obviously drunk.” She said with a chuckle.
“Oh, was I?”I tried to feign surprise, totally embarrassed.
“Well, I was in low spirits so I accompanied some mate on a night out and ended up taking one too many.”
“Okay, so you drink? I never knew you did.” She said rhetorically.
“Well, seldomly…when am stressed or there’s an occasion.”
“Okay, so who is this Christine who is stressing you?” This totally caught me by surprise.
“Well’, uh…she’s nobody.”
“Obviously not, you kept mentioning her name…” she faded and shouted to someone in the background.
“I’ve got to go, dad is calling me. We’ll talk about this later.” She signed off.
My goose was cooked. What have I done to myself?