Yesterday, as I wandered up to the dukas by the road to buy a litre of fresh cow’s milk in a thin polythene bag, I met a small boy on a large bike….
“Hellow breetish”, said the small boy.
“Hello Mkenya”, I replied neutrally. I was in a wry mood, which might go some way to explain what happened next.
I looked at the boy who was doing a good job of balancing a large, Chinese, sit-up-and-beg style bike which looked considerably older than the boy himself. He was speaking again:
“Weell you give me ten bob?”.
Somehow I had managed to forget that this happens. I gave a silent mental sigh and searched for appropriate words. None came. I fell back on Douglas Adams; I started, in a normal conversational voice, to say “Go stick your head in a pig”, but it didn’t come out that way.
“Go stick your head…”
While I was speaking I saw that the boy was distracted from the task of steering his velosipede and was heading directly for one of the large heavy stone blocks that they quarrey from the ground here to build houses. His front wheel struck the stone and — though he wasn’t going very fast, neither was he very heavy — started to mount it.
“… in a brick”. Yeah, I know it doesn’t make sense. Neither does the Douglas Adams version, but I wanted to say somthing cutting without being overtly offensive, and this is the way it came out.
The boy stared at me in disbelief, possibly at my conversational obtuseness or, more likely, at his having driven his dad’s bike up onto a big rock. Or maybe he was still waiting to see if I would give him a cash handout.
“That’s god”, I said, as he continued to stare at me, “punnishing you for being greedy”.