Across the railroad…
Published On June 25, 2016 » 2140 Views» By Hildah Lumba » Columns, Entertainment
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Life in the BronxLAZZO paid a courtesy call on his erstwhile colleague across east of the railroad.
He did not realise the radical difference in ‘two worlds’until he looked closely…
This dwelling place was divided by a deep chasm or void (empty space) of contrast two groups of citizens.
Lazzo thought that in fact, this railway track not only formed a social divide between  legendary ‘have-nots’ and the elite but also pointed out Lazzo’s real world!
Here was a habitat of hoodlums, cheats, witty pickpockets and witch-hunting sly characters all content in their open society  where privacy turned out to be a far-fetched wish!
There was always something happening in the stillness of the night and daylight.
Sinister acts when one meets a ‘witch’ as espoused in some local ballad (a song).
Hubby had a penchant to hide away from his spouse when answering his cellphone. So therefore, this night, in his quest to keep away from his mate, he ran away outside and lo! he came face to face with a witch!
The issue of wizards and witches had been part of the belief pattern
in the hood since time immemorial.
Lazzo,  believed this area was a semi-rural environment in its ways of superstition.  To be this, one had strong belief in magic for instance.
This phenomenon was believable to believers in the ‘supernatural and the unknown!’
When someone departed from the hood, there was often reasons for his demise and this pointed to ‘witchcraft or magic’.
Still, he was back in the hood after a week out in the low-density habitat across the famous railroad stretching from north to south in the city.
It was back to the communal livelihood and a neighbour ‘had passed on’…or not long ago, it used to be ‘passing away’ until Lazzo discovered the latest cliché was doing the rounds everywhere.
Women of the hood were busy collecting mealie-meal on dishes and as usual, each household had to donate money or something in kind while others got busy cooking for mourners.
Others were dabblers in the ages-old tribal cousinship which sometimes got to extremes as others turned the occasion into some ‘foolery’ by smearing white powder on one another.
One man brazenly declared that he wanted a meal because he was hungry and for sure, he was availed the staple food!
In the past, Lazzo had known of ‘hunters of bereavement’ who would trek the whole breadth of the hood seeking where to anchor.
Members of the Mwatipeza Political Party (MPP) were not to be outdone and they gave this solemn gathering a political slant by their presence.
Every time he passed by this concrete block house, he recalls one incident in which he spent a whole night doing what he should have been doing ‘at the watering hole’all in the name of attending this sombre gathering.
He had to get mixed up with all and sundry to share this common humanity that was so absent where he had been to a large extent…
In the other ‘world’ he had left behind, there was no going to the neighbour and asking for salt or anything of the sort because this was ‘unthinkable’ and embarrassing.
Every household was expected to have food stocks and not run on a shoestring budget.

It only happened behind those closets called ‘servants’ quarters’ whose inhabitants knew one another very well and somewhat close to what he was accustomed to in the locality.
Long before this, the breed got passes (authority notes) signed by their employers to even ‘taste’ the restricted lager beer which was an exclusive preserve of ‘whites’.
The rationale behind this restriction according to the ‘white’ fraternity was that the ‘black man’ was not ‘civilised’.
When drunk,  he would be tempted to use the empty bottle as a missile to hit at those who offended him while in a drunken stupor!
What a coincidence, he had lived on this street one decade in the last century!
That time had its own mesmerising moments when ‘juke boxes’ were found in places like his favourite watering hole.
Now, there were equally noisy high-resolution digital video disc (DVD) players that churned out ‘mind unsettling music’ to the chagrin of Lazzo.
But he had no choice and could not stop the menace that had dogged him for a long time in the hood.
Teenagers of the time played ‘mini-soccer’ instead of ‘pool’ so prevalent in modern times.
But both machines seemed to have served their purposes of entertainment conveniently to revellers.
Living like next door was another concept that Lazzo noted as competition seemed high strung.
“Our neighbours have bought a fridge and I think you should begin to think about it too.  Very soon, we shall be forced to ask for cold water and preserving our relish there!,” one man’s spouse complained.
Lazzo could see how overstretching the business of ‘living like people next door’ ranged from buying a chicken and a home theatre
The hustle and bustle of city life had infiltrated the hood at rapid-fire pace and Lazzo thought it had put many like him to the test.
But one had always to learn from others to improve but deep down inside, Lazzo was bothered by someone behaving like they were living across the railway line when in fact, they and he were  familiar bedfellows!
In fact, the homes they dwelt in were called by all sorts of names, slums, shanties, shacks or simply rickety housing in the hood!
Lazzo saw the folly  of pretence that had gripped many in the hood but having gone across the railroad once and having lived there somehow consoled him.
At one time or the other, he had lived a life of a citizen above average although he seemed to have now been relegated to the realm of riff-raff existence!
Indeed, there was time for everything like the slantforehead liked to say when he sometimes had passed his inebriation stage.
He sounded like one who was  chiding someone who did not have enough to drink at the watering hole…..

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