“Here we are,” Chandra said as the two women spilled out of the pickup truck that had given them a lift from Mutanda junction. Their bags tumbled out on top of them. When the truck door was shut the drive gave a slight nod of his head and pulled away.
“Where are we going?” Chelsi asked filling her arms with reusable grocery bags while trying to balance a box of strawberry plants on her head.
“The path way there by the red sign,” Chandra gestured to pathway on the other side of the tarmac road. The two women waddled across the road under their burdens, towards a neatly swept compound of houses. About half way up the path a yellow puppy with an excited tail came bounding up to them. “Oh, Regret, hi how are you? This is my host brother’s puppy Regret.”
“Oh he’s so cute, he reminds me of Daisy when she was this size. Just so excited about everything! Aren’t you so excited!” Chelsi cooed to the puppy. “Alright, which house is yours?” she asked starting to feel the weight of the bags in her arms.
“There, that one,” Chandra nodded to a tall house with a thick thatch roof that swooped down over the door, nestled between a standalone storage room and a long laundry line. They closed the last few meters and Chandra balanced the box she was carrying as she fumbled for her keys. She slipped the key into the lock, twisted it open and pulled back the bolt. The door swung open, they stumbled in, opening their arms onto the floor. “Welcome to my home,” Chandra smiled. “Everything is kind of anywhere because I haven’t had the time to make any furniture yet.” A rainbow of plastic basins was stacked in the far corner. A myriad of kitchen utensils, pots, pans and mixing bowls were piled around a couple of large black food bins. Prominently placed in the moderately sized sitting room was a familiar looking futon.
“Where the hell did you get a futon?” Chelsi asked, bewildered, trying to take in her surroundings.
“No, Regret, you stay outside,” she scolded the little puppy, who connected his backend with her door mat. “What do you mean? It’s the futon from the Prov house. We got that new couch from Molly, so Laura said I can have this one. Haven’t you noticed it’s been missing from the house for like, eight months?” Chandra laughed.
Chelsi and Chandra went about unpacking and organizing their things. Chelsi only had with her a day pack, the pack she a taken with her when she left Jeremy alone in her house for site visit. This was the last day of site visit, and Chelsi could have gone home that afternoon. But I have what? 10 days left in the Kamijiji house? What difference is a couple of days going to make? So she decided to go home with her friend Chandra, a health volunteer whose house was another 50 km down the turn off to Chelsi’s house
The rest of the evening passed relatively uneventfully. When they finished unpacking Chandra introduced Chelsi to her host family. Her sisters welcomed Chelsi warmly, with hugs and smiles. All the while Regret the puppy was tow, wiggling his body and lapping excitedly at his nose. Chandra’s host family scolded him when he got too close to the cooking pots, but otherwise treated him gently.
After a dinner of rice and vegetable the two women tucked themselves into bed.
The next morning Chandra started the brazier and Chelsi cooked the eggs. When their plates were clean Chandra went off to greet her family for the day, let them know about the programs she had going on for the day. Chelsi hung back to finish washing the dishes from the night before. When Chandra returned her face was painted with distress. “My host parents said that Regret got hit by a car this morning over by the borehole. He went with my host sisters to fetch water this morning, and a car that had pulled of the tarmac clipped his back end.”
“Is he okay? Well I mean, obviously not,” Chelsi started to stand up.
“He’s over there, curled up in the bush with my host brother. They asked if we had any medicine for him.” She hesitated, “I don’t know what to do.”
“Well, let’s go have a look,” Chelsi was nervous that the injury would be gruesome, but walked over to the bushes where the boys were standing around. They watched as she approached. One of the smaller boys was making an attempt to catch the puppy, who Chelsi faintly see between the brush was limping about. Well he’s walking for now, so that’s good.
By the time Chelsi and Chandra closed the space between the house and the bushes the boy had chased the puppy up against a wall of brush. He was curled up tightly in a ball. The rear foot on top was starting to swell rapidly. “Oh baby boy, who’s such a brave puppy,” Chelsi used the voice she used to calm Daisy whenever she needed a shot. “Are you being such a good a boy,” she continued crouching down. The boys both backed away and leaned closer. “I know it hurts, but you’re being so brave,” She lifted the top leg gently see the other one.
Where skin had been torn away, dirt, sticks and leave were stuck to exposed muscle. There was a limited about a bleeding around the ends of the torn skin, and this paw wasn’t swelling as fast. It could have been a lot worse. “Alright baby boy, let’s get you cleaned up.” Chelsi scooped Regret up gently, cradling him against her chest.
“How is he?” Chandra, who was still standing closer to the house, asked.
“It not as bad as it could have been. He really needs some stitches and a split, but do you have some gauze, ace bandages, antibiotic cream, some alcohol pads.” Chelsi adjusted her arms around Regret and kneeled to pick up Chandra’s welcome mat. She crossed the few meters between Chandra’s front door and her chinzanza, shook out the mat and laid the puppy down on top of it. “There you go baby boy,” He made a lame attempt to stand up and move away but kept him down by scratching behind his ears and placing a kiss on the end of his nose.
Chandra came out of her house with the supplies Chelsi asked for. She placed them down beside the puppy in the chinzanza. “Iiii, that doesn’t look good. That kind of stuff really grosses me out.”
Chelsi start picking the large debris out of Regret’s wounds. She talked to him gently all the while and he eventually let his head rest on the mat, resigned to his fate of being helped. As she worked, the pile of debris, alcohol pads and gauze wrappers grew high before Chelsi was satisfied with her work. She finished by securing the gauze with the ace bandage and stroked Regret’s neck. She would have liked to wrap the other paw to help control the swelling, but there was only one bandage and keeping the open wounds clean was more important she decided. “Alright baby boy, you’re all set. Tomorrow I’ll change your bandages again. Now don’t play to rough on it.” She smiled and the puppy looked up as she backed away. “I’ll ask Chandra for some water for you.”
“How is he?” Chandra asked hearing her name.
“Time will tell.”