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Love your mother when you still have her!

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Love your mother when you still have her!


By Dumisani Kufaruwenga

When we were growing up in the village, we all ate from the same plate of sadza with our bare hands, and dipped the well rounded morsels of sadza into a separate plate of relish, before throwing the mixture of sadza and relish into our mouths.
Boys ate together from the same source on one hand, and girls ate together from the same source on the other hand.
The parents ate on their own.
Forget about the Thanksgiving family dinners of European families where everyone sits at the same table, children and parents alike.
In my village, the mountainous plate of sadza always stood on one side, while the plate of relish was shoved besides it, the contents of the plate of relish quantitatively much less than the heap in the plate of sadza.
We would sit on the bare floor and sorround the two plates of sadza and relish and devour the available food, no matter how many we were. Relish was always a headache for our parents.
Relish was sour milk produced by our own cows and preserved in clay pots and drained of watery excess (mutuvi), leaving thick creamy thuds of sour milk which tickled the salivary glands.
Relish was roasted mice trapped and prepared by my nephew Onie Magodhi, the diligent hunter of mice who raided other people’s mice traps in the early morning dawn.
Relish were small fish breams caught by my young brother Lucky Eddie from Chiponise River, floating in thin white watery soup.
Relish was the bitter “munyovhi” weed, which grew ubundantly in our fields of toil.
Beef and chicken were rare, and were preserved for very special occasions; a funeral, a wedding or a visit by in- laws.
There were four boys in our household. And we ate together.
One night, my mother prepared a dish of sadza and beef stew. She had received her teacher’s salary and we always celebrated her pay day with a special meal.
Believe you me, at the material time, beef stew was a special meal, a special treat.
So my mother would dish out the beef stew relish with special care. Three pieces of meat for my father, two pieces of meat for herself, and four pieces of meat for the four boys’ communal plate. The math is simple. Each one of us boys would be entitled to one piece each.
The quantum of relish reflected the hierarchy of authority in our household. The higher the authority, the bigger the beef benefit. The lower the authority, the less the entitlement.
We pretended not to hear mother ask us to come collect our plates of sadza and relish, even when we’d been waiting for the announcement anxiously, with tense expectation. My young brother Fari The Furious rose and brought our plates. We waited impatiently as someone said grace before we tucked in.
The hierarchy of authority was observed at all levels in our eating habits. For us boys, we knew that we couldn’t pick a piece of meat before the eldest among us picked his piece first.
Naturally, the oldest among us would pick the biggest piece of beef, and the youngest among us would be left with the smallest.
Respect was shown.
Before the beef piece picking ritual started, my father’s young brother Bernie the Barber announced his arrival at our home;
“Allow us to enter your
household, those who
reside here”
As my father welcomed our kith and kin, my mother reacted fast.
She ordered us to restore to her the plate of beef stew which she had dished for us. She off-loaded two pieces of meat from it into another plate, leaving only two pieces of meat for the four of us. She dished out more sadza and gave it to uncle Bernie The Barber together with the two pieces of meat from our own plate.
Uncle Bernie The Barber didn’t waste time. He tackled the meal my mother placed before him with malicious delight. He grinned in our direction, and with a mouth full of food, said;
“I’m lucky today, l was
just in time for a heavy
meal. Boys, your mom
is an excellent cook,
don’t you agree?”
No one answered him.
Except my mother. She said;
“Of course Sinamano, it
is your right to partake
of the food l cook. This
is your home”
The math was becoming complicated and hard to swallow on our side. We now had to share two pieces of meat among the four of us. My nephew Roderick, who was the eldest among us, divided each piece of meat into two using his fingers. The answer was that each one of us became entitled to half a piece of meat.
We continued to eat in solemn silence, while my mother and my father chatted amiably with uncle Bernie The Barber.
That was what my mother was, generous, almost to a point of fault, generous to the point of self-deprivation..
My mother was born Milly Malahleka Ndebele, the pretty princesses without a totem.
Because of her big heart, we grew up with relatives in our household, on whom she showered gifts, clothes, school fees, food, love and praise.
That is how she earned the nickname “Gogo Halala.”
“Halala” is a ndebele anecdote of appreciation and praise.
She used it often, even on those of us who were mediocre and drank to excess. She cared less for the failings of humanity, but encouraged and focused on the positive.
She was generous with her love also. She demonstrated her love publicly, and kissed those she held dear, openly. To begin with, l was embarrassed by this public show of affection. Being her son, Gogo Halala would kiss me in front of my staff at the office, in front of my in-laws, in front of my professional colleagues. But when I realized everyone envied me for the abundant motherly love available to me, l stopped worrying.
I now demanded a kiss from her no matter the circumstances. When I retired to bed, when I was embarking on the long drive from Tongogara in Shurugwi where l would’ve gone to see her, when I was coming back from the bar, Gogo Halala pecked me on both cheeks, her loving lips giving me the reassurance that someone was on my side, cheering me on, supporting my hustle.
Drunk, disorderly, desperately broke, l had a fan in Gogo Halala.
And when she perished on 13 January 2022, l was left alone.
Nothing beats the presence of a mother, who has the gift of love.
Rest in peace Gogo Halala.https://masvingomirror.com

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