When I moved to this village two years ago, I had fairly reliable electricity, by developing-world standards. Not enough to handle multiple large appliances (even if I could afford when, which I can’t) but enough to keep my laptop charged and my little box fan running. It could with 75% certainty be expected to be one 5 days a week – Tuesday and Thursday exempted, for purposes of “routine maintenance” or “rationing,” depending on who you asked (and when in the election cycle.) Those days, it would be off for 12 or 14 hours, returning just in time for bed. It would also be off virtually anytime it was raining outside, but this is our third year of drought; that’s less often than you’d think.

In the past few months, the situation has changed rather dramatically. It goes off virtually every day. It could be gone for 30 minutes, or two hours, or two days. Sometimes it only goes off in particular buildings, which a handful of area landlords contribute to witchcraft and are thus hesitant to investigate or correct. Without my little fan, my tin-and-cinderblock house – as with all houses that aren’t traditional makuti, or palm thatch – is suffocatingly hot, to the point where staying inside too long feels like an invitation to faint. (Could there be anything more embarrassing than a grown woman swooning? I haven’t, for the record. Yet.) But safety is found in the confines of the mosquito net, with incense and citronella coils burning to repel the most persistent individuals. The occasional spits of rain we’ve experience have been more than enough to jumpstart the lifecycles of countless malaria-carrying Anapheles.

Point being: increasingly often, this is a portrait of my evening.

On the plus side, I’m getting a lot of reading done.

Before you perv out, I’m wrapped in a kikoi, or lightweight cotton cloth used as a garment by both men and women. IT’S CULTURE, Y’ALL.

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