There was something unusual about my good friend Chilungamo last Fathers’ Day. He was not as cheery as I have known him on the countless occasions we have gone out drinking from the ‘rivers of Babylon’ together.
What could be eating him? Was there some ‘meshogate’ at home? I asked myself, remembering him telling me one day he saved Flora, one of his legion of girlfriends, as ‘battery low’ in his phonebook.
He told me every time his girlfriend Flora called when he was at home, the poor woman, his wife, would politely bring the phone to him to be put on charge.
“Is anything the matter?” I could not hold my peace any longer.
“Yes,” he replied emphatically, “I envy those that had a hand in cashgate. I wish I was one of them. I would be hundreds millions richer.”
“Is that what has been eating your mind?” I asked, shaking my hornless head. “How on earth would you wish you were among those being sent to jail for stealing government money?”
“Hahahahaha!” for the first time I heard my good friend Chilungamo laugh. “Look here,” he said. “I steal K63m and I get three years sentence, is that not the easiest way of making money?
“It means making K21m per year or K1.75m per month. How many in our midst take that much home per month?”
“But it is prison that we are talking about here and three years of hard labour, having a meal a day, sleeping on the floor. Come to think of it,” I reasoned.
“That’s where they say there’s nothing for nothing, my friend. After all, how many people amongst us live and work in different conditions from prison life but are law-abiding? Many!” Chilungamo said, emptying his tenth bottle.
“What I want to say is,” he said, “If this is the kind of lenience we are going to be seeing from our judiciary on people who steal large sums of taxpayers’ money, I’m afraid we should not be surprised having people committing offences deliberately to go to jail.
“Reminds me of a story I read of a man who loved jail life so much that as soon as he serves one jail sentence, he would go to commit another crime just to return to prison.
“But to his disappointment, the judge presiding over his shoplifting case decided that the best punishment for him was to set him free other than granting his wish of getting back to prison, which his lawyer objected.
“’Objection, Your Honour!’ said his lawyer. ‘The accused admits his guilt. He has confessed to his crime and wants to pay for it. He has the right to be punished; he has the duty to receive punishment. The law demands it. We can’t set him free.’”
“Hahahahahaha! What happened then?” I asked, emptying my seventh green.
“The accused pleaded with the judge to send him to prison but the judge could hear none of it. This did not please the man who, to make sure he still went to prison, deliberately hurled insults at the judge.
“’You call yourself judge, you fat pig! You are an ignorant fool! Half the time you sleep on your bench! Your only qualification is your stupidity!’ the man insulted the judge. And angry with the insult, the judge sentenced the man to ten years of hard labour, which the accused and his lawyer gladly accepted!”
“Hahahahahaha! Poor Judge! How could he forget he was giving the accused the very judgement he was denying him minutes ago?”