You recall Austin of Peptic Ulcers? When he went for a post treatment check up, Doctor Martin, seemingly in his mid-thirties, donning the typical white coat, ordinary specs and showing a tendency to tolerate beards all over his cheeks, looked straight at him and had this to say;
Please forget alcohol.
For starters, Austin was never an active drinker. He popped in these stuffy and noisy places say once in three months and it had to be out of influence from friends. In other times it was out of those family gatherings events where men are compelled to drink to appease the so called imaginary ancestors. Speaking of family, it’s important to appreciate Austin comes from a family background stemming from the slopes of Mount Kenya. That’s said, I’m sure you’ve come across these breed of kuyus in social functions struggling to shed off a stereotype of harboring unusual appetite for alcohol. These chaps (and a considerable number of women) drink even when they meet for burial preparation activities.
By the way, I have attended several fundraisers in downtown Nairobi, in joints owned by kuyus usually with funny names like Magomano Hotel, Giathiniwa Cafe, Njogu-Ini Inn, organised by these lads where people literally drink heavily while the ceremony runs. Occasionally, your name will be randomly mentioned by the MC to escort a friend to the basket normally placed at the high table as he takes his contribution. Escorting in this aspect means chipping in to his contribution. You will rise with your beer firmly in hand, while adjusting your symbolic godfather hat whose colour will be complementing your pair of Safari boots and join the queue as you dance to a popular mugithi song.
For Austin’s case, he was not that type of a drinker you would find fixed alone at the bar counter, seemingly in deep thoughts, occasionally teasing the bar lady and having one those uncultivated pep talks with her. You know of these chaps, who walk to the bar formally dressed, straight from the office clinging to the Business Daily newspaper? They never sit at any other place apart from the counter. And if it is fully occupied, they’d rather hang around there for hours holding on their brown bottle, keeping tabs with their phones and sporadically engaging the guy seated next to them, in those tall seats.
For Austin, it was a different ball game altogether. He would never walk to a club alone. He had to be in the pack of other thirsty cubs eager and excited to catch up and kill the night courtesy of drinks. He savored the thrill that comes with drinking in the company of his boys, so to speak and the drama that makes the night wilder. Be it because of the guys seated next to them who would hide some bills much to the frustration of the waitress to the weirdness that comes with all types of drinkers. This was best captured in an article I wrote not so long ago; What Type of A Bar Patron Do You Make .
The good think about alcohol (not that I’m advocating for it) makes one more human if you take it responsibly. You see, these days we rarely say hello to strangers be it in matatus, not in the barber shop queue nor in the ATM line. We hold and keep it to ourselves. This never occurs in the bar. Chaps who have a cordial relationship with the bar counter are normally taken to be lone drinkers but that never deters them from bonding with the rest, with similar ethos. In fact as the hours speed off so does the silence. The more litres ones imbibe the more talkative one becomes, thanks to alcohol. Even when you walk to the washrooms and bump on this stranger as you do your thing, alcohol compels one to warmly acknowledge him, be it through a nod or a smile. This toxic stuff has a way of exuding the human touch.
From what I gathered from Austin, he is keen on ensuring he faithfully stays away from alcohol and its dens for as long as he lives. Of course to the much delight of his girlfriend who was openly against him taking alcohol. Well, she seems to have had the last laugh. But what would happen if he gets invited to one of those bridal parties, birthday bashes and dowry events. Will he survive the jabs and indirect ridicules from friends and relatives? Will his body have conformed to the tough laws passed without much consultation or notice courtesy of Doctor Martin? Martin should have prepaid him for this hehe and be like; well, you have two more months to drink and from then forget if alcohol ever existed in the first place. But that would still be tough for him especially on Fridays when he will be driving past his formerly usual joints and have them unrelentingly throw tempts at him. The familiar music, and mood will take toll on him too.
Being a teetotaler is tough, he quips. Nowadays everybody drinks. How does one manoeuvre life with this kind of stigma? To add on, the doctor also advised him to avoid coffee and lemon and any acidic foods. Meaning, Austin will not be in a position to even take an intern for coffee. Or rather he will take her and drink tea. How do you walk in to Java House – Nanyuki and order for tea? The intern will be taken aback! Tea should be taken at home or in the office not in Java or any other high end place that you could take your girlfriend hehe. She will indulge him;
Why kienyeji tea?
Blame the doctor. Coffee triggers heartburn.
Oooooh woisheeeee. Poor thing.
Meanwhile, he will have to take cues from renowned Kenya public figures who are established teetotalers to name a few; the celebrated radio presenter – Willi M.Tuva, Hip hop artiste – Octopizzo, the flashy – Jaguar, the high rolling – Victor Wanyama, Top Dj – Dj Joe Mfalme, local dancehall guru – Wyre and Ladies favourite – Jeff Mote. I saw Larry Madowo in the list but wasn’t too sure if he is a strict teetotaler. I’m told Dhoty Family’s Dj Kriss Darlin’ doesn’t drink as well. As it seems, Austin is in a safe company of brave gentlemen who have arguably solid careers at their grip, taking the battle of teetotalling right at the doorstep of the drinking hearth. That’s pure audacity at best.
On the flipside he will have to cut links with his drinking buddies. This has everything to do with friends who never have any other agenda apart from always urging him to go drinking. It will be difficult for him but important, at least to save his health.
All the best Bro Austin! It’s time you did this!
Photo courtesy of Standard Digital Entertainment – SDE