ast week, I shared my experience with two young citizens who, by what I may want to call false pretence, reaped from my pocket when they misrepresented their situation.
Looking stranded by the street side where we met, telling me they come from Namitete — 50 kilometres away from Lilongwe — to Kamuzu Central Hospital for medical attention, I believed there was cause for concern.
But it was days later that I learned from someone with privileged information that the youngminds were offered an arrangement to get medical help from a health facility not so far away from their village in Namitete, but they seem to cling to the distance as they use their predicament to roll cash into their sacks.
Even outside clinic days, the youngsters can still roam the street and seek people’s help in the disguise of going to hospital for ‘an emergency.’
Forward to today, I have fresh memories of the day I found myself in the middle of Lilongwe’s overrated small colony of shops and offices we ‘happily’ call City Centre.
By the corner of one of the numerous poorly kempt buildings was a man sitting on the floor, with all the day’s harsh sun on his back.
He spoke in a hushed voice, barely audible. From his stretched hand, one had a clue of what the muted voice was calling for.
I dipped down to the depths of my pocket and harvested the contents which I caught one yellowish bill which I handed over to the figure in front of me.
The recipient nodded in appreciation. We exchanged blessings and I left.
Hours into the evening, I went to one supermarket to get a few must-haves for home.
There seemed to be a scene and at the centre was the man I had met in the morning. If it were left to my senses to judge, the man was under the influence of something strong, any bystander would conclude.
His language was as foul as the scent of the concoction he must have taken. He recognised me and someone else who had met him that morning and he spoke unpleasantly towards us.
“Mumatipatsa zonyenya kuti ife tisamafike kuno eti? Mulungu amakonda aliyensetu, onani tikushopa chimodzimodzi. [you throw to us loose change so we don’t shop like you. God loves us all. See we are picking from the same shelves here!]” Said the man, without provocation.
I kept my cool.
But the other man who had ‘met’ him earlier that day, just like I did, was irritated enough to start asking questions the beneficiary was not happy to take.
“Akulu, ndalama zija mukumwera mowa [you are spending the money on drink]?” asked the benefactor.
“Inu mukalandira ku ntchito kwanu simumamwako mowa? [Don’t you drink from your salaries]?” fumed the beneficiary.
“Pajatu mumati kunyumba kulibe chakudya [I thought you said you had no food at home?]” asked the sponsor.
The recipient laughed and retorted, “Chakudya ndagulatu. Ndiye mukuti ndisamasuke? [I have bought the food already. Do you mean I should then not spend any coin on something else?]
It was a standstill.
The vulgar sermon continued, with the guy telling us how he makes a living out of sitting in one place all day.
You see, from the shopkeeper’s narration, this is the beneficiary’s style; day in, day out. If he meets people who did not give him as much as he expected, the dresses them down.
He is an example of people that give kind-hearted souls a reason to look away when people present their need for support.
It is not a pleasant situation to feel you are a victim of your own courtesy. n