The Boy and the Sea Dragon
Chapter Twenty Seven
One day, Zuangeng got separated from his buddies. He walked along a street. He started to sing his song about the Serikua.
A man walked by. He heard Zuangeng singing. He stopped to listen. Zuangeng kept walking. Even though the man could not understand the lyrics, he liked the song anyway. He walked after Zuangeng. He caught up with him. He put his right hand on Zuangeng’s left shoulder. Zuangeng stopped. He turned left slightly. He turned his head more. He looked up at the man. The man turned in front of Zuangeng. He pulled some money out of his left front pants pocket. He grabbed Zuangeng’s left hand. He held the hand open, palm up. He deposited the coins into the palm. The coins jingled as they hit each other. Zuangeng looked down at his hand. The man curled Zuangeng’s fingers over the coins. The man complemented Zuangeng, “Zuri imba.”
“Eh?” Zuangeng said. He stood as he watched the man walk off. He opened his hand. He looked at the coins. He had no clue as to their value. He reclosed his hand around them. He continued walking.
He came upon an alley. He entered it. Trash laid on the ground. Trash bins lined the alleyway. He walked through the alley. He rummaged through the trash with his right hand. He looked in the bins. He found a somewhat clean tin can. He picked it up. He dropped the coins into it. He carried the can wherever he went.
He started to stand at street corners. He sang his two songs and some sea chanties when people came by. Sometimes, he would dance, too. The people would stop to listen and watch. They dropped money into his tin can.
Late one afternoon, he ran across a clothing store. He stopped. He entered the store. He looked around. He selected a pair of blue pants, a white short sleeved shirt, a pair of shoes and socks. He walked to the counter. He placed the items on it.
The clerk rang them up. He spoke Jalapean, “Ambaye kuwa kumi na tano hamsini tisa.”
Zuangeng could not understand what the clerk had just said. He just knew that he needed to pay for the clothing. He knew nothing about the country’s currency. He emptied the can onto the counter. He expected the clerk to count out the required money for him and give the rest back.
The clerk counted the money. Another clerk watched him; but, remained silent. The clerk said, “Ndiyo, kumi na tano hamsini tisa juu alama.”
The clerk took all the money. He gave Zuangeng the clothes and a receipt. Zuangeng disappeared with his purchases.
The observant clerk turned to the first clerk. He said, “You know that that was twenty that he had, not fifteen fifty nine!”
The first clerk said, “Eh. He apparently didn’t know that.”
Zuangeng found a fitting room. He pulled the tags off. He dropped them on the floor. He put the clothes on. He stuffed the receipt in his left front pants pocket. He exited the room and the store.
He continued roaming the streets. Occasionally, he would stand at corners and sing and dance. He would sing his songs and some chanties he knew. People would stop, listen and watch. They could not understand him. He, always, sang in Cingalia, the only language he knew them in. They just liked his singing voice. They would give him some money anyway.
A couple of days later, he ventured into a jewelry store. He walked around looking at the jewelry. He found a men’s necklace he liked. The clerk showed it to him. The chain was silver. A gold dragon with a sapphire for its eye hung from it. Zuangeng decided to buy it. The clerk rang it up. He said, “Ambaye kuwa kuwa thelathini taisini tano.”
A man was standing near Zuangeng. He observed the transaction. Zuangeng put his money on the counter. He expected the clerk to count the money. He expected change back.
The clerk counted the money. He claimed, “Ndiyo wewe wana le sakiki idadi.”
The clerk took the money. He gave Zuangeng the necklace. The clerk went to attend to another customer.
Zuangeng put the necklace on. He started to walk away. The observant man walked up behind Zuangeng. He put his hands on Zuangeng’s shoulders. Zuangeng stopped. The man said, “Hey, kijana! Ja enye mimi.”
Zuangeng felt obliged to go with him. The man led him back to the counter. He beckoned the clerk over. He said to the clerk, “Hey, ke hapo!”
The clerk pointed to himself.
The man said, “Ndiyo ke sir! Ja hapa!”
The clerk came over. He said, “Guni fanye ke (want)?”
The man said, “Ke (cheated) hayu mitato. Ambaye (was) (no) thelathini taisini tano (he) (gave) ke. Ambaye (was) hamsini. Ke wanadeni (some change)!”
“(It) (makes no difference)! (Obviously) (he knows nothing about) fedha,” the clerk retorted.
The man said, “(But), mimi fanya. (Give him his change), (now)! Mimi kowa kuwa (watching) nu (counting)! (If) ke fanya hapana, mimiwa (call) le (police)!”
The clerk counted out the change as the man watched. The man took it. He counted it out. He showed Zuangeng how to count the change. He gave it to Zuangeng. He said, “Huyu kowa ka fedha. Ke hoja kwo jifunza etu fedha.”
Zuangeng bowed his head. He accepted the money. He put it in his pants pocket. He exited the store.
Zuangeng learned the currency. Honest people, even street kids, helped him. He learned how to tell when they tried to cheat him. He picked up on some more words. He still could not really speak the language.