no soaking dishes at night!

Yep – that’s my Resolution for 2009.

No, I don’t work in a kitchen somewhere in Hamburg.

The foundation is built on a tactic we used as children. The two household chores I hated the most were ironing clothes and washing the dishes – in that order. Mopping the floor was a bit of a strain on the back but I have always had a pathological dislike for dust (I still love my Kampala, but I would love it more if it were dust-free!). Washing clothes became easy after I got to secondary school because from that time onwards I had people under me in age or status to whom the task fell with or without menace. Slashing grass was cool because I would enter into an imaginary world where I was a Samurai and … don’t get me started. Basically, nothing got close to the irritation of dish-washing and the tedium of ironing.

I hate ironing to this day simply because it appears so unnecessary and dangerous. Even thinking of a flat iron conjures up images of bits of skin peeling, not to mention stories I read of torture chambers that were fitted with these gadgets and an uncontrolled supply of electricity. In my current circumstances, this is one of the major downsides of being a part-time bachelor, and it’s all I can do not to stop immigrant-looking people in the street and offer them money to iron a pile of laundry accumulated over a couple of weeks.

Washing dishes comes a close second – and for a number of reasons too:

a) the annoyance that came with bending over every so often to fill a small receptacle with water from a twenty-litre jerrycan (this was Obote II, where there was NO water in any tap in Kampala outside of State House and close affiliates – speak out now if you had tap water then so we know where your bread was butterred…there was no butter either, except for the once-every-nine-months pack of Kenya Creameries Corporation butter you got to taste if you visited so-and-so whose aunt visited Nairobi oba when?).

b) the irritation of water dripping down the sink front and splashing in small patters onto one’s feet.

c) the dank darkness of the kitchen at night, with the threat of those damn rats kicking off another pantry party and their own edition of the Fast and the Furry right over your barefoot and now wet with dishwater feet.

and d) the discomfort that came with filling oneself up with the staple of those days then having to go through the above conjoined with the need to gather dishes, throw the scraps out, then start clattering about while everybody else either watched your favourite programme (a repeat that you had all watched sixteen times already but hey, that’s what was on), or went to bed.

So we created this excuse of “soaking the dishes”. After dinner, if it was your turn to do the dishes, you would a) quickly gather up all the crockery, b) toss the scraps into the bin, c) arrange the dishes carefully in the kataasa (washing basin inserted into the kitchen sink), d) then fill that up with water, and then e) be the first person to settle in front of the small tv, which was amazing because everyone else had a headstart on you since all they did after dinner was: a) walk to the TV.

“I’ve soaked them,” was the confident reply to Mummon and I can’t remember who came up with that one.

Anyway, the night normally ended with everyone blacked out in front of the TV or slumped somewhere en route to bed, and if you were lucky then Mummon or some temporary maid would do the dishes in the morning or you got to do them under more pleasant circumstances since the rats were sufferring their hangovers quietly.

Even lunch dishes got soaked, because while you were soaking the dishes you could not be assigned any other duties. If you became zealous and did the dishes within fifteen minutes of coining the assignment then you became free to help out with cleaning up one of the rooms the some little brother was taking forever to get to.

And then I worked out ways of soaking other stuff as well – when sweeping the paths at secondary school one could take a break to “let the dust settle”; before mopping the floor it was wise to soak it first with a soap and water mix “so that sticky stuff would be scraped off easier”; before sitting down to do homework I sharpened all my pencils and ‘organised’ my reading space, but situated in a position that allowed me viewing access to the TV.

But of course there was no soaking the ironing.

Procrastination. Whatever definition the experts give it, procrastination is a comforting exercise because it relies on a false sense of rationality. My definition of procrastination is not going to see the doctor when you need to because you are not feeling well enough to leave the house.

It’s the scourge of the efficient man and little boys like my nephew who repeatedly fall into the crisis of having so much fun playing a run-about game in the compound that when the susu is finally really coming, he is too far away from the toilet and ends up collapsing in a wet, embarrassed heap that causes the game to end for everybody.

Well, this year I am going to susu the minute I feel the first itch.

No more soaking trousers…I mean dishes.

Anything that needs to get done gets done the minute it starts needing to get done.

Starting with clicking Publish now.

But after a quick spell check – no need to be stupid, in case I spend the rest of my adulthood in the toilet suspecting susu…

One thought on “no soaking dishes at night!

  1. hey … There is plenty more soakng that went on in school!
    a. Water soaked … As opposed to the deep fried. Both worked well with groot and or chicken curry.
    b. The guava tree work outs in the great out doors in Africa, that ‘heated’ the jerrycans of water before we showered.
    C. The timely strolls to next door mess just when the median Englander would be at the door to avoid being late and harassed by the over zealous prefects.


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