Letter from below

Malawi Heat


Dear Temwani,

I do not regret lying six feet under. Although the soil is slowly swallowing my smooth skin and soothing perfume. I am happy to be here.

Of course, I miss oxygen. I am breathing the air we once despised in class. The trees in the graveyard are mercilessly eating away my ancestors and I.

Temwani, the handsome man that was me is rotting into food for trees. But I am still living.

The only thing I miss is the bottle. Do you still camp at Chigwirizano pubs? Do you still swallow Chipumu, the opaque stuff you usually brought from Mwazisi?

I know you love your booze, but drink carefully. At all costs, avoid playing touch-touch games. The queens of Chigwirizano are tired with life. Some of them are corpses only walking to raise funds for their coffins. Hit one without protection, you will join us down here.

You may think that you are living, but you are learning how to die. AIDS is real even if you don’t see its course with your naked eyes.

Those that succumbed to it have told me painful stories. You know I died of hypertension, one of those executive malnutrition diseases. Remember the village eulogies?

‘Here lies a man who ate well!’ exclaimed the village elder, pointing to my homemade coffin.

Yes, I ate well-but at owner’s risk. Did you attend my burial? I only saw your wife.

My friend, AIDS is incurable. Apart from overdosing you with opportunistic diseases, it will make you food for trees like me.

You are dust, but you can save your bones a little longer if you enjoy your bottle without taking the sugar-coated risks that follow you to the pub.

Be careful, Temwani.

But how is dying up there? Are the queues gone? Is the government hospital still suffering from the shortage of drugs that fast-tracked my death?

That was some experience! You remember the two weeks I endured without receiving a cold drink from well-wishers?

‘A patient shall not live on water alone,’ said the woman who died in labour because there was no electricity. I met her. She wishes the hospital had back-up generators. But how would they run when fuel pumps could only vomit air?

Remember last week a nameless patient died in the intensive care unit because there was no forex for his treatment abroad? The man told us that now a basketful of your money can only buy things to fill a purse. Is that true? Are teachers still getting too little too late?

You know I loved teaching, even though I was never paid my rural allowance for six months. By the way, has government paid my family now? Push for it because they need it in my absence.

From here, I understand why you quit teaching. I should have followed suit. Even though teachers give a lot to the society, they get no respect until they come here. I am saying all this because there is true freedom of speech here. In fact, yours is just a synonym of character assassinations and corruption.

Sing me hymn 371, The World Is Not Your Home.

That crazy world of yours is indeed a journey to our place. Sorry, it is not even yours. It is for the rich.

The greed up there is awakening us down here. The powerful silence the weak and steal the little that keeps the poor going.

Just recently I heard students were fighting to save our university from another unplanned holiday. I pity them. Why do they still risk their lives when some die penniless or jobless after graduating from the coveted corridors?

Temwani, we are better off here. We are never hungry. Nobody can buy our silence with bags of cheap fertiliser and seeds. Tell your people that all bumper harvests are a result of good rains and hard work, not the soil-scorching salts.

Those chemicals are making the soil unbearable for us, but we do not queue for anything. There are no hospitals, filling stations, bottlers, banks, sex workers…

I think paradise is here!

And please, do not write back because you and your powers are on the Creator’s list of people coming here.

Get ready, Temwani. Mend your ways.

I remain yours,


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  2. Anonymous7:01:00 AM

    This is artistic n educative

  3. Anonymous7:13:00 AM

    Hyms 371

  4. Pius, you are a star. I adore your artistic writing skills.

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