The Bush

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2

The day sucked. You need a drink. You wedge your car between a lustrous BMW 3 series and a priestly Toyota TX with a “Baby on Board” sticker. Inside you climb onto the bar chair and tell the barman you need a double Chivas Regal on ice. While he whips up your drink you scan the menu and go to the whisky section and only then do you you realise that they sell 12-year old Chivas at 600-bob a tot! Shit! What does that alcohol do, forgive you for all your sins?

You don’t want to be that guy who buys a double whisky for 1,200 bob a pop but you already placed your order and you really can’t recall it, can you? Plus two seats away there is a chick with her head bowed to her phone. Rather, you want to believe it’s a chick otherwise the hair looks like a bush attached to a neck. The kind of weaves women wear in this town will give you ulcers, I tell you. The Bush is going through her Instagram.

You don’t want to look cheap by telling the barman, “Boss, please get me something else. Yaani your whisky is 1200 bob a double, what are you guys raising money for here, open heart surgeries?” So you tell yourself that you are only going to have that bloody double and bolt because the bar is stealing in broad daylight, which come to think of it isn’t too broad anymore. Dusk is quickly falling outside. Behind you a small group of friends are pulling chairs. A chubby-cheeked waitress stands at the entrance carrying a menu. There is a glass case at the corner bearing cigars. They look like dynamite.

The music is very low. It’s Sam Smith moaning again. He’s telling someone to leave their lover for him. Can you believe that guy? You want to ask, Why Sam? Why should they leave their lover for you? What are you offering apart from gelled hair and white shoes? Why do you have to go to a studio to moan for someone to leave their lover for you? Why don’t you buy her dinner as everybody does? Why can’t you make some effort, Sam? Do you know what that means? Effort? Get your bloody lover Sam Smith, stop being a whiny voiced crybaby, always leeching on people’s lovers! You are those people who wait for someone to get a lover then you start moaning in studios asking them to be “yours” because you don’t want to get your hands – or white shoes – dirty. Bugger off, Sam.

       “Pack up and leave everything/ don’t you see what I can bring..”

Sam sings and you roll your eyes. If Sam continues with that bullshit, you will buy a tot for 1000 bob to make him stop. Sam Smith sounds like those guys who tell a chick at 2pm, Let’s go coast, and the chick says she’s in the office, she needs to plan and pack etc and the guy says, Just leave as you are, I will buy you clothes in Malindi.

Pack up and leave everything….and where the hell is that expensive drink anyway? Oh here it comes. Wait, what the hell??

What is this?

The waiter says It’s your drink. You tell him, Boss, I won’t be able to taste my drink if you put the whole of Alaska in it! How many ice cubes are in here, 200?

You should have known that this is the kind of bar that floods your drink as soon as you heard Sam Smith crying for someone’s lover. You take 199 ice cubes from your glass and drop them in a different glass. The barman looks remorseful. You tell him that next time he should serve the ice cubes on the side so that the client decides if he wants one or 1,000 ice-cubes in them or not.

The Bush hears this conversation and smiles. A smiling bush, how about that. You rattle your one lonely cube inside your glass and take a sip. It burns. You let the taste cling to your tongue for a little longer. You let it permeate your mouth, you feel it run under your tongue and gums and then you let it in and it’s a strong harsh feeling that reminds you that no matter what happens life can’t be that bad, that people might moan for your lover but that first taste of whisky is always what a man needs sometimes.

I don’t advocate for drinking alone. I think people who drink alone are psychopaths in the making. Except chicks. Chicks who drink alone are sexy and confident, even if they bring along a bush with them. I can never drink alone, staring inside your glass, trying to make eye contact with birds in the bar.

Up from the wall stares the Weeping Child, that famous painting by Giovanni Bragolin. You look at it and wonder if Sam Smith’s sadness is the same as the Weeping Child’s. Does not having this guy’s lover break his heart? Someone is saying something, it’s the Bush. “I’m sorry, what?” you smile at her. She has an interesting face; a wide mouth with lips that look like over ripe fruit, when she smiles a deep crevice cracks on each side of her nose and they run like fault lines until they disintegrate at the corner of her lips. She has overdone eyebrows. Her eyes are like brown bean bags, soft and willing to yield. She has a cluster of pimples at the crown of her cheeks which sort of scatter away from each other when she smiles. Her skin is divine, a rich mix of browns and ebony, and a sharp stream of overhead light spills on her making her look like she is standing under a hologram. She’s handsome.

“I was wondering if I could reserve those two chairs if you aren’t expecting anyone?” She says.

She’s also polite. You tell her she can have the chairs. You wonder if she wants one for her Bush as well.

“What do you think of Sam Smith?” You ask so suddenly it takes both of you by surprise.

“Uhhmm….” she drags that ‘uhm’. ”I….think….he is a great?”

Then she goes back to her Instagram. She ignores you. The barman who has been hovering around asks if you need a refill, and you shake your head – not at 1,200 bob, you don’t. The Script is now playing, that champion song. But you know how when there is a song playing in your head and no matter what other song you hear you just hear the song in your head? In this case it’s Sam Smith begging for someone’s lover.

One of the guys in the group behind asks the barman where the washroom is and he points at a corridor using this long spoon he was using to stir some cocktail. It’s gotten dark outside. The music is louder. You drain your glass and the bar man catches your eye and comes over with a big smile.

“So you think that him inciting someone’s lover to leave them is a good thing?” You ask the Bush Baby.

The lady is startled. She looks behind her and asks, “I’m sorry, was that for me?”

“Yes, that was yours.”

“Oh.” Then she breathes deeply and asks confused, “I’m sorry, what?”

“Sam Smith, him going into the studio to beg this person to leave his lover? Is this something you endorse? Does that make him great in your books?”

She looks at you like you are mad then she sort of laughs, this laughter that bursts in her belly before it reaches her voice.

“Are you serious now?” She’s looking at your keenly.

“Yeah, I mean, come on….”

“It’s a song…a song!”

“No, those Brits just don’t sing songs. They mean it. He really wants that guy’s lover and I think it’s wrong on many levels.”

She sort of looks at you then looks at a spot near your glass and then looks up at you again, makes a sound of resignation then she sips her drink thoughtfully. An uncomfortable air hangs between you two, this thick strange air that speaks more than she has.

“What do you do for a living?” She asks.

You can’t say your write, because she will ask what you write about then when you say you write poetry she will grunt and feel relieved as if poets are mad. OK, poets are indeed mad, but only poets can call other poets mad, not some bird with a bush on her head. There are rules to calling people mad just like there are rules to calling people fat. So you say the first thing that comes to your mind. You say you work for Airtel.

“Oh really?” now she is excited and you are thinking, shit, maybe I should have said Google. “What department are you in?”

“IT.” You say without thinking because some really strange people have been known to work in IT, and maybe she will excuse you and your strange Sam Smith conversation.

“Do you know, Amani?”

“Amani? Second name?”

“Mwadime.”

Just before you can answer, a celebrity walks in. Not a real celebrity but a Kenyan celebrity. He last sang this song that was a hit way back in 2009. He must be in his mid thirties now but you can’t tell by how he has sagged his jeans, showing his white underwear. They are loud. (The group, not the underwear). In their midst is a skinny light girl with a tattoo of a butterfly on her arm. A waiter sits before them a silver bucket full of beers and a bottle of wine.  At the corner of the bar a deejay is setting up and tinkering with his system.

“So what big thing are you guys doing for Airtel?”

“We are giving away a car a day for the next 50 days.”

“No shit, excuse my French.”

“ Oui. We call it Smartika na 5X Bonus promotion, you will see the banners in a few days.”

“Not the smartest of names, is it, ati Smartika?”

“Haha. You are a hateful woman.”

“So what does someone have to do to win these cars?”

“Tell stories. Long winded stories.”

Like this one. Like the one Sam Smith might tell someone’s lover.

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167 Comments
  1. great piece @biko..He must be in his mid thirties now but you can’t tell by how he has sagged his jeans, showing his white underwear. They are loud. (The group, not the underwear). ……caught off guard i must say….and yes what a way to kill the winding queue at kcb bank hall?

  2. nice just awesome…but am still stuck here *The Bush is going through her Instagram* ouch!!! Jehova Wanyonyi!! alizikwa?? aki Biko!!!

  3. ” The kind of weaves women wear in this town will give you ulcers, I tell you.” Hahahaha Biko the women will murder you if you keep hating on their weaves. Anyway This is so creative and I must admit I enjoyed every bit of it. Looking forward for the next.

      1. Nice profile (or as the cool kids nowdays call it, display) pic Mimy. You not, handsome, you Beautiful.
        ION: Nice read Biko. Kama kawa

  4. Ooh man… this one should not have ended here! I scrolled down to see if its continued elsewhere. I love the bush baby through. Great read as always!

  5. good read Biko..am almost addicted to your articles. Whenever I receive an email message, I do check to find out if it is Bikozulu and then I embark on reading.

  6. I think you secretly like Sam Smith and considering the fact that you are luo that is close enough for me to believe you would also ask the same thing ‘leave your lover’ that’s besides the point though, i feel that you just acted like a cock blocking agent of satan *forgive my language. I will not accept this anticipation causing narrative to end like that. I have never been left high and dry before.

    1. Was this 2k words? Me thinks not. Hope to get the 2nd part soon + there is another 2nd part we are still waiting for. Great read but I’ve been left hanging…so I don’t know how I feel right now.

  7. awesome. lugha tu….. hii ni vybe 101. smoothly written. was just about to doze off in the office then bam!!!! lemme get back to work now.

  8. Sam Smith is nothing compared to James Blunt and his
    annoying voice. Especially when you find out that James Blunt is Gay. Grrrrrr. Bush Babies should be banned by the Government of Kenya and all County governments.

  9. “The music is very low. It’s Sam Smith moaning again. He’s telling someone to leave their lover for him. Can you believe that guy? You want to ask, Why Sam? Why should they leave their lover for you? What are you offering apart from gelled hair and white shoes? Why do you have to go to a studio to moan for someone to leave their lover for you? Why don’t you buy her dinner as everybody does? Why can’t you make some effort, Sam? Do you know what that means? Effort? Get your bloody lover Sam Smith, stop being a whiny voiced crybaby, always leeching on people’s lovers! You are those people who wait for someone to get a lover then you start moaning in studios asking them to be “yours” because you don’t want to get your hands – or white shoes – dirty. Bugger off, Sam.”

    This was it for me, too funny, poor Sam, i really love his album ‘In the lonely hour’ though and this song is in it too 🙂 🙂

  10. Hahahaha…I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, I wish I could grab my readers like this…strangely, I like that Sam Smith song but you’re right he should do some work not just beg someone else’s lover to leave…

  11. Well, Sam Smith wants to steal someone’s lover and you just ended this article there. Same hell waiting for you both… better start liking him, you’re spend lots of time together 🙂

  12. The waiter says It’s your drink. You tell him, Boss, I won’t be able to taste my drink if you put the whole of Alaska in it! This one cracked me up nice read biko

      1. Is that how much you dislike weaves? I was saving and window shopping for a nice expensive bazillian-not any more. Nice work Biko.

  13. Hi Biko,
    I’m a huge Sam Smith fan. I may not know all his songs but I do think I know the song you’re talking about. He is actually singing about his lover leaving him for another man, that’s why he says in the hook “he’ll never love you like I can” and for the record, he is gay and his boyfriend leaving him was the main motivation for the songs on hisalbum so it’s unlikely he’s singing about a woman in the song.

  14. So I have come here to comment because I am sure this will be a nice read. I would have read it first but I am chasing a deadline over here. So I am going to read this first thing tomorrow in the morning 🙂

  15. Bush baby wonder what the girl would think…sitting
    there looking pretty with airs of importance only
    to hear her nickname in your head is not”beauty” but
    bushbaby… Good read Biko but I was left hanging

  16. Hahaaa!!
    Airtel was the first thing that came to min?? But they only gave you a Tshirt… Why not say NMG next time; yes? Marketing department or something…

  17. It seems the lost love between Biko and Airtel has been found. Lets hope that they wont hand you some Tshirt this time.

  18. I once said that weave should be declared an international disaster in some social platform in 2009. Jackson if words were bullets aimed straight at a person, that evening I would have been dispatched to my Maker thanks to the number of replies it got. So a subject touching on weaves and bushes should be treated with kid gloves.

  19. i swear i laughed and tears were just rolling down my cheeks…Biko you sure make my day when i need to read n just enjoy myself

  20. Biko – Yeah the bushbaby weaves that Nairobi women wear – will make the Accra counterparts here feel like they just walked out of a barber shop

  21. The brits sing nice breakup songs.Adele.sam smith.only problem is sam smith sings them to a man.that made me love him a lil bit more n hate him in equal measure.Next time you wana lie pick some random place like ministry of agriculture.I mean who knows anyone that works there?!!

  22. Airtel should pick your tab….he he anywayz inspiring article, after a double at 1200/- I guess even a bush will notice and want to linger around hehe

  23. Of course eventually it has to be a good read even if I roll my eyes like half of the time… trying to put up with Sam Smith spoiling bar time… But on Girls’ weaves heii, they aren’t that shitty as compared to the #eyebrow game these days…these could give chronic duodenum ulcers btw.

  24. Ha ha ha ha ha !!!! Jamani Biko !!! ( I feel like going all Sirikal saidia !!! Uwiii )

    Thanking God for your talent ~Keeps many of us going…. And Thank God for the bush and Sam Smith Too…. 🙂

  25. Oh my Biko u got talent . . . . .that goes without mentioning, how you make my mornings . . . . . ati ‘put the whole of Alaska in it’u’ve left me in stitches, people in the office think i’ve gone crazy by laughing alone. LIVE LONG BIKO! #1 FAN!

  26. *slow clap* well played Biko, well played. And for all your effort, I definitely clicked on that link. Can see you and Airtel buried the hatchet 🙂 As for bush baby, wonder if she reads your blog?

  27. Biko,maybe you could tell us how we moved from t-shirts and lanyards to promoting 100 cars…in part two,maybe?No?Issorait

  28. Yaani! Frustrations on the whiskey cost has made you hate on SAM SMITH and weaves?? I am done with biko zulu!! Done done!!!..well until next week…

  29. Dope!
    “… Someone is saying something. It’s the Bush… She has an interesting face; a wide mouth with lips that look like over ripe fruit, when she smiles a deep crevice cracks on each side of her nose and they run like fault lines until they disintegrate at the corner of her lips.”

  30. He who has no expectations can never be disappointed unless ofcourse you read this article to the end……damn it n
    Biko.if there is no part 2 am flipping a table!

  31. What is this?

    The waiter says It’s your drink. You tell him, Boss, I won’t be able to taste my drink if you put the whole of Alaska in it! How many ice cubes are in here, 200?

    LOVED IT!! ALWAYS LOVE YOUR ARTICLES

  32. Weaves……..a bad choice gives a bad look and most women of late have had crazy crazy choices all in the name of fashion or even attention seeking and not what suits them……..

  33. too beautiful a read,,no one would have guessed you were endorsing smartika..and they`re forgiving those Airtel chaps, after the way you dissed them..good read as usual.

  34. i got this email from my father today:

    Hi. I hope that all is well with you.I am quite ok myself. Do you read the Blog by Bikozulu? if not do try it, it has fairly interesting articles. Thanks, Baba

    i told him i do. and i want you to know this is a great compliment. it is from this man that i got my love for reading and this is why when i’m going to the bar alone i carry a book. look into it and pretend i’m having a drink with the characters

  35. Fantastic piece as always.Poor Sam Smith.Is that it for this particular article or its to be continued? Left me looking for the NEXT button.

  36. Lol, The Bush. Only you Biko can talk about Chivas worth 600 a shot, The bush, Sam Smith, a Kenya celeb with white underwear and Airtel promo in one long winding story. I totally enjoyed reading this piece.

  37. Advise… do not read Bikozulu at the office unless the boss is not in waah!!what a laugh I had.. #great piece, as always ;-0

  38. Biko ocan you go back to your desk and finish this story minus this airtel nononsense. Ok I know they have paid for that paragraph!

  39. You are always a funny read. You never dissapoint. My beef is sometimes I go with my novel and get so engrossed and that’s when my pal decides to come over to my table to say hi and linger for conversation.

  40. Ah! I actually clicked the link for that smartika thing hoping that they actually wanted a long winded story only to find it’s for the twitter nation. Bah! Tweeting defeated me a long time ago. Don’t lie, ladies at the counter alone do not look confident. I tried it once and you just look miserable like it had to come to this. I felt like I looked like my burden was soooo heavy that I as a lady had to go to the bar alone to drink to try and regain some semblance of sanity. Not to my therapist, not my Mother or a close friend but at the bar. Didn’t stay for long. Got caught up in my headspace and was scared that one of the male patrons might approach me thinking I was looking for customers. Yeah, that’s what the other half of the men think; the ones that don’t think that the lady is confident. Anyhoo, there’s my long-winded story!

  41. Sam Smith part just killed me. I love Sam though, can’t hold it against a man for being emotional after a heartbreak surely Biko. Let him mourn poor thing lol! And what’s with the handsome bush girl? You ought to have completed this piece man…

  42. I’ve read the last sentence like, WTF? Is there a part two? Too short. LOL. I like how Biko referred to her as The Bush. Haha. I also dislike weaves. I’ve never had (and hope to never have) those things on my head.

  43. I figured out it was Explorer. Among the finest whiskey bars arround. There is a thing too about the weaves there. Nice piece.

  44. Biko Zulu what became of Joe Black? That munuve guy was quite something,..ask him to give us a piece it’s been a while