Iganga Town, Uganda

September 27, 2010

The power flickered. The surge protector, a metal box about three or four times the size of a box of Kleenex clicked off then on then off then on then off. I groaned.

The thing is, we’d had a conversation about buying paraffin earlier in the day. Even had a plan. But buying paraffin was replaced with buying olive oil and so we sat in the dark contemplating “what next”.

Hiring a boda seemed the best option, only we didn’t have a number for any that we know. in the absence of that, giving a random man 5000 shillings and some empty bottles didn’t bode well for having light anymore than us staring at each other and talking about buying paraffin…again.

Jokingly, teaqueen, suggested I called BLB (Big Little Brother). Silly because he lives in kampala but brilliant because he’s spent a lot of time in iganga and could probably help. “let me see what I can do,” he mumbled into the phone after an exchange of pleasantries.

I forgot about it, resigned to a dark night…neither the first nor last this rainy season. But twenty minutes later and the streaking lightening illuminated a looming figure in the door…small jerrycan in hand.

He thought I’d seen him in town, didn’t realize it was only a fluke that I’d called him at all. But thankfully, he came bearing five liters of paraffin and a readiness to laugh.

We sat around talking, joined by our field officer next door. An hour or so later santa stopped by for a late dinner. Now we all crowded in the kitchen on tiny stools, the floor, eventually plastic chairs. I chopped and fried eggplant, minced onions, garlic, ginger, and cabbage, pulling together some version of fried rice that santa would eventually douse with ketchup.

The lights flicked back on and we all wondered if the magic would disappear with the darkness. But no…

It was the best kind of evening. Random and unexpected. A gathering with no agenda but plentiful in conversation twists and food-spitting side-splitting laughter.

It was midnight when the guys trailed out. Teaqueen had retired earlier. An hour or so after her our field officer returned to her side of the house, and almost immediately after BLB and Santa readied to go.

Our guard was nowhere to be seen as I clanged the gate loudly to let them out. The sky, having cried herself exhausted, now showcased a bright slightly waning moon with only wisps of clouds as cover. The guys moved off together, trying desperately to maneuver around puddles and the dissolving dirt heaps turned mud slides dropped off at 10 foot intervals down our street a week ago in anticipation of smoothing it.

I locked the gate behind me and skipped lightly to the house, picking up and washing dirty dishes, locking doors, and turning off the lights. Laughter still rang in my ears and creased my face as I settled in for sleep.

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1 Comment on unscheduled dinner party

  1. sza says:

    and you think you can’t pull together a book… are you kidding me!? you are one of the more brilliant wordsmiths i know!
    so happy you had a good evening! it’s well deserved and i’m wishing you many more laughter and food filled nights!
    i love you and miss you terribly!

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