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July 08, 2024

The Pair Is Beyond Repair

By Ndaba Sibanda

The morning is cold and windy. He wobbles on the side of the road while time and again an emergency taxi rattles past him after making pestering and persistent tootles. As an ET clanks on what used to be a tarred road -- the dust so twirled off -- assails him and he coughs and spits on the ground, cursing rather loudly. "Bullshit. This life we live here. Hell! Bullshit ... Shit."

"Baba Hadebe! Baba Hadebe!" He turns and looks back. Vaguely he sees a person who is scurrying towards him. He curses again. "Demedi! l blame them again for all this." The man finally catches up with Mr. Hadebe. "Good morning, Baba Hadebe."

"Oh it's you, Mehluli. Good morning. l could hardly make out who was calling me. You know, my other pair of eyes has completely expired. Needless to say l cannot meet the eye examination fee. Neither can I buy a pair of glasses. l am doomed to die in a certain pothole of sightlessness. This is what the authorities have decreed and prescribed for me and a great number of other poor factory workers. We are told lies every day. If lies could fill our stomachs, the severe hunger we are cursed with would be a myth. But daily we are fed with a sea of lies. Lies as green as those nauseous flies which hang around feces. Addressing an important issue like one's sight is now a luxury for us. Perhaps you managers can afford such things."

Mehluli Mdluli clears his throat and sniggers, "Eh ... hhh Baba Hadebe. In fact, l should not be embarrassed at all. I am not the author of all this, too. I am a mere victim. Where else in the world have you seen a manager who cannot buy a cough mixture? It can only be here KoMgodo. You could not recognize me, my walk mate, because l have a terrible flu. Look at my shoes. Do you honestly think these shoes are appropriate to be owned and worn by a manager?"

Mr. Hadebe bends his neck a little low, straining his eyes over Mehluli's feet. Indeed the manager's shoes are a comedy of sole-less fake leather that looks like a giant vessel on the verge of capsizing. The bulges at the front of the shoes are a sure sign that the peeping of toes is imminent. Up the legs old Hadebe sees a pair of black trousers and a patched white shirt, the paleness of colour bearing testimony to the 'life' of sun-burning they have gone through at a second hands clothes flea market. Both garments are singing the blues of not having had an iron feel for some time now. However, nothing on the young dispatch manager's body more vividly illustrates how a caricature of economic meltdown he has become than the old look on his face. The economic quagmire has ravaged and drained him of any youthful look, leaving behind a trail of accelerated, wizened and elderly air about him.

Mehluli coughs dryly and regards Mr. Hadebe as if to say: This is now my turn to survey you. The green overalls are dotted with different patches of different colours as if he is a comedian on stage. The farmer shoes he is wearing do not offer any comfort either to the beholder. The pair is screaming one word: nondescript.

Incidentally, Mr. Hadebe recalls his last visit to a cobbler who works under a tree. The lanky shoe repairer examined them for thirty seconds before uttering rather slowly. "Please feel for them and retire them. I know there is a cancerous tendency here by people, especially leaders, being allergic to retirement. I am not saying: condemn and consign it into the bin. But frankly speaking, the pair is beyond repair."

Article © Ndaba Sibanda. All rights reserved.
Published on 2019-09-02
Image(s) are public domain.
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