CHOPPER

By Dumisani Kufaruwenga

He was averse to bathing, and at the boys’ boarding skool, this wasn’t treated as scandalous.

But he had his own fair share of scandals.

One Sunday afternoon, Chopper sneaked into the Dining Hall which the boys called “Dhanzi” and he lifted a piece of roasted chicken from a plate and sneaked out. But a waiter spotted him. And there was a dramatic chase. And the news of the theft spread at the boarding skool like a wild fire.

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“Drama at Fletcher as
thief flees with chicken
piece”

So the other boys joked and laughed at Chopper’s humiliation, but were careful to do it behind his back..

But not Happison. Happison shouted around the Hostel and in Chopper’s presence;

“Its Chopper who stole
the meat, its Chopper
who stole the meat”

And the fight started.

The two boys punched and kicked and wrestled with each other, and Happison was thrown under. Chopper sat on him and grabbed his hair and banged his head repeatedly on the floor;

“Who stole meat from
Dhanzi?”

“Its not you Chopper, l
swear, please let me
go”

And the fight ended with Happison’s capitulation.

Friday night was entertainment night. A film was shown in the Hall, but a small group of boys were not interested in watching a movie at the boarding skool, they were interested in liquor and dagga.

But they had no money.

After supper, the small group of boys who craved liqour went to smoke behind the hostel and to ponder their predicament. Inevitably, Chopper was among them.

“Let’s borrow money
from Chitando, he
received money from
his parents today”

“That won’t work, I
haven’t returned what l
borrowed from him
last time “

All ideas hit a brick wall, all except one.

Fletcher High School used to distribute soap for bathing and soap for laundry to all its boarders. To begin with, this was done weekly, and later this was done fortnightly.

The boarders kept their soap on the ridge next to the wall at the head end of their beds.

The small group of broke boys who smoked at the rear of the hostel knew where the soap was kept. But they did not know that this was treasure.

Until Chopper told them;

“Its easy to get money
for a drinking binge.
We steal the soap
allocated to the
boarders and sell it
in the compound and
go to Senga and drink”

Fletcher High School has a residential Compound for its non academic staff; the tailor, the nurse, the groundsmen, the cooks, librarians, drivers, laboratory assistants, the waiters, you name it, they all stay in the Compound.

It made sense.

The Compound was a big market for soap.

And the hind hostel smokers rejoiced.

“Chopper, Chopper,
Chopper! “

And so the small group of boys who smoked behind the hostel took their bags and loaded bars of soap (jerimani) and tablets of carbolic soap (lifebuoy) and entered the Compound and made serious money.

And off to Senga they went, and there they drank and smoked and rejoiced.

All because of Chopper.

And in the day to day life of Fletcher, Chopper was everywhere.

He raced in the relay team alongside Job Mukoki and their team tore Midlands province to shreds He was in the basketball first team. He won the price for best athelete in 85.

And when he had no money, Chopper sneaked into the Gweru theatre to watch a movie without anyone noticing that he hadn’t paid.

A legend.

An epitome of childhood blunders, or is it, heroism?

(Dedicated to Kudzai Chitonho and all former students of Fletcher High School who dared defy dormitory docility)

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