The Market in Malawi
A short story from Malawi by Rima
With the first sunbeams everyone is already on the way. Where? Everywhere! On the way to the city, on the way to the market or school, to the woods and to the fields. If you don’t have a bike or motorbike maybe your morning starts even earlier. Most of the people think about today, not about tomorrow. Tomorrow is the next day, but we need to survive this day.
The barefoot boy runs fast around in the market. He is in a hurry, just grabs 4 eggs and 3 tomatoes, gives the notes and runs away. No one asks why he is not at school. They know he has responsibilities at home.
The old lady finally reaches the market. She is 71, most of her peers passed away many years ago, mostly from a severe loss of the body's cellular immunity. Yes from AIDS, but here people do not say it loud. Her back is in pain and after walking 6 miles in the sun light she just asks the girl next to the water pump to give her a cup of fresh water. After she will go to buy some seeds and maize flour. What is next? The long way back home. She can’t afford to pay for a bike ride, the cost of it equals two kilograms of maize flour.
The man in the t-shirt full of holes is happy because of the flour she bought from him. Today he can bring some sugar and beans to the family, the small business gives some small profit. If there will be at least 30 days more like this he can save some money and pay his daughter’s school fee for the last year at secondary school. The seller’s daughter is very talented. She reads and writes very well, especially she is good at mathematics. She helps a lot at her fathers’ business as he didn’t khow to count money or make the plans, and she helped a lot. But the girl doesn’t want this to be her future. She wants to finish school, go to university, find a job in the city, run away from the marriage, she feels not ready for this and afraid of some traditions. There are many more stories everyone can meet after just spending less than one hour in the small market of Mombo.
Nearby the market the old man is selling sugarcane. No one knows how old he is, every time he says a different number. But everyone knows him here, he is the oldest one in the area, or at least people think so. His name is Chikondi. A beautiful name, it means love in English. He always says that it is not just a name it is his own embodiment. Kids love him, they are always talking and laughing together, but nobody understands their language. Some adults says he is just crazy old man, who is lost in his mind. Chikondi had a big family, but now he is alone which is quite unusual. When he got married he was 21 and his wife just 13. They didn’t have children until she was 17. Chikondi says that she was just a small girl, he needed to save her and to show that the world is beautiful. They had 5 kids. Two girls and three boys. After the last born Chikondi lost his wife, she was weak and Malaria took the last breath. Two of his children passed away at a young age but the rest have families and they live in the villages around, they don’t meet often, but on Wednesdays and Saturdays Chikondi comes to the market because he knows that his grandchildren will come to him.
It is already after five o’clock in the evening… I am in a hurry to be back before it is dark. Just passing Mombo market. It is empty, just many plastic bags floating around and mess everywhere. I can hear the sound of many drums. The last stop before the turn to my home. I stop to buy some soya pieces for the dinner at the corner shop. There are so many people next to the shop I haven’t seen before. Why are they here? Did something happen? I asked them about it. They were not speaking with me and I can understand I am a white person who doesn’t understand their language. But my friend from the primary school saw me and came to talk. He said with his sad eyes that Chikondi passed away. He just stumbled in the market and that was it. He was a good man.
Drums are almost always an accompaniment for any manner of ceremony – births, deaths, marriages – together with a ritual dance. This time the drums sound for Chikondi – for Love.
Summary of the Story
This short story was written for an examination connected to Media. Rima had a task to write a short summary about her story and here it follows below:
My goal with writing the story was to move you, the reader, directly to the one of markets in the rural area of Malawi, Mombo market. During my stay in Malawi I noticed that the life is ‘boiling’ at the markets and in general the market plays a big role in the life of the local people. So my aim was to connect the lives of 5 people and to tell shortly their stories by giving a chance for you to realize the reality of the life in rural Malawi and once again the problems or challenges the people face, the compromises they make for survival. Like the lady who chose to walk 6 miles because in this way she can buy two more kilograms of maize flour or the boy who has responsibilities in the family so he is not attending the school, drums as part of the culture.
Even though I created the facts in the story, in many ways the story represents real stories. I would never have been able to create the story if I wouldn’t have had the possibility to investigate and to spend time with people in Malawi. During my time as a DI in Malawi I spent a lot of time trying to understand people; asking many questions, taking a part in celebrations, having lunch together, spending some time with people. Most of the time many the stories do not have a happy ending.