David Mungoshi Shelling the Nuts
My three-year-old grandson talks about having voted in the last election and readily shares who he voted for. A proud smile lighting up his face, he tells you that he voted for both ED and Chamisa. Don’t even try to tell him that’s not permissible!
On some days when he is dressed in his pseudo-military pair of jeans and gum- boots he pretends to be on the phone with General Chiwenga. He tells the general that he’s just been jogging. And challenges me to a jogging up and down a steep incline nearby where the VID guys take learner drivers for a hill test drive.
One of the tenants at the family residence is a young man with a car. As a matter of course the young man routinely parks his vehicle near the small banana grove at the bottom of the driveway and might be seen there on occasion in his grey overalls cleaning his “wheels”, as young people will say. But sometimes, it’s just his glowing white car parked there, tantalising and inviting to those of imaginative bent.
On these irresistible days, my perspicacious little-old-man of a grandson takes the garden chair opposite mine and with that serious expression that one sometimes sees on the faces of comedians and pranksters, says to me: “Sekuru, I’m just going inside to get the car keys. I want to park my car outside the gate.” It never looks like he’s joking. In his mind it really is his car and I can never win that argument against him.
Who knows what worlds my grandson travels to nights as he lies on his bed, dreaming? That must be the time he drives off to town and later parks “his” beloved vehicle just outside the gate. Dreams come true when you are sleeping.
The boy is a Mr Bean fanatic. You should see the beatific smile on his face when the TV is on and he is watching Mr Bean do his usual shenanigans.
He appears to prefer Mr Bean to the action stuff and at three years of age, he speaks near-perfect English without anyone ever tutoring him. Thanks to television, he’s up there with Sithembeni’s famous son. Pamamonya ipapo! In his fancies, he too walks the red carpet. To hear him enthuse, “Jah Prayzah sends his greetings. He was passing by and stopped to say, ‘Hello’,” is the stuff short stories are made from. My grandson is a celeb…from just saying it.
On occasion, Mukanya, as he prefers to call himself, sings a credible rendition of Jah Prayzah’s “Kutonga Kwaro”. If you don’t mind him going off-pitch! He prances around an imaginary stage, like one of those goons who flex their biceps if you get too close for comfort to their charge.
My paternal grandmother, VaJapi, a full resident of Nyikadzimu, the land of the spirits, these many years past, would have shaken her baffled head and remarked: “Verily, these children of today are Europeans.” The boy knows words I could never have dreamt of at his tender age. Words like, “Hi” and “Teddy”.
Just this last week, as I sat there lazily taking in the morning air from my usual place in the garden -my wife insists that the morning air will do me lots of good, and you had better not contradict her – I saw him hold out his cupped palm like a mic and yell, “Big-up you guys! This is Mukanya (his totemic name).” I knew I was in for another treat. What more can a retired old man like me in a pair of exotic shorts and cross belts possibly want as his doting grandson coos: “What more do you want?”
He seems fascinated by the reading glasses on the irritated bridge of my nose as I peruse the news headlines on my smartphone. I am mostly just browsing, really. Too many people are trying too hard to sound erudite and informed. Thinking I would rather just play with my grandson, I put the glasses away in an old case and give him my full audience.
Just then, his playmate, the two-year-old son of the lady-tenant comes over and tells me something incredible, ingenious and absolutely hilarious. As custom provides, maternal grandmothers often refer to the male children of their daughters as their husbands. It’s all said in jest of course, but this delightful little fellow takes it all very seriously indeed.
“I like eggs,” he volunteers, quite unsolicited. “My wife boils them for me. After I eat I play for some time. Then my wife and I go for a stroll.” Priceless! Who needs a soap with too much ham-acting? This is VIP stuff, and I have a vantage seat near the stage, for free.