"Hurry up Tshepo, the taxi is almost full" said Mrs. Gumbu to her son.
"But ma, I am trying, these things are far too heavy," Tshepo said referring to the plastic grocery bags he way carrying.
"You are becoming lazy, Tshepo," she said and shook her head.
She was carrying more bags than Tshepo but she was not complaining; the spirit of a lady rose under black oppression. She was a house maid; she took care of a family's child. Shaun was his name; he did not know that his parents, uncles and many who shared his skin color were doing badly. But there was a certain way he treated Mrs. Gumbu that proved that the apple hadn't fallen far from the tree.
Tshepo went to a boarding school. He was handsome but still had the tummy of childhood, not old enough to stand with a girl on the corner as most of the older boys did when the parents were not around. He had the stature of a freedom fighter but his mother treated him like a three month old baby. His friends would often tease him and call him a "mama's baby".
Tshepo's father was shot when the little man was only three months old. He was coming from work after a pay day and some boys tried mugging him. He knew that the money was needed by his wife and three month old baby, he fought back and that led to him being shot. It was ironic how much this affected Mrs. Gumbu. She knew that her husband died with honor, he was not killed for the struggle of apartheid but he died for the love of his wife and child.
"Sorry mama is you going to Zola?" asked the queue marshal as he gave her a hand with her groceries. Even though it was really ever spoken of, these men found at taxi ranks were the closest you could get to a gentleman during those times.
"Yes my boy, thank you... I am so tired," she said as she sat on the seat positioned behind the driver's seat in an old blue E-20 Nissan taxi.
Tshepo came in at last and they left as the taxi was short with two passengers before they arrived.
As if it was a way of making people pay whether they liked it or not, the taxi driver drove half the way and he said with a soft voice, "Pay up please". Mrs. Gumbu reached into her bra searching for money for the fair but there was nothing.
"Tshepo please pay up my boy, I used up all the money for food," Tshepo smiled as he went for his pocket. He felt like he was considered a man for doing something as simple as paying for the taxi. Suddenly his facial expression changed from pride to fear and then to panic when he came down to the hard hitting fact that he did not have the money with him.
"Ma, I lost my money bag," he said softly trying not to draw as much attention as possible.
"What!?" said the taxi driver who overheard their conversation.
Without waiting to hear the statement again, he pulled over and turned his big body, clothed with a leopard print vest, to the back of the taxi. The vest telling everyone that he was true Zulu warrior.
"I am sorry sir, I will give you the money in minute," she tried to sound sure of herself, but she had no clue where she was going to get the money from. He shook his head while collecting the rest of the money. This had turned the whole situation around, he felt obliged to get his money personally, even if that meant he would be last on the taxi queue, it did not matter. A man had to live and to do that a man needed money.
After collecting all the money, Mrs. Gumbu had not yet given the gentleman his money and there were no signs of mercy in his eyes.
"Well I will have to take your food ma," he said. Worry fell upon her face, what were they going to eat?