This is part one of a short story Luis and I have been working on about the life of a street kid named Joseph.
Roosters crow all night, into the morning.
It’s wet.....I’m wet.
The market is suffering from it’s typical early morning rainy season ritual. Friday Mumba kicks me out of his stall, again, here at the Savages, just a little piece of the pie in Lusaka's Soweto Market. You want cheap chicken and relish, come to the savages. You want to buy seven tons of bananas, come to the Savages.
No one really is savage here.
Rows of shanties covered by grain sacks. There is no electricity, no paved pathways. Only mud mud mud and more mud. The place is a breeding ground for cholera this time of year. Last year’s outbreak took three lives, one of them being Friday Mumbas little girl Lydia. What can you expect in a place that has no sanitation or drainage? There is only mud, trash, and sewage as far as the eye can see.
Ever since I came to be a bonafide member of the Soweto Market population, my eyes have been yellow, and I’ve had this pain in my lower back. Still struggling, but feeling better. As we say on the street, pangono, pangono, bit by bit.
When I wake in the morning the first thing that slams me in the face is the diesel fumes coming from old Bedford trucks on bent out of shape chassis’ giving Lusaka it’s daily does of smoke. Then it’s the kapenta, our little fried sardines. Mzungus, or foreigners, say they don’t like the smell, or the little eyes that look back at you just before you swallow them whole. But what do they know? This is Zambian food and THIS is who we are.
The smell brings me back to the village, when I wasn’t sleeping in a plastic grain sack, when we were able to find refuge from the rainy season deluge. When we could walk through fields and fields and pick and roast as much maize as we wanted. Now I get a high off of the smell of fried food I can’t eat or buy.
Toyota pick-ups get a kick out of splashing puddles of water on us. The common click clack of old four wheel drive shocks could be background music for our village drummers. But it’s the wet, the rain, that really brings it all together. Nowhere to wash, nowhere to dry off, nowhere to have dry feet. One day these tired old 14-year-old feet of mine will tread the golden streets of Joburg, or London, or best of all, America.
I gotta figure out what I’m gonna do today. I have those two-liter milk bottles I found yesterday at the back alley of the Lusaka Hotel on Cairo Road. three more bottles and I can get either 2500 Kwacha, or a broom. The Kwacha can get me 100mls of sticka, which will be enough to keep me in the clouds today, and maybe a fritter. But the broom I could use for the rest of the week, sweeping out stalls in the morning to earn my keep. My stomach hurts, and I have this painful head. Maybe the sticka is just easier for today. I’m still in no mood for work ever since the big boys from Chibolya came down and stole our hard earned money on Friday night, and made my little sister Mutale cry...
“Iwe, you, street boy, bwela, come. I have something for you to do.” It’s Candice, the chicken lady. Maybe I just found my answer. “My daughter is being lazy today. Come and cut these up and clean them, and I’ll give you 5 pin for the day.” She holds out a filthy basin full of dead chickens, and I know this is my answer. One dollar is all I’ll need. It’s double what I would have made off the containers. Thank you God. I might be able to buy a litre of Chibuku as well with this, and that’ll keep the shivers off at night. I toy with the idea of taking some chicken while she’s not looking, or putting the knife to her neck and getting the money she stashes in her bra. Than I remember the incident with Charles. He tried to roll her the same way and she had him rolled, all the way to the ER at University Teaching Hospital. In the end he got one hundred and twenty reasons not to mess with this woman, crisscrossing his back. I wonder if this was the same knife she used. I’ll do the Lord’s work today, keep it honest, keep it real.
I hope you enjoyed it....more to follow....
If you are interested in giving to the work we are doing here and contributing to our living expenses so that we can keep working with these precious children you can go to tscnyc.org ---donate---make a one time donation----missions----Luis and Myranda Morales/zambia