This past weekend was so hot that the prolonged black-out did not help matters. The only time it is a little tolerable is early in the morning and in the evening. Kuyvina has learned that there is an exciting world outside for her to explore but when she lives with a bunch of women, her fate is sealed by one of the expats who has appointed herself as her caretaker and who insists on her getting a flea collar before she could be free.
Like most of the things we wish for here they do not come easily and she has waited for almost a month and a collar is still not in sight. And so she could only be held while I sit or walk with her outside in the early mornings and evenings. Some mornings she is so frustrated that she gives out a heart-breaking mournful meow and then proceeds to scramble up the wire netting of the front and the back porches hanging on like a giant gecko. On one particularly scorching afternoon after playing hide and seek with my hat, she took a cat nap in the coolest place she could find, curled up in the small sink in the dining room.
Kuyvina Curled up in the Sink, Pink Tongue Sticking out
This morning dark thick rain clouds gathered in the sky. This had happened once before but the clouds soon were blown away. While I was getting ready to go running, Kuyvina had forced her way outside, big drops of rain began to fall, she looked heavenward, bewildered. The pitter patter on the roof became louder, heaven opened up and a heavy downpour descended on us. This was highly unusual for this time of the year, the wind picked up and the temperature became cool enough I had to wear a cardigan to work.
Now we are in November which promises to be hotter than October, we are experiencing heat waves of temperatures in the forties degrees Celsius which translates to over 100 degrees F. In the office, the electric supply is not powerful enough to work the air conditioning in the medical part of the building. While the coordination section enjoys the coolness of the AC, we struggle with two rotating standing fans blowing and circulating hot air at us. Sweat trickles down the backs of my legs and I feel like I am in a sauna. My walks to and from the hospital in this temperature have not been pleasant and even the dogs leave me alone having dug themselves holes in the ground for their long lazy naps.
Kuyvina Playing with My Hat © Kwan Kew Lai
In the hospital when the temperature reaches above 100 degrees F, the AC ceases to work. The conference room where we hold meetings is usually flooded with sunlight and Malawians seem to love long meetings which do not help.
The sweltering heat makes one sweat through his/her clothes and our foreheads are covered with the wet stuff, throats are soon parched and with no safe water source, some staff go out to buy water. My bottle of water is hot and the water does not quench my thirst. After all these years of MSF presence in hot Nsanje, our office in the hospital has no filtered water and I put a mental note to request one for my mentors.
As we walk out of the office in mid-afternoon, hot sultry air just blasts us in the face and burns our skin, wilting our will to carry on but carry on we must.