I have been writing about myself since 1996. Over all these years, some tales come back to my mind with such vivid clarity and as I laugh at myself, I feel like bringing you back in on some of these adventures, if you have read them, that is.
This one being one of the first three I wrote, I suppose will be ‘news’ to you. It is part of my compilation of the earliest 20 adventures, compiled for publication and which I have emailed to ardent readers who requested for it.
Here we go then and enjoy yourselves, if you can!
I had travelled to Lusaka from the north-west for a meeting of the English Teachers Association of Zambia (ETAZ). I was still a teacher then and my cousin Mchekeni Wathunthu kept me at his home.
One Saturday, he took me to a hotel public bar where a gifted musician was entertaining the public through xylophone instrumentals.
Mchekeni was buying just too much beer and it all showed when upon his return from the toilet, which he was visiting every five minutes now, he found me dancing furiously to the xylophone music like some village tribesman!
I was arguably the best-dressed man around, in a maroon suit, white shirt and black bow tie, and the other patrons were cheering my dance antics.
I felt on cloud nine, wiggling my shoulders and wriggling my waist with senseless abandon. Mchekeni just grabbed me, dragged me off the floor and told me off while the rest of the patrons shouted: “Leave him, Musiye iwe avine!” They were obviously enjoying the fool I was making of myself.
After another of his toilet trips, I told Mchekeni that I had made friends and was going to spend the night with a certain woman in Sikanze Police Camp. He furiously told me to keep my backside on the seat and stop all the nonsense I was up to.
For one thing, he observed, I did not even know the woman. I could land more trouble than fun getting too drunk and going off with strangers, especially females. I was not impressed so when he went off to empty his ‘jerry-can’ again, I sneaked away with the woman.
I was so drunk that I will never remember how we got to Sikanze Police Camp and what transpired later. I woke up around 04:00 hours and quickly realised that I was in a strange place, lying with a strange person of the opposite sex on a tiny squeaky bed.
I tried to remember what had happened but could only remember up to the point of running away from my host, Mchekeni. I realised I would have to wait till 06:00 hours to get back to Woodlands and explain to my cousin what had happened. It was a long two hours before I stirred the woman from her sleep with a simple ‘Hey, mummy’. When she woke up I asked her where my clothes were.
“Where did you put them?” she asked rudely. I had no answer and kept quiet.
“What a man. As anxious to dress up as you were to undress, fall all over yourself and then start snoring like a fat pregnant hippo.”
Now, for goodness’ sake, what was she yapping about?
“Where is my payment before you think of your clothes?”
I thought hard about the last night and I was convinced, especially from what she had just said, that I had most probably not touched that woman.
“Aaah, mummy, why should I pay you? I didn’t do anything to you.”
She was furious and shot out of her bed and stood just above me. “Can you repeat that nonsense?” I remained quiet. “Did I say you did something to me?” she screamed. “Is this your house or a hotel for drunken men to come and shit and … Jesus! Don’t annoy me!”
“Okay, okay …” I said, worried that she would cause a rumpus. “How much is it?”
“Twenty pin,” she said.
“That’s too much!” I screamed.
“Then you won’t see your suit.”
“But the money is in the clothes, mummy,” I said.
“There is no money in your clothes. I checked before sleeping.”
I started feeling confused. Had it been stolen at the hotel’s public bar? Had she stolen it? And how was I to pay her and move to Woodlands?
“So how do I pay you then?” I asked.
“That’s your business, not mine. Go home and look for it.” She was blunt and annoying.
“How? Naked like this?” I queried.
“That too is your business. Just get out of here now and bring me my money, or else I’ll scream. This is a police camp mind you!”
After much fruitless argumentation and negotiation, I realised that I couldn’t win this war so I ended up tearing off the bottom of a green, king size plastic carrier bag, and wore it by slipping it down my body like a skirt.
She released my brand new brown belt, which I duly used to fasten the plastic carrier bag around my waist. I was topless and must have looked a pretty laughable sight! But well, in these circumstances, I just had to move.
It was still fairly early at a few minutes before six and as I walked out of the place, which I discovered was a servant’s quarters, I came face to face with someone from the main house who just gave me a long curious look. I nodded at them, was nicely ignored and went towards Independence Avenue aware that everyone else I met was smiling or laughing uproariously. They were obviously undecided whether I had escaped from the sanatorium at Chainama or what-not-else.
Getting a taxi was not easy either. How could anyone trust a topless guy wearing only a green plastic carrier bag fastened with a brand new brown belt?
It was fairly long before I finally convinced one driver that all my faculties were perfect and that I was just in a predicament that would take hours to explain.
He drove me to Mchekeni’s house. How embarrassing the homecoming was! It was his wife, Adolofina, who opened when I knocked.
“Mlamu!” she screamed in surprise and backed away a step. Then she said no more but retreated to call her husband.
After looking momentarily stunned by my strange green plastic outfit, Mchekeni footed my taxi bill and allowed me to go into my bedroom.
He followed me there and asked me why I was wearing that stupid green plastic carrier bag and looking more stupid than a donkey. I told him I had drunk too much last night and had gone off with a prostitute who had stolen my money and had also confiscated my clothes till I pay for her bed.
“Why didn’t you just beat her up? How can you fail to get your clothes from a streetwalker and agree to travel all those miles from wherever wearing only a green, king-size, plastic carrier bag? Are you normal, you? What a teacher! No wonder the children these days are …” He was visibly infuriated.
I explained that I couldn’t act because we were in a police camp and she had threatened to scream if I did not comply with her wishes.
“Why did you go with her in the first place? Didn’t I warn you? And all that stupid dancing last night. You were so smartly dressed and yet ungodenya-denya..… How could you … so embarrassing … Anyway, what are you going to tell my wife? She wants to know.”
“I am sorry, cousin…” I stammered and lowered my voice. “Can I tell her that when I am sober, I am cool and likeable … when I am drunk, I get possessed by some wild, vicious evil spirit over which I have no control … it sends me after more beer …after women … it makes me run across the city wearing only stockings or carrier bags … and so on … you think she’ll believe it?”
“That’s bullshit, Mix Njombwinjo,” he said glaring at me. “You are better-off not answering any questions.”
Times of Zambia by Hildah Lumba