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IN LINDA’S WORLD V: Meet Sondoko

All social primary goods are to be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution is to the advantage of everyone

John Rawls

Lindas World 5Mr. Fischer was in an effervescent mood. “You don’t say!” he exclaimed as he reached the porch. “This is quite a load of the Times!” he bent over to pick one issue.

“That’s right, Linda must catch up with all the news from home front she’s missed in this last two months,” James Smith said jauntily, doubling over to give Linda that customary peck on the left cheek.

“I don’t blame her, quite a lot is happening every day.” said Alexander Fischer thumbing open the paper.

“Darling…” Linda said almost absent-mindedly, her voice was strait; her gaze was fixed beyond James.

“My Dear, this is Sondoko,” James announced at once. The unspoken questions in Linda’s eyes called for no delay in introduction. “The house help,” he said. “Finally, we got someone.”

The black young man clasped his hand together and bowed reverentially, “Mangwanani, Madam,” he said. That was good morning in Shona dialect.

“He is highly recommended,” James added.

“That’s right, Mrs. Smith,” Mr. Fischer corroborated, “Sondoko is experienced, he had served two white masters and already knows the basic things required in the house, you’ll find him very useful,” he said.

Linda seemed to be totally incapable of uttering even a word; everything said by Mr. Fischer came merely like a sound. The message was lost on her. She shook her head nonetheless, while her eyes ran over the young man Sondoko in a sentimental appraisal.

“The added advantage is that he understands and speaks simple English, so you wouldn’t have difficulty getting across to him, and don’t be surprised if he offers to teach you his dialect. An interesting young man, I must tell you,” Mr. Fischer spoke on.

This young fellow had got something atypical, almost uncanny in his mannerism that got to Linda. Was it his quiet confidence which could in no way be misjudged for temerity? Was it the spruce appearance he achieved notwithstanding the simple, almost cheap shirt that he was dressed in? And although, well aware of his own place as a black in the scheme of things, he was composed and collected. The faded blue shirt gave a definite hint of chest and arms muscles well toned from regular physical activities. The hands were strong and hairy. The boy also appeared to retain his personal sense of dignity which the other blacks she had seen seemed to throw into the bush when within the circuit of the white.

James did not miss the look of discomfiture in Linda’s eyes and to break the tension, he said at once,

“Come, young man, I’ll show you to the outhouse,” he chaperoned Sondoko out of the verandah, down the stairs to the back of the house where the outhouse was located.

As if suddenly awakened out of a nightmare, Linda came to her presence of mind the moment Sondoko was whisked out of her sight.

“Coffee, Mr. Fischer,” she rose primly to her feet and dropped the copy of the Times she had been clutching. Her natural smile breaking forth now.

“Of course, Mrs. Smith, I’ll have it creamed,” he said stepping into the house after her.

From somewhere within the house, Bingo, the neutered tan German shepherd leapt out joyfully reaching for Mr. Fischer.

“Hey, big girl,” Mr. Fischer crouched to receive Bingo’s raised paws. Bingo, wagging its tail, went down on the linoleum, presenting her belly for a caress and as Mr. Fischer ran his fingers through her belly, Bingo, enjoying the caress, lay quietly for his gentle touch, struggling only to regain attention every time the touch lingered in coming. She would roll up and reach for Mr. Fischer’s hands with her teeth in a playful manner.

From the kitchen the sound of clicking glasses could be heard as Linda decanted hot water, poured coffee into the jug and shortbread into china plates.

Once she approached the dining set, Mr. Fischer rose up from his bent position over Bingo and went for his coffee. The abandoned neutered dog leapt after him. Mr. Fischer pulled out a dinner chair, sat and began to sip, the issue of the London Times he had brought in he spread before him on the table.

“Right now it must already be snowing, even if only slightly, in London, hmmm, miss the snow!” he said wistfully in-between sips of the hot coffee.

“Well, enjoy the harmattan now, this is Africa,” James Smith cut in as he stepped in through the rear door.

“That’s right,” said Alexander Fischer.

“Bingo, come here,” James said. The dog approached and reached up with her fore paws. James edged a little to avoid his uniform being stained. He grabbed the paws.

“Hello girl, let’s get you some crunchy,” James let go of the dog to fetch her plate. While he sat at the table for his own coffee, Bingo busied herself lapping her food on the floor.

“How is your farm doing, Mr. Fischer?” Linda asked, she took a seat by them now at the table.

“Pretty good, it promises to be a blessed season.” Mr. Fischer said nodding to emphasize his pleasure.

“You ought to expand,” said James.

“I know and that’s where I require your help. The blacks at my base must give way, you see,” Mr. Fischer said.

“Hmnn…” James paused to munch. “Well, the new Land Apportionment bill is in the advanced stage now in the Legislative Council and since we now have strong representation in the house, I have not a doubt it would finally sail through to become an Act, which means it’s just a matter of weeks till your wish be met.”

“And that is just as well.” Began Linda, a ball of fire seemed to roll into her eyes whenever she had an opinion to voice. “It is clear by now that the white settlers know how to maximize and get the best out of the land of this country than the peasant locals. Would Southern Rhodesia not starve if we leave it to them to produce our food using hoes and cutlasses?” Linda opined spiritedly. There was nothing she argued without emotion.

“That’s right, Mrs. Smith; anyone who cannot conveniently deploy the level technology we have brought into farming practices in this country should no longer lay claims to large provision of land. That’s been our argument. And we deserve the land as much as they, by now we are a part of the state having been here for decades too.”

“That’s certainly true and I don’t think anyone is still contending that. You the white farmers must take the lead; let the black work for you. In the end we get plenty food produce which is an end well justified.” James Smith said.

“Hmnn…hmnn,” Mr. Fischer shook his head in agreement.

“And whatever it takes we must do; we must levy taxes against them and in the bid to pay they will have no option other than to work under their white masters to be able to meet up to the taxes and that is the only way to ensure unflagging food supply in this country.” Said Chief Superintendent James Smith.

Moments later, Mr. Fischer was done and James was ready to return to the police station. He picked the last of the shortbread and drained his mug in a gulp.

“We are expecting you to pay us another visit soon, Mrs. Smith,” Mr. Fischer said as he rose to his feet. “Dinner on Sunday?”

“I shall be very glad to join you; James and I will see if there’s a possibility of it.” Linda said.

“It’s yet Wednesday, we’d phone to let you know before Saturday eve.” James said reaching towards the entrance with Mr. Fischer in tow. They had gotten to the Zighuli, then James seeming to have a sudden hunch turned around, “Excuse me a moment,” he said and jogged back up the stairs,

“Darling, that boy…he is suitable; but, you know, if you are not comfy with him I’d just look for someone else, maybe you’d prefer a girl?”

“Oh no! We’ve got to give him a chance,” said Linda.

“So I thought too. Bye and have a nice day.” he went out.

Linda lifted herself and edged out of her seat and as she reached across the table for the empty mugs and china saucers, the hairy hand reached ahead of hers.

“Leave it, I will do it,” the voice was easy and genial. Linda flinched. Sondoko had come in through the rear door.

Previous Posts in the Series – In Linda’s World

IN LINDA’S WORLD Synopsis

IN LINDA’S WORLD I: Coming to Salisbury

IN LINDA’S WORLD II: Uncle Jake – the Dreamer

IN LINDA’S WORLD III: On the Day That James Learnt to Ride

IN LINDA’S WORLD IV: A Man Like Mr. Mwanyisa

Next Post in the Series – In Linda’s World

IN LINDA’S WORLD VI: A Miscarried Hope

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