I have a neighbour whose hatred for P and me is almost sociopathic, neurotic even. His wife however, loves us. A typical conversation with her sounds like this.
“When you take your weave out, can I have it?”
“No, it’s booked.”
“You need anything washed? I could do it for a dollar.”
“Do you have a dollar? I desperately need a dollar.”
“I can go fetch water for you for a buck, whilst you watch my baby for me.” I consider this for a while but the prospect of being saddled with an infant for an hour plus, fills me with dread.
“If you give me a dollar I will give it back tomorrow.” My experience with my cheery neighbor where money is concerned has been that she doesn’t pay back.
“Mai Dzika, you can ask me all you want, I really don’t have.”
In her I have found a determined ‘pestimism’. Driven by a need to feed an ever growing family, five kids and counting. Three of them hers, but she takes care of the other two in a way no other woman in the same situation would.
Her husband, the socio neurotic taxi driver, is a sullen sour faced fellow. His excuse for not making money and giving people free rides when he really shouldn’t?
“I really am no good at this ferrying and faring business.” Says this man with the overlarge limbs and perpetual frown. Conversations with him, are an antithesis and something of entertainment for P and I, one I recall with a smile, went something like this,
“Good day sir,” (“maswera sei?”)
“I say, good day to you sir,” (“Baba Dzika, ndati maswera sei?”)
Moving to stand directly beside him, I said again indignantly, but still determined to get that answer, “Goooood day sir!” (“ndaaati, maswera sei!”)
And finally, he turned. That perpetual frown on his face. Silence. I stood my ground, he would greet me back. I have to say dear reader, that nothing about this man’s demeanor scares me anymore; he is much like that favourite uncle… who really couldn’t be bothered with you.
So there we stood, in that dried out garden, which the lack of water (in my area) had ravaged.
Almost shouting now I barked, “GOOD DAY TO YOU SIR?” and then it came, with a furtive glance to the side and slight curling of the upper lip, “good day.” and with that he turned and left me standing there.
Later as I told P about this little Baba Dzika escapade, I realized how lucky I had been; he hadn’t so much as looked at her, but had continued to stare at his barren piece of land. Most likely willing the ground to open up and swallow her.