By the dusty roadside, in the sweltering tropical sun
Under an old, leafless eucalyptus tree
He carefully rearranged his wares
Making some stand up facing the road, some sideways
And others in shelves- dusted off and re-varnished.
He stared vacantly far away, then pensively at the coffins.
A sample casket with artistic design on display
With a peeping glass strategically at eye-level
For the dead to take a roll call of the living.
For over a week now he has waited and waited
But not a single client has shown up.
A pick-up truck parked in front of his stall
And he jumped up with expectation…
But the driver swung his keys and hummed a tune
And descended to the charcoal stall, behind the coffins.
His heart sunk with disappointment.
Sweating from the noon day sun, hungry and thirsty
He hated the efficient bus driver cruising with passengers
He hated the fat pharmacist reclining in his verandah
He hated the white-coated doctors flitting from university to hospital
He hated the pairs of lovers romancing in the independence square
He hated the noisy children playing from school…
And, as he remembered his own children at home
Chased away two weeks ago for lack of school fees
He bowed his head and pleaded to God for a few customers.