I am several professions rolled into one-a food scientist, technologist and nutritionist. Hence, one would be greatly mistaken in assuming I don’t know much about food. I do. Whenever I am introduced and that prying question “What do you do?” pops up. I usually retort, “My work revolves around food. Where food is, I am.” Ironically, in addition to this vast knowledge about food, I have the most sensitive of stomachs. My stomach can only tolerate corn oil. Any change in the type of oil used in cooking, no matter how reluctantly drops of the precious commodity were employed, causes it to be a most disagreeable inhabitant. No sooner has the new oil entered through my body system’s entrance i.e. mouth, does it move quickly to find the exit i.e. well, you know. Boy, there are days when I have felt like literally pulling it out my body and tossing it down the toilet bowl. 23rd January, 2014 was one of those days.
I was travelling from Nairobi to Eldoret. The journey oscillated between conversations with two gentlemen sited next to me and reading Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. We stopped in Nakuru to catch a bite and stretch our legs. Therein, my stomach rumbled to be filled. I gladly obeyed. I gave it 500ml of yoghurt, vanilla flavoured. I did not have any intentions of adding anything else but my stomach could not entertain such notions. Hence, I bought a kebab just to shut it up. Its rumblings were beginning to get on my nerves. I should have sensed that something was amiss when the kebab gave off an odour. However, flippancy got in the way of good old common sense and the kebab was gobbled up in less than a minute. My stomach went quite and I thought all was well. How wrong I was.
One hour after we had left Nakuru, I started experiencing some of the classical signs of food poisoning; Fever, nausea and acute abdominal pain. I ignored them thinking I could control my body system until we reached Eldoret. Beads of sweat streamed down my face and back. Every time we hit a bump or drove through a pot-hole, I tightened all my body muscles lest I broke wind or worse still soiled my undergarments. Meanwhile, the contents of my stomach rose up my throat. I had a very difficult time trying to get them back down. My neighbour noticed the discomfort I was in and opened the window. It helped but not much. My rear end was burning and I knew I had to stop the shuttle. I got out and dashed to the nearest homestead leaving the driver and passengers perplexed. I figured if a dog should come after me, we’ll wrestle, and if worse comes to worse, I’ll drag it with me to the toilet. Thankfully, there was none. An elderly lady met me as I jumped over the fence. She was too startled to protest. I asked her where the toilets were and she pointed to a ramshackle structure at the far end of the homestead. I sprinted towards it. Before entering, I emptied the contents of my pocket lest they fall down the pit. Inside, I was greatly relieved when my stomach let out its contents.
I thanked the lady for her kindness and plodded back to the shuttle. A smile or two tingled with embarrassment came over me. However, this was short-lived. Inside the shuttle, stories of funny incidents during travel were shared with all and sundry. The two gentlemen could not hide their amusement and even offered free advice on what I should or should not eat before, and during a journey. They were spot-on.
God gave me a sensitive stomach that perhaps I may not be conceited. This rumbling stomach is my thorn in the flesh and, oh, it is ever so humbling.