Driving back from an errand last Saturday, the heavens opened and down started to fall a ferocious dose of water. People ran in all directions.
At a nearby bus stop, I spotted a friend’s trademark ‘rasta’ cap I can never miss, even in the darkest hue of dark. For other quick clues, I marked his lean figure and his free growing beard.
I deviated to the roadside and signalled him to the vehicle. Along with the friend, came two strangers, a lady and a man, who made themselves comfortable in the back—the lady on the left, the man on the other side, right behind me, my friend in the front passenger side.
After a round of greetings, I noticed the three were not company. In this dog eat dog world, and as ugly as the festive season can sometimes be, I was a bit uncomfortable to have the two strangers. But I guess there is not much you can do in some scenarios as this aggressive downpour. Such is the risk we sometimes take. Humanity over logic.
The friend was on his way to the office to attend to a matter that could not wait for the next day. We drove in the violent rain to the friend’s workplace along Chilambula Road. The office block is an old building that needs painting, and was on this day deserted.
As soon as I drove through the gates, I noticed the man in the back fidget like a rabbit. He was so uneasy that he made me uneasy too.
I watched in the inside rear view mirror as he tried to open his door. He failed. He turned to the other side and flung his hands across the lady’s lap, fiddling with the door, but it was firmly locked, secured with the child lock too.
He panicked, firmly holding on to his bag like a lucky keeper does when he lands the ball in sudden death penalties. He signalled the lady to help open the door. The lady seemed to miss the signs and the urgency.
‘What is the matter?’ I inquired, as the friend, never noticing, bid bye and dashed for the veranda.
‘I want to get out, now!’ the guy in the back burst.
‘I thought you said you would drop off at Shoprite?’ I wondered.
‘Not anymore!’ he retorted.
He left me shocked and searching for answers. What was in that bag? What had riled him? Why want to drop off in the pouring rain, at a place he never intended to be?
I opened the rear left window from the central control unit and told the guy to open the door from the outside. He did.
I watched him desperately want to dash out but his haste delayed him more.
By then, the rain poured inside and soaked the lady, who by then was yelling unpalatables at the guy.
As soon as the man was out, I started off towards the gate, simultaneously drawing the window up to the relief of the lady.
Then the man, seemingly sobered up by the cold rain, called on me to stop for he wanted to get back in.
Whatever brew I was high on this sober day, if it were not for the friend’s insistence that I let the man back in, I would have driven out in haste.
‘Ndimaona ngati mukufuna kundiba [I mistook you for robbers and that you had connived to deal with me from here],’ he said with regret as he found his way back in.
It is his story that around this time years ago, he was robbed and had a bad festive season. Once beaten twice shy.
To all you out there, stay safe and happy. Merry Christmas! n