Outside a dog barked. It was already evening. We were enjoying ourselves.
There was raucous laughter. Baba VaTata was giving a birthday party for his young son Michael who was turning nine years of age.
Also present was Rasta, Fatso and Handitika. The later was a well-known malayitsha who smuggled both goods and people across the Limpopo River.
There was nothing he could not do if the price was good enough. Handitika was also a good friend of Baba VaTata.
The party started around 1pm. The food was great.
Baba VaTata had slaughtered a goat.
I did not like the chicken stew as someone had put too much spices, but the goat meat was tasty and found easy passage down my esophagus. It tasted great.
The cake was outlandish and excited the women and children.
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All my children were present and seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mai Maidei get a huge piece of cake with much delight. There was much laughing and excitement.
Mai Maidei spent a great deal of time looking over her shoulders.
Sister Lynette the hairdresser, was also present and she always tried to flirt with me.
It did not help matters as Mai Maidei always suspected that there was something going on between the two of us.
She was wrong.
“Increase the volume please. This is not a funeral,” shouted Fatso.
He was having a good time. Zvazviri was busy taking pictures.
He was a photographer and liked taking pictures.
He always claimed that most of the pictures in our history books taken during the war, of the likes of Josiah Tongogara and other liberation war heroes were through his effort.
“Mind you, I never held a real gun, my gun was the kodak camera,” he always said.
"The comrades were particular about the pictures, uhuru would come one day and the pictures would be useful for posterity.”
There was noone to dispute him.
I half believed him like many others. These days he no longer had a kodak camera but made use of his android phone to take pictures.
He always posted pictures on the residential chat group platform. The other time he almost got into trouble with the law for some of the pictures he had taken during the food riots a couple of years back.
The pictures had gone viral. The authorities were none the least amused with the pictures.
I was particularly amused that he took more pictures of Chiedza who was the eldest child of Baba VaTata.
There were less pictures of Michael being taken away and yet it was because of him we were all gathered.
Chiedza had graduated from university and was still to get a job.
She had even completed a Red Cross course as a nurse aide.
It was already getting late. Mai VaMaidei wanted us to go back home with the children before it was too late.
My conscience would not allow me to leave just as yet as beer kept flowing uninterrupted.
Eventually, Mai Maidei had to leave with the children without me. I saw them being escorted to the gate by Mai VaTata.
For me, the day was still young. Baba VaTata was moving around and laughing with his guests.
“Enjoy yourselves, there is too much food, as for the beer you won't finish it. Enjoy, life is too short,” he said as he moved around.
I could see that he was getting tipsy like most of us.
I could not help thinking about the gossip doing the rounds about Baba VaTata’s neighbours.
Apparently the Chakos had a party only the previous month which rocked all night and Baba VaTata was not invited.
I did not see their neighbours and I had a strong feeling that Baba VaTata was using this party to spite his neighbours.
Anything was possible in the ghetto. Gossip is always one step away from the truth.
That was the nature of rumours; gossip is always not further away from the truth.
Strange enough, I noticed Baba VaTata, his wife and daughter drive away in their car. I just thought that maybe they were going to buy some more food.
The party was in full swing and Handitika came and sat by my side.
He always had harrowing tales of border jumpers.
A number of them were robbed, raped or killed along the treacherous footpaths as they sought to begin a new life in South Africa.
After an hour or so, Baba VaTata and his wife returned from wherever they had gone. I did not see Chiedza.
That was odd. But one thing I noticed, their faces were glowing with excitement.
Baba VaTata could not hide his excitement.
He suddenly let the cat out of the bag.
“Let the music play. I have great news,” he said.
“We are just coming from the airport, my daughter Chiedza even as I speak, is aboard Qatar Airways on her way to Ireland.”
There was a momentary silence as this took everyone by surprise.
So the birthday party was a smokescreen. Baba VaTata was full of surprises. This was actually a farewell party for their daughter Chiedza.
“Let the party begin,” shouted Rasta. I could see that he was already intoxicated. Handitika was screaming and laughing as he crawled on the floor like a baby learning to crawl. He was stone drunk.
As for me, I was making the most of it as if there was no tomorrow.
*Onie Ndoro is an educationist, IELTS tutor, ghost writer and storyteller. For Feedback: Cell 0773007173/email: [email protected]