For Honour and other stories

Published: May 1, 2012

Love on Trial

Mr Lapani Kachingwe’s popularity has soared. He has always been
popular because of his love for strong drink. But from the time he
stumbled upon two young men in a toilet, his fame has reached levels
he never imagined.

In principle his story is for free, whether he is sober or drunk, but
in practice if you want to get down to the finest details, ‘the juiciest
parts’ as he calls them, you have to buy him a tot of kachasu, the spirit
distilled at Mr Nashoni’s Village Entertainment Centre on the outskirts
of Chipiri village.

In truth, nobody ever finds out what the strands of those details are
in Mr Kachingwe’s story. After listening to it many times, one comes
to the conclusion that whatever happened in that toilet, the long and
the short of it is that Mr Kachingwe caught two boys, one of whom is
Chipiri village’s own Charles Chikwanje and the other a stranger presumably
from a neighbouring village, in flagrante.

‘How is that possible?’ is what most of the villagers want to know,
‘between two men?’

‘Another tot,’ Mr Kachingwe answers. Or, when the inquisitive person
looks better off financially, Mr Kachingwe may say: ‘Give each
one of us a tot, then you will have all the details,’ to nods of approval
from his drinking mates sitting under the huge kachere tree outside
Mr Nashoni’s house. The enquirer obliges. He throws what is called ‘a
round’ – in the lingo used at places like Mr Nashoni’s Village Entertainment

‘OK, tots bought,’ the round-thrower says, sitting down opposite Mr
Kachingwe on a brown, short-legged stool. ‘Now, tell me. Who, in the

process, was performing the functions of the man and who was the
woman, if I may be a little straightforward?’

Mr Kachingwe prefers to begin from the beginning. He does not
remember what he must have eaten, he says, but he was coming from
Mr Nashoni’s, naturally not very sober, when his stomach was terribly
upset beyond what he could bear. He saw a line of toilets outside
the Chipiri Primary School, those brick iron-sheet-roofed pit latrines,
about ten or so of them, right at the beginning of the school compound
if you were coming from the western side. It was a Saturday, so there
were no pupils at school. He ran for the toilets, burst into the first he
came to and had relieved his stomach of its burden in one monumental
effort when he realised he had company. Charles and a boy Mr Kachingwe
failed to recognise were so engrossed in their act it took some
time for them to become aware somebody had entered the toilet, by
which time Mr Kachingwe had seen ‘everything’.

‘What,’ the round-thrower asks, ‘was the everything? I have heard
the rest of the story many times over, but I want to hear the everything
in greater detail.’

‘Another tot,’ Mr Kachingwe demands.

His patience beginning to wear out, the round-thrower obliges, faced
with no choice. But when the contents of that second tot are poured
down the throat at one go, Mr Kachingwe’s speech begins to slur. A
strong odour of alcohol escapes his mouth as he speaks. His eyes are
redder than they were not so long ago. He tries to delve into the details
but the story is not coherent at all. In despair, the round-thrower leaves,
feeling cheated. Mr Kachingwe’s drinking buddies laugh.

‘Keep it that way, man,’ the buddies say. ‘Like that, we won’t worry
about money to spend on alcohol until the end of September.’ This, by
the way, is the first week of August. Everybody laughs again. Another
day at Mr Nashoni’s Village Entertainment Centre is going on very

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