In last Saturday’s article, you let it be known that you too, at times, do partake of non-alcoholic beverages. Yes, first and foremost, water; and when you feel like it, a wide variety of other drinkables obtainable at “groceries”. You’ve no problems, for instance, with Pepsi, Coke, Tangawizi and Bavaria…or juice (ha!).
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving a break to lagers and spirits, if you ask Wa Muyanza, but most of his drinking associates and grocery operators express concern whenever he sits at his usual corner at the counter or settles at some table and orders a soft drink.
Like this other time when you enter Mama T’s and after settling at the counter, a bunch of the day’s newspapers in your hands and then say: “Let me have a Pepsi… a cold one, please.”
Now instead of heading for the freezer and get you a cold Pepsi, she looks at you, her eyes popping out of their sockets while exclaiming: “You, Mzee Muya; asking for a soda, and a cold one at that! What’s the problem?”
“Oh, my!” you say and continue: “There’s no problem… I’m okay.”
“You say you’re okay, yet you, of all people, are saying I give you a soda?” asks Mama T.
You can’t fully see how taking a soda and “not being okay” are associated, but all the same you explain to her you’re simply feeling like giving a break to alcohol now until you decide to get back to beer.
“I will soon resume my drinking, even tomorrow and indeed, even later tonight, so don’t worry, Mama T” you say as you proceed to order her a beer and another for Mongi, a mtani of you who hails—you guessed right reader—Moshi.
“Thanks Mzee Muya for the beer… like Mama T, I was also worried you’re sick,” says Mongi whose sense of relief is written on his face, a relief that his mtani is fine and that he’s abstaining today out of choice and not on orders from some malicious doctor.
On this other occasion, you’re at Halichachi Grocery where you pick an empty table and ask for a Coke—you had a craving for this brand of soda and you simply had to get one—a cold one. You cannot touch a chilled beer, yet when it comes to soft drinks, you like them cold. Zay, the attendant who has been in the employment of Halichachi for some three months now, is shocked on account of two things: one you’re ordering a drink that is cold while she has always served you with warm ones and two, that you’re here to drink a soda!
“Mzee Muya, kwani, is there a problem?” asks Zay.
Before you can respond, her manager, Mzee Halichachi, who must have heard you make the order, chips in, saying: “Mzee Muya, don’t worry about money, I’ll instruct my akaunta to give you beer on credit—any number of beers you want, even if you want to give offers to everybody here, including me.”
“Hey, Bwana meneja, who told you I’m broke? The month-end was just the other day.”
“Well, I was worried you didn’t come with money… it happens; it’s not like you to drink soda; things have changed under Magu and I thought you, like everybody else, is having cash flow problems.”
“You’re not correct in that score… I wasn’t in the eating fraternity of the past regime, so my situation after its exit remains basically the same,” you reassure the manager, then ask Zay to get him a Serengeti Lite on your bill.
“Okay,” says Zay, adding: “Can I also get one, Mzee Muya?”
“Well, well… okay; have one too—a soda, I mean.”
“No way! Why do you give me only sodas all the time? Today I’m taking a Castro Lite; in any case I heard you say Magu hasn’t affected you,” she says.
“Okay, you win, have your little Castro…”
In another grocery at a different location, you ask for a Tangawizi to wash down a mtori you’ve just taken and Jaqueline, your favourite barmaid at this joint, exclaims, “Hey, baby; has your mama watoto forbidden you from taking beer or Konyagi?”
“Why do you suggest that, my dear one?”
“I’ve never seen you take soda, like if you were a schoolboy!”
Duh! You say to yourself as you tell Jacqueline to stop joking and get you a cold Tangawizi.