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Hanging out: Professor of sad faces

One of us has decided that we need to spend some time and remember our friends and relatives who have departed from the face of the earth over the years.

The suggestion emanates from the fact that Happison feels we need not to celebrate that we have lived this long while others have been denied that chance.

“It does not mean we are the best to stay that long on earth. If truth be told, some of us have over the years been candidates of death; it is just by the Grace of the Almighty that we are still breathing,” he says.

Head nods are all over, agreeing with Happison. Everyone is silent though, possibly reflecting own cases and experiences.

Fatly, one of our new members of the crew starts sobbing.

Mwataninso odala? Mwataa? [What is wrong with you ‘big man’, what is wrong]?” Asks ‘Atsogoleri’ Rob M.

Fatly uses his hanky to wipe out the tears. “It is a long story guys,” he says.

“Once upon a time, years ago, when I was young and handsome, I had a close friend we used to call ‘Professor of Sad Faces’, others called him ‘The Merchant of Kambwiri’. This guy was not only brilliant, but he was a person of talents, even befitting to be a character in a movie or novel, I mourn him!” he exclaims, and starts sobbing again.

Mwatani Atsogoleri?” asks ‘Atsogoleri’ Rob M, before continuing: “All of us have lost beloved ones, be it professors, doctors, journalists – you name it; why is your ‘Merchant of Kambwiri’ so important?”

Fatly combines a sob with a sneeze. “You should have been there to appreciate the talents and works of Charlie, the Professor of Sad Faces. He was not called a professor for nothing!”

With that he starts narrating how the ‘Professor’, as a student mesmerised many in his school for lots of incidences that in the present time could maybe match the scenes of the ‘Aki na Ukwa’s [Paw Paw] of the Nigerian Nolywood fame.

“Imagine an incident when our friend the professor was punished by some tough teacher nicknamed ‘Baba’. Our friend was found out of bounce at night and met a teacher at one of the leisure joints…the teacher reported to ‘Baba’ who decided to give ‘Professor’ a tough punishment – and that was making him slash one acre of a ground with plenty of grass.”

Lackson laughs in a way of ridiculing the narrater. “Fatly, is slashing grass as punishment something worth calling unique? Nenani zina amwene!”

But others in the Crew criticize Lackson for not letting the new kid on the block narrate his whole story. They tell Fatly to continue with his narration.

“Wait until I finish; what I am saying is that the ‘Professor’ did something that many of us cannot even think about. He sneaked from the school at night and went to his village and got a bag of groundnuts and three cooked chickens – he approached some guys to trade the food for a piece of work; that is, asking them to help him out cut the grass at night, in exchange with the food. Going by the fact that the usual relish then was beans, most schoolmates volunteered for the ‘piece work’, and come day time, the one acre was done to the surprise of the much feared ‘Baba’.

“Then this other incident, the ‘Professor’ engineered to have a tough Head boy punished in an operation he termed ‘Checkmate’. What he did was to organise a group of boys from the junior forms to wake up late at night and tamper with the door for the Head boy’s class and ‘steal’ all books, text books and everything found in the Head boy’s drawers and hide them somewhere out of the school premises – the school authorities’ investigations ended at punishing wrong people as no one would disclose that it was the ‘Professor’ behind the incident; since prior to that, he had donated ‘roast’ maize to the bulk of the school population,” he says.

Fatly talks more and more of the scenes of the ‘Professor’, a guy he revered as a prolific actor, playwright, dancer, writer, joker, beer drinker and you name it.

“Sadly, he died in Zimbabwe!” and the plea for us to remember our departed friends and relations has just sparked in me memories of one ‘Charles Mnjale G, a man we will always remember as ‘Professor of Sad Faces’, a great friend who inspired even myself; May His Soul Rest in Peace!” says Fatly.

And all members of the Crew share the sorrow.

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