WANJURA: Thabelo’s weed doctrine and its consequences
If I were to believe in Thabelo, my many problems would find a wonder cure from an occasional puff of the weed.
He swears the weed has tested and earned his faith for its alleged magical panacea for the myriad problems typical of a student life. Thabelo claims it comes to his rescue against hunger, mental block, exam anxieties, insomnia, physical exhaustion and even the winter chill.
Thabelo’s praise list for the weed is long. Were he to draw its advertisement, it would be more impressive than the signboards announcing the medical prowess of Tanzanian “doctors” nailed on Kenyan trees. Like “doctors” from Tanga, Tabora or Mwanza, Thabelo’s weed also cures manly desires and solves love troubles.
But unlike the Viagra-like qualities of Tanzanian medicine, Thabelo’s weed tames desire. He claims that the reason why he is no hurry to find a girlfriend is because he has since discovered a more faithful night nurse. The weed allegedly lulls him to a sleep deeper than that of a baby. And unlike babies, he can sleep hungry till the evening of the following day!
In fact, he claims he only discovered the weed’s soporific qualities after falling out with his girlfriend. Thabelo is originally from South Africa but his family moved to Britain in his childhood. He must have acculturated well because he picked the worst of the British ghetto language. The f-word punctuates his every sentence. He curses all so often that sensitive ears would bleed listening to him narrate the most cheerful incident.
But I digress. Two years ago, he claims to have taken his British girlfriend back to Durban for Christmas. He told me they had been dating since high school and he thought time was ripe to introduce her to his roots. So he took her to his grandfather’s home and the old man was so impressed with his grandson’s catch he ordered impromptu celebrations.
It was done Zulu-style. Uncles, aunts, cousins and the rest of the extended family converged around a tree in his grandfather’s compound. It was a convivial atmosphere fuelled by copious amounts of local brew and plenty of “modern” drinks for delicate throats like his girlfriend’s.
Drink and meat being inseparable, the patriarch ordered a giant lamb for a barbecue. It was promptly hauled from the grazing field and slaughtered a few meters from the fire. But the plight of the animal was too much for the white girl. She had watched with horror at the severing of its head before the poor animal could make the second “baa!” She couldn’t bring her eyes to look at the bloodied head, now laying on the grass a few metres to the makeshift fire and witnessing the roasting and consumption of what was its body. Its eyes seemed to be crying at the unkindness of mankind.
She had tried to numb her discomfort with more Amarula. But the potency of her revulsion was stronger than the drink. Connecting the lamb’s ordeal with the juicy meat killed her appetite. Now she found its taste nauseating, the whole merriment callous and obnoxious. When she could not take it anymore, she rushed to the toilet and emptied her gut.
She returned to the gathering in a darker mood and Thabelo and his relatives attempts to cheer her were met with cold aloofness. Ostensibly to boil it into soup, one of Thabelo’s cousins picked the lamb head, placed it over a piece of wood and with the precision of practice, brought the axe down on its skull, splitting it into halves.
The act snapped his girlfriend into a maniacal outburst. What she did next left Thabelo torn between raving anger and disbelief. She gathered the remaining meat and threw it away. She then unleashed a foul-mouthed rant at her startled audience about stone-age savagery that could not accord an animal a decent death. Then, she grabbed the gourd with the traditional brew, gave it a mighty kick before smashing it against the firestone while yelling “shame on you all!”
Now, pouring a grandfather’s drink is an abomination in many African cultures. Smashing a calabash with the elders’ drink is an inconceivable. Thabelo’s relatives were however willing to forgive him on account of her being a stranger to the implications of the sacrilege she had just authored. But the pardon would be strictly conditional.
Besides giving a mono-coloured atonement lamb to his grandfather, Thabelo was also required to sever all contacts with her. He says he did not need the latter condition because seeing her deranged enragement, he had already decided she belonged in his past. They returned to the UK separately and scared of his grandfather’s curse, Thabelo avoided her like vermin.
Thabelo is yet to win me over to his magical weed. Save for a radical change of tact, he is unlikely to score with me. He is a poor salesman who lacks conviction. Most importantly, he seems to be a breathing example of why his is a bad prescription best avoided.
Thabelo behavior is strange. It is so weird that I doubt his sanity. And I believe the problem is with what he smokes. The other day, he insisted I should try some weed for my Achilles heel pain. He had seen me limping heavily from the consequences of proving to my friends that every Kenyan can run. He brought me a thin, rolled-up thing that looked like a village-made kiraiku (raw tobacco rolled up in a newspaper cutting and smoked as a cigarette.)
He claimed it was a vanilla-flavoured palliative. But with the acrid smell that reminded me of a he-goat’s morning urine, I was never going to try it. When I politely declined, Thabelo broke down in a child-like whimpering. In between his sobs, he whined how nobody believes in him anymore; that everybody thinks he has lost it.
Recently, he shaved his Afro hair and left two tufts – at the front and the back of his head. These were weaved into long braids in South African and England colours respectively. He also painted his nails the two colours of both countries flags in separate hands.
Because he is my immediate neighbour, we are always fighting over his loud music and movies. He may be a 34-year-old but it hasn’t stopped him from playing and singing along to hardcore rap music – at 2 am! He will be watching his Rambo movies at 4 am. When I bang on his wall to remind him to lower the volume, he swears that he thought it was already daytime and that I had left for class
But what convinced me all is not well in his head is when he borrowed my knife. I have never seen him cook so I sympathized with the possibility that he may not have a basic kitchen tool like a knife. I joked with him not to use it to cut weed. He disappeared for two weeks and when he returned, he told me the knife had been confiscated by the security detail in a bar. I thought he was kidding until he showed me the pictures of the heavily bandaged thigh of his kid brother. Thabelo intended to retaliate against the guy who had stabbed him.
He claims to be studying marketing. But he can hole-up in his room for weeks playing his loud music and watching action movies. Then he will be gone for two weeks. I am yet to see him going to class. But I overhear his f-word-laced conversations. They are never about books or studies but often about which weed causes what kind of a high!