THE ART OF GETTING BY…
THE GENTLE BALL of orange light brightened the blue velvet sky of the eastern horizon. It’s little heat driving mist out of the hollows drawing coils of vapour which turned into liquid upon touching the glass walls of the tall apartment building. Down the street, pheasants in all the glory of their spring parade scratched for food beneath the oaks and maples flamed yellow in the hedgerows. Puddles of dirty water dirtied the streets like remains of a wedding feast after the guests had gone. It is the spring of 2016, and suddenly nature is beautiful again after the long harsh Manchester winter. Bees murmured lazily among the Mauve blossoms and wasps quarrelled over pollen from the freshly blooming Bougainvillea bushes which decorated the entrance to the Newtonian, the cheapest apartment building in town at which I resided. I lay awake on my bed clothed only in my boxers and vest, a luxury which I could not afford to do during the past few winter months, with the sun’s rays gently stroking my face, thinking of my next move. The rich aroma of percolating coffee from the landlady Mrs Macmaster’s kitchen shook me back into reality. I needed to go to work at the local bakery where I laboured for minimum wage. After that, I had to go to Troxy’s studio hit a few bars on my next rap song. The struggle is real.
I quickly jumped out of bed and headed to the shower. In no time I was on the elevator going through my social media messages mostly from Natalie, my brunette girlfriend and perusing through the online yellow pages, of course on the “help wanted” section. Since immigrating to the United Kingdom from Zimbabwe a few years ago, jobs have come and gone but lately, I have been struggling to secure a good one, yet people back in Africa look up to me to deliver every now and then. It was during my stint at Big Momma’s restaurant when I met Natalie. She was the greatest, most fun and carefree white girl I’ve ever met. Growing up in Zimbabwe, I hardly knew any white people on a personal level yet with Natalie it was magical. She told me how her step father had taken over her late father’s estate and controlled
her mother. She was that rich girl who had family problems. She confided in me and sought comfort whenever she fought with her dad. We grew really close as both co-workers and friends. One thing led to another and pretty soon we were dating. A development which did not go down well with her dad who thought since she had been helping out with my immigration papers I was only with her because she was my avenue to becoming a British citizen. I had to stick with her to the end. She was nice to me and we were great together. Eventually, she managed to pull some strings and after a few years, I was declared a citizen. All thanks to Natalie. Natalie is the loyal type of girl who can do anything in the name of love. Despite her stepfather’s negative vibe and the fact that I might have just entertained the thought of leaving her when I got my papers in order, we still have a good thing going on.
As usual, the Piccadilly train station is abuzz, with people jostling to get to their respective workplaces. And that usual familiar face that you see every day at the train station giving her usual stare. Does she know me from somewhere? I wonder. The ride to work is unusually longer today. All I can do is put on my big headphones and listen to my own music thinking it is vain but then again I rap about my everyday life so yeah what could a brother do? The people on the train seem all preoccupied, no one is talking to the other. The old man sitting
across me is so into the local daily probably reading about a story that he witnessed. The lady next to him is typing frantically on her laptop. The young man is taking pictures or is it a video using his phone then types frantically as well, troubles of the first world.
Eventually, I get to my stop, the puddles of water are on every sidewalk as I trot to the bakery site. Joncas, the security guy gives me his trademark toothy smile and greets me excitedly. He is one of the few good fellows around the factory. If I had an illegal operation, he would surely be one of my henchmen. The opposite is true when it comes to my supervisor, Brad the foreman who is always bellowing instructions as if he is an army training commander. “Morning Trey!” he retorts to which I acknowledge with the nod of my head and a wry smile. My shift was in five minutes which he made sure of reminding me and I went straight to the changing rooms and changed into the jumpsuit and ready for the torrid six-hour shift.
Luckily I only worked in the mornings then I can put in a few hours at the studio sweeping and dusting the furniture and the instruments in return for a stipend and of course a bit of free studio time. Such was my daily routine, I have to keep my head up and hope and pray for a better tomorrow. One day is one day.
When it rains it pours…
It is a fine Saturday morning, no work today. I actually went via Pablo’s pub last night, downed a few and had a jolly time. No, scratch that, I had a lot of drinks last night I cannot even remember the ride home. My friend DJ Spillz was on the decks and he played one of my tracks and the crowd loved it. He introduced me to the crowd and I did a verse or two on that song, typical lip-sync wooing the crowd. Suddenly I had drinks coming from all corners. Spillz called Natalie who drove me home and was furious with me for reasons best known to her because I remember calling her telling her I was at Pablo’s and she was welcome to join
me there if it struck her fancy. Instead, she went to my place and chose to wait for me there. Only to get a call to come to pick me up. The silence itself is disturbing, she is pacing around the house trying to keep busy with preparing food and cleaning. She even has my laundry in the machine downstairs. I am having trouble understanding what is really on her mind. I decided to go into the shower and freshen up a bit in a bid to deal with my hangover. I have tickets to the amateur league local derby football match, I could take her with me and she can tell me all her grievances over a few beers, the day would have been well spent. She agrees to the plan and she actually joins me in the shower. Wow. One minute she is bitter, the next she is joyous, Thank God for white chicks.
I get the keys to her Audi A4 as we have to leave early to beat the weekend traffic on the busy Worsley road on our way to the New Alder Park Stadium. The drive there is fun-filled as she is narrating last night’s ordeal and even mimicking my slurry voice and the drunken swagger. It is with relief that I noticed the turn to New Alder Park off Winton is not yet that busy and the drive to the stadium was very comfortable. The seats were great we were quite close to the pitch and near the aisle and of course, the Budweiser stall was nearby, I was guaranteed of my constant supply of beer throughout the match. It was only when the match had started when Natali broke the news to me. We were two months pregnant! I was elated, stoked, overwhelmed you name it, I was just a happy man. I was having a baby. My mum would be even happier I’m sure. But wait a minute, I only had a few hundred pounds in my account. Having a baby would surely strain my pocket. I will probably teeter into big debt. Shit just got real. How will I manage? Natalie will probably have to quit her job at the local fast food outlet. Her parents who somehow got wind of the fact that I was with her just so I could secure myself citizenship did not like me at all and would probably chase her away
from home. I would have to shift my apartment into a more spacious one and that would mean more money to be paid to Mrs MacMaster……. TO BE CONTINUED