wetwool

because you never forget that funny smell

Category: life (page 2 of 10)

the announcement

I paused for a moment, realising that Babu was staring at me, his mouth open. I thought he was either in a state of shock or he was very thirsty. Our glasses had been empty for a while, and I signaled to the barman, who had been standing close by, listening to the Malaika tale, to fetch more beer immediately. Continue reading

Neither a borrower nor a lender

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be;For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!”

A short passage from Lord Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3 which I then shamelessly proceed to borrow in order to illustrate a point.

It was Sunday morning. Woolie sat in the tiny living room, tucking into a king size breakfast of fried eggs, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, toast and ML spinach. In his right hand he held a huge mug of coffee and in his left, the remote control with which he surfed the various news channels. His continuous flicking up and down the channels was irritating and Babu, sitting opposite, took a sip of his black tea and shook his head. Woolie wanted to hear what the brightest brains in the land were saying about Obama and his amazing speeches. He wanted to hear why the killing of a single lion by a crazy dentist in Zimbabwe was making more headlines than the killings of hundreds of people in trouble spots around the world, including Zimbabwe. Was it true that the Governor was taking back the trees used to line the highways after the great leader left?

“ Look, switch off that telly and let’s talk for a bit. Explain it to me again, what really happened here, Woolie?” Babu asked.

First Kenyan American President

Woolie raised his arm unconsciously making a sign for Babu to keep quiet. He was trying to catch up with the news for the few days that he had been incarcerated as he ate the food that Babu had prepared for him. Babu stood up and and switched off the telly. “Finish your breakfast first, then you can watch all the tv that you like.”

“Boo!” Woolie said, making a face.“You know how grateful I am for you coming to my rescue, Babu and those mushrooms are just the way I like them! What more can I say. You saved my life, boss. You’re my hero,” Woolie said, spreading jam on a piece of toast.

Babu shook his head again. “No, no, Woolie, I’m not finagling for gratitude here. You’ve been trapped in here for nearly three days! I tried calling you for ages and you were not answering. That was really odd, man. Scary.” He looked at Woolie intently and asked, “ Does this have anything to do with young Rubina?”

“Finango who? “ asked Woolie. “Where have you been learning new words, Babu? No, this has nothing to do with Rubina. I have not actually spoken to her since last Friday, before she left for Nakuru.” Woolie thought for a moment and said, “I’ll give her a call in a bit, I guess.” For Babu this was the information that he sought. It was an indication that the lawyer had not told Woolie of her plans for the near future. Babu wondered when she was going to tell him. Perhaps she wanted to tell Peter Malo first. That was why she had gone to Nakuru on Saturday morning, he mused. To Woolie he said, “Finagle.”

Woolie knew that he had plenty to be thankful for. He told Babu how after dropping Rubina home on the Friday evening, he had gone home to get changed as he was going out for a bite to eat and some drinks with his pals. The city was abuzz with the much awaited arrival of Barack Obama, the first US President to visit our fair Republic. That day the media were covering a single news item and Woolie had learned a lovely new word: Potus

Woolie explained that he had come home to a cold flat in complete darkness. All was quiet, save for the occasional screeching from the the cats in the alleyway at the back. It was early evening and the cats would be fighting for fish bones from the rubbish bin outside the rear gate of the Bahari Fish and Chips shop. As the night wore on the cats would move away leaving the alleyway for muggers to lie in wait for tipsy revellers, foolish enough to take a short cut home.

Woolie had run a bath, pouring himself a large whiskey in a small glass. He drew the curtains and turned on the tv to see whether President Obama had finally arrived. They were still waiting. It seemed Barack would land late in the night. This was Nairobi, not Camp Bastion! So much for all the grass that the Nairobi Governor had planted.

Woolie went into the bathroom, locking the door as was his habit when he was doing more than just a number one. He picked a nice book from the drawer and settled to read. When he was done he got a packet of sweet smelling bath salts from the drawer and sprinkled them into the water. He slid into the bath and lay back, shutting his eyes. He placed a wet flannel over his face, pretending he could not breathe. He lay there for a while as the tiredness left his limbs. The water became cold so he finished washing and got out. He had forgotten to bring a towel. When Woolie grabbed at the knob to open the door, it came away from the door in his hand.

“Nkt!”, he said, stooping low to pick up the screws that had also come away from the door panel. As he tried to push them back in he realised that he would need a screw driver. He remembered that there was one in the drawer. He had left it there when he adjusted the arm on the toilet ball-valve to reduce the water he was flushing. He rummaged about looking for the screwdriver. As he did so he recalled the day two months ago when the neighbour from two doors away, Cecil, borrowed the same screwdriver for ‘five minutes’. He had not returned it. As he fiddled with the knob the rest of the door mechanism on the outside of the bathroom fell away. He was trapped!

Woolie had told himself that there was no need to panic. Far better to take a calm and considered assessment of the situation. There had to be a way out of this predicament, surely. He was locked in the bathroom, that was certain. The window was too high and too small to offer him an exit. His mobile phone was in his bedroom next door. He had no tools, with him, in the bathroom, that he could use to break out. He may not have food, but there was plenty of water to drink. He started to panic. How did one pick a bathroom door? There was only one thing to do: shout for help.

Woolie had tried to shout for twenty minutes. He stopped to take a break when his voice became hoarse. The streets outside were busy and very noisy. It was patently clear that nobody would have heard him unless they happened to be in the bedroom next door. He wondered why he had not placed a land line in the bathroom. He tried to kick the solid door but it was one that opened inwards and had a very solid frame. The bathroom was tiny with very little room. Woolie realised that he could not run up and smash into the door with any power. He hurt his foot and gave up on that idea.

At 2:00 am Woolie drank another tumbler of water. He was getting quite hungry. He could hear loud music and laughter from the bar down the road. The smell of barbecued goat hung in the air. The streets were quieter and the traffic flowed quicker. He considered the numerous items that he had lent to his friends, never to see again. Should he even refer to these idiots as friends, in future?

Missing screwdriver

That man Cecil, with the screwdriver, he was definitely an idiot and Woolie thought of him as an acquaintance rather than a friend. Mary who was an old schoolmate had moved to a house in a street behind Woolie’s. They had met at the local bar a few times and she was a good friend. There had been a power surge one afternoon, at Mary’s house and it had blown out her iron. She had come to borrow Woolie’s and he had done the neighbourly thing. Mary’s house was burgled when she was away for the weekend. They had taken everything that was not fixed down. Panye was in a class of his own. He had come to Woolie one lunch time, spun him a tale of how he needed 2k urgently to replace some filange part on his car which had broken down on the side of Mombasa Road, near the big Equity bank. He was never seen again and Woolie, upon learning that Panye did not actually own a car, had considered the 2k well spent in a lesson on friendship and money.

It was 04:00 am Woolie was getting cold. He had nothing to wrap over himself to keep warm. Woolie wondered why he had never considered hiding a small bottle of whiskey in the medicine cabinet. There was no pen or paper with which to write a quick SOS note that he could throw out of the bathroom window. He slept a restless kind of sleep, on the cold floor. He spent the whole of Saturday sleeping, only waking to drink some more water. Saturday night was party night. The streets were full of noise and celebration. Woolie slept a distressed sleep that night dreaming of soft towels, screw drivers and tool-boxes. The hunger made it difficult to think. The smell of nyama choma from the bar was torture and his belly complained loudly. He dreamed of Cecil running away with the screwdriver “Woolie! Woolie!” he said, “I’ll be back in five minutes, Woolie”. Woolie dreamed of getting himself a bow and some arrows..”Five minutes Woolie,” Cecil had said.

“Woolie! Woolie! There was someone inside the flat, calling him, shouting out his name! It was not a dream.

“In here, I’m in here. In the bathroom”, said Woolie, rather weakly.

When Babu kicked the door in he had been expecting the worst. Had Woolie disturbed some burglars who had beaten him and tied him up in the bathroom? Had they injured him, perhaps left him for dead? The sight of a hungry Woolie, shivering from exposure was not what he had expected. He helped him to his room, getting him a pair of pants and a dressing gown.

“Can I get you anything?” Babu had asked. Woolie smiled saying that all he wanted was his phone and a nice cup of tea.

Dad forgive me.

She was quite sure that her friend had said “Half-way up Loita Street.”. Her feet were killing her, but she walked on in the mid-October heat. She crossed the road and hurried past the ghastly Nyati House, Nairobi’s infamous chambers of horror. She walked on towards the Libyan Embassy and it had occurred to her that this was an odd place to have an embassy, but then again, Nairobi town was odd like that. There was no diplomatic district as such; embassies and consulates were scattered about all over the city.

Rubina saw the coffee house and walked up the short flight of steps leading up to the entrance. It was cool and welcoming inside and it took a moment for the eyes to get accustomed to the low, soft light. There were few customers in the restaurant and her friend was not there. Rubina smiled. She was always the early one. She chose a seat by the window, looking onto the street. When a young waitress came over to take her order, Rubina said she would have a bottle of water as she waited for her friend. She sipped the cold water watching the world go by.

There was a quiet, pleasant hum of conversation in the restaurant. That and the cool breeze from the slow moving ceiling fans above offered Rubina a chance for quiet reflection.

The day in court had gone very well. Both sides had finished their submissions and the judges would probably issue a ruling in the morning. There was pressure from many quarters for the matter to be concluded speedily. Any further delay would be a case of justice denied.

It was clear to Rubina, if not to all the other participants in this tragic affair, that this was one of those cases that would never have got to this point, but for the various shortcomings of our justice system. She considered the old quote: the wheels of justice grind slowly but they grind exceedingly fine. In this particular case a totally corrupt and ruthless man, who had bullied, bribed and bought his way throughout his adult life had died at the hand of his wife, thus cheating justice. When the judges considered all the facts presented before them, the only conclusion that they could reasonably arrive at was to uphold Mrs Indania’s appeal and quash her conviction. Nothing else would serve to heal the tarnished reputation of the justice system.

The facts were very compelling. Everyone and their dog had heard some version of the story. The daily papers loved this sort of thing. It sold papers. Targets were met and people received fat bonuses. The main papers were all carrying a special ‘High Court Section’ dedicated to the big trial of the year or as one editor had put it: Kenya’s OJ moment. The public’s appetite had been worked up to a frenzy. Everyone wanted to read about the wealthy, former cabinet minister and advisor to leaders, Nowa Indania, who had cheated friend and foe alike for most of his adult life, whose life now had suddenly been cut short by a blow to the head administered by his wife in a domestic violence incident.

The masses had bayed for blood. This case was not helped by countless stories of men suffering death and mutilation at the hands of their spouses across the length and breadth of the country but most notably in the county of Nyeri. Julia Indania herself was, quite understandably, in a state of shock following the death of her husband and in that state, could hardly take in the full implications of being a defendant in a murder trial. Her defence team at the time seemed overwhelmed by the public storms and did not, in Rubina’s mind, have a snow flake’s chance in hell of putting forward the woman’s side of the story. Their case was tossed about like a small boat in a violent sea and Julia Indania was convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

That would have been the end of the matter, as Rubina recalled. Mrs Indania spoke little during the trial save for answering questions. In this same air of quiet disinterest she accepted the court verdict and went to prison without ever protesting her innocence. It was a little while later that Rubina learnt that Mrs Indania’s father-in-law wanted to launch an appeal on behalf of his daughter-in-law. In his papers Mzee Indania Snr had stated: The boy has already lost one parent, surely that is a burden enough, for someone so young. He added, my daughter is not a murderer. I will sell everything that I own if that is what it will take to see that she is set free.

Rubina recalled how thrilled she had been when they asked her to lead the appeal. If proof was required that they held her in high regard back at the firm, this was it. She knew that this would finally put to rest the demons that stalked her following the leopard attack. She smiled at the thought of her pals visiting her in hospital back then, all crowded in that little ward. Babu was scared as hell, but tried not to show it. Woolie’s eyes were filled with sorrow and he looked out through the window most of the time that they were there and Ruby – she was just angry beyond words. Angry that someone could have done this to her.

Back to the appeal. The original case, as Rubina had suspected, was handled poorly by both sides. The prosecution believed what the police had told them. It was an open and shut case. A murder victim, a weapon a suspect and some sort of a motive. Mrs Indania was portrayed as an angry woman, jealous of her husband’s wealth and success. The defence argued that this was a most improbable motive. They claimed that Nowa Indania had attacked his wife in a fit of drunken rage, a fairly frequent occurrence, and that she had struck back in self defence. His death, therefore, was an accident.

Rubina had met Mrs Julia Indania for the first time at Sharwama Women’s GK prison. She wanted to hear her story. In the course of the conversation Rubina had realised that something was missing in this woman’s life. They went through the events of that fateful night. Rubina was making notes and would ask a question here and there. Julia answered as best as she could. She told the same story again and again with very little variation.

Nowa Indania had come home angry and very drunk. He had come straight to the living room where Julia had been seated near the fireplace, watching a television thriller with their ten-year-old son. Julia sent the boy upstairs. Indania had just poured himself a double-whiskey when his cell-phone rang. He had answered it and exchanged some angry words with whoever it was on the line. He threw his whiskey glass at the wall shattering it into a thousand pieces. Julia knew better than to speak to Nowa when he was in that state. She stood up to leave the room and go to bed. He grabbed her roughly by the arms and pushed her back into the seat. He declared that Julia had poisoned his boy against him. “I will teach you a lesson tonight!”

He beat her, first with his belt and then he used his fists and his feet. She was screaming at him to stop and he taunted her saying “Scream all you like, nobody will hear you, except your gay little son.” Julia was lying on her back in the sofa as he rained blows to her body and face. She thought she was going to die. She reached her had out and grabbed the fire poker, and whacked him on the head. His eyes rolled over and he fell back, blood gushing from a big wound just behind the left ear.

Julia’s story was accurate in almost every detail. This was because she had told it to herself so many times that she had come to believe it. Looking at Julia, Rubina realised what it was that was missing. There was no light in her eyes, no hope, no future. Now she understood. Mzee Indania Snr had completed the jigsaw.

When the police arrested Julia Indania on the night of the murder, officers also kept the boy at the station over night before taking him to his grandparents the following day. The despondent ten-year- old told his grand father how his mother had sent him to bed when Baba came home. He had sat at the foot of the stairs listening to Baba say some really awful things to his mother.

“Suddenly Baba started hitting my mother again and again. I opened the door and shouted Baba, stop! He didn’t stop he just kept hitting her with punches and kicks. I jumped on Baba’s back and put my arm round his neck. He growled at me like a bear and threw me to down the ground.”

the fireplace

That was when Julia had picked up the poker. Nowa had turned back to her and in the shoving about she had dropped it to the floor. Nowa continued with the beatings. The young boy launched himself across the floor. He picked up the poker and stood over his father and said “ Dad forgive me.” As he brought it down, Indania turned to look up and the blow caught him just behind the left ear. That must have been was when the lights had gone out of Julia’s eyes, Rubina thought.

A white cab drew up on the street alongside the restaurant. The occupant got out and took the steps up to the entrance two at a time.

Rubina called to her, “Ruby! Over here.” The ladies hugged and sat down. The police commander raised a hand to attract some attention. “Hope you haven’t waited to long, Rubina. The traffic is manic on the highways, you’d think someone important is coming to town. Shall we order?” Rubina smiled and nodded. “Let’s order.”

They had coffee and chocolate cake. The commander watched as Rubina stirred her coffee, deep in thought. She asked, “You said you had some news. Is it work related?”

Rubina smiled and looked at the commander. She said “I have been short-listed for an interview for a teaching post.” “ Oh, how thrilling!” said the commander, showing real pleasure. “When’s it for?” Rubina said “In about five weeks. I’ll need all that time just to organise everything!”

“You’re the most organised person I know, my dear, it will be a walk in the park. A piece of cake.” the commander said this as she picked up another piece of the lovely chocolate cake.

“I dunno, Ruby. I need you to tell me how I’ll break it to the guys that I’ll soon be off for an interview for a teaching post in Toronto……”

Collision Course

So earlier this afternoon I was standing by the bus stop waiting for the number 10 when a young lady emerged from a side street pushing a baby buggy in a bit of a hurry, nearly running into the old lady who stood in front of me.

“Hey! Look where you’re going.” Said the woman. “There could have been a collision.”

The young mother mumbled an apology without pausing in her mobile phone conversation and hurried off.

It struck me at the time that the baby in the buggy seemed rather large. I mused that perhaps the near-miss had been caused by the fact that it must have been quite a mission for the petite mum to control this heavy buggy with one hand as she came down the very steep hill. I dreaded to imagine what nature of a collision would have happened had the lady tripped on a paving stone, say, and let go of the buggy for a second……Our bus stop is at the junction of a very busy road.

It has often been said that you hear a new word one day and then you find that for the next few hours and days you are coming across the same word so many times. The same thing happens when you buy a car, dress or jacket. Suddenly you find that the whole world is full of cars, dresses and jackets just like yours but you had never noticed. Today’s word of the day was Collision. When I switched on the telly at Rubina’s flat later in the evening there was this wonderfully boring science programme about mechanics, velocity, motion and all things collision.

Don’t get me wrong when I say boring. I enjoyed the show. I really loved physics way, way back in my school days. The principal reason was one bright scholarly girl: Condoleezza Ajiambo. She was the light of the class, no… the light of our school. She demolished the old (silly and somewhat chauvinist) ideas of a less enlightened age and inscribed in every school boys heart at the time that smart girls were nerds and Beauty X Brains = K. Condoleezza was consistently top of the class. She was clever, witty and very pretty and had what is sometimes referred to as a heart of gold; she was a gracious soul. Everyone liked to be near her and every night I said a prayer for the physics master because he had instructed me, the slowest kid in the group, to sit next to Miss Ajiambo in the physics lab.

The master himself was something of a phenomenon. Back then the older kids joked that he had taught Einstein most of what he knew. I believed them. The guy suited the part of the nutty professor perfectly. In his lab he was King. If you asked him a question he would swing round on his heels, and armed only with a piece of chalk he did battle on the black board producing obscure (to us) characters. He would tweak them here, cross-out there and adjust there and in a few minutes he would derive another masterpiece of an equation.

One morning, after another satisfactory equation exhibition, Master asked if there were any questions. Ms Ajiambo, or Condi, as we called her stood up and asked “So Master, how do you think this world will end?”

The physics master smiled, pulled out another piece of chalk and said, “There are many ways in which the world can end but my favourite ones are as follows”

He swung on his heels turning to face the board and wrote:

1 The sun burns itself out, suddenly like the flash in a camera so that the earth has no source of energy and life, as we know it ceases to exist.

2 A most powerful volcanic eruption that would crack the earth’s core killing most life on the planet.

3 My worst case scenario is the very probable prospect of an unstoppable body moving fast and colliding (that word again) with an immoveable body, (our planet)

heavenly bodies

The master went on to explain that outer space was full of debris from the break up of larger heavenly bodies, asteroids and such like. This debris travelled across space at “astronomical speeds” and If even one such body say about a quarter of the size of our moon was to crash into the earth…….He painted a scene of devastation of cataclysmic proportions and concluded by saying that even now as we spoke there were many objects hurtling through the universe, faster and faster on a collision(Ha!) course with our planet. Impact was most certainly assured. It was simply a question of when, not if, this would happen.

Astronomical

Much time has passed in between and over the years we lost touch with one another. Sometimes, I do wonder what I would ask the master today. What about Condi? If I met her today I think I should like to ask her whether she might agree with me that there is a new unstoppable object sweeping rapidly across the planet, almost as fast as the moon’s shadow racing across earth during an eclipse.

This object is on a deadly collision course with the rest of humanity. I describe the rest of humanity as the immoveable object today because it is totally oblivious to the nature of the threat that it faces. The rest of humanity has no response and watches in awe and confusion as killing and maiming, raping and beheading, burning and looting rages in almost every continent.

Last week’s attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait drew swift condemnation and anger coming as they did in the Holy month of Ramadan but like numerous attacks in Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and other countries, tough talk about tightening security, punishing the perpetrators and the all important War on Terror do nothing to hide the most inconvenient truth of today: We don’t know where or how the next attack will be carried out. Like the physics master’s dire warning it is just a question of when.

What happened to the King’s gold

I have never felt comfortable writing a post on birthdays, whether past, present or future. Perhaps it is the random streak of shyness within me that made me ask: What merit can there possibly be in one shouting out that they are another year older?

Now all this was before I read the numbers game which is a beautifully engaging post celebrating life and a making a play on the number that is one’s age. Notice how every birthday one is obliged to pick a new number: 20, 25, 30, 45, 50, 55. And yet they are the self same individuals. No wonder someone important once said that age is just a number. What does it feel like to be 39? or 89?

I did not have to wait too long for my next birthday treat. I came across a post which can be called Just do it. I got my teeth into this excellent high velocity, energetic post as it cruised along at about mach 5. The theme here: goals and achievements. There is no time like the present for one to push the boundaries and realise their true potential. Tomorrow might be too late

I allowed these ideas to percolate in my mind as I searched high and low for my final birthday offering which suddenly appeared one day in the shape of Father Time.
It was a wonderful evaluation of the changes that had taken place in the past year. Time was the theme as the title suggests. What had changed as the hands of time had made their revolutions around the clock- face? A coming of age type of story.

After reading these 3 pieces I had clearly experienced an instant radical change of perception.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I woke on Tuesday morning with a start. My breath came in quick, short gasps. It was as though I had been running for a bus in my last dream. I glanced over at the alarm clock by the bedside. It read 05:33, a whole twelve minutes before my alarm was due to go off. My body shook in silent laughter in the darkness as I recalled an old saying: why keep a dog and then bark yourself?

I got up from the bed and opened a window. The air in my bedroom was stale, reminding me of boiled cabbage, rotten eggs and bad drains. Perhaps I should have given that cold mutura at the pub a miss last night, I thought gravely. I moved about the room with a dangerous, lithe spring in my step. Today was my birthday.

I quickly shaved, showered and moisturised, and twenty minutes later I was locking the front door. I stopped by the early morning kiosk to pick up a paper, a bag of peanuts, some tissues and a bottle of water. I ran recklessly across the street to catch a mat bound for the city.

I arrived at the office to discover that the others were all there. My general plan was to not say anything. I did not expect them to remember what day it was and I was not going to tell them. Why should I tell them it’s my birthday? They’d probably think I’m desperate for cards, prezzies and stuff. I would pretend it was just a normal day.

Babu was looking over some papers at the receptionist’s desk. He glanced up at me when I entered and grunted a greeting. The photocopier man, standing nearby handed me a box of toner to take to the cupboard and promptly disappeared. As I walked along the corridor to my office I noticed Commander Ruby accepting and signing for a package from a delivery man. She saw me and casually placed a newspaper over the package on the desk. She came to the door, said hello and pressed an empty coffee cup into my hand, asking if I was going to the kitchen. I said hi, declined the coffee cup and went into my office. I shut the door in despair, disappointed that not one of my work mates had even though for a moment about the significance of this great day.

The day wore on. It was busy as normal. There were clients to see, emails to reply to and phone calls to return. Before I knew it it was 5.45 and time to disappear. Rubina was just getting back from the courts. She asked me to wait, saying she had a present for me. She had managed to obtain a wonderful film for my birthday. It had been delivered today. Her plan was that we should go back to my place and watch it. She also presented me with a beautiful birthday card and a lovely brand new copy of Okot P’Biteks, Song of Lawino.

I was ecstatic. Rubina had come through. I wondered what to do about my other forgetful colleagues but when I stepped outside the building, I discovered they had all gone home.

Rubina had gone to fetch her car from that dark and damp place, that is the basement of the building. She pulled up beside me and I jumped into the passenger seat. We went by her place where she offered me a coffee while she picked up some overnight things. We left almost immediately with Rubina negotiating the city roads with considerable skill. It was quite dark now. A few moments later we had arrived at my flat in South B. As we got out of the car we were giggling with excitement. We had managed to outfox the rest of the work colleagues and now we could spend some quality time watching a good film all by ourselves.

Had I been a more conscientious fellow in my day to day domestic affairs I would have had the light bulb in the porch area, inside the front door, replaced months ago. Perhaps then I would have noticed that something odd was going on. As it happened this area at the front was in total darkness just like the rest of the house.

I opened the door to the sitting room. What happened next was the last thing that I would have expected that evening.

“Surpriiiiise !! Came the loud shout of about twenty or thirty voices all at once as they switched on the lights. They had all been lying in wait, in the darkness. Somebody turned on the music nice and loud and Babu came up and hugged me as he gave me a present. Someone else put a drink in my hand and slapped me cheerfully on the back. I looked at Rubina. Her face was like a blank sheet of paper. It was impossible to say whether she had been in on the joke or not. I said to her, “Looks like we’ll have to watch the movie next time. What film did you get, by the way?”

She smiled and took out a package from her coat pocket. It was the very same one that I had seen Commander Ruby signing for in the office earlier that day.

“Happy birthday Woolie.” said Rubina and the Commander in unison as I ripped away at the wrapping paper. I finally got to the DVD. It bore the bold initials of the National Archaeological Unit. The title of the film was “What happened to the King’s gold?”

King’s treasure and the rogue zero

They arrived at the venue with moments to spare. It had been hurriedly arranged, almost at the last moment. Weeks ago Babu had offered Woolie a pair of tickets to a public presentation by the National Archaeology Unit. The event had been billed as “A show that will blow your mind.”

Woolie had wanted so much to take Rubina to this thing, whatever it turned out to be. This would be quite different. He felt unsure about asking her. He hardly saw her at all these days and when he called her on the phone she was always busy. It just rang and rang. She never returned his calls, which displeased him. He considered, with some irritation, how this new guy at the office opposite had just breezed in and had now managed to take Rubina to the cinema one weekend and then to play tennis, yes Tennis! On the following one. The new boy was clearly a mercenary! Would Rubina really be interested in going to some stuffy lecture about bones and stuff, he wondered. He waited almost two weeks, putting off asking her, like it was some ordeal.

When he finally asked her, just two days before the event, she said it was a lovely idea and she’d love to go. “Yay!” Woolie thought, totally delighted.

So here they were now at the National Museum. They run up the stairs and entered through the big doors to join the others in the beautiful Louis Leakey Auditorium. Once everyone was seated the Director, Professor Aden welcomed them all. She went on to introduce the Curator, Mr Shu Kabatt who drew up to the stage in his electric wheelchair. At his signal the lights were dimmed. The curtain went up and everyone looked at the huge cinema screen expectantly. The curator introduced the show in a deep, steady and sombre voice.

“laaadiees and geeeentle meeeen, it gives me great pleasure toniiiiight to welcome you all as you join us in our first showing of what is a truuuuuuly amazing story.”

The music playing in the background was an instrumental version of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song.

“As you all know, “ The curator continued, “The SafariGone Railway Coorporation won the contract to build and operate a South to North train service between Namanga and Juba in the Republic of South Sudan. Construction work in the Rift Valley was progressing steadily until about six months ago when the contractors reported that they had stumbled upon something quite unexpected.”

On the screen the audience now looked at what seemed like footage taken by the construction crews. The advance party had come to a halt before a dry and rocky plain upon which stood a hillock which was right in the path the proposed railway line. The engineers decided to tunnel through the hill. They had enough explosive to blow up the whole hill if it was necessary. They prepared their dynamite charges, cleared the area and blew open a big hole at the front of the hill. The loud explosion echoed across the plain sending flocks of huge birds flying in all directions. The dust soon settled and the contractors came back to survey the results.

The film footage showed clearly how the dynamite had smashed the large rocks at the front of the hill into small pieces. It soon became clear that the hillock was quite hollow inside. They had blasted open an entrance into a huge cavernous space. The ground sloped gently into the earth as the men ventured cautiously further into the cave. The men wore helmets with powerful torches attached which lit up the cold, damp space inside. The inside was huge, like a large cathedral. The audience were watching open mouthed when the leading men stumbled upon the first human remains. There were audible gasps as the camera panned the cave to reveal more human and animal remains, There were skeletons belonging to humans, goats and camels. Woolie glanced across to see Rubina completely engrossed in the unfolding drama.

Meanwhile back in the cave, the Chief Engineer suddenly blew his shrill emergency whistle and called out. “Stop! Stop where you are. We cannot carry on like this. You, turn off that camera. This is probably an ancient burial ground. We do not want to desecrate it. Don’t touch anything. Let us turn round, right now and walk back the way we came.” The men muttered to themselves but they did not argue. They turned around and walked out of the cave to the bright sunshine outside.

“And this is where we come in.” Said curator Kabatt, importantly. SafariGone were astute enough to realise the gravity of the situation. They reported the discovery immediately to the National Museums and we are able to secure the site. As you know we have executive authority over all areas of Natural, Scientific or Historical interest in the country and our powers can only be revoked by Executive order and Only in matters concerning National Security.”

The next piece of film on the screen looked more professionally done. As Kabatt continued to narrate the story the audience saw a team of archaeologists arrive and take control of the entire hill. They went into the cave again, photographing and documenting all their findings. They retrieved the remains of about 900 men, women and children inside the hill. There were also hundreds of farm animals – goats and sheep, chickens, pigs and cattle, It now looked as if the people had gone into the cave to seek shelter from some natural calamity. Radio Carbon dating put the remains at 1000 years old meaning that the tragic events leading to the deaths of an entire community took place in the year of Our Lord 1015.

The film continued to explain how further investigations by archaeologists showed that around AD 1015 there had been a series of huge earthquakes in this region. The land all around was flattened and some mountains had been swallowed back into the earth. The scientists bagged and tagged the stuff that they found amongst the human remains. One day they came to a depression in the ground. It looked almost like a shallow pit. In the darkness they struggled to see what was inside. The film crew then shone their powerful halogen lamps into the pit. The audience was silent as they beheld the breathtaking view. A deep pit nearly 10 metres wide by 10 metres long and 10 metres deep and full of gold bars. They had found the King’s treasure.

“Take me home, Woolie. I’m tired and hungry.” Rubina said. In the darkness of the auditorium, Woolie took a moment to process this. He had forgotten where he was. The story of the caves and everything had arrested his imagination.

“ Yes, yes of course.” He said. “Let’s go at once.”

They stood up and made their way carefully through the darkened auditorium. In the car Woolie asked, “what do you fancy for supper?”

“ Haha, can you make me something?” I don’t really fancy take away, Rubina said.

“You don’t mean cook right now, surely, Rubina. It’s so late.”

“ Late shmate Woolie, you’re not even working tomorrow you can stay up as long as you like. Unless you don’t want to cook for me.”

Woolie put his foot down hard on the accelerator and said “I’ll make you anything you like, Rubina. Just name it.”

“Anything? Anything at all?” Rubina was not sure if Woolie was being serious. He was driving quite fast now down the highway towards South B, where he lived.

Woolie said, Ok then I’ll make you a surprise dish.
The arrived soon after and by force of habit, Woolie went round the house, drawing curtains and checking that windows were locked. Rubina hung her coat on the hook by the door and came back into the living room.

“I want to help.” said Rubina, “What can I do?”

Woolie opened the glass cupboard and brought out two glasses. There was a bottle of Blue Nun in the fridge and he filled their glasses, rolled up his shirt-sleeves and washed his hands. He found a block of mild cheddar cheese which he asked Rubina to grate.

Woolie found a pan with a heavy base and placed it on the hob on medium heat to melt 80g of butter. He then took 80g of plain white flour and stirred it into the melted butter as Rubina watched. She fished out a whisk from the drawer and passed it to him and he added milk whisking the mixture quickly to produce a smooth thick pasta sauce. Rubina added salt and pepper when the heat was turned down.

Bolognese

“Now pass me the big pan in the fridge, please, Rubina.” In the pan was the Bolognese sauce which Woolie had made earlier like they did in the cookery shows. He brought a large glass pasta dish and started by placing a layer of Bolognese sauce at the bottom.

Pasta sheets

He placed dried pasta sheets to cover the sauce and then poured white sauce over the pasta sheets. He then put another layer of meat sauce and repeated the process another couple of times. He placed a final layer of pasta sheets on the top and covered that with white sauce. He then sprinkled a generous amonut of the cheese that Rubina had grated.

white sauce

all covered

Ready

With that done they placed it in the middle shelf of the oven at 180 degrees to cook for 25-30 minutes.

“ Now while we wait for your lovely lasagne, perhaps you can tell me why you don’t call me any more, Woolie.” Rubina was smiling as she said this. Woolie looked puzzled. He said, “I call you nearly every day. You never return my calls. I’ve been wondering about that.”

It was Rubina’s turn to look puzzled. She said, “I haven’t seen any missed calls from you, sir and It is you who doesn’t answer or return my calls.”

“Wait…” Woolie thought a moment and said, “ Do you have your phone nearby?” Rubina nodded. “Call me right now then”, continued Woolie. “I know we can get to the bottom of this.”

Rubina got her phone, looked up Woolie in her phone-book and pressed ‘call’. It indicated that it was dialling and shortly after there was a sound to suggest that the dialled number was ringing, Woolie’s own phone, meanwhile, lay quietly on the table quite oblivious to these proceedings.

Rubina asked Woolie to call her number, which he did and as before the phone made a ringing sound to say the dialled number was ringing but Rubina’s own phone remained silent.

Curiouser and curiouser, they both thought. How does this happen on a Friday evening in the month of May?

Shortly after, Woolie said, “ I must turn off the oven. Look up the number you have under my contact details and write it here. I’ll do the same.”

And just as they thought. They both had wrong contact numbers for each other. The digits were all correct except for one What made this mystery even more puzzling: It was the same editing. The last number had been altered to a zero

Woolie had growing suspicions. He refused to accept that it was just coincidence that his calls to Rubina had been sabotaged soon after the new guy had arrived in the office. How easy was it to edit someone’s contacts via an email application on the work computer, he wondered. They were always walking away from their desks and leaving everything logged on.

Woolie did not want to spoil the evening. They agreed to revisit the problem the next morning.
The lasagne was gorgeous. After they had had two helpings each Woolie brought ice-cream. They retired to the sofa where they settled to watch the late film.

Rubina had been right. They could stay up as late as they liked.

The end

A loyal friend to the end part i

Bad news breaking

Lyrics: Loving you(M. Riperton R. Rudolph)

No one else can make me feel
The colors that you bring
Stay with me while we grow old
And we will live each day in springtime

There were times when Babu could be exceptionally irritating, Woolie thought, helplessly, and it was at times such as these. They were in Woolie’s small silver Nissan, crawling along Friday evening traffic, heading for the Haraka-Haraka Luxury Coach booking offices down town. Babu had suddenly remembered that he had an urgent package to send to his wife who lived on a small farm in the west country. He needed to get the parcel onto the overnight coach, which was scheduled to leave in thirty minutes. He cursed and swore, urging Woolie to drive faster, change lanes and undertake the matatus.

They arrived at the office with just moments to spare. The man at the counter smiled as he recognised Babu and processed his parcel double quick, assuring them that it would be with Mrs Babu by 8.00am the following morning. Babu tipped him generously and they drove back to South B. It was Babu’s turn to buy the beers.

The bar was becoming livelier by the minute as thirsty punters streamed in, their long faces betraying the pains of the past week. Babu and Woolie were seated on tall stools at the bar. Babu took a long sip from a most satisfactory pint of Guiness, smacking his lips in delight. Woolie had decided to sample the new lager that some genius at the brewery had named ‘Mteja’. He invited Babu to take a sip. The old man put the glass gingerly to his lips and took a slow, long draught of the new drink. He held it in his mouth for a moment before forcing it down his throat, his face wrinkled up in an expression of deep agony. He looked at Woolie and said, “Mteja by name, mteja by nature. That stuff is disgusting.” He reached for his Guiness and gulped it down in one go.

“So, Woolie, have you heard from Rubina?” Babu asked after a short pause. Woolie shook his head, as an alarm bell started ringing in his ear. Babu was doing his fishing thing.

“Wow”, Babu continued. She’s been gone over four weeks, now. Don’t say you don’t miss her.” He had a funny smile playing on his lips. Woolie felt the heat rise in his face. He said, “Please Babu – no talk of Rubina tonight, please. I’d prefer not to discuss her with you, at all. Just imagine what she’d think if she knew we talk about her. Me and you, that is. It’s not on. She’s near enough your adopted daughter. I cannot have this convo with you!”

“Pah! Don’t pretend you don’t miss her. I know I do.”, Babu said. “She is going to be in Nakuru for the next nine weeks or so. That sodding case she’s on is difficult and it’s going to take ages. How come you don’t even talk of going up there some weekend to see her? Surprise her.”

“Surprise her?”, Woolie asked. Babu looked at Woolie and shook his head slowly. He said “Stop being such a pussy cat. Go on. You can drive up there first thing tomorrow morning. Look, it’s Saturday, see? Spend the day with her. She’d like that.”

Babu was on a roll. He said to Woolie “ Kwanza ebu ask Cleveland there to bring us some spicy chicken wings when he comes over. I’m going outside to fire my ka- pipe. When I return I’ll show you what to do about Rubina. Faint heart never won fair lady, au siyo?”

The evening wore on without serious surprises or undue excitement for Woolie. The good people in the pub had been fed and watered. Their formerly long tired faces now shone with euphoria and optimism. A result of good beer, fried chicken wings and very loud music.

That evening there was a new girl singing at the karaoke. The punters swore that her voice was identical to the mating call of the evening nightingale and had captured the hearts of most of the single men in the house when she sang “Loving you is easy ’cause you’re beautiful….” She had sung for two hours straight and then had mysteriously disappeared, just before the clock struck midnight.

Lovin’ you I see your soul come shinin’ through
And every time that we oooooh
I’m more in love with you
La la la la la la la… do do do do do

By the time the taxi dropped Babu and Woolie off at Babu’s bungalow it had been agreed that the two of them would be driving to Nakuru first thing in the morning; Woolie to spend the day with Rubina and Babu ostensibly to visit an old pal from Njoro who was looking for a sleeping partner to invest in some new technology enterprise. Woolie had a strange, elated feeling as he thought about the journey they would be making in just a few hours. It would be nice to see Rubina after all this time. He had already said good night to Babu who was standing at the verandah smoking his pipe. He found a duvet and some cushions and made his bed on the sofa. He undressed jumped onto the sofa and fell asleep almost immediately, aided no doubt by the evening’s drinks and some very happy thoughts for the following day.

Woolie woke with a start. He felt like it had just been minutes ago that he had fallen asleep. It took him a few moments to gather his thoughts. He remembered now why he was sleeping in a strange sofa. The knocking at the door was getting louder, more insistent. He put on his shirt and trousers and went to the front door. Across the hall-way and down the corridor Babu’s deep snoring seemed to vibrate the walls of the small bungalow. The time on the wall clock was 06:30. He opened the door and was nearly felled to the ground by a very agitated Commander Ruby Mwekundu of Regional Crime who stormed in, heading straight for Babu’s sitting room.

“Where is Babu?” She demanded. “Why is his phone mteja?” Before Woolie could answer, Babu walked through into the sitting room looking all smart and tidy. He smiled at Ruby and said “This is a pleasant surprise, Commander.” He turned to Woolie, “Fetch us some tea, Woolie, There’s a good chap. The Commander has some urgent news for us.”

Ruby had a face like they had not seen before. She was angry, that was clear, but she was frightened too. She held her hands together to keep them steady and looked at Babu and said “ It is, I regret very bad news. I received this information just over half an hour ago, Babu and I have been trying to contact you on your phone. Rubina was attacked at around eight o’clock, yesterday evening on her way home from work. The attack took place less than 8oo metres from her Pa’s house in Sobea. The report says she was found lying unconscious having suffered terrible injuries and it is believed that the attackers (police believe there was more than one attacker due to the sheer number of injuries) had left her for dead.”

Babu had gone completely still and the commander continued, “Rubina is now at the general hospital in Sobea where she is in a critical but stable condition. She lost a lot of blood in the attack and the perpetrators cut her many times with knives on her arms, legs and back. They are keeping her under observation and have sedated her for the time being.”

The shock in Babu’s face was painful to watch. The commander shook her head and said, “I don’t think there is any doubt that it is Rubina. The police at the scene recovered some documents strewn around the area where the attack took place. They were able to identify her quite quickly and the OCS, a kind gentleman by the name of Makrahanish, placed a call to my office which was transferred to me. I have a car with a driver outside ready to take you to Sobea right away.”

The commander was looking at Woolie when she said “The hospital are giving her the best possible care and Makrahanish has assured me that they already have a huge man hunt under way. The monsters who have done this will not get very far.”

To be continued

A state of emergency

10th Jan 2015

Dear Jaki,

Fred Msumari always told me that one should have a special someone to contact in the event of an emergency. I found some letters and also your email address amongst his things and I have nobody else to turn to.

My name is Binti Pepo. We are not personally acquainted and I am very sorry to be the bearer of bad news. We travelled to Kerugoyes with Fred Msumari late last year to perform during the independence day celebrations at the invitation of the King Mwanalog II

See them fighting for Power

but they know not the Hour

On the evening of the 31st December 2014 the Royal procession was making its way back to the palace after the King’s successful Ndarabara ceremony high up in the mountains. Fred had been invited to go and watch the event. Just as they were crossing the Iron bridge, they were ambushed by masked insurgents bearing the dreaded Black Flag.

The Imperial guards were outnumbered by the attackers who were heavily armed with automatic rifles and grenade launchers. At the end of the shoot out it was immediately clear that the King was dead. Imperial guardsmen lay on the ground, dead or dying . The rest of the royal party surrendered and were quickly rounded up and taken to a prison camp deep in the forest. Fred Msumari was amongst those captured. Nothing is known about their fate to date and all we can hope is that no news is good news.

deadly insurgents

A State of Emergency was declared throughout the land on the 1st of January 2015. The leader of the uprising announced an end to the monarchy. He declared himself the interim president even as insurgents stormed the Royal Palace, smashing it up and looting everything in an orgy of destruction. We were all carted off to the City Women’s prison where we are held to this day.

Dear Jaki, please circulate this email and let others know of our situation. Ask our government to intervene and demand for our immediate release. You are our only hope. Do not ignore my plea for help.

Yours in hope

Binti Pepo

************************

12th Jan 2015

Dear Binti Pepo,

Oh dear, what a mess! Who are these idiots destroying peoples’ lives? We are getting some news coming through of the dreadful things that are happening. We stand in solidarity with the struggling people of Kerugoyes.

I am so sorry to hear about your situation. You are living a nightmare. The stuff that you hear and read about but never expect to have to live through. Thank you for getting in touch with me. Have you heard anything of Fred yet?

I have done as you asked and sent emails to everyone and anyone who has a chance of helping. I spoke to an official at the Foreign affairs Office this morning. They are very sympathetic but see many obstacles ahead; our fair Republic, as you know, has not recognised this new government in Kerugoyes. In fact we strongly condemned the unconstitutional manner in which they came to power and our High Commissioner was recalled for consultations last week.

We are holding meetings with activists and other people who know more about these things in order to publicise your plight and launch a campaign demanding the immediate and unconditional release of yourself, Fred and the other prisoners. I will keep you updated on that. Please let me know the minute you hear anything about Fred.

I pray that you may be strong and keep the faith

Jaki

Christmas cheer and small talk

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!

Frosty

I am writing this on December 29th 2014 and I think that if I hear that greeting one more time I will do someone an injury. But no,seriously, what is it about the end of the year that makes it the season for small talk? I wish people would just stop being so……fake! 🙁

Check it out : There are people whom we never talk to all through the year. I am not talking about total strangers, so stop shaking your head. I mean work colleagues, people from my local, my street, my estate, my neighbourhood. I also mean estranged family members – people who barely acknowledge one another for eleven months of the year. Suddenly come Christmas week and hey they are all smiles and politeness, with good wishes for the season, asking if you are all ready for Christmas….and then, after the event asking if you had a good one. Everybody being kind to one another. How nice. Ptuh! If I wasn’t made of sterner stuff I would ask for a bucket!

Don’t get me wrong now. I am not a Scrooge and I love Christmas like everyone else (perhaps not always for the right reasons). I find the religious celebrations and the coming together of family and friends most enjoyable. Christmas comes but once a year but who says we can’t we spread this politeness and kindness across the whole of the year?

And the other thing that got me itching today. What is it about people and small talk? I am always amazed at how people behave when they meet others for the first time. We seem to have an unwritten protocol that states: make everything and everybody awkward.

Humour me for just a moment here. You meet someone for the first time at a big house party and the busy host/ess is not nearby to do the formal introductions. How do you break the ice? For kids in a playground in all their innocence nothing could be easier. They just ask “What is your name?” Could you simply ask someone for their name? I’d love to see you try. What about those funny types that like to ask directly what one does for a living. It tickles me no end.

So the small-talk continues. You ask the stranger, “Did you have to come far?” or even “What did you think of…( insert some inane subject that will not offend on the grounds of religious, cultural, gender or ethnic sensibilities) And on it goes. We have become a mobile nation as peoples from every corner of this great republic live, work and more recently party together. So we speak about the weather and the shortage of green peas, the traffic and the cost of petrol and leaving small children with suspect nannies. Bleh You wonder why people are constantly consulting their watches and smart phones?

I don’t know if, like me, you are unbelievably hopeless at remembering people’s names. How do you honestly tell someone with whom you are having a conversation and has already referred to you by name that you can’t remember their name. Most awkward. It happens. A third party, a friend of yours, say, suddenly comes over, and wait for the introductions. Put yourself in their shoes. Have they forgotten me because I am a random, inconsequential person.

I learned a trick this Christmas, how to get out of that one unscathed. All you do is say to the person, “So sorry, I forgot your name..” Making sure to use healthy gestures and body language, eg. pointing to your head like you’re a bit eccentric (screw loose). The person will say “Mariah” with all the dignity that she can muster. Now you, in your most charming voice say, “I knooow that silly, what’s your suuuurrrrnaaame!” Try it, really… it works!

The closing year has been one of achievement and tragedy. The best nature of man was shown as each day health workers from around the world joined their colleagues in Sierra Leone and Liberia to treat and care for victims of Ebola. The evil that we are capable of carrying out is also playing itself everyday as al shabab, islamic state, boko haram, and other misguided religious bigots wage a bogus war at home and abroad.

As we give thanks for the blessings of 2014. I wish you a very happy, safe and excellent new year. Enjoy the song again. 🙂

Lost in space

Fred Msumari
The Royal Palace
Kingdom of Kerugoyes

December 2014

Dear Jaki,

Greetings to you from the ancient kingdom of Kerugoyes

I hope that you are in fine health. It was such a wonderful treat the other morning when your letter arrived. Thank you so much. There was bemusement and much wonder in the domestic quarters as the palace staff watched me read and re read your letter before folding it neatly and locking it away in the safe with our other valuables. I did not realise how expensive postage had become, your envelope was covered in stamps! The kids here collect stamps, bless them.

How have things been in our Fair Republic? I hope they are not keeping you too busy in that peoples’ garage. The description you gave about your typical day filled me with horror and distaste. You know Jaki how much I hate talk of blood. I even refuse to look at a mutura, knowing what it’s chief ingredient is. I fainted that time when I took you to donate blood for those poor leaking petrol explosion victims, remember?

Now, si I told you about Binti Pepo doing her bit during the independence celebrations? Well, the King enjoyed that performance so much, now there is talk of starting a kind of music academy right here, for the young Kerugoyenese. The King wants the young boys and girls to sing like his so-called nightingale, Binti Pepo. His Majesty says that he will only start an academy if Binti is the Director. They have been holding long talks, late into the night, just the King and Binti. Some nights they ask me along to give my opinion and we have also been joined by the Cabinet Secretary for Music & Entertainment. I realise now Kerugoyenese are very big on culture and that sort of stuff.

I tell you all this,Jaki because it seems that we will be here for a little longer than was envisaged. The South Africa leg of Binti’s World Tour is also in question because all the talk in the country right now is about the forthcoming Ndarabara event. I have been told that we will be travelling right up to the great mountain, Kidevu, where the King will perform the ancient Ndarabara rites which are traditionally important for the fertility, health and prosperity of this kingdom. Once these are done, His Majesty will consult the oracle, Abacha, to learn what the coming year holds in store for Kerugoye.

Binti and myself will be the first foreigners ever to witness a Ndarabara at close quarters. I am excited and a little bit nervous, if the truth be told. I will let you know how it all goes once we are safely back from the mountains.

I think I may have written too much! 😀

Have a really good week!

Fred.

* * *

Jacqueline Salama
Accident & Emergency Department
City Medical Centre
Nairobi

December 2014

Dear Fred,

Your own letter arrived just this morning, thank you. I hope that you are still enjoying the mountain air in that remote kingdom. I’m very well thanks. Just keeping myself busy at the department.

We had 2 new doctors that started this Monday, a young man and a young woman. They are both very charming and everyone is doing their best to make them feel welcome.

So just today I had a chance to work with the female doctor. We’d just had lunch and we were looking at some paper-work when they rushed in this patient on a trolley. He was a young man in his late twenties and in a state of complete anguish. It was incredible! The poor sod had only managed to get his wotsit stuck in a soft drink bottle. My colleague was stunned. You see the portion of the wotsit that was inside the bottle had swelled up to a grotesque size and shape – it looked like a python, to be honest. In the end we gave him a couple of steroid injections to reduce the swelling and gently eased him out of his glass prison. He was then sedated and taken to a ward for observation. Fred, Isn’t it just amazing what young men on their own can get up to? Hahahaha

The weather in our fair republic continues to get warmer and some nights it is simply impossible to sleep unless one throws off all the covers. I don’t really leave my windows open at night as I’m not sure it is entirely safe. I would hate to wake in the night to find a stranger rummaging through my things!

The new doctors will be dropping in shortly. We’re going out tonight to try out this new Indian restaurant down the road. I’d better go and do something with my hair.

You haven’t said much about Binti – How is she?

Fred, keep writing those letters. They always put a smile on my face and as funny as it sounds when I read what you are up to I don’t feel so lost in space. Do be careful on that Ndararara wotsit up there on the hills. 😀

Jaki

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