Passage 1

Part 1

Phelindaba is where I grew up. Things have changed in that Township. When I was growing up, children played outside in the dusty streets. The boys pushed bricks pretending that they were toys – Putco Buses, Jeeps and Porsches. They reserved their most priced praised toys to their solitude play or with best friends. Presently I an’t speak for the dolls. And when it rained, the rain frustrated us the little ones. Great was our happiness when it subsided. We would trot outside, each taking a lungful of the light breeze that the rain always leaves behind when it has drizzled or showered, and wobbled onward to our tiny childish gatherings. Out of mud the boys fashioned figurines or build tiny houses. And when a chance presented itself we played house with the girls. Playing house, as wives or sisters or children, the girls baked cakes, pies and breads out of mud. And us boys became children, brothers and husbands. Fixed cars, cut the lawn and smoke smokeless cigarettes.

Today the little one’s play video games while munching on snacks. We did play the arcade games, but ours was of a different kind, it still exists today, the gamer plays standing. And he takes turns to play with friends, strangers and foes. That enveloping 20c cent worth of virtual reality, the arcade game we grew on. It was in the café of the location with fish and chips as added ingredients to the sound track of the game as we came to appreciated chance and fate and failure.

Super Stadium Fast Food Café, Mareka Dairy, Ranki, Kgomo, Arena and Ko Dibabie.

But one shouldn’t judge the present children’s childhood, after all, like our selves back then, they are of a different time and though I cannot claim to have the imagination to grasp what they will remember about their childhood – I suspect that they too will have something to say about their rites of passage. And doubly a suspicion cracks open my grounding, stares me in the eye, and slaps me with an idea that someone out there once looked at us back then and wondered about us as I am wondering about children of today.

Come summer we will help out in the gardens of the aged of our community. Juicy Apples, Peaches and Figs served as our looty. Seldom money was given as part of the booty.

When winter fell, through gradual dusk and intruding darkness, inhaling the menacing smokes from the burning rubber tires, wood from cast off furniture, plastic bags and scrap paper the call of the self styled fable makers in the refuse dumping corners of Phelindaba beckoned. And here the big boys threaded together stories of what was taking place in our country, from sports to politics.

The big boys also spoke about how queenly the girls should be treated. How queenly the girls should be pampered with those rolled pack of lozenges sweets when mjita, the boy, made his visit. From debut to regular. How the coded whistling to alert nono, the girl, should be blown from whence the mjita’s tekkie fell on her turf, her street; and that he should make the effort for his whistling to be detected as he was three houses away or so. Hesitating a little in his tracks when he reached her house, stalling for time on her part.

By then the sought after girl at this hour of delight, knew very well that the one she so worships was out there witnessed by the stars above and perhaps, as it would often be the case, by the prying eyes of the neighbors or their daughters, her undeclared adversaries. By then She would’ve methodically excused herself from the evening tele-story to do the dishes, she herself having taken her evening bath, minted and smoothed, would sneak out, the evening air will seep through inside the kitchen dispersing her fragranced  skin into a domestic verse. Fast-forward – Out there she would receive a jolting kiss from her mjita at the accompaniment of rolled lozenges sweets. One perhaps popped out already and suckled in the mouth to be deposited into her beak as the night birds nuzzled in a sugary coated union as their feathers fluttered. But the meeting would be brief, more confirming that love was still hot and that tomorrow will shine on-on the couple once more.

A few mjitas had the luxury to whisk the dame off to their nests. Such was the situation. House permit into the ladies homes was rarely permitted even at the homes of those who were reared through single parentage.

Now despite the machismo tenor of these jots up to this point you wouldn’t dare slap a nono if she was being clever with you for a reason or two, for her Pa or her big brother would hunt you like a comb in every corner of the dusty Township and when the earth has stopped rolling beneath you, they will acquaint you with their fists. Ashmo’ville, Atteridgeville!

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2011

About Mmutle Arthur Kgokong/mmutleak

I am based in the City of Tshwane, South Africa. to a greater extent my writings cover the Visual Arts with a focus in documentation and archiving of artists' lives. To a lesser extent some of my writings cover television, movies and sometime Music that I find interesting. Occasionally, when I get the itch, I pen opinion pieces on matters of public and socio-political interest. Over the last few years my work has gravitated towards working with artists to build their biographical archives with an aim to preserve their contributions to South African art both in audio and transcripts under the Intraparadox series. View all posts by Mmutle Arthur Kgokong/mmutleak

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