I got a nasty cold last week. A sore throat too. I even lost my voice. I had that hoarse, whispering Batman voice. And there was pain when I spoke. Alot. I thus had to learn how to gesticulate. Oh yes. Big word. I remembered how The Chief communicates, and I thought, this can’t be too bad. So I didn’t wait any longer. I was now grunting and muttering things, and people understood what I meant. I even learnt how to do that point with your lips thing that Kikuyu ladies do. You know that thing. It’s like a duck face, but less silly looking. I learnt to use my eyes too. To give menacing looks. To give orders. To silence people. Speaking is overrated.
If my mom knew I had a cold I’m sure her reaction would have been the same as it’s always been for the past thirty odd years.
You must not have been wearing a sweater. Now look at you.
Only in Africa do sweaters prevent colds.
So yes, despite wearing a sweater,I actually picked this cold from partaking of choice chilled beverages. Not out of any fault of mine. I didn’t go seeking these choice chilled beverages. I have a solid defence. Bear with me, I will explain.
So on the weekend preceding my cold infection, I was to meet some rather crazy but fun group of people I know. They were off on a road trip to Loitoktok. Yes, It’s a place that people take road trips to. I hoped to be part of what was billed to be an epic weekend but somehow I had a pre-planned shindig with the in-laws. Shindig. I like that word.
So as these entertaining people were off to Loitoktok, I was stuck headed to my sister in laws ruracio (bride price negotiation) ceremony. Not too bad, considering my in-laws are actually a rocking bunch. (No, I was not threatened to write that). There was also going to be food, lots of it. And of course nyama choma. There’s no meal complete in that household without nyama choma.
The missus wanted us to leave early to head to my father in law’s digs, but I pretended to have some random morning errands so that I could sneak in an hour or 2 of sleep. Don’t judge me, It was a Saturday. I’ll be so busted when she reads this.
I eventually made my way to my father in laws place,my belly sufficiently prepared for the indulgence that was going to go down. I took an Uber there so as not to injure Halle Berry (my German machine) on that treacherous South C road. Or rather those craters that masquerade as a road. As in there are craters there that I’m sure can be seen from the moon. I peeped into one as we drove by and I saw the free and fair elections that Cord are protesting over, right next to responsible journalism. Right there, in that crater. Those craters are so many and conjoined, you can get into one and appear on the other side of the road out of another. For real, I saw a probox to that. Those craters…I’ve run out of words. They’re probably in those South C craters.
End of rant. Where was I?
Oh yes. I finally made it to the in laws. The ceremony was great. Lots of food. Songs sung off key. Awkward smiling and waving when people spoke to me in Kikuyu. Reprimands to the missus why I still don’t know Kikuyu. The usual stuff.
The negotiators went into a room to discuss the dowry stuff. The rest of us hung about, chatting, drinking sodas, laughing and making fun of each other. All this as we awaited the ‘white smoke’ that would signal successful negotiations. As we milled about, I kept thinking what it must be to be in that room. What is discussed? Who has that master list of honey, fifty two goats, one hundred cows, blankets, sufurias and lesos? And how do they arrive at those items and there accompanying figures? Will we do the same for our kids? Me I won’t want goats and cows. I want parts for my Land Rover Defender. Or tickets to the Grand Prix in Qatar. Or maybe season tickets to the IRB World Sevens Series. Those ungulates you can keep.
Then the air was pierced by shrill voices of women. White smoke. The deal was done. The family of my new brother in law must have been parted from copious sums of legal tender. Hehe. Now the party could begin. I could hear the crates of beers. Bottles of choice single malt drinks clinked together to indicate they would not be left out of the party. There was even tea and uji for those with softer palates. And sodas, to placate the children.
As the children ran about, one of them, my nephew, came to me and said he had a message for me. I was summoned to partake of some choice chilled beverage. Or as he innocently put it:
Guka says you go and take pombe.
Now, my father in law is the chief derailer. I knew that as soon as I join those wazees the night would go downhill. Besides, I’d had a heavy evening the previous day and so needed not shock my body with more alcohol. I’m a light weight these days. So I didn’t go immediately. My nephew was sent to me a second and third time. The fourth time it was my father in law himself. That was bad. I now had no choice in the matter.
Young man, kwani umekuwa mtoto? Hautaki kakitu?
I have learnt that the father in law loves rhetorical questions. Questions meant to spark action rather than to provide answers.
Ah. Hapana. I was on my way.
Lord forgive me for lying to the old man.
So I joined the wazees. Since he had honoured guests, the single malt whiskeys were for them. I would have the beers instead. As many as required. Without hesitation he asked pointed towards the crate of White Cap Lager and told me to ‘work on it’. Now, if you’ve had a drink with anyone over fifty you know that those guys sip beer like water. I knew this. Out of experience. So I made a wise decision. I told him that I would sit with the other younger guys outside but would come for re-fills of my beer. He begrudgingly agreed, but told me not to be too slow on refilling. One cannot let down the father in law.
And so that’s how I got a cold. Plenty of beer and sitting out in the cold. With a sweater.
I enjoyed it though. It felt nice to be included. To be thought of as one of the men. Part of the wazees. To willy nilly, join their circle, reach into a crate and pull out a lager. And to get that nod of approval. You are one of us.