In your kawaida barbershop, shaving is a
rather simple and straightforward exercise.
You have no facial hair. Your chin is
smoother than aged whiskey. There is no
need to run the machine over there. What
usually happens at your Lang’ata local is
that you walk in, sit in line to wait for the
other clients, and watch the old men with
chins as rough as a Subaru’s groan get
When your turn comes, you sit on that swivel
chair and allow Johnnie to wrap you with
what is essentially a used bedsheet. Johnnie
talks too much while combing his hair and
even more when shaving. He talks about
German football a lot. He’s even taken to
talking like a German; a simple greeting
sounds like a threat, with spit following
every word that exits his mouth. When he is
done, Johnnie trims your hairline
meticulously, even though most of the time
he is a little bit too meticulous that he slices
a bit of flesh. That is before wiping his hand
on his jeans, squeezing methylated spirit on
his palms and then running them around his
head. That shit stings so bad that you can
feel it in your eyes. You always close your
eyes, bite your lower lip so hard that your
mouth hurts more than your torn scalp.
Because somewhere along the way of
growing up you decided that pain you inflict
upon yourself is more acceptable than that
inflicted by someone else.
Lakini today you are having none of that.
Today, you are going to get a kick ass
shave from a kick ass barber for a kick ass
pay, and whoever tries to talk you out of it
will have his sorry ass kicked.
This kinyozi smells of elegance. At least to
you it does. You walk in. There is a big wide
wall mirror and a receptionist who looks at
you, considers your Clarks for a second and
then says “Karibu sana,” with a smile and a
gesture for you to keep walking to your seat,
where a dude in a white coat is waiting a
bit too eagerly for your liking. Who gave
barbers the idea that they should look like
The machine in this kinyozi hums slowly. It
does not choke and splutter like Johnnie’s.
The light buzz sends you to sleep. You only
wake up to the barber telling the girl at the
reception to take over.
And that is where this story really begins.
This woman is supposed to wash your head
after the shave. Then she is supposed to
give you a little rub to open up your
scrambled neck muscles. A token that
should make you go back next time. She
takes you to this slanted chair where you
are made to lie back with your head over a
sink. She squeezes liquid soap on your
head. It is cold, this soap, one would
imagine it was harvested from a witch’s tits.
Warm water running rinses the cold away.
She stoops over you as she scrubs your
hair. She leans a little bit too close. You can
feel her warm breasts pressing on your
chest. You do not mind.
Naturally, something wakes up in your
pants. Naturally, you do not want her to
stop. You want her to wash your hair till
Kingdom come. Or until you do. Nothing
lasts forever though. Most definitely not a
hair wash. It ends as soon as it begins. And
with that her breasts are gone.
She takes you back to the shaving chair,
squeezes oil on her palms and starts to rub
your head. She has the softest hands , you
admit. Her hands are the kind of tender that
can only be best enjoyed with eyes closed.
Those heavenly hands that knead your neck
muscles, slowly at first like a tease, before
going down harder on your shoulders.
She makes you exhale.
“You seem to be enjoying this. Si you let me
give you a proper full body massage?
Massage ya maana.”
That is an offer you cannot refuse.
That is how you find yourself in the
backroom of this kinyozi, standing in your
boxers in front of this woman you do not
even know. She is telling you to undress
and lie on the bed in the room. A massage
will cost you a thousand bob more, she’d
said. Money is no object. You stand there,
wondering what to do next because you
have never been to a massage parlour
before. You do not know how this works. To
you, massages are one of those things that
never happen in real life. Only in movies or
books to move the plot along.
“I remove everything everything?” You ask.
“Unataka nitoke? I can come back if you are
You do not answer at first. That must be a
trick question, you think. If you say yes, she
would know that you are shy, that this is
your first time. If you say no, she might
think you just want to flaunt your mhoigos.
But before you can answer, she hands you
a surprisingly white towel and walks out,
followed by her ass that leaves you trying to
hide the beginning of your own erection.
And now here you are. Waiting for
your massage ya maana. You do not know
where to put your trousers. In them there is
your Ksh. 8000 bob and your Samsung S5
which by now you are convinced this
woman is trying to steal from you. You
imagine that she is planning to massage
you to sleep then steal all your clothes and
leave you there. Naked, confused and
embarrassed. So you hang your trousers on
a wall hook, remove your phone and wallet,
put them under the pillow of the bed, cover
your black buttocks with the towel and lie
face down on the bed.
The door opens. She walks in. You promise
yourself that whatever happens, you are not
going to sleep. Neither are you going to get
a hard on. Your breathing is shallow now.
Shallow and fast. You can feel your insides
quake as if they have just been invaded by
America. Shit, this is happening. This is
indeed happening. Oooooh, it is happening. You
cannot believe this is happening . Your
thoughts find your voice. “Shit. This is
happening.” She hears it.
“Ati unasema nini?”
“Aaa…uhm…hakuna. Never mind.”
“This is your first time getting a massage?”
“Psssssh. Nope. What are you talking about.
I have been massaged a million times.” You
lie even though we all know you are not
fooling anybody. She is breaking your
massage virginity, and you cannot believe it
because you think there is a chance as fat
as her donkey that she is might be a hooker.
Those sly ones that do not stand outside
Sirona Hotel, but lure clients into this small
den where she entices them with body rubs.
You imagine that she will fire you up real
good; to the point that by the time your little
goon rises to the occasion like the good
soldier it is, you will be in no position to say
You are still thinking of whether you have
proper armament when her first touch lands on your
back. It is tender and slippery. It kneads the
hard flesh on your shoulders with gentleness
so calming it manipulates you into
whispering the name of the Lord in between
silky moans of ‘aaaah’ and ‘ yeaaah’.
Now you know that you will definitely need
condoms. Even your little goon nudges you
beneath the towel in celebration. You try to
lie still and let this woman touch you. And
with every touch you feel your body respond
to her. It opens up to her like a sinner
seeking redemption. Her fingers do
impossibly beautiful things to you as she
trails the back of your body with them down
to the back of your thighs, to your inner
thighs, and then up till you can feel her
touching your balls.
Then she says, “Turn around.”
You do not move. Part of you wants her to
leave. To go. You want to yell, “Get thee
behind me you Jezebel!” but the other part
of you reminds you that it is a little bit too
late to be quoting scripture. Temptation has
you by the balls. Literally. Plus you are no
Joseph. You do not run away from women in your culture.
You either take them or tell them. Or both in that
Then it hits you. This woman may not be
moonlighting as a hooker. She is probably
just an honest masseuse trying to earn an
extra shilling. Yet here you are with your
erection giving her a hard time. At that
moment you start imagining ways to return
your boner back to a limp. You try thinking
of things that put you off. Like vegetable
samosas, teeth infections, math problems
and people who call chips fries. None of
them comes through.
“Si you turn,” she says again. “I have to
massage your other side.”
Oh my God! What will she think of me? Will she
think that I am easy? That I am one of those
weak men who get hard too quickly and
probably come just as fast? Your mind is in
“Aki nanii. Pinduka.” There is shade of
anxiety in her voice this time.
You turn, holding on to the towel to cover
“Can I remove this?” she says pointing at
the towel which your pecker is already trying
to hand over.
She takes it away slowly, unwrapping you
like a present. You lie there looking her at
her in that dress that is too short and tight
to have be well meaning. You look at the
little dimple on her thighs and think of how
you want to plant kisses in it. If she lets
you, that is.
As the towel sheds off, your nakedness is
revealed. Completely. Like the truth at a
confession. You catch the surprise in her
eyes when she looks at your mhoigos. It is a
surprise that is accentuated by a chuckle
and a question that falls from her lips,
“Haiya! Kwani wewe ni mmaasai?”
Your head responds.
Just not the one on top of your shoulders
In your kawaida barbershop, shaving is a