Dr Ring Ding
Crippling self-doubt. That’s what I have right now.
I’ve been questioning this whole writing thing. I mean, should I even? Am I a writer even when I don’t write? Doesn’t seem logical to me. Writers write, right? Why don’t I feel like writing? What would I even write about?
Crippling self-doubt. That’s what I have.
Recently I almost died. Again.
There I was, minding my own business, probably scrolling through Instagram when Eve tells me that the water’s run out. Now, one of the perks of living in a place for a while is that you know how things work. So, after calling the caretaker (who wasn’t around) I took on the responsibility of filling up the tank.
I have a key to the control area. It’s the place where all the electrical wiring meets and it’s right next to my house. I don’t have a key because I know anything about electricity but because my electrical meter (the token thingy) happens to be in this place. I somehow am the only one whose meter is outside. Everyone else has this new fancy one they feed their tokens from the comfort of their homes, me – no.
Whatever, so I have a key and I know where the switch for the water pump is. Right next to the one that powers the Wi-Fi router. So me with my ujuaji, I go and flip the water switch. Nothing is happening and I’m confused because electricity works like magic. Flip a switch and voila! Power!
“Did you switch on the pump?” I hear Eve say. From a distance as if she knows something is wrong. As if she planned this.
“Not yet,” I say. “Give me a sec.”
See, the problem was, there was a loose wire from the Wi-Fi thing that was crossed to the pump thing. Like they were sharing a power connection.
Here’s the thing, the control centre looks like crap. Wires are crisscrossing everywhere in all directions. It’s an organizational nightmare and I cannot fathom anyone sane ever working on our electrical. And they’re all red wires of the live variety.
But who am I? Bold as a lion. Strong like Mount Zion. What is red wire?
I see where the loose wire needs to be and I… nudge the thing just a bit. But then the Wi-Fi goes out. Apparently, I moved the wrong wire. So, now I have to figure out how to switch on both the water pump and the Wi-Fi (but mostly the Wi-Fi because we can last a night without water, right?).
“Any luck?” Eve says.
“Not yet,” I say. My tongue is outside my mouth while I fiddle with the wiring like a serious electrician. Why do they do that though? Can you taste electricity?
“Net imepotea,” she adds.
“I know. Give me a sec.”
It takes me ten minutes to figure out how to fix the problems I have caused and the problem that I found.
“Get me a screwdriver and the tester,” I tell Eve.
“Star or flat?” She asks – isn’t she awesome?
The tools come and I successfully return the loose wire. Wi-Fi is back, the water pump switch is also fixed.
I flip the pump’s switch. Nothing.
The wire has come loose again. What is this life? It’s almost 8 pm now and I’m cold because my masculinity said I’d fix this thing in a minute and I don’t need a sweater. It’s also dark inside the control centre, I need to suspend my phone with the flashlight on to see anything in that mass of wires. Live wires, in case you forgot.
I know the solution to the loose wire though. I just fixed it, right?
I push it back in like Dr Ring Ding, and something explodes right in my face.
In. My. Face!
I don’t know how it happened but somehow, the main live wire got out of its cosy little alcove and was now threatening my life and the life of anyone else who dared come near her precious little wires. Thinking fast, I pull out the main fuse, severing any connection to people’s houses. Sasa plot yote haina stima. The entire apartment complex is in darkness. No power, no water, and worse, no Wi-Fi.
Then there are sparks. The pungent smell of burnt plastic. The beginning of a fire. And I think, ‘I’m about to burn this entire place to the ground!’ I’m an arsonist. A criminal.
“What happened?” Eve asks.
“Something bad,” I say.
“Kwani stima imelost?” I hear a neighbour ask from somewhere else.
“Huyo mtu amefanyia nini stima?” Someone else. Someone that saw me in the control centre.
The fire is small enough for me to blow it out, thank God. But the other stuff, me I just can not. I call the caretaker and explain the situation to him. He says it’s too late for the electrician to come through but he’d come in the morning.
Still, I’m scared of the main live wire. She stands there defiant, staring at me. Daring me to touch her. I’m not gonna lie though, there’s a part of me -a very very small minute part of me- that wants to do it. But that part of me is recessed in the very back of my mind and has no control so I’m still here.
Like a Mercy Masika song – still alive.
It was a long night. Dark, no Wi-Fi, phones and laptops devoid of charge, wondering if the mama wire would move while we slept and fry us all. I fell asleep eventually. One of the best nights of sleep in my life, actually. The electrician came in the morning and just sighed. That’s how bad it was. Good thing, he sort of organized the wires so next time (if there ever is a next time) I won’t almost kill all of us. It still looks like crap but… polished crap.
Also, did you know Dr Ring Ding and his needle are white? Watt?!