It was around 9 in the evening. I was coiled in my blanket when, my door wildly shook on its hinges from a violent knock.
I hesitated a bit, until the tsunami hit again.
A distressed voice filtered through the cavities in between the door and its frame:
“Akulu, Mwagona kale? Tadzukani! ” It was my neighbour.
I dashed outside, rubbing sleep from off my eyes and making it plainly known if it were not for friendship I would rather had continued with my sleeping business.
“Bwanji akulu?” I inquired, half my gaze on the door, wondering how it survived his iron knuckles.
“Zavuta,” my neighbour started narrating an occurrence that would later keep us up for half that night, deep into the bowels of the ghetto; his cousin had sold him an item whose ‘real owner’ had now traced it to the neighbour’s house.
A few more items were still ‘at large’. My neighbour needed to cooperate with the search.
“Boss, zinthu zavuta,” the neighbour stressed.
We had to find the cousin ‘now’, or the neighbour would be in hot soup. Of this I needed not to be told. I saw how the ‘owner’ was all canines at the neighbour.
We started off for the heart of the ghetto, which is where the subject of the search resides. We came to learn of the life that happens around us while we asleep.
We turned one corner and under the hue of a low hanging veranda was a couple standing against a wall, busy fighting the cold with a strong embrace, their mouths like interlocking bricks.
Many corners. Many more couples.
We turned another corner and before us opened a four square metre unbuilt area, enveloped in dense fog and smell of cannabis sativa.
A stray bundle of light from my neighbour’s torch landed in one corner of the gym where a few pawpaws, a bundle of sugarcane, pots, cooking sticks and jerry cans competed for space.
Young men lay on their backs on wooden benches under the bulk of home-made weights. This was a gym.
The bare chested populace in this place smoked like it was D-Day.
One who looked like the gym master fumed at our trespass.
“Kodi mukuunika chiyani?” He fumed, his charges, taking his fury for a command to charge at us.
Before we pronounced our innocence, we were commanded to sit down. We obeyed.
In the few seconds of our detention we caught the powermen’s funny understanding of matters, such as their perceived ‘outright chance’ that Parliament will in no time legalise marijuana. They fantasised at length about their imminent ‘free world’ of puffs.
Then the master bragged about his growing biceps and how marketable he would be for hire as a ‘sheriff.’
He looked at me and illuminated his biceps with the torch he had now ‘sherrifed’ from my neighbour.
‘Bro, mungadelere?’ he asked me.
‘Mayazi bro.’ I retorted.
On the sides of the bicep was a poor tattoo of a dreadlocked figure, with ‘Bob Marry’ under it.
‘Zivayani!’ he commanded.
We hurried on our way. It is a different world out there. This is the ghetto!