The Discreet Charm of the Blantyre-sie
some budding Blantyre-writers More...
Levitico and Friends
teenage friends More...
(Oh! Oh!) More...
So what else can I tell you? You must
know it all by now. How about... a discussion about life-style
(and about some of the friends I've made)?
What with writing letters
every week, and the efforts to produce a monthly news-letter, it
seemed the natural thing to join with others interested in writing.
So, every Tuesday we take turns to host a writers' evening - providing
food, and a convivial place to discuss words.
Originally there were
four of us: Kris, Bob, Tim and myself, but Tim has since returned
to UK. I didn't really know Tim or Bob, and they seemed such extroverts
that I was surprised they had a quieter side - a writers voice,
as it were. A writer's voice they had though: with tales of restless
travelling, or explorations of the self (!). Kris writes poems -
good ones - though I struggle at their meaning sometimes.
At first, reading out
aloud was a very nervous affair - so was cooking for three relative
strangers - but now we are easy in each others company, and I feel
we all benefit from constructive criticism of words or ideas.
So far the evenings have
been famous for glorious cordon bleu cooking - at least at the other
homes - and a tendency for our discussions to trail away from the
confines of the art of writing: I mean, do you know the true meaning
of democracy? On Tuesdays, that's where you'll find me, talking
of "...inexorable winding bends..." and such like, with
my bestest voice.
Levitico and Friends
There's this small group
of young men, that have befriended us - I'm going to call them Levitico
& friends. We see them at the weekends, and sometimes during
the week - we ask of each others day, or just play. They are Levitico,
Roderick and Raymond. They're keen footballers; they skip; they
dance to reggae; and they fool around. I like them!
Levitico speaks good
English, and has this impish grin that is difficult to resist. I
have visited his home in the township; we've giving food - we've
received (modest) food back; and he's made us our very own Galimoto
(wire-framed car), that are all the rage with Blantyre's young.
Roderick lives above
us - or rather works above us, as a house boy. I practise my Chichewa
with him, and he his English with me. He has such a friendly nature,
and is so pleased of our company that we cannot fail to enjoy his
Raymond - the Malawi
wide boy, as Rachel likes to call him - is also genuine in his affection
for us. He barges in, announces his arrival - a quick chat, and
then he's gone (upstairs to visit Roderick).
We don't always see them
together, we don't always have much to say; but when we have fun,
WE HAVE FUN: Rachel, myself, Levitico & friends!
So yeah! With so many
beggars here you learn to live with the hassle. When they say: "N'Jala
Bwana!" (hungry boss!) you shrug or shake your head, you probably
don't even make eye contact - just walk by!
So when you go to town
to buy food, and they say: "Give me money", you lie and
tell 'em "Ndilibe dalama!" (I don't have any money.) At
first the lie hurts you, fills you with guilt; but after time, you
don't even blink.
And when you're miles
from anywhere, and when you smile to the kids, and when they reply:
"Give me ten Tambala!", you start to seethe inside - why
do they always want want want? You start to think of replies, put-downs:
"Give ME ten Tambala!", or "I gave at the office!",
or "Chifukwa chiani?" (why?) or simply "NO!";
or any damn thing... you just can't give to everyone. And if you
give to one, they ask again to someone else. The Give-Me cycle keeps
turning, keeps these people from learning to earn and not take.
And it gets me mad...
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