Friday, February 27, 2009
The message in Sheng, that delicious blend of Swahili and English spoken mainly in urban Kenya was brief, just to say he was that policeman from last week.
‘Ni mimi yule karao wa juzi, Please call me so we can meet’.
I should confess to experiencing an aching twinge of excitement from the prospect of a clandestine conquest. However I checked myself and hesitated: Policemen here are in the news lately for very sinister reasons.
So I saved the message that came in at 11am and only responded to it as I left the office this evening. My wait also serves to give me leverage as I would not want to appear overly keen. Ok, desperate. I chose my words carefully, editing ruthlessly before sending, ‘I am away in Mombasa; I’ll call you next week’.
I get to retain the power of play as I plan our rendezvous to my advantage.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Carlos and Jennifer have been happily married for just over 8 years. Carlos holds a senior position in a bank while Jennifer’s work as a purser for a local airline means a weekly sojourn to faraway places sometimes for up to 3 days. Together with their 6 year old daughter Amani they live in a lush part of Nairobi, the bronze-tinted windows of their penthouse overlooking the expensive valleys of Riverside.
Upstairs from them live a middle-aged couple with their only son Chris who attends a local university. Two months ago Carlos and Jennifer spotted smiling Chris waving to them past parked cars, his Jo Malone-of-London wafting through the basement; Carlos remarked to his wife ‘look at that homo,’ damning words spat out to convey disgust, even as they smiled and waved back at their young neighbour.
They would all meet again under very different circumstance; two Tuesdays ago to be precise when Jennifer’s flight to London was cancelled due to a mechanical fault and she found herself unannounced at 2am turning the key to the front door of her home. Being a school night and not wishing to awaken young Amani, Jennifer tiptoed in and switched on their bedroom light to the shock of…how shall I put it…her husband Carlos and a young man she came to identify as Chris-from-upstairs in fragante delicto.
After the exchange of unspeakable words and removing the last of Carlos’ personal belongings from the flat 2 days later, Jennifer sat down to exact her revenge. When she had finished typing she sent this story with each unedited lurid detail to every contact in her husband’s work laptop.
Chris’ parents are paying for him to see a psychologist while Carlos has not been seen by anyone since.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Pretty-faced Ronaldo is ok but best player on and off the pitch has to be man’s-man Giggs who seems to be having a renaissance – I feel like I’m due a renaissance myself. For a gay man like me, watching footie is all about checking out who looks hot and who’s not so hot.
If I were a manager picking a fantasy team for the premier league of a very different kind of sport…hmmm...my tag-team would definitely feature Giggs. I also wouldn’t complain about a tackle from Ashley Cole and neither would I bring myself to kick Theo Walcott out of bed. I’m not a Ronaldo hater but his delicate looks don't score with me. I find him too ‘trophy-wifey’ for my liking. And if I worked in the locker-room then Lampard should definitely have an early bath every day! (I couldn't resist the puns, sorry).
You can say I have a deep and thorough understanding of the sport.
Monday, February 23, 2009
After giving the keyboard a good shake while standing in the patio on the concrete screed amongst the plants of mother-in-law’s tongue, I turned it over to unscrew the 4 screws on the back. Actually there are more screws on the front of the hp keyboard hidden behind 8 letters. And it's in the course of unclipping these letters that I discovered what muck lay beneath them. It's four years of dust, ash from cigarettes, food crumbs, God-knows what else that lay undisturbed, festering and unseen through a torrent of words and thoughts. No cockroaches mind! So I gave the membrane a shake and light wipe before going off to the kitchen sink with the filthy letters and the plastic casing for a good warm-water and washing-up liquid scrub. Half an hour later, I had a sparkling keyboard case and shiny letters sun-bathing on an old Daily Nation outside in the garden.
I did wonder about that filthy keyboard and the similarity with human nature and how beneath a respectable façade may lurk the darkest of thoughts....
Friday, February 20, 2009
I took a call from Mike’s wife mid-morning. She’s petite and sweet, and devoted to the needs of Mike and their 2 children. Ever the perfect hostess, I can sometimes sense her private torment over the nagging doubts that Mike might be playing the field. I have this affinity to detect pain; keeping my own securely boxed away. I also know that this demure little wife’s character runs deep, it would not be a shock to discover she has a secret lover stashed away somewhere.
When she called it was on her anticipated fishing expedition and I was able to dishonestly enquire whether Mike had ‘arrived home safely last night after leaving the sports club’ in Parklands where we are both bona-fide members. It’s a mental dance routine that requires little skill, weaving recklessly between fiction and truth. The club’s bar rarely serves past midnight and Mike would have arrived home at 3 am, and though his wife is aware of this fact she will not pursue it further.
I am now at home, watching some KTN before going out to dinner alone. I plan to visit a local Indian restaurant for some much-missed extra-hot lamb vindaloo before heading back home to watch a movie.
Being on my own means I can be who I really am.
As we sat at the bar finishing off our drinks I wondered about Mike’s wife and whether it’s disloyal for a married man to visit strip clubs. Mike doesn’t think so, no surprise there. When I joked that his wife might be having an affair, he didn’t see the funny side and he abruptly got up for us to leave.
So here I am sitting in the office sending you this update, two samosas later, my head throbbing and my mouth tasting like sisal. Sheila asked as I walked in 30 minutes ago and I whispered ‘strip club jana’ and gave her the conspiratory wink. I can tell by the way she sashayed away, her curves longer and slower, my standing in the man-stakes has just gone up considerably.
What Sheila doesn’t know is that privately I could give her serious competition on any catwalk…
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Occasionally we’ll hook up for some drinks to watch some footie matches or share a meal at his home. I am happy to be a part of Mike’s inner circle and count him and his family among people that I genuinely care about. I must never forget that Mike is a diehard homophobe. He once told me he does not know any gay people and he wishes all gays would be wiped off the face of the earth. I am not ashamed for his ignorance because he is my friend and I, being acquainted with the Bard’s ‘thou doth protest too much’ and ‘Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall,’ do not see the need to change anything..
Over lunch Mike asked me to accompany him to the strip club tonight. It was also the unspoken request to once again provide an alibi should his wife want to know where he’s been. I don’t pretend to understand my straight married friend: what’s the obsession with getting some titillation when discovery would jeopardize a wonderful marriage? I on the other hand enjoy a private and secret aspect on these forays; they satisfy deep unspoken needs..
The last time it was some sorry joint in a vibrant part of Nairobi, up a steep narrow flight of stairs to a den full of men drinking and gawping at scantily-dressed shadows gyrating to the pulse of monetary promises. In the crowded space two uninvited punters on either side pressed up against me; I was aware of their physical joy at becoming one with the club’s atmosphere. However a quick glance told me any reciprocation would be unwelcome. Danger may lurk in stirring the unwilling.
So I look forward to tonight, unlikely thick-as-thieves with Mike and though he doesn’t know it, none is better than the other…
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
‘Strike-a-pose’ has been my little treat for the last 6 months or so and is the highlight of my morning commute. Our routine was interrupted this morning when he motioned for me to pull over. I did as instructed and Mr Gorgeous Dancer Cop walked up to my car and I wound down the window; he looked even more appealing standing there 4 feet away inspecting the disc displayed on the windscreen. Be friendly Tamaku, I thought, as he then walked up to my side:
‘Habari boss. Kila kitu sawa,’ he said, flashing a glorious set of teeth but it sounded like a question to me.
‘Ndio Ofisa,’ I answered and beamed back the result of a dozen visits to the Italian dentist from Corner House. He smiled again. It’s when I coolly said to him he seemed too young to be a policeman. In that moment he cast me the knowing eye to let me know the chase was on.
‘You don’t look much older yourself’.
I have learnt in my secret dealings to recognize the code beyond what is said. To hear him utter those words I seized my moment and handed him a bogus business card that has one of my Safaricom lines printed on it.
‘Call me’, I said. ‘We should have a drink.’ He didn’t miss a beat holding on to the card as he waved me along.
Driving away I spied him in my view mirror tucking my card into his shirt pocket.
Later at the office I pondered about that encounter. Intuition -true aficionados prefer gaydar- tells me he’ll call soon…
Disclaimer: If you want to pick up a policeman in Kenya a word of caution, always remember HALT:
• Homosexuality is illegal
• Act aloof. Class and position is very alive in Kenya. Acting aloof will buy you the option to plead misunderstanding when things turn nasty
• Learn the code (not penal, that one is covered above)
• Think before you speak. The risk of blackmail is real – I’ll post my personal pain on this one soon
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Down the aisle past the detergents I spotted Lenny from two weeks before. I had met him on a Friday night at the pub in Westlands where it packs with Nairobi’s party animals and the party spills onto the sidewalk. It’s the colorful sort of place that professionals go after work to mix with other pros at work. Lenny athletic, dark and handsome stood out in his grey wool-mix suit while sitting at the bar. We soon struck conversation and, to cut a long but delightful story short, enjoyed breakfast together the following morning at my house.
Anyway back to Nakumatt and Lenny elegantly leading his shopping-trolley towards the bakery counter. As I come into his view I notice a young woman to his side pushing a pram with a baby asleep in it. Lenny notices me but in the next instant flashes the hardest look that freezes, ‘NO!’ I oblige and steer past Lenny, the young woman with the baby and the stacks of freshly-baked loaves.
Back in the car with my bottles of wine, I paused to think about what had just transpired. My thoughts were interrupted by the phone beeping. It was an sms from Lenny:
‘Sorry I am with the wife. You understand?’
It’s not a problem; it’s not just me with something to hide…
Monday, February 16, 2009
My secret life springs up many hurdles
Take Sheila, my new colleague at work, for example. She is a stunning beauty in her late twenties with a very likeable cheeky personality. Like other career-women here in
Last Friday I let myself get talked into going for after-work drinks alone with Sheila. We settled very nicely in the upstairs bar of that hotel famous for its acacia tree along
As conversation flowed I was soon loosening my tie after necking my fourth tusker, a sign my date mistook for romantic interest. The flame in Sheila’s eye was now burning with the intensity of anticipation. Time to change tact….
Enter my imaginary fiancé studying abroad. Or cue the lines ‘I want to respect you more’ followed by ‘I don’t want this to be just about sex’. Intriguingly it doesn’t seem to put most of these women off; I guess something else has me labeled as unobtainable hence the attraction…
Sunday, February 15, 2009
The crowded bars on these days is fertile ground for a secret gay man like me to feast my eyes on the gorgeous Adonises chanting and cheering their teams. I guess its how a straight man feels watching the girls on Saturday night at Kachoi. I can't stare too long in case suspicions are raised but after 3 tuskers I forget where I am and lock eyes across the bar with some guy. It's only 2-3 seconds too long before averting my gaze to the action on the screens. It does cross my mind whether they too are here under false pretences...
I guess you are wondering about the post-goal celebrations and hugging. It's when the entire bar goes gay! Mike will give me a manly hug, jumping up and down screaming 'Arsenali' and as I hold on to him, I'll be thinking damn, the gym is doing wonders for his pecs...Thing is Mike is a dear friend and a homophobe, he would break my neck if he heard these secret thoughts...
Sunday, February 1, 2009
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