“Give me my money,” the girl says. She is identical to all the other girls with her green primary school uniform and her close cropped hair. You have probably walked past her dozens of times. On other days she may even have greeted you in the exact same way. On other days you may have even returned the greeting with a smile and shrug.
On other, sunnier days.
“What?” You stop walking and look at her. Her legs are ashy. Her feet are shoeless. A thin crust of dried snot hovers just below her nostrils. On other days you would have kept walking. On other days you would not have said anything.
It took me a few days to notice that Mr Steak had disappeared from school.
“I have not seen our friend for a while,” I say to Mr Jerry in the elliptical vernacular that is common in this part of the world. He looks at me quizzically. “That one,” I say, motioning in the direction of Steak’s desk.
“Oh. He has gone to get a transcript,” Jerry says, “In Mzuzu.” Thyolo is in the South of Malawi. Mzuzu is in the North. Nothing unusual about the journey taking a few days.
The rainy season was late. Before Christmas, the President was gearing up to ask everyone to pray for the rainfall this country depends on to survive. Any prayers were answered a couple of weeks ago in the form of a tropical cyclone that formed out in the Indian Ocean. Malawi may be a landlocked nation, but the arms of a category 5 are long and when one of them decides to hug the coast of South East Africa, it’s time to bring in the laundry and break out the gumboots.
The rivers and seas didn’t boil. The dead didn’t rise from their graves. Dogs and cats weren’t living together. But in a country where the bricks are made from sand, two solid days of torrential rainfall and high winds are bound to cause some chaos. Floods. Muds. Collapsed walls. A nice dose of mass hysteria to kick off the New Year. Continue reading →