“IT WAS TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT!” Mac Maharaj sat erect in bed. Beads of sweat gushing from his forehead.
“But how, Satyandranath? Why you make so much noise and wake me from sleep.”
His heart beat was racing like Horse Chestnut. His breath was rasp. Short. His eyes quickly adjusted to the room. To the walls around him. To the ceiling, and he sighed. It was a dream. It was only a dream.
“I’m sorry, Zarina.” He said, still out of breath. “Just had a nightmare.”
His wife’s eyes softened. “My little honey samosa, is it Jacob again?”
Mac sighed. He decided not to answer. He did not want to have this discussion with his wife. Not in the sanctity of their home. Pushing himself off his bed, he trudged over to his en-suite bathroom and flicked on the light. The sudden burst of brightness made him squint, but when his eyes did adjust, he looked at his face in the mirror. At the eyes of the silver haired fox looking back him. He looked like an Indian extra from The Pirates of The Caribbean. And that is how he felt most time. No, not like a thief. But as a swashbuckling hero on the rough seas of South African politics. All the other pirates – from the DA, COPE, IFP and the like after the ANC’s booty. Don’t they know, nobody can beat Captain Zuma when it comes to booty?
Mac washed his face and let the cold water cleanse him. Water. It made him think of the sewage and worms in the water supply in Bronkhorstpruit, and it made him angry. How dare those people? The audacity. The laziness. They expect everything to be handed to them on a plate…or in a glass. What, they expect to open the tap and clean water to come out? And who says clean water is better? Why is clear water better than brown water? You see, that is the inherited racist mentality. That brown is not good enough. The continuation of the Apartheid’s brainwashing regime.
Maharaj stepped into his large, cream Italian-tiled shower with six pulsating shower heads and washed his troubles away. He had a big day ahead him. Who knows what President Zuma said last night and how he will be able to defend it?
· * * *
The gates of the Nkandla com…estate opened and Mac was driven in. He meandered past Ma Khumalo’s Tuckshop and saw a new structure right next it. Another shop, called “Imtiaz’s Supermarket”. A large, red and white Coca-Cola board just outside the door reading “Cheaper Bread, Cheaper Milk.” Mac shook his head. These damn Pakistani shop owners are everywhere. He meandered past the swimming po…the fire pool. He was thankful that it was there. Jacob was known to play with matches. The clear, blue liquid splashing as members of the President’s staff were doing laps. Then, he drove past the soccer pitch and observed Simon, one of the Presidents security detail, produce an amazing save while between the goal post. And he smiled. If ever the president was attacked with a soccer ball, he was pleased that Simon would be there. The Andre Arendse of security.
Mac pulled up after the fifteen minute drive from the front gate to the house. He made sure that he had locked his car properly. These car jammers were everywhere.
“Good Morning, Mr Maharaj.”
Mac was greeted by Zuma’s personal butler, a man named People. “Good morning, People. How are you doing today?”
“I am good sir.” He said. “As always, surviving the needs of President Zuma.”
“Good People. Good.”
The front door was pulled opened and President Jacob Zuma walked out, in the company of a young woman. She was in a disheveled state. Straightening her dress, adjusting her bra strap.
“Don’t worry, ahe ahe.” he said. “I will take a shower. I will be fine.” He handed her a few coins. “For the taxi. And tell your father I say hi.”
The woman walked off and Zuma looked at Mac. He grinned broadly. “Mac, Good Morning.”
“Good Morning Mr. President.”
“Please come inside.” The president stepped aside to welcome his spokesman into his home. Their footsteps echoed off the tiles in the wide-open cavernous area.
President Zuma’s smile slipped from his face. “Mac, I am very worried about the people.”
Mac nodded. “I know Mr. President.”
“I was watching the news last night. How did we let things get so bad?”
“It was apartheid, Mr. President.”
“Still Mac. I mean, these people are living in squalor. Squatting where ever they can find shelter.” He shook his head. “It is horrible.”
“I know, Mr. President.”
Tears began to well in his eyes. “They spend their days looking for water. And trying to prevent people from taking the little that they have. The violence, Mac. Too much violence and crime. And to make it worst, a politician is openly involved.”
Mac Maharaj stopped in his tracks and turned to the President. They stood in one of Zuma’s grand lounges. “A politician?” Mac’s grey caterpillar like eyebrows furrowed. They looked like cheese curls dipped in milk. “Which politician, sir?”
Zuma shook his head and walked on. “I don’t know Mac. I don’t know his name. That’s what I need you to find out. His title is Governor.”
“Governor?” Mac felt even more confused. Like Julius in a woodwork class.
“Yes Mac, Governor.” He shrugged. “I didn’t know we even had Governors. But it is terrible, Mac. Awful. It is so bad, the people are even eating each other Mac. Eating other human beings.”
Again, Mac stopped Zuma.” Cannibalism?”
“No Mac, man. It has nothing to do with dagga. I’m talking about people eating people.” President Zuma shook his head slowly. “It’s horrible. That poor little boy. That old man with the one leg. The chinese boy who was probably just trying to provide cheap labor. But thankfully there is a police man with them. His name is Grimes. He is a good cop. Get Riah to give him an award. He deserves it.”
Mac Maharaj sighed hard. “No Mr. President. That was not the news. That is a TV show called The Walking Dead.”
Zuma stopped and stared into Mac’s eyes, searching to see if he spoke the truth. “Serious?”
“Yes Mr. President. Serious.”
The President laughed out loud. “Ahe, Ahe, sjoe. I was worried for a second. So the people are not hungry and poor.”
“No Mr. President. They live in Utopia.”
“Utopia? Who is she? Is she married?” Mac Maharaj did not respond, so the President continued. “But hey, Ahe, Ahe, it’s good to know it is not real. Because I saw something else. I think on National Geo-graphics. It worries me Mac. These dragons. From Essos. And then there is this blonde woman- is she married? Anyway, this Intombazene, she wants to invade this place called Westeros. I think it is in South America. But with dragons Mac. What if she then wants to come to South Africa? We need to get more arms. More weapons Mac, to protect ourselves. Get me Shabir and Chippy. We must do another arms deal.”
Mac rubbed his forehead, exasperated. “I will Mr. President. But first you must meet with The Freedom Front Plus.”
Zuma was silent. He looked at him expectantly. “Plus what?”
“No sir. Just plus.”
:Haai. I don’t like maths Mac, you know this.” After the twenty minute walk from the front door of Nkandla, they finally arrived at their destination. The lounge. He looked around. “Now where is my People to serve me? I am thirsty. Umshini Wami. But leave the gun, just the water.”
“He will come by shortly, Mr. President. But first, there is something important we must do.”
President Zuma sighed as they both sat down on the plush settees. “Don’t worry Mac. I got this.”
“Still Mr. President. We do not want a repeat of the last time. Repeat after me slowly. Nine hundred and nine million, three hundred and sixty thousand rand.”