WITH the advent of the dot com era, sometimes I sit back and wonder how we managed to grow into mature beings, very healthy, with no serious complications.
Yesterday I was relaxing at home, minding my own business and being a nuisance to no one, when Mama Boyi, the mother of my small clan, intruded on my peace, and in a very nasty voice, told me that she needed a new microwave.
I rephrase that, she practically demanded it! For those who still languish in the dark ages, a microwave is that gadget which has a reputation of making last week’s chips and chicken appear as if they are straight from the frying pan, in other words, it is a gadget made by the white folks to ease the pain of eating obvious ‘kiporo’.
Because I have a reputation of being one of the most well mannered gentlemen who has ever crossed this part of the Sahara, I told her that we don’t have any use for a new microwave, because if anything, I was brought up on plenty of very cold viporo when I was growing up.
But to put more emphasis, I told her that my old weather beaten leather wallet was in the last stages of giving up its soul, in other words I was dead broke.
That was when I remembered the old days when I was growing up, where the only thing that resembled a microwave was a smoky fire place where my mum mixed up all the family meals, and for your information, we were ten little rascals, minus the countless number of uncles, aunts, grandmothers and other relations who sounded foreign.
Even in those days when wearing shoes was something to be proud of, I didn’t incur any unnecessary expenses on my poor mom, because as long as I was fed on enough kiporo to full capacity, I was one very happy boy, growing up in the village, somewhere where Chief Mirambo, that old sage, ruled supreme.
But the truth of the matter is that for most of the village folks, it was not advisable to become sick, because chances were, you would die in the process, and if you don’t believe me, then you can ask Kalimanzila, the man who was my playmate then.
We were very tough kids then, and it became a matter of national interest if any of us boys got a new pair of shorts! Believe me, getting a new pair of shorts meant one thing, that you were on your way to school, a thing which made the rest of the boys turn green with envy.
But before you could graduate to wearing your own pair of shorts, made by the village semi blind tailor called baba Omari, you had to endure sharing a single garment with your siblings, and in this case, it was usually an old garment that had passed through so many hands that its original color became something of a mystery.
And in some rare cases you got to wear it for the whole day if either your mum or dad wanted you to escort them to the market. It was not something to be ashamed of for a boy to share a dress with his sister, life was like that.
That is why I usually watch my domestic thug, Boyi, a. k. a Papa Dog Killa, yelling his head off because he needs a new outfit for some dubious occasion, and I wonder whether he would have survived the years in the village.
We loved weddings then, because it was during these occasions that we got a rare opportunity of filling our small tummies with hot, tasty meals to capacity, and these instances always meant survival for the fittest! One giant plate, filled to capacity with hot food, was usually placed in front of a sizable number of hungry boys, and in less than a minute, the plate was sparkling clean, and if you were not fast enough, then you were likely to sleep hungry.
Those were the years when I developed a fully fledged fear for the doctor, and up to now, I don’t trust a doctor unless I really have to. I have never developed any friendship with doctors since I came across a German woman called Sister Getrude, whom we referred to as Getuda.
Sister Getuda looked like a retired wrestler. She was tall, with a crooked nose and biceps that could knock a prize bull. She came over to the village to keep young fellows like me from becoming past tense by running a dispensary to cure all sorts of maladies. In my quest at growing up, I faced the risk of becoming past tense because I shared my bedroom with a herd of goats, and sometimes I slept under their bloated bellies or on them.
The flea-infested chicken shared the same tiny bedroom. That is why I ended up before Sister Getuda, the woman who came to replace the village witchdoctor, and a man called Ignatius, the local dentist and the terror of many teeth in the village. His tool of trade was a giant pair of pliers made by the local tinsmith.
The dentist used the pliers to pull off teeth from the mouths of terrified boys. Then he put some bitter leaf in the space left by the tooth that had been pulled out. The sore taste of the leaf sometimes caused more pain than the tooth being pulled out. I was lucky that my teeth behaved and so I did not have to face Ignatius’s pliers.
Sister Getuda came to replace those village doctors and she did not bring with her just her long nose and the muscles of a wrestler. She also came with something called an injection, which it was alleged could cure any malady. I heard that it was a long tube the size of a soda bottle with a needle at the end.
I heard that Sister Getuda put into the tube a magic liquid imported from the land of her ancestors and then pumped it into your body. All the snakes in your stomach died. The snakes were the various tribes of worms that attacked the stomach on account of chewing too much raw and unpeeled cassava.
The reason why I developed deep mistrust for doctors was the day when my mama had to drag me, screaming my head off, to see Sister Getuda, and the reason she gave was that my worms had graduated into fully fledged war snakes, with teeth and all.
When I landed in front of the sister, she towered over my tiny body, and in a voice that would have made a seasoned wrestler run for cover, she ordered me to face the wall, lift the dress I was wearing and expose my shaky little buttocks.
Before I could shout ‘maaaamaaaa’, the bottle-like injection was upon me, and I remember I screamed for hours, until my mum threatened to take me back to the doctor. Anyway, that was life in the village those days, and you really had to be tough to survive, otherwise life really became a misery.