There was a time I saw death standing right in front of my eyes. The very face of something I had been taught to fear and hate throughout my life. It was not so long ago. About a decade to be precise. I was a young bubbling innocent girl in my very early stages of development.
Before I proceed, it is paramount to mention I was raised up in the private hidden bucolic areas of my country. To get to our house, it is mandatory to alight five kilometers away since that is the maximum distance most automobiles can cover. Then, you will have to get a boda-boda and instruct the motorist to escort you “Kwa Chief.” You will be sure to get there as the chief, a loud gigantic man with a protruding stomach and blood-shot eyes, is a very famous person. Not for his good deeds but because of how he mistreats his wives, one of whom I heard flee for her dear life. Our house is adjacent to the chiefs.
Back then, the walls of our toilet were made up of a mixture of animal dung, and a brown loam dug from the river. The roof was however made up of a tiny piece of shiny, silver aluminum foil. It lacked windows, just a little door made of the raft which wasn’t a door at all. To begin with, if one was unfortunate to be taller than the required one and a half meters, it was mandatory to bend to fit in the loo. And it was located several meters away from our hut as a measure of getting rid of the ever-present foul smell. The latrine was strategically built next to our bamboo stalk fence. All the other huts were to be found several meters away from ours, all thanks to our grandfathers who allocated big farms to their children. Perhaps, nursing the hopes their children will sire forth many offspring. Now, this is the place I nearly succumbed to fate, a doomed destiny.
On this particular occasion, there had been a torrential downpour. My honest and hardworking mother, the typical Proverbs 31 woman, had left earlier for the “shamba.” I woke up much later and felt the need of relieving myself. Off to the latrine, I went, whistling some Sunday school hymns my pastor had taught me.
I strained to open the latrine flap and it couldn’t. Perhaps due to the occasional expansion and contraction as I learned much later in my Physics class. The urge to pee on me increased each passing minute. I couldn’t hold it up anymore. I made up my mind to go pee behind the latrine as I was certain that was one place my beloved mother would never attempt to set her foot.
Alas! Before I knew it, one of my foot found itself in the eighteen-foot pit, all thanks to an opening made at the side of the latrine by the rain, and which apparently, I hadn’t seen. In another split second, my second foot was in too! I was drowning in the filthy, disgusting mixture of human and animal waste! I could not contend with the knowledge that I was drowning in the waste of the most feared medicine man in our locality. That person who always shields himself with leaves and whom you will permanently find taking several laps around people’s huts at night covered in gray ashes. I always see him “borrowing” our latrine in the middle of his petrifying performances.
I gave out a massive yell fit to awaken the dead. By this time my instincts had instructed my tiny, slippery hands to get hold of a branch, which probably a drunk, arrogant latrine builder had apparently left dangling on the side. God bless him!
It was my scream which attracted my mother’s attention, and she came running. I had previously never seen my mom on her heels.
Thanks to this incidence, we now thankfully own a decent toilet.