For those fortunate enough to never have endured a curfew, allow me to educate you.
These are the Chronicles of Thanda Maria.
Allow me to set the tone; it’s all fun and games until you find yourself outside after hours.
Just ask my good friend from the mean streets of Thanda Maria, Ndung’u, or as he likes to call himself, the HT.
He is an authority on such weighty matters.
HT stands for Hungry Tiger. He thinks it’s very creative. It is said that he got this nickname in the early 90s while working as a cook in Murang’a High school’s dining hall. There is however an absence of consensus as to whether he gave himself the nickname or it was given to him by persons other than him.
He claims it came from persons other than him.
You see, the Hungry Tiger is not below giving himself self aggrandizing nicknames so one cannot be too sure. Also, not only does the HT play fast and loose with the truth, he enjoys a very liberal and casual relationship with facts.
He prefers to dance concentric circles around facts when it suits him.
I know, I have taken him along on many road trips.
Of importance though, is that he got it because he could consume a ridiculously large amount of food that was meant for students at the DH. This was of course against the standard operating procedure of that kitchen. This led to him being released of his culinary duties at the School.
His eating is something I can attest to. It’s an art form of remarkable beauty. I have been witness to it’s magic many times. It’s like mozart with a piano meets Michelangelo at the sistine chapel.
I remember when the HT, a friend and I once ordered for 9 pieces of chicken and two large fries, at chicken inn, in Thika during a trip to a garage there. The pieces turned out to be too spicy and my friend and I had stomach acid issues. So we decided to abstain from the chicken. The chicken couldn’t be returned either, so the HT casually ate a bucket containing 9 pieces of extra spicy chicken and a large packet of fries. And those pieces weren’t small.
This wouldn’t be very impressive normally; but he is reed thin and had earlier told me to cease and desist from procuring any form of food for him since he was full. He instructed me to instead focus those considerable resources to the more meaningful endeavor that was hydrating his serially arid throat.
He only agreed to partake in any form of eating after a solemn assurance that it would not in any way or form, jeopardize the anticipated hydration of his tonsils with intoxicating fluids of the potentially blindness inducing kind.
I cannot properly emphasize the fact that the HT is a world class, category A.1.(i), consumer of alcoholic beverages. Currently he is ranked as the third most feared throat irrigator in Thanda Maria by popular consensus. He is recognized as such by the Kommittee of experts that sits daily at the farthest corner of our local Kíharú stadium. That particular corner is notoriously named, Kímura-iní. Literally, where there is sawdust.
It is named so because of the adjacent heap of saw-dust used as cushioning for local schools high jump and pole vault events. Most importantly though, it doubles up as our designated alcohol poisoning recuperating facility.
Incidentally, the HT is a walking alcohol poisoning tutorial.
They say in the Far East that a tiger does not boasts of it’s trigitude, it pounces.
The HT has never read a memo to that effect. And if he has, he doesn’t seem to care.
He constantly boasts of his formidable tigritude and never pounces on anything. When his throat becomes sufficiently hydrated, he is constantly threatening to issue severe beatings to anyone bold enough to even look in his general direction.
He has one of the sharpest mouths in Thanda Maria but it isn’t accompanied by any kind of martial prowess.
You see, the HT is not so good at close quarter, hand to hand combat. Like, he is seriously bad. If you have a flair for the dramatic like I do; he is egregious. Look it up, you’ll laugh. I have seen him engage in very comical drunk fights against malnourished Ninjas and still lose. I might add that he loses by very dubious metrics because no actual, meaningful punches are usually exchanged. Of course he always claims to have won.
He isn’t exactly subtle when saying that he is the HT either. He shouts it to everyone at the top of his voice at all times, day or night, when a certain intoxication threshold is breached .
The HT gets so arrogant when he gets drunk you would think that he has a lot of money. The only thing drier than his throat are his pockets, he is habitually and chronically broke.
When he is intoxicated, he is always refering to himself, very loudly I might add, as, “the son of a poor millionaire!”
Now that we have set context, let me tell you of his free, government sponsored short course on the importance of observing curfew etiquette.
At the height of the crackdown of the Mùngíkí menace in the late 2000s, Murang’a was a notorius hot spot for the adherents of the sect. So various special police units and GSU officers were sent to Múrang’a in large numbers. It was a dreadful time to be a young man in Múrang’a; Ninjas died or disappeared in their hundreds.
Thanda Maria played host to a large contigent of youthful and menacing GSU officers wielding guns and huge sticks. They had a pretty bad sense of humor. There was a de facto curfew in place and no one could be outside after dark.
There was a serious sense of dread around the village.
Trust me, thigari cia túraí, as the GSU are known around here, could enforce a curfew pretty well. ‘Thigari cia túraí’ loosely translated is ‘polisi wa karai’. This was because their helmets looked like those popular steel containers or Karais used to cook or ferry water.
Throat irrigation was a seriously sectetive affair in the many thickets around the village. This is because the GSU had a strong distate for any form of gathering and they often felt a strong inclination to use excessively disproportionate violence whenever they came across one.
So one day the HT had one illicit drink too many. He lost consciousness and lay in the thicket passed out cold. A rookie move for a drunk of his standing during such precarious times. He woke up in that thicket late in the night after all the other participants to the throat irrigation exercise had long left. He was now well in violation of the curfew.
As he was making his way home in the dark, completely intoxicated and shouting all manner of profanities, he came by a group of GSU officers.
What unfolded next is immortalized in local folklore.
They asked him, “wewe ni nani na unaenda wapi?”
The HT replied in characteristically loud and arrogant fashion, “ mimi ni Tiger!!”, accompanied by some of his signature karate movies from those terrible Chinese movies with delayed voice overs.
It is said by those that were within earshot in the adjacent homesteads that he then threatened them with, untold consequences, actual violence and grave bodily harm.
The officer in charge of the group calmly told him, “ So wewe ndiye Tiger? leo utajua sisi ni Eveready”
Context: at that point in time, there was a popular knock-off dry cell battery with the brand name ‘Tiger’ that was no match to the then industry standard; Eveready.
Remember that catchy phrase; Eveready, shika paka power!?
Those good officers from the famous Allsops round about, went nuclear on the Hungry Tiger. They gave him a detailed, limited edition, artifically enhanced clobbering to within an inch of his life. I suspect they did so on general principle. They were especially careful to be thorough, to make a good example of him and to give personalized attention to each one of his many joints.
They issued him with the deluxe beating that came with a 1 year warranty.
It guaranteed you residual body pain and aches for a period of not less than the standard calender year.
The Hungry tiger was bedridden for a month. Then he miraculously recovered and resumed his daily activities, albeit minimally.
From that point until the end of that curfew, the Hungry Tiger became the standard manual for etiquette, decorum and proper conduct by a citizen of good standing during a curfew. He took great care to dilligently observe it and all it’s attendant social obligations.
He was also a model citizen and displayed all round good behaviour for quite a while after that educational exercise by the charitable officers from the GSU.
So stand advised, breach the curfew at your own risk. If you are adventurous and you ‘know your rights’, this would be a great time to see how creative Kenyan Law enforcement can get with a beating in the dark.
I will be indoors every day at 1800hrs. Ndung’u is my friend and he tells me that I wouldn’t survive a standard curfew beating. I believe him because he has received enough clobberings to be legally allowed to form an opinion.