When we were kids, my village best friend… yes, monogamy is unnatural; I had a separate city best friend. My village best friend and I used to go digging for ant queens. An ant queen is a lobe of fat attached to an ant head. It is unbelievably tasty. Like most things that were unbelievably tasty when we were kids, it does look rather disgusting. You sprinkle salt on it, wrap it in a bit of banana leaf, and bury it in warm to hot ash for a few minutes. It melts to a sort of salty mucus-like thing; like what we used to turn gummy bears into by rubbing them in the palm with the back of a bic pen. Yeah. Now imagine the gummy bear was cream in colour. Long story short: it looks like mucus. It tastes like mucus. But, it is not mucus which meant we could eat it without getting slapped by the adults. I loved eating ant queens, also known as Namunswa. The term later came to refer also to pedophiles specialising in incest. The ant queen is said to feed on ants; which technically are also its offspring. So somebody once had the bright idea of defending the fact that he defiled his own kids by pleading: Namunswa alya ku nswa zee. Where am I going with all this? Nowhere. I just thought I would disgust you.
But the thought came to me because of this story in the Daily Monitor reporting that a six year old accidentally killed his sister while hunting an edible rat. People eat rats? Yes, people even Instagram pictures of roasted rabbits. I have fond memories of eating namunswa, so I am not judging here, but let us admit it: rabbits are rats.
When my best friend and I went digging up anthills, we executed with a certain kind of division of labour. She, more handy with a hand hoe, because she lived in the village, used to do the digging. I used to provide the commentary that oiled the process. Leaning against the handle of my hoe, I would paint her scenarios of all the things that could go wrong while we are at it. “A huge hissing snake jumps out of the hole to your left!” “Becca finds us!”
Becca is my big sister. She really hated that I ate namunswa and has incredible follow through on her convictions. She swore she would catch us digging for one and shove my hand into the anthill. An anthill, despite it’s name, is more permanently a home for termites. Ants live there for about two weeks a year. All year long, termites live there instead. Anthill termites are like a science experiment on ants, gone wrong. They are ugly, ferocious, little beasts that breed in the millions. Once a termite bites into an intruder, it will die before it lets go. Seriously. We used to trap
termites too. By throwing our skirts and blouses onto the anthill. Once the termites bite in, you can take the cloth home and snack on them for days. They will not let go. Even though to snack on one, is to separate the torso sticking out on one side of the cloth from the head on the other side, they will not let go. In fact, you will need to eat the torso first while you wait for the head to die.
|The big guy is the termite|
So in my imagination, the worst that could happen was Becca catching us and proceeding to use my hand as a termite trap. I never imagined my best friend accidentally killing me. This is so very sad.