Last night while the world held its breath

And the silence made lots of loud noise

And my shallow breaths nourished my lungs with pure gulps of air

And dogs coiled into rings against walls

And the cats made love in the maize plantation

I had a dream.

I ran a bar with a personality for ages

Whose name was binnsword

Whose drinks were beer and whiskey only

Whose color was dark mahogany with a hint of maroon

Whose smell was delicious smoky aroma

Whose patrons were sophisticated folks

Haboring a taste for literature in their tongues

And a binoculars for art in their eyes

Loyal individuals

Who trooped to the well with the weight of sorrows weighing down upon them

And like maasai men leaving their spears at the entrance to manyatta

Stolled their troubles by the swinging double doors

And let binnsword massage joy into them

And energy

And esteem.

And I was the bar man

With the caramel skin

A  skill to die for

And mute.



Tuesday Jazz Night





As a waiter at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Balcony Bar, I have witnessed men of means sway in with an air of power. Men whose hand stitched leather shoes equals my entire year’s salary plus all the tips put together. Corporate women whose suits have a better reputation than I do. And their entire existence seems to be riddled in silence or little whisper-like talks. But they laugh so loudly their quiet music fades into oblivion. This is on any ordinary day when I smile professionally. But then there’s Tuesdays. The sweet Jazz night. When patrons troop in to get hypnotised along with the celebrated jazz aces.

On this blessed evening Hellon and his band drive the troubles of our hearts away. Under the misty blue and green and red lights, he exudes a kind of confidence that further enhances his passion for good old jazz. Tonight he is bold in a pink shirt and tie. His Italian suit matches the rich dark tone of his skin. In the consortium of the lazy lights, his hair gleam along the curls making his head look like a pine cone.

The golden watch dangles restlessly on his wrist as if trying to outshine the glinting sax clasped solemnly in his arms. Deep in a hubbub of a conversation, the patrons sink into the lounge chairs. Lonely souls who have come for the weekly revival service swirl their drinks while listening to the throb of the fountain underneath the lush balcony.

I wade around, taking orders dutifully. Listening to complaints and apologizing as if heavenly doors will draw shut upon me if I don’t. Cleaning tables with a dump white cloth I am supposed to carry around as if it contains the waiters’ creed that I am struggling to memorize. In this endeavor, the corner of my eye is ever fixed on my GM who is busy interacting with guests more to spot my flaws than to encourage them to keep coming back again and again until the day either one of this two happens; he loses his job or gets promoted to glory.

As I stand next to a pillar dearly holding on to my silver tray, I defy the rules and take a peek at this man and his saxophone. His eyes are clung shut and I can see his neck muscles bulge. His hands fondle with the breast of the instrument and out of it oozes music for the soul. It buoys through the room like a lazy wave. Its blunt edges tickle my ears and I wish I had a glass of whiskey; just to go with it. Damn the rules.

I drown in the moment and consequently lose track of the GM. The next I know is him standing next to me. He shoots at me with an eye that says “you better focus on clients” and sends me over to a table with a man with a prodigious forehead. Having borne that burden on his head all his life, the GM offers to buy him a drink. Maybe.

Without staring directly at his forehead, I tell him that Mr. Manish has bought him a drink and ask him what he will have.

“I have a very early morning tomorrow. What do you recommend that is light?” he can’t keep his eyes off the platform.

“Courvoisier, perhaps?”

“I have had the VS before…. But wasn’t exactly tickled.”

“Perhaps you can try the XO?”

“Is it any good?”

“It’s premium, sir.”

I’m not going to brag but I will have to describe to you how Courvoisier XO is served. The brandy glass is placed on a glass of steaming hot water. The steam warms the brandy releasing its rich bouquet, which is then trapped in the mouth of the glass. Mr. Forehead seems intrigued as I make my way across the balcony bar with a white towel draped over my arm.

I walk back to my spot and watch him take a sip and feel the cognac in his mouth as if unsure of its taste. He then sways his forehead across the room, perhaps barring some patrons from having a view of the bearers of the instruments that soften up their evening, and raises his glass to Mr. Manish. The GM, as he always does, nods in acquiesce.

The evening slowly wears away and with it the thrill of the lulling music. Patrons get drunk and get louder. They begin ordering more and more and tipping more as well. Hellon plays on, undeterred by their drunk shouts. One after the other, they wave at him and totter away.



Chocolate Man

He is a queer man who chooses to lug behind the shadows. Very little about his features is in the public domain. With every nerve in his being, he disowns camera fame. He wants to be that figure hovering around. Dark and formless.

He whines about his forehead. It seems to be so big it could fit in a room. And then he seems to be troubled by the silence he keeps listening to when he thinks of his father. The most he can remember is the towel clinking to a waist and a lathered beard and a blade. Perhaps wisps of the soap.

Due to his love for whiskey, he so glorifies it in his pieces, one can be forgiven to envision him sitting in a bar while his sturdy glass oozes a golden luster as he studies the room for anything worth penning. He reads faces alright and later fits them in whatever scene he dims appropriate.

Whenever he settles to write, he is a man in the robe about administering justice. He can be many things but a good writer is not one of them. Because he is great. His words easily fall upon each other to form a pattern that is luring. It takes on shapes never before imagined. He makes his sentences snappy that they leave the reader writhing with desire for more.

And then he is thoroughly addictive. A single article wadding in the waters of his blessing goes a long way in towing you into digging for more of his work. The marks of his pen are like a sidekick woman. She is not your legal wife but you find yourself trooping to her place again and again.

This man paints with his pen. He has made the saying a picture is worth a thousand words literal. While a photographer is killing himself finding that picture, he hurls ink on paper and ends up with a beautiful picture. Certainly he knows the right paint for the right picture. He might add a little flavor but still it serves to alleviate the end product.

In pain and in pleasure he writes. Even after recently losing his tooth to a dentist who offended him by calling bwana. He stays true to his pen, perhaps it is because it feeds him. But that notwithstanding he can still show love for his work.

He has a blog that is stooping due to a multitude of followers. People are fighting over parts of his witty sentences. Laughing their hats off at the comics he exudes. No one stops at refinement from the story for after the baptism by fire, they share with anyone they can reach who in turn share. A classic case of spread like wild fire.

Evidently, all his prowess comes from voracious reading. He loves reading so much that he fantasizes meeting a woman who after sex sinks into a swinging chair in her nakedness and loses herself into a book. He confesses to munching on this stories even late at night while everyone is sound asleep like a form one student crunching biscuits under blankets at school dormitories.

There’s more to this man than meets the eye. So much more to explore and appreciate. But for now it would be wise to make do with the little he rations. One day he will pull it off and dump at our feet. And then start hiding again.