@DailyNation

LIFE BY LOUIS: Of January blues and chameleons

4 months ago, 11 Jan 16:38

By: Louis Muiruri

Why is January believed to have 47 days? Is it nature’s way of placating us in advance for the hard times? I can’t say for sure, but as a reputable farmer from Matimbei, planting and selling sukuma wiki (kales) and cucumber seemed like the best way to be spared from the January blues. As I bent down to clear the bushes of devil’s snare, I saw a ghastly chameleon with three horns staring back at me. I didn’t flinch but instead wished it away and after a few minutes, it moved ever so slowly like a tired old man. In my younger days, I would have let out a mighty yelp, dropped whatever I was doing and scampered to ‘safety’. I grew up with a morbid fear of chameleons thanks to terrifying myths shared by those around me. One of them was that if a chameleon held on to your hair, you would have to be shaved because it would not let go. CREEPY CRAWLY There’s a time I was at the shamba (farm) with my uncle when a chameleon found its way onto my back and later my neck. I had ignored the creepy crawly sensation thinking it was a twig. I can still remember how mortified I was when I saw it. The jembe (hoe) in my hands landed on the ground with a heavy thud as I jumped up and down like a crazy person screaming for someone to get it off. My uncle was unmoved by my reaction and seemed more interested in analysing the creature. “This is called Chamaelonidae from the Animalia kingdom, phylum Chordata and class Reptilia,” he said, showing off his mastery of biological terminology. After what seemed like ages, he picked up the reptile using a stick and continued to study it as I excused myself and ran back home. FAKE BUYER Ironically, a few years later, I developed an interest in chameleons after a rumour circulated that someone from Europe was buying them for a tidy sum. Although none of us had met the buyer, we trooped into the nearly forest in search of the elusive reptiles. I managed to catch two but since the buyer had not been seen around, we were being advised to keep the reptiles until he returned. I clandestinely perched them on top of a hedge behind the house so that Wa Hellen would not find out and throw a fit. Every morning, I would splash the hedge with water and drop cow dung under it to attract flies and other insects that my new pets could feed on. It took a month of hunting for chameleons and fattening them in our backyards to realise that this was all a hoax. The alleged buyer turned out to be a white man from South Africa visiting his girlfriend’s home nearby. January blues can really be something else in the village. *** Do you have feedback on this story? E-mail: [email protected]
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@DailyNation

LIFE BY LOUIS: Of January blues and chameleons

4 months ago, 11 Jan 16:38

By: Louis Muiruri
Why is January believed to have 47 days? Is it nature’s way of placating us in advance for the hard times? I can’t say for sure, but as a reputable farmer from Matimbei, planting and selling sukuma wiki (kales) and cucumber seemed like the best way to be spared from the January blues. As I bent down to clear the bushes of devil’s snare, I saw a ghastly chameleon with three horns staring back at me. I didn’t flinch but instead wished it away and after a few minutes, it moved ever so slowly like a tired old man. In my younger days, I would have let out a mighty yelp, dropped whatever I was doing and scampered to ‘safety’. I grew up with a morbid fear of chameleons thanks to terrifying myths shared by those around me. One of them was that if a chameleon held on to your hair, you would have to be shaved because it would not let go. CREEPY CRAWLY There’s a time I was at the shamba (farm) with my uncle when a chameleon found its way onto my back and later my neck. I had ignored the creepy crawly sensation thinking it was a twig. I can still remember how mortified I was when I saw it. The jembe (hoe) in my hands landed on the ground with a heavy thud as I jumped up and down like a crazy person screaming for someone to get it off. My uncle was unmoved by my reaction and seemed more interested in analysing the creature. “This is called Chamaelonidae from the Animalia kingdom, phylum Chordata and class Reptilia,” he said, showing off his mastery of biological terminology. After what seemed like ages, he picked up the reptile using a stick and continued to study it as I excused myself and ran back home. FAKE BUYER Ironically, a few years later, I developed an interest in chameleons after a rumour circulated that someone from Europe was buying them for a tidy sum. Although none of us had met the buyer, we trooped into the nearly forest in search of the elusive reptiles. I managed to catch two but since the buyer had not been seen around, we were being advised to keep the reptiles until he returned. I clandestinely perched them on top of a hedge behind the house so that Wa Hellen would not find out and throw a fit. Every morning, I would splash the hedge with water and drop cow dung under it to attract flies and other insects that my new pets could feed on. It took a month of hunting for chameleons and fattening them in our backyards to realise that this was all a hoax. The alleged buyer turned out to be a white man from South Africa visiting his girlfriend’s home nearby. January blues can really be something else in the village. *** Do you have feedback on this story? E-mail: [email protected]
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