Schadenfreude

*Douglas Mwangi*

Schadenfreude—enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others; finding joy in someone else’s misfortune.

Tik! Tak! Tik! Tak! Her huge bum bounced in perfect rhythm on the sidewalk. It had to be some kind of explicit jig she purposefully did to torture men. It just had to be. She must have known a dozen thirsty eyes were watching. It was a special occasion for me (you had to be there to understand), and she didn’t get to see what I was really staring at because I had a cape, a facemask and dark sunglasses on. I must have been just another pervert, after all. 

She suddenly stopped, right there in the middle of the street, and giggled at something on her phone. It was one of those long girly giggles. Whoever he or she was (it’s hard to know these days), must have been a real charmer.

A split second later, she almost tore her heels off, trying to get the hell out of the there.

Too late. Two cops showed up and pounced on her, very much like a bunch of cheetahs on a poor deer, except they had guns.

She had forgotten to wear a facemask, either that, or she must have figured she was too pretty to walk around in one. The damned masks were too sweaty for her anyway; they would have ruined her makeup. It would have been a waste of such a pretty face, I must agree.

The cops cursed and tossed her around trying to get the cuffs on; she whined and bitched, and mumbled something about knowing her rights, and on and off it went. I sadly watched them drag her to the adjacent Central Police Station, like a lamb to a slaughterhouse.

I must have been there long enough to get used to the mosquitoes and the rusty bench outside the Governor’s office (we have free wifi outside the Governor’s office). I was certainly there long enough to notice the unusual traffic of cops trooping down to the nearby Central Police Station, all day, with handcuffed prey in hand.

“Ule karau amesota sana… walai ako na ngiri kama onefefty mahali sahii!” I heard a potbellied middle-aged guy say.

The man had seen a friend get whipped multiple times, a man losing face and respect among his peers just because he wouldn’t part with some few coins, he went on to say. Maybe they should introduce a stamp to show that you’ve already been beaten senseless. You know, in case you meet other cops on your way home.

It is harvest season and many more will have to suffer.

Incidentally, a friend of mine yelled at me from across the street. The last time I saw him, he was fresh out of jail, dirty, smelly and confused like hell. He too had had a brush with the law.  

“Kwani uliandikiwa viboko?” I asked, pointing at the Police Station. I was surprised to see him here. He shot one quick look at the cells. No sunshine, no fresh air and a bucket at the corner; it must have been hell for him in there. He was more of a free spirit to me. I could see it in his eyes.

“Ata ndio nimekujia.” He snorted back. We both laughed incredulously.

John is one of those boys you see in town with a liquor bottle dangling from his lips. It’s always in a brown paper bag. The brown bag is supposed to fool you that it’s just lemon water.

A few days had gone by since he’d last visited Goodwill’s Wines and Spirits and so, last Friday, he walked into Goodwill’s, head lifted and held up high, and purchased his favourite: a kaquarter of Bob’s No.1 Blended whisky. His favourite watering hole was closed and he certainly couldn’t drink at home (his father is an animal), what was he to do? 

He must have been on his third gulp going on to the fourth, having the time of his life along Kenyatta Avenue, when two strong arms grabbed his shoulder from behind and jerked him to his side.

Police Patrol.

“Kijana, we ndio huwezi weka mask vizuri…”

“Sa ntakunywaje maji na mask afande?” John retorted.

“Haiya, kijana na utaongea matope…Kipruto ebu weka hii nyang’au kwa mariamu.” His back was against the wall now.

What will I tell him? He is going to kill me, John was getting worried. His alcohol-induced arrogance had subsided; it was now 6.30, the clock was ticking and the cops were picking up more people. No, tossing them inside was more like it.

His father too, was hardly a gentleman. Once he got the news of his son’s latest misfortunes, his ‘animal’ father decided to let him rot in there. He just didn’t care. How stupid can a man be? Serves him right.

Fortunately, John’s mother, like all mothers, stroked her husband’s ego—and God knows what else, until he agreed to bail him out.

His father must be giving him hell now. You would too if you had to sell household items to bail your son out for being drunk and disorderly; loitering with intent to procure a female for prostitution purposes; failure to wear a mask; and…wait for it…, failure to observe curfew hours charges. They were just short of calling him a child molester.

Maybe that’s why John hasn’t been hanging around the corner lately. Maybe that’s why he’s got one of those Kenyan flag facemasks, written STOP COVID 19. I mean, it can’t get more patriotic than that, can it?

The cops couldn’t have struck a better deal. Call it tough love; a necessary evil and sure John had a bit of an attitude problem but there isn’t a better example of getting pleasure—and profit, from another human being’s misfortunes.

The Japanese have a saying: “The misfortune of others tastes like honey.”

*The writer can be found on Facebook as Douglas Mwangi*

Also written by Douglas Mwangi, read:

  1. Jobs are sexist too.
  2. Valley of good hope. A tale of surviving the floods.
  3. Watch out for the corona con men. A tale of how people are getting conned during the pandemic.
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