When your watering hole friends become headline newsmakers

A roundabout recollection of an acquaintance who has wound up dead and his wife in custody

In Summary

• it was a horrible tragedy, and I feel sorry for both of them

The underground tank where the body of Tob Cohen was discovered by detectives on Friday
The underground tank where the body of Tob Cohen was discovered by detectives on Friday

It’s amazing how many different people cross your path if you hang around one place long enough. Once upon a time long ago, I met a young woman through friends in a bar. She was the kind of person middle-aged, judgemental and hypocritical conservatives would have hated, but whom me and my gang of gay friends thought was really quite a fabulous diva. 

She was an outrageous flirt, and spoke her mind, and for a while had been seeing this ‘secret man’. Eventually when she unveiled her secret lover, it turned out I knew him and his wife.

But this story isn't about the one-time larger than life Nairobi gay icon, or even her married boyfriend. 

By the way, the boyfriend was a paranoid so and so. Despite being aware that everyone, including his wife, knew he was what the British tabloids would call "a love rat," he liked everyone to maintain the fiction that nobody knew he was sleeping around. 

Think of my morals what you like, but I never cared enough about him or his wife to get involved in their business. Also, I've always believed that what two adults get up to of their own free will is nobody's business but their own.

But this is not about him, it is actually about another man with whom he was friends. 

This other man and I became drinking cronies some years later when he started visiting my local watering hole. He would often bring his wife along for a drink.

Whereas he was a chatty drunk, she was often cool as a cucumber. Don’t get me wrong, she was friendly enough, but she never seemed to let her guard down. Some people are like that, I suppose.

Anyway, on and off during my last years in Nairobi, this couple and I would have the odd drink together and chat about life.

I wouldn't say we were bosom buddies, but we got on quite well whenever we drank together, and to me they seemed fairly content with each other and life in general.

Of course nobody has any clue what goes on behind closed doors. Some people have mastered the artifice of being socially charming while away from the limelight, it’s another story altogether. 

Nevertheless, I was still surprised to learn during my last visit to Nairobi that he had gone missing. Perhaps because I watch too many detective shows and have read more pulp fiction detective thrillers than is healthy, I refused to think the worst and began to imagine that my old bar crony had chosen to disappear for some odd reason. Perhaps like other men who have suddenly left their families, he had run away to start a new life somewhere else.

When the police found his body stashed away in a septic tank, it became clear that someone had done Tob in. And if the rumours are to be believed, it is beginning to look a lot like Sarah had something to do with it.

If the matter goes to trial, we may or may not find out what really happened. But whatever happened, it was a horrible tragedy, and I feel sorry for both of them.