A glistening bottle of Gilbeys Gin sits at the center of the table. On one side of the table is Jamo, my colleague from work, on the other is me. Our glasses sit empty before us, we’ve just had a shot. I’m buzzed.
We are at an army mess. Everything is half price here. Beer is 100 bob and the most expensive shot goes for 60bob. It’s a young man’s heaven, this bar.
The plan is, of course, to drink until there is no drop left in the mzinga then go home around midnight. But it is said that we make plans and God laughs, because later tonight our plan will go to shits when another colleague strolls in with two gorgeous women (might not be accurate as I was a half bottle of gin in) and join us at our table. He’ll order another botii because we men are cursed with women and alcohol. Plus, he must’ve promised the girls a good time. And a man has to keep his word. We’ll later leave at sunrise.
But this story isn’t about the pretty girls or our hedonistic indulgence. It’s about love.
Before Pete – let’s call him Pete, the guy with girls. Pete sounds like the name of a jock in American teen drama shows that gets all the girls – so before Pete arrived, Jamo and I had shared a bit of our love lives because alcohol makes you do such things. I told him about my recently being single (a story for another day) as I poured my umpteenth shot. He told me his type – light skin thick mamiis. And then he told me the story of how he met his current girlfriend, the one that has his heart. “Huyu ni wa mwisho.” He said.
Picture Jamo, a skinny guy, no taller than 5’7, beardless with dreadlocks ponytailed at the back. He’s in his third year, young and hungry, enjoying the ride of campus life. A life of women, booze and texts like “Form ni wapi leo?” every Friday.
One morning as he rushed to class, higher than a high court judge, he saw the most gorgeous girl pass her. She didn’t look at him, not even a glimpse, which he says for some reason was what made him go after her. He immediately stopped in his tracks and watched her gracefully walk away (Kids, this is code for: stared at her ass as she walked way). But her ass wasn’t the only thing that stuck with him the rest of that day, it was that she was a pretty hijabi Somali girl that didn’t look at him. He made a mental note to pull the trigger next time they met.
He saw her the next day at the school canteen. Jamo can’t remember what she was eating, he says it’s the gin. It isn’t. He just can’t remember because guys don’t pay such attention. Girls are the ones that will remember the little things. Like what socks you wore on the fifth date, or the temperature of the room when you first kissed. The devil’s in the details. This is why I think the devil is a woman. I digress though.
Jamo walks up to her, says hi and makes her laugh.
Over the week, they got closer. He kept telling her,
“Na nitakutoa hizo nguo.”
And she always responded
“Hii si nguo ni hijab.”
It was their little inside joke. Until Jamo realised he was messing up because if you keep making such jokes without backing it up with actions, you end up in the infamous Friendzone.
So one day, Jamo says that naughty line of his but this time, he’s serious. He doesn’t laugh or smile. He looks her in the eye as he says it. He means business this time. Her. Hijab. Must. Come. Off.
But she says no. She also doesn’t smile or laugh.
Jamo gets confused because he was sure there was something between them. But no matter, we are men. We were built to handle women’s enigma. He takes his L (L for Lesson) and proceeds with his bachelor life.
A month later, as he comes out of the shower, there’s a knock at the door and it’s her, Amina (the Somali girl). He surprised as much as I am.
“Why are you here?” He started.
“Yani you stopped talking to me because I told you no.” She hissed.
“Yes. You expected me to wait forever?” Jamo said with his chest out.
“You niggas these days… So arrogant.” She shook her head.
“It’s not arrogance, we know what we want.” Jamo countered. “Anyway, I am about to leave to go drinking with some friends.”
“I’ll join you.” Amina said.
The DJ is playing naija now, Falz catches my ear from the blaring speakers in the bar. He’s lazy-rapping in local dialect to a beat that’s begging for the maddest of Shakus. So I obey. I stand, struggling to catch my balance, and hit the drunkest shaku you’ll ever see. Jamo joins. Falz would be proud of us.
Jamo and Amina get to drinking. He says they didn’t talk much that day, but what happened that later that night is what got him in this lovely relationship he’s in.
A few minutes before midnight, people started leaving the shindig. Amina left with a group of friends she met there. Jamo didn’t feel like leaving yet so he sat at the host’s balcony to sober up for a bit before he left.
When he got home later, guess who was waiting by the door. Yap. Amina. She’d left thirty minutes earlier to come wait for him at the door. He said nothing. He already knew what was up. They got into the house and did bad manners.
“Wait! Wait! Wait!” I shout. “I thought Muslim girls wait till marriage? Ama she gave you the back door? The junk in the trunk?” Okay, I didn’t say that last part.
“No, she gave it to me the normal way. Some wait, others don’t. Si you know our generation.”
I nod in agreement.
Jamo and Amina are eight months in now. Jamo has that glow of a man happy in his relationship. I ask him how he plans to deal with their religious differences since he plans on making things permanent. He says that he’s already met the Baba Amina. He’s been threatened to convert to Islam and cut his dreads and if he doesn’t, he will know who Baba Amina is. He says the threats don’t bother him. That as long as Amina loves him, everything will be okay.