It’s 1926 and a train is chugging its way into the station in Nairobi.
For our second Pinkorama, Carla brings us… The Ashpeep Affair.
In this scene, Addie has just traveled from England to Kenya to visit her cousin Bea, and, after coming all that way, she’s not quite sure she actually wants to be there.
Just look at poor Addie, dragging her luggage from the train, hot and sweaty and uncomfortably aware that her sugar– er, hair– is frizzing.
Here’s a bit of the text of the scene:
Beneath her cloche hat, her hair was matted to her head with sweat. Addie yanked it off, dropping it on the narrow bed. The movement of the train ought to have created a bit of breeze, but the screens were tightly fitted, their mesh clogged with the red dust that seemed to me to be almost worse than mosquitoes. With the screens down, the car was dark and airless, more like a cattle car than a first class cabin, the clatter of wheels against track broken far too frequently by the high pitched wail of the whistle.
Kneeling on the bed, she wrestled the screen open. The train chugged steadily along on its slim, single track—the Iron Snake they had told her the natives called it, in Mombassa, as she had struggled to see her belongings from ship to train, jostled this way and that on the bustling, busy, harbor. In the distance, she could see a flock of beasts, rather like deer, but with thin, high horns, startled into flight by the noise of the train. It was nearly midday, and the equatorial sun made the scene shimmer in a kind of haze, like a glaze over glass, so that the fleeing beasts rippled as they ran, like an impressionist painting.
She had never imagined Africa being so very green, nor the sky so very blue.
Her imaginings, such as they were, had been in shades of siena and burnt umber, browns and oranges, with, perhaps, a bit of jungle thrown in, as a courtesy to H. Rider Haggard. Perhaps she ought to have paid more attention to the books and maps David had brought, instead of watching him, his thin face animated in the lamplight, feeling a familiar mix of obligation and guilt, affection and dread. She hadn’t bothered to think much about Africa at all. There were books she could have read, people she could have quizzed, but she hadn’t bothered, not with any of it. When she had thought of coming to Africa, it hadn’t been of Africa she had thought.
You can only wonder where that Addie Peep is going to go next…. A swinging 1920s Peep party in the Happy Valley? Or right back onto that adorable train?
Thank you, Carla, for transporting us– and that Peep!– to Africa!