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Mr Joke’s stride

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Some say it is risky to take a walk around Limbe, Blantyre, loaded with expensive gear.

By gear, I mean everything; from clothes to things people carry on them.

This applies especially to those who use Devil Street. Yes, Devil Street. For starters, Limbe has its own Devil Street. This ‘street’ takes one from the main market to shops in the heart of Limbe. I am talking about the shops that impose themselves on the environs, with the Masauko Chipembere Highway running like two parallel rivers in-between.

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You take to Devil Street fully aware of the risks, although some people use the path unknowingly. Everything legal is found on Devil Street. As of the rest— I mean, prohibited substances—I do not know!

Now, do not look at me with a knowing eye like that. Go and appreciate the merchandise on Devil Street by yourself. Kufa saferana [carry your own orb]! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

One day in the week, I decided to take a walk on Devil Street. I did so during the morning hours.

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Guess who I bumped into:

Mr Jokes.

He was busy. Walking. So busy that he had no time to look around.

He had nobody in tow. You know celebrities. They sometimes walk around surrounded by a horde of bodyguards.

Not Mr Jokes, a down-to-earth man I first met when I was in secondary school in the early 2000s.

That time, in the early 2000s, Mr Jokes was moving around in buses and minibuses, especially those headed for Mangochi, Mulanje and other districts. He would stand between seats and crack jokes. The stage was Limbe Bus Depot.

Those who were impressed would pay him something for his troubles.

I am sorry to say I never paid for his services. I let other people pay.

Not that I had no money on me. I was stingy. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Who goes about throwing money around? Certainly not me.

But do not worry. I repented. I am no longer stingy.

I must say I was impressed with Mr Jokes. Those days, nobody knew the heights Mr Jokes would scale.

Then years elapsed without me coming across Mr Jokes again. Until, one day, Kandani Ngwira attended an event at Robin’s Park and waxed lyrical about the performance of a Mr Jokes.

There is no man like him, jokes-wise, said Kandani and I knew that something was cooking up in town.

After all, Kandani, a literati of sorts, does not talk good of something, or someone, that is not worth it.

But let us go back to Limbe.

When I came across Mr Jokes in the week, what surprised me is that he was carrying a mobile phone in his right hand, yet this was Devil Street!

Well, within minutes, I bumped into Mr Jokes again. This time, at the minibus stands where those who stay in Bangwe board and disembark from minibuses.

He was carrying the same mobile phone.

I came closer, trying to look at the mobile phone from close range.

Oh, it was a simple, like my Mose wa Lero, mobile phone. The type one would not worry about if it gets lost.

That is why Mr Jokes was at ease on Devil Street! That is why he was at peace with himself.

When you carry simple things, you are free to trod even on Devil Street. This must be the real meaning of freedom. Relief at best.

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