This world is full of dreamers.
Some dreams are good; others are bad; while there are some that are evil, others are weird and yet some outrageous and wild. Nonetheless, dreams accelerate the speed of evolution, thus making the world spin faster. However, if it were not for the dreamers and their dreams, we would still be stuck in the Stone Age – a sad scenario indeed, don’t you think?
Now, fate has thrown a bunch of dreamers into one ‘hole’ – The New Millennia Hostels. The hostels are owned and run by a rich eccentric born-again widow –Mama Zippo – who believes that she has an exclusive right to call onto the Almighty, any time of the day or night, with her demands and pleas. She believes that she will shake the good Lord’s hand when she finally gets to paradise.
In the hostel are some queer tenants:
Kamari: An art and theatre college student who believes that one day he will end up in Hollywood.
Beso: Kamari’s college mate who was ‘forced’ by his rich parents to study IT instead of answering his call of being a musician.
Opeta: A chap studying sociology and believes that he can solve any relationship problems. He hopes to become a consultant some day.
Taira: A girl straight from the village who has came to the city to get herself a degree and nothing else. She sees herself, in a vision, treating poor and sickly villagers free of charge.
Skida: A carefree lady who goes to college because all her folks acquired degrees. Her only dream is to live a very long life and while at it, enjoy to the maximum!
Man Sedi: A tout who mans a matatu plying one of the city routes.
Pastor Abedi: A guy with his own church ‘Miracles and Wonders Sanctuary’. He hopes to one day make it to the TV screens and convert all the heathens.
Mlamba C: The gateman at the hostels. His only ambition in life is to one day marry his boss – Mama Zippo.
Zaituni: A waitress at Café D’lusa. Her only dream is to wake the next day healthy and more beautiful.
Welcome to The New Millennia Hostels
Kamari and Beso are walking home from campus.
Beso: sometimes I wonder: why does God create widows?
Kamari: Are you losing it, boy? Windows are created by Microsoft not God!
Beso: No, no! I’m talking about these women who torment their husbands till they decide to drop dead!
Kamari: Who – men or women?
Beso: Men! You dunderhead! Where did you leave your head?
Kamari: [He stops and ‘finds’ his head with his hands. Then he lets out a chuckle]. You are talking about Mama Zippo, right?
Beso: Oh yes! Why did God bring her here – assuming it was really necessary to create her in the first place?
Kamari: If you were in God’s shoes, where would you’ve dumped her – assuming you had created her by mistake?
Beso: In Mogadishu, of course!
Kamari: Boy Oh boy, what has the good landlady done to you this time round to deserve all that loathing?
Beso: For heaven’s sake; never use the word good and that woman in the same sentence, in my presence! Not unless you want me to put a curse on you!
Kamari: Before you curse me, tell me what she has done to you! You look so worked up! Did she attempt to rape you?
Beso: [Stops suddenly and gapes at his friend with a stunned expression. Then he breaks into a mirthless laughter] Rape me! [He performs a jig] I’m not sure whether I’d die of laughter, enjoyment or shock! Or a combination of all the three!
Kamari: But you are sure you’d die?
Beso: Definitely, of course!
Kamari: OK buddy, before you die, let me in the secret.
Beso: Are you nuts, what secret are you talking about?
Kamari: What’s going on between you and Mama Zippo?
Beso: The old bag of bones is threatening to kick me out of the hostel for bringing friends of questionable characters and entertaining at odd hours!
Kamari: You see, you are just a heartless brute!
Beso: Where does that come from? And by the way, on whose side are you?
Kamari: I’m on the side of justice! And for your information, you are the kind of people who’ll gnash their teeth in hell till they become toothless!
Beso: Stop talking in tongues and go straight to your point!
Kamari: How can you collect women all over town and entertain them right under the Mama Zippo’s nose! How insensitive can you be? Don’t you know that she has feelings like everybody else? Or, what is it that you’re looking for that she doesn’t have?
Beso: Shindwe katika Nina kuu (Down with the devil)!
Opeta is at the gates of the Millennia Hostels. He looks kind of agitated and he’s pacing up and down. Mlamba C, the gatekeeper, after watching him for a while, quips.
Mlamba: What is it boss? You look like a hen hunting for a maternity ward! Do you want to lay an egg?
Opeta: [Stopping pacing and becoming serious] By the way, soldier, when did you last eat an omelette?
Mlamba: What! Why?
Opeta: No problem – just tell me!
Mlamba: Why? On Christmas day, obviously.
Opeta: [Grinning sheepishly] Don’t worry soldier, when I lay an egg, I’ll make you an omelette!
Mlamba: [Contorting his face into an ugly mask] Whack! You’ve just killed my appetite for omelette for good!
Opeta: Serves you right!
Then he spots Kamari and Beso and his face lights up with a smile. He walks up to receive them. The moment they spot him they realize that something is up. Before he even greets them, he performs a jig. They stare at him and at each other as if wondering whether he is OK.
Kamari: Did they bewitch you at your campus or are you high on drugs?
Opeta: [Ignoring the question] God is great!
Beso: Is Mama Zippo dead? [The other two stare at him in wonder]
Opeta: God is not in the business of killing husbandless women!
Beso: Satan could have sent Him!
Opeta: God and Satan have no diplomatic relationship!
Kamari: OK, cut on your theology and tell us what God has done for you. We can help you celebrate, you know.
Beso: More so if there is money involved!
Obeta: It’s better than money, partners!
Kamari: C’mon! What can be better than money in this world?
Opeta: Women, of course!
[The other two gape at each other. They don’t seem to understand]
Kamari: Now, are you insinuating that God delivered some women to you?
Opeta: [Licking is lips] To us, my friend, to us – to do as we please!
Beso: [Making a sign of cross and looking up to the heavens] Hallelujah! Praise be to the living God oh! My God is good oh! My ………………. [Kamari stops him with a wave of his hand]
Kamari: Wu wu wu! Wait a sec! First, let me get this straight – God wrapped three beautiful ladies and delivered them to us? Eeh, is that it?
Opeta: Not exactly as you’ve put it! But it’s ……………….
Beso: [Looking disappointed] It’s exactly like what? [Opeta grins sheepishly]
Kamari: Opeta, are you drunk?
Opeta: No, I’m Opeta Mark…………….
Kamari: Shut up! [Turning to Beso] Man, let’s get out of here! This fellow is not alone and I think he needs time alone to battle it out with his demons and then cool down! [They start walking away, looking very dismayed and shaking their heads! Opeta is left standing on the spot scratching his head. Then he dashes towards the duo, calling out for them. They’ve already passed the gate.]
Opeta: Guys! You ain’t heard nothing yet! I promise you this is da bomb! [Mlamba C just stares at the chaps and shakes his head. Kamari and Beso consult in whispers. Then they stop walking and turn round to face Opeta. Opeta catches up with them]
Kamari: I’m sure you are sick. But before we can decide which hospital to take you to, help us to help you! Are you feeling anything out of ordinary – headache, heartache stomachache or fever?
Opeta: [Chuckles] I’m feeling holy! [Kamari and Beso exchange knowing glances]
Beso: I don’t think anybody can save this fellow. He’s beyond salvation! Let’s go rest our tired bones. God usually takes care of such cases – after all, He’s the one who manufactured the unbalanced creature!
Kamari: And for a reason! [Starting to walk away]
Opeta: On a serious note, guys, there is a girl you must meet! [They show some interest]
Beso: Girls? Where are you hiding them?
Opeta: I said a girl! And she’s right here – in the hostels!
Kamari: From where? And what is she doing right now?
Beso: Waiting for us, definitely!
Opeta: She’s direct from the village and is a virgin!
Beso: Wow! You are fast! You’ve already carried out the necessary tests!
Opeta: Well, not exactly. But I can assure you she’s hot! I overheard her talking to Mama Zippo!
Kamari: You were eavesdropping? What does that make you?
Opeta: Are smart fellow!
Kamari: Now, what do you really have in mind?
Opeta: I want us to strategize and grab her before the vultures learn of her presence!
Beso: So what are we waiting for?
Opeta: Let’s retreat to our base for serious planning.
Beso: OK troop, off to Café D’lusa.
Mlamba C: [Who can see them but doesn’t hear a word they say, just shakes his head rather vigorously] Wait a sec; what have these lecturers done to you?
Café D’lusa is bursting with activities. The trio enters with a lot of fanfare. Zaituni pecks them on the cheeks and gives them a red carpet welcome. Then she leads them to a vacant table. They place their orders and she leaves.
Beso: Now Opesh, what’s your game plan?
Opeta: [He grins contentedly] Folks, we must use everything at our disposal to grab this lady before the other jackals sniff her presence.
Kamari: Before we kidnap her, pray tell, will we cut her into three pieces and share them out?
Opeta: Now, why are you so negative? Why should we start dividing the spoils before we’ve succeeded?
Kamari: I was only trying to be practical!
Beso: Practical my foot! Let’s cross the bridge when we get to it! In any case, if the girl turns out to be half as good as Opesh claims, and we manage to pocket her, we can own her in turns!
Opeta: Or, better still; we can ballot. And whoever wins……..
Kamari: We are wasting time! Let’s first make a plan. The rest will follow when she’s safely in our hands!
Beso: Now, you’ve talked like three wise men in a sack! You see, I’m beginning to fall in love with her already!
Kamari: Wait a sec, [turning to Beso] hi, that’s exactly what you’ve been telling Skida!
Beso: Please, don’t spoil the fun! Who can think of Skida when there is a ripe virgin fresh from the village?
Kamari: Suppose she gets wind of your intentions?
Beso: Who? Skida or the virgin?
Kamari: Skida, of course!
Beso: Who would be sick enough to tell her?
Kamari: Me, of course – just to minimize the competition!
Beso: Then I will kill you!
Zaituni: [Who has brought their orders, stops. But the trio has been too absorbed in their discussion to notice her] Strictly, no killings are allowed inside the café! Please go outside and kill him on the street – after you’ve paid the bill, that is!
Opeta: Why? Don’t you want to watch a real action-packed movie, free of charge?
Zaituni: There are three reasons why we don’t allow killings, robbery with violence or rape inside the premises!
Opeta: Name them!
Zaituni: [Placing the tray on her nearby table, she starts counting on her fingers] One – it would disrupt our business! Two – you’ll mess the otherwise clean surroundings! And three – the police will get involved, and I hate cops! [Spiting]
Beso: Stop kidding! [Mimicking] I hate cops, then why were you dating one of them?
Zaituni: Don’t be silly! I was dating his wallet not him! [Then she picks her tray, serves them and swaggers off. The trio is left with mouth agape – staring at her behind! Then Kamari breaks into laughter, pointing at Opeta.]
Opeta: [Studying himself as if he expects to find his zip wide open and on finding nothing he quips] What is it now?
Kamari: You’ve heard it straight from the horse’s mouth! Your girlfriend has confessed that she’s in love with your wallet not you, partner!
Beso: I thought she was talking about cops!
Kamari: Did you expect her to spell it in capital letters for you to understand? Her philosophy is that the wallet is cuter than the man!
Beso: Please, I beg of you; let’s forget about all the other girls in the universe! This is an emergency! Boys, It’s time to link up with the fresh………..
Opeta: …………….virgin from the village!
Opeta: Let’s lay down a strategy! And mark you; the girl should never suspect that we are hyenas in sheep’s skin!
Beso: Yeap! That’s very important! So we should pretend that we just called on her to say hi, just like the good neighbours we are.
Opeta: Sure thing! There should be no mention of the word love, heart, feeling or sex – not at the initial stages, anyway!
Kamari: Now, I think that’s settled, ama?
Opeta: [Closes his eyes and takes a deep breath] Oh babe, you are so very sweet! An angel created from the finest clay the creator could have laid his hands on. And brought down to earth to add colour to………
Zaituni: [None had seen her come. She looks furious.] Opesh, which angel are you talking about? Do you have another girl?
[Opeta opens his eyes but his mind is blank. He blinks severally just to buy time to think of a way out of the jam. Fortunately, Kamari gets an inspiration]
Kamari: [Smiling] Don’t get worked up babe! We’re just practicing a play that we intend to stage in all schools and colleges in the city to raise a few bucks!
Opeta: [Gets his composer, smiles and holds her hand] Zai, my love, we are going to strike it rich very soon! We’ll be filthy rich and our love will blossom, certainly! Just close your eyes and visualize the wonderful places I’ll take you to and the presents I’ll buy you! Sweetie, can I hear a shout of joy from you darling?
Zaituni: [Smiling from ear to ear and shaking her body provocatively] Woyeya! [She kisses him on the face. Beso moves his face – with his eyes closed – closer to Zaituni in anticipation of a kiss. But Opeta pushes him away]
Opeta: To hell!
Zaituni: Damn you!
[The trio is walking stealthy along the corridor. They are only communicating in whispers. Finally, they come to apartment No 9. They stop and look in every direction. The coast is clear. Then they put on holy faces, make final consultations – in whispers – and Opeta knocks at the door].
Voice from inside: Welcome.
Beso: [Makes the sign of cross and whispers] Wow! That voice is so heavenly!
[Opeta motions him to shut up]
Voice from inside: Please get in. [They check one another and straighten their collars and Kamari pushes the door open. Then they walk in! To their shock and dismay, they find Pastor Abedi, Mama Zippo and the girl kneeling on the floor as if in prayer! The chaps almost collapse! Momentarily, they freeze]
Pastor Abedi: Welcome to our little congregation. We heard you coming and we stopped our prayer to receive you. Now that you have arrived, please kneel down and let’s continue communing with Jehovah. He hates to be kept waiting.
Beso: [Absentmindedly whispers] Shit!
Pastor Abedi: Please don’t mind about seats. After the prayers, we’ll all sit down and, I believe, the lovely host will serve us some drinks. God is good!
Taira and Mama Zippo: All the time!
Pastor Abedi: All the time!
Taira and Mama Zippo: God is good and that is nature! Wow!
[The trio collapse onto the floor miraculously. They kneel down and place they hands onto their chests]
Pastor Abedi: Thanks, the good Lord is watching and He’ll pay you abundantly. Hallelujah!
Taira and Mama Zippo: Ameni!
[The trio only gapes at one another. Certainly, they are in an unfamiliar territory!]
Pastor Abedi: God the Almighty, we come before you once again dear father. [The trio closes their eyes tightly] Oh king of kings, we come to you Jehovah to sincerely thank you for delivering to us the lost sheep. Father, we beseech you to keep an eye on the sheep, Oh Jehovah, so they don’t wander away again, Father. For the evil one is laying in wait, Jehovah. And we can’t let him triumph!
Taira and Mama Zippo: Amen!
Pastor Abedi: [Speaking in tongues] Shamakarasing’a pilipilinakachumbari Lilongwe sikarutaparashimatuu ugalimaddodo pishorisamakichomasosa shama shama shama popopotittiti ………….…………
[Beso opens one eye and scans the surrounding. Everybody has their eyes closed. He then redirects his one eye at the beauty. Wow! She’s cute. He smiles and the other eye opens itself automatically. Then he sends a flying kiss to the beauty. She looks like a sleeping princess. Then he realizes that the pastor is watching him. He closes his eyes very fast and starts producing the ‘funny holy’ sound like the rest. Then he discovers that even his friends are producing the sound. He steals a glance at Opeta and discovers that he too is watching the beauty from the corner of one of his eyes while his hands are raised high up and he’s behaving as if he’s possessed. Kamari is also in a trance-like pose. Beso scans the ceiling as if looking for some hidden being, sees nothing but rises is hands, nonetheless – he has to look holy. But he keeps a discreet eye on Opeto – just incase he decides to run away with the beauty] ……………………….Oh my father, my redeemer, I know that the devil would like to trap your sheep and lead them astray. Father I rebuke him in the strongest terms possible.
Taira and Mama Zippo: [scream] Down with the devil!
Opeta: Damn him!
[Suddenly the lights go out]
Pastor Abedi: Brother, you’ve a point. We can now sit down. Zaituni, do you have a candle? It’s now time for confessions. I’m sure our friends have a lot to tell us on what the good Lord has done for them.
Taira and Mama Zippo: Amen!
Amos Ruturi is a university trained teacher employed by the Kenyan government. He’s a writer and author with nine published books (fiction) so far. He has contributed humour stories to four Kenyan newspapers, and once penned the humour column in the Sunday Nation, a Kenyan newspaper