The sun eased into the yellow horizon, retiring from a long day of baking the life underneath it.
My tasks in Blantyre were done and I was by Chileka Roundabout, lost in doubt after hours of waiting in vain for a lift to the Capital City.
Everyone minded their own business, until there stopped two women to pick grains of corn littered around and under people’s feet.
As the women deposited the grains into sacks, one by one, with due care and undivided attention, it told a story of their desperation.
One man who introduced himself as a pastor said half his congregation was already missing sermons, busy fetching for tubers or anything they could sink their teeth into.
‘Chaka chino ziliko,’ he prefigured, and many people chorused in sorrowful agreement.
By now, depressing chronicles of impending hard times flew from everyone.
‘Chonde, pakapezeka kamwayi panthawi ngati iyi tizitsogoza ana, amayi, okalamba ndi odwala,’ said the Pastor, in the usual Pastor’s pitch.
I agreed with him as I remembered ‘Sir’Paul Banda’s lyrics:
Mukatematema mudziwatemera anawa
Osamangodalira chithandizo cha wena…
Then some lady seemed to share an experience. ‘Munthu wanjala sachita zaphindu. Ntchito zinanso panyumba zimaima.’
Not many men chorused to that one.
The discussion was soon disturbed by a car that pulled up by the place, the driver calling for passengers. It was survival of the fittest.
I made it to the back seat together with the Pastor.
From the vehicle’s comfort, the Pastor was now worrying about the old ladies who had failed to fight their way into the car.
I noticed that in some contexts there is nothing like prioritising the weak.
From Zalewa Roadblock to Chingeni, we trailed a bus and surely, there must have been a chewing and littering contest taking place inside it:
From its windows flew out over 20 takeaway boxes, eight soft drink cans, nine maize piths, 14 plastic bottles and countless plastic carrier bags.
‘Kodi chimakhala chani? Sangasunge n’kutaya pa Ntcheu? Aka n’kachiwanda ka m’basi,’ said the Pastor, to no comment.
He himself had been spitting out the window the whole journey.
When it was time to pay, he swept the back seat with an overdone smile.
I fished out my headsets and started enjoying sounds from Zomba Prison Project, I Have No Everything Here.