Awake to pouring rain. Reason would suggest the Long Rains are here. Except that the short rains, which began in October, never ended. The rest of the World accuses the Brits of talking of nothing except the weather; we’re as guilty of it here: current rains a case in point: is this really the Long Rains? Or extended Short Rains? Or is the ‘grass rains’ which come ahead of each and signal imminent arrival of either short or long depdning on what time of year it is? Or is it simply a blip and will it be bone dry in a week?
In any event, the garden is sodden, the sky is low and grey and the only things with a smile on their face are the geese (actually, can geese smile?) which are pottering around a waterlogged garden in damp ecstasy. That’s the other thing: not only do we talk incessantly about the weather – questioning in broiling February when the rains are coming because we’re going to expire if they don’t hurry up – but when the weather does arrive, we never stop whining about it: God, I wish it’d stop raining.
I don’t like rain that doesn’t go away because it means mud, which means getting stuck on the way to school which makes me swear which means my children’s already colourful collection of expletives is further enhanced. And I don’t like unending rain because it means nothing ever dries which means, because I don’t own a tumble drier, the laundry is perpetually damp. Which means mango fly.
Mango flies lay their eggs on laundry on the washing line. They are canny and know that during the hot, dry weather their larvae, which needs moisture to survive, would curl up and die. So they wait until the rains when the laundry – bearing mango fly nursery – gets taken inside still damp. They are especially canny because, in order for their species to survive, they have identified those houses where a) there is no drier and b) housekeeping a bit slack so ironing not up to much (ironing, you understand, would have same effect on baby mango flies that tumble drier would: i.e.desiccate them so that they curl up and die). Donning clothes that came off the line damp, didn’t see inside of a tumble drier and had only cursory brush with lukewarm iron (power being what it is – or more correctly, what it isn’t) means exposing yourself to mango fly infestation. Resident larvae, delighted to meet warmth of human skin, leap off bra, pants, inside of jeans and burrow delightedly into your flesh. You don’t notice at first. Not until the mango fly has begun to grow which makes your skin itch and swell in an angry lump which eventually develops a head. For a while you kid yourself that you’ve got a boil – the result of the stresses of living in Africa.
But one morning in the bath you have a stab at squeezing the head and to your horror a little white maggot slithers out and wriggles its way across the tiles to begin its own hatchery on your washing line.
You’d be well advised to keep such mango-fly eviction to yourself; if your neighbours know that you – or your children – have mango fly they’ll know you’re a) too poor to afford a drier and b) too much of a lazy cow to supervise the ironing better.