A short piece by Sheshe, my little sister. Her story (which I think is part fiction) gives a glimpse of life as a young boy in Zimbabwe, from a little sister’s perspective. Please give your constructive criticism in the comments, and please bear with the British English. Note: Levy is my younger brother. Also, at the end, I explain some of the terms that she uses.
The wind blew angrily as it threatened to overturn the boat. Lesley’s heart stopped awhile, followed by a huge grin on his face, “I’m in the lead!” he cried in ecstasy. “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” Levy said calmly. The small boats were wobbling on the mighty ocean, and Lesley’s was in the lead. He was already celebrating, but some mysterious forces seemed to work together to make him lose. Levy was still calm, even at the news that he had won. It was as if he had dreamt he was going to win anyway. “I told you not to count your chickens,” he said. “Now you can give me that car.” Les was sorry, but he had to give it away.
This was the rainy season, the boys’ favourite. After the rains, the gullies near the homes were filled with water. This time was always appreciated with whistles, the boys quickly dashing out of their homes as soon as the rains stopped, as if on cue. “Hey, angaphi amaphepha amalacto?”** see below bellowed the bullies. They would then use these empty milk packets to make tiny boats that would float on water. I, as a girl, thought it very lame for boys to be doing such silly activities. As a TV-aholic, I thought I was better than them but hey, the boys thought they were actually being cool.
They would also make wire cars – so impressive considering the fact that they had never been to class to learn the trade and they did not even have the slightest idea about physics. Lesley always made the best cars. This particular day was an opportune time for Levy to claim the car if his boat came first. The opportunist was as happy as a full cat when he won and claimed his car.
The two rascals, as I liked to call them, were late as usual. Dad was waiting for them, his face resembling that of a hungry gorilla. The two rascals swallowed hard as they saw the long stick from a peach tree. By the time dad was done, the boys had run out of their voices. Now this was my favorite time, when I got to laugh at these naughty boys. To my surprise I found them laughing. “Oh no sis, not today!” They had put cardboard boxes in their trousers to cover their buttocks. Witty hey!
“Izinhlwa, izinhlwa!“†† see below screamed Levy with utmost joy. “Yeh!!!” we shouted with as much gaiety. This is the only time I would join the guys ever. We would put as many lights as possible outside – in the verandah and by the door. We would go near the tower lights and we would catch as much izinhlwa as we could. Our parents would smile with apprehension. The next morning, we would place them on the roof top in trays – directly in the sun so they could dry. After that, Lesley and Levy would fry them. They were so tasty you would choose them over a milkshake! We enjoyed, and once again we gave the credit to the boys for being great cooks. I could never outshine them. It was natural to them to be the naughtiest and most pleasant people in the house. I finally came to accept this fact.
**“Where are the Lacto packs!?”We used to buy milk (‘Lacto’) in small plastic packets. Once empty, we used them to make little plastic boats that we raced in gullies that ran in front of our homes. (The rain filled the gullies with flowing water).
†† izinhlwa are flying ants, and they are a delicacy in Zimbabwe. They come out of their underground habitats at the beginning of the rainy season. At night, they are attracted by artificial lights, and this makes them easy to catch – just install lights outside the house, and the flying ants flock around them. They fly around the light until they get tired, falling onto the ground as a result – or in this case into containers. Their wings come off easily, and when they do, it’s meal time (after cooking of course)! You actually need to see these ants to realize that they are really different from your average ant.