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Hiding under the veil of religion

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“Shame! Not the Lord please! You, youngsters of these days, do not feel ashamed to hide under the veil of religion and use your choir-practicing time for episodes that don’t qualify to be close to God’s work,” exclaims Happison’s Uncle, irked that one of his nieces has brought shame to his house.

He is lambasting his son, who, we hear, was some sort of custodian of the girl each time they went out for choir practices and other religious functions.

“Where were you when your cousin was getting ‘ballooned’? I demand an immediate answer! Don’t you know that the society, and even church, respects me and my wife?” fumes the old man, his face showing all signs of maximum anger blended with tears.

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“Father, it is only that girls are difficult to manage…. really, Hlupi did not show any signs of tilting towards the devil’s way at any point.

I am even shocked that the very choir master that we have always respected is the one behind this pregnancy; a pregnancy we are all ashamed of,” says the young man, signs of remorse all over him.

Uncle, baukilano wa sono niwazereza, mukwezgenge baka BP [youth of these days are useless. Don’t waste your time getting angry; otherwise, you will just expose yourself to blood pressure),” Happison bodly tells the uncle.

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The old man stands up and retreats to his bedroom for some time. As he disappears, Happison laughs the loudest.

“You know what? I have always said, time and again, that the boys and girls of this house are always viewed as saints. I even warned uncle that the stares that the girls pass on when they have male visitors in this house are not ‘religious’. I have always suspected something sinister in them, yet uncle always vows he has ‘saints’ in the house in the name of these youngsters because they are too religious,” says Happison.

But ‘Atsogoleri’ Rob M rebukes him and supports the uncle for holding the youngsters in high esteem.

“Mtima wa nzako ndi tsidya lina [you cannot know what is on the mind of another person]! The old man here invested love, religious doctrines in these youngsters. He fulfilled his obligations and God will reward him, only that the youngsters maybe full of pretence….even the Bible has a lot of deceitful characters posing as sincere men or women of God; so don’t blame the innocent old man!”

As we are busy talking, the old man comes out of the bedroom, carrying a plastic bag. “Hlupe, uli nkhu? Zakuno lubiro [Hlupe, where are you, come here fast]! Face down, the girl comes to where we are seated. Before she sits down, the old man grabs her and gets a syambok from the plastic bag and starts whipping the girl. “Mundikomenge badada, mundikomenge [you will kill me father, please you will kill me]!”

More anger appears to be mounting up in the Uncle, who whips her harder: “Chindere, chindere chakufikapo…ntchebe, chipiliri, tungwa [Stupid girl, real stupid, dog, and scoundrel]!”

As some of us are too afraid to intervene in the disciplining process, ‘Atsogoleri’ Rob M fails to resist his peace-making spirit.

He rushes to the front and stands between the old man and the girl, holding the hand that is carrying the syamboko.

“Uncle, there are better ways of disciplining these youngsters, just accept it has happened and, as a God fearing person, take the matter up with your pastor. I am saying so because it is involving a Choir Master,” he says.

But the uncle feels defeated. He reveals that the church leadership is shielding the Choir Master.

“Why, why, hide under the veil of faith and religion when people shield wrong doers?” exclaims the old man as he retires to his bedroom again.

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