A week or so ago I was lying in the bath and spotted something curiously winking at me through the grill in the overflow pipe. I wasn’t sure but I feared it was a creature. It didn’t move or look to be struggling to join me in the bath, but as a precaution I did call my husband to come and have a closer look. The reason for this cowardly inability to deal with the problem myself was the fact that it looked to me suspiciously like a gecko. Since I have had too many close encounters with geckos for my liking, I have developed something of a phobia about them.
Whilst living in Dar es Salaam they used to fall from curtain rails and kitchen shelves when disturbed, always giving me a nasty fright – worst when they landed in my hair. We still have them in Nairobi, but not so many. Their little transparent bodies and sticky feet trouble me. They dart behind pictures on the living room wall when you are watching telly and lay eggs amongst the children’s soft toys. A fellow expat in Dar said that the little poos that scatter themselves all over the house (no matter how much sweeping and mopping done), were poisonous to babies if they were ever to pick them up and put them in their mouths. This worried me as I had a crawling baby at the time, though the baby did survive in spite of my fears and I never found out if there was any truth in this.
The biggest gecko related trauma for me was years ago when (pre children, so fairly new in Africa), having left and forgotten about a mug of instant coffee, I went back and took a slug. Finding it was stone cold I thankfully decided to throw the contents into the sink. Imagine my surprise when out flopped a blanched gecko that I guess had somehow dropped in the mug a little earlier. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in there when I made the coffee. The gecko’s eyes were no longer black but a boiled white.
Anyway, I digress. My husband was somewhat reluctantly called away from his comfortable position lying on the bed with a gripping book and came to investigate the problem. The creature looking at me turned out to be a lizard that had crawled up the overflow pipe (perhaps in search of water?), it had then somehow got wedged. You could just see its little nose protruding through the grill and a couple of toes beneath. After shining strong torch light in its eyes and detecting no movement we decided that it was certainly dead. I hopped out of the bath nonetheless.
‘How are we going to get it out? I asked my husband.
‘I don’t know. Um, let’s ask the gardener if he will do it in the morning?’ he suggested sheepishly. We were going to fly to England the next day and I thought that the rotten carcass would be truly stinking by the time we got home.
‘No way!’ I said, ‘we are not going to ask anyone else to do our dirty work – are you a man or a mouse!’ You can imagine how the exchange went on...
To give my husband his dues, without much nagging from me, the next morning he managed to flush the lizard back down the pipe by blasting a jet of water at it from the hand hose. It was not as wedged as we feared but just before getting into the car for the airport, we did ask the gardener to search for a lizard body at the other end of the pipe, just to make sure.