After 15 years of fatherhood, it has pleased meÃ¢â‚¬â€by the powers invested in yours truly thanks to the big dude up yonderÃ¢â‚¬â€to declare myself a wise, charismatic, visionary, dynamic and great father. The shoddy works of my hands do speak for me, despite the Satan-induced acute shortages of basic needs in my household.
In fact, my eldest daughter says I am the best dad in the world and I believe her, not out of conviction that she is telling me the truth, but because that is what I want to hear. On this score, we understand each other very well, my daughter and I.
She tells me how great I am, and I sign off on her needs even if it means Ã¢â‚¬ËœmurderingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ someone in the village twice or thrice to get an emergency loan from my employers.
Like Tuesday evening, I returned from one of my alcoholic escapades and she envelopes me in one of her rare hugs. I must tell you that ever since my teenage girl decided that she is too grown up for father-daughter hugs, these demonstrations of affection have dried up.
When I get a hug these days, I know that either my wallet is in imminent danger of being depleted or my scarce fuel is on its way to the E-mark. And when she told me, with her hands still nicely tucked around my neck that she wanted to visit her girlfriends, I knew that ndakawidwanso.
But, between you and me, I miss my little girlÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hugs and she knows it. So, I reasoned that it was a small price to pay. Smiling like the dotting old gizzard she knows I am, I told her to advise her friends on the time I would drop her.
But being the self-confessed great dad that I know I am not, but like to think and hear that I am, I noted the following day that my little girl was coughing. So, I told her that on our way from her friends, we would pass by the hospital. She agreed without her usual hospital protests because there was a silent threat to the effect that the visit was conditioned on a date with the good old doctor.
On our way back around 6 pm, we saw something that looked like a fuel tanker heading towards LilongweÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Biwi Triangle. I decided to follow this fuel tanker-like creature to its logical destinationÃ¢â‚¬â€the service station. Indeed, lo and behold, it came to pass that it was the lucky day for Biwi Total Service Station located along the Lilongwe-Blantyre MI Road.
I needed the fuel to drop my daughter at school in the North on Monday. I was further comforted by the signpost proclaiming this to be a 24-hour service station. I adjusted my chair, sat back and luxuriously took a long, satisfying swig from my bottle of beer.
Just before 8 pm, we were 10 cars away from the pump. Our hopes soared, only to be dashed five minutes later when we heard an announcement that due to security reasons, the 24-hour station had stopped selling fuel at 8 pm. What security? There were at least two armed police officers!
Anyway, they would resume at 7am the following day. But why did they publicise 24/7 services only to change them at a momentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s notice? Had Total and its dealer been feeding us one fat 24-hour lie?
Motorists protested, but all the expressions of anger were met with cold silence. My wife, daughter and I drove off. But I knew I needed the fuel, so I returned to the queue the following morning by 5 am.
By the promised 7 am, no car had started refuelling. Motorists, some of whom had spent the night there for fear of losing their berth near the pump, started to grumble. A few minutes before 8 am, an unsmiling, unapologetic character I assume runs the service station, produced himself.
Donning a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a menacing pair of black boots, he walked purposefully, but at a leisurely pace presumably befitting a fellow controlling the perimeter of about 50 metres of cars queuing for the favour of giving him money in exchange for his fuel.
Upon reaching the pump, he yawned, then walked over to an attendant and issued an instruction. I later saw the attendant dipping something into the underground fuel reservoir, probably trying to ascertain how much was left.
The boss in question appeared to verify the volumes and then yawned again, while running his right hand through his bald headÃ¢â‚¬â€a man not in a hurry and not used to being hurried by impatient motorists.
He nodded to the attendant and walked away. Vehicles started moving as the liquid lubricated their tanks. My turn finally came. As I drove off after being served, I looked around for the boss.
I saw him at the tyre fitting centre he probably runs as well within the premises. Our eyes met. In that instant, I wanted to communicate to him how much he had ruined my day.
But then the king of the little perimeter yawned again and looked away.