Spilt Milk 

Spilt Milk

Since I donít have a refrigerator, I donít buy things like milk very often. But, given the erratic milk supplies in Zimbabwe of late, perhaps thatís not such a bad thing. Ever since the ďfarm invasions,Ē the national cattle herd has been dwindling, and the countryís dairies are struggling. So, since I donít have anywhere to store it anyway, at least Iím spared the frustration of wanting something I canít find. The same would go for meat, but Iím a vegetarian. Again Iím spared.

I also donít have a stove. Which makes meal preparation a bit of a challenge. I do have a soft spot for cereal, however. So when I saw the milk truck pull up to the shops across the road from me on Sunday, I figured Iíd treat myself. I bought one of those small plastic packets of 500mls of milk and had cereal for lunch and dinner. But there was still half a packet left. Itís going into winter here, which means it stays quite cool indoors, so when I was tidying up the kitchen I figured Iíd take my chances and leave the milk out over night. I put it carefully in a little plastic dish and was looking forward to cereal again for breakfast. Some twenty minutes later, I was back in the kitchen putting my keys aside for the night, and I saw a vast sea of white across the green/yellow/black speckled counter. Spilt Milk. I said a small prayer of thanks to the goddesses that Iíd spotted it then, and not the next morning when the roaches and ants had gotten wind of it, took an old newspaper and mopped it up.

A friend of mine has a refrigerator, a stove, a television and a stereo (two other appliances I have yet to acquire). But she lives in a suburb thatís regularly hit by load shedding, and most nights she doesnít have any power. Thieves recently sabotaged the transformer near her, and since Saturday night her whole areaís been without electricity. Which got me thinking about the ironies of this world. Thereís me, living near town, with reliable water and electricity supplies both. But only lights and a radio to plug into it. And thereís however many suburban dwellers with plenty of appliances. And no power to run them with.

But at least I have a place to live. And a bed and blankets. Unlike thousands who had their homes destroyed in Operation Murambatsvina last year, and still havenít gotten any help building a new place or finding some where else to say. I saw that the Mail and Guardian this month is running a blankets drive to encourage people to donate their spare blankets to those who need them to keep warm this winter. As civic groups here prepare to ďcommemorateĒ last yearís destruction, they could do well to take a similar approach. Forget about the press statements and public meetings. Some blankets, candles, food, and firewood would go a lot farther.

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