The first time I heard about corona was early this year. At Hitler’s.
“Umesikia kuna ukimwi mpya ya wa Chinese?” Posed Alphayo as we sipped drinks. Alphayo is an ardent listener of BBC radio and is always very well informed.
“This thing is finishing the Chinese, about a million people have already died,” he added.
“People have died, but the number is not that high. Don’t play with a million, those are too many,” said Saphire, who also listens to BBC and reads newspapers.
But Alphayo and Rasto told him off. “A million people are many in Kenya, but in China that is nothing,” said Rasto. “Do you know Chinese are so many — they are like ants you can’t even count them.”
The discussion moved to the source of the virus. According to Rasto and Alphayo, the virus is a curse from God to the Chinese for eating snakes, frogs and bats among other animals. “God is not happy, and is punishing them.”
But Saphire had a different view. “This thing was invented by Trump to finish the Chinese,” he said. “Just the same way America invented Aids to finish Africans. But it did not kill many.”
Rasto told Saphire off. “You don’t know HIV. It killed many people, sisi ndio tuliona ukimwi,” he said, adding that many people died in the 1980s and 1990s.
“Millions died in Kenya alone.” Saphire tried to argue but the old people told him off, with Alphayo adding that even what is today called cancer is actually HIV/Aids. “Ni vile watu hawataki kuiita Ukimwi. But ukweli cancer ni ukimwi.”
The discussion moved to the new virus. “Africans can never get corona because we don’t eat snakes, bats and frogs,” said Hitler.
He rarely participates in such discussions as he is always busy receiving cash. The conclusion was that we would never get the virus, and in any case our skins are hard.
“We are not like Chinese people, whose skins are so soft,” added Nyayo.
He said he had worked with Chinese workers while constructing Thika Road. “They kept going to hospitals even after sustaining small injuries.”
Fast forward to last week, we heard that the first victim had been reported in Kenya. Everybody was shaken. We met at Hitler’s last Tuesday evening.
“Don’t be worried, it can only affect Kenyans who left the country,” said Saphire.
Kuya had a different view. He said the virus spreads through the air. "This is not HIV where you need to avoid women to escape. There is no condom for coronavirus. This thing can kill all of us,” he said.
"How is it spread then?" Asked Rasto, who was now worried.
Kuya advised us on the need to wash hands with soap, sanitise and avoid touching other people. "Don’t be near anyone."
"Even your wife and children?" Asked Rasto. Kuya said he needed to confirm that. But he said there was need to avoid anyone who was coughing or sneezing.
“If you cough continuously, then you have corona and you will infect the person seated next to you. That is why you have to sit far from one another." "Is it true that corona targets old people?" Asked Alphayo.
"That's true," said Kuya, "In Italy almost all the people above 80 years have died, and those above 70 are in hospital."
Rasto and Alphayo, who are above 70 years, were very worried on hearing this. Rasto said if that was the case, then corona was invented by young people to kill the old. "I know many of the young people want to inherit our land and they will do anything to finish us." Alphayo agreed with him.
Kuya went on: “If you have the virus and cough, it will remain at that place for 14 days. So if you want to be safe, avoid that place for at least two weeks.” He also emphasised that we wash hands with soap.
“How do you wash your hands with soap when you want to eat?” Wondered Rasto. “The food will smell soap. This is a trick by soap companies to force us to buy the product.” Saphire agreed with him and said he can never wash his hands with soap even after eating. “If you wash hands with soap after eating chicken, it will take long before eating chicken again.”
Saphire had good news — he told everyone that drinking alcohol is the only known cure for corona. “Only alcohol kills coronavirus, that is why we are being asked to use alcohol sanitisers,” he said.
He added that alcohol-based sanitisers only apply to those who do not drink. “Those who drink like us are already immune from the virus …” We all celebrated and ordered for more drinks. We were still in this celebratory mood when Rasto started to sneeze. The sneeze degenerated into a heavy and loud cough. He started to spit.
Everyone scampered for safety. “corona, corona corona,” shouted Saphire as we ran away. “Corona is here please help.” I also took off. Within minutes people came running towards Hilter’s but they all ran back as soon as they heard about corona.
“Who is corona?” asked Anindo, Nyayo’s wife, as she also ran back.
I arrived home to find the door closed. Fiolina talked to me through the window and said I had to shower before entering the house. She threw new clothes through the window. I could not bathe from outside since it was not yet dark. But she said that I wait till it gets dark.
“I will not allow corona in my house,” she said. I waited till it got dark and bathed. When she finally opened the door at 8pm, she insisted that I spray myself with Doom, then asked me to sleep in another room. She has not allowed me to greet or touch anyone since then.
I understand Rasto is OK and has since gone back to his home but no one has been at Hitler’s. We are waiting for 14 days to elapse before we can go back there. That is if Fiolina will allow me.