What did you say your Name was? – A Novel, Chapter 5

Demond relied on Nanji. He didn’t care if Nanji stole the cannabis seeds. Nanji did everything. They first grew the cannabis inside. They sold the buds in small quantities to tourists in Zomba. This brought in some money to explore planting the seeds outside in a corner of Akua’s farm.

Nanji and Demond then hit the major streets of Blantyre and then slowly started making trips to neighboring tourist hot spots like Lake Malawi. Nanji knew the routes. His experience in approaching strangers, when picking pockets, came in handy. They packed the goods in ordinary looking suite cases when travelling. Nobody suspected them when they kept the suitcases on the overhead bins on a bus as a carry-on luggage. The bus trips involved long hours of journey. On reaching the destinations they stalked foreign tourists in popular hangouts. The transactions were in cash. The tourists, especially the back packers, bought the cigarettes to smoke in the privacy of their rooms. Some became regular customers.

The trips to places like Lake Malawi would take many days. But the Lake was a big tourist attraction with its many lodgings, golf courses and fishing. The vast area offered many isolated locations for Demond and Nanji to approach clients. There was also a risk of bumping against competition from other dealers. Demond and Nanji worked individually to avoid suspicion but they would meet every so often to catch up on what’s happening.

On one of the trips to Lake Malawi Demond hung around a hotel lobby, as Nanji scouted the beach. After four hours or so, Demond was looking forward to meet Nanji with good news about the sales for the day. When Nanji didn’t return Demond got worried. He was debating whether to leave his spot and go looking for him. He waited a while then started walking towards the beach. A few tourists were walking along the water with shoes in their hand. At a distance a couple of fishermen were preparing the gear to go fishing. There was no sign of Nanji. It wasn’t hard to spot him if he was there, because the beach wasn’t crowded. This really worried Demond. Earlier on a pick pocket escapade Nanji had gotten into a scuffle with a pair of tourists. Luckily it didn’t involve police intervention. Demond hoped Nanji kept his cool in a risky operation they were involved in.

Demond had no idea where exactly to look for Nanji. He could be anywhere along the shore or could have walked off to a golf course or to one of the other hotels nearby. As he walked along the shore he came across a thatched room, probably a bathroom, he thought. He noticed a couple of men walking out, smiling. Demond walked in hoping to see Nanji inside. He wasn’t there. Demond came out disappointed. He looked to his right. There was a rock formation with trees around it. It offered a shaded and secluded spot — perfect for Demond and Nanji to conduct their business. As he approached the rocks he thought he heard people talking. He had to be careful, act natural as a local person just wandering on the beach, lest he create suspicion.

Walking past the first rock Demond saw a man lying on the ground. He was moaning. He went closer and was shocked to see Nanji.

“What in the world did you do? What happened?”

Nanji’s nose was bleeding and his face was black and blue around his left eye.

“Ah, it hurts,” Nanji said, placing his palm on the left eye.

“But, what happened? How did you end up here and like this?”

Nanji had approached a friendly looking person, but he turned out to be George, an agent for a drug lord from Mozambique. He wanted to know Nanji’s source for the cannabis. Nanji didn’t want to disclose anything. They got into a fight. George being taller and bigger beat him up and snatched everything he had in his backpack. He gave a stern warning to Nanji that if he sees him again in the area things could get worse.

Demond helped Nanji to his feet. They walked to the water where Nanji washed his face. They walked back slowly to the hotel where Demond had been waiting for Nanji.

“Don’t worry about it,” Demond said. “We have to avoid this place for a while. There are plenty other places where we can go.”

Nanji nodded. They were both hungry. They ate at the bar and had few beers. They rented a room at the hotel and spent the night there, now that they could afford it.


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