I\’m jus\’ sayin\’

September 25, 2008

Of flavors and teas

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bwandungi @ 3:06 pm

A while ago, I purchased flavored tea at the local grocery store close to my place of work.
President's Choice herbal tea

It took me back.
Come walk with me.


Like sleepy zombies that had suddenly espied a good breakfast, the girls in my class from the dormitories close to mine rushed to get to laboratories, outside which our early morning dance classes took place. The morning was overcast and slightly cold and the sleeveless short uniforms we’d been assigned were unable to protect our legs from the cold.

I could faintly see the outline of Ms. Cutler and her faithful dog rush  ahead of us so I took off my rubber slippers and ran to catch up with her so when she called my name during the roll call, I’d be there to quip “Present” in my most cheerful morning voice. By the time I got to the location of the class, my feet were completely wet and some of the grass from yesterday’s mowing had attempted to fashion a sock near my toes. My parents, like many others, couldn’t afford sneakers, but the grass was always so soft it really didn’t matter. Most of our sports were played barefoot.

I stood across from my assigned partner as the classical music we were going to dance to began. Sometimes I led, other times she did. All in all we shed our sleep and let our feet find the rhythm of the music while we twirled and danced to foreign music in the  complicated formations that are usually reserved for period movies. Most of us enjoyed this exercise not only because it meant the half hour reserved for housework was cut short, but also because our bodies enjoyed the rhythms of EarlyMo as we called it.

My housework leader sometimes let me off housework on the days I had EarlyMo. I’d still have to report to whatever location I’d been assigned, but I’d either find she’d done it for me or someone else had done it and I could go clean up the grass that had dried on my feet. This morning was no exception and she sent me off to get ready for a day that was packed full of as many activities and classes as could possibly be crammed into a couple of hours.

The dormitory to which I belonged stood on the edge of the school grounds, close to farmland that was tended to by University Agriculture students. We never saw them there, even though we could see the tall stalks of maize waving in the breeze. Somedays we would sit in the grassy area behind the junior wing and dream of the day when we would become university students too. I jogged all the way back so I could get a spot in the bathroom before housework was over and the bathroom rush began.

The bathroom consisted of two large rooms with a rough floor, a series of taps on one side and a drain that carried the water away. On busy mornings we’d line up to get into the bathroom with our basins or buckets in one hand and loofah and soap in the other. Any semblance of shyness had been erased within the first week of  school and we’d all learned to have a grand old time getting clean and splashing water everywhere. Luckily, there was only one other girl on the senior side of the bathroom and I could take my shower without worrying about a waiting crowd.

Just as I wrapped the belt of my uniform around my waist, the breakfast “gong” pealed out signalling the arrival of tea in the dining room. The gong consisted of an old metal angle bar that would be hit with some other metallic object. For breakfast we’d have numerous choices that we could pick up and then carry back to our dorms and depending on the amount of time that had elapsed since your folks had been to see you, it could be a breakfast of champions, supplemented with goodies brought from home or just a cup of lukewarm tea.

Tea was served in large saucepans that were placed on the tables with metal jugs. On one end the senior saucepans stood, on the other end were the junior saucepans and in the kitchen, the A-Level students poured tea out of a dispenser into their cups. Sometimes weak maize porridge or millet porridge or soya porridge was served. Towards the end of breakfast time, evidence of sloppy serving and unstable hands and feet was on the floor of the dining room or on the way to the dorms.

My parents visited my sisters and I every fortnight, bringing with them fresh fruit, toasted loaves of bread and cookies which my mother preferred to make rather than buy. I sat on my bed with my rapidly cooling cup of tea and simultaneously read from part 2 of one of Jeffery Archer’s novels while nibbling on a cold, but fairly delicious slice of bread that had been toasted with margarine. 

The tea always had a musky wood flavor since it was prepared on a wood stove and the fresh milk that was purchased from the agriculture school close by also had a distinctive flavor. It complimented my toast and lifting my eyes briefly from the adventure of Archer’s hero, I smiled contentedly and thought, my life is good.



  1. Memories, memories! How nostalgic…Gone are those Gyza days when some of us mistakenly thought life couldn’t get any worse…is there a part 2?

    Comment by Anon — September 25, 2008 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  2. Why is it that I don’t remember a damn thing from my school years, and here you are describing the damn weather. WTF! Wonderful piece my friend, always great to read what your mind wants to share with us.

    Comment by Spoons — September 25, 2008 @ 6:30 pm | Reply

  3. wow:) You write so engagingly, there I was in boarding school with you with a sock made out of grass!
    Bambi, childhood contentment, how precious!
    and all because you bought some tea.
    Buy more tea!!!

    Comment by scotchie — September 25, 2008 @ 7:20 pm | Reply

  4. Tea is tool of the Anti-Christ – http://greensaysgo.blogspot.com/2006/12/ode-to-coffee.html

    Comment by tumwijuke — October 7, 2008 @ 12:20 pm | Reply

  5. you write so well my dear.

    Comment by eddsla — November 10, 2008 @ 8:26 am | Reply

  6. Ooh this is quite a piece…..was thinking about Ms Cutler just yesterday….that school leaves quite a footprint, doesn’t it?

    Comment by kigandaskunk — November 14, 2008 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

  7. wow! i was reading and thinking “doesnt this school ever change???”… ooo the memories!

    Comment by Tandra — November 15, 2008 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

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