My friend and I were walking to her place at about 9PM, our confer marred by unremarkable gab. A colossal street light illuminated the rugged dusty path whose revamp was long overdue. The road was forlorn, shanty shops lit dimly, cynical shopkeepers peering through the meshes of their shops, trying to score a couple more clients before they close for the day. Only bachelors/bachelorettes and smokers buy at that time. The former wontedly grabbing some eggs, it’s always eggs. The latter getting a pack for the road, something to bake their introspection on since their wife abhors the smell of nicotine in her house. A few silhouettes morphed into figures as they drew close and walked past.
We were about a hundred metres give or take a few from her place. A diminutive car hooted at us and we moved to the shoulder of the road to give way. It swerved to the sides like a wounded prey, its driver exerting to keep it on the road. Eventually and unsurprisingly it insipidly rammed into a wall. Suffice to say the driver was inebriated and I was partly impressed because him coming this far was no mean feat, at least not to a drunk driver.
Majorly, I was unimpressed since if you have to drive into a wall at least do it dramatically, ram into the wall with verve akin to the ones we see in movie scenes. Give us a sight to marvel at. Not just giving walls tenuous kisses like a drunk paramour. I bet the wall – like I, was disappointed too.
The driver reversed the silver Vitz back to the road and drove, this time more studiously. Or rather the car drove itself since drunk drivers think their cars know the way home. The car took a right and again – unremarkably – rammed into a gate.
We got to the gate of my friend’s apartment, which was directly opposite the aforementioned gate. The driver, a lanky, gaunt man was now incessantly banging for someone to let him in. Filling the silence with his intense clanks and bangs. He exerted to shout but he couldn’t, his speech slurred as he lurched and fell to the ground. I sighed and walked in, on the bright side he got home safe. A day a time.
Whilst at my friend’s house I walked to the balcony; it overlooked the compound to where the intoxicated geezer lived. He had now made his way through and had haphazardly parked. Him, lying on the ground beside his car, it could be his bed for all he cared. A handful of women gathered around him, mumbling in Kiswahili. One, possibly his wife looked at him indifferently and walked to the stairs, taking the flights up. She looked like she had been fed up with his incautious disposition. Two blokes walked to the man, hauled him to his feet and heaved him up the stairs and into the house where his alleged wife had entered.
I’m at my friend’s balcony on the second floor. I like it here. The sight is not great, cars cloud the air with dust after they zoom past. Motorcycles spill loud music through their custom speakers as they pass. Nonetheless, I relish staring at folk pass by the road and eaves drop on the conversations of women, probably house helps/managers who occasionally huddle by a kiosk on the roadside and catch on the latest grapevine. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of those ones. They pry and glean information. Some true, some maybe not, but that’s not pertinent as long as entertainment yields. They maul and tear you apart. The last time I was here, one of them was telling her confidantes about a man she has been seeing, the others tittered covertly. None of them is here though, tattle thrives in the evening. A few kids are frolicking within the confines of the compound. I have a favourite; a plump girl who runs at a startling speed. She bullies the other ones and recently acquired a new pink bicycle, she has all the clout among the kids there. Holding court is her birthright. Atta girl!
Guess, what I see. I see our drunk guy, sober but still waif waltz to his car and hunch in. A woman, head wrap over her head, shuffles to the gate and opens it wide. It’s his wife, I can place her face from the other night. The guy drives into the road, neither utters a word to the other. She walks out and watches him diminish out of sight. She closes the gate and walks back into the apartment with a passive face.
I mull over how disconcerting life is for her. Her perpetual reality; her husband comes home drunk and has to be carried up the stairs. Does she hope his lousy habit will one day abate. Does she give him a cold shoulder or is she the orthodox submissive wife. Does he pull his weight or is her wife resigned to bearing the brunt of his rabid love for pints. Does she have children? How do they handle it, are they old enough to perceive their father’s flaws or are they too young and hold their father on a lofty pedestal? Does their father grab them goodies on their way home? Are they exuberant, like the animated stocky kid with the pink bicycle.
Does the lurking paws of apprehensiveness get to her? That she might one day receive the dreaded phone call which would unfurl like this;
“Hello, is this Jane?”
“Yes, this is Jane, who is this?”
“Well, that’s is not important. This is about your husband, Tony”
“What about Tony? Did he fail to pay his bill at the bar again?”
“No Maam’ I bet Tony paid his bills, albeit the same cannot be said for attention to traffic signs”
“Those alcoblow guys caught up with him ama?”
“No, unfortunately not. Misfortune did though.”
“Is he alive?”
“He’s hanging on”
She will slide down against the wall and drop her phone to her side. And weep, not for the loss of her husband but for her oblivious children and the shorter end of the stick they have dealt with. They deserved more. She’ll beat up herself for her inept discerning skills, that of all the men that came her way she settled for one who loved the bottle more than he loved himself. Guilt will stalk her since women undeservedly blame themselves for the inadequacies of their men. Maybe he will make it through and sober up after this Damascus moment. Maybe he won’t make it and his wife will have to lie to the young kids that their dad went to work overseas. They would spend their whole childhood waiting for their dad, patiently. When the load becomes too laborious she will spill her guts. They will loath her for being a liar, and grapple with the murky reality of a fatherless future. She’s the only one they have, their pillar when the other didn’t serve his purpose.
I hope the guy sobered up, or at least drinks responsibly, loves his wife and children. And would someday get them a cute bike, hopefully not a pink one, the chubby kid won’t like it.