12-02-2021 by Marco "Sbringo" Bigi
"What a funeral air, what happened to you my friend?" the Sappe asked me when I reached him at the bar at ten o'clock on the dot.
"I answered with a desolate air, sitting down in front of him and looking for a waiter to order the coveted coffee.
"Let me guess - he said, looking me in the eyes - it's about that nice friend of yours who came to see you, what's his name, Ettore?"
"That's right. He's as nice as a sea urchin in a swimming costume," I replied sourly, "and 'friend' is a big word, let's say acquaintance... we worked together as kids for a season in a resort in the Maldives. Mmhh, when was it - I remained for a few seconds to think - about twenty-five years ago, and then since then we have not seen or heard from each other until a fortnight ago, when he appears on Messenger and says: "Old Ric, how are you? I'm in Nairobi, if I come to visit you in Malindi for a few days can you put me up?""
"And you, of course...".
"Like a good fool I told him - Of course! "And now it's been two weeks since that bugger moved in with me and he won't budge.
"What was that saying? "God watch over my friends, I watch over my enemies" ... - said the Sappe and then, with an inquisitive attitude, continued - come on, tell us, we haven't seen each other for a few days".
Sipping the coffee which, according to one of the Sappe's theories, has an unexpected calming power on me, perhaps because I am addicted to it, I continued with the story: "At the beginning, everything was fine. Do you know when you find yourself with an old comrade-in-arms or a comrade from primary schools? "Do you remember that one? What happened to that one? The pranks we played! And the time we were in the middle of the sea and the boat engine broke down? So many adventures..."
"Sounds like a good start..." argued Sappe.
"Yes, unfortunately, the interesting topics of conversation waned in the time it took to have dinner, and his true face was revealed by the next day."
Sappe frowned: "And that is?"
"Ettore, as I remembered him, was a cheerful and full of life boy but now he is sad, melancholic, tired of life, things in Italy were going badly for him and he came to Kenya to look for a solution to his problems. When he met me he found a support, a cicerone, a driver who takes him around, who explains to him the secrets of Malindi but unfortunately, his depression is so strong that it makes him uncontactable, someone who is not happy with anything...".
"In what way?"
"The beach in Malindi according to him sucks, the tide is too high or too low, there is seaweed, do you want to put it up against the beaches in Santo Domingo? In Watamu, which everyone considers a pearl of beauty for its beautiful beaches and lagoon ... the Beach Boys bother him, in Che Chale, which for me is one of the most beautiful and wild places reachable in half an hour by car, there is too much wind. The ruins of Gede are a terrible ball, in Italy we have much more interesting open air museums. And then the Swahili food is disgusting, so I take him to an Italian restaurant and the spaghetti is overcooked and the wine costs too much. I send him on a safari to the Tsavo with a very good guide but it is not like the documentaries on TV where you see one animal after another. Not to mention the girls, since his woman in Italy dumped him - what else could the poor bitch do? - He wanted to experience the local wildlife..."
"And where did you take him?"
"To the two clubs you know very well, my friend: first to Fermento but it was too early and there was still no one there, since I didn't want to stay up late at night cooking my ears with electronic dance, I took him to Stars & Garters, which that night was full of beautiful "Nairobi students" as our journalist friend defines them".
"And there he finally found something to eat".
"No," I said, shaking my head, "he doesn't like black women. As we were driving home, I said to him, "Dear Hector, if you are hoping to find young white girls in Malindi, pretty, single and ready to fall into your arms, you are in the wrong place!"
"But the most terrible thing..." I interrupted myself because I noticed that the Sappe had an expression on his face that was not at all contrite, as I would have expected, but rather amused.
"Go on," he urged, stifling a laugh, and I continued with a sigh.
"You know those small but powerful speakers that are all the rage now that connect via bluetooth to mobile phones and blast music?"
"Why not? Unfortunately, even Kenyans are starting to use them without restraint. They should at least listen to good music, but they don't. Mechanical boom-boom, a rapper with an autotuner and two chords repeated ad nauseam.
"Well," I continued, nodding, "Ettore is a raving fan of a singer who, until recently, I was indifferent to, but who now, because of him, I can no longer stand! He listens to him before breakfast, after breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, at snack time, before dinner, after dinner!"
I did not realise that I was shouting and that all the patrons of the bar had turned towards me.
I lowered my tone of voice and ended my tirade almost in a whisper: "I can't take it any more!"
"Which singer?" asked Sappe.
"Damn! Now I understand why you're so nervous.
The waiter came to collect the cups and clean the table.
I ordered some water.
"Sappe, come on help me out of this nightmare!"
We were silent for a minute while I drummed my fingers on the table and my friend reflected.
"When I told you not to rent a place with more than one bedroom, you didn't listen to me..." he resumed in a teacherly tone.
"And who would have thought it,' I replied, 'a relative or a friend might come along. Besides, there's another problem. Ettore lost his wallet one day and I'm sure it happened on the beach, taking off his trousers because he's one of those who would wear blue jeans even in a sauna. Instead he blamed my very good cleaning lady, he even wanted me to take her to the police. I refused, but she took offence and resigned. Now I have to look for a new one, not by chance...'.
Sappe had already figured it all out, but he sharpened his frown.
"Yes...alright, but let's solve one problem at a time. As the giriama say, if you get bitten by a spider and then stung by a wasp, don't treat the two bumps together, otherwise they will become friends and get back together."
"You're right," he nodded, "let's deal with the unwelcome guest."
"Absolutely. Here in Africa, the only joy a guest can give you is to give you back your living space by getting the fuck out of here, otherwise it's just sucking your energy.
"Bravo! - I retorted, annoyed - I thank you for the "10:20 pearl of wisdom", but you could have given it to me earlier!
"To take the fun out of finding out for yourself? - he continued in an increasingly ironic tone - you know, my young disciple, that the things you learn on your own skin you never forget. Anyway, it takes Makotsi to solve the situation," said the Sappe, pulling his old Nokia out of a trouser pocket.
"Makotsi the electrician? What's up with that? It's not like a light bulb went off..."
"Don't worry" and he shushed me with his hand as he put the phone to his ear.
All I understood of the conversation he had with Makotsi in Swahili was: rafiki (friend) and sawa sawa (okay). With a satisfied look, he ended the call and said, 'All done.
All you have to do now is go to your house, make up an excuse with your friend and pack a bag with what you need for a few days. You'll come and stay with me, and in the meantime Makotsi will fumigate your house.
I squinted my eyes and repeated, almost incredulously, "Stay with you?"
I was stunned: I had never seen his house, he had never invited me there, not even for tea. A veil of mystery had always hovered around the house of the Sappe and this unexpected concession made me feel privileged.
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