Ghetto Dances: But was this the life I wanted?

The women always competed to shine their floors, which after a touch of red polish, the floors would be sparkling red.

I woke up to the usual noise of clamouring voices. It was still dark, dawn was breaking gently from a crimson horizon.

The street hawkers in Hwata Street were  trying to outdo each other as usual.

Mudhara Pinjisi easily out shined them as I  could hear his voice succinctly shouting, “Cobra! Cobra! Cobra!”

This was the brand name for the floor polish he sold to the women.

His red floor polish sold like hot cakes as it was in great demand. The women always competed to shine their floors, which after a touch of red polish, the floors would be sparkling red.

I was not particularly looking forward to the day. A voice like the buzzing of a bee in my ear kept telling me that I was a failure. “You are a failure! You are a failure! You are a failure!”

It took great effort for me to get up. Mai Maidei had already left for the market.

The children were still sleeping. There was no school as it was a Saturday.

I had to see Baba VaTata urgently. I needed money, a loan would do.

I wanted to start my own business. I quickly put on my clothes.

I put on a blue t-shirt clearly labelled at the front, “The End of the Road.” The label did not give me any inspiration at all. It was a gloomy message.

I wanted to change the T–shirt but I decided not to linger too much in the house in case I woke up the children.

I was still angry with Fatso who had previously stolen my business idea of a car wash.

It ate my heart out to see him prospering as each time I passed by the car wash I could see that his business was booming. He was getting more and more customers.

In his heart of hearts he knew that I had not forgiven him. Of late, he was pampering me with beer whenever I was at Zororo Bar.

Our relationship had taken a nosedive and would never be the same again.

Baba VaTata was at home. There were about three other people by his gate. 

It was obvious that the three were also on a mission to borrow money, just like me.

His money-lending business was giving him a tidy income.

His sedan, which he had recently bought, was parked too close to the house as there was no adequate space.

I could hardly squeeze through to get to the front porch. Baba VaTata was also doing well.

It was clearly obvious that all my friends were doing well. It seemed that poverty stared only at me unflinchingly.

It was an end-of-the-road journey with no prospect of a better life.

Baba VaTata was optimistic when he saw me. This actually put me off balance as I wanted to borrow more money from him even though I had only borrowed the previous week.

“I have decided to form my own political party,” said Baba VaTata from the blues.

“Really?” I said as I was not expecting this.

“You can become my campaign manager,” he said.

I could see that he was serious.

“I will make you rich,” he said.

That was the point. Politics, it seemed was the new source of wealth. All one needed was to be convincing enough to win the hearts and mind of people.

“Let's go to Zororo Bar and have one or two beers,” said Baba VaTata. The bait was too much.

I could hardly resist the prospect of free beer. But was this the life I wanted?

I wanted to be able to buy my own beer and not salivate at the handouts.

There was a moment of silence.

He gave me a quizzical look, with raised eyebrows. I told myself that this was the last time.

“Why not? Let's go for the beer,” I grinned.

Even as we went to Zororo, I was determined to start my own business. I was tired of living at the edge of poverty.

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