The year 1972 started good for Akua. The rains were plentiful. Akua was looking forward to have enough food for the year and also money from the sale. When Bayo was alive she would help Akua in harvesting and storing the corn, now he had to ask Demond and Badru to help. They stored the corn in the inside room of their hut. Akua was in high spirits.
One morning Badru got up screaming. He was shaking his shirt and jumping as if some devil got into him. Akua approached him to find out what happened. Badru pointed to an insect that he had just brushed away from his shirt. Akua looked at it and his face turned ashen. What Badru was pointing was a weevil, a beetle like corn moth. Akua peeked inside the room where he had stored the corn. The weevils were everywhere. He had no idea where they came from. They had infested the crop. Akua had not used any pesticide to keep it safe from these invaders. He also didn’t have bins to store the crop. The crop had to be thrown away. What was he going to do now? How were they going to survive the coming months?
The next morning, without telling anyone, Akua woke up when everyone was asleep and just walked away from his home, leaving his family behind. He had mentioned to Demond that there may be other opportunities for him in neighboring towns with large tobacco farms or tea plantations. Demond had never imagined that he would go away by himself and leave them behind.
“Damn it, Damn it,” Demond said aloud when he discovered his father was nowhere around the house. “How can he do this? How can he leave us alone? We are going to die of hunger?”
He had no idea how to look after Badru and Abebi. They kept asking where their dad was. Demond had no answer. When they cried, he shouted at them to keep quiet, but secretly he wanted to cry himself. Once he told them that their father had gone to another town to buy stuff and that he would be back soon.
A week later Demond walked ten miles to inform his grandmother, Nomuso, of what had happened. She came over to look after the children. She was an old lady herself. She brought some food with her.
Demond was now sixteen. He didn’t know what was to happen of the farm? Now he was the father figure for his two siblings. He was the boss. He would have to learn and learn it fast.
“You must do something with your farm to make more money,” said Nanji when he heard that Akua had left town.
“Like what?” asked Demond.
“Grow the Malawi Gold.”
“You kidding? How’d I do that?”
“I told you I work at the tobacco farm. You think all of it is tobacco? No. Part is a crop of cannabis. You can do the same. Convert part of the Maize crop to a cannabis crop. Your Maize crop will be a camouflage.”
“I don’t know anything about it.”
“Believe me. This stuff is very popular with the tourists. You have to be careful, though. There are drug lords, thieves and there are the police.”
“Is it illegal?”
“Then what do we do?”
“Look. There’s lot of potential to make money. The police look the other way, most of the time. They have other important things to do, unless ……”
“Unless you flaunt it, openly.”
Demond didn’t want to be a failure like his dad. He wanted to bring food for his brother and sister and not stay hungry.