Two T

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Your wife has her friends over. They are only five but it feels like they are 38 because they are sitting everywhere. And they all seem to be talking at the same time and laughing at the same things and some have their feet up on the wooden coffee table, some toes painted the colour of raw wounds. Some have their feet tucked under them, in what seem like yoga poses. They hold on to sofa cushions like they are drowning and the cushions are floaters. The whole house suddenly smells of perfume and camaraderie and chatter. Someone opened all the windows. 

At first glance they seem to be thick as thieves but you know where the fault lines lie. You know the politics, the underlying currents because when their relationship hits a rock your wife will often moan about them. The one with the Bobcat hairstyle? She hates paying for anything. Laura, the short, quiet one with the dimple? She’s a dentist and she’s also bipolar or something like that. She’s on meds and sees a therapist twice a week. She also keeps leaving their WhatsApp group which is named Superior Mamas because you suppose Supa Mamas had already been taken. Plus Supa Mamas sounds corny, like mamas in the matatu business. The one in a short, kidney-red dress with a string of pearls around her neck is the rich one. She married money. Laura is the buxom one, the vivacious one, divorced and currently dating a younger man who loves her as much as he loves his beard. Apparently, your wife reports, he also has a tattoo on the back of his leg. You don’t know much about him but he sounds either jobless or is a fitness instructor. Lastly, there is the beauty queen with her smoky eyes. Rather, she used to be a beauty queen in her heyday. Did some pageantry, wore a crown once for something or  other. She hardly ever eats, her shoulder bones are arranged under her skin in such a way that a bird could build a nest against them. But her eyes…he always avoids looking her in the eye lest she sees his own desires. 

Then there is your wife of 13 years who is currently telling you in the bedroom, “take the boy to shave.” The boy here is your son. You guys just call him ‘the boy’ even though he has a name. You don’t want to take the boy to shave, his hair isn’t even grown enough for a shave. What you want to do is leave the house and meet your friends in the bar. I mean, you can’t be holed up in the bedroom the whole afternoon with the women making a ruckus behind the door. “I will take him tomorrow,” you say. “I’m doing nothing tomorrow.”

“I know you won’t, Tim,” she says, “ you will be hungover.” She suggests that you stay indoors and watch the race from the bedroom. Who watches the race from the bedroom? What is this, house arrest?

“Take the boy to shave,” she says and leaves the bedroom.

You find the boy in his room. He’s your only son but you have another child with Mildred. Your baby momma is called Mildred because of all the women who could have had your baby you chose one with Mildred as a name. Of course it was never going to last, not only because of her name, but because she says you come from a cursed family. That you come from a family of destruction. Of doom. You haven’t been able to see your daughter because she says she has to ‘break the curse.’ The curse here, she says, is that you are ‘self-destructive, you self-combust.’ That You ‘hate being happy.’ You are reckless. “You drink like your father!” She would say, and not as a compliment. 

You don’t even drink that much. 

Your son has your mother’s forehead; wide and inviting. He has your eyes; large. His character is your wife’s; measured but can get pretty stubborn if fixated on something. “We are going to shave,” You announce to him. He’s lying on the floor playing with his tab. He holds your head with one hand for balance as you wedge his foot in a shoe. Why do kids just leave their foot for you to wedge in a shoe? They never make any effort to participate in the process of putting their damn foot in the shoe. His other hand holds his tablet from which a squirrely cartoon character says, ‘jump up, skippers!’ An hour later you are back home, hair shaved, mission accomplished. You present him to your wife like a peace offering. Like ransom money. You can’t watch the race at home, you tell your wife. Come on. 

“I won’t be long,” you lie to her, “I will be back soon after the race.”

On your way out you make small conversation with her friends as you lean on the doorway, your jacket in hand. On the table are two bottles of wine and a bottle of gin. Their faces are flushed with alcohol and happiness. “My husband is on team Ferrari.” Bobcat tells you. Her husband is a snobby man who likes wearing terrible jackets- of course he’s on team Ferrari. The Beauty Queen says she doesn’t understand the fuss around Formula One. You avoid her smoky eyes. You say, “oh well, you ladies have a great one. Let me catch up with the boys.” 

Your wife follows you outside and says, “please leave the car behind. I hate when you drink and drive.” You tell her you won’t even have that much, besides you are going to the local not Mombasa. “I will be okay.” You assure her. She says, “Just get an Uber.”

“Babe,” you say, “have fun. I will see you later” You kiss her on her pie hole. 

“Don’t be late,” she says after you as you bound down the staircase, glad to be out of the damn house full of noisy women. Freedom! You feel like Nelson Mandela. A little bit. 

At the bar, Tony and Tom are seated by the window and are halfway through their first bottle of whisky. Tony is the one with a sour face. Met in university, knows where all the bodies are buried. Tom is the one with no eyebrows, he has a medical condition called Noeyebrosiosis. Tony is in biashara, that’s all you need to know. Tom is a banker. Both are fathers and husbands. Tom claims to love golf when all he loves is the social illusion of golf. His handicap is shit. You are in a WhatsApp Group called 3T, after the letters of your first names. You know you are over the hill if you know the RnB group 3T. 

Mary fetches you a short glass. Mary is the waitress you all flirt with. You drop an ice cube in a glass and the plop sounds like a national anthem. The race is already on. Night soon falls outside. The bar gets louder, there is a deejay. A girl you all know joins the table with another girl you all don’t know. The other girl says she isn’t drinking. “Are you on antibiotics?” One of the T’s ask her. She says she isn’t on any antibiotics but she just doesn’t drink. She’s bashful and coy and she holds her purse against her the whole time as if it’s very unsafe. The girl you all know is having a purple cocktail in a fancy glass shaped like an intrauterine device – if you look at it from the side. With one eye. 

At 9:30pm your wife texts, “Pls bring me those samosas.” You don’t open the message because if you open and read it, it means you will have to go home early with samosas. Besides, she doesn’t really love those samosas. She loves saute potatoes. And ice cream. And brisket. And potato crisps. And peanut butter,which  she sticks her finger in and sucks like a child. She also loves whipped cream. She likes to eat these things while in bed watching television. Your wife snores sometimes and hogs the duvet. 

Tom is shouting something in your ear. His face is shiny and his eyes look like he belongs to a cult that doesn’t defeather chicken. You look away, at the barman – Max- shaking a cocktail near his right ear. At 10:08pm she texts again, “Tim.” So you sigh and open the message. She is online. You can tell just by looking at her online status  that she isn’t amused. That’s what happens when you share a pillow and toothpaste with someone for over a decade.

“Hi. Ihav orderd samos.” You text with typos. It’s a lot of work texting while drinking. 

10:12     Are you drunk?

10:19     No, areyou?

10:19     Tim, please. 

10:28    The samos r beig made.

10:28:    Please leave the car at the bar and pick it up kesho. You don’t want a repeat of what happened last time. You have children! 

10:29

10:35

10:50

11:01  Tim? Promise me you won’t drive. 

11:32 Promise soot anna

11:32  ???

11:33: Scouts honour

You get behind the wheel at 12:54. You have gotten behind the wheel many times at this hour from the bar. You are familiar with the car and the journey. Besides, home isn’t far away, practically a 10 mins drive, nine if you take that shortcut that cuts through that silent street past the now dark and looming church with the bell you have never heard toil.  

Your phone is ringing as you drive out. “You forgot the samosas,” Tom says. Argh, the bloody samosas. You turn in your seat and reverse all the way back to the pub. “Say hello to madam,” Tom says, handing the samosas through the window before tapping the roof of your car, “text when home.”

The samosas in a brown paper bag sit on the passenger seat. You drive with your window open. Cold air blows into the car. Radio is on 87.7 FM. Past the blinking amber traffic lights, down the hill that suddenly curves right, over the small annoying bumps. A public school with a faded gate. At the T-junction near those gaudy new apartment blocks with one-way windows you slow down, the sound of the indicator over the music. The car is warm and toasty. You stop and look left and then right. It’s all clear. You swing the car into the road. 

That’s the last thing you remember. 

You never really wake up. But that’s not your problem. You will never know that your wife will always remember the call that woke her up at 3am. A cop. You always know it’s a cop. They sound disinterested, listless even, as they pass the information in a matter-of-fact way. You will not know that the first responders, the next guys who pulled over at the accident scene, found samosa strewn all over the car. Torn samosas. “It’s as if the samosas had exploded,” they said. 

You will not know how you have damaged your mother. How you left her a shell, just bones and grief. How loss has seeped into her body and her flesh and blood and changed her very chemistry. How she stopped combing her hair, stopped tending to her beloved chickens and cows, just sitting in the same spot, the same old sofa, barely eating, not going to church, just leafing through photos of you as a baby in the old family album. You won’t know that she will suffer a stroke and she will never be the same again. 

Mildred will hold your daughter’s hand by the grave. She will continue praying for the curse not to follow your daughter. She will meet and hug your wife for the first time and understand her language before she speaks, this drastic language of loss because she lost you before your wife did. She will squeeze her and whisper in her ear, “don’t stop praying for your son.” Your wife will find it odd, will find her strange. 

You will never know that your wife wore green during the funeral and that for the first time your son was taken for a haircut by his mother. Your son will stand over the yawning grave, hugging a framed photo of you pressed against his chest. You will never know that two years later, a guy called Bramwel would take your son for his haircut. A kind man who owned the IT company that supports the law firm your wife works at. So kind, when he heard about you, he sent flowers and he kept sending flowers occasionally and being attentive and “sweet” and caring because he understood grief because he is an orphan, lost his parents when he was 25. You will not know that he will be accepted by the Superior Mamas. They will tell her, ‘mama, you need to live your life. Don’t feel guilty. Tim would want you to move on.” Hell no. You wouldn’t. You would want her to be single forever and not touch another man. Ever. 

At your local, Mary, your favourite waitress will cover her mouth when she is told about what happened and gasp, ‘Ngai! Not Tim! Aki No!” She will run to the bathroom and cry for five minutes. Max, the barman, will be in disbelief but shocked. He knows how your type ends. He has seen many drinking men die in cars. Many. Can count them on all the fingers on his hands. You had it coming. He still shakes cocktails and pours drinks for dead men with car keys in their pockets. 

Tony and Tom will still hold court in that corner, they will start a ritual where they spill some whisky on the floor whenever a new bottle is opened, but soon that will get old and silly and expensive and they will stop. Time will pass and grass will grow on your memory. Your group, 3T, will be less than one person and one day, Tom will simply change it to 2T. And that will be it.

Of course you will never know this. 

 

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119 Comments
    1. A week before Christmas 2009, my brother was crossing Mombasa Road. He got knocked down by a bus. He was from his office Christmas party.
      We always always talk about him. Always remember him.
      His co-workers regret not getting him home safely. Like putting him in a taxi or just making sure to walk him to safety.
      Instead the police had to get numbers from the phone in his pocket, called his friends who came to our house that Monday after he had stayed two days in the mortuary. A brother said they saw him with bloodied clothes, post mortem showed he broke his neck and had a skull fracture. That was a hard Christmas.
      People should look out for each other during these celebratory times. Literally be your brothers keeper. Don’t let drunk folk get behind the wheel or walk to their matatu alone. Help them see the next year.

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  1. “Dead men with car keys in their pockets.”
    The other day I was watching a tiktok video of a guy, probably doing it for views and likes, lamenting why it is fondly said ‘don’t drink and drive’ when there is a parking lot at the club. When there are cup holders in the car. I hope he was doing that for likes and that people understand it as such.
    But come to think of it, we are all dead men and women, even without car keys in our pockets because of the dead men with car keys in their pockets. A priest once called the flock, “marehemu watarajiwa”. A constant reminder that one day, we will breathe our last. If only we knew that day!!

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  2. Don’t drink and drive. We have been told that many many times but we don’t listen. Do we? Until it’s too late. The car knows home……..sigh

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  3. The girl you all know is having a purple cocktail in a fancy glass shaped like an intrauterine device – if you look at it from the side. With one eye – clever wordplay.

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  4. Manze, I will keep saying, however shags-mondo and backward it sounds, that driving while drunk is the highest level of selfishness a person can possibly be. Ehe, so your car knows it’s way back home eeh? Ama you’ve done this maaaaaany times. You are not Wahome Mutahi wa Whispers, plus you don’t know what he meant when he wrote that his jalopy knew its way home! There are other road users trying to get home to/ with their loved ones and your loved ones that you’ll leave behind. Shame on y’all shameless DUI witches.

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  5. Oh how sad! How sad! If only as many will learn, It would have costed nothing to not drive and take an uber……but he will never know this….

    Also, Wives may sound nagging, but the hell they are mostly damn right!!!
    Bless the IT guy and the flowers he never stopped sending. I hope he sets a good example to the “boy’

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  6. Like I can touch the emotions of the wife asking him to be cautious, but he will never know. He will never know the his wife who sometimes snores will keep receiving flowers from that IT guy. Such a brutal read.

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  7. Truly hoped that this Tim guy would swerve to a ditch and have his life flush before him…….then quite shaken call an Uber….
    I too will never know…. Of course I’ll never know…

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  8. So true. I was hoping that the story would end differently. Guys, don’t drink and drive. The car does not know the road. You never know when another drunk driver will decide to force you into an early grave.

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  9. ~ I’m so over the hill . . . *cues I need you by 3T.

    ~ Kwani everyone listens to 87.7?.

    ~ Belated birthday wishes Zulu. Buckle up for another fun 45!

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  10. Man!! I was ready to come post all my foolishness here because the first half of this story was absolutely hilarious. I mean come on “Tom is the one with no eyebrows, he has a medical condition called Noeyebrosiosis” made me laugh out very loudly in a PSV.

    Then the story took a drastic, somber turn.
    Don’t drink and drive folks. Especially now that we’ve officially entered ‘ Niliendea mkate kwa duka nikajipata Naivasha na crocs ‘ season

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    1. Man! I was absolutely ready to come in declaring that if Biko doesn’t laugh at his own stories he needs to get checked because ‘…and his eyes look like he belongs to a cult that doesn’t defeather chicken’ … You cannot read that and keep a straight face. You cannot write that and keep a straight face.

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  11. To all the dead men with car keys aka marehemu watarajiwa, I will pursue you all the way to the pearly gates and make my plea with the Almighty to punish you all severely. Reason. For taking us with you when it wasn’t yet our time. Driving under the influence, you ram into us as we head home, mow us on the pavements in our morning runs, hit us whilst crossing at junctions. You will pay dearly for our lives. Eternally

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  12. This is too close to home. 23rd June 2022, I rammed into a lorry the side mirror landed in the booth bits of it anyway the side glass shattered to bits,my door mangled plus the passenger got two scratches like a tiger had clawed it. I was lucky i didn’t get a scratch.
    Death is like a blink, a moment you can’t capture.
    I know most can relate to that moment your car hits the road shoulder and you are woken and you pop your eyes out trying to stay awake, shaking your head vigorously.
    I was too drunk. I was to die that night. I was lucky.

    We all think it can’t be us, I can handle my drink-kinda-of-attitude till it happens.

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  13. DUI’s are such a bad thing but still they all end. I lost friends and relatives who weren’t drank and neither was it at night. Siku ikifika you will go even at home. Time and chance happens to us all. Just that DUI makes it sooner perhaps? We don’t know either! But if this is a true story Biko pass our condolences. May she find love and happiness again.

  14. DUI’s are such a bad thing but still they all end. I lost friends and relatives who weren’t drank and neither was it at night. Siku ikifika you will go even at home. Time and chance happens to us all. Just that DUI makes it sooner perhaps? We don’t know either! But if this is a true story Biko pass our condolences. May she find love and happiness again.

  15. That touched a nerve. And memories.
    There’s no heroism in drunk driving.
    Thanks Niko, for lesson delivered in humour and raw realism.

  16. At what stage did you sit down and look at IUD? The things you think of Biko, hahaha

    Thanks for this reminder especially now that festive season has started. Life for sure moves on…….

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  17. Mahn, this post is tapping on every emotion. You will never know what that self-destructive behaviour does to your loved ones. After all, you think you have it under control until shit pops and smears all the surfaces.

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  18. Right there, with the wife’s instincts of “leave the car”, I knew it was destined for something bad.

    May we not die in the era of people with limited memory!

    1. I’ve sent the link to the person who I would like to read this article, and I am copying and pasting some of the comments from here to his WhatsApp. He can block me if he wants to, but the message will be home

  19. This → Hi. Ihav orderd samos.” You text with typos. It’s a lot of work texting while drinking.

    10:12 Are you drunk?

    10:19 No, areyou?

    10:19 Tim, please.

    10:28 The samos r beig made.

    10:28: Please leave the car at the bar and pick it up kesho. You don’t want a repeat of what happened last time. You have children!

    10:29

    10:35

    10:50

    11:01 Tim? Promise me you won’t drive.

    11:32 Promise soot anna

    11:32 ???

    11:33: Scouts honour

    Sad.

  20. Am I allowed to sign out like T?

    Cremate me within 4 days, and hold a memorial after like 10 days.

    Checkout those Biourn sites on how to deal with my ashes.

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  21. This reminds me of that one advert by EABL, “life goes on after you’re gone.” Seriously, DUI is just passive suicide and everybody knows that.

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  22. How you make words dance in unison makes one wonder who wins the Pulitzer. Folks, Don’t drink and drive, just smoke and fly. Happy holidays.

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  23. I never managed to see the dead body of my dear Angela Sila .
    She met a rude & crude accident along Mombasa Road .

    MHSRIP.

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  24. These foods you write about Biko, sijui brisket, I only hear them in American sitcoms. Anyways quite an insightful piece, telling the bitter truth albeit with a touch of humour

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  25. Can we print and pin this on a billboard, somewhere, as a wake up call not to drink and drive.. It’s the holiday season, we can’t be less 1T.

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  26. Nice one. Briske and death. “We have two lives, the second one begins when we realize we only have one life.” Confucius

    Bitter truth is, most people reaiding this will still drink and drive till something horrible happens to them or hits too close to home.

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  27. I like this for the perspective it gives about what happens to our loved ones when we pass. Biggest take away is to think of the people that matter everytime we consider getting into something reckless.

    Am glad the wife is moving on. Many don’t.

  28. Moral of the lesson: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.
    Apart from that; remember if you over indulge in alcohol just know you are digging your own grave. IF IT ISN’T BY ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT THEN IT WILL BE YOUR LIVER,BRAIN ,KIDNEY ,HEART AND WORST OF ALL YOU WILL Be KILLING YOUR DREAMS.

    Remember you have a society whose wholly depending on you. Stop those childish games of taking risk with your life.You ain’t an experiment .

  29. I drank a little last night, I don’t even get drunk & the car definitely knows the road…’a dead man carrying car keys’

  30. Profound..how about a story on those of us who get into Tim’s car believing that the car knows home (sighs) and that Tim is not that drunk…lesson to us all ahead of the festive season.

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  31. Tony and Tom will still hold court in that corner, they will start a ritual where they spill some whisky on the floor whenever a new bottle is opened, but soon that will get old and silly and expensive and they will stop. Time will pass and grass will grow on your memory. Your group, 3T, will be less than one person and one day, Tom will simply change it to 2T. And that will be it.

    Of course you will never know this.

    What a sobering narrative this is! It has touched deeply

  32. …so I read this after driving home drunk, my girl locked the door intentionally so that I would have to call her and she gives me that stare, displeased. This read gave me a scare, gotta be careful next time.

  33. Dont drink and drive, I learnt the hard way after landing on those pavements that do real damage to your car.
    Left my steering rack in shambles. IYKYK that rack is damn expensive. Never again.

  34. Sad reality. I can relate to this. Despite getting involved in drunk driving accidents, someone will always tell you they are fit to drive and you’re just spoiling for a fight. Till the day it will be too late for them to see their family again….and all the agony will be felt by the ones left bereaved.

  35. One day I hope I get that sweet Bramwel kind……coz you will never know how lonely it gets …you could have been here but you are not.

  36. I am a living testimony, I missed death by milliseconds due to DUI, the shock that hits you weighs heavily on your conscious, and you start to think of death as a reality by playing scenarios in your mind of what if…..

    Stop taking alcohol simple and clear. Thank me later

  37. Nobody is talking about the home environment. Nobody is talking about the wife’s behavior and her friends taking over the entire home. Of course it sis easy to say that no one caused him away. But then again her friends have turned his home into a bar. Their bar. The dad untold misery of many husbands who are more than strangers in their own home q

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