Today, I saw something amazing. Last time I opened with that sentence, it was because I had finally watched crunchy autumn leaves skittering about in the air. This is kind of like that. I watched an infant in the buff have projectile diarrhea. And I just could not look away. It’s okay to be jealous; I would be…
The most intriguing thing about today’s occurrence was not that fecal matter flew through the air but that fecal matter flew through the air on purpose. Indeed, it was a planned Mission: Emission. I’m not sure if this is part of all South African cultures, but I had heard of it while in Mpumalanga last year and today in KZN, I finally became a front-row witness (where’s the splash guard when you need it?). No one seems to know how this method is spelled, but it’s something like “sphethi” (pronounced spay-tea, which may or may not be a more accurate moniker). People of all ages turn to this definitely medically-approved process usually when their stomach hurts, they can’t poop, they have a bad cough(?), or a baby is crying too much. It’s a very scientific procedure of swift bowel elimination.
1) Pick your poison by making the, ah, solution which you will temporarily add to your person. Of course we all want it “just like Mama made!” so pay close attention to these ambiguous directions: some warm water, a couple drops of liquid from a black bottle, and a drizzle of soap. In Mpumalanga they use warm water and Sunlight, a popular laundry detergent, but for some reason I can’t picture a doctor being thrilled to hear about your bleached and citrus-scented colon.
2) Load your weapon. Get a turkey baster, or something of the like, and fill with trembling fingers.
3) Load yourself. Here’s where I can’t imagine this is easy or, let’s just throw it out there, fun to do solo. Today I watched Mama flip the passive baby on her belly, squeeze the homemade brew into the wailing baby, turn her upside down and shake her (you know, to ensure equal distribution), and then hold said infant over a bucket. To each her own.
4) After a couple minutes of Reader’s Digest (am I right, Dad?)… Action! As Baba accurately narrated today, “It’s like a waterfall. Get the umbrella!” That baby, and I’m sure anyone who partakes in this purging session, will have some squeaky clean bowels.
5) …clean up…
As I’ve been fortunate enough to live in a couple places around the world, I’ve noticed that responses to sniffles and insomnia can vary quite a bit. Today was definitely a first but, hell, who am I to disregard it? I may not take part in this fun-filled (or something-filled) activity, but keep on keepin’ on, my Zulus. So, my probably-mostly-Western-world-readers, next time you sneeze or have a tummy ache, here’s a fun traditional solution to try! Until then…