The Snake Soup & The Wedding

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Sospeter opened the door. “Can I use this skin to make two pairs of shoes for my wife?” The gentleman at the door asked. Sospeter was surprised! He looked at the skin confused.

“Where did you get that snake skin from?” Sospeter asked looking at the skin like the pit latrine had just burst. “Do not move any closer” he said gesturing the guy to move back. That is a bad omen you are bringing to my house. The gentleman almost tripped on the stairs.

“I got it from the well. Your well, the one you asked us to clean.” the gentleman said very quickly. Sospeter spit on the stairs, moved back and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then stretched his hands and waved the man away.

“You may have the skin, all of it, and all the snakes of this land” Sospeter shouted as he closed the door. He rushed around the house opening all the taps to drain all the water from the tanks.

I was drinking my last cup of cocoa when he passed by me like a gazelle that was being chased by a cheetah. Suddenly he rushed back, grabbed the cup off my hand and poured my cocoa in the sink.

‘We have been poisoned!’ I thought.

“Where are the children?” I shouted. “My children are dead.” I rushed towards the door.    I was breathing heavily and my heartbeat was fast. I felt Sospeter’s firm hand grab my arm and pull me towards him. “Stop!” he tried to speak calmly. “You were drinking snake soup” he continued. “What?” I asked spitting on floor. I pulled the neck of my T-shirt up and used it to wipe my lips and tongue vigorously. Sospeter rushed to the bathroom, then the toilet to turn on the taps.

We sat down at the table. ‘All that water wasted…’ I thought. We were sad. I turned to look at Sospeter.

“We have been bewitched…” I complained. “The other day we found a lizard at the bottom of our water clay pot, the other day snail in our tea flask and…..and….”

“Please be silent.” Sospeter said. “I want to think. How can these things happen to us? Someone is trying to finish us.”

He raised up his head and turned to face me. I took his hand in mine and caressed it with the other.” Do you think it is our children? Do they hate us?”

I held his face in my hands, looked him in the eye and answered, “No” shaking my head slowly.

“It is just bad luck.” I dropped my hands to my lap. “This I am sure because of the day we bought that African sausage that was so chewy then we discovered a used Elastoplast inside.

Wah!” Sospeter exclaimed, almost standing, “I had forgotten about that. Let us go and prepare for the wedding. We will be late.”  I packed two sodas and a cake in my bag. Sospeter switched on the pump so that fresh water would be pumped into the house tanks. We said goodbye to our darling children and left.

We bought two packets of chips on the way and headed to the wedding venue.

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When we arrived at the venue we found the photographers busy doing what they do best. “We are in trouble…..” I whispered as I put my arm around Sospeter’s neck to pull him closer for a kiss on the cheek for the first photo we took.

Sospeter grinned. Still holding on to Sospeter, I lifted one leg and opened my mouth to ‘aaaaaah‘.

Soon our very important photo session was over and we were seated. Soon the lorry that carried the food, which was the reason we were here entered the gates. And just as soon, we were on the queue that was going to make our day complete. That queue where the servers look at your face first then determine what to put on your plate.

“One of the photographers has already delivered the photos to the food team.” I whispered to Sospeter.

“Do you see how they look at our faces before they serve?”

“I can see, but we don’t care, do we?” My husband whispered back.

“No”, I answered.

It was our turn to be served. There was pilau, chapati, matoke and chicken. Sospeter’s plate was served with chicken neck and my plate had something that looked like a tiny TV aerial or that thing that rotates at the top of the tower at the airport. We were disappointed. Usually, when we are pleased with the food on our plates, we pick two serviettes each to cover our foods from the crows. On these disappointing day, we did not care, we carried our plates, all caution thrown to the wind. I even put my plate on my head at one time. The crows did not attempt to snatch the chicken. That is how unappetizing the chicken was.

Soon we were seated. I picked the spoon and pushed the mysterious chicken part (or was it a small spare part from the music system), off my plate to the ground. Sospeter did the same. I took out two packets of chips from my bag and handed it over to my sweet husband. “One of the photographers must have taken our photos to the kitchen” I said, feeling annoyed. “Did you see how they looked at us before they served us? Like the photographer told them we were suffering from a stomach-ache, or losing weight.” The ushers walked around distributing envelopes. Sospeter took one. He was silent, seriously attacking the food on his plate, you would think the food had said something offensive.

“I wish we had carried tomato and chili sauce,” Sospeter said as he cleared his plate. “That food was just full of spices with no tomato or onion.” He picked the envelope and put 5000 shillings inside. I snatched it from him and removed the 5000 and put it in my bag.

“We are not giving them anything” I said, “The food was horrible and little.” I complained. When the time came for giving presents and returning the envelope, I hugged the bride and shook the groom’s hand firmly and gave them the empty envelope. We went back to our seats and ate our cake with soda. It was already going to 5 pm. If we waited for the wedding cake our dinner would be late. We walked towards the gate and out we were when we heard kssss kssss! We looked back.

“You have left your photos!!” one of the paparazzi shouted.

“We don’t want them!!” I shouted back.

Sospeter looked back and added.”You may cut up the photos into small pieces and mix them with the food that  has remained in the lorry and serving table, you traitors!”

Sospeter put his hand around my waist and we walked home to our children.

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Water Tings

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We have not had water for six days… We learnt that the water people went on strike because they have not been paid.. So they closed it at the main.. As Africans would say, “walifunga kwa main“.

All the people in the compound panicked and fetched water… To store in their houses. The tanks are empty now.

When you are used to water, then it disappears, the whole house seems to stink.. So I walk around with jik bleach, so I can pour it in the water that I fetch for the loo, I can pour it in the sinks and bathroom drainage to get rid of these stench.. That is when I remember the pit latrine is a treasure. No flashing..

My mind goes back to all the times I have watched the movie ‘Exodus, or ‘The Ten commandments. I have never really thought how Egypt was when the water was turned into blood… I have been thinking about it the last two days.

To make matters worse, Egypt was stinking because animals had died in the blood, and the blood was rotten. But Pharaoh was still stubborn and did not let the Israelites go. I love when there is water, even if it is in a jerry-can of 5 litres.. I want to know that I can rinse my spoon, my cup and wash my hands now and then. That is, if I want to make tea, I can make tea..

If I was pharaoh, believe me, I would have let the Israelites go even before Moses held his stick over the waters. There is something about water that is alive. There is this river, about 50 metres from here. But I can not fetch water it.

23 years ago, the river was clean. We fetched water from there, cooking water and water for cleaning. But as the place became densely populated, people started pumping sewage to the roads, so that the rain would wash the waste to the river. The rain causes the river to flow, so by mid morning the water is cleaner. It is not raining now, the river is not flowing and is half dry, the stagnant water can not be used.

Even if it rains, I would not go down to the river. Sometime back a friend of mine went to the river to wash her clothes. As she was busy doing so, a naked man suddenly appeared. The lady did not wait to know what the man wanted, she ran like she never thought she could.

From her story, I could imagine how fast she ran. Maybe a helicopter was overhead. Maybe a pilot saw how fast she dashed to the house and informed the government that Kenya has a potential Olympic athlete. So I was in front of the TV all the time this Olympic season to see if I could spot her, because I have not seen her around lately.

I wondered why her first instinct was to run from the naked man. Maybe the man had good news, like wishing to pay her rent from then on, or her boy’s school-fees, or he wanted to help her wash the clothes, now we will never know.

I know you are asking yourself, “Has Berina ever gone down to the river to find out what the naked man wanted?” the answer is NO! “Will she ever go down the river to find out?” NO! “Why?” you ask.. Because the water might be pumped today.

I am still thinking of how stubborn the pharaoh was. There is always this one housefly that visits when there is no water… Even with my small bottle of jik, the housefly lingers.. And I am not at ease. Pharaoh had frogs, he had gnats, he had flies and boils. It did not shake him.

I used a shower while cleaning my skin. Then I started using a big basin, then I used a pail, now I do not want to think about my next bath, because I can see myself bathing from a cup.

Oooooh come water come!