DRUNK

 

I wrote a good chunk of this novella in a treehouse in Elementaita. It’s called Pinklakeman Eco-Lodge, where a gorgeous treehouse teeters from a gorge (the gorge makes it gorgeous) of a seasonal riverbed. It’s a cabin made from old wood that smells of age and sports a massive stone fireplace. There are birds. Lots of birds. They sing all day long.

 

I had initially set out to write a small book but quickly discovered that you can’t write a small book in one sitting. You write a chapter and then you cook excuses for a month. And I’m good in that cuisine. The world is full of excuses not to write if you are interested in finding them. I found a ton of them. I found them in my pockets amongst washed receipts and in the corners of  a heart darkened by sloth. I found them in the bedside drawer and in the glove compartment in my car. It was a long-standing farce. I had previously only written a few chapters over a period of a few months and I was embarrassed by my work ethic.

 

I’d think of this failure all the time when I was doing things unrelated to writing. Like while waiting for  someone to leave the shower compartment in the gym locker room. Or when pushing my son on a swing. Speaking of which, sometime ago as Tamms was riding a bicycle at Karura, I chilled on a bench reading an article on my phone, an eye on Kim, who was playing on the slides. I lifted my head at some point to find him pushing the swing and I told him, “Kim, stop doing that, you will get hurt!” But do boys listen? They imagine they know better than anybody else. They are superheroes, they can’t get hurt. He continued to push that swing. “If you don’t stop it now I will chapa you.” I said again and he ignored me because perhaps he knows I can’t. (I can). After a few moments I heard a piercing scream. The metallic swing had swung back and hit him right in the mouth. Ha-ha. I ran there to check to find his mouth completely bloodied, with lots of blood gushing from his mouth, bright red blood which means my son is quite oxygenated. He was holding his mouth and more of it was streaming through his fingers and down his shirt. It was like a gory scene in Game of Thrones. I freaked out. This was the equivalent of going away with the kids and then you lose one of them in the mall. How do you even start calling their mother? How would that conversation go?

 

“Hey, something has happened.”

 

Panicked voice. “What? What has happened??”

 

“Well, it’s both bad and good.”

 

“What has happened?! Are the kids okay?”

 

“That’s the good news. One of them is,” you say, “the bad news is that I can’t find the other one.”

 

Anyway, he was screaming and he was bleeding and Tamms, who had abandoned her bike in the field and run to us, was panicked so badly she was on the verge of tears seeing all that blood on her brother’s shirt and on mine. “What happened, papa? What happened to him?” And I wanted her to just shut up because I was trying to open his mouth to see if he had lost his teeth or cut half his tongue and he would never be able to talk again (to me).

 

There is a ka-lady at Karura who sells oranges and apples on a table by the edge of the pitch. I carried the boy there and grabbed some water from her (“Ngai! Ngai!” She kept saying, which goes to show just how much he was bleeding. I washed off his mouth to assess the damage and the blood kept oozing. It turned out that his upper lip was busted a good one but I was glad to find that his teeth seemed okay when I shook  them  to confirm. A few people gathered around. Kenyans love tragedy. Someone very smart – probably a First Class Honours holder – said to me helpfully, “Take him to the hospital,” and I almost threw an orange at her weave. I told Tamms, “He will be just fine. Stay here with him, I will be right back.” Then I ran off.

 

You know how the police always insist that we have to have First Aid kit boxes in our cars and we moan all the time and buy cheap ones to keep them off our backs because when would we ever need to use one? Turns out the police are right. I retrieved mine from the boot  but it turned out to be about as useful as a saw without teeth. Because the First Aid kit only seemed to have things that you need if you break an arm or if  you cut an arm or if you lose an arm. Those kits have no provision for if your child’s lip is busted by a metallic swing or if you are pregnant and your water suddenly breaks.

 

I rummaged through the kit for something that could stop bleeding. There were lots of useless bandages that you can’t use to tie around lips. But there was a pair of scissors. Quite useful for busted lips. I dabbed the cut with numerous wet gauzes which I held there until the bleeding ebbed. Tamms was now tearing. “See?” I kept telling her, “he is a big brave boy. Big boys don’t bleed for long. Right, Kim?” He nodded his big trusting eyes staring up at me. I felt like that doctor in Grey’s Anatomy, saving children’s lives.

 

Two minutes later I washed his mouth and teeth and then stared at my handwork. The bleeding had stopped but the  lip looked ugly.  “I want to go play on the slide.” He said, to my surprise, and before long he was sliding and running around, with his lips ballooning slowly. I debated whether to tell the mother or just go back home and abandon him there and sneak out, the way we would hide broken cups at the very back of the wall unit for our mom to discover many months later.

 

Eventually, I sent her a Whatsapp and said the boy hurt himself and she freaked out and asked me to send her pictures (what is it with women and pictures?) because maybe she thought I was lying that it was the lips when he had lost all his teeth. Or worse, lost a limb. I didn’t want to send a picture because his mouth was a mess and then there was lots of blood on his collar and she would see that and go nuts and make me feel very irresponsible. So I took a very creative picture and sent and one video of him running around to show that he could still walk and she didn’t say anything. Not immediately at least. It just remained as  blue ticks for a while and I kept checking to see if she had said something but she hadn’t and I felt more irresponsible as those messages went unanswered.

 

Later, to bribe Tamm’s ass so that she didn’t tell her Mom just how much her brother had bled, I took them to Two Rivers and I bought her fidget spinners that I had previously refused to buy because I read some weird stories about them online. I then took them to The Spur and people stared at the boy’s shirt, which was all bloody, and at his pants which were all bloody, and at my shirt which was all bloody. Even my shoes had drops of blood. We looked like butchers. Very gangsta. I’m sure they were judging me. Especially the mzungus there. They probably thought I was abusing that child and that someone from child welfare should take the child away if I was the kind of father who was unable to stop his child from bleeding that much. At the restaurant, the waitress who handed us menus was shocked. “Ooh poor thing, gosh, what happened?” She made that woishe face; lips pursed, sad eyes. I told her, “He got involved in a fight.” And I could see Tamms turn to look at me with that who-the-hell-is-this-guy stare and the waitress squat to examine his mangled lips, her hand touching his cheeks. Kim was enjoying that; he was pretending to be more hurt than he was. She asked me with much concern; “My goodness,he got involved in a fight with who?” And I mumbled embarrassingly, “With me,” and she laughed out loud but Tamms didn’t even crack a smile. That child has ice cubes in her heart. If one day she grows up and she meets a man (at 40) who she describes as so funny, “He makes me laugh,” I would die to meet that guy, this one guy who can make the ice-queen laugh. It would probably turn out to be Jesus himself.

 

Anyway, what was I telling you about? Yeah, the book.

 

I would think about the lack of traction with the writing of the novella at the oddest of times. So I called Macharia of Pinklakeman and told him that I wanted to come down to the Treehouse and write for two full days, so was the treehouse available this weekend? He said sawa come. So I packed a bag. I would wake up in the morning and run for 5-8kms around the Sleeping Moran hill and back, sometimes going up to Nakuru highway, shower, have breakfast then sit down to write in that towering silence with my phone on airplane-mode. I’d bang 4,000 words in a sitting and when my brain was worn and smoke was coming from my ears, I’d go downstairs to one of the tables in his garden and edit what I’d written. From there I would see Macharia up in his shade tinkering with his Utility Terrain Vehicle which the locals call Al Shabaab. Macharia is that handyman who can’t see a machine without opening its hood and getting grease on his nose. My evenings were spent reading at the balcony as the sun set and the nights spent writing as the fireplace roared, only standing up to stoke the fire with a thin metallic rod. There is no radio or TV in the treehouse. You can feel the darkness press against the windows. The night is marked by a thick silence punctured by the distant howls of a hyena or some animal that you don’t want to believe is a lion. I’d retire to one of the smaller rooms at 10pm, happy with the work I had put in.

 

I had decided I wasn’t going to drink in this trip; just write. On the last evening I was just sitting on the couch reading when I heard a car drive in and a bit later I heard laughter. An hour later a Whatsapp message from Macharia pinged into my phone: “There is a ka-whisky here, take a break and join us for a very polite one.” I sat there and gave myself a pep-talk; “Don’t go. One drink will become two drinks and two will become three and you won’t ever finish this book. So don’t go. Be a man who stands for something. Don’t be swayed by the mention of whisky. Or a bottle. Ignore the happy laughter  coming from Macharia’s house, that’s just the devil calling you. Be strong. Keep the faith. You are the man. You are bigger than good whisky.

 

So I replied Macharia’s message proudly and wrote:

 

“I will be there in a few.”

 

I joined him and his boy Erico who sells very cool men’s clothes from a shop on Wood Avenue. We drunk on the verandah of his cabin with Macharia pouring drinks and bringing  out plates of cottage cheese and occasionally disappearing inside the house once to attend to his daughters. His dogs, that he is immensely proud of, and which have won dog show competitions napped at our feet. Big dogs with lots of long hair.

 

It wasn’t a very proud moment for me.

 

Hours later I went back to my abode and ate a nice meal (chapos and chicken). Grace, the chef, had laid the table and disappeared. Then I drank lots of water as I sat and stared into the raging fire in the fireplace, absentmindedly holding the metallic rod, feeling the heat on my face and the warmth of whisky in my veins and right there I came up with the title of this novella: Drunk.

 

Thank you, Macharia and Pinklakeman Ecolodge, and thank you, EnglishPoint Marina where I finished writing it in their beautiful, sea-facing rooms. Thank you, Wanji for reading it first and seeing the diamond in it when I had insecurities about it, and thank you Wangiri for keeping me on the timeline. Thank you, David the editor, for cleaning it up with your critical eye.

 

And to you, dear reader, thank you for buying it, or for considering to buy it, but most importantly for not pirating it because God is seeing you. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

PS: Two things; the IT guy has made sure that your card details are secure should you choose to buy using your debit or credit cards. And two, you can also buy the book off Amazon from 6pm today.

 

http://www.fireplace.bikozulu.co.ke/

 

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144 Comments
      1. Finally! A book by Biko! I had been thinking of the day God might ask you what you did with your talents, and you would say that you spent your whole life blogging. I hope to follow your footsteps soon. Keep it up because you are inspiring a whole new generation of writers.

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  1. Atta boy! The ka-book is finally here! Finally something I can read and complain about over this week. And perhaps the next one.
    On Kim, I know you lowkey enjoyed the whole thing because he learnt a lesson. Maybe he will listen to your warnings next time. (He won’t). He has just stepped into the typical boyhood arena. Getting hurt by things before eventually getting hurt by girls.

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  2. I had missed your kids. It’s been a minute since you mentioned them, almost thought you’d done a runner. I also love how the wife is almost never directly mentioned but she’s a constant presence, in the background but visibly so.
    Also, for busted noses, lips, foreheads, broken teeth, try using salt. I’m not sure if it stops the bleeding, but it makes you feel as if you’ve administered some sort of cure, very medicineman-ish, and it is a sort of antiseptic.

    Congrats of finally finishing the novella. Is it affordable or do I have to wait until someone who has a job buys it and I can borrow after a few years?

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  3. Very funny Biko ,that story of your boy and ice queen . What did the mum say when he saw the bloodied shirts?
    What is the title of the book ama its a surprise?

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    1. And just like that, I have a username for Fireplace-ICE QUEEN…because Tamms is so me! Good job on finishing the novela, Chocolate Man(the title is a dilemma itself). Can’t wait to read it because, comradeship!

  4. Finall Biko…..Drunk is here i will make a purchase asap…i had also missed tamms…keep up the good work i soo look forward to tuesdays.hehe

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  5. Thanks Biko. My bank always calls me to confirm if my card has been hacked, because who buys like 3 books off Amazon in a day? Well, with your books available there, they will be making more calls.

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  6. What’s the option for people who’re allergic to E-books?Hardcopy maybe?
    And can we agree on the 40(s) series continuation or something?Who needs a fireplace when it’s this hot? (Lol)
    We all need a great article…

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  7. ‘Hiding them the way we used to hide broken cups at the back of the cupboard’… This was so me and all it did was delay the hiding.. Being a first born meant I had to know, when the cup was broken , who broke it and who hid it…. Tough life.
    Congratulations on your book, Niko!
    Will let you know once I read it… And yes, no piracy ..

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  8. Can I adopt Tamms??he he…seems like a fun-to-be-around kiddo…I’ll definitely purchase the novella.. 🙂 Thanks Biko

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  9. Please let us buy the book roho safi.It is only 500 bob.We have been reading free things from him for a while now.It is time to support a braza. Already bough mine and I AM ON IT!!

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  10. …’bright red blood which means my son is quite oxygenated.’ Really? Tamms is something else all together. Love her. And the little man, bless his heart with his big trusting eyes.

    Can’t wait to bury myself in to the novella. Yaaaaay!!!!!

    1
  11. Congratulations on the novella! I am so in love with your family. Love how you have kept them as a mystery. Can i adopt Kim and Tamms for a day? Tell their mum I will take good care of them

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  12. I just read the first chapter of this.
    This is going to be a good read. One of those I read veeerrry slowly just so it doesn’t end too early.
    Good stuff.

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  13. Fidget spinners as a bribe? Really Chocolate Man?
    How you make us laugh and sill feel woishee for Kim….only you Biko.
    Can’t wait to read the novella. My alarm is set for 6pm… or can I pre-order on Amazon?

  14. “I want to go play on the slide.” He said, to my surprise, and before long he was sliding and running around,
    Kim was enjoying that; he was pretending to be more hurt than he was……..I can fully relate.

    Am in for the book, waiting for Mpesa payment option.

  15. Congrats biko on your achievement, nice read as usual . You’ve reminded me how back in the days i used to hide broken utensils and hide them .

  16. Awesome read Biko. Quick question, can I pay via MPESA TZ i.e. Vodacom using the same business number and account number or is the cash likely to go someone registered in TZ with the same details (busineess & Acc no)?

  17. ‘Kenyans love tragedy. Someone very smart – probably a First Class Honours holder – said to me helpfully, “Take him to the hospital,” and I almost threw an orange at her weave’. U definitely have a way with words, totally hilarious…
    Any who, am excited for you, the book is finally out. Cant wait to grab a copy, how can we get the hard copy for those of us who don’t do(have) credit cards et al. Please also do a book launch and invite us (wink, wink)….

  18. i have forgotten my password! the 3 geeks should come up with a way of recovering PW. or just one of them. it is a one-minute thing haha.

  19. This article has mentioned my favourite gal,Tamms (she drew me to your blog)and my two favourite shows;Grey’s anatomy and GOT. Day made!looking forward to the book

  20. Bought the novella and already finished reading it. Poor Larry’s mum. I hope it is not a real life story. As a mother to one child, i felt the pain of Larry’s mum and Malkia’s mum. I pray to God to keep my baby safe always.

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  21. Kims accident – I had the exact same accident when I was about 7 years old! My mom who is a nurse reacted in the exact same way, she frantically checked to see if I had lost my tongue and would never speak again. Luckily, it was just a bid hole in my lower lip and three or four big stitches by the doctor did the trick. 23 years later and you can barely see a scar:) Anyway, I digress, I like your writing and style so I will certainly look out for the book and buy myself a copy. Congratulations! Writing is not easy.

  22. Biko are you making fun of us or is this book available on Amazon? It’s after 6pm Kenyan, London and New York times but still cannot locate the book. Ama its Hawaiian time LOL!!

  23. Dear team,

    I have made a purchase of the ebook via mpesa. However, when I press complete on the browser, I am getting an error message.
    Mpesa confirmation code: L J 48 J 0 3 K 6 K

    Paid on 4/20/2017 at 1:59pm.

  24. Hey bro, I wanted o buy the book using my paypal account could you please add this button in, money is allergic to my mpesa account most days but I never lack chums in my paypal. Cheers!!

  25. Hey bro, I wanted o buy the book using my paypal account could you please add this button in, money is allergic to my mpesa account most days but I never lack chums in my paypal. Cheers!!

  26. Where can I get this book? I want the hard copy-Something I can smell, keep on my shelf…am still very old school. kindle and I seem not to have a working relationship.

  27. Well that was a hilarious article… Laughed all through it.!!!
    Also, so glad to finally hear of Tamms
    And Grey’s anatomy 🙂

    Congratulations on your first little book.

  28. Can we not igore the fact that he felt 499/- would appeal more than 500/- Give your marketing team a pay rise please.

  29. Even after resetting my password, Fireplace is still telling me that my username was not found! Eeek! Is there something i’m not doing right?

  30. Congratulations on your first Novella Biko! I am an alumni of the High School gang and I am quite excited about your Novella release; I bought and downloaded it on Amazon Kindle last night. Am on Chapter 7 and trying to read it slowly so I can take it all in. I am not even halfway yet and I agree with Wanji that this is a brilliant cut diamond!

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  31. Oooh! you watch Grey Anatomy and GOT.. good for you.

    Lesson: Always carry extra clothes for kids when you taking them out.

    Congrats Biko for the book.

  32. I bought and read the book Note the part I say “bought” Kudos Biko for writing this, I was so engaged in it and I could feel the pain of the characters and your voice from the blogs is quite present in the book. But the end, that was sadistic, I will wait for the last paragraph, as it left me with many questions. Or I will write the last paragraph for myself may be. Good work. But pinch your editors, missed few minor edits.

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  33. But Tamms didn’t even crack a smile, that child has ice cubes in her heart. Ha ha ha ……..

    “If one day she grows up and she meets a man (at 40) who she describes as so funny”. Keep wishing Biko, when it happens at 20 dont be surprised 🙂

    1. Congrats Biko! Hard copy to come soonest, i belong to the analog team that place a bookmark every time we take a break. I have a space in my shelf for Drunk

  34. OMG Biko my dad lost us when I was five and my sister three. Okay not technically,he left us in the car for four hours and we naturally went looking for him. He found us at twilight roaming around town and asking strangers if they’ve seen ‘baba’.Needless to say mum was livid.

  35. Hi Chocolate man, how do I get past the preview page? The number shared after paying on mpesa is out of reach. Please help. Thanks

  36. The story on birds not singing made me cry buckets…that one will not forget.the interview with Oyunga Pala had me confused like for ages I thought that was your pen name….lol

  37. I purchased the book last week and for some weird reason cannot access it, I feel very disappointed, short changed and highly inconvenienced, Kindly have your team look into it urgently! Thanks.