It was an unusually hot day for June even though It was supposed to be the cold season. As the bus pulled into the last station where she had to get off, she could feel sweat running down the small of her back. The bus was crowded as usual with school children and some where standing. She could not wait to get some air and quiet away from the loud chatter. She was sitting at the back row which meant that would have to wait for most of the children to embark before she could. Every afternoon she got off at the water tower in Chelston. It was far from her school and she needed to take two separate buses to get home. She was tired. It had been a long day. She had been on rotate duty at school today to cut the grass. The grass was long and your hands ached from holding the sickle. The blade was usually blunt and you really had to hack away at the grass. She had been happy to get on the bus and go home.
The water tower was so large that it gave much needed shelter from the sun to the vendors who sold their products to people come to and from the buses. Finally when she got out it was slightly cooler outside. She walked to a vendor who was selling iceblocks and got an orange flavoured one. She put it to her forehead and sighed in pleasure. It had been hot and stuffy in that bus.
The walk home would take her twenty minutes. Usually she walked down through the streets and rounded into Acacia Avenue where she lived. She loved that walk. Acacia avenue got its name from all the acacia trees that lined the street on either side. It was wonderful to see when the trees where in bloom. On her walk home, she usually passed Able’s house. She had a serious crush on Abel. He was much older than her and went to university. He was usually seated outside with his brothers most afternoons and they watched people walk past. They usually saw her walk past and would greet her. Her heart skipped every time Abel smiled at her. She wondered if they would be there this afternoon.
Because she was so tired today, so she decided to take the short cut. Most people in the neighbourhood did not know that there was a short cut leading from the main road. It was she thought not particularly safe for a girl to walk on that path alone, and her parents did not really want her to use it. But she sometimes did and she got home quicker. The path had high grass. It passed through many people’s back yards and ended up at Ba Angela’s place. It was not ideal because to get to Acacia Avenue from the path, you had to go through Ba Angela’s place. Ba Angela did not really mind people walking through her yard from the path to get to Acacia Avenue. If you were unlucky though, she would be sitting in her yard and she would want to have a conversation with you.
Everyone knew that Ba Angela was bat shit crazy. She kept chickens, a goat and a dog with one eye. They all stared at you when you went by and sometimes the goat would give a gentle nudge on the backside. Sometimes it was all worth it just to cut ten minutes off the walk.
Ba Angela was a widow and she had children who did not live with her anymore. She was thin, wore worn out kitenge’s and she usually kept to herself. But she was kind and she could make the best tumbuwa’s and buns on the street, which she sold to neighbours.
She walked through the path safely and entered Ba Angela’s yard. She unhooked the scant homemade gate, made from wood and pieces of wire. She supposed it was to keep the animals in. She looked up and saw that Ba Angela was in the yard today. She was throwing crushed maize at her chickens.
“Hello. How are you Ba Angela?”
“Eh hello my child. I am fine. How was school?”
“It was fine. We had to cut grass today. I am very tired.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
She stopped throwing the maize and turned to her, giving her a warm smile.
“I have caught the best piece of meat you can have. Do you want to try some?”
When Ba Angela said she had meat, it was usually a rodent or some feral animal she had caught. She braced herself. This would not be good. She just wanted to get home and did not feel like being experimental today.
“Yes, Ba Angela, I will try some.”
“Come and see, it is a beauty.”
The beauty turned out to be a bat. The woman had caught a bat. Surely, she would not eat that. It had been chargrilled on the mbaula and it looked very black. Her stomach turned.
“Do you want to try some? I have not had a bat for a very long time. It is like nothing you have eaten before.”
The woman had an abundance of animals she could eat. It just did not make sense that she always chose to eat rodents.
“No, thank you. I had peanuts and an ice block. I am fine”
“Oh, come now child. Look it is still fresh and I will just break off a wing for you.”
If anything, the rudest thing was to turn down food someone has offered you. So, gingerly I took the wing and began to chew. Ba Angela looked at her with animated eyes, smiling broadly revealing her missing teeth.
The wing was crunchy and tasted like a piece of burned chicken breast. She swallowed it quickly and smiled, almost convincingly she thought.
“That was great. Very different. I have never had a bat before, thank you.”
“Good. I am glad you like it. We used to eat these as children. We would go out and hunt them at night and there would be thousands flying around where I grew up. delicious” she took a huge chunk from the belly. There was not much meat on it and she just could not understand it. She watched her chew and smile in delight.
“Very good meat. Good for you too.”
“Yes. I must get home now. Thank you.”
“Already? Do you want to feed the chickens with me? I have not had much company today. Not many people buy from me during the week.”
There was no way she was going to eat any more of that bat. She had to get away.
“My mother is waiting I have to help her cook. I am already late.”
“Ok. Say hello to your parents for me. Come and visit me soon.”
She liked the woman, even admired her for making it on her own. But she could not stand to eat anymore of her weird choices of meat.
She hurried to the front of the house and out of the gate. She really needed some water.