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Maymi's Shrimps (I)

I had a little problem with my telecom service provider and therefore paid a visit to their customer care department to have the issue sorted.  Upon arrival at the reception, I was led to a cubicle which had three seats and a desk, to see an officer who was supposed to have answers to all my questions.  


The officer wasn’t seated; a client was.  I greeted, sat next to her, and waited for the officer to return from which ever place he had vacated his seat to.

The lady, dressed in a crisply ironed pink shirt and dark blue trousers, was on the phone with someone – a very serious dialogue or so it seemed.  Looks to me my presence didn’t bother her at all, because she continued with her discussion as though I wasn’t seated.  

The first meaning I put to her statements indicated she had a daughter called Maymi who had been hospitalised.  She mentioned the name of a clinic located somewhere in North Kaneshie and gave the cause of the ailment as “an allergy; a reaction”.  

Then I heard her say, “Ophelia, it was scary ooo.  Maymi couldn’t breathe … it was as though she had asthma.  I wept and wept till I could weep no more”.  She paused for a while, obviously listening to the person at the other end of the line, and responded, “the doctor?  He said shrimps and other seafood could cause that kind of problem.  Ei, I wept oo, I thought I would be hospitalised too.  I was so scared when they put her on the nebulizer ….  Oh!”  

Then she listened for a while and said, “yes, she will be two in August … yes … yes … I moved her to a school in our area but the headmistress had once told me they try as much as possible to use only fish powder for the school food so they do not use shrimp powder or shrimp magi cubes … yes.” 

At that point I was hoping the client service officer wouldn’t come in to cut the story short.  As she spoke, another phone began to ring in her bag.  She hooked the one she was chatting on between her left cheek and shoulder, and began to rummage through her bag in search of the phone whose ring tone was Daddy Lumba’s Yentie Obiaa.  

Holding it directly in front of her, she flipped to see who the caller was. Next, she placed that phone to her right ear and told the caller she would return the call in fifteen minutes.  I was so glad she didn’t cut the allergy-filler line.  I wanted to hear what the end of that story would be.

“… Hello … Ophelia sorry oooo.  It was a call from the office.  So as I was saying, the doctor said it was something she ate.  Immediately, I couldn’t think of who might have given her shrimps or seafood.  After a bit of probing by the doctor, it came to mind that possibly the caterer who prepares our meals could have used shrimps …” 

I guess the caller asked her whether they had been to a party, having mentioned a caterer.  “No.  I haven’t been to a party in a while.  This caterer is the one who prepares my stews and soups for the week …”.  Almost immediately, my heart began to beat faster at the information.  Was this young lady saying she had a caterer who prepared her family’s weekly meals? 

 I was glad she didn’t see the expression on my face.  I am sure she would have had cause to continue speaking outside the room where we were. “Hoh”, she said, “I used to have a contract with a caterer in Labone but when she travelled to the US, I had to look for another one, hence this new person. The Labone one also used to make use of shrimps too so I don’t know what triggered this reaction in Maymi.  This is her first reaction.  I don’t quite know what this is all about.”  

She paused for a while listening to the other speaker and said, “no way!  Are you saying I should, after a hectic week spend all my weekends cooking?  Ei, why bother if my money can work for me?  …. No!  He can’t complain … at all.  No ….  Listen, listen … oh you just listen … I wake up early during the weekdays to bath Maymi and get her to school by half past six.  By a quarter to eight, I have to be in the office.  I don’t get home early … as if you don’t know, sometimes seven is the earliest I arrive at home.  So anytime Ken isn’t in town to pick Maymi from school, I am in a fix.  

“I therefore choose to rest on Saturdays and then go to church on Sundays.  What time would you expect me to go to the market, cook, scrub the bathroom, clean up the house …I can’t!  She punched out her explanation emotionally, as though she wanted to cry. 

 At this point, someone opened the aluminium door leading to where we sat.  I thought the officer who was to attend to us was the opener of the door. Thank Heavens it wasn’t.  “Oh sorry … I am looking for the officer here”, said a polite looking young lady whose T-shirt bore the logo of the company.  I guess she was a member of staff too.  I secretly heaved a sigh, feeling very glad the conversation wasn’t going to be truncated.    

This lady lamented and lamented, trying to justify why she had contracted a caterer to prepare her meals.  Deducing from the conversation, she had bought plastic bowls (freezer bowls), about ten of them.  What she did was, anytime she went to pick up ordered meals, she would send five of the bowls to pick up the order, and then leave the other five with the caterer for the next order.  She had been doing this for the past three years – two years and a half with the caterer who left for the US, and six months with this new caterer who had made use of shrimps in her meals.  

Oh, I have run out of space.  Let me continue with this next week.  Have a great weekend.


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