Lying helplessly a few yards from my estate’s gate in the path of car exhaust fumes and every other stuff that the crisp Nairobi air nurses is Tanu’s den. His base, as he commonly calls it, is simply a complicated relationship between iron-sheets, nails and wood. The three-some affair though houses many a tale to fancy. Everyone in the hood knows Tanu. He is often seen outside his base mowing the grass or whistling to his hound that barks all the time; making him run to the end of his chain to gag himself. He’d then laugh at the gimmick. So barbaric!
Tanu has mowed many a head than a lawn. He’s my barber even though he hates church and soccer. He whines about it all the time as if a gun’s pointed to his head. He is also to blame for the myriads of unconventional haircuts on many young heads in the estate. Below an ‘akili ni nywele‘ (brains are hair) poster hanging on the wall is a waste paper basket that has morphed into a hair collection pit. My visits to Tanu are sparsed, though a relish. My beard forces me to. Sometimes it tells me i’m cool and i spare it, only for me to look at the mirror and wonder what an old man is doing in my quarters. Tanu comes in handy.
Even though his kinyozi sits on grabbed land, apparently separated from the sidewalk by a 5-metre grassy patch, he once disclosed to me that he’d setup the place with money borrowed from a village loan shark. He then fled the village never to be seen again. I ticked him in my debt-defaulters notebook.
Maybe because ‘brains are hair’ or ‘hair is brains’, my barber seems to grasp everything, even that which happens in the hood. He seemingly has the uncanny ability to read people’s brains through their hair as he navigates their heads. That’s how we became buddies. I always cherish many a brained lad, even though with veins already bulging on his face and one and half decade older than me.
While at times he’d stir a deep-seated debate being the type who’re hell-bent on having the last word all the time, other times he’d engage customers in a conversation that headed nowhere; just stranded and foraging like alley cats. He recently bet his earnings on whether a supreme court judge would be found guilty of corruption by a probe inquiry committee. Well, the committee found the allegations valid and just like that, i’d earned 2 free haircuts.
“You see, girls are not just soft boys.”
He once disclosed while looking at me straight in the eye. It was sometimes easy to be carried away by the mere beauty of his prose fueled by the smooth flow of his oratory. I also wondered where this was headed to.
“You don’t confine a lady to sitting next to you watching men in shorts, physically fitter than you, chasing after an inflated cowhide for a whooping 90 minutes.”
He’d narrate in that tone that changed the mood to a father-son exchange. It’s then that I thought he’s hiding something and was fondling with the bones in the closet. Something like a wife. In fact for the first time ever , i wondered how he was a digit to hitting forty, yet no trace of some wench hovering around. Single and happy(?)
A bored waiting customer once interrupted enquiringly about the whereabouts of the gents and he retorted, “Ah, those things?! Go irrigate the nation in the bush right behind here.” He then blurted after he left, “Some men are just rough girls. What does a man need a loo for?”
I decide to throw in the wife-question bait.
“A man needs a loo, because he’ll eventually have a wife.”
That’s how petty our dialogue would get at times.
“What for? To hide in there while ‘Yours Truly’ throws a tantrum?”
“Tantrums? That’s why you don’t have a wife?”
I’d grin at my very naughty mischievous stunt.
“Get a good wife in this stuffy city? How?”
“Well, you can up your game. Take another loan and open a salon. That way you sample the prey as it brings itself.”
“Haha, you’re such a clever lad. Your stupid age-mates are probably carving a firm niche in intensive sports betting and playing Lotto. But you don’t sample women’s brains by touching their hair.”
And as i pondered how a senior bachelor hadn’t hit the realization that you’ll discover another continent before you even know how to sample a woman’s brains, Tanu added, “You see, when you want to marry; marry a woman who eats. She’ll cook for you.” He’d say as he stroked his goatee intellectually and cough like a village elder. Nevertheless I wasn’t ready to fall for his intimidating tricks of taking control of this exchange.”
“Have you tried the village? They’re a bit idle there; and they eat a lot.”
However we saw the other customer trotting from the bushes and we had to cut short our convo after agreeing to break even on nyama choma at the local shebeen in two weeks time. Meanwhile, I was to help him search a wife.
*** *** *** *** ***
I’d have forgotten that whole episode of roughly two weeks ago had I not shared this front seat with a well-endowed sister on Sunday in my nganya riding to church. It was so early, yet before we even exchanged pleasantries, she removed a little parcel that had a whole litre of yogurt, three brown chapatis, two oranges and two avocados from which she proceeded to dig into with her bare digits. Mark you, that’s like an Arabian breakfast of six. That’s when I reckoned my assignment with my barber. I noted exclusively where she alighted; at Helicopter Church. So, next Sunday, Tanu will go to church.