The last time I saw Anthony Leting was where I always saw him the last time and the whole time I knew him - at my local bar; Explorer Tavern (now Calypso) that he co-owned with other fellows.
He walked in later than usual, happier than usual and later when a cigar burnt between his teeth, I told him what would be my last words, ‘Leting, you’ve had quite an evening, ey?” He smiled. He always smiled. And that was it.
Next time, a little over a week later, I learnt through text that he was dead. I was preparing for bed. I sat down and stared at the floor in complete shock for a while. Then I stepped outside, under a dark charmless sky, and told a friend on phone, ‘Leting is dead.” They were silent for a while before they whispered, “Oh God, no. Please don’t say that.”
The owners of Explorer Tavern always sat on the fourth table from the exit. It permanently had a ‘reserved’ block on it. They gathered there, alike and dislike, all very mild-mannered fellows, drinking whisky and smoking cigars.
It was hard to notice Leting amongst them because - like the rest of them- he wasn’t a guy who seemed to like being noticed. He lay low. He smoked his cigars.
He said little and when he did he talked gently, as if his words might bruise you. He offered his big-dollar smile. And he wore his Kalenjin jackets. Sometimes you don’t need to see the deeds of a man to know he is a good man. You just know from their mien. Leting was a good man.
Your local bar is an extension of your home, an extension of yourself. You go there to celebrate, to mull, to escape, to regroup, to decompress, to reflect, to be. It’s an intimacy.
Rest In Peace, Leting. I hope they welcome you in heaven with special cigars.