Ronnie brings home the stragler he's acquainted during a night jaunt, playing snooker for dope at the local pub in West Kensington.
The bulge of contraband he has stashed on him the measure of his winning streak.
The Arab he's befriended is chuffed too, meeting a fellow third-worlder and muslim -- 'Ahmed' for Ronnie now merely an honorific lost in passage from the mother country over a decade earlier. But muslim still, and not querulous about imbibing the nectar of Iblis, nor the purchase of The Evil One's weed.
My younger brother and I, both sojourning on Christmas vacation away from boarding-school in Sussex, are idling at Gori-Bibi and Uncle Ayub's West Kensington apartment , on lease from a prominent Communist Party polit-buro member of the future South African Government-In-Waiting in exile London.
The early 70's, and Gori-Bibi and her family were remarkably kind in hosting my siblings and I for holidays, providing a home-away-from-home, for a family they didn't know, but who on discovery, opened hearts, home and hearth to
A close-knit traditional family whose immense generosity was always clad warm in Islamic decorum.
In addition to us kinders, there boarded too Amjit, a single-minded, hard-working chef from Bengla Desh with barely a word of English to his name, and Ronnie, a wizened but still young Stalinist South African exiled in London, whose claim among a few to erudition and enlightenment was being able to complete The Times crossword.
There was no love lost between the apolitical, driven, sober-minded chef seeking a better life through sacrificial toil, and Ronnie who had all the nuanced malaise of an exile, recently fallen from grace into a debilitating alcoholic rut which saw him subsisting at the stiff courtesy of Her Royal Majesty's Welfare state, and the good-old fashioned charm and hospitality of Gori-Bibi and her family
I would usually elect to spend time with Ferhana, their three year old baby-daughter, whose charm and innocence allowed me to drop my teen-on-thirty revolutionary weariness and angst, and leave the boys to their often tortuous intellectual exercises
I did no different this evening, even though Ronnie, the Arab and my younger bother gathered in Ronnie's bedroom for a round-table discussion of high-end kitchen sociology stimulated by top-shelf dope-smoking.
The hospitality proffered to Ronnie's latest recruit was animated, more so for the ersatz peace pipe being shared.
The joint was smoking, so to speak.
They worked their way through a bag of marijuana, blocks of hashish, and then some.
But the Arab Guy wanted more, and there was none left, save the lingering smoke in the sealed room.
His eyes fell angrily on the bag of green lineament on a low cupboard in the room, and in that rich brogue preferred by Hollywood to signify a rough Arab, he would've exclaimed something like "...but there, is! You are cheating me. Why you don't let me smoke it"
Bru and Ronnie, stoned to tearing laughter , gave up on negating Ahab's wanton desire and protest, their voices reduced to drug-induced jabbering. In the interests of détente, they didn't wrest the bag, now already in hand, contents being worked feverishly into a joint by Arab Guy.
He smoked it, and duly pronounced upon it as the best weed he'd ever smoked .
Satisfied at the deed and the warm embrace of the possibility that there was none finally left, and having taken leave of his senses, acceptance speech made, took leave to go home.
The sumptuous somph, fennel-seed delicacy to be sure, had found its premature end, in ashes..