I have always been of the opinion that those who keep reminding us to always choose happiness do not know what they are talking about. That you cannot ‘choose to be happy no matter what’ because that’s not how life works. When you wake up one morning to a text of your girlfriend breaking up with you, you don’t draw the curtains, stick your head outside the window, let fresh air drift across your face and whisper, “You know what? I choose to be happy!” Or when you spend the whole day in the office fantasising about the leftover Ugali-Omena in your fridge only to get home and find that the man masquerading as your bae has eaten it and not even done the dishes, that you’ll smile and say, “I will not let this heinous act come in the way of my happiness. I, Florida Nekesa, choose to be happy!”
No, that’s not how things work. You slum the fridge door shut and match to the living room where he will be seated, watching something on TV, and give them a proper dress down.
“Otieno, did you or did you not eat the ugali-Omena that I left in the fridge?”
He will look up. “What?”
“You heard me the first time, Otieno. DID YOU. OR DID YOU NOT. EAT THE GOD-DAMN UGALI-OMENA THAT I LEFT IN THE FRIDGE?”
“Are you being serious?”
“Oh, does it look like I am joking?” You’ll hold your chest. “Does this sound like a joke to you? Now you listen to me, you better not touch anything that you did not put in that fridge again, hear me? All you do is sit there doing projects on your silly laptop that never seem to generate money that you can use to buy your own food and keep in the damn fridge!”
“Calm down baby, I did not mean—”
“I do not give a hoot what you mean or do not mean. And don’t fucking tell me to calm down! Just leave my food alone!”
Later that night, because Otieno is not the kind of guy that lets small misunderstanding come between him and the land of milk and honey, he will edge closer, his penis prodding your bare ass, and you’ll elbow him because you are the kind that relishes revenge.
Choose to be happy my ass.
Anyway, the lovers of this saying may not entirely be wrong. They must have learned something from their Wahenga that the rest of us didn’t, and we can’t blame them for our small brains. Because you see, I went out on Saturday. I mainly went out to cure the hangover that woke up with me because I went out on Friday to cure the hangover that woke up with me because I went out on Thursday (You can read the aftermath of this partying here). As you can already tell, I made pretty poor decisions last week and I have Josephine Ndegwa to blame for this.
“You need to go out,” she kept saying whenever I told her I am not stepping out for the weekend. “Don’t get used to just shindaing in the house.”
Josephine is a good friend whom I have never met. Hehee. But we chat often. She’s a lover of country music and alcohol. She knows that her chances of going to heaven get slimmer with every passing weekend because of her weekend rendezvous and she wants me to sit with her in that hot corner of hell when the time for reckoning comes, so she keeps advising me to go out and have one for the road. Josephine, you wait, I will tell Jesus it is you who misled me.
“So, Mbanacho, you seem like a well-adjusted man. Wearing rubbers and fitting jeans and T-shirts as all well-adjusted men do, why do you find yourself in this position? Mmmh?” Jesus will ask, flipping through my file.
“It’s Josephine, Jesus.”
“I am sorry, who?”
“We have so many Josephines, you may want to be specific.”
He will arch His eyebrows.
“The one that loves Country Music (knows them all), and occasionally goes to Mugithi nights?”
“Ooh, Josephine Ndegwa, si you should have said so?”
“I did say so.”
“Be careful, remember you are at my mercy here. Anyway, so you were saying that it is Josephine who did what?”
I will tell Him and He will nod. “Enyewe Josephine does look like the kind who can do that to people. Get them to go out for Country shows and Mugithi Nights and..” He will shrug, “By the way, who still goes to Mugithi Night?”
“I know, right?”
“Haha.” He will then clear his throat. “Anyway, this is judgement day, we can’t be cracking jokes.”
“But shouldn’t your father be the one doing this?”
“Oh, He left me in charge. He is over there overseeing the…” He will turn to point at God and we will both look to see God nodding his head, one earphone plugged into His ear, listening to some Mugithi song with Josephine leaning next to Him.
I went out on Saturday. Started drinking at Heritage and later moved to Highlands. At Highlands, I saw people who had chosen to be happy. I didn’t know because I talked to them, or because they had the words, “I CHOOSE HAPPINESS” tattooed on their foreheads. I knew because they looked like what Happiness would look like if it had a face. They filled me with so much joy, these people. And they were in pairs. Or groups.
The first was a pair of women. They were in deras. Yes, in a club with a gaggle of women in short dresses that looked like you could see the cloud of looming silent fart if they bent over, these two were in deras. Big breasted. No bras. Their breasts jiggled in their deras and their nipples pierced through the fabric of their attires. Light skins. One with a nose piercing. Another with a temporary tattoo on her hands. Their resemblance was striking and I believe they were sisters. They danced together. Held each other’s hands and swayed to the music. At some point, one would wrap their arms around the other and lead the dance. Nothing too vigorous. Nothing that made their big breasts fly off to hit a tray off a waitress’ hand. And they had on bright smiles.
When they weren’t feeling the music they sat to drink their beers and whisper things to each other. I do not know their names. I have no idea what their story is. But I could tell they had chosen to be happy.
The next ones were three dudes clad in T-shirts and skinny jeans and old school shoes. Now, these three jamaas knew every dance move. Shaku Shaku. Kanyaga Lami. Gwara Gwara. Odi Dance. Shoulder Dance (if it exists). They did not try to rub their groins on any woman’s butt. I don’t remember not seeing those guys not dancing. I wasn’t even sure where their seats were. Maybe they didn’t have enough money to buy enough beers to turn them into zombies. Maybe they didn’t have money to buy free drinks and hope that these free drinks will lead to naked light skins waking up beside them, nipples erect and thighs moist, reeking of alcohol and mad sex. Or maybe they had the money for all that, but they were here to dance. To feel the music. I do not know their names. I have no idea what their story is. But I could tell they had chosen to be happy.
At midnight the DJ switched to local music. And by local, I don’t mean Jua Cali local. Or Timmy T Dat local. I mean local-local. Jacob Luseno with his band poured their hearts out from the speakers with Mukangala. The house went crazy. Women jumped on their feet and whined their waists. Men sprang up and did things with their shoulders. The atmosphere reeked of life. Of a promise.
When Prince Indah came on with his Nyar Kisumo masterpiece, the house went into a frenzy. At that point it didn’t matter whether you understood the language or not, the music was just too good not to be felt.
A time came for some dance competition where six women had to battle out in the dance floor for a cool 5K. Ladies and gentlemen, I have witnessed two of these competitions and I can assure you, the slim women with an ass the size of a bubble gum always win. I don’t know why. But the ladies with big ass never impress. Their ass shake, and you can really see them shake, but the shaking doesn’t ignite anything in you. There was this slim woman in black shorts. Wueh! That girl could stand straight like a pole and still shake her damn ass. The way her ass moved you could tell that something special was happening. When she set her legs apart, slightly bent and did that thing that involves shaking one butt cheek at a time, we all felt weak at the knees.
She was killing the moves. Killing the music. Killing us. And she was gorgeous as hell. I cannot remember the faces of the other women but her face stuck with me. Dark skinned. Thin nose. Short hair with a golden dye across it. It’s ironical we call slim people bonny but she didn’t appear to have any bones in her. And what did it for all of us that we wildly cheered to crown her the winner, was the smile she had on and the way she feeeelt the music. I do not know her name. I do not know her story. But the girl had clearly chosen to be happy.
If the story of these slim women winning twerking competitions teaches you anything, especially if you are a man, is that size doesn’t matter. 🙂 Who is that at the back disagreeing? Cheptoo Telmet is that you? Haha.
It was a lovely night out. During the dance-off, some short dude stood on the chair so he could see what was happening and when the bouncers tried asking him, politely, to step down, he caused a ruckus, shouting, “I AM A CUSTOMER! I NEED TO BE RESPECTED! CUSTOMERS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT! IS IT MY FAULT THAT I AM SHORT?” Uhm, neither is it our fault, Mr. Short-people’s-activist! So shut the fuck up!
The bouncer lifted him with one hand and threw him out in the name of Jesus! The whole house cheered because people who have chosen to be happy don’t entertain nuisance from people who think the world owes them and that everyone should bow at their feet to inject some happiness into their life.
Before walking out, I squeezed a 200 bob note in the palm of this bouncer who hugged me when I came in like he knew me, and hugged me as I left, and I kept wondering if we knew each other.
At wee hours of the morning, Nairobi City is peaceful. The air reeks of earned grace. The streets appear cleaner under the streetlights and everyone seems to be smiling. The hookers will be more aggressive though because time will be running out. But everything else will be chill, a fine time to decide that henceforth; you’ll always choose to be happy. Put yourself first. Unless you are a writer with awesome readers like myself, then your readers will come first. Because you owe that to them. And their fat wallets from which money to buy After The Storm comes from.