Seven guys; here’s the deal, our homeboy, Sammy, is getting hitched this year. That’s amazing because he’s the first one in our clique of friends to get married. Setting the pace for the rest of us. He’s excited about it. His lady, Vee, is even more excited.
Last week Friday they invited a bunch of us to their home for a sleepover. The gents, plus seven more ladies are part of the bridal team, save for Reina and I who are helping them organize for the wedding. Reina is the planner, precise in her details, always seeing the bigger picture and asking service providers tough questions to squeeze out the best deal.
We had all planned to get to Sammy’s place at around eight a.m. I was the last guy to walk in and found the band of brothers seated in the sitting room as the ladies huddled around the kitchen cooking. A delightful scent and spurts of laughter coming from the kitchen. Sammy on the other hand hosting us to some great jams as we exchanged happy banter.
It was definitely set to be a great night. Until we turned into ‘thugs’.
At some point, I, of the opinion that things should be well planned out asked Alecki our top dog,
“By the way, are we all set with our feedback to the ladies about our progress once we start the meeting?”
Alecki gave me that quizzical look and immediately asked Sammy to lower the music for us guys to have a talk. He said we needed to discuss a few things before dinner and have our facts right as we report back on our progress for the wedding planning. And since we are a generation enslaved by our mobile phones. He asked us to willingly give up our phones so that we could focus as we talked. (No wonder they’re called CELL-phones).
You know how it is when men talk. We don’t need ladies around. And since a few of them walked in as we talked, Alecki suggested we step outside the apartment and finish up before getting back in. It was cold and chilly outside. Aiden complained about it, ‘manze, kuna baridi. Mbona tumeotoka nje?’ That would later turn out to be a sign from the gods to keep our asses back in the house. But we all missed the cue.
Big Man, in his wisdom said, in fact, let’s take a walk outside. It’ll be better than just standing here. Pause for a second; who’d have thought peer pressure still exists among men as us. Don’t be fooled, that shit well exists beyond high school. The thing is, it’s like, as soon as someone suggested something, we all followed with no objection.
Just boys being boys.
The watchman, who was heavily strapped in a million clothes, opened the gate on our request and we walked outside. There’s this spot just across the apartments, where I’ve sat with Sammy before, talking. I found myself saying to the rest of the guys, ‘In fact, let’s sit over there.’ Again, no one objected. We walked slowly, casually making jokes and sat on a rail barrier. The problem is, for some reason, we had all lost track of time. We didn’t notice that we were seated outside, a quarter past ten p.m.
The rest of us were seated but Alecki and Sol were standing. As Alecki continued briefing us about the wedding plans, Sol; this chunky-big-guy was busy looking at the horizon to spot any incoming trouble. (Second cue).
Two women went past us, then a Merc drove past us. All this in less than five minutes. The next thing we saw was a Grand Tiger ambling towards us. That much dreaded police car. Then Sol said, almost in a surrendered voice, ‘here they come.’
We all didn’t feel a need to run away since we were all convinced that we were innocently planning a wedding. But you know how cops are, right? No?
I’m glad I can tell you this.
The Grand Tiger was now closing in on us. It had this bright piercing front lights on. As soon as they got close enough, one cop jumped from the passenger seat, holding a gun. He pointed it at us and said in this intimidating heck of a voice, ‘mnafanya nini hapa?’ Another cop came from the back of the car pointing his AK47 pistol at us and cocked it. ‘Mtu ajaribu kupotea nimwangushe,’ he said.
Shit was about to go down! Their boss, walked out of the driver seat holding a walkie-talkie. And asked us what meeting is this we were having at night.
Really, what’s up with cops raising their voices? Sounding intimidating? Not wanting to listen to seven unarmed men who have not shown any bit of resistance? And what’s up with cops just wanting money so much to the point of killing you for it?
At this point we were all a little bit (just, a little bit) shaken. Every one of us trying to plead his case and all these words messily flying across one end to the other. It was bizarre. The cops acting like they just landed seven suicide bombers about to walk into a packed football stadium, and us trying to tell them we are just harmless fellas planning a wedding, at night.
Big mistake! The cops obviously had much leverage over us because really, how do you plan a wedding outside, at night, the seven of us? They made us feel stupid for it. They roasted us mercilessly for our argument.
We allowed Sammy to speak on our behalf just so we could make them understand. The mere fact that a cop is holding a gun pointed at you should make you submit, but when he cocks it, that means he’s about to shoot you. One of the cops in a blue uniform cocked his gun and we knew time for talk was over. They asked us to enter the back of the car, which we did.
Inside was a drunk guy who’d had his right hand handcuffed on the roof of the car. He looked miserable. But happy to see us. Like he knew us or something. He was all chatty with us but we paid him little attention. Luckily, Prince had sneaked out his phone. He never gave it up while the rest of us were handing over our phones (there’s always that one guy).
I took his phone and texted on the bridal party WhatsApp group that we were okay and that we are talking to the cops and will be back soon. I didn’t want to raise any alarm with the girls so I texted a subtle text not wanting to make them panic.
After getting into the back of the dreaded car, one of the cops pulled Sammy aside and asked him for money, to free us. He knew Sammy since he was a resident of the area and the rest of us were his guest for the night. He asked for 1k per person. We didn’t have that money between us. Mind you, we’d already left our phones behind. So when Sammy came back to talk to us and we couldn’t raise the cash, the cops got angry and threatened to take us to jail.
They even asked Sammy to go and leave us behind. But he refused. Now that’s manly, ‘we leave no man behind.’ He told the cops that there was no way he could simply leave us, yet we’re all in this together.
Sammy got back in and the cop started driving off. Big Man – the guy who always know a guy who knows a guy – asked the cop manning us at the back which police station they were taking us to. But his question was met with silence. None of us could recognize which route the cops were driving to.
In that moment, we held hands and prayed.
When the popos stopped again, the lead cop came back and hurled threats at us, saying how he’d book us in and we’d rot in a cell somewhere till Monday. We had gathered the loose change each one of us had together and negotiated with them to let us go. They let us go for 2k. I can tell you for a fact, none of us was happy to bribe the cops but sadly, that’s the only language they listen to. In fact, they were the first to throw a ‘price for freedom’ on the table. So, we paid for our freedom.
I’m not saying cops are entirely bad guys. It gives me hope that if a group of seven guys were spotted somewhere at night having a meeting, it would take the cops less than five minutes to ambush and arrest them. Obviously either the two women or the driver of the Merc was the snitch. That’s the good thing. The bad thing however, is that, with just 2k, the guys would be set scot-free. What if the guys were really bad guys, unlike us? See what I mean?
We walked back to Sammy’s place, making light of the encounter we’d just had. And this time we finished up our meeting where it should have taken place in the first place, just outside Sammy’s house. We could hear the ladies laughing out loud after seeing our text on the WhatApp group. It’s funny they found that hilarious. Obviously when we narrated the story to them, we made is sound like the cops were apologetic for approaching us and that we gave them a run for their money, haha. See that contrast?
We’ll one thing is for sure though; adversity is much a lighter burden to bear, when encountered with your brothers. Your true brothers.