Spilled Coffee and Sunsets

I grab a chitenje quick as I rush to the kitchen.

“Tell dad to wait for me. I’m going with them!” I shout out to my little sister, who is outside.

I grab the cup of coffee I made earlier and a piece of buttered bread. I run outside towards the moving car.

“Wait for me!” I shout.

Coffee spills with every dash I make. I open the car door clumsily. Mum is sitting besides dad. She stares at me as I struggle to sit down and
close the door.

“Did you just think about going to the funeral now?” Dad asks sarcastically.

I stay silent.

“Are you gonna drink that in here?” Mum asks.

We start off. We are heading somewhere deep in Zomba, to a funeral.

I struggle to drink my coffee as dad swerves around the curves of the road. I spill coffee on my skirt around a bend.

“Ash!” I exclaim.

There isn’t much I can do, I have bread on one hand and coffee on the other, there’s nowhere to place either. I watch the coffee slowly disappear
down my skirt. I finally feel the heat of the coffee against my skin. I bear the pain.

On the way, we talk about college life. My time in college versus dad’s time in college, back in the 80’s. We talk about how things change, and how
some things never do. Mum comments on how worse off things are now than then. I struggle to finish my coffee with the turns and bumps on the detours along the Zomba-Lilongwe road. I grab a tissue and try to clean the coffee stains off my skirt. The damage has already been done. There is nothing the tissue can clean at this point. I dump it beside the coffee mug.

I glance outside the car window. I watch the trees zoom past. I remember I woke up sad this morning and went back to bed because I didn’t feel ready for the day yet. I look up to Zomba Mountain. It’s still morning. It looks fresh and bright, the sun shines across it and perhaps if I were to guess it’s time period, I would say it’s a toddler. Ready for life; ready to show forth its beauty. This mountain symbolizes home
to me. I am forever in awe of it.

We reach Pa Jokala and dad slowly takes a turn and then speeds up again. It’s a dusty road which stretches for miles.

“I hear the family lives so far from this main road,” I comment.

“It’s very far,” dad says, “I don’t know how they travel all this way to make it to every church service, to be honest.”

We reach the home after a long drive. I see parked cars on land that is probably someone’s maize field during the wet season. People are seated on the ground. Hymns are being sung and I see familiar faces from church. I adjust my chitenje and try to ignore the stares people are giving us and a few other late comers walking behind mum and I. I stick to mum and follow her wherever she goes, like a lost puppy. More hymns are sung. The air is filled with a kind of
sadness. I glance at one of the bereaved. She is calm and seems put together, but her face looks different. I look away quickly, hoping she didn’t catch me glance at her.


We sit around four plates, having our lunch. My mind wanders. I’m sitting among new mothers. They talk about milk. Juice. Ku skelo. Milk again. I stare into the distance. I should probably listen;
I will be a mother some day. Perhaps I can grab a tip from one of them. I listen quietly as I eat slowly; I’m not hungry anyway, but the day is still
young, I probably need to fill up. I look around the crowd and see smoke being puffed.
I follow the trail and my eyes meet an elderly lady. She puffs again and looks directly at me. I quickly look away.

“She isn’t eating,” I hear one of them say, “Is she even listening?”

I come back to reality.

“Of course I’m eating,” I answer half heartedly.

“She doesn’t eat much. No wonder she’s skinny,” one of the other mothers comments, “She’ll gain weight when she has her first kid; just like her

“I do eat,” I reply, as I let out a little laugh, “I just eat small portions frequently. It’s the same thing.”

We change the subject to something else. I wash my hands and help one of the mothers with her baby.


The funeral procession starts. I sit with a friend in a field, on some narrow ridge. I sit in one position and my legs slowly start to hurt. I
sit another position and my behind quickly hurts. The ground is hot from the October sun. My friend also comments on how uncomfortable she is. We endure it.

I grab my mobile phone and reply to a few Whatsapp chats. I switch my mobile data off and throw it back in my little black bag. My lips seem dry. I grab lip balm and quickly apply it. A mother sitting next to me stares at me and watches
me throw the lip balm back in my bag. My current sitting position gets uncomfortable again.

“I’m going for a quick walk. I can’t take the pain anymore,” I whisper to my friend.

I get up and navigate through some seated women and walk towards the parked cars as I adjust my chitenje. I have no idea where I’m headed, as long as I’m not sitting. I can still hear
the current speaker talk, even from a distance. I stand behind some cars. I look up to Zomba Mountain and its sight is still dazzling, even from afar. The sun dances around its blueness and it stands majestically. I make my way back to where I sat.

“You feel better now?” my friend asks.

“Way better,” I say, as I try to find a comfortable sitting position, “I needed that.”

The procession soon ends and we all stand, as we get ready to head to the graveyard. Someone starts a hymn.

“Ndili ndi mudzi winaaaa”

“Owala kuposa
dzuwaaaa,” we sing along.

(I’ve got a home in Glory Land
That outshines the sun).


It’s a long walk to the graveyard. We walk till we get to a dried up river. The area is still beautiful, even though there is no flowing water. I almost step on cow dung as I try to catch up to the speed of those walking beside me. Cattle probably drink from the river. We cross the dried up river
and I see a little forest ahead of me, after a little hill. I look behind, and a crowd is going down towards the dried up river towards the hill we are
climbing. The funeral has a lot of attendees, mostly women.

There is silence all around as we approach the graveyard. All I can hear is the sound of feet moving towards the little forest. A few baby coos can be heard. Leaves rustle as the crowd moves over them, as we try to find a place to sit. I glance beside me; I see what was a cross, eaten by termites, hanging on one of the tombs. I see another completely eaten by the termites. Weed grows over the tomb. I wonder if my tomb will look this way too, when I die someday, and I’m forgotten. I walk quietly as I follow the other women. I see a freshly built tombstone. I see another. My friend and I find a good spot near the
front, and we make ourselves comfortable as more mourners make their way into the graveyard.

The preacher picks up the bible and begins to preach after a few speakers say a few words. He reads from Jeremiah 6: 16.

“There is a chosen path that God made for man. If you decide to follow your own path, you are going to HELL!” he preaches, “stick to what the
bible says, because the bible is what God will use to judge.”

“You half dressed women, do you know how many men you cause to sin with your skimpy dressing? Do you know you will answer for it on the Judgment Day?”

A few murmurs can be heard all around the graveyard. The preacher preaches on about the right way of baptism, which is in the name of Jesus Christ, and he paces up and down, giving warning to make our relationship right
with God, the way the deceased did just before he breathed his last breath away.

“From dust we came, to dust we return,” he concludes.

The funeral procession soon ends, and we make our way back to the home. The drive back home is quieter. I glance outside the car window and the sun is slowly setting. I look at the mountain and it is looks down towards us, as majestic as it always does, but a little faint. Perhaps if I were to give it’s time period, I would say it’s old. It doesn’t look full of life as it did in the morning.

I fish out my phone and take a few pictures. Tomorrow, the sun will rise again. It will be a new birth. The mountain will once again look young and promising. I put my phone away. I look down at my feet and they are dusty. My skirt doesn’t have the coffee stain anymore. I remember I woke up sad this morning. I notice how insignificant it feels now. Like that coffee stain, my sadness too, became unnoticeable.

-Job 7 “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that
the tender branch thereof will not cease. If a man die, shall he live [again] all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”

– 1 Corinthans 15.“Oh Death where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Posted in Favourite, Random Ramblings.

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