Gone-era trousers produce heartache


ONLY a competent and honest medical scientist can give a proper explanation on why I didn’t die, rejoin my ancestors, and fire up their spirits in singing hallelujah, when my heart skipped three bits, after bumping into Jose Kitindamimba.

I had thought that his father, who died some 70 years ago, had resurfaced after being bored stiff of lifelessness in the graveyard in our village. The frogs there, by the way, hold the dubious record of singing the most off-tune songs in our country, dating back to the era of what Reverend Chris Mtikila sentimentally called Mother Tanganyika.

I was mighty relieved after realising that Jose – who makes a big deal out of sharing the JK initials with our immediate ex-president – was actually the son of his father, whom he started resembling almost scandalously as he grew older.

The long time-gap between when we last met and when we reconnected reminded us of the fact that, many of our older relatives were born, bred, schooled, toiled, married, divorced, became sick, were bewitched, recovered, grew irreparably old, died and were deposited in basements within the village.

For us, after a few years of using shoe-less, jiggerterrorised feet to play football, schooling and fetching firewood in snake-hosting bushes, we scattered in pursuit of advanced education and earning so-called daily bread.

Bread is something on which the Bible says man can’t solely live, but in respect of which a famous intellectual said some people never chanced to even see, let alone eat.

The reconnection was so delightful that, JK and I embraced for nearly three minutes, more tightly than long-separated twins would. It was a natural reaction for two ancestors of Adam from a village with the highest mosquito per capita rate in the world but who survived malaria-induced death, and had kissed six decades byebye.

We reminisced over events of the past, including the dress code revolution during our youth in the 70s, in different towns where we were jointly or separately based. We wore shirts that were so tight that they seemed to have big quarrels with the skins above the waists, which they sought to squeeze to death.

The pairs of trousers were wide-bottomed and helped to sweep the roads along which we walked.

Our feet, long liberated from jiggers, wore shoes weighing about a kilo each, which were fully covered by the trousers, and were exposed only when we sat down.

Literally speaking, someone would invite himself to a police station, a courtroom and a prison, by using a shoe to make someone else four teeth less, over suspicions that he was wishing his girlfriend had been his! Bell-bottomed trousers were replaced by tightfitting ones that seemed to have been super-glued to the wearers, a pair over which JK was hospitalised in 1977.

He failed to take it off before retiring for the night, after returning to his rented single room close to midnight, after a hectic outing at which he had danced as though he was on the devilin- chief’s assignment.

Being a bachelor, technically wifeless, and relative-less as he didn’t live with any family member, no-one could help him. Using a knife, he started slitting a section of the trousers near the lower southeastern end of the waist and the north eastern end of the left thigh.

The idea was to create a gap that he would subsequently broaden and facilitate liberation from the torture.

Due to unsteady concentration, having drank something totally different from water, he did so as liberally as someone slicing a loaf of bread. He cut himself badly, letting out shrieks similar to the ones of a female hyena in the process of delivering a baby. Panicky neighbours rushed him to hospital.

He recovered fully medically, but psychological recovery was partial, given the embarrassment stemming from the circumstances under which he had landed into trouble.

I told JK that last Wednesday, people I thought mistook me for a new presidential appointee, focused much attention to me as I sipped coffee at the Mzizima Airport restaurant, ahead of an Arusha-bound flight.

The awkward way I felt while ascending the airplane stairs made me realise that, during the rush to beat the reporting time deadline ‑ thanks to over-sleeping due to drinking something that might make someone think it was a close relative of cough syrup ‑ I had picked and wore an old pair of tightfitting jeans I had kept as a souvenir !

Quarter-way my story, Jose collapsed after being choked by the soda he was drinking. Mercifully, he recovered. If he had died and I had been charged with manslaughter, the magistrate would have probably laughed himself to death. You could have done the same because, in my defence, I would have argued that, it was most improbable for someone who had never slaughtered a chicken to slaughter another man !

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