Hello Family and Friends,
A rare lull in our day on a rainy Saturday afternoon - an ideal time to reopen my hair salon and perform a yearly duty, dying Ruth's hair. This away-from-home ritual began 5 years ago when I initiated my hair dressing skills under the mid day sun. All of a sudden Ruth created a huge commotion jumping up and down, ripping off the black plastic cape to release herself from the infernal heat inside the cape. Across the riverbank a group of perplexed Masai herders were thoroughly enjoying the spectacle. Today in the seclusion of her bedroom we had no worries or so we thought! I was admiring my completed handiwork when Ruth looked out the window and yelled, "Oh no - we have company!"
Wrapped in a towel she quickly retreated behind the closet hiding her sticky freshly dyed hair. Not to worry! I had this under control and answered the door. A friendly worker from the Fox farm greeted me like an old friend although I didn't recognize him. He began speaking rapidly in Kiswahili and in my halting Swahili I asked him to please slow down and inquired if he spoke any English. He assured me he did but continued with rapid fire Swahili. He kept repeating the word "paka". What did it mean? I could only find our English Swahili dictionary which was useless in this situation. From behind his back he produced a large set of silver pliers and then pointed to his private parts! I was speechless and just a little nervous.
Meanwhile Ruth is shivering and called from her hiding place that the time is up for washing the dye from her hair. She wasn't looking forward to a new head of jet black hair. But I could hear the urgency in this man's voice and he kept pointing emphatically to you know where! In desperation I phoned the NGO's manager, Geoff Knight. He laughed and said the man was sent to castrate our resident cat. Ah, I'll NEVER forget the meaning of "paka'!
But the saga didn't end there as this "stand in" vet wanted me to hold the cat down while he performed the deed. No way!! I kept saying, "I can't do that! I can't do that!" Another call to Geoff which resulted in 3 more joining this makeshift animal hospital. I couldn't fulfill their request for a razor which meant a kitchen knife and a sack had to do. While this distraction was occurring, Ruth made a break for it and dashed upstairs to wash the dye out of her hair in the kitchen sink.
I finally caught the poor cat and guiltily handed him over to his willing castrators. Behind the closed door I could hear shuffling and scratching accompanied by loud meowing. Finally the deed was done.
It was definitely time to retreat to my book, "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwamba. His stunning narrative takes place in Malawi, a desperately poor country where magic ruled and science was a mystery. It compellingly demonstrates how one village person applying ingenuity and imagination can make a significant difference to his community. As the sage, Pliny the Elder said,"There's always something new out of Africa." Get the book as it's an inspirational read. I can hear sighing voices from my wonderful book club, "Oh no, Anne, not ANOTHER book about Africa!"
Thinking of you and sending much love,