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Sunday, February 17, 2013

cold meals

When I was younger before microwaves were a thing(at least in our household) I would come home from a night out and find a lump of cold food. No matter what it is, food is always a lump when it’s cold, I remember coming home to meat and vegetables that were cool to the touch and worst of all a hardened mass of ugali. The flour would become tighter as the water seemed to vanish into the atmosphere, worst of all there was a crust that formed on the outside of it, a crust so hard that I just gave up on eating.

The microwave is spoiled once again and there was a day when there was no gas. There were leftovers from last night’s supper and I thought I could do what I used to, so I mixed up the rice and beans and began to shovel them in my mouth. When food is cold it seems to lose taste. The food that tasted amazing the night before was just a cold ball in my mouth, chewing didn’t help, all it did was spread the cold and dark around. So I hurriedly swallowed and it went into my throat. There it felt clammy, it became a damp ball running down the walls of a cave. It was the kind of cave that you only see in video games, the ones that have light shining into them from who knows where, it’s that harsh cold light. The kind that comes when the sun’s rays have to battle their way through clouds, it’s also white. The damp ball of food began crashing through my throat spreading cold and covering up the light so that there was nothing else in there. And then it spread its tendrils and the cold went everywhere. Suddenly I felt cold in my stomach, in the very pit of it, I felt cold up to my mouth where the destructive journey had started. It was a cold that began from inside my body which feels remarkably worse, and in one of those coincidences that life likes to play on us, it was cold outside. Now, why is it on the days you need to take a cold shower, for electricity or water concerns, the world becomes decidedly frigid too? This has happened so often I think fate has a sadistic bend to it.

Still I had to leave and I got out waiting for  a matatu. One came in no time but it had no passengers. Some people live in Kenya live near roads that are practically highways. On such routes it matters not how many people there are in the matatu it  still gets to town in the same amount of time. Some of us live in residential areas that were made with Minotaurs in mind, there is an endless array of roads down which a matatu can go looking for fares and look for fares it will. After a long enough time you can tell you made a mistake as soon as the driver starts the engine. There is a hesitating tenderness to the way his foot presses on the accelerator. You can hear it in the engine of the matatu, you can feel it in the stuttering way it moves, in the way it seems to beg to be allowed to rip out and run. Our matatus are never warhorses but even a pony wants to gallop sometimes and at these times you know that even a canter is not possible for the poor machine. Making it worse is that vast array of roads and routes and side paths and bypasses. I remember back when Osama was believed to be in Afghanistan and the US were bombing and combing the Tora Bora caves for any sign of him one of my uncles coined the phrase chokora tora bora(scavenge in tora bora) to describe giving head to a woman. It captured it perfectly. The searching, the darting in and out, the game where everyone was both apprehensive and excited about finding the climax. Well this is what the matatus do in that route. They chokora all the roads for what they are worth.

Soon enough I am in town but it’s still cold inside and the ball is tangled more than ever. It’s twisted in my innards and despite the long ride I am still cold. I step out of the matatu and it’s very sunny. It’s extremely sunny. The air just above me is hot and I begin to swelter. The ball though is still cold and gasps of hot air are not enough to warm me up. I wish I could swallow the sun, just take a pill sized star and put it in my mouth, swallow it down and wait for it to explode inside me dispelling all the cold and darkness in my cave. Either that or have a cigarette. But it’s a myth that cigarettes warm you up. How could they possibly. It seems that they should, there is a fire and when you exhale there is smoke coming from your insides, you are a dragon so there must be fire inside of you. But I tried it, I tried it in winter and I was just as cold as before I started even colder because you have to take off your gloves in order to hold it in your hand. This is just another one of the lies that cigarettes tell smokers. Ranking up there with you will never get addicted. I’m not sure if cigarettes have to lie though, isn’t the promise of death enough to make anyone curious. Aren’t we all just slightly seduced by the things we can never have and there are few things more unattainable than death. By the time you get it you are, well dead.

Before the day ended my stomach had heaved out the coldness inside me and I found a new-found appreciation for fire and warmed food.

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