In my eagerness and riotous act to get out of bed, I stepped on manager who I think was praying or something. I expected him to get up and bark at me or even worse flatten me to the wall besides us. I was quick with my “Pole! Pole! Izah Msee!” He just raised an arm and waved it away. Phew… I just liked him more. I was short in high school. So I was used to getting banged up every time I missed my step bullies n stuff… So you can imagine I still had that reflex. I didn’t know him. But from the look of his body, he looked like the kind of people who would beat you to a pulp when threatened.
I confirmed he was praying when he stood calmly and said good morning to me in an unexpected calm voice.
“Tulia msee, hizi vitu hutokea”. I felt better.
“Si twende chai basi…”
He was barely audible. He was the kind of people who loose their voices overnight, and he sounded funny. I hadn’t known where the bathrooms were but from the look of things, they were located outside. This was just another school. Dormitory style accommodation. Only that it didn’t have the cubicles and it did not have an in-house sanitary system. I saw people coming inside with towels wrapped round their waists. Huh… So we have tidiness freaks round here as well… I had experienced these back in high. Those people who took showers in the morning, over lunch hour and in the evening. They also washed shirts, and trousers after every wear – Not that they didn’t have others. No. They had two weeks’ worth of uniform pairs. Hmmm… they also arranged their boxes or lockers every day before they slept, some looked like shopkeepers counting the closing stock in the evening, with hands full of biscuit boxes, different flavors of juice and tubs of marmalade, butter and what have you for bread and blah blah blah. The only time I took showers over lunch hour at the expense of lunch was the times in between May and Aug. These months happened to be within the music festival season. One reason why I took a shower at that time of the day was because it was cold – the cold season… and eerrr… Yeah too cold to shower at odd hours… Supplementary reasons aside, the reason I took showers over lunch was because probably that day we would be going to Mary Hill Girls for Choir practice and would obviously be meeting my girlfriend later. I needed to be neat.
Back to this new life. So… I wondered what were these people trying to show us huh… With such low temperatures at Eldoret at dawn and someone could try to take a shower ha ha… Over my dead body! I passed by the tap and wet my hands and passed my superior finger over the morning-face hotspots… Around the eyes, and the mouth blah blah. There was no need to comb my hair. I would brush my teeth later (Which I never did by the way, with whose water? The ice cold water I experienced. Not on my teeth). Breakfast was served….coffee in the essential tins 1.3 liters. Half a loaf of bread and two eggs… Ahaaa… So this was a fattening camp huh… My stomach was grumbling with anxiety and greed already, the wait in line felt like a walk from Ole Sereni to the CBD (Because I have walked this distance – Trust me). You know how that combination works… So I picked my half loaf of bread. I found myself a spot and I am sure if you attended a Kenyan high school, you know the relationship between half a loaf of bread or more and an egg… I used to do that on my lucky days… We used to call it “kufinya” – I believe it’s the standard term countrywide. I didn’t get many of these kufinya opportunities back in high school. But here is the thing… You split the loaf laterally… Or longitudinally depending on how you preferred it. Since I prefer having the top crust in equal proportions with every bite, I split it to ensure that the crust goes with every chomp. It’s flavor in itself. There was the spread… I know we called it “Blueband” but just like Omois a term Kenyans agreed would refer to all powder detergents, so is Blue band for all fatty – yellowish looking spreads on loaf. This was Croma – Best spread ever, for institutions. I had scooped it with my “clean” superior fingers, that I had by then wrapped with a piece of nylon. I spread it to the best of my ability with my fingers on the unevenly slit loaf – because I used by thumbs to crack it open, the way you would crack a chicken’s breast. I then went ahead to peel the over boiled egg, big chunks of egg white peeling off with the shell. This would ordinarily be painful to the extent of eating the white off the shell like you would eat the flesh off a passion fruit. In this case however, I had two eggs. I almost mocked that egg. Again since there was no spoon or knife to cut the eggs into nice pieces, I just squished them with my fingers and covered the mess with the top part of the loaf that had the crust. To complete the ritual was the compressing itself. Here you press the poor loaf and its foreign content like there is no tomorrow so as to obtain a nice thin, sandwich looking burger tasting slice/ chunk/ baked flour or whatever.
Now… Back to the coffee… Life can be unfair, aki! Too unfair that the first time I tasted or tried tasting the content of the mess tin – The essential tin, I never made it… It’s alluminium!!! It’s like trying to drink from a Sufuria. What!!!! Did my lips get burnt!!! I was even afraid to try a second time. The worst thing is swallowing the cold lump of air and pretending you took a healthy tasty sip from that piece of metal! That is how I decided to prioritize the loaf pimping. So now, same tin five minutes later and my coffee was as cold as the morning breeze itself. As much as I don’t take content that is too hot because of the metallic elements of my teeth, this was too much. But I couldn’t chomewa here. (I am hoping you understand what ‘kuchomewa’ means) I looked at the line and it was almost half a kilometer long. I bashed on my ‘enhanced’ loaf and by the time I left that area I was almost dizzy. Overfeeding! On second thought let me explain “Kuchoma”, Slang for topping up a client’s tea cup for a valid reason in a local hotel. I.e. could be your tea is cold, the waitress is in love with you, or like in the case at San Bistro a while back, ‘the tea is too concentrated’. Whichever way that works to get your tea cup refilled. As long as the host is in good moods.
Back to my bed and I packed my bag and strapped it on my back. It was already lightening up and as per the last word last evening, we were to assemble at the same place we spent the previous day. I headed to the field and sat on the stands and watched as people, filled with anxiety and fear streamed into the field, later to learn they were called the holy grounds. Reasons later. The moment I sat in those stands, I realized that I hadn’t had enough sleep, or was it the eggs? I decided to tuck my hands in my sleeves and bury my head in between my thighs and complete the sleep I so badly felt harassing me.
Next Episode 🙂