#11 The dinner
It has been such a busy week I haven’t written. I write in my head, but much of it stays there. Wednesday afternoon was my marketing day. At Fr Kiritit’s suggestion I had invited the 3 nuns who live in the convent in the parish compound (where I also live, but in the orphanage) to come to dinner on Thursday—last night.
First I took my ever-ready cloth bag and trotted across the road to the street market where (mostly) women sell produce, used clothing, shoes and whatever else they can scrape together. I like to buy from them b/c I know this is their only livelihood and b/c it is the typical African way to shop. The venders spread their wares out on a cloth on the ground, or if they are lucky, on rather rickety raised platforms. They chat together as they await customers, looking up in hopeful expectation at each likely passerby—like me with my bags. I planned to make spaghetti, so bought tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic then proceeded to the mango vendor, found papaya, and pineapple—fruit for dessert, and the ubiquitous avecado-delicious for ksh 5 or 10 depending on size. That’s $.06 to $.12.
My bag was full and I had run out of change, so I headed back across the road (crossing is an adventure in itself, especially in the evening, with so much traffic—trucks, matatus, piki pikis, donkey carts, taxis, bicycles—and nobody stops or even slows for pedestrians!)
I love walking in the driveway of the parish compound. Fr Kiriti loves to plant and the drive is lined with roses of every color. Since there was rain this year, the gardens are particularly colorful.
I unloaded my bags and went off to the supermarket for the rest of the dinner. It seemed that everyone I have ever met in Naivasha was out that afternoon. Maina, who used to be the cook here now works in the supermarket, I also met Mithlet, a graduate of Ndingi before it was all boys. She was one of the very first group of students I tutored during the August holiday and was one of the best at math. She has been accepted to study accounting, but probably can’t go b/c she has no money for tuition. There are so many like her, and it is such a waste of a good brain.
Coming out of the market I saw for the first time this year, the glue-sniffers—street boys who salvage virtually empty glue containers from the shoe repair shops and get high on the fumes. It’s terrible stuff, which in time affects the brain. A school has been established for such boys near SFG and I’m told that many of them have been rehabilitated, but some have resisted that.
Back up the road I heard my name and there was Pauline, a woman I met in 2005. She had invited me to come to her house for tea and chatting. I had not yet seen her and was so happy. I get hearty hugs and big smiles and give the same.
Back in my small kitchen I began browning the hamburger, chopping tomatoes, onions and peppers, mincing garlic, looking around for the basil, oregano and bay leaves left from last year and soon my kitchen had a delicious smell. I knew I wouldn’t have time to cook Thursday b/c of other commitments during the day. It was late by the time I finished the spaghetti sauce and cleaned up the mess.
I asked Sister Janet who teaches biology and geography at SFG whether they would come at 7 or 7:30. “Oh we’ll be there at 7,” she said. I was actually ready by 6:30. The fruit was chopped, table set, big pot of water for pasta aboil. So I went into my room to read. Seven came and went, 7:30 and no visitors. At 7:40 I texted Fr Kiriti, “Don’t know what to think. The sisters were to be here at 7 and they are not yet here. Is this just another case of African time?” I didn’t have a phone number for them, but he called them and called me back. “They’re coming right now.” Twenty minutes later they showed up, all smiles.
They were a bit reserved at first, but as we ate and talked, they became more relaxed. They were so jolly and fun after that. We laughed at my forgetting that in general Africans don’t like cold things. I began the meal with mango juice, right out of the refrigerator, of course! Sister Jane, added hot water to hers. The others left it to warm, although I didn’t get it at first and thought maybe they didn’t like mango juice (huh??? What’s not to like?). When it had warmed they drank it all down. I served the spaghetti from the stove, covering the pasta with the sauce (naturally!) I noticed Sr Martha carefully scraped the sauce off the pasta. “Oh, my, is she a vegetarian and too polite to tell me?” But no, she ate the pasta and then the sauce. I cleared off the plates and took the chopped fruit-mango, papaya and pineapple—out of the refrigerator. Uh oh! Blew it again! Sr Jane again poured warm water on hers. Left to right above Srs Jane, Janet and Martha.
At the end I asked whether they would like some chocolate (Trader Joe’s 72% cocoa). I chopped part of a big bar into the squares and we all enjoyed. As they left I asked whether they would like to take some of the chocolate. Janet and Martha politely demurred, but Jane spoke right up, “YES!!!” She went home with a bag of the rest of the pieces.
I think they had a good time. They kept saying they needed to leave, but then they sat there, chatting away. They laughed at everything, great audience. In my family we would say, “A good time was had by all!”