Lent nights and the road to Damascus

Mhesh suffers a moment of weakness at a dim pub in Githurai

In Summary

• Whoever said one man's meat is another man's poison has not visited this pub

A man plays pool
A man plays pool

A stone’s throw away from the old Githurai 45 roundabout, you have to bypass the gate of the largest cathedral here to get to this specific dim, oblong pub with unusual patrons.

It is called Damascus. Most lazybones who mill around here nonstop call it Dama. It is tiresome for them to pronounce the whole word.

The entrance of the bar has an old mural whose paint is peeling off from dust erosion. On it, a lion sitting-sitting on the laps of a lion sips White Cap off a tattered glass. The lion’s glass has a crack that runs from left to right. When the sun is at noon, a rainbow ray comes off this ray and decorates the fresco.

To the left of Dama is a bootleg bulk pharmacy that specialises in Viagra, P2 and Shash. The doctor is a dwarf who twerks his bum as greetings to his customers. He has pink ladders in the shop.

An old wild rumour here is that as a gynaecologist, he specialises in the wives of night boda boda riders. The backdoor of his drug shop leads to the lodgings behind Damascus. 

On the other side of this pub-cum-lodging is a shoe-shining Mzee. He is the age of Baba. His lack of teeth gives his face a rodent approximation. His head is an inverted pyramid, and the face dances with chews each time he munches peanuts. Doesn't he live for them? He earns them.

For a seat, he has inverted a tiny drum that once carried ethanol. Between his bony body and the tin drum, he places a beige sponge. It has visible lice that have no fear for humans. They come out and bask on their backs to stare at the state of prostitution in this season of Lent.

Mzee has been shining shoes on this dusty condoms-polluted street called Kwa Gacagua since the days of Mwakenya. He shows all who bother a shiny shilling so grey and smooth with the face of Moi.

He claims it was given to him by Moi as part of the loot of being a Nyayo-era top cop. Some say he used to be a feared jailer and sodomised many a political detainee.

Next to our doctor of shoes is the spot where the night sojas stand. From there, they escort the moon through the night skies here somewhere in Githurai.

This street ends at the camp of a petty local administrator with a female face and a sickly flaccid tummy.

His office is rarely closed. He is rarely in it. The lines are rarely short outside on the benches of patience near his open door. Government services are offered sparingly.

This female government-man prefers to spend time inside Damascas doing two important things.

Daily, he jots down on a wood board the scores of idle pool players as the full-time umpire. He loves writing. He keeps telling many that he is a distant cousin of Ngugi wa Thiong’o and one day, he will write better novels than his famous relative. 

Daily, this public servant loves sitting his strange body on the laps of extra-sized happy girls. Occasionally, he dozes off on their buxom bosoms and dreams of a rainbow of books with a thumb in his mouth. Often, he farts and they pat his weird belly.

Never laugh at this place; your daughter may be upstairs. This is a famous maxim he jot down in one of the stinking Dama latrines. Many pimps pat his butt and call him Profesa. He farts then.

It is here, deep in the dim pub called Damascus, that the scandalous bachelor legislator met his date with fate. They had played pool against each other before.

They never talked. They came by here rarely but coincidence is the mother of happenings.


That day, amidst the dimly lit ambience of Damascus, Mhesh, the lawmaker, found himself locked in a betting game of pool with a dreadlocked varsity pimp we all call Ras.

His rivalry with Ras had always simmered beneath the surface like an undercurrent waiting to pull them into uncharted waters.

As they clashed cues and traded shots, the tension between them crackled with palpable intensity, sparking a strange and unbidden attraction.

With each calculated move and strategic shot, their bodies seemed to gravitate closer, drawn together by an inexplicable magnetism.

The clack of pool balls echoed like a heartbeat in the tense air, mirroring the erratic rhythm of their own racing pulses. It was as if the universe itself conspired to bring them to this tense moment, where eyes stared and their egos wrestled.

As the competition reached its climax, their eyes locked in a silent exchange fraught with unspoken longing and forbidden desire.

In a daring move, the lawyer leaned in, his lips brushing against Ras’ ear, sending shivers cascading down their mutual spines.

In that electrifying moment, years of suppressed yearning and hidden passion erupted like a wildfire, consuming Ras in a blaze of raw sense.

Their bodies pressed together in a fervent embrace, hands exploring roughly with stiff pool sticks.

In the hazy embrace of the dimly-lit bar, they surrendered to the nameless raw desire, lost in a whirlwind of sensations unknown as blackout hit the entire slum, shouts of irate Premier League-betting hustlers, hurled obscenities into the starless Githurai skies.

But as the lights in a blink returned, albeit dim, and reality, came crashing back, with sobering clarity, Mheshimiwa, recoiled in shock and disbelief. What had he done? How could he … and in front of all stares?

In the aftermath of the blinking blackout, he grappled with a tumult of conflicting emotions, haunted by the implications of his rash actions on Ras and the revelation it unearthed.


The whores who saw him rush pursued him drunkenly down Kwa Gacagua with catcalls of Mheshimiwa! Mhesh! Tuko njaa! Kujia!

He stumbled nonstop down the cold embrace of the wee night hours. The competition he left behind, unresolved. He lit the ganja Ras had forced into his unsteady palm.

It did not light. It was soggy.

He cursed at the cathedral gate.

To escape the drunk, addicted and addictive girls in search of happiness closing down on him, he rushed into the holy compound, towards the open arms of the mighty crucifix and nuns reciting Hail Mary awake.

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