Julius Malema and I have a lot in common.
Neither of us has a bank balance worth much these days. Neither of us knows the first thing about farming . . . and neither of us can fit into most of the clothes we own.
Abandoned they hang, neatly they lie folded, in silence they wait for that glorious day when we will be able to wear them without looking like your average Wal-Mart shopper. I feel your pain, brother.
Pretty soon, however, my man Malema will get to strut his stuff in a bright orange overall – big enough to cover those unsightly rolls and man-boobs (moobs).
Not all of us are that fortunate to get a few sponsored years of forced labour, routine exercise and sporadic sprinting from big Nigerian men with an aching for love.
Nope, some of us have to do it the hard way – read: by the endearing force of our wives.
It’s been three weeks of oats every morning, shakes for snack time and, more often than not, shakes for lunch. At the office people stare at me with great empathy as I make my habitual walk to add water to powder-filled containers.
“Toffee and apple” flavour, or something like that, it says on the side of the Econo-sized bucket at home. Scoop and a half per “feeding”, watch the kilos melt away. . . “only effective as part of a controlled diet, with moderate exercise”.
Surely any controlled diet with moderate exercise will allow you to lose weight for crying out loud, but what do I know?
The fruit-flavoured-powder creates an illusion and makes the water you are drinking taste like something only astronauts should be having for lunch. Meal replacement my backside – I bet there is more nutritional value in licking a jogger’s hairy legs than in 300ml of grainy-looking water. Of course you are going to shed a few chins if you live on oats, steamed fish and the occasional cup of rice.
I’m starting to feel like a bit of a miracle worker these days.
Armed with nothing but a few fish and a cup of dried cereal I aim to feed the starving masses that occupy my stomach. They growl at me constantly and, occasionally, send me flying to the nearest loo in a cacophony of furious gas emissions as the “shakes” give my bowels the shivers . . . charming, I know.
If it carries on like this I will soon have to pay a special carbon-tax to the government. At least I have until 2015 to sort myself out . . . one day at a time as any recovering addict will tell you.
So here we are then, Julius. Two men, united by our flubber, unified by bleak futures that stretch before us like our stomachs – a wobbly mess of uncertainty.
Ours is a silent struggle, comrade.
Far removed from flashing cameras and whiskey-fuelled indabas that serve no purpose but to feed the gluttons of South Africa we stand as one in the shadows, together preparing to face the coming winter of our discontent.
But we are not alone.
Out there are others like us. Men who, either by conviction or loving suggestion, are willing to take up their spoons and join in our cause.
Yes young lions, this story of hope shall good men teach their sons.
From this day to the ending of the world, we shall be remembered.
We few, we hungry few, we band of brothers . . . the men who stare at oats.
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