Have you noticed that many Nairobi men nowadays head straight to pubs after work where they spend an inordinately long time that should ideally be spent with family?
Well, Mama Jimmy and I have been arguing over this matter for a while because I have been sucked into this habit in recent months.
“You should spend your evenings at home with your wife and children Baba Jim. How else will you attune yourself to your family’s progress?” she asks.
In other words, she wants me to be home by 6pm, and she insists that I should not entertain any distractions on the way.
I guess in her ideal world, she would expect every husband in this city to be dashing home without delay, as if we are schoolboys eager to complete homework.
“It doesn’t hurt to meet my buddies after work, dear,” I reply. “I need a little time with my fellow men, you know. In any case, I drink very lightly on weekdays.”
To put it in another way, I refuse to subject myself to her curfews.
A man needs company aside from his family, and expecting a grown African man to be rushing home as if he is in competition with chickens to see who gets in the house earlier is stretching the imagination a little too far.
On Thursday evening, I joined my friends Odhiambo, Davy and Mwendwa at Kwa Muthoni’s Pub, a drinking den located in the seedier parts of town.
That is where we unwind after the day’s work to catch up on the day’s events and discuss politics, football and women while drowning our miseries in a little foam.
And as I gathered from our discussion that evening, every man had a unique reason for making this stopover at the local.
“My mother-in-law came visiting last Monday, and she will stay on for a week,” Davy announced. “I cannot just sit there and chat with her every evening, as we run out of topics very quickly! Siku hizi ninaingia nyumbani nikijua amelala.”
He added that despite being in cordial terms with his mother-in-law, there is something about that madam that sends a chill down his spine.
Being married men, we understood the power of the mother-in-law — that is the one woman who can raise room temperature just by being around.
“Mama watoto and I have been quarreling over family finances since last Sunday,” moaned Odhiambo. “Sasa nyumba haikaliki. Kila saa ni kelele tu.”
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His mind had been in a turmoil since then, he said, and his hectic days at work did not make things any better. “Ah, that’s nothing,” Mwendwa dismissed. “Bibi yangu ni mjamzito.
“She is in her fourth month now, and she cannot stand seeing me. It is like all the bombs and grenades in Kismayu have been dumped in my head and forced to explode at the same time.”
We observed a moment of silence as we sympathised with this victim of domestic torture.
The gentlemen at the next table had been listening to our discussion, given the sympathetic looks they gave us. It did not take long before they joined our discussion.
“We live in Eastleigh,” one of them said. “On a normal day, passenger service vehicles charge Sh50, but whenever the PSV crews see signs of a downpour, they hike the fare by ten shillings as if Eastleigh moved to Uganda! That’s why we prefer to hang out in the pub for a while.”
“Hiyo kumi inatuuma sana. We’ll just wait until they lower it to forty bob,” his friend confessed, before ordering a round of drinks for all of us.
Thus, our little party rolled on, and it was not until 10pm that we rose to leave.
Looking at the bill, I realised we had spent enough money to invade a small country, but at least the men from Eastleigh could now pay forty shillings, much as they had spent a cool thousand in that pub.
Davy’s mother-in-law was probably sleeping like a baby right then, and Mwendwa had dodged another war with his expectant madam.