The man who died in his car

I religiously read the daily obituaries in our local newspaper.
There, I said it.
I was confronted by my wife about this morbid practice, but I couldn’t answer her other than to venture that I wanted to know who died in my area. Is that so bad? I always rationalize it by saying how embarrassing it would be to inquire after someone’s health, only to be confronted by hurt stares and a terse reply that the said person died two months ago, right? If it was coupled with black eyeliner, piercings and nocturnal visits to the cemetery, then it be something else, right? Anyway, besides the eye roll I received from my supposedly better half, let me get on with my story…
A small notice grimly informed the world that Boeta Achmat Bedford was no longer with us and that he passed away suddenly at home at the age of 82. The article goes further to say that he is fondly remembered by his seven surviving children, 29 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Everyone who knew the family knew that there were two facts omitted from the article. The first one was that Boeta Achmat died in an engine-less, beaten-up old car in the street in front of his house and the other is that he was a contented old man and he probably died one too.
I met Boeta Achmat many decades ago through my acquaintance with his youngest son, who was at school with me at the time. We were both avid rugby players and, after practice, I would sometimes accompany him to his house for a glass of watered-down Kool-Aid. Raspberry, with precious little sugar. My goodness, as I am writing this, my throat is restricting at the mere memory of it, and, although I now shudder at the memory of the taste, I can assure you that after a long summer’s day in Cape Town with no money to speak of, the Kool-Aid was like manna from heaven.
The house was in a suburb very close to the slopes of Table Mountain, so the street was at a 45-degree incline running down to the city bowl. It was a small semi-detached one that had a long passage with bedrooms running off the one side and ending up in an open lounge and kitchen. The toilet was outside in the yard. The one thing that always struck me about the house was that it resembled one of those ant farms that were interesting only for the first few hours after you bought it. It was busy beyond belief. There were kids everywhere. I swore that if you did not look where you stepped in that house, you would have stepped on a child. Boeta Achmat had nine children and although he was happily married to a sweet round woman that never said a word, the same could not be said about his children holding on to spouses. Inevitably, after disastrous liaisons that ended up in either divorce or death, his children would find their way back to their parental home with their own children in tow. Unfortunately, all of the daughters inherited the fertility streak from their mother and procreated with frightening regularity.
After the mother passed away suddenly in her sleep, again, without a word or sound, the elder set of daughters, took it upon themselves to arrange the house in a proper dormitory for the siblings and their kids and relegated poor Boeta Achmat to the stoep-room. This was the hastily enclosed veranda that was converted to a small little room with a dresser and a single bed. The room was so small and narrow that the single bed barely fit and that he had to shuffle sideways to get past it to get to the dresser that were shoved into the back of the veranda. Through all of this, Boeta Achmat never said a word and never complained. He even held his tongue when they assigned one of the older boys, whose roaming eye could not be controlled in the crowded bedrooms, to his bed.
No one knew how it started, but by popular opinion, they say it started in the middle of summery January in Cape Town. This usually meant blustering south-easter and high temperatures. Boeta Achmat was tinkering with the indicator switches of the car that was parked in the road. It was an old Mercury whose engine was sorely in need of another engine and the body was slowly being devoured by the rain and sea-air. By this time, thieves had made off with the car wheels and it was standing on cement blocks. The winds were especially fierce that day, so he had all the windows rolled up. After an hour or so, the warmth in the car made him sleepy and rather than braving the winds to go for a lie-down, he reclined the seat and closed his eyes. This proved to be a watershed moment for the old man. When he woke up a few hours later, he felt refreshed and mellow. He told his daughter that evening that he liked the quietness of the car. After breakfast the following morning, he took a slow walk to the corner shop, bought his Cape Times and his three loose cigarettes for the day and promptly made himself comfortable on the backseat of the car. This became a ritual for Boeta Achmat as well as the afternoon siesta when returning from mosque for the afternoon prayers.
He also became uncharacteristically possessive over that space and defended it fiercely against invading grandchildren who all wanted to see what Boeya was doing in the car. He raised his voice and put his foot down when the scrap metal wagon offered a ‘great’ deal that involved a box of snoek off-cuts and tail-less crayfish to the daughters on removing the eyesore from their front door. He, in the end, conceded to them removing the engine a few months later.
As the months passed and winter rolled in on the back of a tablecloth spilling over the cliffs of Table Mountain, he used discarded newspaper and duct-tape to meticulously close up all the holes the North-Wester was using to spew rain and dust into the car. He was not particularly successful as the interior of the car had a constant smell of wet socks, cigarette butts and, well, old people.
Boeta Achmat had always been plagued by a constant cough that became more pronounced during the winter months, probably because of the countless years of dust he inhaled while worked in the building trade as a bricklayer. The three-Stuyvesants-a-day smoking habit didn’t help either. During a particularly bad patch, the children ganged up on him and physically forced him indoors for a couple of weeks. He moped around the house and uncharacteristically snapped at everyone. It is not known who were happier when his chest cleared sufficiently for him to venture back into his car, Boeta Achmat or his children. After that particular episode, no one messed with him again.
When summer rolled around again, Boeta Achmat was virtually living in the car, apart from toilet breaks, eating, changing clothes and trips to the mosque to pray. By this time, the family had resigned themselves to the situation and ascribed it quietly to the eccentricity of an old man.
No one knew when exactly Boeta Achmat died. The rumour-mongers were spreading vicious stories that the old man was dead for three days before the smell forced someone to check. In reality, the eldest daughter discovered his lifeless body when he did not come in for supper.
The car was gone two days after the funeral.

The Last Hope

THE LAST HOPE


TSHU
THE LAST HOPE OF THE RACE
CHARACTERS
HANGI (THE ELDER OF THE RHINOS)
GURTER (THE SECOND ELDER IN THE RACE)
SAILOR (THE REMAINING RHINO FROM THE CHIGGA CLAN)
MOM HANGI (HANGI S WIFE)
MOM GURTER (GURTERS WIFE)
GORDAN
GAVIN (HUNTER)
MTHOMBENI (RANGER OF WILD ANIMALS)
THE NAME OF TSHU IN THE STORY REFFERES TO THE RHINOS, THE NAME IS A SHORT VERSION OF THE NAME TSHUKUDU. THUKUDU IS A NAME NAMED RHINOS IN THE SEPEDI LANGUAGE, THIS STORY REFLECTS THE TRUE HAPPENINGS IN THE RHINO WORLD.

CHAPTER 1
In the past few years Tshu s have become the most endangered species of the twenty first century, it remains to be seen whether we will be saying goodbye to another animal species. Here comes a story set somewhere in Africa where the last number of Tshu s still exists but not for long, a number of hunters have been contacted worldwide by a wealthy sick king who went to a fortune teller whom told him that the only thing that can heal him, is to drink medicine made from Tshu horns and said loudly that only medicine made from Tshu horns.
The King contacted three of the most notorious Tshu hunters of our generation, the task was simple to deliver enough horns for the king that can make enough medicine for the whole year. In the past this was as simple as a, b, c now the only hard part is to locate where Tshu s can be found, because during the years of slaughtering, their number decreased fastly so and only few exists. But one thing was for certain Africa is where they can find the last number of Tshus, and the first country they visited was the capital of Africa, South Africa. They packed their refills, the best money can buy and started their long journey to the capital, so the story of tragedy begun.

BACK IN THE BUSHES OF AFRICA WHERE THE LAST NUMBER OF TSHUS STIIL EXISTS AND LEAVE IN HIDING

The remaining Tshus had no choice but to gather and try to find a solution to their slaughter, two families of thus where the only ones left the Hangis and the Gurters where the only Tshu families left. Sunset came and they met in one of their hide outs and the proceedings went as follows,
Hangi
Thank you everyone for attending this meeting although we are not many like we used to, we still carry on and search for solutions to end and fight those who threaten our existence on this earth.
Gurter
Hangi I don’t mean to disrespect you but we must face facts we are the only five Tshu s left in the world in the world for now, can’t we just stop hiding and surrender to our hunters?
Dad Hangi
In anger and disappointment) don’t you dare disrespect our race and our ancestors like that we will fight until they take us all but we will never and I mean never surrender, I have a plan that will make sure that we preserve our race although we might not be around to see it happening but our sacrifices will be worth it to our grandchildren and their children and so forth.
Mam Gurter
Sir what are you talking about we are the only ones left soon they will locate us, and just like the rest we will be no more (in tears and sadness)

Dad Hangi
Yes that’s true thy will find us and they will kill us because they have more strength than us, they have machines at their disposal that can eliminate us at a blink of an eye, but they will not take our race with them.
Mam Hangi
Yes my husband is talking the truth but we can preserve our race,
Gurter
Woman be realistic our race is gone, we are the most priced race in the world right now we are even worth way more than gold, so you tell me that we can preserve our race come on
Hangi
(Shouting) Gurters behave yourself we are not infants grow up and shut up and listen, my wife is pregnant that child can be our hope
Gurter
(Emotional) ah another victim will be born and that will make more money for the hunters
Hangi
That’s not true we can preserve our race all we need is you and your wife to reproduce, then both of our infants will be taken some where were their survival is guaranteed, a while back I saved a man from drowning in the river he was dying that was certain, after I saved him he sweared to God that if I ever need anything he would be there for me. So my long journey to the north was all about that I went to him and told him my idea and he was more than happy to help me, as he already knew about the problems of our race.
CHAPTER 2
Gurter
(Angry) Hangi u two slimming busted you have a solution but you stayed with it why don’t we all go there?
Hangi
We can’t all go there it would be too risky for Gordon’s family, the hunters could hurt his family even worse kill them because of us
Sailor
So sir how will we get them there without being noticed, the infants I mean?
Hangi
No sailor we won’t get them there, you will
Sailor
But sir I can’t even take care of myself how do you expect, me to take care of new infants? (Nervous)
Gurter
Hangi you are really messed up, sailor can’t even gaud his food how do you expect him to deliver our last hopes to the Promised Land.
Hangi
Don’t worry yourself about that Gurter, you worry about making our last part to complete the puzzle. Do we have an understanding? Loudly so
Gurter
I don’t have a choice do i? Ok I’ll do it but if this plan fails you are to blame
Hangi
Am glad we have an understanding, now all we have to do is wait and wait for the members of the clan
Immediately after the meeting the next sunset that came saw Hangi heading off for his long journey to meet the Saviour Gordan, and to tell him that the plan is in motion along his journey, Hangi was plotting and creating secrets routes that will be used to transport the two infants. The map he was sketching needed to be entirely new routes as it would be necessary so that Sailor can’t be seen when travelling.
Back in the plane the three groups where making calls to all known rangers that they had one’s worked with to capture the Tshus, and one ranger became use full as he told them about the last Tshus that are believed to be hiding in the bushes. To the Hunters that was the perfect start to their journey while that was bad for the Tshus, as trouble is heading for them.
In two days after their long flight they eventually landed in Africa and with no time to waste travelled to meet with Mthombeni the slimy ranger who sells Tshus out, immediately he showed them the bush that he last saw a Tshu in and that was as far as it went Mthombeni was to stay outside and keep his eyes and ears open for anyone who approaches or tries to enter the bush.
Riffles where being loaded with the best weaponry available and the hunters started their hunt and they kept in mind that they had only limited time to find as many as they can. That first day yielded no results as they did not find any clues of Tshu existence, sunset came down and they went back to the hotel to prepare for another day of hunting
Back at the Tshu hide out
It’s been days since Hangi left the bushes and there has been some developments in the Gurter clan as miss Gurter has finally been confirmed as being pregnant, The plan was coming together softly but Dad Gurter had mixed emotions yes he was happy to be having an heir, but he wondered if he would live long enough to see that heir play in the bushes or take its first meal.
Gurter was heartbroken but with the news of that heir coming soon he started to see and share Hangis dream, he also wanted to see his race survive this war, he now more than ever was prepared to do anything to preserve their race even kill and most of all die for that dream. In excitement and in motivation he wanted to see Hangi to apologise for all the wrongs he has said and tell him that they will fight in battle as brothers. Gurter was excited early in the morning he went to the nearby river to fetch some water for the wife as she now required more water than usual.
Another sunset was approaching and the hunters were already up at pass 4 they wanted to get there early, upon their arrival in the bush the hunters separated as they thought it would be smarter to search in different places at once, many hours passed but they still could not find any foot prints or anything that showed that they are any Tshus living there.
The hunters where getting frustrated and started thinking that perhaps there are no Tshus there and it would be wise to move on to another location, yes they agreed to move on but on their way back they saw a river and they were thirsty so they rushed to it for drinking, while drinking the leader saw something that he should have never seen, yes he saw a footprint of a Tshu that was left by Gurter while fetching water.
The others looked at him and said “is that what we think it is” the leader smiled and said yes it’s exactly what we are looking for, but they were amazed as to when was this footprint made because they were here all day yesterday and saw nothing. The only possible answer was that it was made during early hours of morning as they themselves arrived there early too, then a thinking came to them that said perhaps they should change their hunting strategy but the leader said no our hunting strategy has worked for years why change it? All we have to change is our hunting time, the leader said to the boys that they should prepare themselves for a steak out.
CHAPTER 3
That was the plan the hunters went back to the motel to refresh and come back at dark, Tshus were running out of luck as they were in the danger of being sported. That nightfall Salar went out to fetch water and food as he had done so many nights before as they only eat and drink in the bushes at night to avoid being spotted, the hunters made their way back to the bushes and more specifically started at the river and there they arrived to some surprises as they found Salar the silly Tshu singing and dancing besides the river with this words to his song “ I am the saviour of our race but I prefer to be called the protector of our last hope”, the way he was singing it shocked the hunters as they listened closely to Sailors words. Just when one of the hunters wanted to shoot Salar the leader whispered quietly and said “you shall not shoot him now listen to his words they tell a story, rather let’s wait and see where he goes after” as the leader had a feeling that Salar was not alone in the bush as he was still young himself.
Yes they followed Salar as he was young, stupid and inattentive they followed him all the way as he was about to reach the hide out one of the hunters phone rang, that’s when Salar got the alert of that he is being followed, he started running while guns were being fired at him they chased him but with humans being slow species on foot they were just too slow to catch up with the speed star of the Tshu race.
Salar as he was running he saw that he had gotten away from them, and returned to the hide out with fear being the only thing on his mind. He immediately went to Gurter as he was the elder due to Hangis absence, he told him everything about the uninvited guests that made Gurter so angry and scared, after he heard what Salar had to say he knew that their days were numbered. He told everyone that from now he would be the only one allowed to go outside and fetch food
Gordon’s place
Godan was about to go to bed and he saw Hangi in the backyard, he was happy to see him but he could see it in Hangi’s face that he was not happy at all, he said to Hangi “come in old friend I have never seen you so sad ever” Hangi came in and started telling Gordon that the time has come for the plan to be implemented. Gordan saw that Hangi was tired as he travelled for the whole four month as he wanted not to be seen by anyone, he told him to get some rest and that they would talk tomorrow.
The sun came out they started talking and Gordan told Hangi that the habitat is now finished and ready to be lived in, he told Hangi that him and his family can come and live there. Hangi said he appreciates everything he had done but he will send the kids first and him and the rest will follow after if they are still alive, that was sad to hear by Gordan but he accepted Hangi s decision, there was no time to spare Hangi prepared for his journey back home at sunset. Sunset came and he departed for his journey.
The hunters went back to their hotels and this time they were over the moon as they had seen what they came for to Africa, this time the hunters had to make sure they had progress as time was not on their side. They packed extra food and all supplies as they now planned not to come back until they have a Tshu horn in their hands, this time the leader said they won’t search for the Tshus but wait for them in a place where no living thing can do without.
While at the bush Gurter was the only one who was allowed to go out and fetch food and water as he was much wiser but he held a disadvantage of being slow as age was no longer at his side, night approached and everyone was hungry and thirsty so Gurter was on his way to get them.
Gurter was cautious when he was getting the food he whore tree leaves to become unnoticed with luck he was able to get those food, and he started to look around and saw no sign of the hunters and perhaps thought to himself they had given up on the hunt, he was approaching the river where they fetch their water he was smiling and saying to himself “ I am smart Salar this is how u do it” , he dipped the bucket in the water to get it full to capacity, when he was about to pull it out he could feel that the weight of the bucket is slightly heavier than usual. He pulled up even harder with maximum strength yes it was coming up but not alone, the hunters jumped out of the water and screamed surprise, surprise Mr Rhino.
Oh my God Gurter was spotted all this time the hunters waited under water for the Tshus to come and fetch water, Gurter was in shock he turned around left the food and started running for his life while the hunters also got out of the water and started chasing old Gurter. Old Gurter really tried to out run the hunters but his legs had no ability to do that, they eventually fired many sleepers on him he tried to resist but the poison was too much for him to stay awake, there he was running but he could not even outrun even a tortoise with that speed, yes the poison had slowed him down rapidly eventually old Gurter fell so hard to the ground. It was a sad moment but yes Gurter was ripped to pieces when the horn was taken out along with his life, yes another Rhino has been killed one of the last 5 remaining in the entire world, gone. One would think that the death would bring peace to those left behind as the hunters have now found what they were looking for but it wasn’t to be, after they took the horn the leader realised something, something that the others did not see, yes he noticed that the Tshu they had right there and the one they saw that day they were slightly different, that one was more fatter and older than that one, there right there in that moment he realised that they are more Tshus on that bush and they are in hiding. . The other two were under the impression that their job was done when they went back to the hotel but only to find that they are only sending the acquired horn by a messenger and that thy are remaining in the hotel and will resume to hunt again in few weeks as the other Tshu will realise that we are on to them, they got some rest and stayed away from the bush for some few weeks to let things settle down.
Back at the hide out its dark the sun has gone away and they haven’t seen Gurter since the early hours of morning, panic as starting to affect every Tshu in that hide out and Sailar started facing the fact that Gurter might be no more, he told others that he is going out to look for Gurter the mothers disagreed but had no choice but to allow Sailor to go and look for him. Sailor went straight to the water to drink water first as he was thirsty but there on that river he came across an unpleasant scene, as he saw the bucket that Gurter left with in the morning and besides it food, food that was left behind by Gurter. Sailor looked down with sadness and said to himself “I hope and pray that this is not what I think it is”, but in his heart he knew that something had happened to Gurter, he followed the traits that were left behind by the running that took place as the trees were torn where the running took place. As he was walking the traits were leading right next to their hide out and he saw blood on leaves and maybe thought that Gurter might be here injured in need of help, yes he was right that blood was Gurters eventually Sailar saw Gurters body, rushed to it screaming Gurter, Gurter what’s wrong , no response as he got near he saw a huge pool of blood next to him, then he said to himself again “ Gurter only if you had listened to me” he saw that the most prised possession of the Tshu race had been removed he closed his eyes and said rest in peace Sir. He covered him with leaves and went back to the hide out to tell the horrible news, eventually he got to the hide out with a long face filled with tears before he could break the news Gurters wife just saw and felt that something is horribly wrong and started crying. Mam Hangi asked Sailor why he is crying that much, mumbling in his words but they eventually spelt and said this words “Am sorry they killed him, they killed him like a thief and took his head”.
They all could not hold their anger inside no more and started crying while on the other side was Hangi getting closer to home but he also felt mixed emotions as he felt like something big had changed that day reminded him of the day they murdered eight of his siblings years ago, Hangi said to himself is this happening again is what’s left of my race killed again he started running with many thoughts in his mind Lord please I have never asked for anything from you in my life please let them be safe. While running to the hide out he could see broken leaves and human footprints now more than ever he saw that something bad had happened, in anger he ran into the hide out screaming where you are, there he found all of them in tears “” that’s when he said what is wrong, he grabed Sailor by his throat and said tell me what is wrong”” but Sailor had no strength to tell him what is wrong but just said “They murdered him””, eventually Hangi looked around and saw that someone is missing, he screamed and said who did this who took him, who killed him? Eventually they all calmed down and Sailor told Hangi everything,
Two weeks from then the Hangi baby was born, and a week after the baby from the Gurter clan emerged also, it was a happy time for both mothers but Gurter s wife was sad as he would have wished Gurter to see his only son. Hangi with no time to spare he told the mothers to kiss and hug their young one goodbye as tomorrow the heirs would be transported to the Promised Land, sad was the state the mothers found themselves in but knew that the sacrifice there are making would be remembered by the future generations and their names will leave through the end of time.
Hangi made a confortable cart that would be appropriate to transport the newly born, in the morning the long journey to the Promised Land will begin. While on the hotel the rangers were preparing for their return to the hunt the very same morning that Sailor is supposed to head out on the long journey. Morning came the rangers arrived in the early hours of it and opened their eyes as hawks and held their guns tight like they were on war, after all preparations were done Sailor was on his way with the infants as any families do they gave a proper send off as they accompanied them up until the river, that was a mistake as they became walking targets of the rangers. One of the ranger was about to shoot but stopped immediately by the leader as he wanted to see where they were heading but after a few hours he got tired of playing hide and seek and announced their presence and intention. A scream from deep inside the bush said “”Rhinos your journey ends here, you have something we want dearly” with smiles the leader had already counted the Tshus and they were four of them. Hangi was surprised as he did not notice that they were being followed and Sailor was scared and told Hangi that those are the people who were chasing me and am certain that it’s them who took Gurters life.

CHAPTER 3
Gavin the leader said ooh young one it is good to see you again and I promise you this time you won’t get away from us just get away from that cart and surrender yourself, Hangi in anger he lashed out at Gavin saying why did you have to kill him he did nothing to you, yes he did nothing to me but he had something I need so does all of you said Gavin, Hangi started whispering to Sailor and told him to prepare to run in five he would cover him. Gavin said to the Rhinos that I will count up until 10 if you don’t surrender I promise I’ll kill you all as he was about to count to 5 Hangi yelled run to Sailor, sailor started running into the bushes and Gavin immediately screamed this words to his crew “”shoot to kill ill follow that little brat”” yes his orders were followed Rhinos were being killed like chickens in December their blood was being spieled just because of greed. While the battle was on Gurter prayed in his heart and said “”dear God I never thought I would be a murderer but this I must do, it’s either I kill back or I watch my race being abolished in front of my eyes I therefore don’t ask forgiveness from you, as if I had to do this again I would do it, I would kill again to protect those I love””. Gavin noticed that Sailor was getting away and that Gurter was kept busy by the shootings he climbed down to chase him, Hangi got angry as he watched his wife and Gutter’s wife being brought down by bullets blood was running like water from the Nile river, he ran straight to one of the hunters with his horn pointing strait at his back in a split of a second that horn went through from the back to the stomach of that hunter, yes Hangi has finally done it he has taken life something he never he would do. As Gavin was coming down he saw what Hangi had done and pointed his machine at Hangi and opened fire saying die your animal closely moving towards him, Hangi was down but not out as Gavin moved closer as he thought that Hangi was down and out but he pulled one last strength and aimed at Gavin’s head but unluckily missed him and directly chopped out Gavin’s right hand. That unfortunately was the last act Hangi could do on earth as Gavin with anger opened fire directly to his head as his life fainted away, but he left a mark that will remind Gavin of him forever he took his arm with him. The other two after killing the two mothers chased Sailor behind and continued firing, Sailor was following exactly the route map given to him. Behind him was the hunters catching up as the trailer of the two infants lowered his normal speed, but he was preparing to enter that crucial hole that will lead him straight to the Promised Land. With God’s mercy Sailor entered that whole and was able to get away from them, what happened after whether they reached their destination was never known we only hope that Sailor accomplished the mission, we hope that he saved the race the entire race of Tshus (Rhino).
THE END

AUTHOR: TEBOGO BALOYI

Re-cycle me

I feel trapped , trapped in a life that is defined by Pi (3.14…).
I am living a life of evolving circumference. The days before
I was born my life was already set course to do as the circle
asks me to. I cannot disobey the circle, because without it
im no more. I live in fear, I live in doubt, I live in worry. How
large is this circle that we keep on filling is going to be?
We are all merging into one big circle. I don’t like this
circle and its haunting me day and night. I do not want to be in this
circle, I want to be free. Not even my thoughts are free, they are trapped
in this circle of thoughts. I don’t not know what am I.

I am lost in this circle. Re-cycle me.
Re-cycle my thoughts. Let me be my circle.
Let me be dependent of only me. Let me be me and think me.
Re-cycle me. I’m only an individual.