When ‘Boxing Day’ fell on Christmas Day

Tanaka Chidora Literature Today
Those who grew up in my village in the 90s know that Christmas came and left behind an array of injured limbs, usually the faces.

There were certain characters that would inevitably get into fights that would drag on and on and on until spectators got tired of watching and decided to go back to nursing their scuds and various forms of Christmas eats and drinks. That’s how the fights would end mostly, for what is a fight without spectators?

The Majoni brothers were usually a permanent fixture in these Christmas fights. They were four of them — giant warriors from Chera Village, who would move around the township spoiling for a fight. They fought with gangs from Zano, from Machokoto, from Murinye, from Chikwaya, from Gopoza, from Mashonga. Hell, they fought with anyone from anywhere!

One day, one of the Majoni brothers had a fierce altercation with Uncle Head. Uncle Head was one of the arrivants, who would spend the bulk of the year away from home and come during the third week of December for Christmas. Uncle Head believed that it was a waste of good beer to get drunk and not speak in English.

So on that particular Christmas I arrived at the township and found a huge crowd gathered around a violent and fisty scene that featured none other than Uncle Head. In fact, there were three actors in the dariro — Uncle Head, Uncle Eddie (Uncle Head’s younger brother) and one of the Majoni brothers. Up to today no one knows where the other three brothers had gone on this particular Christmas.

Uncle Eddie was holding the Majoni fellow, while Uncle Head was speaking in English and recklessly slapping the poor fellow in the face. It was a Mafia-like scene. I still have the image of Uncle Head in my head.

He was putting on some dark sunglasses that made him look like a drug lord unleashing punishment on an errant runner boy. You would forklift the scene and deposit it into a Hollywood movie featuring gangs from the barrio, and still make millions of dollars. Majoni looked like a cornered victim who had no option but to surrender his fate to the whims of his captors. And Uncle Head made good use of the moment.

He fed the crowd from the palm of his hand, which religiously made contact with Majoni’s face with reckless abandon.

It was only when Uncle Eddie slackened his grip on the poor fellow that he scrambled to the ground (because he was actually kneeling like someone, who was tired of his cross); like a hare that has sniffed the presence of a dog, and bolted through the unsuspecting crowd before hitting a 120 towards the township butchery and disappearing behind it like Warren’s ghost (well, everyone from my village knows who Warren is). After this bout, we spent the most peaceful Christmas in many years. At least that’s what we thought.

Since we were kids, our parents usually eyed (I mean they used their eyes to speak) us towards the way home at around 5:30pm. Every year of the 1990s, my Christmas ended at 5:30pm, which was not bad actually.

So on this particular Christmas, my mother’s eye sent me home at exactly 5:30pm. It was exactly 30 minutes after my departure that all hell broke loose. From the careful narration of Uncle Eddie, we got to know that the injured Majoni chap came back with his three brothers and found Uncle Head speaking in English in Makamanzi & Sons Bottle Store (it has never been daughters, right?), and drowning himself in Black Label beer.

When they finally left him alone, they had done a very meticulous job of enlarging the features of his face so that when he woke up on Boxing Day we couldn’t believe that Uncle Head’s small face could assume such extra-terrestrial proportions.

The tribe was irate. We were all irate. How could the Majoni brothers do this to Uncle Head? Luckily, Uncle Cliff had come to the village in the morning of Boxing Day with his Peugeot 404. The clan giants piled into it. Uncle Head invented a metal sjambok to beat the Majoni brothers into submission. We were too inconsequential to get into Uncle Cliff’s car, so the only thing we could do was to whistle the warriors away in their endeavour to restore clan pride.

In the evening, with the mist stealthily moving above the land like ghostly incense, we saw phantoms emerging from it.

The giants came, one by one, breathing heavily like Satan after roasting the bodies of a million sinners in hell (that is, if that actually happens). The last to arrive was Uncle Head. His face was larger, and a couple of his limbs had their skins ripped off.

From the careful narration of Uncle Eddie, we gathered that Uncle Head had not only been disarmed by the Majoni brother; his metal sjambok had also been used on him. The rest of the giants, realising that the task was more formidable than they had imagined, had taken to their heels leaving Uncle Head to deal with the Majoni brothers alone.

This is just, but one of my innumerable Christmas memories. Uncle Head is no longer around. May his soul rest in peace!

So from me, Merry Christmas! Drive safely on the roads. Don’t drink and drive!

Source : The Herald

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