One lunch hour a week ago, I sauntered out of office to have a bite. I was so knackered and hungry that when I got to one of my usual restaurants, I quickly made myself comfortable and ordered my favourite mgaiwa with beans, plus some sun-dried usipa.
As soon as the ‘stock’ had landed on the table, I said a hush and hurried prayer and went into session.
I was well into my seventh or eighth score when I was joined by a friend from primary school. We had not met since the last exam in Standard Eight, a few months after which he followed a brother to Europe and has since recorded an enviable career trajectory.
He sat across me and ordered nsima and usipa because he had found the dish inviting, just the way the dish appealed to the eye!
We did some catching up and everything was fine until another friend of mine, from college,landed with a buzz too much for comfort.
The new arrival pulled a chair as he cleared his throat with a show of authority. He waved at a waiter and asked for the day’s specials.
‘Muli ndi chani? He asked, to which the waiter listed a long array of carbohydrates and their accompanying proteins and greens.
‘Zomwezo basi?’ asked the friend, with a disapproving look. ‘Mwangophika mausipa okha okha ngati omwe akudya makosanawa?’
He was now examining our plates like dog bowls.
‘Zakudya zinazi zimaopsa makosana.Usiku mukhoza ku kasowa nazo tulo,’ he shared his fears as he plucked a bunch of keys from his waist and threw them on the table.
He then picked up his cellphone and dialled out. As he got an answer on the other end, he set the phone on loudspeaker and instructed the called party in a mix of English and Zulu to order ‘his favourite dish’ from the restaurant at the hotel they were putting up.
As he waited to leave for the hotel for that splendid meal, he found it wise to use the remaining time ‘profitably’ by explaining how things were going on well for him in Jo’burg.
Within a few minutes the second friend had told of how he had settled in South Africa, got poached from job to job, built houses in Malawi, changed cars at will, married a beautiful Zulu woman, and sired handsome kids.
‘Kaya iwe mtolankhani, zikukuyendera?’
Sometimes you just have to tell people what they want to hear. I told him how ‘miserable’ life in Malawi has been and that the other friend was an unemployed buddy looking for a push.
You see, this made his face shine.
I found it funny how this loud-mouthed college friend was only making a fool of himself by boasting of things we did not care about.
For starters, this restaurant is not a roadside food shack where meals can be taken with doubt on how they were prepared. It is an eating place of repute.
Secondly, the primary school friend — who all the while in the other friend’s presence had been joking about having spent the last two years visiting old time pals for a favour of employment — was just home on holiday having been all over the world on lucrative contracts.
As we rose up to go and were about to settle our dues with the waiter,the loudmouth offered to pay for the food and drinks, of which we were both glad and thankful, not because we couldn’t afford the chop to our wallets, but because we took it for a sure way to end the stay as quickly as possible.
I learnt a few things from this meeting.
One, when you meet pals after a long time, always be patient to let some matters come out naturally, or if you have to ask or speak about them without being asked, do so with caution.
Two, do not always assume that people’s lives are static and only yours is gotten the groove. You are not the only guy on who the sun is shining. n