I told a lie today. When the butcher asked me if I was on facebook, I said I wasn’t. That’s not true.
Earlier in the day I invited some friends over for dinner. When they accepted the invite I realised I had nothing to feed them. No bother, a quick stop at the Lucky Butchery on the way home. The short walk home from the office was hot and dusty, and stepping inside the butchers I was hit by the strong smell of raw meat and blood.
The butcher was sitting back in his plastic chair, his feet resting against the counter. He was chewing a mango, fingers sticky. His white coat was clean except for a small splattering of red on the front and the juice of mango near the collar, where it had run from his chin down to make it’s presence on his coat. He looked up, took one more bite from the mango and lay it down on the work surface before standing up to greet me.
Once greetings had been made, I asked ‘500g of steak please’. He stretched into the meat counter and lifted a hunk of meat, slapping it down on the scales. The gold scale bounced as he placed weights onto the other side, carefully measuring the exact amount, hacking off pieces here and there.
I looked around, swatting at the flies buzzing around my ear. Half a goat was hanging in the window. Skinned except for the little bit of fluff at the end of it’s tail. In the meat counter lay slabs of red, luke-warm meat in plastic trays encrusted with blood. Another tray held a large, squishy piece of cow-liver. I wanted to sink my fingers into it. It looked smooth and jelly-like.
Once the precision of weighing the meat was finished, the butcher asked if I would like the meat cut. Yes please, I replied. While finishing his task, there was small conversation:
‘Do you like the weather?’
‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘it’s nice today.’
‘So, you are married here in Kenya?’
And I thought how strange it was that the topic of conversation could jump from the weather to marriage in the answer of a question.
‘No. I’m not.’
‘Oh,’ he said, ‘how long are you in Kenya for?’
I replied that I didn’t know. I said I’d just been home for Christmas and I don’t know when I’ll next go back.
‘Oh,’ he said again, as his metal of his knife cut neatly through the meat leaving scratches on his wooden chopping board, ‘but your husband. He is in England?’
‘No,’ I replied, simply.
‘Your boyfriend? Do you have a boyfriend?’
‘No,’ I replied again.
There was a pause in conversation. His colleague came into the room and picked a piece of paper from the side. She left the room. And that’s when the lie began.
‘I’m going to search you on facebook,’ the butcher told me. I thought that it would’ve been nice if he’d asked rather than told me.
‘You won’t find me,’ I said.
‘Oh,’ he pondered, ‘Why?’
That’s when I lied.
‘I’m not there,’ I said
He didn’t say anymore. He just passed me the meat in a small black plastic bag and said ‘Nice time.’ When I glanced back as I left the shop he had resumed his position of slumped back in the plastic chair, chewing on the remnants of mango that he had left.
With the Lucky Butchery now behind me, I continued on my walk home, pondering a little on the choice of name. Lucky? Lucky Butchery? I wonder who decided on the name and why.