For over two decades, that old shoemaker in our ghetto has maintained a strong love for tea. All shop owners and other regulars around his ‘shoe surgery’ know of his undying adoration of the beverage.
The tea comes in a big green metallic cup that once had a green inside. But regular use has transformed the inside into a heavy brown coat.
All tearoom owners have come to take it for a doctrine that the shoemaker’s cup must always be filled to the brim, and we are talking of almost three quarters of a litre!
He can do anything for tea!
His regular tea times are early morning, the dot of noon and just after four in the afternoon. However, lots of cups unevenly head his way in between any two of these systematic times!
Now, the shoemaker has this age-old habit of calling on passersby to fetch the tea for him. He does not take any refusal kindly.
The most predictable of his ‘waiters’ are some boys that pass by his ‘surgery’ almost every 4pm from watching training sessions of one Super League outfit in preparation of a role as ball boys at the weekend.
The boys have come to master the old man’s instruction to exercise the greatest of care not to spill even a drop of the brew.
And boys will be boys.
For this job, these spoilt and naughty lads so bent on making money expect ‘some remuneration’. And now that the shoemaker does not pay—as he says it is his traditional privilege to send boys around for free—the boys’ rebellion is ‘inventively’ woven.
Now, picture that little boy tip-toeing across the road, balancing the ‘immense’ cup in one hand and slices of bread in the other.
As soon as the errand boy appears from that shack of a tearoom, the others start to kick a ball about the place, with two or three doing some mock commentary.
By the time the old man gets the tea and the bread off the errand boy, the rest of group cheers on at ‘Messi lifting the World Cup.’
Pamene paja Messi kudzalandalira maulemu, kaya ukuona bwanji mzanga?
Zoona mnzanga, pano Messi kudzalandira World Cup!
And the whole scene around, except the old shoemaker, I guess, gets the joke and often catches the laughing bug.
Such is the naught of kids!
Minding his own business, the shoemaker, eyes closed and his mind lost to a tea heaven, munches into his bread and laces the chewing with gulps of his drink.
I said he can do everything for tea!
I now agree with one Zimbabwean music classic that bread with margarine in one hand is best enjoyed with tea, with lots of milk added to it!
Chingwa che margarine chinokaka
Chinoda tea hovu!
Chingwa che margarine chikonaka
Chinoda tea hovu!
Given a chance, even at over 80, men of the shoemaker’s love for tea—whether politicians, soccer coaches or teachers—can bounce back from retirement to earn more for chingwa che margarine!n