The tire fires stories and theatre of pranks and the unfathomable jokes became our sopies, mediums from which we could draw information and laughter and ponder what lay ahead in life, what the world offered and what it didn’t.
And as the preteen years crept upon us the older boys spun out of sync with us and moved on as their persons was absorbed by adulthood. They appeared dressed well and surprisingly courteous. They got together permanently with their sqeeze, their girlfriends or chucked them off for new nonos. On some odd day we saw at their homes a tent and witnessed a lot of signing loudly and outright merriment if we were invited into the white big tent. They had grown away from us.
Now a particular day fell upon us in the summer of the year 19-. We were not prepared for what was to be a life changing experience. Where were the Majita a Pheli? Should’ve they have not given them self off to their nonos whole heartedly from their mouths could’ve spewed that street savvy attitude so that we would’ve been able to avoid taking the ride that we took during that krisano tyd; tangled with the one called Haroni, Haronis utensils business. In need of money, cincle-chin-chin. That’s what got us there.
Six of us. Most of the gents came from backgrounds with only a father earning the breadwinner mantle or (to twists the plot) a single mother earning crumbs to nurse her younglings, get back to work and longingly await her next wages. Some of the gents, my self included, were being taken care of by our grandmothers through the morsel of their meagre pension.
’92 as Christmas was slowly looming our group was suddenly under a mystifying spell that demanded a merry accompaniment to the festivity mood that enveloped us. Nay we could not bare another year without having money to buy ciders and swing like the older people. The risk of getting drunk were all known amongst us, Should we be caught drunk on the line were our behinds. But this latter knowledge was so alluring and repellent, and had a beckoning force which swayed us towards devising schemes to get money. Jack had a plan, despite the risk and danger. He had a plan Jack.
Jack, a sort of a wayfarer whose schooling years were stunted by his families nomadic habits. Jack, whose home veranda serves as a hearth for the boys to meet and discuss boyhood matters. He and some Selbourn Side boys whom he did not mention by name got a holiday odd job from an Indian hawker in Laudium.
Dikgakamatso, Mosa, Teddy, Peta and my self sat semi circled to Jack on two bricks cropped in a T against the faded orange background of one of those huge electric circuit main box affectionately called ‘danger’ which got its new orange coat at the start of each new year. The T’s leaned forward as we pried our necks towards Jack – ears strained to catch the syllables dropping from the lips of the street smart wayfarer Jack. Absent minded to the little ones playing about. Late afternoon in Matshiga Street while the street swelled gradually as people trickled back from work and elsewhere. Jack held us in a freeze of concentration.
Jack was not sure about the exact dates when he and the Selbourne boys worked except that it was a couple of years ago around the festive time and that he paid them well to sell kitchen utensils from house to house – egg lifters, soup scoops, rice rinsers (as if there is such a word) and juice glasses, the Indian gentleman.
Using a bakkie the man took them to faraway places where trade took place. They occupied the back of the bakkie, bundled up with the wares nestled in their boxes from place to place.
Long after his last word had found soft spots in our hearts and sunk in and the grip of the hand of adventure whisked one, the thrill of the unknown and the imaginary chin-chincle of Rands trickled in our heads had beckoned; we sat there silent, motionless and decided. Dusk fell, we dispersed. Dead snored a boy here – tired from enforced domestic chores, a boy bundled in a crowded bedroom floor, staring at the elaborate ceiling above through a set silver film and huff-muhff-moan of the deep sleepers. One suffered insomnia, in a T.V. room upon an action packed VHS definition falsetto sound tracked and yonder one pondered the world beyond the blurred mountain.
© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2011