United by a game, divided by teams

The wait for Arsenal to win the league leads to mockery from ManU fan

In Summary

• The good old debate about which is better between ManU and Arsenal resurfaces


For one day (maybe even mere hours in a day), our woes are forgotten as nearly everyone in Jiji Ndogo hangs on to activities taking place 10,000km away — the last day of the English Premier League.

I’m a diehard Manchester United fan, but also sane enough to know we have no chance in hell of coming out with anything this season. My joy, therefore, was relishing the misery of others and piling on as much of it as possible.

Inspector Tembo, my common-law father-in-law (who also happens to be my boss) has been an Arsenal fan well before the EPL was fashionable in the country.

“Personally,” I tell him as we gather for the pre-game show, “I admire Arsenal fans for your resilience. If you applied the same amount of determination to everything, it’s not a stretch to see one of you wait years for a girl to say ‘yes’ to your advances.”

Sophia, my common-law wife and frenemy in just about every aspect, laughs as she sets a tea kettle on the table. “You should be an Arsenal fan, then,” she tells me.

“How so?” I ask.

She turns to her father. “Dad, how long did Makini pursue me without giving up?”

Inspector Tembo scratches his chin. “Four, five years maybe?”

“It was three years,” I mumble defensively.

“Yes, dear. I think that makes you a very patient man.”

I drop my gaze. “Or an idiot, perhaps.”

Sophia burns me with her eyes. “What did you say? You think it’s idiotic to wait to marry me?”

Time for damage control. “Of course not, dear. You were the prize. Not a stupid cup like Arsenal fans are willing to kill or die for.”

“Says a Man-Useless fan,” Inspector Tembo chimes in. “Your kids will be adults before that teams wins the league again.”

“You could be right. It’s been 20 years since you guys last clinched it. And it might yet be another 20.”

Inspector Tembo shoots to his feet, his large round face red as beetroot. “You want to bet on that? I can put down 10 grand and it’s yours if Man Useless wins the Premier League before we do. And, mind you, we are winning it today.”

“You mean ‘again’?” I push back, standing up to face my in-law.

“What are you talking about?”

“You meant to say if we won the trophy ‘again’ before you guys do. We’ve won it five times since your invincibles took it, and today is yet another day you come close but no cigar.”

Inspector Tembo, who is taller than me and built like a Sherman tank, grabs me by the collar and hoists me up. “Say that again. I dare you.”

Sophia jumps to her feet and separates us. “Enough! Put my puny husband down, dad.”

He shakes his head. “Not until he apologises.”

“I will apologise,” I say with a sneer, “when Arsenal wins the league.”

“Good enough for me,” Sophia quips. “Dad, if you’re sure your team will win today, then it’s only a matter of what, two-three hours, right?”

We both turn puzzled eyes to Sophia.

Tembo sets me down and asks her, “Do you even know how long a game of football lasts?”

“A whole year?” she says innocently. “You guys been at it since last year.”

“That’s a season, love,” I tell her. “He meant one game.”

She shrugs. “Who cares? As it’s embarrassing enough to think that two grown men can fight over a bunch of millionaires tussling over a piece of leather thousands of kilometres away. You, dear husband, should focus all that energy on loving me.”

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