I am five feet and some inches tall. Since I was a child, I was always the smallest in size amongst my peers. As a result, I got some nicknames I did not so much appreciate having, but all the same took, as were bestowed unto me by bullies all through my childhood. Not that it bothered me, though, I always had a dream bigger than the bullies, than the village, a dream that would steer me in the direction of the world beyond me, one that I would chase till I achieved it.
That was then. Now. I am standing outside Shiro’s, and the reason why I am standing here is because there is nowhere else within five kilometers, the furthest my legs can ferry me, that I can sit and enjoy a mug of keg. In some places I would not dare set foot for fear of life; that I will revisit later. In others, I dare not set foot because I have pending debts, that I accumulated in a sod-drunk state in earlier escapades- still a story I have not enough time to tell now, but now, I am at Shiro’s.
I know that I’ll meet Kimondi, Shiro’s KYM. “Kanda ya moko,” her hands-on man. He, would be best described as a six foot-five ogre, very muscular, beer belly protruding, tobacco-stained teeth, and bloodshot eyes. See, that is the kind of man that any bar owner would hire to unload a 50- drum truck of keg single handedly- without breaking a drop of sweat, countless crates of beer, and effectively stop any fights by drunken patrons in the bar. This would be accompanied by a lesson for all to take home, inflicted on the fighters, a lesson that everyone remembered not to forget before they started a fight in the future.
I walk in, defying all common sense that instructs one not to go where they have previously seriously pissed someone off. As usual, the bar is jammed to the very last inch. There, however is an unoccupied stool by the counter, a spot I reluctantly walk towards, scouring inch to inch for Kimondi, who seems to be absent, quite unusual.
It is the last Friday of the month. Payday, for most of the patrons present. Back at their homes, their wives know way too well that they will be lucky if their husbands crawl into their beds in the wee hours of the morning, reeking of alcohol and feminine perfume. Otherwise, they can as well set their eyes on them several days to come, broke, hungry and hangovered. This is marriage. For worse, or worse.
There is a football match today. All eyes are glued to the three 32-inch flat screen TVs strategically positioned on either sides of the bar; a feature that made Shiro’s more popular than any other joint, as all got a chance to stream the games live on dstv, what to many is a wonder they can’t fathom. Shiro’s sister, Catherine. Who most of us referred to as Caterina is serving today. I couldn’t be luckier.
She walks towards me as soon as I take a sit on my spot. She gives me a blank stare, one in between which I am supposed to order, or have to wait for eternity for her to serve other guests before she realizes the old man in rags who has nothing to drink, me. I pull out a fifty-shilling note and order a “fifte”- a mug of keg worth fifty shillings. She grabs the note from my hand and walks over to the pump, pouring so much into the cup that it overflows. She ignores this and walks towards me, hands me the cup, and leaves to serve someone else.
I take a long sip at my drink, letting the chill of the beer trickle down to my stomach; satisfaction only understood by those who have not had a mug of ale in a while. Besides me are two youngsters, arguing on how to stake a bet on Sportpesa. One seems to be conservative and not add too many teams in the bet slip, whereas the other one, gullible as he looks drunk and greedy, wants to add much as he can. I shift my focus to the entire population in the pub. On one corner table, three young men are seated, chewing on ’miraa’ as they scroll on their phones. A drunk patron gets pickpocketed as he tries to maneuver through the crowded room, on his way probably to the restrooms. I catch a glimpse of a hand snatch something out of his back pocket. I would have alerted him, but it wouldn’t be a nice ordeal between me and the pick pocketer.
Shortly after, Kimondi walks in, and on seeing me, he makes a dash in my direction, knocking over whoever was unfortunate enough to be in his way. At this point, I try to calculate my fastest and safest escape from him, but I am too weak- and slow- to escape. He grabs me by my shirt, lifts me from my seat, and pulls me an inch too close to himself, and asks in a voice that brings the whole pub to pin-drop silence “who told you to come back here?”
Everyone’s focus shifts towards us, and I know way too well I might not make it out of here alive. I do not even know what to explain to this huge moron as my reason to come back here, after our ordeal last time. His hand clenches into a fist, and I know way too well what is bound to happen next.