She is a really dangerous woman, and she looks it. When God punishes the poor and the homeless with ruinous water cataclysms she runs around 34th and Second Street touching with her eyes the tattered poster on the wall “JOHN LEE HOOKER, TUESDAY 31 MARCH 1985, CHICAGO EAST COMMUNITY CENTER, 7.30. PLUS GUEST ARTISTS, FREE”.
She walks around shoeless, licking the vomit outside Irish bars, flirts with the hobos whistling at them some forgotten Chicago blues tunes of Otis Spann and throws stones at police cars, disappearing into the side streets, her home for years. No one can catch her. When she’s in the mood she opens her black blouse exposing her breasts full of a mother’s milk, free of charge to the hobos.
When the cop’s net around her becomes claustrophobic, she enters the dark zoo, climbs a tree like a squirrel and lights her last cigarette from the thunder, because she forgot her matches only God knows where.
She moves around the corners undetected, like a tokolosh, and the Chicago detectives are flabbergasted with her disappearance, last time she was seen in three different locations, throwing dynamite at the Central Police Headquarters, negotiating the selling of cheap bazookas to the Tupamaros and performing illegal sex acts beneath the Chicago Bridge with a darkie under the guard of the moonlight.
She was seen wearing different cloths the only similarity the big red star on her forehead and a Star of David attached to her right arm with the words “TO BEAUTIFUL LEVIN . YOUR GRANDFATHER HYMIE WITH ETERNAL LOVE 3-2-1953”.
PLACE OF BITH: UNKNOWN
DATE OF BIRTH: UNKNOWN
EYE COLOUR: UNKNOWN
NEXT OF KIN: UNKNOWN
The police sirens are silent. Detective Josh White whispers on his control radio. “Attention all, attention all. The wanted unknown female as described above is highly dangerous, I repeat, highly dangerous. She carries an AK 47, illegally procured by the Vietnamese Communist insurgents. I repeat, she is dangerous. Alert, alert. Over”
Bongi woke up.
“Not this dream again. Not this dream again. Why Bee? Why?”
The flood of sweat was building a small lake on the newly washed floor. He stepped into it and tried to switch on the light. Nothing.
Load shedding, he murmured, less than 350 days before the World Cup Final.
He stepped outside. It was hot, very hot and Bee was present in her eternal absence.
Next chapter: Chapter 18
© Evan Mantzaris – The Ndundulu Invasion – Rozenberg Quarterly 2013 – ISBN 978 90 361 0201 8
Bongi walked out of the shower feeling good, in fact he had not felt so good for weeks now, and his new vocation was strenuous. He looked through his clothes. He took out his Malawian flowery shirt and black pants. He meticulously ironed them, the vagaries of a womanless life. He took them in front of the mirror and he was satisfied he had done a decent job.
He walked to the Ndundulu Civic Center and joined the queue of around 30 people. He looked around, young and old wearing an assortment of cloths, the young men their FUBU attires and multi-coloured takkies and the girls their well ironed dresses, fresh and beautiful, chatting happily. He greeted a number of them who came to shake hands and made small talk with them. He could see the excitement and anticipation in their eyes. A young man he spoke to in the shebeen a few times pushed through the crowd and shook his hand in anticipation.
“Hola, Prof”, he greeted enthusiastically.
“Hola, mfewethu (my friend), how’s things?”
“Lekker, my Prof, how are you feeling?”
“I’m in anticipation. You look good my boy.”
“Always, Prof. What we say here is if you look good you feel good. I know I look good, I feel good, I forget about poverty and find pleasure in the things that I have. I love this competition, it’s a part of our culture. I read somewhere that Shaka’s warriors themselves had a competition about whose spear shined the most.”
“It sounds interesting.” Read more
They saluted each other with the third high five in a space of two minutes as they celebrated another victory.
“Who would think that we would have a chance for the league, Prof?”, enthused Gapon.
“This Krol guy is not bad. I never thought I’d say that after the first two months pre-season”, retorted Bongi,” the team is shaping up.”
“Yeah, right , last time we won the league with Gordon Igesund we didn’t play, but what’s more important boss , good ball or victory, victory I say. Happy People can move around with their heads high instead of shedding tears for another defeat, right?”
“Partly right, bru , now we as a team have the reputation of combining the most intelligent and skillful game with victory, the Buccaneers are like this , quality and victory , in that order.”
“No, bru, I want the league, quality I leave to Thanda Royal Zulu, I want the Cup, bru, like 1980 when we thrashed Swallows in the Mainstay Cup. I want a victory, bru, our trophy cabinet is empty and Irvin Khosa is pocketing millions from the World Cup commission. Now I want the team to win trophies, because today’s laaities cannot play like Jomo, Big Boy Kholoane, Jazzman Dlamini, and Yster Khomane with Banks in the goals. Who are these Modise guys and Monief Josephs and Lucky? I forgot City Late Lichaba, this was a team my bru, I remember Jomo’s second goal, right?”
“Ah, the one with the bicycle kick, who the hell is this Christiano Ronaldo guy, boss, Jomo is the man, right?”
“Right my bru, but let me tell you something, this team was the best we had, ever, and I remember when Jomo hit that penalty to give us victory, Umlazi erupted my bru. It was like Diwali, first time I saw darkies throwing rockets in the sky, my dog even had a heart attack, so much for our first and only MAINSTAY CUP. There was no money for Black and Green Labels, my bru, so we stuck with Mainstay, like char ous, it was hot stuff, right?
“You’re telling me, very hot, bru.”
“But it went well with Lexington, right?”
“Very well bru, but now I want to take up something with you, right?”
“I want to take exception with your earlier statement that the 1980 side was the best in the history of the team.”
Gapon turned around and it was obvious that his attention moved from the scotch to the man opposite him. Read more
The small crowd in the tavern was as loud as ever. Some of them debated the forthcoming elections while others, especially those on a holiday caught up with the latest gossip that had escaped them while digging gold in Gauteng or platinum elsewhere. It was obvious that they were missing the place of their birth and hopefully their last home of rest. While they drowned their happiness in the BLACK LABEL quarts they listened attentively to the latest news.
A number of the younger ones, few of them, were fighting over the results of the MISS NDUNDULU competition and the pros and cons of the selected beauties. Bongi felt that the discussion was growing a little bit out of hand, but this was expected of youngsters with strong opinions about beauties and judges.
The mkhulu seemed very relaxed as usual and Bongi could see that his eyes and ears were eagerly attending all conversations. All that with no attempt on interfering or getting involved. Distant, yet so close. He could see that the old man was in a philosophical mood, but this was not something new.
As he calmly sipped his IJUBA, his eyes turned to Bongi.
“See, Mfundisi, if we don’t study our History correctly then we are bound to be blind to our victories, our defeats, our success and failures. Now some days ago we were having some jubas with Mr. Hu and he said something that has stuck in the back of my mind.”
“What did he say?”
“He said “He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever”.”
“It is a very wise Chinese saying.”
“Mr. Hu is a very wise young man; the only problem with him is that he does not trust people.”
“What do you mean, Mkhulu?” Read more
Bongi’s eyes surveyed the tidy room, and then he turned towards the small device with the button. He tried to remember the details in the various manuals that Gapon had handed to him for to study thoroughly. The devise did not resemble any of the “Gold fingers” described in the manuals in minute detail. Yet his curiosity did not diminish as the clock moved as fast as the 19 year old Leslie Manyatela. He was waiting for Gapon, then his school playground terror and now his handler. His eyes darted around and yet he was not unduly worried. Bongi knew that he was just a paid up pawn in a ruthless, sometimes mindless game without victors. He always hated it, when a game, any game ended in a draw, in fact the word did not exist in his vocabulary .
Occasionally he worried about Gapon, especially when he had time and his mind would wander. It would be a miracle of miracles if his national superiors had not caught up with his loose lifestyle, moving around with expert masseurs in downtown cheap hotels and sleazy bars.
In the three star hotels he switched on the TV. There was one thing that the Agency could not be faulted, they were very meticulous in the selection of alternative meeting places between employee and temporary employer. They were always far away from the madding crowds, although meeting at a central place. It was obvious that the Mafikeng Training Center was run by an extra meticulous staff, mentors and instructors.
He switched the TV off and for a moment he was extremely tempted in disobeying Gapon. Bongi moved towards the mini bar, as he knew it would be well stocked, this was one of the things he could never fault Gapon. He looked after his employee well, and it was for free. He wanted to do something useful, because he had a deep feeling that Gapon was definitely trying to con some young bar waitress at the casino, hence his late arrival. He looked around and aimlessly paged through the various magazines and tourist pamphlets scattered around on the table in the waiting lounge.
His question on the strangely shaped device turned into relief, as after completing the reading of the thin yellow manual, he came across the technical clues to operate an electric blanket. He thought, one could never be sure, this could be a hoax, as Gapon constantly reminded him, one should never trust a nation that has produced Confucius, Lao Tse, Mao Xe Tung and Lin Piao. He was absolutely correct, never trust such a nation. Read more
He completed all the formalities of becoming a new member at the Empangeni Public Library. The young man kept looking at him like he wanted to talk to him, shying away from the effort.
“You want to say something, Sir?”, Bongi inquired.
“You are Professor Khumalo, Sir?”
“I’m Sizwe Dlamini, Sir, I attended your Anthropology Class at UDW some years ago.”
“Nice seeing you again, Mr. Dlamini.”
“How are you, Sir, I read about you in the papers, I’m sorry about what’s happening to you, you don’t deserve all this. You are a real gem, Prof; I wish I could have majored in Anthropology. I really loved your tenacity and knowledge.”
“Tenacity? That’s a new one, Mr. Dlamini. So why didn’t you major in Anthropology?”
“That was a career move, so to say, Prof. People kept telling me what can you do with Anthropology, so I switched to Library Science, I have a job, I’m happy. What career could I follow with Anthro?”
“Good question, Mr. Dlamini, what could you do? This is a major question. What mark did you obtain in Anthro One?”
“A first, now I vaguely remember your face, you were much thinner then, am I right?”
“You are right, Sir. Now I can afford to buy nyama, not then, things were bad.”
“I’m sure, very nice to see you after so many years, Mr. Dlamini.”
“Same here, Prof, take care of yourself.”
“You too, Mr. Dlamini, you too. By the way where is the section on Zulu History?”
“E100-110, Sir, walk straight and the first to you left, on the bottom.”
“Thanks for the navigation, Mr. Dlamini. They are in alphabetical order, I take it.”
“Yes, sir.” Read more