The bell of the metal pedestrian gate rings once. I’m expecting someone, so I go to open without checking.


‘Sawubona Mama’

It wasn’t the person I was expecting.

‘Yes, hello Sir. Would you like…?’

She gestures to the hessian bag that she’s been lumping along the Linksfield Ridge all morning. I can see skillfully cut but simple wooden bowls there, all carefully packed in newsprint and plastic, unsold even now at the time of the bluntening of the eyes (isikhathi sokuqundeka kwamehlo).

She can see me looking at the bowls. She begins to remove them from the bag, and so I attempt to stall her.

‘Anginamali namuhlanje, mama.’

She smiles suddenly.

‘Uphumephi, baba? IsiZulu sakho simnandi!’

I explain my origins to her, and she listens, unpacking the bowls. I’ve been hooked already.

Once I have finished my story, she begins hers.

‘Ngivel’ eZimbabwe. Ngiyasikhuluma isiShona. These bowls were brought down over the border just this week. They were hand-made by my son.

You don’t have to buy them right now, Baba. You can pay me when you get money. Take this one. It is the heaviest. It is the one I have carried here for you. Take it.’

I recant my lies, and fetch my wallet, and hope that someone will need a wooden bowl as a present sometime.