Concoctions in the Hood …
Published On October 3, 2015 » 2993 Views» By Hildah Lumba » Columns, Entertainment
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Life in the BronxWHEN Lazzo woke up, it was a sunny morning and during the onset of the weekend.
His erstwhile colleague paid him a courtesy call and, as usual, even walls have ears!
Little did he realise that someone was eavesdropping next door and he was being listened to as talking politics to Lazzo as usual.
Barely a year had elapsed since he made the mistake of ‘talking through a rat’.
In the hood, the greatest error one would commit is to blast a naughty child by sternly stating that you think they are ‘a four-letter word character!.
Lazzo’s  mentor had made ‘the talking through’ blunder when after a spell at the watering hole, a fat rat scaled up the wall back and forth in his bedroom at breakneck speed and then disappeared into a hole in the air vent.
In his usual self, he began to hurl invectives at the rat for giving him sleepless nights!
He further went on to charge that he thought the rat was in fact a person.
As he spoke, some ears were glued to the wall that divided his room and the adjoining one.
As usual, women of the hood were good at scheming gossip, so Lazzo thought.
She told hubby that her neighbour was alleging that she was a witch and had in fact passed another comment which she thought was in bad taste.
It was not long before Lazzo found himself at loggerheads with his neighbour who censured him for ‘talking through a rat!.
It was by the skin of his teeth that Lazzo was saved from a good hiding because most members of the hood believed in physical confrontation.
It was in fact a woman onlooker who saved Lazzo from the impeding punishment from the irate hubby!
As Lazzo and his acquaintance set off for the watering hole and the small crowd that had gathered to watch the skirmish was dispersing,
Lazzo could not help concluding that the deeper hood had firm belief in personal confrontations to settle scores…
It was month-end as usual and by the sheer numbers that formed the patronage everyone able  to fathom reality would know that the economic graph had shot up for most patrons in the hood.
“You see, you confrontation with that neighbour has nothing to do with you ‘talking through a rat’ but it is political,” Lazzo’s mentor initialed the dialogue.
“In fact, every time, you comment about what you see on television, you are under constant surveillance,” Lazzo’s mentor continued.
He disclosed that it was in fact the same man that was highly critical of the country chartering a plane to the UN General Assembly meeting when there was a Challenger Jet intact.
“But do you know the capacity of the Challenger Jet and would it have carried the entire delegation meant for the global indaba?,” asked Lazzo.
His mentor quickly replied:”In fact, when someone asked him whether he knew the capacity of the Challenger Jet, he seemed to have been lost as he could not answer that question.
“But it is not only this country that took delegations to the UN, why all this fuss?,” asked a patron who sounded like a cadre.
Lazzo noticed that the question was aimed at finding out about the pros and cons of who belonged to what political faction.
No sooner had he finished  his introspection on the matter had the slantforehead man answered.
“Sometimes, we patrons in the hood can be petty on issues we do not understand. Look at someone saying that they are going to raise the cost of drawing water from the communal tap because the United States dollar had gained more strength on the Kwacha!,” he pointed out with a brief chuckle as he took a short sip from his bottle.
Certainly, Lazzo had noted with alarm the avalanche of price hikes on petty goods that not long ago cost half the Kwacha!
Trouble had come to the hood because a sachet of charcoal had even doubled its price overnight!
To last a day, a family of five needed at least five of these to prepare their meals.
Lazzo’s mentor reverted to the incident before the watering hole stating that in fact, the man he had been grappling with was a perpetrator of negation on the plummeting Kwacha!
“Some people seem so excited to lambast those in authority as if leaders had switches fitted in their houses that controlled the fluctuation of the Kwacha,” intoned the man who everyone thought
sounded like a ‘cadre’.
Lazzo was amazed to see that when one critic was asked to define the word ‘cadre’ silence was the reply!
He wondered how many people in the hood would best define this word.
But one woman when asked at the watering hole to explain the meaning of cadre said:” A cadre is a person who beats up other people who do not believe in his political thinking!,”
Lazzo thought that she at least tried to say something than the man who kept quiet!
But the slantforehead man who in fact had a stint running away from a foreign country but had found peace in Lazzo’s hood came out of his shell.
“Cadre is a word associated with communism especially in the Eastern block during the Cold War era.  A cadre was one of the many such political supporters and often dressed in one colour and viewed as political activists,” he concluded like someone who had been talking to himself.
He also gave an example of what the First Republic experienced when in the political party hierarchy were activists known as ‘vigilantes’.
The word emanated from ‘vigilant’ which means to be bold or agile and determined not to be defeated!
The blockbuster explanation was beyond comprehension of many patrons near the counter and they reacted like the man who had failed to explain the word in the first instance.
“You have to be very careful the way you deal with our friends in the hood.  Out of the blue, they will concoct a lie and create hell for you!,” said Lazzo’s mentor evidently filling the topical vacuum as the watering hole was scaling up to the bream!

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