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FICTION CORNER; Mmei's odyssey 

SHARE   |   Monday, 12 June 2017   |   By Emmanuel Bane 
FICTION CORNER; Mmei's odyssey 

Mmei’s mother abhorred liquor in its various forms and tastes, but when all else had failed she resorted to brewing “mokuru” specifically to raise money for his school fees. Almost every term Mmei was amongst the unfortunate students that were sent back to collect school fees. The names were read out at assembly and whoever heard their names was not to show up for class the following day. The ‘mokuru’ Mmei’s mother sold fell too short of raising the required amount. She had to brew again. It was while waiting for the second one to brew that she had an excellent idea. She sent Mmei on an errand to sell live chickens. 'Tlhogwana moimele...tlhogwana moimele,' chanted Mmei in pursuit of a cheeky cockerel that kept flying just when he was about to catch it. The thought of showing up at the teachers’ quarters with a live chicken tortured him. How would he face his former teachers? He could not muster enough courage to knock and was still thinking of the best way to approach the 'mistress' when the cockerel crowed! In a split second the teacher was at the door! She looked stunningly beautiful and had wrapped her waist with a pink towel leaving her upper body provocatively exposed! Mmei’s heart stopped! He must have stood there for quite some time for the teacher finally said 'Mmei, please come in'. At that very moment, the cockerel broke free and flew towards the door but not before entangling its feet on the towel and somehow flying away with the towel now covering its head. Mmei was rooted to the ground! He did not know whether to pursue the cockerel or to sit and marvel at the beauty that has been presented before his eyes! He chose the latter, his imagination was still running wild when the teacher asked: 'Are you going to run after the cockerel or you going to stand there drooling over me?'

Mmei bolted out of the house in full flight in pursuit of the cockerel which by then was a few houses away. Exactly an hour later Mmei returned. Without uttering a word, the young teacher grabbed the cockerel from his shaking hands and simultaneously shoved a P10 note in his hands. Mmei was about to explain that the towel was damaged beyond repair when the door slammed on his face. Mmei excitedly gave his mother the money. Never in his short miserable life had he seen his mother so happy. She grabbed him in a futile attempt to carry him. He was both excited and embarrassed at the same time. The old woman, with tears rolling down her cheeks told him how proud she was of him. He was just about to tell her about his ordeal with the teacher when the old woman instructed him to catch two more chickens and retrace his steps! Soon however, he was on his way back to school. They walked in silence. Strapped on his shoulder was a white cloth that has been very carefully wrapped around a metal dish. The dish contained porridge and some traditional 'morogo'. It was Mmei’s favourite delicacy. Although he appreciated his mother walking with him, he secretly wished she could return home. Unbeknown to the old woman, Mmei always ate all his packed lunch immediately the old woman returned. He was still lost in thought when she held his shoulder and signalled that they stopped. Turning around, he immediately noticed that she had been crying. Putting her hands on his head she exploded into a passionate but short prayer. She asked the Almighty to take control as she was now handing over her dearest son to him. She prayed for his safety and begged for his protection. When she was done, she helped Mmei up and gave him a very warm and tight hug. 

Tears came rolling down his cheeks. His uncle had always admonished his mother whenever she showed affection for him. He argued such actions would only turn him into a weakling. As they parted ways, Mmei could not help but think about the many times he had upset his mother. One particular incident was still fresh on his mind though it occurred several years ago. Dusk was falling quickly; Mmei had looked in all possible places for the goats without any success. The temptation to climb the nearest tree was just too much. He knew that could help him locate the animals easily. Only there was one problem. His mother had banned the climbing of trees after two of his siblings broke their limbs. He was still contemplating his next move when he heard his mother’s voice piercing through the night. She was calling his name! Mmei started running. What if the goats found their way into the neighbour’s 'tshimo'?  What if the jackal and other predators had killed one of them? The chase had gone on for some time now. Mmei knew it was only a matter of time before his mother caught him. Just when he was about to give up, a brilliant thought occurred to him. Mmei slowed down. He could see through the corner of his eye that his mother was fast approaching. Still he ran watching the mother closely. When she was close enough to grab him, Mmei grabbed the nearest 'mophane' branch and held it briefly before unleashing it to land squarely on the old woman’s face! Still she came. Her face now contorted and breathing heavily. Mmei cleverly increased pace for a few metres. As soon as she let her guard down, Mmei struck again, this time with catastrophic effect as the branch hit her right across her eyes rendering her temporarily blinded! At this point, the old woman gave up.

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Mmei smiled as he relived this experience. He loved his mother dearly and knew she loved him too. He found a cool shade and enjoyed his packed lunch in a very tranquil environment. He made an undertaking to make his mother proud. His legs were now swollen and every step resulted in excruciating pain. He had during the torturous journey, removed his worn out shoes thinking that they slowed him down. The shoes had seen better days. All this shall come to pass; the old woman had repeatedly told him whenever he complained about the shoes. Mmei was busy catching up with notes writing. He knew the teachers will not care about his long absence and could surprise him with a test first thing in the morning. His feet were still killing him, but he could not afford to miss evening studies. Although he tried to concentrate on his notes, there were two boys who disturbed him. They seemed to be looking at something fascinating on their text books. Mmei could not take it any longer, ripping a page from the middle of his notebook, he frantically wrote down all the names of his classmates that were making noise. Slowly, he walked to the staffroom, pausing to grimace in pain after every step. Just before entering the staffroom, one of the boys that had been misbehaving ran past him and went straight to the teacher with a piece of paper. Top on the list was Mmei's name! Unbeknown to him, a coup had occurred in his absence and he was no longer class monitor! He took the beating like a man and painfully limped back to class, too tired to profess his innocence. It shall all come to pass; he could hear his mother s voice! This too shall come to pass!