Here is kinda a funny one and crazy one, but msinipeleke Mathare please. Huko tuliachia kina Poeta. My favorite food is ugali and fried tomato stew, all due to my younger siz Muthoni Hinga who insisted on devouring such delicacies alone during our very interesting childhood. I was very excited yesterday when I decided to buy four big ripe tomatoes for supper. After lazing on watsapp for a while, I get down to serious cooking business. Three cups of water, add heat, five minutes wait for water to boil, add a lot of unga to the water. Five minutes pounding, turn the mould and shape it like a mountain, the ugali is ready. Remove from fire and store upside down on a metallic plate, just like I saw mummy do back then. Then comes the easier part, cooking tomatoes. Just slicing onions and tomatoes then add some oil and heat. Very easy cooking, suitable for any bachelor. The tomatoes are almost ready, boiled in their water to flatness after kindu five minutes. The next part always confuses me. Adding salt. I think it is something to do with my hands being either too small, or me underestimating my hands, or thinking that the tomatoes look too many now or my eyes being too big/small. I am not sure whether I am having my specs at this time. I think that the salt in my hand is too much, but who wants to waste salt? You can never be sure about anything on this earth anyway, just have to try my luck. The salt might just be enough. I add all of it and hope that the God will be with me.
Its time to serve. I place the ugali on the covered water bucket and slice it into as many large pieces as I can. I only manage two large pieces. I promise myself that I will cook a bigger ugali tomorrow. Tomato stew needs no serving, just put it into a plate and add a spoon, wash your hands. Pray, and thank God that He turned some of the salt into somebody’s wife. Maybe Lot’s. Then taste. The food is too salty. At least someone is still a bachelor like me, the salt didn’t become anyone’s wife. That offers some consolation to struggle with some few spoonfulls, then give up. Seems I will have to sleep hungry tonight. I know I would have called my sister and she would have suggested that I add some water into the food. But who adds water to tomato stew? That sound’s dumb.
I lie helplessly on my bed, meditating and spreading nice thoughts to anyone who might be in my position. Till I remember that I was once a chemistry guru, a BSc Analytical Chemistry holder. A genius idea strikes me. What was that thing about neutralization again? Or was it titration? Isn’t sugar the opposite of salt? Or is salt the opposite of sugar? Which is which? It’s one of those, unless our class two teacher lied to us. Mrs Thamaini looks too innocent to tell any lies. I add a few spoonfulls of sugar. Just two will be enough; I have to experiment first before going any further. I sit down, very happy with myself; the one who is able to apply chemistry to solve domestic problems. All that chemistry done in campus didn’t go to waste after all. And then I have my first bite of my newly prepared concoction.
My eyes redden, deep furrows form on my face. My childhood was haunted by cold chills and I didn’t like it when my dad forced me to have syrup as medicine. I don’t like it now too. This stuff tastes like it. I can’t go past three spoons of this thing. I have to sleep hungry after all. Maybe it’s just fate. It’s hard to get any sleep but, who said life is easy? A few more lazy chats on watsapp and facebook. All of them remind me that my friend Richard Mbugu is gone forever. I have to sleep now, at least to try and escape from the sad reality. May God rest his soul in eternal peace.
I wake up late, stomach rumbling and grumbling. Have to work first, no time to prepare proper breakfast. Go to check on my thing again. Still there on the gas cooker, uncovered, spoon improperly positioned. Untouched by houseflies. Not even a cockroach came close. I start by taking quarter spoonfulls first, with short stints on my computer. I had planned to take the stuff to the lab for analysis, but it’s too late now. I can see none of it. I don know how it disappeared, but maybe the tractor sounds in my stomach can tell.