Since time immemorial, there has always been bad blood between boys and water. Maybe more of an allergy. A case of love turned sour? I don’t know.
You are one of those legends who is well known for having an ‘allergic’ reaction to water. The only time you come into contact with water is when you are having a glass of the same, during Christmas or maybe when travelling. Your ways are known and soon enough, a committee of experts is formed comprising of your mother and father. If you happen to have an elder sister, she is appointed to the committee as an honorary member.
The committee will sit, analyse the main agenda which is you and taking a bath then immediately make a recommendation that you will be taking a bath on a daily basis. Enforcement of this recommendation is delegated to your elder sister with full powers to take any necessary measures if and when you resist. In circumstances where you do not have an elder sister, the responsibility falls on your mother. All these happens without your knowledge.
Fast forward to the next day, everything goes on well. In the evening while taking supper, your Mum starts by asking you whether you have taken a bath or better still, when is the last time you took a bath. You freeze, you’re startled. Before you even answer the question, complaints start flying of how you are as dirty as a mole and that you even have a ‘top layer.’ The man of the house is quiet. He does not utter a word. Surprisingly, he is not amused. He then clears his throat and makes a pronouncement that bath time will be everyday at any time between 3:00 – 4:00p.m with effect from the next day. In addition, your mother or elder sister will ensure that the same happens and that is final with no avenue for appeal.
At the set time, you are well prepared. Unknown to you, your mother or elder sister has a totally different plan. She has 2 basins of water; you know those metallic basins, a bar of soap, a piece of sisal sack cut from an old sack which is well burnt at the edges and a scrubbing stone. The venue is outside the house. She immediately commands you to strip and dip your feet in the basin.
A generous amount of soap is applied on the piece of sack, some water sprinkled on you before some serious scrubbing commences from your head. At this point, you close your eyes to prevent water from getting into them as you hold on to her for support.
Attention to detail is key; all parts on the head and the face are scrubbed including behind the ears and the neck. At this point, you are rinsed with the water from the 2nd basin. Step one complete. In your stubbornness, you try to resist. A hot slap lands on you. An echo of the slap is heard. The hand that slaps you is full of foam from the soap and the foam now traces on your cheeks.
Onto the next step. From the neck downwards. The same piece of sisal sack is used to do some thorough scrubbing on your body. Remember the burned edges, they are causing some untold pain as they scrub on you.
Ever heard that the devil is always in the detail? Well at this unfortunate time, a group of your friends stroll to your home to look for you as it is your usual play time. Mind you, this is in the village where there are no gates, anyone can just come into your homestead. Upon arrival, your mother or elder sister decides to add salt to injury by welcoming them with remarks of how you never bathe. Your friends just stand there and watch as the ‘top layer’ is being scrapped off your skin.
By now, you are very embarrassed but you just have to bear with the condition as there is nothing much you can do. From the group of your friends is that girl you have been crushing on. She is here watching as you are being scrubbed. There is that one boy whom you hate. He also hates you but since your other friends at his friends you just have to put up with him. You are worried that he may decide to spill the beans to everyone at school once you open. You hate him, you hate your mother or sister and you hate yourself. Eventually, you resign to fate as there isn’t much that you can do.
Step three, the feet. This is where the long bristled brush and scrubbing stone come in. They are meant to even those cracked heels. The cracks are so huge that a 5 shillings coin; the big hexagonal one can fit in. By the time this exercise is over, the feet are as smooth as butter. Your whole body is now well rinsed. Towels are rare. An article of the clothing you had on acts as the towel.
The place just a few steps from the bathing point acts as the dressing area where you are adorned in clean clad. Petroleum jelly is also rare and so, some KIMBO or KASUKU cooking fat is applied on your face, hands and legs. Whoa, that’s a whole make over. Your friends start commenting on how you look great and fresh while in actual sense, they are mocking you. Everyone comments how you look nice and they now want to hug you or even touch you.
This now becomes your daily routine until a time when the same committee is satisfied that you can now do it on your own. Anyway, as they say, cleanliness is next to godliness.