Bumped off the club for ‘inappropriate’ dressing, the night ends in a violent vomit on my foot
He was such a massive guy that when he planted his frame at the entrance of the club, it seemed to block the loud music inside.
We were queuing to enter the club. I was sandwiched between my tall Rwandese friend and an equally tall white guy and it made me feel unusually short. I imagined I was breathing reject air after the tall guys had inhaled and exhaled it. It reminded me of Ndiang’ui-my undergraduate classmate- taunts that short people have a permanent scent of soil around them because of their proximity to the ground!
“Next!” the massive fellow bellowed as he summoned me. He had some physical resemblance to Mr. Mbui, my high school principal. For a moment, it brought back memories of a Monday morning when we were summoned to his office. Our alleged crime was mocking an expectant teacher with our laughter.
A summon to the Mr. Mbui’s office made big boys wet their pants. Mbui cultivated a climate of fear by sparingly summoning students and only for egregious crimes. But on those who got his call, he tended to unleash unmitigated violence. The mere fact of being wanted in his office was enough reason for some to opt out of school.
On that morning many years ago, I stood at his office drenched in the sweat of fear. When the secretary ushered me into his massive office, he met me at the door, grabbed me by the collar and hoisted me on his desk as if I was a sack of trouble. He was so raving mad that the hairs in his nostrils quivered menacingly with his breath.
But finding me so small and featherweight calmed his rampage. Only then did he ask me why I had been sent to his office. When I repeated my “crime”, he shook his massive head apparently unconvinced of my guilt. He wondered at my size and when I blamed it on the school’s bad food, he gave me a note enrolling me to a “special” diet. That meant a few more potatoes in my food and a glass of diluted milk in the evening!
“Hey you… I said next!” the big bouncer went again jolting me out of my brief reverie. But no sooner had I made the first step forward than he rushed to intercept me. He was shaking his head while shouting “stepassa!” From his gestures, I guessed he meant, “Step aside!”
He beckoned two of his colleagues, who, like him, were black. He had apparently realised his initial shouting at me was exaggerated and uncalled-for as he kept saying “Sorry. Din mean to shout at kid bro. But you’re jacket man is shit. If you ave’ better shit like shirt inside, leav it ere and yo’l go in.”
The problem was my jacket. It was deemed too inappropriate for the club I guess because it was not funky. On a Friday evening and with the campus library closing early for the weekend, I had been idling in my room when the Rwandese insisted I join him for a drink.
More out of politeness than desire for a drink, I grabbed the first jacket I came across in the wardrobe and slipped it over my jogging T-shirt. I didn’t give my dressing a second thought because, in any case, we were meeting in our local, very ordinary pub.
But few drinks later, my friend and three other colleagues insisted on going clubbing. I excused myself on grounds that I was not in the mood. But when they ganged up on me for being the group’s killjoy and for my “grandfather attitude” to fun, I acquiesced.
Now here I was being chased away from the club like a vagrant intruder on rich guys’ party. I removed the jacket as advised. But my sports T-shirt made the bouncers scream. “That’s shitty cheap,” one of them concluded with mouthful contempt. True, I had taken advantage of a major sale to buy it. But I was tempted to quote the original price before the sale to rebut the bouncer “cheap” claim.
Feeling guilty for occasioning me the humiliation, the Rwandese tried to intervene. Could he offer me his jacket as a compromise? “No!” the original bouncer thundered. “Wat if he go remov it inside. Such stuf’d scare the hel outa of gals. Go home change kid bro an come bac. Yu gotta enaf time. Aint closing till 4.”
I was angry with no one in particular. I excused myself, declined my colleagues offer to walk back with me in solidarity and wished them fun. It was just after midnight. Rather than take a taxi, I opted to walk back to my room hoping the trek in the cold would calm me down.
The temperature was around 2˚c and the bursts of wind made it feel colder. But the city streets were full with skimpily dressed women and men in body-hugging shirts. In Kenya, revellers are free to hang their coats and jackets on bar seats. Here, jackets attract a standard 5£ “store” charge. Rather than waste money renting a hanger, you’d better warm yourself with the two pints of beer the money can buy!
Witnessing all the drama in the streets, I was no longer angry at being thrown out of the club. Seeing all these fights, the raucousness, the vomiting and the stagger felt more alive than being closeted in crammed up bar with all the mixture of sweat.
So much was happening that I decided not to walk home. Instead, I took the opposite direction and headed to the city centre. At a street famous for its nightlife, there were more people outside than inside all the clubs combined. I slowed down to listen to an elderly white couple quarrelling because the woman had more than fancied the dancing style of a young black man.
On a number of occasions, men and women stopped me to ask for the same thing: weed. I was surprised by their disbelief that I didn’t have any because I’m not a user. One lady swore she could pick its smell on me and volunteered to lead a search mission on my privates where she was sure it was hidden!
But it was a group of young men I bumped into who made my night. They were excited at knowing I was Kenyan. Is true, one asked, that all Kenyans were tenants of the Kenyattas?
Could I confirm that Kenyans were natural athletes who run themselves out of maternity ward at birth as alleged by his grandfather?
They were interesting but hopelessly drunk.
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