Saturday, September 24, 2011

Eyeball Logistics

I am on the hunt for an eyeball. Two eyeballs would be better. In my Form three (that’s 11th grade) physics class we are studying lenses. Part of the syllabus involves the human eye. I thought it would be cool to dissect an eye to see all the parts. I did an eyeball dissection once when I was in seventh or eighth grade at a science camp. And yes, I was that girl- the dork who went to science camp and loved it. Anyway, I remember dissecting a sheep’s eyeball and how hard it was (not hard as in difficult, hard as in firm); the lens of the eye was a hard orange-ish sphere and I took it home as a souvenir but my mother, quite rightly, made me throw it away (have I mentioned how big of a dork I was?). Anyway, back to my eyeball search. I imagine finding an eyeball might be slightly easier here than in America. I don’t suppose you can run down to Wal-Mart and pick up goat eyeballs. Then again, maybe you can. Maybe they are in the deli case next to things like hooves, tongues, stomach and other things only desperate people, or the French, eat. But here in Kenya, eyes are in great abundance, I think. There are butchers everywhere with large slabs of (sorta) fresh livestock hanging from hooks in the shade. People here eat every single part of the animal without shame. I am sure I can easily find an eyeball or two when I run into town on Saturday. The thing I am worried about is what to do with the eyeball. I don’t teach the physics lab until Thursday. What am I supposed to do with a pair of fresh eyeballs for four days? Despite Science Camp, I don’t know much about eyeballs. Will it go moldy? I have this image of it dissolving into an opaque gooey liquid the consistency of soft-set Jello. Can you dissect something that oozes like an undercooked egg? Can I freeze the eyes and defrost them the day of the lab? And also, why didn’t I choose to be a math teacher? I don’t think math teachers have to worry about eyeball logistics. We’ve been having a mosquito outbreak for the last few weeks. It is immensely annoying and incredibly itchy. I counted almost 50 bites on my left foot and every day there are more added. They are out during the day and at night and even when it is windy. It is really not fair. I accept that mosquitoes have a legitimate purpose on the earth that makes it necessary for them to annoy the living crap out of me but I thought they had to stick to their rules. Day time bloodsucking in giant flocks? Really? The drought is still here and as bad as ever so I don’t know where they are coming from. The tribal elders, the weathermen of Kenya, say that the mosquitoes come from the Chalbi desert where it is raining and are blown here on the strong winds. They say they have seen seasons like this before. They predict that we will get rain soon, the acacia trees are turning green in preparation, and then the mosquitoes will bring elephantitis that is followed by the “death of many”. I put that in quotes because that is exactly what they told me. That was the order of coming events: rain, more mosquitoes, elephantitis, death. Recently, I have seen a few cases of elephantitis and all the acacia trees are indeed turning green so I am not sure how accurate the elders’ prediction is. We had a few cold days that were cloudy and windy. Of course, instead of rain, the strong winds just brought the usual intense dust storms. In a five-hour staff meeting on Wednesday, we were having a debate about what to do about the students who were guilty of vernacular speaking. Also known as ‘mother tongue speaking’, vernacular is thought to be the biggest contributor to the majority of students failing their classes. While the teachers were arguing about what to do, I was busy thinking about cheese. This is not unusual, I think about cheese often. I imagine it like a first love, forever remembered and forever missed. Every time I eat a meal consisting of a giant pile of rice with a tablespoon of cabbage, I scrutinize the bowl and think “you know what would make this meal awesome? A half pound of shredded cheddar.” Today I have cheese o my mind because I got a text message from my in-town PCV, Curtis, that simply read “mayo and cheese… hell yeah”. I knew instantly what that meant. My favorite store, Baslum, run by three young Indian guys, had cheese again. About once every three months, the place will get five or six packages of Laughing Cow processed cheese wedges. Every time, I attempt to buy them out and then spend the next three months pining for more. So to hear that we have cheese AND mayonnaise in Marsabit is a dream come true! Just think! I could have grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, or real tuna melts, or cheesy casserole. Me and cheese is like Winnie the Pooh and hunny or Homer Simpson and beer. When I was in America, I, until recently, did not like cheese on my hamburgers. I am sitting here in Kenya wondering what the heck I was thinking. I wasted so many years, so many delicious, charbroiled, special sauce smothered opportunities. When I get back to America I am planning on putting cheese on everything, including breakfast cereal. I also plan on gaining 150 pounds in the first three months and then having a myocardial infarction. I have pigeons and doves living on my roof. I don’t like them because I have a tin roof and when the birds fly in it sounds like a helicopter is landing. They roost right outside my front door and every time I step outside, the take off in a burst of feathers and coo-ing that startles me every time. Also, they defecate on my porch. Monday, one of the doves died. I heard it fall over and slide down the roof to thud on the ground. I went outside to investigate and saw the bird lying uninjured on the ground. His eyes were closed and his wings neatly folded. It looked like he died in his sleep. I had this great plan to bury the bird in a deep hole for a few months and then dig up the skeleton to use in my school’s science lab. It was getting dark, so I decided to dig the hold in the morning. When I got up and went outside, I discovered the bird was gone. Presumably, it was eaten by some animal, mongoose maybe. The animal left no blood or anything, but did pull out all the bird feathers to leave in a scattered pile all over the place. I presume the animal did it just for fun, but it made me think that the bird was not eaten, but rather it exploded. Lokho wrote a poem about AIDS for a school assignment. I think it is very good, especially considering that English is her third language. I asked her if I could put it up online and she was very excited about the idea. She thinks it will make her famous. Fear of AIDS by Lokho Sora, 13 years old We know you as detrimental to education Dragging behind progress without question Entering every place with your deadly deformation Storing of poverty in our dear generation Knocking on our doors in all versions Pretending as if to bring us salvation Hatred is your tool of aggression Be aware we know you as Mr. Aids We know you as a person A terrible fire that never pardons Stronger than heavy boxer Tyson More dangerous than a dragon Moving in Africa like passion Seriously affecting our bodies with poison Why are you wandering in Africa? Why start from Liberia and Somalia Causing disaster in Sudan and Ethiopia Taking the role of master in Nigeria Trying Kenya like uncontrolled diarrhea Entering Marsabit through unknown media I suppose you are not awarded a degree of honoree What could be your cause? You must have come on a fast horse Providing Africa with your dose Letting the sons of Africa mourn For the cause that is never known Anarchy is the seed you’ve sown And impatient we have grown Get lost from our face, We have no room in our place We have no words to give you Let us all participate in the chase To remove AIDS from our space Making development all our race Creating love as our base Unified with peace in every case

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