Been away a long while, and my mind is running at 273 kph, so let’s just see, one thought at a time.
Warning: this could take a while.
There are two places in Tz that men are afraid of. No. Scratch that. Not afraid. Terrified. It is so bad that a five-year-old newly-wed [oh come off it, you don’t reeeaaally think he’s five years old!] is yet to meet his in-laws. Which makes me wonder how he paid his dowry…but now I’m being indiscreet. Back to the point.
Tanga and Pemba. The heartlands of mitishamba. These people are known to be so potent that they make Machakos look like Harry Potter nursery school. I have heard some rather interesting stories about shrivelled innards and less savoury things that I never quite believed until today.
They say when a man gets a Tanga woman, he will never look away. Or walk away. Hence my newly-wed pal’s fear of his in-laws – he is a vibrant polygamist, and is afraid of getting ‘localised anaesthesia.’ Ze comedy, which is our version of Redykyulass [wait a minute… did I just say our?!] even did a skit about the ‘Tanga treatment’. It involves being carried on the woman’s back when you go into the shower and the like, with the shower highly spiced. [Keep it clean people, I’m not at the gutter yet!]
So. Anyway. What happened to sway my ‘belief’? Well, a pal of mine had a stroke on Thursday. He must be, what 45? Vivacious, energetic, so full of life. He works with his hands, and I mostly see him with several kilos on his shoulders or back, talking at 360 wpm and rivalling any nearby sound. I talked to him the day before, so I was stunned when I heard about the stroke. His left side was completely paralysed, he couldn’t speak, and he could barely smile. It was so sad to see him like that.
We took him to hospital, where they did a CT and found an embolism and some possible brain damage. They gave him some meds and said he’d be in bed for a month, and would hopefully recover.
But his people were having none of that. They told us they knew a ‘specialist’ in Pemba who ‘knows how to handle these things’. I was skeptic, but they’re his people, so we can’t do squat except give them transport to the island, sit back and wait.
Sunday morning we get a call from a voice we all know and love. WTF?! Well, apparently, the expert knows his stuff! Our pal is walking, talking, grinning, and will be back at work tomorrow.
Last week, Oyunga Pala doled out some advice about how to date the bachelor. The bachelor – male or female – is the commitment-phobic, rich, gorgeous wonder that you can’t tie down with a five tonne chain and a stick. I can’t remember quite what he said, but I was giggling the whole time, and a certain someone knows why.
This week Damaris Irungu followed up with a more detailed version of the same, and again, I was totally floored. Then being the complex woman that I am [perks of INFJ] I started to think. The catchphrase was ‘I am moving to Juba for a year’. Apparently, Mr. Superbach makes his own plans and lives his own life, which don’t involve or include girlie here. So after you’ve dated for a year, faithfully following the Oyunga-Dama rules, he drops this scud on you.
What I was wondering is this – how am I meant to respond?
Now, before I launch into the depths of my twisted, twisted, twisted mind, disclaim this: this conversation is entirely in my mind. It is about what I think, and what I think he thinks. No correlation to what he actually thinks, which is probably nothing. And also, I am thinking like a woman here, so there is a possibility, in my mind, and ONLY in my mind, that he is bluffing to test my commitment…also, I am in shock, and am not thinking straight. In fact…I am not thinking, period. So instinctive answers are a bad bad, bad idea.
There. Now. Since I am a smart, mature, sensible woman, who wants to look smart, sensible and mature at all times, my first instinct is to say something witty. Think woman!!
- Blank stare : bad idea. He will think I am sulking, get irritated, and walk away.
- When? : worse idea. He will think I am eager to get rid of him, and will be hurt [as if!!]. Or he will think I am being desperate and clingy, and get irritated and walk away.
- Can I help you pack? : I am mothering him. GROSS!! Or worse, refer to 2.
- Why? : He will be irritated. Kwani since when does he have to justify himself to me?
- When did this happen? : Refer to 4.
- Carry sunscreen : Eish yawa, woman! SUNSCREEN!! Refer to 3.
- Will you survive? : Insert Kenyan tongue-click **here**, then refer to 3.
- Overwhelmed, silent tears : Good grief woman!! Those only work with ‘nice guys’ and this one, clearly, is not.
- So now? : Um…still undecided on this one, but mostly, I don’t think I can pull it off.
- What for? : Refer to 4.
- What about us? : Woman, I have no words for you.
- Can I see other people? : This would proooooobably be a good one, if I could say it with a straight face. Without tearing or sounding like an angstious teenager frozen from the rave. Coz that would totally kill the effect.
- Call me when you get back? : There is a reason this is number 13.
Okay, I have run out of instinctive answers. So I conclude that men [and some women] do not think like me. Ergo, the best response would be to feign disinterest, try not to cry, pause to see where [if anywhere] he’s going with this. Is he asking me to wait? Or to go with him? Is this a btw? A hiatus? A blow off?
Then, if I haven’t made an utter fool of myself by then, just lightly say “Have a safe trip?” That sounds smart and sensible and mature. Especially without the question mark. Now to go drown in ice cream, play depressing music, and pull a Britney in my bathtub. Without the crazy coke and the ambulance of course.
There are some things in Dar I will never understand. Like why men feel the need to shout abuses at me just because I didn’t reply their greeting. I mean really, I’ve been here three years, you’d think they’ve gotten over my rasta feki by now.
And why the men at Karume feel the need to put their hands all over me at the market, and drag me to their stalls in the name of making a sale, then get all offended when I ask them to back off. Hey, I said it politely, twice, before I raised my voice, and you’re lucky I didn’t reach for my shoe, so don’t act all fragile schoolboy. P-LEAZZE!!
Or, for that matter, why a cab driver (that I just met) feels like it’s okay to caress my bare arms and ask my name and declare his love for me. REALLY. Or why my DVD guy meets me in the hood and asks where I am going, and gets mad when I don’t answer. ‘Najua ofisi yako ni pare, na nyumbani kwako ni pare, sasa huku unatafuta nini?’ The TZ psyche thrives on TMI. Really. There is no sense of privacy here!!
Finally, why my neighbours assume that if I am lying in my bed in my jammies allfor three days in a row, it must be because I am seriously ill.
I got a muslim costume! [No offense Mo]. See, at our pool, muslim girls can only swim if they keep all their clothes on, so they end up in layers and layers of cotton [which beats the purpose, if you ask me]. Last Sunday, one even swam in full make-up plus hijab!!
So when I show up in my regular swim gear, it’s like a nyama fest, and very uncomfy…I had to get something a little more…well, a little more. That’s how I ended up at Karume, which is basically Kikosh in Dar, but with some very touchy-feel hawkers. It only cost me twenty bob and some icky groping, but I did get two preeeetty things, blue modest, sleeveless, and still showing lots of …muscle. They basically look like 60s mini sundresses, all flowers and patterns and leg, spandex inside, flowing outside, nice and sea-friendly. Yay
However. I am NOT going to that market again. Ever. I hope. Knock on wood.