As I write this, I am suffering from food poisoning, I am weak, cranky and on rehydration medication that tastes like diluted pee. At the same time, 70-something kids are seeking my attention and in a few minutes 70-something more will be arriving. Oh, great! They are here already. Now I have to stop writing go usher in the new kids and hope to goodness that I will not lose my train of thought and more importantly, I will not have to leave 70-something kids unattended,
as I frantically try to locate the nearest bathroom. You are probably wondering how I got this, supposed, food poisoning and why on earth they entrusted this crazy man with 70-something innocent souls.
If you read my previous post, you will realize that I had an epiphany (read the voices in my head staged a revolt) and it hit me, crap! I almost joined the corporate slave ship. It must have been the desks, the mahogany wall that made me feel like I was in a coffin, the soul wringing fluorescent lights, the girls in short skirts (okay that they didn’t mind too much) or the boss man. Anyway, four days into camp and I felt like the corporate Che Guevara. I had just left the office gig, I was having fun with kids, doing outdoor things that make you spit adrenaline, I was a story teller, I could write about it, heck I was a corporate pirate. With all these thoughts and revelations, the last thing on my mind was what I ate. I couldn’t care less. It was buffet. Every time I got to the serving point the voices would shout, choosing is for office sissy fairies and I would put everything on my plate. Then I would look for a faucet and again, washing hands is for girlie tie-hugging adrenaline intolerant sissy fairies. The sissy fairies part got to me. Fairy was bad enough. Sissy, let’s not even go there; but sissy fairy? I wasn’t going to be a sissy fairy! The last thing I remember was dipping a piece of chapatti into a bowl of custard and wondering what that peculiar taste was; and being that I was facilitating a high ropes (think fear factor, poles and wires) the taste must have been from something I touched earlier and trust me, it wasn’t apple pie.
Somewhere between me running towards the bathroom and the excruciating pain in my gut that felt like I was giving birth to a rhinoceros through my belly button, a thought crossed my mind: Who the heck are all these kids and where did they come from? Then, darkness.
When I was in high school, our classes looked like a model representation of Mukuru Kwa Reuben slum. A normal sized classroom usually had in it 60 students, each with a locker built differently from the next. Some desks looked like they were built in the 80’s some looked like they were built on older desks and looked like a two story wooden structure, some were new, others were colored. The desks only were enough to make you feel like you were staring at a slum from a bird’s point of view. Then there were the books littered everywhere, some in green ‘Marlboro’ plastic bags, some with covers, some without; and they were everywhere: on the floor, in between desks, under seats that rarely matched their desks, in the corners and on the rafters. Walking into a class room was daunting enough; looking up, was another experience all together. Old metal boxes filled with books, old Uchumi, Nakumatt and Ukwala polythene bags barely tied at the handles, filled with books and past papers. It was beyond slum like.
It hadn’t occurred to me that all this clatter would make a great home for all sorts of creatures. Never mind the fact that our class room had been a home for bats, mice and even stray puppies. You looked up while seated and you thought it was one of those Inception scenes where the world folds and another one forms right above your head. I hadn’t noticed the silky white stuff flowing from one of the metal boxes to my seat’s backrest. I hadn’t realized the eerie silence when a great part of the class noticed what was going on. I hadn’t realized that at that moment I would be confronted by my greatest fear, multiplied a million times.
It started with a strange brush on the neck. I must have thought it was Robert, he had weird touchy habits, but I ignored. I couldn’t ignore it the eighth time or the ninth and so I looked back ready to give him one of my ineffective sura ya kazi fight faces only to find him gawking at my neck in horror. He might as well have taken a pen, stabbed himself in the eye running in a panic stricken fit of terror. Instead, he whispered, “Don’t move.” Don’t move? Don’t freaking move? Of course I will move thank you very much! I jumped, pushing my desk in front (not that there was any space to move anywhere except up) in the process taking the not so thin spider web with me, and with the millions of baby spiders. Yes millions, yes spiders. Let’s get one thing straight. I always write about zombies, vampires, voices, freaky stuff. I never write about spiders because spiders, spiders are in their own category. It goes something like: things that give you a scare,
things that will scare the freckles off your skin,
things that will kill you if you are scared,
things that will kill you even if you are not scared,
things that will kill you period,
Spiders are God’s way of telling me not to mess with Him.
So I stood there covered in little eight legged cretins all of them walking around practically calling me momma. God knows where their mom was…probably watching me waiting for me to make the wrong move. Ever seen a man drowning? (Actually I almost drowned last week, but that is another story), every attempt at grasping the air is met with a great feeling of disappointment as you realize this is it, you are going to die. So as I tried frenziedly to remove the invisible web of death surrounding me, I felt nothing but air and the feeling of imminent death. Spiders are scary.
Eventually I managed to take off my sweater and after rolling on the ground while screaming and making like a drowning man, I managed to get all those little sons of…okay (breathing), I managed to get every spider…what do you call a baby spider? Anyway, I got rid of the damned things. I couldn’t use that sweater again. It was now polluted, it probably was now a colony of angry man-eating spiderlings (you can put three red lines I do not care, Word!) anybody who wore that sweater would be wrapped in spider web and taken back to the old rusty box full of books where the mother nest was, along with certain death. That evening I saw Robert wearing my sweater, I said a prayer for him. Now I feel like such a tool.
The next day I made a decision; to rid this world of this eight legged plague and to accomplish this, I would need an army. A devoted, strong willed, spirited army and since I didn’t have the money to buy such an army (is it me or is there a lot of rhyme going on), I would build one from scratch. On one of those holidays where the first week at home you feel like you escaped from Alcatraz then a week later your folks decide you are going for camp and a few days in it and it dawns on you that you just got transferred to Guantanamo Bay, I had an epiphany. Here we were, away from home, away from school taking in whatever rubbish the camp counselors fed us and it hit me, this was the perfect place to start my army.
So every school holiday when your child, nephew, niece or cousin is away at camp, know that they are undergoing secret military training in the war against spiders. I made a vow to eliminate this scary scourge and so every time I have a chance to interact 70-something kids, I take it as an opportunity to impart some life skills in them just to make sure they grow up to be better than we are and on the side turn them into little spider hating soldiers, all in an attempt to make the world a better place.
P.S. last night while…never mind I was in the bathroom and this huge spider appears from nowhere. Thankfully I was on my way out, but it was around 3 a.m. so I had to make a racket so that my house mate (for some reason I find it weird to use ‘my boy’ and 3 a.m. in the same sentence) could wake up and conveniently ask what’s wrong. The thing died at around 3.40 a.m. and coincidentally my post today is about spiders…it’s a sign I tell you – the invasion is near!