This is an uplifting tale of how anyone, even you, if you are a crooked and unscrupulous shopkeeper, can overcome the hurdles fate places before you if you believe in yourself and refuse to allow doubt a place in your heart.
The story is set in the small shop round the corner from Golden Villas, Kyaliwajjala.
Golden Villas is the set of semi-detacheds among with Chez Baz is one. They are mostly occupied by classy Kampala yuppies—the kind of kids who lead you to question the point of saving your money. Every other wall has a DSTV dish clinging to it like a large spider and the compound at night is packed with cars. It looks like Clock Tower.
My neighbours live large. They even buy groceries from Uchumi and stuff.
I call it Golden Villas because the outside is not as cool as the yuppies inside. The outside is painted a garish orange. It is revolting. It makes the whole place look like somebody swallowed Celtel and MTN and, when the mixture disagreed with him, he threw up on our houses. That kind of orange.
Yes, I said Celtel. Celtel Celtel Celtel Celtel. Cel-Tel. Sue me.
What this has got to do with the mandazis is, frankly, nothing. Golden Villas is just an ugly orange smudge in the background. A smudge from which the least cool yuppie on the premises occasionally emerges to slouch towards this shop. Usually in the evening of a wasted weekend like the last one, usually in the sort of deep stupor only two days cooped up indoors with nothing but a cold and PPTV can induce.
After a while growing roots on the couch a small urge rises slowly to nudge your brain. Tap tap tap. “Dude.”
“Dude. Do you know what time it is?”
“No. I cannot engage temporal cognition faculties right now. This day has been so boring that I cannot muster the energy.”
“Perhaps the reason you cannot muster the energy is that, and here is the answer to the question I asked earlier, it IS SEVEN HOURS since you last ate something!”
“The last time we did that was last night. But you have been farting all day.”
So the decision is made. Time to get out into the sunlight and find something to eat.
It was around five-thirty when I went to the kiosk and cast my glazed eyes over the shelves. Nothing was breaking through the catatonia — just the usual array of dull brown things.
Until … wait a minute. Right there. Those were not there yesterday.
Mandazis. A pile of them.
Now, just because I had just spent several very numbing hours being useless indoors like a big fat wasted lump of loser does not mean I had actually become stupid. I still had the ability to do some reasoning. And this is the reasoning.
“They weren’t there yesterday.”
“Mandazis. Yeah. Not here yesterday.”
“Sigh. Which means they were brought in today. In other words, they must be fresh enough, right?”
“Good gracious. The ki-guy has gone completely flaccid. Look. Just engage the motor faculties to point at the mandazis and let’s buy them, okay? Then we can get out of here and you can stop embarrassing me.”
“Must buy mandazi. Mandazi Fresh.”
I pointed at the Mandazis, mouthed an order of sorts, failed to notice the appalled look on shopgirl’s face when a thread of drool stretched all the way down from my lopsided lower lip to her sacks of rice and, doubtless, rat feces, and then with a bundle in my hand, left.
By the time I got back to Golden Villas, I had been in the fresh air for enough time and the oxygen, having found its way to my head, had revived me somewhat. I was reasonably lucid again. Which is why I was darting as fast as I could to get back indoors before the realization that I had been vegetating all weekend hit me and I was forced to deal with the guilt.
But first I had to eat.
And that is when I discovered that the mandazis were stale.
I could end the story here, but I feel the need to whip the hide off this horse’s cadaver, so let me unfurl again, the transcript of my internal dialogue:
“You realize what this means? Unless they bought fresh mandazis in the morning, mandazis which somehow deteriorate at several times the normal rate, probably because they were made from flour milled from those GM crops they keep warning us about…”
“Or unless there is an inter-universe black hole vortex in that shop and these mandazis are from four years ago, which it tastes like they are…”
“Or unless it is a bizarre Congo recipe…”
“…then the only explanation is that…”
“Oh my god…”
“That’s right. The kiosk people bought stale mandazis.”
“You mean , this morning someone said, ‘What should I have in stock? I know. I should get some fucked up stale-ass mandazis.’?”
“Probably not. Not everyone makes decisions by talking to themselves like you do.”
“Yeah. You’re right. Anyway. Let’s get to the moral of the story.”
The moral of the story is as such. Even if the mandazis are stale, there might still be an idiot out there who will buy them, so stock them anyway.
And now, I post a picture a fake movie poster I found on somethingawful.com. For no reason I am aware of.