Advice To My Younger Self

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Dear younger self,

Hope you’ll find this information useful in the years to come.

When it comes to matters of the heart, I’ll tell you that it’s a gamble that can go in any one of a million ways. You can rush into it or put it off for later but it will catch up with you either way. So when you do surrender to it, go for someone who makes you happy but more importantly someone who loves you for who you are. Looks don’t exactly fade with time, you just begin to see past his/her skin as you look closer. Think of it this way,anyone can admire a super bright full moon on a starry blue night from down here but only an astronaut will go to the moon,  endure its extreme temperatures, listen to its deafening silence, look at its gaping craters, witness its dark side and still call it beautiful.Be each other’s astronauts.

On friends well it’s so simple how people will say bad company corrupts good morals; when you’re my age you’ll realize it’s not so straight forward. Bad guys don’t go around with tags on their backs nor do they have the word ‘bad’ written across their foreheads, those are dumb guys. Mind the people you hang with and what you talk about and share coz mediocre company and poor CHOICES corrupt good morals too.Note the stress on the word ‘choices’; nothing ever happens without your consent. And remember that the older you get the more responsible you have to be for your choices as they come with consequences.

Hold forgiveness and patience close to your heart. These are common currencies of platonic and romantic relationships alike. Things change so quick when you’re much older, you might be hogging or dishing out forgiveness and patience today and be desperately in need of them the next day. Exercise caution and compassion.Don’t harbour hate or hurt in your heart, it only makes your heart cold and breeds bigger and uglier monsters that will eat you alive. It’s like that saying goes holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Choose life.

To Pee, Or Not To Pee…

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And there I was, python around my neck, smiling, frightened, silently doing a rendition of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy ‘to pee, or not to pee, that is the question.’ How did I find myself here? Rewind a few hours back…

Its 37 °C on a Sunday, my girlfriend Annie and I decide to go cool down at a reptile park 20 kilometers north east of the sweltering city center. As we ride there she mentions several times how she at least wants to touch a snake and how it would be so cool if we did that together. Of course I nod and agree knowing very well she’d be frightened when that time comes. I’m there thinking about how different the place might look having last visited in 2001.

After hours of watching reptiles and birds and a scrumptious meal, two litres of water and a million pics later we decide to start heading back home. As we turn into the reception, we walk past a guide with a snake around his being neck keenly by trailed a throng of enthusiastic Europeans about to do exactly what Annie had been hoping for.

 
 
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As soon as they’re done taking pics with the snake Annie walks towards the guide to face her fears and I’m thinking to myself what possible explanation I’ll offer if this ends in strangulation.  She manages to compose herself with the guide’s help she has the python around her neck, grabs it by the head and tail and looks towards me with this steely eye look. Several camera flashes later she comes back smiling, excitedly saying, “fusa it’s your turn.”

Hanging a big snake around your neck while having a full bladder is a bad idea but it’s also the only way I was gonna walk out of Kalimba Reptile Park. Going against all the voices in my head, I drag my feet as hard as I can and tell the nonchalant guide I won’t touch the snake’s head, let alone look at it. Following my signal, he puts the python over my not-so-broad shoulders it immediately starts slithering, almost slipping outta my hands.

I can feel my urethral sphincters almost giving way as I’m overcome by fear and a rush of blood. Right before Annie takes the first pic I give the best smile I can manage  and I’m thinking to myself whether to pee or, not to pee, maybe the scent will put the snake off. I smile another 20 seconds for what seems like the longest minute of my life and as soon as  the snake  is back in the hands of the guide, my pee evaporates and I whisk Annie out of there before she gets any other daring ideas.

 

D’vine

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The delicate vine winds and crawls

Around the lemon tree, near the wall

It carefully creeps through the branches and leaves

Curls a silent robin under the dewy eaves

Twisting and turning like a tropical storm

I instantly fall in love with its curvaceous form

 I close my fortunate eyes

And let my fingers explore the slender vine

I palm and gently crush its glorious grapes

Impeccably clothed in sparkling purple drapes

And with sheer elegance and charm

The premature wine streams down my arm

From my palm, I drink the residual wine

And wonder what could be nearly as fine

As the sensation that terribly teases my tongue

Perhaps the vine from which these sweet orbs hung

The inspiration for these terse lines

Slender, whole, graceful, divine

A Date With The Fuel Attendant

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The recent fuel price hikes have somewhat forced me to be seeing fuel attendants more frequently. The change in price seems to have thrown off some motorists, particularly bus drivers coz they seem to be frequenting filling stations more often than before. Perhaps they’re still adjusting to the new Kwacha per litre ratio.

Every visit to the filling station comes with a different kind of attendant (or so one hopes). There’s the pleasant attendant, keen to do their job, an all-around decent guy or lady. And then there’s the cross looking one that works at a snail’s pace and just doesn’t give a hoot. The other day, while riding on a bus it was our turn to fill up and just like that a ‘type two’ attendant appeared, barking at us to get off the bus. Asking him why, he nonchalantly responds while looking away, “just in case the bus catches fire, you’ll be safer out here.”

Are you serious? Or are you just parroting what someone told you? Now I don’t know the whole procedure about vehicles burning at filling stations but I feel just as vulnerable off the bus as I would aboard it as the tank gets filled. In fact I’d feel a little bit much safer on the bus, which scares me. Besides when this thing decides to blow up, we’d all be toast out here.

What’s even more annoying is the fact that private cars are never emptied when filling up. Be it a Morris Mini Cooper or an SUV carrying seven people, I’ve never been asked to disembark a private vehicle while filling up the tank. It’s like only the commuter buses are prone to catching fire, just ridiculous. All this is happening while I’m trying to get to my destination on time.

Now here’s the best part, once the attendant tells us it’s ‘safe’ to get back on the bus, someone decides to change seats and takes my spot. By now I’m too spent to retaliate, I quickly accept that for the rest of the ride I have to sit in that little seat that requires me to stand up every time someone seated behind me is dropping. Perfect, all made possible by the tireless efforts of one competent fuel attendant.

 

Photo courtesy of businessdailyafrica.com

A Luta Continua…

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How many people know this writing, where it’s located but still won’t bother to enter the premises? I’m pretty sure there’s many more who don’t know the existence of this place and wouldn’t care less, after all such things are for tourists right?

In two days we turn 52 and we’ll enjoy the public holiday and the long weekend. We’ll get some much needed rest from work and regular routine. We’ll meet up with friends, catch up on stories and as we do with every other holiday in Zambia, we’ll eat and drink.

As we celebrate let’s remember that some on the plans and strategies to ensure we attained the freedom of speech, assembly and association we’ll enjoy this weekend were formulated here and many other places across nation by ordinary Zambians. Places and faces that have faded with time.

Every shade of paper money ever used in Zambia since independence can be found here. Some of the furniture, kitchen utensils used by the Kaunda family, his children’s primary school uniform, family photos, his letter from exile and his famed Land Rover are all here and serve as a reminder of a time when our future, our rights, our hopes and aspirations were but a dream.

Even as you fight on in today’s tough times, keenly follow Zambia’s freedom trail and remember what great odds we’ve faced but still managed to rise above them. Remind yourself just how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go on this journey.

My Street

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Every evening at a quarter past six, it’s light and action on Chipalo Road, the street comes alive. Waking up from its daylight slumber, the cars pick up speed, people come out to bask in a newly found sense of freedom.

The new, shiny lamp posts, standing close to the old, dead ones pour light onto a street that hasn’t seen such late night brightness for nearly 20 years, except on New Year’s Eve. The road itself was only re-laid five months ago after being overridden by potholes since the late 90’s.

For a fortnight now, when the scorching sun has set and the lights come out to play, people get out on the street to get some air. There’s tall and sort people, the old, the young and those in between. They walk in pairs, some walk alone and others in groups. Some prance back and forth as if memorising a speech, some swagger confidently, sure of themselves with every stride while others drag their feet, desperately pressing their heels against the asphalt.

Among these there are the quiet and audible ones. As you would guess the audible ones are seemingly more interesting. They talk about everything and anything from politics, what’s being served for supper and where to watch the night’s Champions League soccer match from. Some days they speak softly you can’t really make out what they’re saying, others days they’re so loud I hear them from inside the house almost as though competing for attention with the fast cruising cars.

And these cars suddenly pick up speed and fly by when the lights come on, as though powered by the street lights themselves. Perhaps in seeing the lights on, the drivers realize it’s getting late and try to rush home. Some do it do it for notoriety and for others I guess it’s a half heated attempt to be cool. Whatever pushes these motorists, they own my street, driving past each other with decreasing regularity till two in the morning when the street is deserted. By the time the sun begins to appear, the lights are off and the street slips into a light slumber with relative activity till a quarter past six in the evening.

Dear Annie…

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Dear Annie,

It’s been 90 days since I last saw you and it’s fair to say that I miss you. In fact saying I miss you is failed attempt at demonstrating just how much my heart is longing to see you. Of course I appreciate and enjoy every photo and video clip you send me as well as the faulty video chats we have but to physically be in the same place as you, to be able to touch your face and hold your hand, that’s divine.

So much has happened since the last time we were together I can’t put it all in this letter but two things stand out. Firstly, I’m done with school now which means more time for you but it also means I must find a job pretty soon. Now I know there’s so many opinions people have about the Zambian job market but one thing I know is for sure is that I ‘ve never failed a thing ever since we met. I feel I can do it all with you by my side, I guess it’s like that saying;  I can change the world with one hand as long as you’re holding the other one.

The second thing is that the cold is out and summer is here. You know what that means; lots of food, clowning at the zoo, the movies, the museum, long walks to nowhere and getting lost in the process, whatever we can do to paint the town red. Two more days and you’ll be here, I’m so excited, I can’t wait. We’ve done this a hundred times but seeing you get off that bus is till an event for me. Well, you better get here quick or I’ll have a head start with the food. So see you at the station in two days.

Forever & always
Chifwanti

P.S. We need to get better sunglasses this time, ones that will last all summer