Raincemba

As I made one last turn towards the restaurant, guess who I bumped into – Mr handsome, again. Now that I had my sunglasses on, I looked aside as if I had not seen him and tip toed in the direction of the restaurant, but he couldn’t be fooled.  The problem here was that in as much as the restaurant had several tables, it was not big enough for me to hide anywhere. If I were to get in, Mr handsome would definitely spot me. Not that I hoped for him to come to me, no! However, it seemed like I had no choice. Between the restaurant door and I was a point of no return.

There was nowhere to run to and for some reason, I don’t know why there were no vendors on the streets, when on other days that I would be actually too busy and in no mood to chitchat, or to be disturbed by any one of them, they will be there, flooding the pavement with their various merchandise, which include newspapers, airtime, combs, belts, ear rings, ear phones, beads, sandals, you name it.

On the day that I needed the vendors most, they were nowhere to be found. If they had been there, I would have spent a great deal of time asking for prices of almost everything, if not all of their displayed stock. In as much as I hate scratching airtime credit cards and prefer buying electronically, I’m sure I was going to buy four dollars’ worth of it. I would have bought five dollars’ worth of airtime but then again, the vendor would have given me the solid juice card, despite my efforts in insisting on getting five-dollar mini cards. Besides, it would seem stupid for me to then go on and start scratching them, one by one. I could imagine the airtime vendor laughing at me for doing that.

However, chances are that the vendor would be too busy trying to sell to other customers and not see me. I would only hope that Mr Handsome would be one of the other customers, so that while he stops to make his purchase, I would then vanish into the restaurant. Upon seeing that there were no vendors on the street, I giggled to myself. I stopped to wonder as to what had happened to them. That is when I saw some of them cuddled in a corner and remembered that the Council police must have paid them the infamous unexpected visit.

The police are like those uninvited guests that pop at your house when mommy has prepared a special, delicious meal that sends some sweet aroma all the way from the kitchen, filling the entire house. I mean the entire house because the house I grew up in was not very big, so yes, this would be practical. My bedroom was far from the kitchen so if I could smell it from there, clearly, everyone else would do so too, and that’s basically the entire house.

I would usually fight with my mom for waking me up with that aroma because I was that teenager who loved her sleep, considering the fact that I would get less of it in boarding school. This is because our matron was a strict woman one wouldn’t mess with. Waking up time meant waking up not snuggling into the blankets for ten more minutes.  Therefore, holidays for me meant nothing but sleep, and of course abusing the phone.

There was only one thing that could wake me up and it was the sound of the phone ringing – so I told myself. But my mom’s cooking was something else. This was not because breakfast would be some kingly meal, no, but because I would sleep way past breakfast and would only wake up in time for lunch. I was that much of a sleeper. Compensation was one concept I understood very well!

I loved the holidays because my mom would gather all her energy to prepare meals for me, because just like any other boarding school kid, I would always complain about the meals we were getting. It is only now that I miss the dining hall chefs’ cooking, especially what we used to eat on Sundays – stakataka – my favourite! But when mom prepared her special meal, I wouldn’t even think about anything else I have ever eaten. My focus would be on that dish, and once I was seated, I wouldn’t want to be sent to get some salt, water or anything. Time to eat was time to eat. Imagine if this kind of aroma could wake you up from deep slumber, and the food has been served on the table, would an uninvited visitor be welcome?

This had been the case for the vendors on this day. The council police had wiped away most of their stuff. I’m sure they were cursing the council to death. I would like to think that being council police is the most difficult job as you get to watch vendors crying for their goods, but when you see them looting, you would actually think that they would be having a blast. The only people pained by this would be the unfortunate vendors. The council police had been mean to the vendors and they in turn had been unkind to me too because they were nowhere near my rescue. I needed them! I started imagining my nephew’s favourite cartoon, PJ Masks with Gecko shouting, ‘to the rescue!’ Who was going to be my PJ Masks? Thank heavens, my phone rang.

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