Owen

(8)

Ayo is to be my local guide. He takes me for a walk in the neighborhood. There is a market where street vendors sell vegetables and fruit spread out on mats or cloth on the street. A small brick room with tin roof sells groceries, toiletries and other small stuff.

It is getting close to evening, and women have started grinding corn in a stone grinder outside their cottages. Our cottages are huddled together. I stand near one cottage and watch as the corn paste is molded into patties to make the Nsima. I quickly learn that corn is a staple food for the Malawians. Only those who can afford it eat fish and chicken. On a stove made out of three stones and using wood for fire they are preparing a sauce in a large pot. It smells like vegetable soup. The lady talks with Ayo in the local dialect, which I don’t understand.

“She’s asking if you would like to join them for dinner,” he says.

I agree.

I see chickens trotting the compound and sheep grazing the grass. The place smells of stale garbage. A while later the man of the house walks in after the day’s work. I learn he has two wives. We wash our hands in a common bowl before eating. I don’t know how clean it is. I don’t like the taste of the Nsima but eat it anyway. I thank the family and return to my cottage.

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