Written by PIUS NYONDO
As they say, ‘east or west, home is best’.
After spending a night laden with fun in Karonga aka Uranium Town aka U-town on our way from attending my relation’s funeral in Chitipa, we’re now on our way home.
The bus journey itself is so uneventful that my good friend Zikomo Matope and I find ourselves sighing with relief as we finally arrive in the ever green city of Mzuzu.
After a lengthy debate on whether we should take a Sacramento(bicycle taxi) or a taxi to get us home we settle for the latter, this being rainy season and night.
My good friend Zikomo occupies the front seat and we hit the road. To my surprise, he instructs the man behind the wheel to take us to Sports Café, our usual drinking joint in the city of Mzuzu.
“Just one for to help us catch some sleep,” he says.
“But we’re just coming from mourning and if I may ask, what would people say seeing us drinking before we even get home?” I protest.
“But we’d been drinking at Club Elusion last night, where’s the difference?” he counters.
“That was in Karonga and this is Mzuzu where every Jim and Jack knows us. They know we went to bury my relative in Chitipa a few days ago.”
There was silence, save for the sound of the car.
Then, like an afterthought, Zikomo Matope speaks. “Who knows. Maybe some Good Samaritan would opt to convey his condolences over our bereavement in kind by throwing us a round.”
The slim mustached driver who all along remained quiet stares at Zikomo while I choose not to argue any further. I don’t know whether the previous night’s alcohol has still not let go of his head.
Sports Café we arrive.
“Zikomo!”calls a certain well-fed woman standing outside the bottle store holding a plastic plate of goat mang’ina as we alight from the car. Ivy is her name although the other day we heard one of her childhood friends call her Eluby. Wearing an Arsenal jersey and a short pair of jean trousers that forgot to hide a good mirage of her meaty legs, Elu … no, Ivy looked sexy.
“Long time!” she says, hugging my friend Zikomo right under my watch. God knows what can ensue here if Marita, Zikomo’s wife or ‘MG1’ as he refers to her in most of our beer conversations, appears from the blues and sees this.
Inside the bar, several dozens of imbibers are winding up the weekend. We greet the faces we know and make for the empty stools on the far end of the mahogany counter. Ivy joins us and chooses to sit close to my good friend Zikomo.
Zikomo asks the bartender to dress the table with our favourite drinks. Every barman at the places my good friend Zikomo and I frequent here in Mzuzu would testify even in a court of law that when it comes to buying beer, more so when company of ladies is involved, my friend Zikomo qualifies for an honorary doctorate. He buys like one tipped that brewers are closing shop the following day for good.
As some imbibers religiously glue their eyes to the plasma screen watching the 2013 Afcon finals, the rest of us are busy downing the bottles while discussing anything that trespasses our minds. For your own information, Zikomo and I do not follow football at all. Ask either of us who wears jersey No. 1 in a game of football, we will tell you whichever player gets the jersey first.
“Look,” this brother-in-booze is be-labouring to make a point to his friend. The two are seated across the dance floor. “How can you,” he continues, “Entrust the government’s purse with somebody so poor as the proverbial church mouse? My uncle tells me that even in America you can’t just wake up one morning and say I’m running for president. You’ve to raise money first to contest. You don’t contest to make money. That’s how our friends smoke out corrupt leaders.”
“But where does that put those bestowed with true qualities of a leader but can’t raise the One Million Kwacha? I mean those whose true motivation for joining politics is to serve the populace and nothing else?” asks his friend.
It now dawns on me that the two are arguing against the background that the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has decided to double the fee presidential aspirants in the 2009 elections parted with.
I fall head over heels in love with their argument. Meanwhile, my good friend Zikomo Matope is busy with Ivy who has now moved closer and stands between Zikomo’s legs.
“How much do I give you?” Zikomo whispers to her, but loud enough for the antennas on the slopes of my head.
“K3500.”I hear Ivy say.
“What?”Zikomo asks, not that he hasn’t heard Ivy right but he just can’t believe his ears.
“I said K3500 but since you’re a regular client and you always leave me satisfied, you can give me K500 less.”
“Why do I’ve to pay you all that money today when I always give you half the amount and even less when your business is bad?”
“Oh! I forgot you were saying you’re coming from Chitipa where news takes days even weeks to get the people!”
“What do you mean?”
“Haven’t you heard of new fuel prices?”
I share glances with Zikomo before we both burst out laughing.
“Let’s see if any man touches you tonight if you stick to those revised bed-service fees of yours,” says Zikomo as he withdraws his arms from Ivy’s mouthwatering waist. “Otherwise I see you asking your roommate to service your thing free of charge tonight. Paja mwayambapocoming in the open.”
That steps on Ivy’s nerves. She walks out in protest while my good friend Zikomo and I roar with laughter as we empty the contests of our bottles ready to leave.