I was about to go out to our local small shopping centre. I was sure to find my friends already at Zororo Sports Bar. On this particular Saturday, I was taking a rest from work. I had long decided to make the most of it.
However, before I could step out, an ambulance screeched to a sudden halt at our neighbour’s house. Its siren was making a lot of noise and could be heard far away. Come to think of it, I had not seen our neighbours for a very long time.
Baba Svinurai was away for long periods of time as he was a long distance truck driver. As for his wife, Mai Svinurai, she was usually at home.
“Who is sick next door?” I called out to my wife, Mai VaMaidei.
There was no answer and then I realised that she had already left for the marketplace. There was no one in the house. The children, Maidei and Marita, had gone to play with their friends. Marwadzo, the youngest had gone to the market with his mother.
I could see that people, both young and old had suddenly gathered around the ambulance to see what was going on. I remembered the saying that curiosity killed the cat.
People in the ghetto were always curious. Sometimes I called them “pokers,” always poking their nose into other people's business. I could see some of them had their phones out, ready to take pictures.
There was something wrong with this social media generation. They would just take pictures and before you know it, the pictures would be viral on social media platforms like Twitter and WhatsApp.
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There were feelings and emotions involved but some people did not seem to mind the damaging effects of their actions towards a fellow human being. After a while I saw Mai Svinurai being carted on a stretcher bed. So it was she who was sick? I thought to myself.
And sure enough some people were taking pictures. I felt bad. Where had the spirit of ubuntu gone to?
And shortly afterwards, the ambulance shot out like a bullet from a gun, its siren wailing more than never before. And it was only then that the people dispersed chattering about what they had witnessed. They would gossip the whole day about this.
I decided to go and see my friend, Baba VaTata first. I had not seen him for some days now. It seemed as if his water-selling business was booming. A few days ago, he bought a light vehicle, actually a Honda Fit, so I heard. The car was parked at the front. There was hardly enough place to park the car.
As I was about to knock on his door, I heard loud voices coming from the house. I waited. I had walked in a situation that resembled a “storm in a tea cup”.
“Where did you sleep last night?” asked Mai VaTata, his wife.
I did not hear my friend’s response. His voice was very low, if he replied at all.
“I will smash that car of yours if it is the one that’s making you sleep away from home,” shouted Mai VaTata.
I was just about to go away when I heard Baba VaTata say, “there is someone outside”.
The door opened. I could see that Mai VaTata was furious.
“Tell me, is my husband having a girlfriend?” she asked.
“I don’t know anything about girlfriends,” I said
“You are his friend. You must know,” she said.
I could see that Baba VaTata was suddenly speechless.
I had not seen Baba VaTata for several days. And if I said I had not seen him all these days, it was like adding fire to paraffin. I also had a question. Where was he sleeping? It was possible that he had a girlfriend but I did not know about it.
I could trace his problem to the car he had bought. Maybe, just maybe, the excitement over his new acquisition was to blame for his truancy.
I knew his wife. Mai VaTata was as good as her word. She could easily smash the car in a fit of rage.
The big lesson was to be a man of integrity all the time. Money comes and goes, but family will always be there, through thick and thin.
- Onie Ndoro is a writer, educationist and IELTS tutor. For feedback: [email protected] Twitter: @Onie90396982. Mobile Number: 0773007173