A 'trashy' tale

Have you ever been in a situation when you wished you could curl up and die? From sheer embarrassment? 

Of course you have! That's probably one of the things you've blogged about as well. No, I'm not judging you. I'm just saying that it's more common than you think.

Way back in my teen years ( Ha, thought I'd say how many years ago?), I was the unwitting victim of just such a scenario. My family had just moved to Kenya and to the incredibly chilly city of Nairobi. My sister and I were busy 'ooh-ing' and 'aah-ing' our way through the different rooms of our home, which didn't sport fans or a radiator. The whole aspect of being in a new city, a new country, heck a new continent, was so darned appealing! 

As we were busy settling into the new home, a couple of days later, my mother decided to send me on an errand. She wasn't sure what the trash disposal practice was in our apartment and decided it would be best to check with the security staff manning the gates. So, trash bag in hand, off I skipped to the large iron gates which protected us from the world outside. As I got there, the burly security guards stood up and asked me in Swahili what I wanted. I didn't know the language but I could gauge what he was asking.

For a second I was at a loss, as I didn't know what the Swahili word for 'trash' was. Then, a brainwave hit me and I pointed to the bag in my hand and said 'Garbage'. They looked at me suspiciously and then at each other. One fellow shook his head while the other stepped forward and said, 'Gabbage'? I nodded vigorously, a huge smile on my face. Then, with a curt nod he motioned for me to follow him. He stepped out of the gates. 

Okay, I know I am not supposed to go anywhere with strangers, but this was the security guard, right?  So, throwing caution and a teeny bit of fear to the winds, I waltzed out the gate. I assumed the trash bins would be right outside. To my surprise, he was walking ahead and signaled that I should follow. This time, I did pause for a second. What was I doing, exactly? Where was I going? Then, tightening my grip on the garbage bag (which was a squishy mess of kitchen refuse) I tagged behind him, keeping a distance of two feet between us.


Photo Credit: Stuart Miles
He walked for about a quarter of a mile and by now, my legs and my mind felt very uneasy. Next thing I know, we were entering a vegetable stall, off the main road. The hefty guard beckoned me closer and with a smile that threatened to split his face open, he held out something for me.

A bright, fresh, green, leafy cabbage!

My jaw dropped and I wasn't sure if I should cry or crawl into a cave. Blushing a bright shade of crimson, I looked around for help. A kindly soul saw that I didn't know the language and offered to help translate. After conferring with him, I waited as he turned and spoke in rapid Swahili to the guard. The guard looked at me, at the bag in my hand and at the cabbage in his own.

Then, relief washed over me as he threw his head back and laughed, showing his pearly whites. Wiping tears from his eyes, he said, 'Oh, you mean "Taka-taka" '. 

Well, at least someone was laughing.


{Word count: 597}

Note: Taka-Taka is Trash in Swahili
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Linking this up with the Yeah Write Weekly Writing Challenge # 162

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