By Eronie Kamukama
He was dressed in a shirt, shorts and African shoes. He looked like a man in his early 40s. He had parked his grey Ipsum car in front of my father’s shop and started calling out for customer care.
For five minutes I did not notice that there was someone who wanted to buy something because I was reading a newspaper while listening to loud music.
The shop had been open for three hours and no one had come to buy anything and at the sight of this man, I was very excited that I finally had a customer.
“Hey there, I have been calling you but you are not hearing me. You must be really be enjoying your music, huh?” He said.
“Yes, I am and sorry about that, I did not see you coming in. So how can I help you?” I asked.
“Where is your father? I have not seen him in a while,” He asked.
“And who are you and how do you know my father? I asked.
“I am your father’s close friend and I am called Nsaba. I work at the supermarket down there,” He replied.
During this time he was looking carefully at the things in the shop.
“So what time will he be back today because I have been away in the village and I have not had time to talk to him since I came back? I saw him yesterday at around 8 pm but we did not talk,” Nsaba said.
“Come back at that same time and you will find him right here,” I told him.Nsaba gets out of the shop but when he was about to leave he changes his mind and re-enters the shop.
Trouble started when Nsaba said,
“By the way, I have something coming up at home and I think since you have sodas, I should take some crates with me. I need to know how much you sell them for starters,”
I told him that each crate was 19,000 but that I was not sure about it and that I had to first call my father to confirm. At this point he disagrees with me on the price.
“No way, your father said that it is 17,000. How come you have increased the price? But anyway go on and call him but he will tell you the same thing that I am telling you,” He said.
Nsaba then suggests that in the meantime he would be putting the crates in the car boot. I tried to call my father to ask him whether he knew this man who by then had convinced me to give him the phone so he could talk to “his friend”.
However, my father did not pick up the call even when I kept on redialing his number.
“If he is not picking then calculate the amount so that I can pay you,” Nsaba said.
By then, he had put six crates of soda in the boot and as I was calculating the money, Nsaba drove away. He drove off with six crates of soda, six-crates-of soda and he had not paid a single coin.
As I was still looking on, a neighbor of mine asked whether I knew him and if he had paid. I replied in the negative and she yelled that I had been conned. “Omusajja akkubye, takomawo.” Milly said. This literally meant “the man has stolen soda from you.”
I felt my skin peel off at the sound of those words. I could not believe it and Milly quickly suggested that I should get a Boda Boda and follow him. There was no motorcycle and so I started running as fast as a deer until I met a woman with a car and asked her for help.
“No, I have a baby in the car so I cannot help you.” The woman said.
I started running again and found a Boda Boda, jumped on very fast as I told the cyclist what had happened. After a ten minute ride, the cyclist assured me that there was no way we could find that man and that I should go home instead.
Deep within me I knew that he was right but I just did not want to accept the fact that he was gone and that I had been conned. My eyes started to tear on my way home.
I just broke down when I looked at the place where the crates had been.
“I felt the world crushing on me, the once blue sky looked grey and my heart was filled with a lot of anger. I kept on wondering how stupid I had been not to see the hell that I was getting myself into.”
The most annoying part is that I then called my father and he picked up after the man had gone! I wished he had picked up then! I had been conned by a man my father never knew. He had lied to me about everything, I am sure even his name. I closed the shop and walked to find solace but every man I saw in a grey car looked like a thief.
Ever since that day, my sentiments about men in grey cars have not changed; I detest them because I always think that that might be another conman. As for my customers, I have learnt not to be nice to people, I am always thinking that if I had been tougher, he could have run away without anything.
However, a friend of mine says that that is the world we live in now and I have now accepted.