Sometimes it is good for people, regardless of status, to travel by way of public transport. I say so because this is one of the best forums to appreciate public opinion and sentiments.
That is why I do not regret opting for this mode of travel on my journey to Nsanje. I am heading towards this ‘warmest valley’ in Malawi to visit a friend who has just been transferred there.
This other lady, sandwiched by me and the driver on the front seat of the minibus, is reading a newspaper. Suddenly, she claps her hand and shakes her head in a manner associated with people shocked with sad news.
“You men, you men, why?” Azibambo ndinu ozerezeka basi (you men are crazy)!” she shouts at the top of her voice as the driver engages an overdrive gear to the already over-speeding minibus as it zigzags the winding terrains associated with the Blantyre – Nsanje Road after Milare Police Road Block.
“I am reading this article in the newspaper. It indicates that a man in Ntchisi has been jailed for three years for caressing the bums and breasts of somebody’s wife. Just imagine, the worse of it was that this lady was pregnant… and some man thinks the best thing to do is touch the sensitive parts that are usually exclusively reserved for the bonafide ‘owner’ – the husband!” she says.
Almost all in the bus laughs and as expected some men start defending the Ntchisi ‘saboteur’.
“Zinazi mumaziputa dala amayinu, mavalidwe (sometimes it is the dressing of women that sparks lust in men). That Ntchisi guy was just appreciating nature and hence police, or whoever arrested him, had no business arresting him. Who knows, maybe they knew each other,” one male passenger says.
But an old man quashed his sentiments. “You young men of today embarrass me. In the past, one would not do such a thing in public and without the consent of the woman. Actually both men and
women enjoy caressing in private; those things are done in the confines of a bedroom and not in public – we are not dogs!”
That attracts even more laughter and more fire from the female passengers.
One woman says: “Men who behave like that are cowards. For instance, why touch the body of a woman who belongs to another man? Such kind of men are those that rape women and children; they must all be put behind bars or castrated.”
“Aaaah, mayi mwaonjeza (madam you are exaggerating things),” says the conductor.
“No, she is not exaggerating but stating facts as they are. It is a shame that some of us, men, are afraid of proposing love to single ladies and prefer to propose or even unlawfully, and indeed indecently, assault some people’s wives. This is an ulcer that is growing in our society and it is high time the authorities cut its root by, for instance, castrating those doing it, as proposed by this woman,” remarks the old man.
Some young man on the back seat is, however, irked by the sentiments.
“Old man, mind your language or else you will spark a campaign that would victimise innocent people. Do you know that some of these married women also prefer to date bachelors or even school boys?”
But the old man does not give up. “I cannot backtrack on this one; I strongly say those who date other people’s wives are no different from those who rape or assault women – very dangerous men who deserve to be locked up elsewhere to avoid their ‘marauding’ behaviour towards innocent women. If you are man enough, why don’t you propose single women or widows? If you are real men, why rape women or children and not find your own spouses to get the full satisfaction that goes with marriage?”
The conductor interrupts the old man. “Old man, what then, is your take of men who date prostitutes?”
“Young man, those people are more rotten that any form of rot. You men of today should learn to respect women, instead of soiling the reputation of men,” says the old man over the noise of women who are ululating and clapping hands in the bus.