As the adrenalin starts to run high I can’t help to look back at what befell me last year. It’s always a good thing to learn from the past and shape your future. I am hoping that perhaps I will be telling you a positive story next Sunday….
I had been looking up to this day with lots of enthusiasm the way traders and business people look up to the festive season. I was hoping that at least this was my chance to undo all the recent bird hunting misfortunes. You know, I have come to compare my bird hunting exploits to the stock market. Unpredictable; low today, high tomorrow…
But alas! Valentine 2011 turned out to be another flop in a string of successive disappointing bird hunting seasons. The euphoria was high as usual, with people milling in town as they bought chocolate, flowers and other gifts that go with the general mood of Valentine’s Day. I also headed to town on an observation mission, in case there was something new in the valentine’s culture.
As usual quarttier mateus was teeming with humanity, as people purchased valentine gifts to give to their loved ones. I had my target bird for the day but buying such gifts was not on my game plan. I was planning to instead take the bird to a good restaurant in town for a valentine’s dinner. As I watched people scrambling for red roses I could not help but think of Haiti, where TV images of people scrambling for food looked pretty much the same as what I was seeing here. More disappointing was the fact that people lacked any king of innovation; the same shops were selling the same flowers and toys - just like last year. I just decided to cut short my observation visit and go back home to groom myself in readiness for the valentine’s date.
At home, a thought crossed my mind. What if the bird decided to behave funny at the last minute? That is how I thought of the ‘double hunting’ theory. I went through my catalogue of birds and called up a couple of them and threw the magic question “will you be my valentine?” While many of them apologized and told me it was too late, others scoffed at me or just hang up upon hearing my voice. Obviously these were some of the victims of bird hunting plans gone hey-wire. But of course, as Swahilis say, jungu kuu halikosi ukoko (an old cooking pot can never be without some left over layer of food on its walls), two of them answered in affirmative. But of course two were not my bargain, but keeping three just in case was not a bad idea for an experienced hunter.
I told the ‘extras’ that I would pick them some time in the evening after a meeting I had. The ‘meeting’ part was meant to act as my defence in the event that my plans go through with the ‘master’ bird or one of the ‘extras’ in case the ‘master’ bird fails me. If things went on well till the last minute with the ‘master’ bird, I would leave the table during dinner and excuse myself for a short call and make a call to both ‘extras’ and inform them that I was sorry but the meeting took long and was not even about to end until late in the night. But if the ‘master’ bird decided to behave funny at the last minute, I would then pick one of the ‘extras’ and take her for dinner and call the other ‘extra’ full of apologies because the ‘meeting’ had ruined our plans. Player hunting is what they call this style. How do you like me now? But wait a minute!
I had no much misgivings that the ‘master’ bird would disappoint me but somehow it happened. I had taken it for granted that flowers and other sorts of gifts were insignificant as long as there was a gesture shown in the spirit of St. Valentine. How wrong I was! While I believed in doing things differently, I did not know that birds are a conservative lot. Whoever said it is useless to try and understand them was right. When, at the agreed time I knocked at the door of her flat, she opened with a smile and I could see that like me, she was all dressed in black and red.
I pecked her on the cheek and made to go past her into her room. But I realized she was not following. While in the room, I looked back to see a disappointed look on her face. When I asked what was wrong, all of a sudden she asked me why I had not given her, as tradition dictates, the flowers before entering. When I told her I had no flowers, she did not give me a chance to explain that people should do things differently from others. She showed me, without talking, the door. No sweat, I headed to the residence of the first ‘extra’ and she was bold enough to ask me whether I had the flowers in my pockets and intended to surprise her.
I said I had decided to do things differently this time round but she told me outright that if I wanted to do things differently, then I should look for someone else because to her, flowers and Valentine’s Day are synonymous. I did not want to face another embarrassment from the other ‘extra’ so I called first to announce that I was coming over to pick her. She sounded happy and before hanging up, she told me “and remember, those flowers better be fresh!” I did not bother to go there at all. I entered the nearest bar and soaked up my disappointments. 2012 has so far been a good year for our country, someone pray for me so that I succeed this time.