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Relaxing in the Garden


Relaxing in the Garden, originally uploaded by Robin Manuell.

I am resolved to spending the next couple of days resting up and taking my medicine. Laura finds her own way up to Mama Kilala’s getting lost on the way. “I’ve never been so happy in all my life” she says when she finally gets here and I realise she has been lost and scared. I am impressed by her courage in travelling in East Africa on her own, she is only 23. I don’t get scared easily.

At least that’s what I tell myself but I am about to encounter my nemesis. We sit around in the back garden brushing up our swahili, alone except for the rabbits and turkeys. The male turkey has managed to survive four Christmas’s already – Mama Kilala nursed it through illness and hasn’t had the heart to eat it ever since. He has a reputation for being a better guard than the dogs that rule the compound by night. He decides that I am a threat to his harem and begins to gobble and crow in my direction. I stand up, intimitated by its size and it’s proximity but the turkey does not back down. I am convinced he is eyeing up my juicy pink toes. I make some faints towards him in the hope of scaring him off. I roar like a lion. He is undaunted. What am I to do? I could throw a rock but I’m not sure that escalating the situation is the best plan! Perhaps I should beat a hasty retreat- but then will I ever be able to hold my head up high again? Will I even be allowed back in the garden?

In the end Laura comes to my rescue and chases the turkey away with some judicious clapping and waving of her sandals. I am suitably humbled. Do I have “victim” written all over me in Turkey language? Am I a wimp unable to defend myself from this jumped up christmas dinner? No no Mama Kilala reassures me later. This turkey thinks you are after his women. He is always the same with men. With women he is ok, they can shoo him away but with men he gives no quarter. Mama Kilala welcomes Laura and offers her dinner and even a place to sleep for the night. She stays for dinner but all her things are at the hostel so I walk her back down the hill and head back for another early night.

During the day I receive 3 texts and ten phone calls from Maimune, none of which I answer. My attempts to be friendly with Tanzanian women are clearly ill conceived. I like female company, I’m used to having lots of female friends at home but here it seems impossible. I remove the bracelet.

Monday and my malaria seems much better but whether because of the illness or the medication I feel very tired and out of sorts. I feel like I am using my body but I am not in my body. Another day at home.

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