So i have noticed that my blogposts are a bit too intense. So this series (Tales of an African childhood) is devised to water down and sort of dilute the themes I’m usually ranting on about. This series will entail of past experiences I have had growing up in the hood. See, usually as Africans we like to complain about our adversities, be it economic, religious or social, but I just want to take a moment to thank the universe for the childhood experiences I had, good and bad, they have shaped me into what I am today.
So this day began just like any other day. The only difference was that it was a Saturday. Saturdays were a great deal. By that time I was in grade 3 and just like any other child, I craved the companionship of my age mates. Saturdays meant playing in the road till the sun set. Saturdays meant stealing fruits from homes without walls. Saturdays meant playing hide and seek in the bushes and bridges. To cut the long story short, Saturdays meant causing havoc all in the name of fun.
But there was one problem. My aunt did not like the idea of me playing with the other kids. But for me that was impossible and the worst would be to be called a “mbulu”,that is Ndebele for ” snob”.She sometimes would lock the gates and tell the gardener to make sure I did not leave the yard. On sad days I would climb the apple tree in our orchard and watch as the other kids ran around. My heart would break. On days I felt empowered I would go to the backyard and there I would make my escape. At our backyard was a workshop thingy majig, and beside the workshop was a house for chickens and stuff, and beside that was a huge steel table. To this day, I don’t know where my aunt got it, but anyway it was there. I would climb that table, put buckets on top, and go through the weak spots of the electric fence (it was dead anyway so no big deal right). To my advantage the house behind ours did not have a gate, so I would just run off and come back to the street in front of ours. Growing up we were only allowed to play with those in your ‘’AREA’’ (street). So if one was found playing in another street they would be called ‘’Impimpi’’, which meant snitch. Which further meant that no one would play with you. But I was never like that. I generally liked my area.
On that particular day though my cousins and aunt were on a low low, so I gave my aunt her morning medication, which I knew would knock her out for more than half the day, and made my victorious escape.
My best friend was called Rejoice, she lived one house after ours, was light in complexion and funny. I liked her. Then there was another boy called MaSeven who lived in our area too. He was the oldest and that naturally meant that he woud come up with games to play, and we all had no problem with the order. Other friends of mine were Linett, Mpho and Undertaker. We called him that because he was the only one amongst who could the Undertaker eye thing. Before MaSeven came out of his gate we just loitered around and generally made no progress. Ma Seven later came around after lunch with a bag. And he said ‘’Today we are going to play Monopoly’’. He took out the board and the pieces, but there was one thing missing; the fake money. We asked him and he said he had real money. He showed us the bag and it was filled with Billion, Million notes of Beira’s Cheques. That was the currency around 2007 in Zimbabwe. In as much as we were going through inflation to see MaSeven with all that money was still scary, had he stolen it? But at that time still, none of us knew what inflation was and I personally was too excited to see so much fresh money, so I didn’t question. All I wanted was to win and keep some of it to myself. Reasonable right?
So we played the game through out the lunch. By now the money was divided amongst all of us. All of us were now Billionaires and Millionaires and it felt good, although hundreds of those Billon notes would only get us a sweet. It still felt good to be having that much money. So we seperated. Each went home. I snuck in back and I acted as if I had been sleeping under the steel table all along. People knew I did that. It was my safe haven.
Now right after dusk, my cousins were cooking and my aunt and uncle were watching the daily news. You know, Prime Time vibes. And I was also sitting all snuggly by my aunt’s feet on the floor. Yes we had couches, but I generally liked the floor. Then a knock came, someone was at the gate. My uncle went to check and came back with Ma Seven and his mother. I was shocked to see MaSeven crying and mucus literally drooling from his face and his mother holding him by his shirt,seriously. This was a sign; she had beaten him thoroughly.
MaSeven’s mother greeted my aunt and uncle and said her case.
‘’I told this child to go and buy 2 loaves of bread. I gave him the bag of money and told him to go before the shops closed! But he only came now telling me he lost the money!’’
So what happened was that one of MaSeven’s friends told her that we had played with the money and shared it amongst ourselves.
‘’Sorry my sister you know these kids. But Lucy was here all day’’.
‘’She was there!’’, said MaSeven. The bastard had blown my cover. My aunt looked at me shocked, and just before her hot slap reached me I was already in my room, looking emptying my teddy piggy bank for the notes.
Surrendering those Beira’s Cheques was one of the hardest things I have ever done to date.
MaSeven was humiliated. His mother took him to each kid in the Area with whom we had played, and demanded the money from the kids. Ohh that day. A dark shadow befell on us. It felt like we were getting raided by the soldiers for hoarding food, and that will be my next story on this series.