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Cyprian Alfred Boothe is 18 years old and he is about to enlist to fight in the Rhodesian bush war, together with his childhood buddy, Kenny. Inwardly, he is torn between fighting for the country he loves - the Jewel of Africa - and the justice of the bush war itself after having watched his family being murdered in cold blood by a group of Black freedom fighters months earlier at their farm. Nonetheless, with his friend they go hoping to enlist in the Selous Scouts when the recruitment drive comes to their country club in Karoi with the full intention of lawfully avenging the murder of his family. However, the two pot smoking friends are not prepared with what occurs at the temporary recruitment centre as they realise too late that all warring sides to the bush war have turned up with each obviously habouring their own agenda. The government men led by Lt. Col. Osen have nothing by contempt for the communist trained Black freedom fighters and their Black supporters. The freedom fighters have nothing but murderous hate for the government men and the White farmers. The White farmers find that even amongst themselves they stand on different sides of the bush war. Emotions run high and tempers flare with tragic results as each side endeavours to prevail against the other and fulfill their mission. Alf and his friend get caught up inbetween these agendas.
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Everyone is somewhere. Here, there or elsewhere. But we are all somewhere nonetheless, even if that somewhere feels badly like nowhere, and death seems to be lurking behind every bush and rocky outcrop.
'16° 48´ 36´´ South and 29° 42´ 00´´ East, 208 kilometres northwest of Salisbury, deep in tobacco farmland, bordering the Zambezi Game reserves, dead bang at the centre of this Rhodesian bush war, we are basically and hopelessly surrounded by 6 million Blacks, when we are what, 300 thousand Whites in the whole of Rhodesia?’ Alf sighed adjusting his spectacles as he watched the sun set in a golden hue over the African horizon. A tear was in his eye caused maybe by the red savannah dust. ‘Do we really want to be here, my friend? The Blacks are on a racial warpath, they are baying for White blood. I tell you, Kenny, it’s getting worse. The terrs are getting bolder and more dangerously determined to inflict more harm than good upon us.’
But strangely absorbed with his own druggie thoughts, Kenny ignored for a long moment the diatribe of his childhood friend, lost to his own thoughts. All Kenny could think about was that he loved this majestic and unforgiving land and moreso, he loved his loyal friend, Alf, and was thankful for his drug peddler, Timoti, but best of all he loved his pot. ‘Nyasaland Gold’ it was called. Undoubtedly, and by far, it was the best pot in all of the Queen’s colonies and possibly in all the civilized world.
There was a fascinating story about how Nyasaland gold was cured. As Kenny understood it from Timoti, it was the curing process that set the quality of Nyasaland gold far ahead of Acapulco gold or Mexican green. According to Timoti, legend had it that Nyasaland tribesmen would literary starve a number of goats from their herd, and when they were sure the guts of the selected goats were empty after some days of natural purging, they would then deliberately feed the goats on a diet exclusively made of pot for days or weeks, and then wait. The goats would be left shitting only pot and urinating on the pot poo for the allotted weeks. Afterwards, they would collect the pot droppings from the goat pens, dry them in the ripe looking savannah sun and sale them across the vastness of Southern Africa. That’s how they cured Nyasaland Gold.
As far as Timoti was concerned business was easier during the Federation days. But since the Federation broke up into Nyasaland, Zambia and Southern Rhodesia, the manned borders where making it difficult to move indiscriminatingly with contraband. However, Kenny knew, somehow as is inevitable, drugs always find their way across borders. The government imposed restrictions only made the stuff more valuable and luxurious, and when you lit up that much more delectable.
Kenny looked at his friend and realised what a good friend Alf was all through their childhood years, even moreso now when they were on the cusp of becoming men and of voluntarily joining to fight in the raging bush war, and becoming heroes. These, he thought, are going to be glorious days of war, drugs and sex, that is, if they ever get laid. Kenny found himself praying for the war to end by his hand, but not the drugs and sex which he hoped to enjoy forever.
Kenny lovingly watched as a brooding Alf took a drag from the twist of pot they were sharing.
‘Did Alf realise they were literary smoking dried goat poo laced with goat piss?’ Kenny wondered and grinned just from thinking about the things that men do to get to hog heaven.
Nyasaland Gold was the premium shit when it came to pot; hard to come by, damn expensive, potent, a status symbol of the colonial underworld. Its pot balls where more suited to be smoked in the smoker’s pipe. However, the boys had no option except to smoke the balls crumbled and rolled up in butcher’s paper like miniature cigars. But they did not mind for they reasoned a tobacco pipe, even if made from ivory, was a grandfathers implement and was not for young chaps like them. What the boys were looking for with eager grubby hands was a narghile which is an oriental tobacco pipe with a long flexible tube connected to a container which holds the water whereby the smoke is cooled by passing through it, but so far they were ever out of luck finding one; what with their living in Capitalist Rhodesia and the implement was easily to be got in Communist Asia. However, when for obvious reasons they asked Timoti to get them one locally, Timoti had told them he would ask one of his BaTonga friends to bring one when he visited his home village that was located along the Zambezi escarpment nearer the Wankie area. Even so, when Timoti described the form of narghile to be provided the boys were not pleased at all as they did not favour the look of the wrinkled woody earth yellow calabash gourd. It was too Black Africa, such that they readily saw it being used as calabash gourd cups at African communal beer drinks and as calabash gourd rattles at pagan African traditional religious dances. So, it was settled, they refused to look like old men and they definitely did not want to look or behave Black. They felt doing either would adversely affect their wow and woo factor with the girls.
Nonetheless, what the boys, especially Kenny, didn’t mind being known for, and which they had plenty of, was Nyasaland gold. Kenny proudly had half a year stash hidden inside his mattress and he would boast about it at every opportunity to his peers, moreso if a pretty girl was within earshot especially Agee, his love interest. Yet, he noticed, the illegality of his possession of the dangerous drug made him feel manly and talking about it had made him notorious with the girls, which in turn made him feel macho. But not macho enough for any one of the girls he fancied to become besotted with him to such a degree as to want to get laid. Apparently, there was something he was missing when it came to seducing girls. So far he had learnt two things from the girls he liked: one, they valued their virginity, and two, they were aggressively bitchy. Otherwise, Kenny was beginning to believe he had no luck in love and was never going to get lucky with the ladies, especially with pretty Agee.
Only once did he get close to getting a kiss but Agee had recoiled in disgust at his addled pot and alcohol breath. Quickly, he had then chewed a couple of breath mints and after having breathed his own breath by cupping his hand over his mouth and nose before breathing out through the mouth and then breathing in through the nose successively to make sure it was now smelling fresh. He had then moved in for the kiss with both eyes closed, satisfied that it was reasonably fresh; for one cannot be too sure about these things involving dental odours, or even body odours since ones scent may not stink to oneself because of olfactory sense deadening familiarity, but to strangers one would be rancid to high heaven. Stale pot and alcohol breath fumes are as bad as a stench can get and Agee, a non-smoker and teetotaller, had been unexpectedly blasted with them because Kenny had spent the whole day smoking Nyasaland gold and imbibing on an assortment of stolen wines, spirits and lagers.
Luckily, for Kenny his breath mints had come in handy when it really mattered to recover the situation which to him was a one in a million chance that needed to be seized at all costs: he was to get his first kiss ever and from Agee!
In a dramatic turnaround, primarily induced by the nose wrinkling disgust she had just gone through, Agee had said as if addressing his chapped puckered up lips, ‘on second thoughts, Kenny, I have decided. You are sweet and all, and kind of cute, but I realise I badly want my first kiss to be special, magical and memorable. So the boy I kiss must be sober at the time of the kiss. He must remember our first kiss as I do, as special, magical and memorable. Furthermore, the place it occurs must positively be divine and enchanted like the Victoria Falls at the end of the rainy season or the Vumba mountains in Umtali at sunset or at the very least, romantic with roses and slow dancing under the moonlight and not this,’ she snorted disgustedly, looking around them, ‘this community braai populated mostly by pimply and clueless teenagers, shitfaced sunburnt ventripotent farmers in safari khakis and farmer shoes and their anxious bushwhacked sun shy wives whose whites are being forever spoilt by rowdy toddlers and wailing babies, and a solid state wireless radio blaring deafening rock `n` roll music. Ugh. What all this drab setting does is beg one to...oh, what’s the word? Oublier - to forget, as it where, everything. So, thank you very much, Kenny. But, no, I am afraid I have to decline and forego. I will save myself for something better.’
All Kenny remembered very well about that incident was being determinedly pushed away, the French word oublier being uttered contemptuously and him asking her, ‘what?’ And ‘why?’ And him wondering if she’d said ‘something or someone better?’- since he could not believe that it was all over before it had even begun. As a result, as he nonetheless followed her, he had to sullenly watch as Agee proudly sauntered her still forming sensuous hips back to the festivities despite his fervent and desperate protestations for her to reconsider and to stay and not go, despite him promising to satisfy her every desire if she could just do this one thing for him, after all all he wanted was a harmless kiss and she had agreed, given her word.
‘What would you lose if not to gain kissing experience?’ He had concluded before ill advisedly adding that, ‘the only virginity which matters involves your quim and hymen, my middle finger and or my winky. Hell, its not like I asked to perform frottage on you.’ Shocked, Agee had stopped mid step and slowly turned around on her heel, looking earnestly at him with narrowed eyes whilst considering his foolish and insulting words. He in turn had looked lovingly at her with an anticipating heart, expecting a favourable reconsider and a resounding concession; surely, hugs and kisses were to follow.
‘What is a kiss worth anyway?’ He had thought, mentally undressing her before his eyes rested lustfully on her Cupid’s bow, which she noticed with disgusted revulsion.
‘Its obvious that you like what you see,’ she began, smiling and softening her brow.
‘More than you know, Agee. You are the prettiest girl ever. I swear.’
‘So listen,’ she had said taking a step back towards him, strangely liking that he thought her pretty as her floral mini dress fluttered in the gentle breeze.
‘You are saying today its just a kiss you need from me for now,’ she had said and he had affirmed with an eager nod.
‘And tomorrow you will ask for the same and then what else?’ She had asked playfully placing her slender pointing finger to her mouth.
‘We will figure that out as we go along,’ Kenny had croaked, not believing his luck, ‘knowing each other better.’
‘Maybe you will ask to touch and see my boobs.’ She had then puffed up her chest in satisfaction after noting how Kenny’s eyes fell there when she mentioned them. ‘Or, since you think you are ready and man enough, let me guess, my virginity?’ She had playfully said whilst slowly and deliberately spreading her legs apart. Again, his eyes fell there too, lingering as expected. She had seen him swallow a lump, not knowing he was fantasizing about petting her pudendum. Clearly, she reasoned correctly though, he was sexually starved and salivating at the prospect of finally having her.
Kenny had smiled with overwhelming nervous sexual energy, oblivious to the audience that was now following their exchange. At last things were failing into place he had thought as he ran his eyes lustily down and up over her shapely pins, only to rest hovering between her hips, savouring them delightedly. He imagined running his hands over the skin of her thighs, bare skin to bare skin, soft and warm, and inviting.
‘No, Kenny. No. Look at me,’ Agee had said pointing to her face, her voice turning grave and firm, breaking his line of sexually obdurate thoughts. ‘My face is up here. Here.’ Kenny had looked up, blushing uncontrollably at being caught checking her out. ‘Let me ask you one thing,’ she rattled on. ‘Do you think me a fool and easy, you beguiling fathead? Your Miss Hand is the easy one,’ she had then unashamedly simulated jerking off with her right hand whilst making wild coitus motions with her waist as if she was a boy to appreciative howls and whistles of jocund derision from those who were following their animated conversation.
‘Oh, Miss Hand, that feels good,’ Agee had crooned sensually and dramatically loud with her voice deepened to sound like that of Kenny’s, whilst wearing sarcastically an intense fuck face with both her eyes closed so tight that creases formed on her forehead and folds on her eyelids, playing it up to the other kids for all the humiliating attention it was worth. ‘Oh, yes, Miss Hand. Oh, yes, Miss Hand. Harder, Miss Hand. Oh, don’t stop, please. Oh, yes, yes. I am nearly there. Faster. Yes, like that, Miss Hand. Faster. Just like that. Oh, you do do me good. Oh, oh, I am coming. Everybody watch me spunk! Oh, yes. Ooooooh. Oooh. Oooooh, that was good, Miss Hand. Very nice, indeed.’
‘Aaah, Miss Hand, thank you,’ she had delightedly wailed talking to her loose fist, ‘You never ever disappoint, always curling my toes like there is no tomorrow. Now, do you know where my stash of Nyasaland gold is? I badly need a post coital twist.’ Then making her hand into a sock puppet minus the sock she had then said through it since she was an accomplished ventriloquist, ‘Its always were its always is, Kenny.’
‘Where, Miss Hand?’
‘Inside our bed mattress, silly Mister Onanist.’
Her audience had clapped, rupturing with roaring laugher and wolf whistles, appreciating the flabbergasting impromptu lewd show and her uncanny mimicking of Kenny’s voice. Kenny had stood there open mouthed, totally ashamed and confounded, wondering how she knew about his plans for her and how she knew he jerked off, whilst marvelling disgustedly at the meshuggeneh cheek she had displayed in humiliating him in public. He had watched her take a bow with a wide bitchy grin. For a flirting moment, he had seriously considered retaliation by simulating her flicking the bean. But thought the better of it since he was a bad actor. Rather, he had opted to do what he did best: vulgarise her verbally or through signs.
‘Thank you, thank you,’ she had said blowing her audience kisses whilst he waited, fuming. When she finally glanced at Kenny Kenny had irreverently and without compunction given her the fuck finger followed by the sign of a whore. He then had the shocking pleasure of watching her mouth the word ‘asshole’ in return. In turn he had mouthed the word, ‘wanton’ and had watched her turn bright red in anger before she stormed off. Kenny had laughed bitterly then at the assholery which rejection brings out of otherwise polite people, thinking at the time that the compulsive need for copulation when denied in such a conspicuously and tastelessly indecent way makes everyone involved horrid; for most men do not take rejection well from a love interest, and most girls like Agee do not know how to politely reject an amorous proposition. Instead, she had to give the flibbertigibbets who were amongst them a show and something to gossip about as if in the scheme of worthwhile things to do sex is more important than eating a sandwich or taking a dump; for men can live without having sex but not food or passing out dejecta.
Surprisingly, because of her overreaction the lust he had felt for her had quickly translated itself into vehemently incensed and condemnatory hatred, whilst he was sure she loathed him likewise.
Then there is this other thing he had learnt that day about pretty bitchy girls as he watched Agee totally disregard him for the rest of the day: when girls make up their mind based on capricious female intuition, their mind is made up - period. Entreating or begging will only make a man look weak, pathetic, needy and desperate, and one less step to be her willing fool. The more he does it, the more he unwarrantedly elevates the woman in her own vain eyes up the proverbial ivory tower as most desirable of all women whilst also strengthening her resolve to reject him forever. He knew because that’s what he had done. In response Agee had cruelly wounded, weakening his reputation in front of his peers and prospective girlfriends. It was a hard and embarrassing lesson but Kenny was doggedly ever hopeful: one day, he will get to kiss and shag not just one pretty girl, but gorgeous girls and have them clamouring for more. It was only a matter of time, place and chance. As far as he cared, Agee could give herself up to be eaten by hell-worms for all eternity for refusing him and calling him a mastubator, not to mention an asshole in public.
However, carnal quests though natural to a boy his age were actually secondary to his real goal.
‘My aim,’ he would always tell Alf, ‘is to horde more than a years supply of Nyasaland Gold.’
On the other hand, Alf choosing to err on the side of caution had only a coffee jar full hidden in the garage amongst obsolete tractor engines. Kenny would always rib him about the size of his stash, whenever he got the chance, by calling it ‘Alf’s girly stash.’ To Alf this constant ribbing was annoyingly beginning to feel shameful like a publicly performed all jerks testosterone inspired contest of who between the two of them had the bigger dick, and whose can stand erect faster from limp and thereafter stand harder and for longer, and whose can not only squirt ejaculate further but produce more of it than the other. Alf did not know, did not want to know and he honestly did not care about such things; self-abuse and losing his virginity to himself was repulsive. Anyhow, he reckoned, there were better records to break in the colony than who had the biggest pot stash than the other. All Alf knew with factual and empirical certainty was who the bigger dick was between himself and Kenny. And it was not him.
Though annoyed by the ribbing, Alf would always remind Kenny if they did ever get caught the Magistrate would believe that Alf’s pot was for personal consumption. Sadly, judging by the size of the stash Kenny had, the only fair conclusion would be to assume Kenny was a drug dealer and supplier because ‘nobody could possibly smoke such a huge amount of pot alone - he had to be selling it and as such was a menace to the moral fabric of society and deserved to be put away.’ As a consequence, Alf for his part in the illicit possession would get from the court a harsh talking to and a slap on the wrist of a fine, but dealer Kenny would get to spend time in the clink with real drug dealers. Kenny always laughed at this because, one, he was confident he would never get caught, and two, he would be the only one with the stuff if the supply line was permanently cut due to the bush war. He reckoned he was going to have the last laugh as he puffed away, and he would warn, ‘I will give none away on that day of intense scarcity and debilitating cravings for Nyasaland Gold.’ All he had not learnt was to do the muahahaha to complete the whole effect of the evil maniac with plenty, laughing at the misery of those without.
Timoti, the oldest serving Black waiter at Karoi Country Club, had introduced the two boys to the golden stuff after he had caught them smoking cheap weed behind the Country Club toilets, almost a year ago. Instead of reprimanding the two juveniles of the dangers of using drugs recreationally, and short of having them thrown out of the Country Club by management and have them banned for life, the old man had admonished them close to half an hour for smoking cheap pot.
‘It’s dangerous what you two boys are doing,’ he had said mournfully. ‘What is this world coming to? Someone is going to sell you tomato plant leaves for all it matters. Tomato leaves are toxic, do you not know that?’
Both boys had shook their heads in the negative. Kenny was surprised Alf did not know such a nerdy detail since he was practically a Charter member of planet nerd.
‘Well, they are,’ Timoti had declared. ‘They are toxic enough that we squeeze the leaf extract, dropping it into miry eyes to treat them of eye infection. Has any of you ever had tomato leaf juice squeezed into your eyes by a sangoma - a witchdoctor?’
Again, the boys had shaken their heads. They knew nothing of sortilege or its treatments which were rumoured to be taken or drunk from a kapala. In their world, they used eye drops supplied by a registered pharmacist from a prescription given by a qualified medical doctor to treat an eye infection, and not uncertified herbal concoctions made by seemingly deranged and possibly possessed sortilegious dirty old men who, crouching in mud, pole and thatch huts, gave diagnosis from a reading of thrown pieces of bones, cowries and an assortment of bits and bobs, claiming to hear voices from the other side, voices of long dead ancestors foretelling the future, revealing the hidden present and the forgotten past, and possibly demanding appeasement in the form of blood sacrifices of black chickens, goats or bulls for the cure to work.
All the boys knew about tomatoes, besides them being edible, was that when one happened to be spray bombed by a skunk the best way to get rid of the mephitis smell was to literary bath or soak in freshly squeezed tomato juice for at least half an hour. They wondered if Timoti knew this as well as they listened to him preach.
‘It works wonderfully against eye infections but it stings and burns like hell I tell you,’ Timoti had explained, wincing his eyes for effect. ‘Now imagine smoking that. It will be like smoking dried chillies.’
The boys had stood there horror stricken as they realised that it was realistically possible to be sold tomato plant leaves because to the inexperienced and inattentive eye both the marijuana and tomato plants looked similar and one could easily be mistaken for the other. Furthermore, they did not know tomato plant leaves were poisonous. To them a tomato was either a vegetable, if you asked Kenny, or was a fruit, if you asked Alf. However, both boys would have agreed though that if the fruit or vegetable part of the plant was edible so the plant or plant leaves could not be poisonous, let alone be medicinal. They firmly believed a tree is always known by its fruit and likewise a fruit by its tree: goodness in one implied goodness in the other. Obviously, they concluded, the Black man was mistaken, he knew nothing of botany.
‘Master Kenny. Master Alf. Pay attention,’ he had said producing a silver stainless steel snuff holder from his trousers pocket, ‘this is the stuff young distinguished gentlemen as yourselves should be smoking,’ he had said twisting open the silver stainless steel snuff holder were the balls were contained. ‘It’s used by Shona Spiritual Mediums from Sekuru Kaguvi, Mbuya Nehanda, the BaTonga tribe and the rest of them – even the Ethiopian King Selassie, Ras Tafari Makonnen.’
‘Who are those people - Kaguvi, Nehanda and King Selassie?’ Alf had asked, admiring the cleverness of the old man: no one would suspect a snuff holder to contain high grade pot. He also memorised the mentioned names intending to find out more about them.
‘Never mind who they are, Master. They are important people like our prime minister. Just know their decisions can impact a nation,’ Timoti had explained as he prepared a long fat joint for them to try out. ‘The important thing about them is that they know the importance of pot in a man’s life. Do you know why?’
‘Why?’ Kenny had asked reflexively, curiosity was killing him. In fact, Alf noted how Kenny was always being killed by curiosity whenever a useless or dangerous topic was under discussion. On that day, it was the importance of pot, moreso because all his young life Kenny had heard pot being demonised as a dangerous drug, as mind - mood altering to the point of raging vesania, as being highly addictive, habit forming and tough to kick, as inducing permanent brain fag, and if not, criminal making, but definitely, bum making. But here, for the first time in his life, Kenny was being told by an adult, that is, if he ignored the fact that Timoti was Black because if he did recognise him as Black then Timoti would be a boy - and boys gave childish advice, rarely do they not. So boys are obliged to take advice and not dispense it.
‘It’s a herb for relaxation, meditation and enlightenment. Even the Redman Shaman use it. It gets one into the spiritual world. It opens the mind’s eye. Ultimately, the knowledge so gained is useful in healing body and mind. Unlike what you’ll get from the tomato leaves you are smoking!’ He had boosted. ‘I guess youthfulness has its folly. Anyhow, my young masters, weed is not meant to be smoked when only sun-dried. In that state it would be raw and uncured. Its low class and for barbarians. The only thing you will get from smoking such rubbish is nothing but a ravenous appetite and no spiritual enlightenment. In actual fact, it will turn you, at best, into an ignoramus. Or, at worst, an ignoranus.’
‘For fucks sake what’s an ignoramus?’ Kenny had snorted looking from Timoti to Alf. ‘Or a ignoranus?’
Alf had giggled mirthfully whilst looking straight at his friend. ‘Oh, my good friend,’ he had said in-between the spasms of mirth.
‘What?’ Kenny had asked confused, failing to understand the cause of the mirth.
‘Ignoramus,’ Alf had said and paused, seriously attempting to stop what he knew to be manners that embase his friend. But he could not help it. Firstly, the inspiration of the mirth was the latter word: it fully described Kenny. Secondly, Kenny made it so easy to be ridiculed by his not making an effort to know worthwhile things and stuff like acquiring an extensive vocabulary: the word fuck or its derivatives though colourfully expressive are pedestrian synonyms for the mentally lazy. Thirdly, he seemed not to notice that life was not all about indiscriminately having and using guns, knives and dicks: things whose only purpose was to achieve violent penetration of another, he thought as he proceeded with the explanation; ‘ignoramus: taken from the Latin word ‘ignõrõ’ from which is formed the Latin word ‘ignõrāmus’ and thereafter in English taken after the ignorant lawyer Ignoramus, the titular character in the 1615 play Ignoramus by the English playwright Georges Ruggle: it means a know-nothing, an uneducated person, or an ignorant person.’
‘Oh,’ said Kenny, quickly getting disinterested by the unsolicited etymology lesson about the two words. He secretly wished he had not asked for their meaning. But as he could see, Alf was not yet done: ‘Ignoranus,’ he had continued explaining, but now stifling successfully a guffaw which had threatened to split his sides, ‘formed from a combination of the words ‘ignõrõ’ and ‘anus’ - meaning a person who is both stupid and offensively rude in a foul way. In other words, an ignorant asshole. Isn’t that right, Timoti?’
‘Very correct, Master Alf,’ Timoti had replied, noting with hidden amusement that Kenny had not caught on with what Alf was giggling at. ‘Now, let me introduce you to Nyasaland Gold: the best cured pot in the whole wide world.’
When they tried it the boys had realised that Timoti was correct. Theirs had been cheap stuff in terms of price and quality. They still had not experienced any spiritual enlightenment, yet. But Timoti’s brand was better than they initially imagined considering the unlikely and primitive curing process as it had been explained to them. Actually, it was exceptionally good despite smelling a bit like billy-goat. However, when you lit up, the billy-goat always disappeared leaving a sweeter aroma of roasting hemp blended lightly with ammonia.
Alf always relished how with one puff it would relax his shoulders, killing his chronic tension headache and with the next pull his mind would go vavavoom with pleasure and excitement as if on cloud nine, feeling like he could dig up Hurungwe Mountain on his own and place it somewhere else - it gave him strength: and all without the blinding cloudiness the uncured pot would induce. The duo had found as a side effect that after a puff they would work like horses all day at their families farms and then eat like pigs. As result, the two boys had as a healthy side effect put on quite a couple pounds of muscle on their otherwise thin teenage frames. They had reasonably beefed up, puny no longer described them.
Now, Timoti was their supplier.
In exchange, all the old Black waiter wanted was the occasional White man’s cigarettes, a bottle of whiskey or wine – since by law Blacks were prohibited to partake of the same apparently for their own moral good. Blacks were limited to drinking masese, a type of opaque beer, and inhaling mudhombo or snuff, and smoking chikwepa: a type of unprocessed tobacco. So it was natural in terms of economics that theirs became a simple give and take relationship. Such a symbiotic relationship made every one of them feel that none was taking advantage of the other. The deal was good, especially considering the times. Timoti was the perfect conduit. The logic was no one would suspect him because of his advanced years and the fact that he was a trusted servant of years. To the White farmers he was just a old cheery servant Negro, thankful to his masters for allowing him to live in their civil and sophisticated British colonial society. He was the embodiment of the Negro in the big house – smart, polite, conscientious, well-spoken, clean, always ready with a smile, punctual and loyal to master and household. In all, the only thing African about him was his skin and Negroid features. Only Alf and Kenny knew what he smoked and peddled exclusively to them.
‘Too bad he was a Negro,’ Kenny remonstrated silently to himself. ‘If he was White he would make the perfect carefree granddad.’
‘His skin colour would always assign him to the role of servant,’ Kenny concluded in his mind. However, the thought of admiring a Black man made him feel guilty. ‘That’s all he was, a servant, performing a service to his colonial masters.’
‘What am I thinking wishing a Black to be my grand daddy?’ Kenny self-admonished. ‘Crap, I must be losing my mind.’
But strange questions kept filling his mind. He wondered - since it occurred to him that for as long as he could remember Timoti was always at the Country club working, always with a smile, and a ‘thank you, sir’ - if Timoti was married. And if so, if he had sons? Did he smoke pot with them too? Does he have grand kids? If so, does he also smoke pot with them?
The questions kept coming to him like a flood. Does the man have a life outside this waiting on tables gig? Was he happy?
‘Would I be happy and content, if I was Black, and would I live life like him? Would I smile at the White man? Call his lily White woman ‘madam’ even when they cursed at me for their fault and not mine? Would I apologize? And would I mean it?’ And the dreaded question popped in his pot muddled brain, ‘Would I rebel?’
The question ran endlessly in his mind: would he rebel if he was Black?
‘Be honest,’ his conscience asked him. ‘Would you? Would you serve another man of a different race for a pittance and insults and disrespect for a lifetime with grateful grace, and still smile at him the next morning and do it all over again, and again, and again? Be honest, now. Will you do it again and again like Timoti, and even like his kids to smoke pot with them?’
Kenny realised he would make a poor excuse of a Black man. Then a war of words began in his mind:
‘Maybe I will even turn into just a poor excuse of a man no matter my skin colour.’
‘No, I will not.’
‘How do you know? A man is a man, fair is fair and wrong will always be wrong. A man who is a man takes no shit from nobody and when given a shitty deal he goes to war to reclaim what’s rightfully his, his pride and dignity. And if he can’t go to war, he quits and moves on with his life somewhere else. There are only three options open to a man when faced with injustice, to be belligerent, to surrender or go into exile. What will you do if you were Black in lily White Rhodesia? Would you be man enough to stand up and say, ‘Enough! To your masters?’
‘Yes. You. White boy.’
‘Timoti surrendered and I? I am going to war. I will never be like my enemy. Never.’
Kenny’s anger was beginning to show on his face and Alf noticed it.
‘Where have you drifted off to, bro?’ Alf said, his voice amused, as he shock the left shoulder of Kenny, pulling him from his reverie. ‘Experiencing a moment of spiritual enlightenment, are we, Running Bear?’
‘No. I am not,’ Kenny lied as he marshalled his thoughts back to the present back from the puffy world of pot.
‘Good then,’ Alf laughed.
But Kenny’s conscience drifted to the fore of his consciousness before drifting off: ‘You can hide the truth from your friends but not to yourself. You can’t hide from the truth you know in your heart and mind. Never!’
‘Fuck,’ Kenny cursed aloud at his conscience. ‘Fuck everything.’ His conscience was a dangerous thing, he figured. Blacks are the ones who want to be White and not Whites wanting to be Black. What the fuck? But wasn’t that a moment of spiritual enlightenment? He asked himself. Maybe the old man knows what he talks about. But it cannot be. Then a thought strike him. Has Alf experienced this? He wondered simultaneously realising that he could not just ask Alf about it. What would he think? Alf hated Blacks maybe much more than he did. Maybe. He would never know if he never asked. What if he has but on a different topic? Maybe that’s why he was doubting fighting a lost cause of the Ian Smith’s government all because of the numbers. But it was their government, their interests, their livelihoods, their prosperity that was at stake, not to mention their freedom from the oppressive, murderous and despotic lawlessness of a Black African nationalist government.
‘A lot was at stake,’ he finally said aloud.
‘Yes,’ Alf agreed puffing away. ‘A lot is at stake.’
Yes, but what were they talking about earlier? Kenny asked himself.
Numbers. Yes, numbers. Co-ordinates. Map co-ordinates.
On remembering this, his face lit up and the stupid mischievous grin returned to his ruddy face.
‘Wait. I know what those numbers are. Don’t tell me, man. They are map co-ordinates of Karoi, right?’ He laughed considering the quarks of his nerdy friend which always appeared when they smoked pot. Today something was different, this paranoid shitty view was new and uncharacteristic of Alf. Or was it the result of pot induced spiritual enlightenment? Something was different today. Were they changing? Even without knowing it, Kenny wondered to himself.
Fuck, he thought. Was Alf really having doubts about this war? Or, worse, beginning to suffer from a pot induced nervous breakdown or mental disorder?
‘Nyasaland gold was notorious for that. It was not for those of a fragile mental disposition,’ Timoti had said warning them that he knew of grown men who had smoked the stuff and within minutes ended up stark naked and loudly raving mad all the while oblivious as to what they were doing in broad daylight. The only cure according to Timoti was to take the pot he had smoked and take it to a n’anga, Shona for witchdoctor, who would reverse the pot effects almost immediately by simply mixing the pot with some herbs the MaShona called muti. Once the mad patient smoked the concoction he would become sane there and then. The catch was you needed the pot he had smoked (and since the person was mad the chances would be he would have lost the pot) or you needed pot from the same stash for this to work. And you wouldn’t know where his stash is for naturally such illegal stashes are usually kept a secret. The problem would then arise: the person who knows of the stash would be the mad patient, and the patient would be too mad to even know of the existence of the stash.
‘Such are African tall tales,’ Alf had mused then and the boys had laughed together raucously and generously at this regular horror story with a false respite, but with no end to the suffering and just enough hope to keep one hoping, and if one dared, the faith to keep fighting.
‘Stories which are always composed of extreme desperation and amazing triumph over insurmountable odds,’ Kenny remarked after reminding Alf of the story. ‘That’s also the story of the White Rhodesian.’
‘Exactly bro,’ Alf quipped, before chanting their personal motto. ‘Against all odds.’
‘Against all odds.’
‘We will make it, bro. No matter what. But now, I need to take a leak,’ complained Kenny, ‘my bladder could be an old man’s: everyday it seems its getting smaller.’ He then walked behind the Marula tree the two friends had been standing under for close to an hour waiting for the meeting to begin.
‘Maybe, but we have been drinking since morning, bro,’ Alf called to his friend. As he did so, Alf could not help but wonder if ever his friend was ever going to outgrow his primitive cave man standard of hygiene.
‘No, not there, Kenny. That’s disgusting. You don’t piss in the sand box you play in, do you, Kenny?’ Alf loudly harangued him, laughing. ‘You will stink the tree up. It’s such a beautiful tree with a decent shade. Because of your donkey piss we won’t be able to sit here anymore. Go away. Go over there. Amongst the tall grass. Burn that instead. Your piss will spoil the African amarula fruit, if it does not kill the tree itself.’
‘It’s the Midas shower, baby,’ Kenny shouted back, laughing. ‘It will turn those amarula fruit into gold.’
‘Yeah, right, Mickey bliss.’
In response, Kenny grumbled as he went to the edge of the lawn where the tall grass was and undid his fly, and aimed his urine high into the sky, propelling it as far away from him as he could. The wind blew, and he realised he was pissing slightly into the wind. He turned slightly, and narrowly avoided the spray back.
Unknown to Kenny, and Alf who was watching, Kenny’s now adjusted aim was landing directly onto the back of Thandi Nyoni whose Chimurenga war name was Cde M’limo who lay camouflaged in the tall grass, next to Stephen Matambanadzo the demoted-commander-now-just-a-mere-comrade whose Chimurenga war name was Cde Kill-Before-Being-Killed or Cde KBBK, who gave her quick signs of danger, to keep quiet and still or they risked been discovered by the great-grandsons of Rhodes.
‘Be brave,’ he told her silently through signs. ‘It’s just a White pig’s urine. Does it feel hot, warm or cold? Isn’t it better than sucking nasty old brass wearing Black cock and swallowing? Or do you prefer little yellow Gook pricks?’
‘Fuck you, comrade,’ she furiously signalled back. The man was taking his demotion hard. Why did he refuse to go back to Zambia as per the orders of High Command, anyway? His stubbornness was not her fault. He needed to lay off her. His stubbornness is the one that cost him his command, not her.
‘You wish,’ he signed back, a mockingly silent laugh on his cold granite face. ‘Ask me nice. I will oblige by all means. Anywhere. Anytime. Anyhow.’
‘Fucker,’ Cde M’limo cussed silently. ‘How can he think of sexual congress when their enemy was literary pissing on her?’
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