One Dark Night

by Mazuba Mwiinga

Chapter 4

Jack and James, the two young merchants from Monze town decided to leave after staying for two weeks in Chikuni village at Hamooya’s home.

It was a dull Friday morning. The sky was so silky and smoky that one would not see the rounded ball of a sun shoot out from the eastern azure properly. James was up early, sorting out the clothes in a bundle as he whistled a famous traditional tune he had come to love so much.

Sunu tindoona ndali kulila mooye wangu ku dolopo…….
Bwaca biyo ndaunka nkabone kamwale wangu nobeenzuma….

Amundileke ndaambe nkaambo moyo wangu ulacisa ndamuyeeya muna miindi

I couldn’t sleep tonight
For I was just dreaming of my town sweetheart
Let morning come, and I will travel to see my love

Don’t stop me… let me talk because my heart is at pain
At just the thought of my darling…..

He would smile to himself and giggle like a small girl impressed with her school performance. Though the day had started on a low note, James was excited leaving the village in anticipation to meet his town friends and his beloved darling; a bottle of Mosi Lager. Out side the hut, the dogs were howling unknown cries at something James would not mind paying attention to. His mind was in town; only the body was doing him injustice standing there in a hut full of lizards and mosquitoes.

Beside him was spread a reed mat they used as a bed. On it Jack was covered from toe to his last hair with a chitenge wrapper they used as a blanket. He was snoring loudly like one who would not wake up. James didn’t like this noise. It disturbed his castle-building-in-the-air so much that he felt like pulling him up and throw him out of the hut. But he couldn’t dare do that or he should have been prepared for a very tough tag of war with his friend Jack. But he would not spend a lot of time waiting for him to get up and prepare for the journey before they finally start off. So he decided to wake him up.

“Jack! Wake up man, its morning”, James shouted, but Jack was as still as a log of a fresh tree put as a cordon. “Jack!” he called out again. “What’s wrong with you? You better be up or we shall be late in time for transport to town.” But James seemed to have been talking to himself for Jack never breathed out any single bit of a sound in response.

Ignoring, James went outside the hut to relieve himself in the near by shrubs for almost half an hour. When he came back in the hut, Jack had not showed any signs of life. Worriedly James bent his head towards the pillow but he could not be sure of his instincts. Panicking, he pulled up the chitenge wrapper from Jack’s head as he called out his name. “Jack! Jack!” but Jack was as mute as a mule. He then stood legs apart and shook Jack’s shoulders shouting in his ears to wake up. And out of a mixture of anger and fear, Jack leapt out of the mat like a charging Hyena and bumped his head into James’ left cheek, who went wildly shocked with apprehension as the force of gravity pulled him back so mercilessly and left him rest his back on the bundle of clothes to his utter luck.

“What the hell is wrong with you Jack?” From the bundle of clothes, James barked.

“What’s wrong with me? You want to know what is wrong with me? How dare you shout into someone’s ears as if you are mad?!” Standing akimbo, his eyes red with disturbed sleep, Jack furiously hissed.

“For how long could I wait for you to respond to my waking you up? Eh? I have been calling and calling you several times but you slept there like a dead monkey!”

“Why shouldn’t I be sleeping? Cant you see that its still night now?” Jack responded, his breathing so heavy as if someone from a marathon race.

“You should be ashamed of yourself Jack. Look outside and tell me what time it is. Come on go and look outside”, James insisted, but Jack just yawned widely, stretching his hands along as he said, “Oh, its so pale outside. I am deceived to thinking that its still night”.

“You fold that chitenge of yours and park it in the bag”.

“Why, James?”

“Why? What’s the matter with you Jack?”

“Is it a problem to ask why I should park the chitenge? Come on don’t be so thick headed James”.

“Didn’t we say we are leaving for town today?” James asked.

“Well, well, well, so that’s anger huh?” Jack snapped. “You should just have said it in a manner that bestows a gentleman my friend. Why the anger when you are going home?”

“I am not annoyed Jack. Your manners are irritating me. Come on now, park the chitenge and your clothes we are running out of time. You know that transport is a very big problem here”.

That was their life; arguing so nastily that some times they would reach a point of breakage. But a few minutes later, they would be back together again. Jack was a rough short-cut talker while James was too much into diplomacy. They cleaned the hut and then James started to talk about how he missed the town and their regular place Chakos Pub; but Jack very un interested walks out of the hut as if one possessed with a fetish feeling.

After having their morning meal of soft nsima with sour milk, James thanked Hamooya for keeping them all this time saying Jack and his himself would be returning to the village anytime soon. Hamooya reminded them that every time they would be in the village, his family would be very much willing to accommodate them for as long as they would wish to stay. Then Jack offered Hamooya a pair of shirt as a present for his family’s courtesy.

“No, no, no my son; accepting this shirt would mean I have charged you for staying in that good-for-nothing hut. Its ok my son, you travel well”.

“It’s not a fee ba Hamooya. This is just an appreciation for your kindness. Please accept it so that we can go with pleased hearts too”, Jack insisted.

“You see Jack…” Hamooya said but James cut him short, “No, ba Hamooya. Jack is right. We are not paying for your hospitality. This is just a gesture of good will”.

Hamooya accepted the shirt from Jack and a pair of trousers from James. Then Jack again donated a head wrapper for Lubono and a mini skirt for Bridget both of whom were absent at home. Happily, Hamooya asked them to stay for another week if they could, saying, it would be better they leave after selling all their merchandise. Jack quickly supported the idea adding that after all it was just Wednesday they could even leave over the week end. Diplomatically but with full force, James refused explaining to Hamooya that they had some pressing personal matters they needed to urgently attend to in town.

“What urgent matters are you talking about James? Ba Hamooya is right by saying that we stay for just another week so that we could do away with all these clothes we have”, Jack seriously suggested. But James told Jack that he didn’t mean ba Hamooya was wrong, but that it was much better for them leave now so that they could see Doombe who owes them money before he left town.

“Ok you can go alone my friend and you will find me so that I try to sell these remains”, Jack put his thought across.

“No, Jack we need to go my friend. Both of our signatures appear on the credit form we signed so we both need to be there” James explained further. Avoiding an argument, Hamooya bade them farewell advising them to remain hard working and committed to their work.

Jack and James left; James leading the way unhappily asking Jack why he was wishing to remain behind when they have some work to do in town. But in response Jack accused James of being unrealistic and unthankful for the offer Hamooya had given them after all what he did for them.

“No Jack”, James said stopping, giving Jack his back. “I was not unrealistic in anyway at all. I think I smell a rat in your brain”.

“What! A rat in my brain you say? What are you trying to imply James?” holding James’ right shoulder with his right hand, Jack confusedly asked. “Tell me, what do you mean by that James?” But James let his thoughts be a question of reflection. He started walking telling Jack to speed up his steps or they would miss their transport to town.

NOTE: This is an eleven Chapter novel. Continue blogging and you will read it for free in the next coming weeks.

Copyright © 2008 Mazuba Mwiinga

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews and for the purpose of teaching and/or learning.

Published by Zuu Media Solutions, Livingstone, Zambia. Email: Mobile: +260-979341855

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