Thursday, 23 February 2017

Saving The House By Setting It On Fire


The rays of the January midday sun pierced through the canopy of an acacia tree in Jukistopia. One ray fell on Mrs. Nthenge’s arm illuminating an insect-bite pimple the way a spotlight circles a performer on stage. Slumped on a stick-chair under the shade of the tree, she prepared to enjoy her meal of muthokoi. She would have preffered to be indoors following up on Afro cinema, but recently one could not sit inside without being attacked by bedbugs. In fact it was the third week since the hubby had run away from home on account of the bugs. She cherished muthokoi. Not because muthokoi doped with homemade ghee from goat milk is said to be aphrodisiac (although it might play a part), but because it does away with the need to fry food. So although Mr. Nthenge was away she added a spoonful anyway. As the fat melted in the hot mixture of maize and beans, a fermented yogurty aroma wafted in the air pushing to the back banner the smell from Kavindu’s pen.  She stirred and the food acquired golden tan. She licked her lips.

Then mother bedbug struck. It bit the part of her thigh exposed to the seat causing a piercing itch that demanded immediate scratching. As she scratched that another bug bit on the left side and she embarked on satiating that too with the other hand. It triggered a scratching frenzy from all the past bites and soon it was a full blown bedbug dance. Rubbing thighs together in order to release the hands to concentrate on the torso, while in alternation the left legs instep scratches the right calf then right legs instep against left calf. Not to be left out, the neck bends sideways for the left shoulder to scratch the left ear while the chin is in a fruitful scratching symbiosis with the right shoulder. The bedbug dance is a total do me I do you. That is why, when once in Juskistopia we were good to some Arabs and they blessed by saying that
 “May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the crotch of the person who messes up Jukistopia and may their arms be too short to scratch”,
we excused them for that was only because they never knew about the female bedbugs of Juskistopia. Mrs. Nthenge was only reminded of her lunch by the screeching of an empty enamel plate being dragged on gravel by the tongue of Kavindu, the family cow and she decided to do something about the bedbugs.

She had to save her house from the vermin. They could not be allowed to chase her husband away, chase her out of her house, and follow her outside. Now way. They had to go and she knew how and she knew when.
When? Now.
How? She torched the house.
Later, accused of arson, she explained that she had burnt the house down to save it from bedbugs.

I was reminded of this tragic story by an item appearing in a local diary. It featured an interview with a young woman who is reported to have lost two hands in a domestic scuffle where too, her facial beauty was negatively imparted by the business end of a panga. And the reason for the attack? Her concerted effort to save her marriage.

If the interview is to be believed, prior to the attack, the marriage was having serious hiccups on account of nappies. The hubby, braving the danger of being nabbed by Orange Telkom, had acquired a long washing line, and fixed it firmly from the front right corner of the house to the Mzambarao tree. Yet there were no nappies hanging thereon. Only the noisy sparrows on their way to and from feeding on the zambarao had found any use for the iwire. That’s how the couple got to an ultimatum. The hubby disappeared from home and warned that when he came back he need to know why the washing line was not sagging. Left alone, the lady thought long and hard, but there was no answer. Seeking divine intervention, she opened the good book and it fell on Gen 2:18 and she read:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
 And it dawned on her.  She needed to help and she decided to help.
Carefully she selected a suitable, efficient and convenient baby making tool. Then she negotiated with him the terms of engagement and together they travelled to Machakos city in full day light, “for there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be known and illuminated. Luk.8:17
However, when word reached the husband about the project baby, he somehow did not seem to like much what he was hearing! Perhaps it was the methodology perhaps it was the timing, he could not quite figure out what. But he travelled home in huff and with a tool of his own.
This is where I would have written, “the rest as they say is history” save for the interview.

Asked what happened, the lady replied that she stepped out of line in order to straighten her marriage.
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