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I like food.

I love fish.

I can describe with relish how you go about it,no chopstics,no knives,forks and spoons.

You just need the dextrity of your cute fingers.

A friend told me that he has stopped drinking river or lake water,because of the disgusting things that the fish do in there.

But I love my fish!

Truth is, you haven’t finished eating your fish until you have eaten the head.

But you can’t enjoy eating the head if you treat it like a hoof;inedible and disposable.

I treat my fish like you would treat your first date; respectfully, appreciatively and curiously –which, ideally, is how you should treat every
date.

I squeeze lemon all over it then I start with the midsection.

I divorce the meat from the flesh,
and I put it away.

I eat the tail because it’s crunchy when deep-fried.

When I’m done with one side, I slowly and delicately turn it over,careful not to break its spine in the process.

Then I do the same to the new side until all the meat is scrapped clean off the bones.

Until the fish looks like it has been sorely surviving on a diet of water
and hence has lost all its weight and looks like an anorexic fish on some fish fashion magazine.

A fish ready to step on the catwalk (pun?); gaunt and pale.

And the head is the best part.

The head is delicate.

The head is the zenith,saved for last.
You got to treat the head with respect.

I should have mentioned that before you eat your fish you have to look at its mouth.

If your fish has its mouth closed,send it back.

If they say they only have fish with its mouth closed, ask for tea and bread.

Or leave.

A fish that is brought to your plate with its mouth clammed together, like it died humming a tune, is fishy.

I can explain why but I’m already in 370 words deep in this rambling and need to get to the heart (or head) of this post already.

Infact,this story is about how not to eat a fish.

Reason?

After all that bragging about how I’m an expert on eating fish,I got chocked by a fishbone.

If I was a white man, my
face would have gone pink from just writing down those words.

It’s an oxymoron, that statement, an
abhorrence even because a fishbone sending a Luo-trained Kikuyu fish eater to a hospital is akin to a Luhya pushing away his tea saying, “ Hapana, hii chai ni moto sana.”

I’m mortified. By this sheer accumullation of bad luck to the point of a mere small fishbone trying to extinguish my dear life!

So Tuesday, 6pm, I’m working deliciously on this fried fish when I feel a sharp pain as a bone grazes my throat.

I do what I have done for tens of years; take a bigger chunk of ugali(unlivened maize meal cake) and chase the bone with it, only
this time the ugali pushes the bastard bone right into my throat.

The pain!

Ooh my! Are grown up men supposed to wail loudly when they become so desperate during their final moments?

I send in another contingent of ugali.

Nothing doing.

Swallowing becomes a problem.

So I promptly stop being a
an expert fish eater about it and be a human being about it by driving myself to my Nearest Hospital’s Emergency department.

There – after skipping the queue –
I’m seen by, yes, you guessed it, a male Luo nurse called Abondo.

Cool chap.

Very calm.

His all-white uniform makes him look like a younger version of Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty, which makes Abondo almighty.

“What’s wrong?” He asks as he checks my blood pressure.

“Got choked by a bone.” I say, afraid to mention the word “fish”.

“What kind?” He asks while scribbling things on a pad.

“Uhm, a shishsd bone,” I mumble.

“Come again?”

“Fish bone,” I look away.

There is a pregnant silence in the room as he continues writing something.

I’m sure he wants to laugh out loud.

I’m sure he wants to make fun of me.
I’m sure he wants to look at me and say,“Fish bone? Wouldn’t it have been easier to down it in a glass of water?”

But he is a professional first then a Luo second.

“Don’t worry, we get that a lot here,” he says instead.

“Yes, but not from Luos! You get it from Merus,Tesos, Masais, Kikuyu’s and Luhyas!”

“Ahem, not Luhyas,” He mumbles. OK, he doesn’t say that.

I’m sent inside to see a doctor – a guy with a huge scraggly beard that covers his whole face.

A beard,so long and alive, that I could hear it breath.

He’s Muslim,which means I can’t poke fun at him even though
I’m dying to.

Muslims don’t take jokes that easily,

But I can’t get over that beard,his beard, man.

It’s indomitable, it’s unapologetic, and it says
“This is me, live with it.”

It reminds me of a Bushbaby’s tail.

Dr Bushbaby sends me to the X-Ray department where a picture of my
throat is taken in all angles.

Here is a. truth: the
Xray is the only machine that equalizes everyone.

We – or our insides- all look ugly in
black and white.

All of us.

It doesn’t matter if you smell good or are just from the salon.

All our insides look the same.

The Polaroid shots of my throat look like a cave in Hells Gate.

Twenty minutes later, I shamefully carry these pictures back to the doctor who sticks them up in
that thingamajig with background light and observes them.

I meekly peer from over his
shoulder and past his forest of a beard.

We see the bastard in my throat; it’s gnarled and ugly.

“You have two options,” says Dr. Bushbaby turning to face me. “I could send you back home, but you have to come back here at 5am to be
admitted for an endoscopy at 8am.

Or, I could admit you now and you wait for your procedure in the morning.”

I stare at his beard as I, well, chew on this.

“What would you do, Doc?” I ask.
“I would spend the night here.”

“Mmm…and what would your beard do?” I want to ask him.

I opt to book myself in.

A chirpy nurse called Songole comes and draws blood from my arms.

Then she takes asks me the normal questions; Any medication you are on
currently? (Apart from weed, you mean?);

Allergies? (Yes, fools, sycophants and Tequila).

Then she takes an inventory of what I have;wallet, money, cards, jewellery, clothing (she found it odd that I didn’t have underwear on, I
found it odd that she thought I had time to wear one when I was choking), shoes, phone, ring

(“Any navel rings?” she jokes at some point)

She later brings a wheelchair and says, OK lets go and I say, no, I will walk, I don’t want to meet
someone I know because people have a way of spreading rumours in this town about seeing you on your deathbed in a “wheel chair”..

My residence for the night is St George’s Ward, bed number 22.

We are two in the room,separated by a small wardrobe and curtains.

I have a small bed, blue sheets and a chair.

There is a matchbox size screen hanging from a wall which Songole calls a Television set.

I didn’t argue.

This feels all too familiar.

Last year I was admitted in Aga Khan
for three days; oesophageal corrosion, caused by
tequila.

Nowadays I see a bottle of Tequila,and out of respect, I
leave the room.

The very cheerful Songole hands me over to a male nurse –Ndegwa – and I feel a bit heartbroken because she has been a hoot.

Ndegwa is young, maybe 26.

Since he’s balding he shaves close to the skull.

“Look, Songole treated me real good, the bar is high for you, mate,” I joke and that breaks the ice because he
chuckles and brings out a cold beer.

OK, he didn’t bring out a beer, but he’s cool; laid back just like all balding folk should be.

He hands me my hospital regalia;
that gown that is closed in the front and open in the back, the one the leaves your butt out in the
cold?

He also hands me a gown, a TV remote control, some towels and a pair of blue shorts so big two people can fit in them.

These shorts had the words “South Wing” emblazoned across
them, which I guess is to deter folk like Mtu Fulani from carrying them home ’’accidentally.’’

Yes, I see someone stealing those blue shorts to hang out in them at the beach in coasto, or at
Blankets and Wine.

Ndegwa hangs this board written “Nil By Mouth” over my bed. As our house doctor (or is it Resident
Doctor?) Dr. Karimi will tell you, it means that nobody should dare bring food to the patient; the patient should be left to starve to death.

Thankfully, I didn’t want food because nothing was passing down my throat.

We chew some fat with Ndegwa then he leaves to deliver more shorts to other unsuspecting patients.

I change in my hip new Boyz to Men shorts written South Wing (that’s a label) and slip into bed.

I want to switch on the TV and watch
something but I’m afraid it will wake up the guy in the next room.

It’s 10p.m.

It gets still.

By midnight I’m still awake.

My roomie is silent for the most part, but once in a while he will moan
softly, or cough (a grotesque cough that seems to scratch his chest with large claws).

I wonder who he is, how old he is, what’s wrong with him…
I wonder what his name is.

When I was admitted in Aga Khan last year with Tequiloisis, I made
friends with the chap in the next bed; a boisterous professor who was a complete clown, made hospitalization bearable.

Which makes you think about private rooms in hospitals where you
pay more to be alone.

I wouldn’t want to be alone
when I’m sick, I’d feel like a leper, banished from the general population, cast away to die alone.

Sharing a room is warm, you always feel like your suffering isn’t isolated.

Hell, sometimes, when you see other patients, you feel lucky that you
only have a fish bone in your throat because some people have more than bones in their throats; some have cancer in their throats.

Some don’t even have throats.

At 1am – after Twitter starts feeling like walking through a graveyard at midnight – I climb out of bed and go to the nurse’s station where I find a
nurse writing something on a pad.

Nurses are always writing something on a pad.

She is pleasant.

All the nurses who attended to me
during my stay were all pleasant -and it wasn’t because I was looking funky in my South Wing shorts.

Talking of nurses.

Television propagates this image that nurses are sexy and naughty.

And almost every second guy who called me when I was in hospital last year (with exception of my
brother-in-law) asked me; “So, is some sexy nurse with a stethoscope listening to your heart beat?”

And it pained me because I realised I was in the wrong ward, or maybe the wrong hospital.

Thing is, you will see beautiful nurses, pretty nurses, lovely nurses, gorgeous nurses, but you
will never see a sexy nurse.

Those ones were last spotted in ER many years ago.

Anyway, I tell the nurse manning the night desk that I’m bored and ask her if there is a private nurses and doctors party going on in Wing B I
can crush.

She chuckles politely because she is
busy and knows I have potential to waste her time.

So I ask for reading material and guess what she asks me. And bang, this is one of the the reasons This Hospital impressed me.

She asks me if I would like a copy of GQ!

Would I like a copy of GQ!?

I mean, which hospital keeps a
copy of GQ?!

I say, hell yeah, if you have it!

She hands me a May 2011 Issue of GQ, the one with Prince Harry on the cover; Walking with the
Wounded.

This nurse saw my hip South Wing
shorts and thought immediately, GQ!

Now that is service!

The magazine is a 280page beauty
which I engaged me until the small hours of the morning before I conk out.

I dreamt.

I dreamt of my high school because,
perhaps, my hospital room reminded me of my fourth form room in high school; the small bed,the wardrobe.

I was in a dorm called Bowers 2,great dorm.

In high school there was always a
bell that went off at around 5am I think.

It spelled morning preps.

It was a loud, ugly gong that
went on and on, relentlessly yanking us from our dreams.

It pierced the cold night dawn like a
scalpel.

And you had to be up and out of the
dorm in 15mins of a prefect (we called the cops)came in yanking your blankets off and taking you
name down for punishment later.

I hated that bell.

In my sleep, I hear that gong; spookily clear and unmistakable even after 20yrs since I last heard
it.

I wake up with a start expecting to hear metallic boxes slamming shut as boys got ready to rush to preps but what I see, instead, is a
trolley screeching on the floor.

It’s the catering staff, delivering breakfast.

Have you noticed that all hospital catering staff wears uniforms that look like Kayamba Africa’s
uniform?

No, seriously, those corny shirts with
patterns and all that seem to say you are proud to be an African.

If you have to prove your
Africanese by wearing a shirt then you aren’t African enough because being African is bigger than fabric and if it has to be in fabric then it’s
woven in your DNA strand.

I wonder who copied who, me think it’s Kayamba Africa because most
guys who sing well always have a lousy taste in shirts…I mean, look at Kidum, easily one of the best artists we have seen in Kenya in a long time;a voice of a god and yet he wears these hideously tight designer tshirts that asphyxiate his beer
belly.

“Can I have bacon, buttered toast and some Spanish omelette please? No chilli.” I joke with Kayamba who smile and say that, I I’m not meant
to be fed.

“Hey, come on, I’m sure one crisp
strand of bacon won’t kill me,” I joke but he think I’m serious and so says,

“No, really, I can’t doctor’s orders.”

Who listens to doctors anymore
when there is Google?

The ENT consulting doctor is a no show at 8am.

At 10am he isn’t showed up either.

I’m getting real hot under the collar now.

At 10:30am I ask for a nurse and this guy nurse comes and – with
a small bow – tells me that there was a miscommunication and that the doctor is on his way.

At 11.30am he hasn’t showed up, so I call back the nurse and use words like “unacceptable”, “laxity”, “highly
unprofessional”, “explanation” and “my mommy.”

He promises that I will be in theatre in an hour.

Do you swear, man? I ask him and he smiles and says he promises.

I’m hungry and pissed by this
time and I plan to tell the doctor what I think of him.

I really do.

At 12.15pm an orderly comes to
pick me up in a wheelchair, I could have walked if I didn’t have on those South Wing shorts that were tripping my feet.

So, he pushes me out and this cat almost takes off my toe in a ramp because, as we go down a ramp, he
decides to push me in reverse to avoid the wheelchair pulling him down the ramp.

And this genius strategy goes all wrong when the damn thing starts veering out of control, spinning and
tumbling down haphazardly.

I was going to die hutling down on a flowerbed, not in theatre!

Luckily some passerby helped him control it and we had a good laugh about that when I asked the orderly,
“Chief, Kwani you’re also on Nil By Mouth?”

When the doctor walks in my anger evaporates because he is too charming; he’s apologizing
profusely, he’s playfully punching me on the shoulder, he’s cracking fish jokes, he’s dramatically explaining how he’s going to go in down my throat with modern technology and get the sucker out.

He’s a sport.

Plus he’s aged and I don’t know how to give him a dressing down.

So I suck it in and wince as he punches me on the shoulder.

I feel like a tosser succumbing to his
charms like that.

I’m getting soft.

By the way, I’m on the 2,728th word so I’m going to rush through this last part because this post has ran on for too long and I’m sure the Luhya
readers have to go take tea,and Kikuyus their Githeri,wish I had stuck to Githeri last night!.

Wasonga, hang in there old boy.

We are nearly there.

Endoscopy is when they shaft your throat using this long tube that looks like something off a sci-fi movie.

But first, they knock you out cold by
hitting you over the head with a club.
Yes,technology rocks.

The doctor then asked me to
count from 10 and I remember telling him, “Doc, I’ve done this before, I’m an Elephant, it’s hard to
put me down. How about I start counting from 20 so that I don’t emba…embarras…embaaa….”

And I was out like a candle in the rain.

Bang, long story short, he pulled it out and gave me the bone in a jar as a memento.

I had the sense to take a picture of it and upload it here but I didn’t because – to quote The Shy Narcissist in her latest post – “it’s not because I have sensibilities but because you probably do too,that we can understand each other.”

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts®

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts®

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts®

Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts®

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