Everything has a shelf life
We are back in Kasungu and at the Inn the great Ngwazi bequeathed to us. We left Blantyre three days after interring Edward Henderson Chitsulo, also known as Honourable K.L Mphwanye, Order of the Single Party (OSP), Order of Lazy Tribalists (OLT) and Most Esteemed Raw Stuffer (MERS). Much as we would have loved to stay in the city that was formerly championed as Malawi’s commercial capital, we could not. We could not because there is too much mediocrity in that city for us to bear. How can a city established more than 100 years ago have no streetlights, no water, and no entertainment place worth writing home about? How can it be that from Kachere to Chilomoni, from Kameza to Cholobwi, from Chileka to Chigumula, Blantyre is all death and darkness?
Imagine that Mzimba town has working streetlights, yet the big old city called Blantyre has none. Imagine that Kasungu, Mulanje, Phodogoma, Mumbwe, Ntaja, Nsanje, Kochilira, even Mvera and Chinthechi have running water all day, every day, every month, and every year. In the unlikely event that there will be no water, residents of these smaller urban places are informed in good time and a convincing reason is given in good time. Yet the residents of the big city called Blantyre, including the Petit Kahuna and the self-declared US dollar multimillionaire, and the president of KAMA, are resigned to spending days without water and getting really surprised when some water drops from their taps sometimes. There is no denying that Blantyre is a study in certified mediocrity. Politicians, of course, will curse us for saying this naked truth because they enjoy journalistic mendacity.
On our way to this great Republic of Kasungu, we stopped in Lilongwe, the Cashgate City, where, until recently, money, real hard cash, US dollars, Chinese yen, Zambian Kwacha, South African Rands, British pounds and Kenyan Shillings used to flow like milk and honey; where the haram drinks that all great men and women take, and must take in order to erase their sorrows and start their lives afresh gushed out from every fountain like blood from a fresh wound and where exchanging bribes was as normal as eating sima ndi mayani.
We chose a place called Pawakawaka located about three or four kilometres from Bunda Turn Off. We got there in the late hours of Thursday afternoon. We parked our VW Amayiloko and went inside where Lawi’s Jazz Song, Lilongwe, was playing rather lazily. The air was full of seasoned roasted chicken.
“This is it,” remarked Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66, our leader of delegation and expedition, as we ambled to the bar.
“How can I help?” asked the barman, a jovial lanky fellow—kapini as Edward Chitsulo used to describe bony thin people.
“Three shots of amalaula on the rocks,” Native Authority Mandela commanded à la française.
“Same,” MG 66 said as she pulled a bar stool and sat thereupon like a queen without subjects.
“Same,” ordered Sheikh Jean-Philippe LePoisson, SC (retired).
“And you, sir?” the barman asked me.
“I am mourning a friend. So, nothing haram for me,” I responded.
Jean-Philippe laughed so much so that I became irritated. I walked out of the bar and went to sit alone in yet another but luxurious open-air bar located atop the hotel complex. I asked for a bottle of distilled water. The bargirl, sorry, the barwoman, apologised that they did not have distilled because the latest consignment had been withdrawn on allegations that the water contained impurities. So I scanned the counter for something less haram than amalaula but not as sugary as fantakoko.
“Give me three tots of Nkhoma Mountain Gin on the rocks and a drop of bitters,” I said.
“I don’t have bitters at the moment,” she regretted.
“OK. I have honey here. Give me the Nkhoma Mountain Gin on the rocks, fantakoko, and some piripiri,” I demanded.
“What do you want to make, sir?”
“Your job is to serve customers. Isn’t it!”
As I sipped on the not so haram drink, I saw Sheikh Jean-Philippe, MG 66, and Native Authority Mandela walking up the stairs to join me.
“And what’s this?” Jean-Philippe asked, mockingly, when he picked and smelled my drink.
“Cashgate Shandy,” I joked, trying hard to muffle my laughter.
“Wasn’t it you who told us last week that the third lesson you learned from Edward Chitsulo was his philosophy that everything has a shelf life? Drinks have a shelf life, meat has a shelf life, marriage has a shelf life, beauty has a shelf life, stupidity has a shelf life, problems have a shelf life, happiness has a shelf life, life itself has a shelf. Everything is in a state of temporality. So, why should mourning not have a shelf life?” Native Authority Mandela reasoned. n