Down Memory Lane 3-Bathing

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Routine

Forget the bath tubs and the instant showers that have become the norm today.
This article takes you back to the days when there was a distinctive metallic ‘karai’ used for bathing and laundry..
The bathing structure was simple.
The walls were made of timber but the intervening spaces filled with maize stalks from the previous harvest and the door an old blanket.
The floor consisted of a particular type of rock which also served as a tool for scrubbing the soles of the feet.

The young children, would be bathed in a plastic basin.
The kind which your mother would fondly tell you that the basin was a gift during their wedding.
As a result of cracks and breaks over the years, ‘Fundi wa kuchomelea’ had worked on it severally such that you couldn’t figure out the original colour.
Unfortunately kids of nowadays will never know basins would be repaired back then.

After the parents were satisfied that the youngest child was of age, the basin would now be demoted to the laundry section.
Where it would work for a few months before kicking the bucket.(LoL)

Warming water for bathing never qualified as an activity deserving the use of Charcoal or well dried firewood….unless you were an adult.
As such, one was supposed to find his/her own means.
If the maize had been shelled, there were maize cobs or maize stalks post harvest which provided good heat but burnt out fast hence you needed quite a bulky amount to warm a sufuria of water.
On a sunny afternoon, an easier alternative was available.

You would simply fill water into a (preferably black) basin and leave it in open sunlight but watch from a close distance lest one of your brothers got cheeky and made for the bath structure with the fruits of your labour.

Inside the bathing structure, with your clothes safely hung on the sides, you’d confirm whether the soap and bathing net are present.
I don’t know why I never confirmed that before taking my clothes off.

The first few throws of water to your back were always over shoot.
Gradually with each throw, the distance would be reduced till you hit your back squarely accompanied by a specific splashing sound.

Now to the bathing net…..there were all sorts of bathing nets. The most common was a piece of ‘gunia’, followed by that brown rough natural bathing net….the one which seeds are removed from it first and is always a nightmare bathing with it at the start but with time it softens.

Some people I hear, even used and still use undergarments.
Killing two birds with a stone perhaps because it washes you as it washes itself.

In the bathroom structure setting, the soap always fell down.
You’d hear a person curse since the soap would have dirt or soil stick on it hence be forced to wash a soap….quite ironical.
Moreover since the floor wasn’t even, you would be forced to open your eyes to look for it. That’s when your eyes would be stung by the soap already on your face.
No wonder people would leave the bathroom with red eyes.

A friend reminded me how hectic it was cleaning the back area especially between the two scapulae bones, so you’d call your sibling to help you get the job done.

If you always finished the water before fully rinsing off your body like me, you had two choices;

  1. Convince yourself that you will pick up from there the next day as you wipe away the remaining foams with your T-shirt come towel.
  2. But if you were facing imminent inspection from your aunt, you had to go and fetch more water to get the job done.

So in as much as it wasn’t comfortable starting with warm water and finishing with cold water, the second choice it always was for me.
Later on I would console myself by telling anyone who cared to listen that cold water is actually better because it makes you feel fresh.

After the shower, you would rinse the bathing net and clean the karai too and make sure it is flipped upside down and leaning against a wall.
Failure of which you’d earn yourself some pinching in the inner thigh.
You’d then walk around proudly in your clean clothes as the slippers made some sound announcing to everyone that you were now clean.
This was an important announcement because some jobs like adding charcoal to the jiko were preserved for those who were yet to take a bath.

If the sun had not yet set, you would go to a strategic place and start warming yourself by the sunlight.
Not far from you would be your mattress….almost drying following the unfortunate events of the previous night.

I hated those dreams, the kind in which you are out playing with your friends, you feel pressed, run to some hidden place say a bush….then you feel some warm fluid on you.
Suddenly you wake up and realize you aren’t on the field, and you realize the mistake you have made as the fluid trickles to the floor.

Thank you for reading this, do leave a comment. 🙂

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