Those From The Outside

Submitted into Contest #129 in response to: Set your story in a snowed-in chalet.... view prompt

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Adventure East Asian Fiction

What you are reading begun in middle class quarters of Guangzhou city in southern China. If you regards that city as a place for people that came with money heart, you’re right. I happened to know this because I am one of those people.

Those that came with another reasons don’t enjoy that city like us. Guangzhou is for buying and selling people mainly not for salaried people. People there don’t wear coats like others from other cities, coat is not for hustlers. As am sure you have guessed well, where there’s buying and selling in that level am painting, there are always crime and police of that city are not sleeping either so, their prisons were always full of all manners of half baked creatures.

Not actually that there are not quality fellas inside there, but they are in poor quantity. You might start having condescending image of me in your mind, no bro, I have maximum respect for myself and others but it just how the city is. Quality there is based in quantity of money not quantity of certificates or coats. If you can also speak 60 percent of Chinese and English, you are a game in all circle. 

That is in group I found myself. That is also were I met many of my foreign friends. By foreign I mean those of other races. I had a lot of them as friends and acquaintance while there. 

Some from Malaysia, Philippines, Gabon, Peru, Egypt, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Bulgaria etc. I spent about five years there before heading back to Africa. 

Snow is what we see in television and read about in the city. Even some of the natives has never seen snow for first time. Some even chose that city because of its lack of snow. Some people like Africans might spend twenty years in there without knowing what snow looks like yet we read about people dying here and there in China due to excessive snow falls.

It was there I learnt that there is nothing like snow in some countries in that south east Asia. I was surprised to learn from my Malaysian and Philippines friends that there is nothing like snow in their countries. Kind of funny, isn’t it? Some yellow man were studying snow and being mesmerized by it like we Africans yet they are yellow people. Some of them had been 80 years in this planet without seeing snow for the first time.

I was surprised the day I got talking with some of my friends from that continent, I learnt that they were mainly in dark about snow and other continents especially Africa.

“ I am what some call international man now” I said to my Malaysian friend after marketing the 60 percent knowledge of my Chinese to a restaurant keeper. “ I can speak Chinese, English and French. So, I must be international man then”

“But at times, I found it difficult to follow what you are saying” he replied.

We were all clad in winter jacket mostly as fashion for truly I wasn’t feeling cold mainly due to the beer and mild winter of the city 

“ Yeah, the Chinese guys do and you don’t because you are learning too”

“ I understood others and I believe I am better than you. I don’t understand your Chinese” he equipped.

“ Yeah, if you truly don’t, I will be surprised. Are you not from this side too”

“So in Africa, because all of you are from the same side, you understood each other’s languages” John encounters

“ All yellow people descended from China. That is what we are told in Africa. You all have Chinese blood in you”

“ Yeah, that is claim Chinese were laying here and there. The whole yellow man is Chinese to them. They can’t differentiate dream from reality”

“ That is what I suspect too. Is your own ancestors not from here?”

“ I know of no Chinese in my lineage, I am full time Malaysian”

“ But they are many in your country and other countries in this your side”

“ Yeah, they were escaping poverty in years gone and other nations welcomed them”

I noticed that he kept hugging himself while sipping his beer. It was a bit surprised to be too.

“ Are you really feeling cold?” I asked.

“ Why not, am not human? We are in winter”

“ But am surprised, even if snow don’t fall in your country, isn’t weather there like that of Guangzhou?”

“ No, it isn’t like this. It’s like that of Africa”

“ Africa? In Eastern part of Nigeria, there is always snow for two months each year”

 He eyed me to know whether am joking. From the look on his face, I can see he was seriously confused. He eyed other Africans for any sign of joke and when he found none, his confusion deepened. Richard from Gabon chipped in.

“ Ah, so it was only two months in part of your country. In Gabon, it is none stop for almost three months. Men, I hate that period of the year”

“ I thought it was only in South Africa that snow falls in Africa”

“ Because it disrupted some matches in 2010 world cup and you saw. In Egypt, it is six months none stop. That is reason those that can afford it ran to Benin republic once winter comes” Zaki the Egyptian added.

It was then that John confusion manifested hundred percent. He forgot cold and his mouth was hanging open from the information dropping from Zaki's mouth. This guy is a graduate and when he climbed inside himself to call on his school knowledge, our serious faces came out on top. 

“ Have you been to Korea before?” I asked

“No, why do you asked?”

“ Our business friend invited us over for competition, if you are willing, your ticket is on the man”

“ It would be too cold in that country this time of year”

“ That is reason we are invited and more reason your ticket would be taken care of by the man. There is this skiing competition in his home town in few days. Our chalet has been booked. This local skiing championship takes place every two years. He is on it this year and we are invited. If you are in, let me know before tomorrow evening”

“ What is needed for such weather, I have never been in one before”

“ just your winter wears. Jackets, head warmers, gloves and sneakers etc.”

“ I am in. Do I pack beverages too?”

“ No eatables, no drinkables. There are better ones that side. Just haul your baggages along”

“ When are we leaving?” 

“ Three days time”

   We arrived in soul, caught a connecting train to Kim’s countryside base. He had five of us booked into a chalet not far from his home and not far from the mountain the competition would be taking place in in two days time.

We had planned to tour the town that evening after a little rest but it was as if nature were waiting for us to arrive before letting itself go. We had dropped our bags and came down to the lounge to meet our host per say and were into little talks and drink when John commented on the intensity of the snow falling outside the window. Even our host didn’t noticed it initially and when John commented, he started hurrying his drink to rush home before the whole road is blocked.

“ If this snow continued like it is doing now in competition day, would there still be competition?”

“ How can there be. The organizers has to shift the date” Kim answered. “ I really have to be going before am trapped here. It is getting heavier” 

John kept asking him snow related questions mostly bordering on how the chalet managers gets their supplies, how people reacts to emergencies and how anyone that feels like leaving could do so. He was alarmed to learn that it was once in, you are in once there is snow in. That was exactly what it became that evening. It started dropping as if it was running out of fashion. For five days, it was so. It was nearly minus one Celsius for five days and snow covered all over the place. The chalet was covered from zinc to the foundation. How that wooden chalet stood that assault for five days baffles John.

We the African kept at beer and smoke and John kept at beer and coffee not as result of cold for the chalet was warm inside but habit.

“ Why are you people not worried about electricity being cut off?”

“ It never happened in Africa during winter, why should it happen here?”

He eyed all of us one after another and had a long sip of his beer. From the look on his face, we knew he had made up his mind to run once the coast is clear.

“ Heh men, I think I am done with this skiing competition. Once the road is passable, am heading back to Guangzhou”

January 16, 2022 18:51

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1 comment

Boutat Driss
10:01 Jan 20, 2022

nice tale. I loved it

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