#8 – Big Doins and Not so Big

As I wrote in #7, I did not attend the ordination but even my lone mzunguface was not missed among the many people who flocked to the church.  There were 3 to be confirmed, but Fr. Paul I think was the most well-known around here. I hadn’t realized who it was, as there are manyFrs. Paul and John. 

I never got to the market, having enjoyed my free day too long.  When I finally got myself showered and shampooed, dressed and chores prioritized the 4-hour event was over.  I was “caught” in my grubby jeans, the most comfortable, but frayed at the cuff and faded (perfectly cool for the younger set).  I had taken my laundry to the rectory machine, for which I am so, so grateful, but as I came back, people were boiling out of the church, hungry and heading for the nearest loo.  Many eyed me curiously, but I just smiled as if I were in my best finery and walked on.  Soon Sr. Irene came (to use my loo) and to chat.  When her fellow sisters were ready to leave, I walked down with her, but as we passed the old church, filled with folks greeting Fr. Paul, she pulled me in so I could see who he was.  Grubbies and all, she we wove passed the crowd, down to the front, where the new Fr was giving someone a blessing.  When he looked up and spotted me he gave me a big hug and a blessing.  So sweet!  And I think my being escorted by a nun and blessed the father gave me sufficient credibility, I was forgiven my shabby appearance.

By then the way out was jammed with people, cars and piki-piki’s.  Later I sent John to the Naivas with the list of “must haves” for our dinner. 

As Irene and I ambled down the driveway, side-stepping a big bus, it suddenly stopped and I heard, MARGO!!.  Out of the bus rushed a lady and I’m thinking, “Ach! I don’t know who this is!” But just as she gave me a huge hug, I realized it was Regina, just in time for me to say, REGINA, totally covering my initial confusion. She is one of the very first teachers I met on my first visit to Ndingi in 2005, a top-drawer math and physics teacher, alas, no longer at Ndingi.  The best teachers get hired by the TSC (govt) and the private schools are left with the newly minted to train and then lose to the TSC.  We “how are you”d and agreed she would come visit soon.  Before she climbed back on the bus, I greeted the students, telling them “You have the best math and physics teacher in all of Kenya”, which may well be true.  She beamed and the kids all clapped and yelled. Then off they went in the dust.                                                                    

Slowly by slowly, old friends are dropping by, Mji kids all grown up, teachers, friends, old and new.  I love seeing them all, though sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed—still needing down time to rest. 

As dusk was settling, Mary came back from the rectory with my laundry, but when I began to hang my undies on my “pants hanger”, an ingenious device I discovered some years ago, I realized they’d not been washed.  Hmmm!  I know they’d had some water problems earlier in the day, but thought is was just that so many people were using so many spigots the tanks had run dry and had to be pumped full again.  Next day one of the Fr. John’s explained it was actually a pump failure, right in the middle of a huge crowd of people here to celebrate.  “It was TERRIBLE!!”, he told me, but with a big smile.  I was reminded of the Christmas eve when I had a houseful of family and one of the 2 toilets clogged.  My old “Plumber’s Friend” had deteriorated beyond use and Mark sped to the hardware store, arriving just at closing time.  Home he came with my Christmas present, a new, top-quality “friend” complete with a big red bow!  Best gift ever!

Sunday (yesterday) at mass, I was again able to access in my usual pew, dedicated to my late husband, where I often have a chat with him as I sit, listening to something I can’t understand.  I began to feel light-headed during a long standing-up part, and sat down, head in my lap.  Later I noticed the fans were not on.  Over 1000 people in the huge church, each inhaling his/her share of the oxygen, exhaling a similar amount of CO2 and no fan to bring in fresh air.  No Wonder!!!

Once I got outside I was fine. 

Big Esther, the older of the 2 Esthers at Mji, came to visit, bringing her 5-year old son, Johnson, a darling kid who, the first time he saw me at age 1, screamed in terror, and 1-year old Alvie, a placid child who looked at me as if to say, “Whatever”.  Esther didn’t want to go to high school, so we sent her for salon training, by which she supports herself and the 2 boys, no husband being evidenced.  She has promised to come Tuesday afternoon, bringing a selection of pink polish with which she will decorate my bare toenails. No proper Kenyan lady would be seen with unpainted toes, and while I’m not often accused of being a proper lady, Kenyan or otherwise, I do enjoy a pink toe.  Maybe I’ll be so daring as to have a daisy on the large ones!  WooWoo!  Margo, you’re really going over the top!

In the late afternoon Fr. Ngaruiya dropped by, ostensibly to visit, but I suspect a secondary mission to discover why I wasn’t at the ordination, since I’d earlier told him I would be.  My plea of being too old and decrepit to sit and stand for over 4 hours, with no potty breaks was accepted and we moved on to our usual discussion of math and teaching.  I say discussion, but discussions often morph into debates, which we both enjoy, but never resolve.  I finally challenged him to observe me teaching, pointing out that virtually every Kenyan teacher who has done so was nice enough to claim they’d learned some things about simplifying processes and even how to make math more fun.  Stay tuned for further reports.

It’s now Monday morning, 10:56 am and I am still in my jammies, having been writing emails, writing this post, eating my breakfast and unsuccessfully trying the sudoku.  Often I must let it rest, (fester?) in my brain until later, when I notice the one clue I missed earlier.

I’ve just finished repairing all the typos.  Now 11:10. Maybe it’s time to dress and get on with the day.

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