18 May 2009

A Lot of Nothing

Stuff from the past week or so that is now coming to mind:

  • The boys asked me if we sang traditional songs for my circumcision ceremony.  When I explained that everyone in USA gets ‘cut’ after birth they were astounded.  For some reason, they enjoy giving each other a hard time about getting ‘cut’ in general, and feel the need to notify me that one of them is in need of help.  Sadly, odd numbered years are off years for the ceremony.  Next year a batch of Malava boys will become men and I will sadly miss it.
  • I went to church yesterday at the request of the young girls because they wanted me to see them dance.  Since I cannot say no, I went.
    • I forgot that church is really “Catholic Mass: The Musical”
    • One of the new priests has a hard name to remember and say, plus he looks like 1964 early electric Bob Dylan (minus the whole skin tone deal).  Therefore, I call him Fr. Bob Dylan.
    • An ant was climbing around on the shirt of a man in front of me.  The usher walked over and kindly swiped the ant off his shirt.  Of course the man was confused as to why someone would brush him on the back, but when the usher pointed to the ant on the ground the man knew.  Upon seeing the ant, he slowly walked over and in a deliberate motion, squashed the ant.  He did not stray from singing and rejoined the ranks in his pew to continue in song.
    • I still do not understand much of what is said in mass, but a break from attendance has proved the difference lessons are making.  I was able to pick up a bunch of phrases during Fr. Bob Dylan’s homily.
  • Yesterday Sue made chili.  It was very good.  Neto joined us for the second week in a row.  Hopefully he will become a regular part of our Sunday brunch.
  • I have been putting two things off that are sad and I keep forgetting to mention them:
    • At the retreat a month ago, Jean made the tough decision to go back home to Florida.  I did not mention it earlier because I did not feel it was appropriate to say anything and risk beating her to notifying family and friends.  I feel compelled to make mention because it would seem odd when I make references to the three of us and never mention her.
    • Upon return from vacation, Meowmar was missing.  We hoped that he would return, but learned from the boys that a man named Victor who lives in the houses behind ours beat the cat while we were away and it ran away into the woods.  Now, over a month later, we have seen no sign of our beloved cat.  On the bright side, Lady Gray at the compound just had a batch of kittens who are in need of a home.  We will have a new cat soon, but I am doubtful that it can be as good as Meowmar al-Catdafi.
  • I watched Revolutionary Road last night and it is the cinematic version of my worst nightmare.  I wish the script was a bit stronger, but it is a good watch thanks to director Sam Mendes.
  • I learned that shorts were a required part of the uniform for young boys in all of their schooling here in Kenya.  It was a colonial mandate that was upturned shortly after independence.  Now, only a few secondary schools have shorts in the uniform.  All are pants.  The younger kids still wear shorts, but almost nobody over the age of 16 will wear shorts in any situation.
  • One of the children, Luka, is very sick and they can not figure out why.  I have been saying it is due to malnutrition and the fact that he lives in such a dirty home.  He is negative, but David explained that people in villages will diagnose a child with HIV when he or she does not thrive, as in the case of Luka.  The parents will think that the doctors are hiding something when they are informed that the tests are negative.  As a result, the child is outcast and mistreated because it is believe that he or she will die soon anyways.  This seems to be what is going on with Luka.  His mother is not the sharpest tool in the shed and it is easy for people to tell her about such things.  I have said before that I fear for his life and this only gives cause for more concern.
  • The thunder right now is nothing like I have ever heard.  It sounds like a great explosion over town that rumbles as an earthquake.  There is no distinct crack, like you may here at home, just a burst of sound that follows a sharp drop of lightning.
  • Sadly, the first child to pass away this year from the SJC died on Saturday.  She was a regular, but was far too young and handicapped for me to have ever formed a bond with.  I knew she was not doing terribly well, but I had no idea that she was so sick.  She was here last Monday and looked to be the same as she has always been.  Sue and I found out when Neto asked for the picture of a girl named Valentine to show one of the other parents.  He said that we would find it amongst the pile of deceased clients.  Sue and I both did not make mention of anything because we assumed that the Neto was talking about a former client.  When Sue asked why she wanted to see the picture, Neto said it was because Valentine would come the same day but later than the mother.  I thought it was strange, but still did not think much of it.  Finally, Neto said the full name and I immediately knew it was the Valentine who came on Mondays at noon.  I think the strangest part is the way that it is treated by the staff.  Her death was just a passing mention in conversation that never took place.  The outlook on death here is radically different than home.  The immediate passing is mourned with great wails and then treated as if it is like the rising sun.
  • I want to finish on an upswing.  I adopted a banana tree yesterday.  It had been neglected for over a month, so I walked over and gave it a trim and fixed its fallen top.  When it grows and has some bananas, I am going to harvest them and enjoy them thoroughly.  If the people around here are going to ignore it, I am going to make it mine.  So I am now a banana farmer.  How about that?
  • New birds spotted and identified:
    • Blue Monarch
    • Orange Ground-Thrush
    • African Pied Wagtail
    • Red Cheeked Cordon-Bleu
    • Red-Billed Firefinch


Graffiti on our walls (chalk provided by Michael).