Indulge me, if you have the patience for it: even though lately Karimu has received pretty much nothing except good news, I want to wallow in frustration today. One place we had hoped to acquire clean-burning, lung- and firewood-saving cooking stoves was Ugastove, in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. But for weeks the Ugastove CEO, Muhammad Kawere, has ignored my e-mails, as well as Joas Kahembe’s phone calls from Tanzania. Yesterday, therefore, I told Marianne that I would write to Kawere to see whether a letter would grab his attention. She replied that Kawere had already shown himself unreliable and that Joas and I should stop trying to do business with him.
I opened my mouth to challenge her and then hesitated, thinking: Why do women possess mastery of certain kinds of knowledge from which men seem absolutely excluded?
Consider that, with our daughter Kelly in the vicinity, I can no longer get anywhere near the refrigerator. She has watched me lean heavily on its open door, signaling perplexity by scratching my head, one too many times. So when she intuits that I wish to head toward the refrigerator, she beats me there and blocks my access with a traffic cop’s firm palm-out: “Tell me what you want in there, Dad. I don’t belong to that class of people with penises who can’t find things.”
At one time men talked about the “fair sex.” What’s fair, though, about Kelly having the ability to locate my almond butter (which I prefer crunchy and salted) instantly and apparently with her eyes shut, thereby saving me from having to return—after many
agonizingly long, energy-gulping minutes of gazing into a refrigerated cornucopia to which my mind can impart no order—in desolation to my cold, hard, dry toast?
So I shut my mouth and thought better than to contest Marianne’s dismissal of the elusive Mr. Kawere. The Ugastove thing, I believe, simply won’t happen for Karimu.
I could focus on the fact that we can still supply the villagers with all the stoves they need by getting StoveTec’s made-in-China rocket stoves. I’ll reserve that for a glass-half-full day, however, having designated today otherwise.
If I thought for a minute that I could get away with it—but dental tissue regenerates slowly at my age—I would gnash my teeth.
I’ll see you next year.—Don Stoll