Saturday, 14 August 2010

"Tayters in the Mould" Part II

I will admit that it’s not quite the depths of Arctic winter that my Christmas blog ‘Tayters in the Mould’ was originally set in, however 18 degrees C, in Kafanchan feels pretty similar when there’s no hot water, a dearth of warm clothes and almost constant, persistent and hammering rain.

(Right) Teleri, Thomas and I getting ready for work in the morning. Teleri left for her UK holiday 2 weeks ago – it’s barely stopped raining since then.... in Kafanchan

(Below) Nigerian author Ben Okri once started a book 'a river became a road'... Well here every now and then, a road becomes a river

I don’t remember it being this cold last year: I have no memory of getting myself cosy in bed under a thick blanket or coming into work in the morning and worrying, yes actually worrying , about having remembered to bring a cardigan or wrap into work. I remember wearing socks but that was to keep my feet clean, not warm.

Fantsuam’s director of operations and I keeping well wrapped up during a meeting at 2pm this afternoon. Notice the fetching combination of socks and sandals.

I am convinced that this is a particularly cold and wet year. However colleagues don’t seem to be noticing anything out of the ordinary. I have a worrying suspicion that perhaps I’m just getting too used to the warmth?

However on the ‘bright’ side, this recent weather should be preparing me well for my return to England. After these continuous downpours that seem to start about 2am and continue till about 3pm the next day, any appearance by the sun is incredibly welcome and I feel the need to stand and bask in its warm rays like a lizard in the early morning.

The best Kafanchan can currently offer in the way of a sunny day. The long driveway of the Rehab centre

And with only 7 weeks to go until I return to England, I need to start getting accustomed to leaving some things behind, and not just the weather.

Yesterday we happened to be doing disbursements to two of the first centres I ever visited when I came to Fantsuam – Unguan Gaiya in Samaru and Zankan near Manchok.

As I stood in the now lush surroundings of the District Head of Zankan’s compound, scaring the small children (they don’t see a lot of white people around here), it occurred to me that it would probably be the last time I would visit.

Whilst only cactus thrives in the height of the dry season (left), the corn is tall in August.

The children build up the courage to come close to the scary white lady

I will probably never again see a dry season in Zankan

At Unguan Gaiya, after waiting for the women to return from a burial, we met fleetingly with District Head James Ayok who, in only my second week at Fantsuam, named me Ladi because I was born on a Sunday. As he learnt of my imminent departure he renewed his offer of marriage whilst Yan Biyu, one of the twins I had met on the first visit, pleaded with me to take her – and presumably also her two month old baby, back with her to ‘my place’. As always in response to this request, I told her that when I could charter a large plane I might manage to fit in half the people that had made that request during my time here plus a couple of prospective husbands.

Me with the hakimi of Unguan Gaiya, HRH James Ayok. Photo with some of the loan group (centre) – Yan Biyu (right) insists on making a last minute entrance with her baby.

Leaving the people behind – or more precisely – their attitudes will be one of the most difficult things. Back home it will be difficult to find that caring, sharing nature, the genuine concern for other human beings and the delight that you bring just by being a white person paying them some attention.
But there are some things that won’t be so difficult to put behind me.

(The next morning)

I didn’t finish this blog last night because just as I got to the previous paragraph the computer died which is usually the way that Nigeria tells you it’s time for bed.

Staring at a suddenly black computer screen by the light of a kerosene lamp.

Note: there’s a new, male, VSO who’s joined Gayl in the new Red House behind us. He’s been here a week and already hooked up a car battery to the lights.... We are jealous, but with such a short time to go, we don’t feel like investing ½ month’s salary. If only we’d done it before

However I’m finishing the blog now as I wait to hear the shower start so that I can bathe and wash my hair in the cold running water. NEPA brought light in the night – between 11pm and 5.00am – power that is useful for charging appliances and not much else. Still it means that when I make the journey into Fantsuam to upload the blog, it should be almost finished. One day... one day ... the internet will come to Kagoro.

As I type I’ve just noticed the black kerosene soot on one of my fingers which brushed the side of the small pan as I poured the hot water into a mug for my morning cup of Milo. Later today I’ll be taking the large jerry can into Kafanchan to get it filled up with kero at the local petrol station so I’m well supplied with fuel for the lights and stove. The price is down N10 per litre from a couple of weeks ago.

But the list of things I’m not going to miss has pretty much run dry.

And the indicator on my computer battery, exhausted after 100s of charging cycles is also getting low and will die on me again any minute.

I can hear the children playing around the compound. The rattle of a distant grinder (the chief’s grinder opposite is momentarily thankfully silent), the cluck of a chicken, the crow of a lazy cockerel and oh –a car just drove by. The first in about 45 minutes.

Now all I want to hear is the rattle of the water through the pipes.. The cold cold water. Perhaps the prospect of a hot bath will make the return to the UK all worthwhile?


Sabine said...

Dear Cicely, I am much reminded of my own departure and I love reading your blog - even though it makes me sad! I can tell you, all the warm water of this developed part of the world can't replace the warmth the people of Nigeria share with you (especially a baturia). Take as much of it with you as you can and try to apply it to our cold European hearts.

Cicely Nigeria said...

Sabine - for the first time since I realised I'm really going home, this comment brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Oh Cecil - on the bright side at least you'll get more wear out of your wellies in Blighty! So there is always a silver lining - or perhaps a jazzy outer is all we can hope for! Lots of love Beccles Boot Emporium xx

Cicely Nigeria said...

To Beccles Boot Emporium: the question is would the boots cut such a dash back home?

Looking forward to that Norfolk glass of wine you offered last time I wrote about the lights going out!

Anonymous said...

"and the delight that you bring just by being a white person paying them some attention."

Who do you think that you are??

You're an idiot, (at best.)

Cicely Brown said...

To 'anonymous' above: I was tempted to delete your comment but thought better of it.

You're the first person in over 2 years to have left such a comment on this blog.

I'd really encourage you to read the comments by other volunteers who share similar experiences.

Needy I may be, enjoying the love and the appreciation that one receives. I freely confess that. It's like the lure of celebrity.

But idiot? What made you so angry?

Anonymous said...

Please Cicely , please pay no attention to such people as "anonymous". May God continue to Bless you for your good heart.