t was on the eve of Christmas. The shops were overprovided with customers who braved the baking sun to buy goodies to oil their festive preparations.
Outside one store near Shoprite in Lilongwe, I stood hands akimbo at some carpark, not knowing who to approach for help as my ramshackle’s battery had misbehaved, all at the wrong hour of noon.
Everybody was in a rush and help seemed impossible to get. I decided to go the long but sure route. I called a friend and waited.
It was in that season of waiting when I saw a young man laden in both hands with big plastic bags. He sweated profusely.
As he got nearer, I noticed something was wrong and I sprung from my position and walked towards him.
He smiled, somehow rudely, and shot his verbal quill at me:
“Pepani, taxi siifunika,” he said presumptuously, while turning his head away from my gestures.
He walked away while letting out yet more yells that I didn’t quiet catch.
“Akulu,” I called him, “muyang’ane lisanilo. Sizili bwino.”
Then he almost dropped the merchandise from both his hands. He looked at me from over his shoulder.
“Aaaaaargh!” He got angry at himself, sweeping his surrounding with his eyes, trying to make out who else had feasted on his misfortune.
He examined his zip and learned of the mess he had been carrying around. I suggested to him that he goes behind the parked cars from where he could assess the damage and make a plan.
This time around, he obliged. He thanked me like I had saved him from a fire.
“Zikomo kwambiri achimwene, n’kadayaluka,” he said.
“Osadandaula, za ana aamuna izi,” I guarded his self-esteem.
The assessment of the damage was quick. The zip was completely damaged and the bad thing about it all was that he was in a small t-shirt that could not go all the way down to cover the mess.
For many minutes, he fiddled with his zip, to no apparent success. I watched him as he moved from behind one vehicle to another, not knowing what to do.
Moments later, my help had arrived and I busied myself with fixing my old engine.
Then there was suddenly a commotion emanating from where stood the guy with the faulty zip. He was in the grip of two men in uniform.
“Abambo akulukulu mungamakodze pamenena?” inquired one of the men in uniform.
“Sindimakodza, ndikukonza zipi,” replied the shopper, now raging with anger. The men in uniform were determined to the show the now growing crowd they meant business.
The shopper helplessly called on me to help cement his case.
I got there and tried to reason with the men in uniform. They seemed deaf.
I was angered at their resolve. I got nearer and never took heed of their warning for me not to get any closer.
One of the men in uniform fished out what looked like a taser gun and waved me away with his head. It is when a few more people gathered and told the men in uniform off for hunting in wrong territory.
They let the trembling shopper alone. He was now asking if one of the couple of the drivers at the carpark would take him home at a fee.
One last lesson — be good to people, you never know when you will need them! Happy 2017! n