The high temperatures of the last few months have been record-breaking. Now, I am one who enjoys the sun immensely. I love waking up to brilliant blue skies and bright days. When I am outdoors with friends or family, I am the one looking for the sun while everyone else is hiding from it. I am content to lie in the sun like a lizard and do not understand people who say they prefer cooler weather. No wonder I can never see myself living in the West. How do you deal with freezing days that end at 4pm? No thank you!
However... even with my love for the sun, I have put my hands up in surrender. I knew things were serious when I first began contemplating taking cold showers. Me, who sticks to hot showers even in Mombasa – in December no less! The idea to have a cold, refreshing shower came to me a couple of Fridays ago when I found myself stuck in two different traffic jams in the space of about three hours. It was so hot that I even flagged down one of those mobile ice cream guys and parted with money in exchange for a cold, sweet treat. Note to self: next time stick to water; it's way more effective.
As we crawled along, I could feel the sweat trickling down my back and face and by the time I got home, I was feeling totally wrinkled and dehydrated. My brain told me this was the day I was going to stand under a cold shower, and I even made an announcement to no one in particular. I think I was trying to convince myself that it was actually going to happen.
Let's just say I never got past washing my face... in the sink. I decided to do a test run first so that I would be mentally and physically adjusted to the cold water, but it didn't work. By the time I was rinsing my face, I knew the cold shower wasn't going to happen – not that day and very likely not this century.
You see, when I closed the chapter of cold showers at the end of my boarding school days, I believed they were well and truly behind me. No one could ever make me have a cold shower again, I thought. And then the Government threw a spanner in the works and sent us off to boot camp. As fate would have it, we, the girls, ended up in a chilly location where of course, there was no such thing as hot water.
In fact, the water there was colder than anything I have ever experienced in my life. If you have ever come in contact with water that has sat through the night in a bucket on concrete in wintry climates, then you know that by morning, it is just one degree from becoming a block of ice. And that is what we used to bathe in the sub-zero temperatures just before dawn.
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We had to 'chota' the water the night before because there just wasn't time in the morning and besides, the water supply was so iffy that it was possible to end up with none in the morning, when it was needed.
I think it was after those three and a half months of boot camp that I finally and irrevocably turned my back on cold showers. I locked that door and threw away the key for good. No wonder I haven't been able to have one when the occasion calls for it, like that hot, sticky Friday two weeks ago.
Still, high school and boot camp weren't all bad – that is where I learnt some useful skills, like how to have bucket baths; very important when you live in a city where the water supply is moody. The need for good hygiene also demanded that we learn how to make the most use out of the least amount of water. And of course, I learnt the need to store, store, store! And like a good mother I have dutifully passed these skills down to my young ones – who knows where they might end up once they leave my house?
As the hot weather shows little sign of leaving us, I have found a happy compromise in lukewarm, which for me takes the edge off the sharp, cruel memories of my younger days...