When it comes to drinking, my good friend Chilungamo has no equal. His love for the bottle usually beats everybody’s understanding including his wife who has endlessly tried to have him quit his drinking ‘career’ but without success.
At a given point, Chilungamo once confided in me, the woman of his house engaged a ‘Man of God’ to pray for him so he could retire from active beer-taking but it was as though the ‘Man of God’ had ordained my good friend to go into the world and drink like fish!
“For God so loved the world that He gave mankind his one and only wonderful invention—beer—that whosoever lives by it shall know no miseries but have everlasting happiness,” Chilungamo had told the Man of God in the face and that was the last time he showed up at Chilungamo’s place.
But last Fathers’ Day, to my unprecedented surprise, I found my friend wearing a sombre face when I joined him at our favourite joint, Sports Cafe.
We had agreed to meet there on phone where he told me he would lie to his boss his son was not feeling well just to be permitted to knock off earlier.
“Give him six,” he instructed the barman even before I took a seat.
“Look, when I say this government is not going to help us, this is it,” he said, showing me the front page of the day’s paper he had bought. It had three headlines with the one talking about security breakdown across the country as a leading story. The others were about re-deployments of senior public officers and upward adjustment of COF (Certificate of Fitness) fee for motorists.
“Is this what is eating your mind?” I asked.
“Am I supposed to be happy when countrymen are being removed from favourable positions to less favourable ones simply because their parents and grandparents did not settle where the President comes from?
“What’s the point pretending all is well when our relatives are being hacked and dispatched to early graves by thugs and armed robbers when we have a government that brags about security as one of its pillars?” Chilungamo asked, sounding poetic.
“I can’t agree more, but, what business of ours is the adjustment of COF fee as if we drive?” I wanted to know the correlation.
“How does the beer we are drinking here get us? Is it not transported by the very trucks whose servicing fee has been hiked from K1, 500 to K10, 000 per annum? Don’t you see the hike entails increased beer prices?”
“Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Is that why you are so aggrieved as a ten-time widower?”
I called the barman to open my eight bottle and replenish the table.
“Look here, Chilungamo,” I said, “How much does each one of us spend on Fathers’ Days on beer and other ‘miscellaneouses’?”
“At least K10, 000 when we mean serious business,” he replied.
“Then why should government be said to be ripping off motorists for asking them to pay a mere K10, 000 to have their vehicles certified to be on the road for 356 days?”
Chilungamo looked at me. I saw his face brightening up now.
“Have we not at times been asked to pay that much for taking to bed ‘people’ who have ended up infecting us on numerous occassions?”
Again, I saw glee dancing on Chilungamo’s face. “You seem to make sense from your nonsense,” he said.
“I think some of the accusations we level against government are born of our lack of apprehension of issues,” he returned, gesturing at the barman to dress the table.
“But we still have unopened bottles,” I reasoned.
“Haven’t you heard?” he said, “Three drunk guys entered a taxi. The taxi driver figured out that they were not in their minds so he simply started the engine and turned it off again, telling them, ‘we have reached your destination.’”
“And he got away with the trick?” I asked, curiosity welling in me.
“The first guy paid for the three of them as agreed. The second guy said ‘thank you’ while the third guy slapped the driver.”
“Did the third man discover the car didn’t move an inch?” I asked.
“That was exactly what the driver thought. So, stunned, he asked the third man, ‘What was that for?’”
“And what was the third man’s response?” I itched to heal my curiosity.
“’Control your speed next time, you nearly killed us!’ He told the taxi driver.”
I could not help laughing.
“So what has your story to do with the beer you asked the barman to bring?”
“We are drinking like the three drunks today.” Chilungamo said before dancing his way to the dance floor.