by Otieno Lynn

Then amidst our conversation he blurted, ” Let me tell you something ” He uses this phrase a lot by the way. I said “mmh ” not that it would make any difference if he didn’t first request to tell me something. I mean he could just go ahead and tell me something, but then he always feels the need to alert you the listener that he wants to tell you something. Weird,  huh?
“I love to appreciate my friends by gifting them stuff they cherish, and more often than not books are the only things I buy without limits, without any form of guilt,  so if you told me you loved books, cold hard crisp paper with rusty scent then… “
“Get me Drunk! ” I interrupted
“No dude, it’s Monday and I have court tomorrow “
“I’m messing with you, consider it done!”

I have a small library of twelve books in my drawer, thirteen if you add my Bible :And it’s so because one, my friends steal my books and two because I don’t have a library “
Let me tell you something Lynn,” he retorts again, then he goes on and on about very philosophical and truly realistic things that really hit your soul, in a good way, things that make you wonder how tall Jesus is or just how many people died from poisoning trying to discover food. He is the most realistic person I’ve ever met, and sometimes the way he arranges his words makes me think that he is fixated at a certain stage of growth, like  men who arrange their shirts according to their colors beginning with primary colors all the way to secondary colors and can actually show you a fuchsia colored fabric. Sigh.
He cuts his words and arranges them with the precision of a blacksmith: Not the blacksmith in Biko’s drunk.
There are three luhya men chatting outside, not very far from my bedroom window, they’ve been there for quite a while. I can tell they are Luhya by their heavy accents and an occasional “omwami” here and there. One of them is trying to explain to the others what it takes to proceed to the next stage in the World Cup Tournament . They have no idea that I invited myself to that conversation and the one with all the answers keeps saying Ronalto this, Ronalto that. And I’m wondering, could he just say cr7?But then that would still come out as CR seveni. Museveni. Kathonzweni.Siro seveni.
I digress.
Seriously though, I’m so disappointed in this book “Drunk” for one simple reason. How can Bikozulu( I’m so used to calling him Bikozulu that sometimes I forget his name) give us such great mind blowing literature in just 167 pages? I read that in one sitting! It’s not fair but then again, he fondly begins his prologue by saying:

“It would have been nice if my mom was around to hear that I wrote my first little book. It would have been really nice. I think she would have smiled and said, “That’s nice.”

This left with nothing but feels, not tears, feels.
And this prologue vividly reminded me of the day my last born brother was joining campo. The three of us were standing next to the post office on Haille Selassie Avenue: My mom, little brother and I. We had just gotten done with compiling the final documents and nitty gritty details of admission requirements and it was time for little brother to head to “school” and you know that means that some advice has to be given at this point.  A typical African parent’s depressing lecture. It goes without saying. I anticipated a long lecture about be careful, don’t drink,  don’t smoke, but get “Drunk”…handshakes between boys and girls lead to unplanned pregnancies etc and I was feeling a little lethargic after two days of non stop moving up and down.. you know how that goes. But then the only thing she said to him was “Pray”. She must have noticed me side eyeing her obviously stupefied by the short length of this lecture. Mothers are special : And they advise you even when you’re forty two, going on about how you should wash your hands before you eat and sleep under a treated mosquito net. Tender souls.
Pardon me,  I talk too much.

BUT THEN… I want to know if during one of Biko’s writing sprees there was a fly perched on his desk and then he began to wonder if the fly was married with kids or whether it’s wife was pregnant. I want to know if he ever wondered whether the fly’s wife called him at 6pm to ask “Uko wapi? “
Drunk is one of those books that will get you asking your mum to light up your cigarette because you do not want to put it down one bit, lest the aliens suddenly invade earth and steal a page before you finish it. And I love Larry, Larry is everyone of us, caught in between balancing the unquenchable quest for a good life and dealing with the rest of the society, the expectations, the pressures of life. Adulting is hard. 

Bikozulu is a hilarious writer, humorous to the core and diligent with his choice of words, one of my favorite writers to say the least and I wouldn’t really give two hoots if a book was ten pages or three thousand pages, I love books with short chapters, just like Drunk. I love to wrap up a chapter and just take some time after to process it and let it all sink in. I’d find it super mind boggling to read a chapter where someone is born and in the same chapter they have already had their own children who are currently in college.Nah.

And the ending! I’m so mad about that ending Bikozulu. For a moment there I flipped the book three pages back to check if there was a page numbering mistake. Damn.
This is by far the most captivating, mind stimulating thing I’ve read this year, of course other than Mpesa messages and to think that the author is Kenyan makes me a little pleased with my citizenship.. I’m totally enchanted by this masterpiece and definitely looking forward to the next.
Short and sweet.

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