Awkward

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic


Sometimes talking people with you into the villages can make it awkward.


Sometimes it’s difficult to turn down a request from someone in authority but I was on the verge of turning down the Agency’s field rep, Scarlet’s! I had my reasons and there’s no nice way of putting it, so I won’t … Anyway, Scarlet wanted me to take a visiting friend of her’s out for the day, just to show her what I did. I just knew that this visiting friend hers was likely to be as dizzy as Scarlet was herself and because we were going to Ngabobo, which was a Maasai village a long way past the Ngarenanyuki area, it could turn out to be awkward. It was going to be uncomfortable too, a long, hot, physical journey over a rough road. And frankly, sometimes taking visitors out with me was embarrassing because they lacked understanding of the local culture.

For example a woman staying with us, a friend of a friend, every time after shaking hands with someone, she curled her lip and then wiped her hand on her skirt! As if she was afraid of contamination! We shook hands with people throughout the day, it’s part of African everyday life. Even when I warned her that she was being offensive, she simply couldn’t resist. Africans are just as quick as anyone else to pick up on body language! So I was choosy who I took out with me.

This time, I decided that cooperation mostly goes two ways, so I acquiesced, but laid down a few rules: -

Be at our house by 8:00, or we would be gone: we had a long journey ahead of us.

Bring nothing of value, not even a wristwatch: sensible safety, while danger from robbery was remote, it was always best not to give the impression of wealth.

Wear a longish skirt: traditional Maasai women don’t display the shape of their buttocks or their legs.

Bring plenty of water: it’s hot out there and any water is contaminated, as well, we would be working at a primary school and they couldn’t afford to supply tea.

Scarlet and what’s-her-name arrived on time but my hackles bristled when I noted that she had a handbag with her! I resisted the inclination to check what she had with her! Travelling over rough country with a full bladder is never comfortable, so as was my routine, I ducked into the bathroom to be greeted by what’s-her-name’s bloody full moon! The door was wide open, which meant ‘welcome’ to me! I’ve no idea what she was doing in there, but it wasn’t a pretty sight! I didn’t like the omen! We were travelling in the Toyota double cab with a dust-proof canopy on the back, so all our gear went in the back, including what’s-her-name’s handbag.

Loti was waiting beside the road at Ngurdoto, which made four in the vehicle. At the gate into Arusha National Park, we encountered Somi, who was an Evangelist at Olkung’wado church. An Evangelist helps the Pastor and has authority to officiate in some ceremonies. With him was Nasari, a teacher from Olkung’wado primary school. I couldn’t drive past them so they hopped into the back under the canopy. Within the park, just past little Serengeti, Samweli the school committee chairman from Mwakeny, was making slow progress on foot with a bag of seed-beans over his shoulder. He joined the others in the back.

We dropped our passengers off at the appropriate places, not forgetting to chat and ask how ‘their home’ was. It’s impolite to ask how a wife is unless you know her well. As we travelled, I explained to what’s-her-name that Maasai kids will come up to you with head bowed and respectively whisper, ‘Shikamoo,’ the adult’s role is to place the right hand on top of the kid’s head and say. ‘Marahaba.’ It’s a manner of politeness. At the school, what’s-her-name wasn’t at all keen on touching the kid’s heads, ‘they were sweaty and some of them even had ringworm!’ True some did have ringworm but seven years’ contact with kids, I never contracted ringworm once! You just have to get over such things! She made it a little uncomfortable. Anyway, the kids sang beautifully for our guest and we performed our seminar there.

The next day, Scarlet was at our door at first light! Someone had stolen one thousand US dollars out of what’s-her-name’s handbag!  Remember? It was in the back of the vehicle with the people we knew! She was accusing them! I told Scarlet that it was the stupid woman’s own fault for bringing money with her! What’s more, I told her that I knew the people concerned and could vouch for them! And I had to work with them on a regular basis, so this was going sour our relationship! I told her my loyalty was to the people I worked with, not to what’s-her-name! Scarlet ‘ordered’ me to investigate – I’m not sure she carried such authority, but her temper matched her red hair. Anyway, I met Loti at nine o’clock as we had arranged and told him about the missing money, but didn’t mention how much. Like me he couldn’t imagine that any of the three would have done such a thing, and anyway I could see them through the rear-vision mirror all the time. We discussed each one individually. I decided not to say anything, but to watch them over the next few days in case they showed signs of coming into money.

The next evening at eightish, vehicle lights came up our road and Scarlet pulled up at our drive. She was mellow, contrite even! What’s-her-name had forgotten that she had secreted her money away in one of Scarlet’s drawers! Scarlet hoped the episode hadn’t caused me any embarrassment in the village! I told her that all’s well that ends well, but I wouldn’t be taking any of her mates out with me again, no matter the circumstances!

 

 


Submitted: December 29, 2017

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Comments

jaylisbeth

Incredible story, Moa. You recant it very well. Great memory you got there.

Fri, December 29th, 2017 2:40pm

Author
Reply

Thank you Jay. I'm pleased you enjoyed it. My diary helps buy I do regret it isn't full enough. Most days over therm there was a bit of an adventure. Usianguke

Fri, December 29th, 2017 11:33am

hullabaloo22

Ouch! That was one uncomfortable position to be put in, Moa, with suspicion turned on people you know so well just because of someone's forgetfulness. As always, an excellent read!

Sun, December 31st, 2017 7:30pm

Author
Reply

Thank you Mama Hullabaloo. I'm just glad I didn't confront those people. Usianguke

Mon, January 1st, 2018 7:33pm

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