In Bed with Francine

By on March 27, 2018

While on an impromptu visit to Northern Rwanda sometime last year, I nearly died. I bumped into an experience that would bring me face to face with death, giving me an opportunity to appreciate my homeland. Now, it is likely you will instantly assume that I was either attacked by a Gorilla while trekking or some strange fast acting disease. You might imagine that I was the victim of food poisoning or that I skipped a step and fell into one of the mountain range abysses – never to be found.

Far from it.

The thing that almost killed me when I was in Intara y’Amajyaruguru was the cold. Any normal human being who has been to the Northern Province of Rwanda is probably just shaking their head in disgust and wondering how on earth anyone would die of that mild coldness when there are colder places. Besides, the temperature lingered between 6 and 9 degrees centigrade. You see, I am unlike other humans. Any hint of coldness renders my entire body numb. In fact, I rarely function in a room with AC. Not to say I love the hot weather but generally my body does not respond well during cold times.

 I wouldn’t last a day in the winter

During my cold stay in this region of Rwanda, I discovered many wonderful things. I discovered the magic of always having whiskey, the beauty of playing scrabble by a campfire, the great hospitality of the people of Rwanda and the most important of them all – the hot water bottle.

For anyone who might not be sure what a hot water bottle is, I shall volunteer a fairly straight forward description. A hot water bottle is a magical container that provides warmth. It is usually filled with hot water, sealed off and then placed in an area where some warmth is much needed. These hot water bottles are very popular in cold places and in the bedrooms of many ladies who suffer from violent and hectic periods. Applying the hot water bottle to the tummy can ease the muscles in the woman’s torso thus easing up on the pain. And so they are predominantly a femine thing.

The nature of the weather in Kampala nowadays is such that it could be a furnace during the day, scorching everything in its path, only to turn into a real freeze zone at night. And when it is cold, people will have a sweater, a scarf or just some heavy clothing wrapped around themselves loosely. I on the other hand, will extravagantly be clothed in several layers of the warmest and heaviest clothes I can come across. Every so often I will wear my gloves, and have a scarf on top of having my jacket.

Oftentimes my dressing is exaggerated simply because I can’t stand the cold

And so when it is time to hit the sack, seeing as I can not enter bed with all my elaborate outfit, I have to lose some, if not all of the clothing. The only thing that gives me peace of mind is Francine – my hot water bottle. Francine spends most nights with me. She doesn’t complain when I hog all the bed space and neither does she bother me with turning the lights on to go take a pee when I am enjoying my warm sleep. She also doesn’t ask for much except that I refill her whenever I suppose I will use her. And one more thing – she does not complain when I spend the whole day out in the world gallivanting and only return to use her at night. Absolutely no complaints.

With this global warming that is eating up the earth, there is a chance we shall have hotter and colder days and nights. One can say that I am sorted in case we have colder nights. I know that Francine will have my back if things get very cold.

While doing a bit of research on this hot water bottle, I landed on an old Australian Children TV series from the 90s named Johnson and Friends. This show had a character named Alfred who, believe or not, was a hot water bottle. People who grew up watching this series probably understand that this cantankerous character was quite special. He is the only anthropomorphised hot water bottle to have ever existed – at least as far as I know. In the show, Alfred is one of several toy characters belonging to a young boy named Michael except Alfred is no toy like the others. He is a special hot water bottle. Together, this group of friends are mostly unseen, save for when Michael is asleep. They share the bedroom with him but are inanimate until he has stepped out of the room or gone to sleep. The show carried with it several life lessons and educative messages for kids and young people at the time and if anyone would like to roll back the years, this show would be a great stop-over.

Alfred the green hot water bottle is a very hilarious guy. His sense of humour is second to none and even though is he quite fussy, a little anxious, a bit neurotic and lives in the darkness, he is a great guy and gives the show a lot of life AND WARMTH. In the second episode of the show – where Alfred is introduced, he mentions that he was about to be thrown out because he had a leak and so he decided to hide under the bed. When the others find him, they ask him to join their group and that is how he becomes a part of the gang.

Alfred the hot water bottle

I can’t say for sure that there have been many talking hot water bottles in this world but I can say for sure that they are all cool. I also have the feeling Francine and Alfred are related on some level, with Alfred being a great grand relative of Francine. Perhaps if I traced the roots of Francine, they would lead me somewhere to Australia, maybe to the headquarters of the ABC studios where the show was born. Then I would probably find out that Francine’s true parents traveled to explore the world and see what else there is out there. And they ended up in East Africa in a beautiful little country called Uganda.

While global warming turns this world and its climate upside down, I shall hold onto Francine my partner. She shall provide me with much needed warmth and I shall offer her my bed as a safe haven. Together we shall weather the weather. On those cold nights, I will be in bed with Francine.

“Nothing burns like the cold.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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Beewol - The Talkative Rocker