Life: What a journey
ON MONDAY last week, which was a public holiday, I â€˜strayedâ€™ into Lusakaâ€™s bustling City Market for some personal business. As I was walking around I came across a young man selling DVDs on a low wooden stand.
It was quite early and the lad was still arranging his merchandise in order. The sight of me looking at the sleeves of various movies gave him hope of an early sale.
â€œSaleni father nalamicitako bwino [choose the DVD you want, my father; I will give it to you at a good price],â€ he cajoled me.
While I was looking at the covers of the DVDs to see if I could find something my boys would like to watch, he started telling me how he had met a desperate young mother and nearly married her.
He told me the previous day he was on a minibus from New Kanyama coming to Soweto Market for â€˜workâ€™. While on the bus, he said, a beautiful young woman started sharing with him the hardships she was going through.
â€œShe told me that she had been married to a certain guy with whom she had a child, but he deserted her while the child was still very young,â€ he said.
â€œBa guy balimusha sister nakamwana akanono bayaupa gelo umbi [the man left her with a little child and married another girl],â€ he narrated.
The man said the young mother told him that as if that were not enough shortly after her former husband had deserted her and the child her father died leaving her family without a nshima winner.
â€œShe told me she was struggling to look after the child because her mother was unemployed and did not have any money to start some business.
â€œBaliilishanya sana ba sister, nokunjeba ati â€˜so apa nga nati nshukileko umwaume uwakunsungako nomwana wandi kuti Natasha Lesaâ€™. Aini father [the lady complained bitterly that if she found a man to look after her and her child she would thank God. Imagine, father],â€ the young man recounted.
I estimated him to be in his mid-20s. He was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans trousers and a black T-shirt with golden emblazonments on its front.
The guy is an articulate speaker and highly skilled story teller who could have made a very good journalist, especially a broadcaster.
He was apparently excited to find an equally skilled listener in me, who continued asking for more, expressing sympathy for the poor girl every now and then.
I felt pity that such immense talent was just going to waste at City Market. The other two vendors on both sides of his stand were also listening intently and smiling at the ingenuity and gusto with which their colleague was telling me the story.
â€œI gave the sister a lot of encouragement, that being deserted by her husband and losing her father was not the end of the world. I assured her that things would be better one day.
â€œI felt sorry for the sister. I even paid her fare, which she appreciated very much. Unfortunately, she misunderstood the gesture.
â€œBa sister bena bamona nabalipililako batontonkanya ati ndi nefishilikiti, ukumbono wampiya sana nokwisanjeba ati â€˜ba brother kuti natewa mwampela phone number yenuâ€™,â€ he said.
What he meant was that the young woman thought he had a lot of money just because he had paid her bus fare and asked him to give her his phone number.
He said he gave her his mobile phone number and got hers, but told her never to call him especially on Sundays and after 18:00 hours because his wife is â€˜deadlyâ€™.
â€œNaliisabeba ati â€˜cabipafye sister kungÃ¡nda kuli umunenu, otherwise nga namibika uwapangâ€™anda lelo line; ati nga namisenda lelo line so [I told her itâ€™s a pity that there is already another woman at home, otherwise I would have married you todayâ€™],â€ he narrated and laughed.
The vendor on the next stand quipped, â€œAhh, zoona ngayali ni jackpot. Ngatawaupile nga walimugeta sister, boyi [itâ€™s a pity you are married, otherwise you would have married her my friend].â€
They both laughed.
The young man explained that he had told the young mother not to call him because his wife was â€œas deadly as a lion which has cubsâ€.
He narrated that one day she almost mutilated the private parts of another girl she suspected of flirting with him, who was only rescued by neighbours.
She cajoled the girl I used to fool around with to go to our home so that they could discuss the matter as friends.
â€œAkakashi kandi kalipena, father. Kaliisa zembeleko munankwe naleenda nao ati isa ku ngÃ¡nda twise tulanshanye fye pantu uli munandi [she sweet talked her rival saying since we are friends just come home so that we resolve the matter amicably]
â€œNakena kanankwe kaumfwila kaya ku ngâ€™anda kumwesu. Lilya kafika nokukesalila mungÃ¡nda nokwambo kukoma. Kalimunaya father icakweba ati nayaumfwa nomwenso. Akakashi kandi nika zoko father,â€ he narrated and laughed again.
What he meant was that when his wifeâ€™s friend went home to talk about her affair with him she locked her in the house and beat her up, and that it was the neighbours who rescued his lover.
The vendor told me that he had told the young mother on the bus that he would just be seeing her once in a while since she had shown him where she trades from at Old Soweto Market.
â€œThese days women are desperate, father. If they just smell money on you they will seduce you into a sexual affair even if they are married,â€ he complained.
â€œI donâ€™t know the spirit that has possessed women these days. When you leave your wife at home you never know what she will be doing behind your back.â€
I showed him the two DVDs I had selected and asked him the price.
â€œTucita K15 nomba pantu nimwe father nalamishitisha pali K10; leteni fye K20 [I sell these DVDs at K15 each but you will only give me K10 for each],â€ he said. I handed him a K20 note.
But on the wall above his stand were these words, scribbled in blue marker, â€œDVDs here, K10 eachâ€.
He told me his name is Lottie and invited me to be visiting his stand.
I thanked him all the same, for both the reduced price and the interesting story, and left the stand.
Life: What a journey