Posts Tagged guards

Voices at midnight

No power last night, which is not unusual, but this time it didn’t come on at all from getting back from work to going to bed. We cooked on my gas and ate in the dark.

Went to bed at my usual too-late hour, woken at 00h30 by knocking on a window somewhere.

I’m disorientated, who’s window? Where’s the noise? Is it the guards telling me that the door is open? But why now so late? Something is different.

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Who guards the guards?

Our night guards continue to cause consternation. Usually, people here who are perceived to be wealthy will employ someone to sit outside their house during the day, and someone else for the night. In our case, the Mental Hospital supplies our house with a rotation of guards doing roughly twelve hour shifts each. Vincent was replaced by Patrick who was replaced by Laston, and so on. The guards are a cheerful and extremely helpful bunch, though their main role seems to be to open the front gate when a car hoots outside. They also knock on my window after lights out if any of the doors are unlocked – which is a great service. Read the rest of this entry »

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“You are most welcome”

Zomba seems to be a noisy place at night. Unable to shake my vague feeling of unease from the previous night, I slowly drifted off to sleep on my mattress on the floor, to the faint sounds of lively African music blaring from a tinny speaker somewhere in the distance. A short while later I was woken by a chorus of at least four howling dogs only a few houses away. They were almost synchronised, starting and ending within a second or two of each other, perhaps echoing the initial wail of their chorus leader. Each howl swooped up and drifted down in a mournful arc of sound, joining the other howls in closely spaced chords. Barbershop dogs, I thought. It was almost but not quite beautiful. Feeling sorry for the dogs, I drifted once again into sleep. Moments later I noticed a new sound, another mournful melody, too structured for a dog. A melancholic phrase was being sung repeatedly into the dark night, as if half-sung half-moaned through a shoe-box. I could not make out any words, but the tune was the same every time. Repeated again and again, sometimes louder, sometimes softer, always penetrating. Why? Had somebody died? Was this a very clever dog? Was I imagining it? I checked my watch in bafflement – it was 5am. And still dark. I tried to ignore the sound, and managed to get back to sleep. Read the rest of this entry »

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Shadows in the dark

Malawian roads at night are hazardous. After a morning of reviews, summaries and reflections (VSO style), all the volunteers and employers had a last lunch together, followed by heartfelt goodbyes and good wishes, and a final trip to pick up extra supplies. VSO has thought of most practical things, and supply a foam mattress, cooking plate and fridge (and other smaller sundries like mosquito nets and water filters) to everyone. Our employer, Zomba Mental Hospital, had kindly sent the clinical nurse manager, the HR manager, and a driver to meet us and drive us back to Zomba. Tagging along with them was a detective who used the opportunity of a ride to Lilongwe to get details of a case he was working on.

Everything must go!

Everything must go!

So it was a tight fit in the hospital’s double cab bakkie! We left Lilongwe with seven people squashed into a double cab (the senior nurse sitting on the lap of the HR manager in the front, four of us in the back), with three mattresses, a fridge, multiple bags, backpacks, an iron, boots and the driver’s sister on the back. It would be a four hour ride down to Zomba. Read the rest of this entry »

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