“Guys, most of us are a shame. That is a fact. You mean you cannot afford to buy your wives descent clothes? And, by that, I mean ‘under clothes’ inclusive? Most of you even travel outside the country for conferences, seminars or business trips, and your spouses don’t have anything to show in terms of clothes!” that is how Lackson introduced the topic for debate last Sunday afternoon.
“Izinso ndiye zachokera kuti abambo [where is this subject coming from, man]? Asked Joe, as everyone nodded in agreement while most members of the Crew thought that day’s talk would dwell on religious issues in the country.
As Lackson seemed set to engage another gear of his ‘crazy’ spilling of emotions sugar-iced as facts, Aunt Liz, one of the regulars at the joint we had gathered in Lunzu, joined the tongue ‘rapping’.
“You know what, Lackson? Today you are in more than your normal senses. Tell them the truth. These fellow men of yours can spend over K30,000 or more during a drinking spree , but even fail to buy the very basic thing a woman can proudly add to her wardrobe. Shame!” she said, finishing her sentence by imitating some Pidgin English, synonymous with our brothers and sisters from that huge country that houses Boko Haram.
“Tell them, tell them!” another stranger of Aunt Liz type added her bucket-full of derogatory venom.
“You will be the ones to be ashamed when you find your wives busy rushing after ‘Food warmers’ being sold in Limbe, or what is that other place in Lilongwe? …oh, yeah! I remember they call it Old Town/Malangalanga!” she said, with all of us not really understanding whether her sentiments were hysterical or mere shouting associated with feminine verbal diarrhoea.
But ‘Atsogoleri’ Rob M was already into the verbal battle ring. “Wait a moment… wait! Is it wrong for one, let alone our wives, to rush to vendors that are selling ‘Food Warmers’ in markets?”
The two ladies, Lackson and the barman went into stitches. We all wondered as to what was happening, even your very own started openly insinuating that the trio had taken too much of the same green stuff that makes Malawi a hero of a nation among other crazy global societies.
“Mwachisuta eti? Choseketsa n’chani apa?” said ‘Atsogoleri’ Rob M, his usual hoarse voice at the ceiling of audibility.
“You mean you don’t know what ‘Ma Food Warmer’ are in the street language of town? You men look like people about town but I know you are just like fist timers to Kabula, or let me say strangers to Blantyre City… Shaaa!” said Aunt Liz.
“Now, just tell us, tell us Liz, and do not mock us. Not everyone here knows everything about town. And you should also realise that we are getting older and may not be aware of the language being used by the new generation,” chipped in Joe.
Liz said she could only elucidate the new puzzle unless we bought her a drink. In no time at all, her crate-turned-table was full of ciders.
“OK, all…when you hear a vendor in Limbe, Blantyre or indeed any other place, shouting kupeza ma Food Warmer, it is not about the ordinary food warmers. They are selling women underwear. So the catch line is ‘Food warmers’!” she said, before continuing.
“And all that is because you can’t buy for them and you don’t give them adequate money to at least buy new under cloth. Are you surprised that you find battalions of women kneeling or kukutumula some old-junk of second-hand clothes— that include half petticoats and underwear — even along the streets in Blantyre?”
At that, Lackson clapped his hands and summed up: “Just go near the entrance of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and you will see hordes of women, buying second hand brassiere and underwear at a price as cheap as K100 [one hundred kwacha] – and even cheaper!”