“You know,” Boggel says as he slides a few new beers over the counter, “it’s stories like these that make me believe in mankind again. I mean, look at the way José and Malherbe shook hands! They were genuinely happy then. Old enemies in the past, new friends now. I think it’s beautiful.”
The group at the bar is still chewing the cud of the recent events. People in small places do that: they prefer to keep a good story alive – rather than discussing the newest unrest, burning of police equipment and township unrest. Politics, the Rolbossers will remind you, exists because people are gullible. Why burn down a municipal building when you protest against poor service delivery. Do the protesters think that’ll speed up the building of toilets? Or convince the crooked mayors to attend church? Well…maybe. But go with the thought: destroying stuff is the worst way constructing a better future.
“Ja,” Vetfaan wipes the foam from his stubble, “and maybe one day I’ll love my tractor again. That thing isn’t good for my vocabulary. I found out the word ‘carburettor’ is spelled with an infinite number of f’s.”
“Get a new one, Vetfaan. That old machine is costing you more than the down payment on a new one. Go check out the new stock at the cooperation in Upington. Some of those tractors have air-conditioning. You can even listen to CD’s while you’re ploughing. And the seat…it’s got a cushion!” Kleinpiet has the knack of coming up with outlandish ideas, so he simply ignores the shocked stares.
Their discussion is interrupted by the lorry of Kalahari Vervoer as it rumbles to a stop outside Sammie’s Shop. The driver gets out, calls Sammie over, and proceeds to slide a rather large box from the hold.
“What on earth is that?” Vetfaan points at the large letters on the box, spelling ‘SAMSUNG’. “Who’s Sam? What did he sing? How did they get it in a box?”
“The Japanese do funny things these days, Vetfaan. They put all kinds of stuff into boxes these days. Games. Music. Things like that.” Kleinpiet still gets away with that statement, but sinks himself with the next one. “They even build cars that run on sunlight.”
“That, gentlemen,” Gertruida – who knows everything – sounds bored, “is a flatscreen.”
The only screen Vetfaan knows, is the layer of gauze that keeps the flies out of his kitchen. “So what? Mine is flat already.”
“You have a TV?” Gertruida can’t hide her surprise.
It takes two more beers to clear the air.
“You mean Sammie is getting these new-fangled screens? To do what with? We don’t need TV.”
“Vetfaan…grow up,will you? We live in a changing world. We have to know what’s happening out there. The global village, you know? We’re part of that.”
Sammie walks in with a brilliant smile, sits down next to Vetfaan, and snaps his fingers. “A round of beers, please Boggel? We’ve just moved into the twentieth century. We must move with the times, chaps. You must come and have a look at that SAMSUNG! Wow!”
“Twenty-first,” Gertruida whispers.
“Whatever. But now you can follow the protests in Limpopo Province, be up to date on the e-Toll system, and watch Zuma making speeches. You’ll be able to see the chaos in Kiev, Syria or Egypt. You want natural disasters? Watch the floods in England and the snow storms in America and Canada. There are talk shows about Obama’s divorce and the newest developments on the Nkadla-saga. It’s riveting stuff, people! You can’t live without it.”
Sammie records the fastest sale in his career as shopkeeper. It’s Boggel who sets the wheels into motion. After a hasty collection and getting Sammie to agree to the terms, the SAMSUNG is on it’s way to its new owners.
Fifteen minutes later, the group is back at the counter, congratulating each other on the sale.
“I can just imagine how much joy that flatscreen will bring. It’ll be watched all day.”
“Ja, and then they’ll forget what they saw, and stare at it again tomorrow. Endless entertainment, new every day.”
“Well, fortunately, Sammie agreed that he won’t do such an irresponsible thing again, ever.”
Two days later, a letter arrives at Boggel’s Place.
Upington Old Age Home
Alzheimer Support Group
On behalf of all our patients, we want to thank you for your generous gift. Please be assured of our gratitude and appreciation.
Unfortunately, the set was stolen right after we installed it. We’re not sure who did it, but we’re sure we’ll know for sure within the next few days. It’s just a matter of seeing where the next protest flares up..
Please – in the future – restrict your donations to cash or koeksisters – at least our inmates will have something positive to celebrate.
Matron Nelly Nutt.