My friend lost his job a year and a half ago. Then when he was just about to get back on his feet, Covid-19 happened. He had separated from his wife so he had to move back to his parents’ house.
He sleeps in the bedroom where he broke his voice. He looks out the same window he did when he started growing pubic hair.
The neighbourhood has completely changed; half the people are new, the other half are either dead or have sold their homes and retired to the village.
His father — a former civil servant — still buys the newspaper regularly. Every evening, they sit on the verandah and they drink Old Monk rum. It’s an affordable dark rum (Sh1,500) but with a sexy engraved bottle. His father, now 75, drinks nothing else but Old Monk. He has never drunk anything else but Old Monk.
He wears a tie and dress-shirt every day even though he goes nowhere. He reads the newspaper the whole day, as if memorising parts of it for exams. Thankfully, my friend loves politics and so over Old Monk they will talk about politics for hours, until his mother sticks her head around the main door and says; “dinner is ready.”
His father has a rule when you drink with him; you don’t touch the bottle, he serves you. You are his guest. He’s a very slow and delicate drinker. So often, my friend’s glass can stay empty for 30 minutes as his father talks about Raila. My friend says he has learnt great lessons during this time drinking with his father. He has learnt to drink very little and delicately.
“If all these hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have known who my father is,” he told me. He has not grown closer to his father but he has learnt a lot about him in two months; more than he did in 40 years.
“At the end of the evening,” he said, “he always keeps his Old Monk in a place that only he and my mom know.”