Well, what did you make of Hitesh’s body double? Lovely, isn’t he? I see the real Hitesh regularly as he works in our IT department. He joined the company 2 years ago straight from a London university. The way he speaks now you wouldn’t tell he’s originally from our lakeside city of Kisumu. He’s also a jovial lad, always tapping me on the shoulder ‘hello mate’. His greeting is a hybrid of Oginga Odinga street-Gujarati-English-meets-Cockney-market-lingo in a high pitch so it sounds like ‘allo mai.’ Bantu readers may appreciate the other meaning! He is also polishing his acquired accent on us now, at times popping his grinning face in the doorway to say ‘don’t forget to loag oaf tonight’.
I’ve harbored suspicions that Hitesh is gay since the day of his interview when we first met. I’d say the lisp and the walk, like he’s pushing a shopping trolley with only his pelvis, are what give the game away. And get this, he has an old newspaper cutting of Kalonzo Musyoka’s picture pinned on the notice board in his office! Our VP doesn’t know it but he is the thinking-homo’s pinup. Also Hitesh never uses the urinal when there’s anyone else there (another dead giveaway), he’ll go to the cubicle to take a piss. See, it’s not difficult to have politicians and urinals mentioned in the same paragraph.
One morning I walked into the office to find Hitesh on his hands and knees fiddling with cables on the floor, I heard him humming away hips don’t lie which he attempted to disguise with a sudden coughing fit when he spotted me. However I’m secretly grateful to have his flamboyance illuminating our office; it deflects unwelcome attentions of colleagues away from me.
So yesterday Hitesh stopped me just as I was getting ready to leave the office, ‘Ok, for a chat?’ ‘Uh-huh. Let’s go for a quick drink,’ I said. This is how we both ended up at that sports club in Parklands. Sitting at the bar he leaned sideways to tell me, ‘My papers have come through. I’ll be emigrating to Britain in 2 months’ time.’ Apparently Hitesh was able to claim settlement in the UK, something about his grandparents; I didn’t want to seem intrusive by asking details. He added, ‘I’ll finally be myself,’ a vague confirmation of my earlier suspicions. Then quietly, ‘Kenya is killing me.’ In the silence that ensured because I only nodded, we both acknowledged that he knew about me too.
I felt happy for Hitesh. Sitting there, unfastened jacket on his shoulders, I hoped he realizes how lucky he is – free to live life without the heavy shackles of this deep-seated homophobia. Indeed Kenya is slowly suffocating many for whom there is no escape, only a secret life.