There is magic in the streets of Blantyre.
Behind every street smart (or wannabe), there is a story filled with lessons. And most times, I like to think that that is my experience with Blantyre. Tragic things happened for me to know this city well. That is the sole reason I had balls enough to write about the secret cartels that most know nothing about, or just how the city is ruled by thugs. As we continue with the Things We See in Blantyre series, I wanted to share the Magic in the Streets of the city. I know, that is weird, but it something that has always fascinated me.
Before we continue, be sure to check out Things We See in Lagos, the initial series that inspired this.
Magic in the Streets
I am very sure that every city has its own fair share on magic. I mean that in literal sense, but not at the same time. Blantyre too has the fair share of those. Although I must admit that most of it can perhaps be found in Limbe.
Limbe! I say write this with a sigh. Limbe is a town within Blantyre. Perhaps the most chaotic towns you will find in Malawi. It has people from all walks of life, both wealthy and poor. But perhaps most notorious for housing a lot of Asians, especially our Indian friends.
Now, it is important to know that Limbe is not for the faint-hearted. You dare not walk straight, because it is important to always have another set of eyes behind you just to make sure you are safe.
But this is where you find the magic in the streets.
The first time I found magic was when I was 16. I had been annoying my dad about a new phone and he had finally caved.
He had sent the money that was required to get me my dream gadget. The whole way there, I was ecstatic. Pretty much daydreaming about this new piece of equipment that would be mine. My friend from college had done me a favor to accompany me to Limbe and get it.
Once we got there, we decided to visit a total of five shops so that we could compare prices before deciding where we would get it from. Also, that was after we had negotiated to the best of our ability.
Shop by shop we entered. Admiring phones and everything we saw in them. Collecting prices and discounts.
Then we got to the shop, the one that opened my eyes to the magic in the streets of Limbe.
We got in the shop with a certain eagerness than we did the others. There was just something about the shop that gave me chills, but I wanted to explore it further. Instead of shying away from it. I know, I acted like a white person in a scary movie.
The prices were not too far away from the other shops we had visited. The discount was not too different either. But there was someone different.
There was a man who was walking around the shop and staring at us from time to time. He looked like someone who worked in the shop. As I was busy negotiating, he crept up to my friend and asked her what exactly we were looking for. Information she eagerly supplied.
With a smile on his face, he told her that he would get it for us at a very cheap price. To be fair, his price was at least 75% off the prices in the shops. Something that left my friend interested.
The instruction was easy, we meet him at the back of the shop. An alley that was dangerous, but I was willing to get to the avenue, so long as it saved me money I could spend on stupid things.
We got to the alley and patiently waited for his arrival. Which happened 5 minutes of us waiting. Again, he explained that he would get us the phone and we would buy it from him at a cheap price.
Before I go on, you need to know that I was young and my judgment was bad.
The plan was simple, he would smuggle the phone from the shop and meet us again on the alley and make the transaction.
As he was leaving, he advised us to fold the money properly. At that moment, I had given the required cash to my friend. He went on to fold the money and returned it to her. Then off he left to commit a crime which we would later buy. Genius!
He was meant to be back within 10 minutes, but those passed and he was no where to be seen. We decided to wait just a bit longer. But another 10 minutes passed and he was no where to be seen.
After another 5 minutes, I decided I was done waiting and would buy it from the shops instead. I asked my friend to pass me the money back so I add it to the rest. Up until that moment, she hadn’t unfolded her fingers from the stash of money. They were tightly wrapped.
As she unfolded them, all we saw were pieces of newspapers. Not the money she had last seen.
With our mouths agape, we saw the newspapers fall to the ground. Before the grave realisation of what had just happened slammed to our faces.
We had been hussled. The money was gone, the phone was not bought, and I had no good explanation to give both my parents.
With my tail held between my legs, I shamefully made my way home. All through the way, I had tears welled in my eyes, but I am not one to cry in public. I held them on till I got home and was hidden in my cave.
Magic in the Streets
I have always regarded what happened to me as the easiest form of magic ever. For close to 25 minutes, we stood in the alley with our minds dead. For 25 minutes, we waited for a man who was never to return.
However, that taught me a lesson about this town. How dark it can be, and just how dark I had to be to survive in it. And I have been great at it since then.
The incident happened some 8 years ago, I still remember the face of the man that did it to me. Funny enough, at a certain point, he became a protector of mine. I did confront him about it, but he had hussled so many to remember the faces of all his victims.
That is the exact reason why you have people hiding their cash in their undergarments.
Ever experienced such in the beautiful city, comment down below so we all laugh at our mishaps.