“Cheki bro, I have been doing it with my house help for three weeks now, I know it’s wrong but bro, it feels good!”
I had been talking to a stranger at the bar for about half an hour. I was in transit from Kisumu, and headed back to Thika after a work assignment had ended early and horribly. I was working in radio then as a field reporter. It was a job I had held on to for three years but the constant toxicity at work was pushing me to the limits. I had been playing around with the thought of quitting, but I just didn’t have the balls to stand up to my idiot boss.
I had been sent to Kisumu to follow the story of a man who had been hit by a political campaign procession. He had been stuck in the hospital, unable to pay his bills and in dire need of assistance. I loved doing such stories, stories about people who didn’t have the platform to voice their anger, pain and frustration. I liked covering honest, raw stories about real people.
I was on the way to the hospital when my boss called me and pulled the plug on the story, redirecting me to cover yet another senseless attempt by a Kenyan celebrity to chase clout. I was livid. In the spirit of good workmanship, I went and covered the shallow antics, got into the company car and started the drive back. My intention was to drive through the night but by the time I got to Eldoret I was absolutely exhausted, so I pulled over for a quick drink and a place to lie down for a few hours.
It was at a club called Casablanca where I met a man with grey hair, a massive stomach and expensive-looking shoes. He was seated at the bartender’s counter, his shoulders hunched forward and hands wrapped around a bottle of Tusker. The way he said, “Welcome brother”, to me as I walked to the counter told me that he wasn’t on his first, second, third or even fourth beer. He was as drunk as a fish, and he looked like he was having the time of his life.
It was small talk at first; politics, fuel prices, women but suddenly, the tides changed, and the conversation got too personal too quickly.
“Can I record this conversation? You don’t have to disclose any personal information, I would like to use this for my podcast.”
One of the reasons I became a journalist was because of my mum. She always told me that I possessed the unique gift of getting people to trust me. I knew how to read people and determine which were the right questions to ask. Mother was right and my unique gift had made me a very successful journalist and interviewer. I was relying on the same gifts to help me capture the story of the man from Eldoret who was having an affair with his house help.
“Ah no! I don’t want problems bro. You want my wife to skin me alive?”
He hadn’t broken yet, but he was starting to bend. After much convincing, he agreed to speak on record after assuring him that no information would lead back to him.
“What is your favourite colour?” I asked the mystery man.
“Red!”, he said immediately.
“What is a fruit you dislike the most?”
“Is tomato a fruit or vegetable?” he asked between a laugh and cough.
“We will call you red tomatoes!”
Red tomatoes was greatly amused by my absurd system of anonymity. But he liked his new alias and went on will his story.
“She comes from Uganda and has been living with us for one year. She is a typical African queen, curves and all! You know what I am talking about bro!”
He kept laughing and nudging me with his elbow. It was clear that this was a story he was dying to tell, and I was giving him the time and security to make his adulterous confessions without judging him.
“How did it start? The affair?”
“Wifey travels a lot for work, let’s say she is in the hotel business. The kids are at their grandparents and now it is just myself and our help. We are both very interested in politics, and we were talking about the election. The conversations turned into jokes, jokes in flirts and now we can’t keep our hands off each other!”
“Do you feel any guilt about all this?”
“Tremendous!! I am not sure what to do bro. On one hand, I feel most alive right now but again I can imagine throwing my marriage away for an affair!”
One month later I handed in my resignation letter and finally got the courage to stand on my own and start my podcast, “Unspoken Temptations”. A podcast based on anonymity mostly about people in bars who were willing to tell the deepest most secretive stories about themselves. It was a risky move to take financially, not to mention the fact that I was breaking ties with an industry that had given me everything. All I had at the time was my savings which I predicted would last me and my family for five months. That’s how long I had to make it work.
Five months later
I posted “Red Tomatoes” as my first episode and as expected, it was met with mixed reactions. A good section of my listeners were appalled by the unfaithfulness of my guest. It became an issue of discussion for a couple of hours on social media with everyone sharing their opinions about infidelity. There were people who loved the honesty and the rawness of the story.
Weekdays were the best days to fish for stories. I learnt quite earlier on that solo drinkers were more willing to tell me their stories as opposed to those who were with the company. One of my favourite interviews was with a woman somewhere in South B. We called the episode Black Pepper. She had a remarkable story. She’d been in jail, deported from Dubai for fighting a co-worker and now specialized in spiking men’s drinks at the club and robbing them for all they were worth.
“Drunk people are the most honest! Especially when they know that they will probably never see or hear from you again!” Black Pepper said as she made a joke about how she’d find me and put a surprise ingredient in my beer if I ever exposed her identity.
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My Divorce Left Me Broken
Picture Perfect Part 1 & The Girl With The World At Her Feet
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