Sometimes your children get you to do things you don’t normally do.
Somehow, I ended up with a pair of striped bell-bottom trousers. They may have come out of a “missionary barrel” somewhere but when we got to Africa they just collected dust in our closet. And, somehow, for an afternoon out on an island game park, the kids convinced me to wear them. I swallowed pride, wore them and even posed for a picture. That picture has now come back to haunt me – an outgrowth from wearing antlers at Jan’s house at Christmas last year.
Anyway, those trousers have a bit of a story. It begins with an invitation to dinner with some missionary friends who lived about 3 miles distant. The whole family, the children were home from boarding school, went and after a great meal and some games we drove home. Sometime in our absence a thief decided to visit our house. We probably surprised him by our return and he went out through the window through which he had entered. And, those trousers were part of his haul (as well as my Nikormat camera!).
Police were called. Report was given. Broken window glass was preserved for possible fingerprint evidence. I was told to come down the next day to let them know we were ready for the police photographer to come.
I went down. I was informed the photographer was still at the police barracks. I could go over there to get him (they were “short” of working vehicles!). I cleared the entry gate security and was directed to his house. Pounding, and yes, I mean pounding, on his door he finally answered, visibly staggering from too much “pombe” (local brew). After he got dressed properly, I took him to the police station to pick up his equipment. From there we went to our house to do the job.
By this time, most of the effects of the “pombe” had worn off (except for his breath!!!) and he got to work – dusting the glass, finding a good set of fingerprints, setting up his camera on a tripod, carefully measuring the distance, lens to fingerprints, adjusting the focus – AND after all that he announced that he had no film! With that, he asked to be taken back to the police station and said he would come back later – which he never did.
The second story about those trousers comes now. I was driving to town a day or so later and lo and behold I saw those trousers walking to town. No way was there another pair like those around. I stopped and asked the man if he wanted a ride. He gladly accepted. We got to the middle of town and I said I needed to stop at the police station. While he waited in the car, I went and reported that “my stolen trousers” are in my car worn by someone. They came out and grabbed the man, took him in and questioned him. He said he has bought them at the market but they didn’t believe him. They released him (wearing my trousers since he had nothing else to put on!) but said they would “come tomorrow to search his house” – nothing like giving advance warning!
The police asked me to accompany them “tomorrow” in case they found anything else. We got to the house – it was cleaned out of everything (just a bare room) and the man himself was long gone. We found nothing and, for the police, there was nothing else that could be done.
And my trousers – long gone (probably with that man!) – and I didn’t shed any tears. GOOD RIDDANCE. All I really “grieved” over was my Nikormat camera! And that was never found.