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‘Don’t shoot me, I’m not a corpse!’

LIFE! WHAT A JOURNEY with CHARLES CHISALA
LAST Sunday, I told you how a passenger at the back of an open lorry or truck crept into the empty coffin he was delivering from Lusaka to the Copperbelt to protect himself from rain.
I also told you how the driver stopped at Kabangwe police check point to pick up more passengers while the first one was enjoying his nap inside the brand new coffin.
Here’s the rest of the story.
At a police check point between Lusaka and Kabwe, the driver braked harshly as he prepared to stop. This shook the ‘dead man’ inside the coffin out of his sleep.
He realised that it was no longer raining.
Slowly, he pushed the lid of the coffin up with his right hand and peeped outside. The rain had indeed stopped. He didn’t see any other human being.
Unaware that the driver had picked up more passengers on the way while he was sleeping, he slid the lid aside and started climbing out of the scary, unshapely box.
When the other passengers saw him all hell broke loose!
They were convinced that the driver had lied to them that the coffin he was conveying was empty and therefore harmless when it was actually carrying a corpse of a man.
One by one they started jumping out of the still moving truck. The driver was shocked when he looked in the truck’s side mirror.
He saw his passengers, including women, leaping to the ground while screaming in all kinds of languages and voices – tenor, alto, soprano, baritone and bass!
There was even one shrill falsetto!
“Mayo wandi! Amayi! Amama! Bama! Mwe Lesa! Tata Lesa!” they screamed, according to their tribal origins and religious affiliations.
Others were shouting, “Jeeeesus Christ! Mama neo! Twafwa eee! Iciwa! Cibanda! In the mighty name of Jeeeesus! Holy Ghost fire!”
The source of the fright was just as confused. He tried to pacify them by assuring them that he had not risen from the dead.
“Mwitina, ndimuntu munenu; nshili citumbi (don’t be afraid, I am not a corpse but a living human like you),” he pleaded in CiBemba language, but that did not help.
“Oweeee, mayoooo, we mupamba ubukulu (Oh mother, what a calamity)!” one woman shouted as she landed awkwardly on the hard tarmac on all fours, seriously bruising her palms and knees.
Meanwhile, without waiting to know what was happening, some motorists awaiting clearance by the police jumped out of their vehicles and bolted into the bush.
Two men and one lady could later be seen peeping through the grass and behind a tree, respectively, trying to make out whatever it was everyone was running away from.
“What’s the problem, why are you people jumping out of the vehicle? Don’t you know that you can hurt yourselves?” the driver of the truck shouted as the last passenger was leaping to the ground.
“The corpse you were carrying in the coffin has woken up. So, that was your plan?” the elderly man with gray hair said as the soles of his worn-out shoes made contact with the tarmac.
But his attempt at soft landing was a lamentable failure. He fell on his right side and rolled on the tarmac several times like an empty drum until he landed into the roadside drainage, all the while calling the name of his late mother at the top of his voice.
The pandemonium threw the police officers manning the road block into a panic.
They were both frightened and confused. One of them, the feeble hearted type, sneaked behind the offices for cover.
One courageous officer in plain clothes dashed out of the enquiries office, cocked his Kalashnikov assault rifle and bent down into a crouch, aiming the deadly weapon at the back of the truck, not quite sure what his target was.
The frightened “corpse” in the back of the truck threw his hands up, quaking with pant-wetting terror.
“Don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me please!” he shouted frantically.
“I am innocent. I just went into the coffin to cover myself from the rain. I was not dead. I am not a corpse! Please, believe me,” he pleaded as the officer trained his gun at him.
When the truck driver confirmed the man’s explanation, the police officer burst into laughter. His colleagues joined in the mirth party.
They laughed at both the man and the other passengers who had been convinced that he had risen from the dead to sort them out for using unauthorised means of road travel.
Of course I wasn’t there. I did not witness the spectacle. I have just tried to tell you the story as vividly as I’ve heard it umpteen times.
For all I know it could be a figment of a creative mind’s imagination. You can make your own conclusions. Until next Sunday.
charles_chisala@yahoo.com

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