Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Of women and cars

She may be disagreeable sometimes…well, most of the time. But Allan's wife really is a good woman. Overwhelming evidence may indicate otherwise, but his Datsun actually is a good car.
Mrs. Allan and the Datsun, as narrated by Allan.

"Two years ago when I bought my Datsun, my wife nagged me into giving her a driving lesson. Looking back, that must have been the most dangerous afternoon of my life, for we stared death in the face three times in that one session alone. Naturally, I immediately banned her from all things motor vehicle, but undaunted, she scrimped on the kitchen budget, fed me vegetables for a month and raised enough cash to go to a real driving school. Fortunately, the driving instructors of that school were equally unimpressed by her potential and she was never licensed to drive. This put a damper on her enthusiasm and for two years, there was tranquility in her relationship with cars.

But all good things, as heaven ordained, must come to an end. Recently, a pre-natal misdiagnosis forced my now pregnant wife to re-evaluate her choice of maternity services provider, and by the next day, Pumwani had lost yet another customer and Aga Khan hospital had gained one. I was obviously dismayed by the expected increase in the relevant fees this was going to entail, but that was nothing compared to her passion for the wheel the hospital switch Inadvertently re-awakened in her.

“Every pregnant mother drives in for her appointment except me.” She complained after her second most recent trip to the hospital. “Why do I have to be the only one that walks in like a Kawangware resident who doesn’t own a car?”

“Maybe because you actually are a Kawangware resident who doesn’t own a car?” I suggested, desperately hoping she would deviate from her apparent train of thought.

No such luck. “I promise I’ll oil it, fuel it and get it washed when I come from the hospital.” When she really wants something, my wife has this remarkable ability, absent in possibly all women, of getting straight to the point.

My firm refusal earned me a night on the sofa.

But the next day when I was in a matatu on my way to work, I opened my wallet to pay my fare to and realized the car keys were missing. Their whereabouts were obviously a no-brainer, and I instantly sent a prayer heavenward for God to take extra good care of my wife and unborn child, and especially my car, that day.I was so worried that I left work early.

The car was not on the parking lot when I arrived home, But my wife was, and she had made a sumptuous lunch as if she had anticipated I would leave work early. She served me like a king, laughed at my jokes throughout the meal, asked about my day, curled up close to me when I lay back for a siesta and generally behaved very suspiciously. When she produced two Pilsners from the bedroom, I knew it was time I acted before I got too complacent. “Honey,” I asked. “Where is the car?”

“Relax.” She purred. “It is at the garage. Didn’t I promise to get it oiled, washed and fueled?”

I was extremely grateful, and I thought maybe I had been too rash in dismissing my wife’s driving competence. I resolved give her another shot at driving school and a license as soon as the baby is born, for she was showing herself to be very responsible.

This resolution was reinforced the next day, but for very different reason.

When I passed by the garage and I saw my car, I almost fainted. The paintwork on the left side of the car was gone. Not patchy or scratched, but literally gone. The front fender was twisted like the branch of an acacia tree, and it was impossible to ascertain the condition of the three headlights I had affixed to the fender only the previous week, since they weren’t even there in the first place. Gone too was the left headlamp, and the front windshield looked like a chart of the entire human vascular system, capillaries, veins and all.

And that is why it is absolutely necessary, imperative even, that my wife learns to drive. Her passion for the wheel, albeit intermittent, is absolute, and I don't want to even imagine what will happen the next time it hits. So I'd rather she actually knew how to drive when it does"

Monday, June 7, 2010


Like any resident in the general vicinity of the Gulf of Mexico, I have BP.

No, I don't mean BP, the company that for the past month seems to have adopted publications with titles like 'Environmental Degradation For Dummies' and '101 Ways How NOT To Plug An Oil Leak' as its operational handbooks.I meant BP, as in Big Problems.

But first, a preamble of sorts. Last week, I used up all the water in the communal tank in my plot to do my weekly washing, and this unfortunately co-incided with a similar intention by my next door neighbor to my left to do her weekly washing. The result was a row of such magnificent proportions that we had to declare a termination of all interaction with each other henceforth to put an end to it. On the other hand, my next door neighbor to my right works at a Casino in town and thus only works nights, so as I write this, he isn't home.

How the status of my next door neighbors fits into this narrative shall be made apparent presently, but in the meantime, back to me and my Big Problems. Problem One: I am hungry. Ravenously hungry. I am so hungry, I was halfway through the glass of milk I found in my kitchenette when I came home today before I realized it was actually lime water I'd earlier poured in the flask to keep it fresh.

Problem Two was when I came home with Problem One, my house was in NETHerlands.

My house being in NETHerlands is a term I use to denote the fact that there is 'Nothing to Eat in The House' [NETH]  FYI, NETH is not a straightforward description of reality. It could mean there really is nothing to eat in the house, or that there actually is something edible in the house, but I am not in the mood to cook it.

The latter was the prevalent description when I came in with Problem One, for hailing as I do from the Western Province of the Kenyan Republic, it would be easier for a camel to knit with a needle and all that than for copious amounts of maize flour to NOT be found in my house at any given moment.

But although I wasn't in the mood to cook, I was in even less mood to waste my money at a hotel. And since I was not going to exist on half a glass of lime water alone, I was left with no other alternative but to light my paraffin stove, put on a half-full pan of water, wait for it to boil then pour in the flour. But I'd hardly started to mingle the concoction when there was a sickening crack!

Big Problem.

You see, almost every step of the ugali-making process has a built-in escape mechanism for when things go wrong. For example, too much water? Reduce it or add flour. Too much flour? Reduce it or add water. Too little paraffin/gas or electricity blackout? To hell with the neighbors. Build a wood-fire outside.

But unless your neighbors are in a position to lend you theirs, [and we have already established that for various reasons, mine can't at the moment,] there is absolutely no hope for you when right in the middle of the ugali-making process, the ladle suddenly breaks.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kids say the darnest things.


I believe you should live each day as if it is your last,which is why I don't have any clean laundry because,come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?
Brandon - Age 15
My young brother asked me what happens after we die.I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt and worms eat our bodies. I guess I should have told him the truth--that most of us go to Hell and burn eternally--but I didn't want to upset him.
Allen - Age 10

As you make your way through this hectic world of ours, set aside a few minutes each day. At the end of the year,you'll have a couple of days saved up.
Ricky -Age 7
Democracy is a beautiful thing, except for that part about letting just any old yokel vote.
Anthony - Age 10

Home is where the house is.
Jenny - Age 6
Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher.That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number.
Susan - Age 15

Once, I wept for I had no shoes. Then I came upon a man who had no feet. So I took his shoes. I mean, it's not like he really needed them, right?
Dennis - Age 15