THE MALAVA TRAVELLERS 007

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

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IN the other tuktuk the two spoke little. Syp was wondering why Lodoviko would let Bruno cling to Lady G. so, if he (Lodiviko) loved or in the least liked Lady G. She did not ask Lodoviko this however. Instead she said, “They look nice together.”


“Who?” said Lodoviko.


“The two.”


“Mmh. --Where are we going, Little Flower?”


“Boss,” Syp then said to the driver, “do you know of a club that is not very noisy?”


‘Boss’ did not know. He said all clubs were the same, as far as he knew.


After a little while, Syp asked the driver to stop on the curb. They had arrived at Oginga Odinga Street. They stepped out. The other tuktuk also stopped, behind the first one, and Bruno and Lady G. came out. Bruno was holding Lady G. by the waist. Syp coughed in a low voice at Lodoviko. They paid the fares.


The street was bustling. They had stopped before a club that had a narrow staircase leading up to the first floor. The music, through the upper windows, was loud. And the lights were flashing, rhythmically with the beats, through the windows: blue, green, red, yellow…


“What now?” said Lady G., projecting her voice.


“Is this the place?” Bruno said to Syp.


Syp wasn’t sure now. If they entered the club--and should the others despise the place, they’d blame her. She shrugged her shoulders, saying, “Yes.”


Bruno had before read about a renowned club on Mamboleo Road, called Signature, but he did not mention it. Solving the uncertainty, Lodoviko said, “My friends, get in. Let us see what the night has kept inside.”


During the day Lodoviko had been reserved, but now his loud voice returned; and as he led them into the club, he grabbed Syp’s hand.


Lodoviko was the first to be frisked by the bouncer. The bouncer scrutinized Lodoviko’s face. And as Lodoviko was still holding Syp’s hand, the bouncer switched his probing look from Lodoviko to Syp and back again. Then he let Lodoviko wait on the side, as he said to Syp, “How old are you?”


“What do you think?” said Syp.


“She,” Bruno said, laughing, “is an adult.”


“ID,” said the bouncer.


Syp said she had not carried her ID. They’d not gain admittance therefore, said the bouncer. Lodoviko said to the bouncer, “She is a woman. A small woman. Look at her chest. Let us in.”


“You have no shame, old man,” the bouncer said, “what were you doing in your younger years?”


“He was being a refugee,” Syp said; the bouncer ignored her.


“Mr.,” said Lodoviko, “it is you who have no shame. The money we bring here is what pays you. Let us in.”


“This is a school girl.”


“No!” said Syp to the bouncer. And now she showed her ID. The bouncer snatched it from her, and used a torch to aid his confirmation. He returned it to her, and then allowed them to pass. He did not search Bruno nor Lady G. As our friends entered, the bouncer turned to look at them; he shook his head, chuckling.

Kisumu City | Photo by Denis Chiedo at The Afrilens
Kisumu City | Photo by Denis Chiedo at The Afrilens

*

SYPROSA had never been to a nightclub.


With her boyfriend, whom we mentioned in the beginning of this true story, she watched movies for leisure; and enjoyed music besides.


In this club, she could not enjoy the music; it was loud. And the flashing lights, the dancing crowd, the humidity, and the smell of alcohol, made her edgy. People danced at the centre. At the walls there were tall stools and couches. And a wooden platform affixed horizontally against the wall, made for a table (there were other standalone tables too). Lodoviko led her there. They sat on the tall stools. On the walls there was a steady strip of glass all round. Syp saw themselves here; their reflection. The reflection also revealed the faces that were watching her and Lodoviko. It did not bother her. A waiter would come.


Bruno had detained Lady G. at the dance floor. “Let’s dance!”


“Let’s get something first,” Lady G. had said. So they joined Lodoviko and Syp. They placed their orders when the waiter came. Syp would take Coke; the others, beer and whiskey--with ice, and a big bottle of water. Bruno was delighted. He had not been like this the whole day. He sat very close to Lady G. and positioned his mouth next to her ear. “How are you feeling?” he said to her.


“What?” The music was loud.


“Are you happy?”


“Yea. The place is good.”


“As happy as what?”


“Don’t be ridiculous.”


“Ever had a black boyfriend?”


“What?”


“An African.”


“Ha ha.”


“Seriously--”


--The drinks came. The waiter served them.


Lodoviko was murmuring to Syp. “What are the two of you whispering about?” Lady G. said to them. They did not answer.


Bruno laid his hand on Lady G.’s back and rubbed the place. “Don’t be fast,” she told him.


“What?” Bruno said.


“You are sweet, but don’t be in a hurry. It becomes a bore.”


Bruno released his hand from her back. She said, “I didn't mean it in a bad way. Don’t be ridiculous. You can touch me if you want.”


“Let’s go dance a bit,” he said.


“No, not yet. I want to get the heat first.”


They drank on.


Lodoviko stopped his murmurs to Syp; and began speaking in his usual loud voice. The three needed not struggle to hear him. He told them about his past; before he came to Kenya. He told them about the genocide in the 70s and the civil war in the 90s in his country. Burundi. He told them how things went; he did not mention his role in these turmoils. Syprosa wondered what might have happened to his family. She did not ask him again. She remembered Lodoviko had wept the other time she asked him about his family.


Lodoviko was loud. Nearby drinkers heard him. One man came over. He was young and muscly; looked like a gym-goer. Lodoviko thought the young man had come to listen to his tales. He was drunk a little, the young man. But he was not slurring his words. He said, “Who is the alpha in this group?”


“That would be me,” said Bruno. Syp laughed. Lodoviko paused his tale.


“Miss,” said the young man, turning to Lady G., “American? Spanish?”


“Take your pick,” said Lady G.


“We are having a private time,” Bruno said, “Mr.--”


Lady G. kicked Bruno’s foot.