Ginger

2019-04-18 06:00

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Dimpho and Sello’s mom had a problem. “My feet felt like blocks of ice last night!” she told the children one Monday morning. “They were so cold I couldn’t sleep. Now I’m very tired!”

“I know!” said Sello. “Why don’t you wear socks in bed tonight?”

“What a good idea!” said Mama. “My children are so clever!”

That night, she put on her thickest woolly socks. “Auntie Thoko gave me these socks forChristmas,” she said. “They are very warm! I’ll sleep well tonight!”

But Mama was wrong. On Tuesday morning, she was tired again.

“I couldn’t sleep a wink,” she sighed. “If only I could warm up my silly cold feet!”

“Mama,” said Dimpho, “why don’t you soak your feet in hot water before you go to bed tonight?”

“That’s worth a try!” said Mama. “Thank you!”

After supper that night, Mama poured hot water into a big red basin. “Mmmm, this feels good!” she said, swishing her feet about. “I’m sure I’ll sleep well tonight.”

But guess what? On Wednesday morning, she was tired again. “At first it was perfect,” she said, “but after a few hours, it was the same old story … cold, cold feet! I’ll just have to think of something else. Eat up, now! It’s time to go to school!”

When Mama came home from work that evening, Dimpho had some good news. “My teacher says that drinking ginger tea makes you feel warm all over,” she explained. “Ginger tea will warm up your feet!”

“Okay,” said Mama. She didn’t sound very happy. After so many nights of not enough sleep, she felt very grumpy!

But Mama didn’t forget what Dimpho had said. On Saturday morning, before she left for work, Mama asked the children to go and buy some ginger. “Nothing else has helped,” she said, as she got ready for work. “Maybe ginger will do the trick!”

Off went the children. “What are you looking at, Sello?” asked Dimpho when they came to the big road near the shops. Sello didn’t answer. He was staring at something nearby. “Sello!” said Dimpho again. “Hold my hand. We need to cross the road now.”

“Not yet!” said Sello. “Look over there! We need to help that cat!” And before Dimpho could stop him, Sello had rushed off.

On an empty plot, two boys about Sello’s age were teasing a grey cat. They laughed. The cat was trying to escape.

For a small boy, Sello had a big, loud voice. “STOP THAT!” he shouted. “Leave that cat alone!”

“Yes, leave it alone!” said Dimpho.

The boys looked up. “Why should we?” said one of them sulkily, but the other boy let go of the frightened cat. “What do you care, anyway? It’s only a stupid stray cat! Come on, Jabs, let’s go!”

When Dimpho and Sello’s mom came home that afternoon, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Her children were patting a fluffy grey cat. The cat was purring and licking itself. Mama saw that they had fed it some leftover meat.

“What on earth is going on?” she asked angrily. “Why did you bring that animal home? Get rid of it right now!”

“But Mama, it’s raining outside,” said Sello. “Kitty will get wet! Please can we keep her, just for tonight? PLEASE?”

Mama looked out of the window. It was true. When she got out of the taxi, there were grey clouds in the sky. Now it was pouring. “Fine,” she said with tight lips, “but tomorrow, that cat goes.”

“Thank you, Mama!” said both children.

“Hmmmph,” said Mama. She sat down, took off her shoes, and rubbed her feet. “Where is that ginger you bought me?” she asked. “It’s time for my first cup of ginger tea!”

The children stared at each other with huge, round eyes. They had forgotten to buy the ginger! Mama was very cross. She stayed cross all night. As soon as the kitchen was clean, she went straight to bed.

On Sunday morning, when Dimpho and Sello woke up, there was no sign of their mom. They were surprised – she always woke up early. They couldn’t see the cat either.

“Let’s check that Mama’s okay,” said Dimpho. Quietly they opened the door to her room, and peeped in. What do you think they saw? Mama was lying in bed, looking lazy. The cat was curled up at her feet, purring loudly.

“Morning,” said Mama. “What a good night! Warm feet at last!” She looked at the cat. “I think we may have to keep you!” she told it. “Let’s call you Ginger!” The grey, fluffy cat purred even louder.

The children laughed, clapped and bounced about. Then Sello stopped. He was frowning. “But, why are we calling her Ginger?” he asked.

“Well,” said Mama, “you two went to the shop to buy some ginger, but you brought this cat back instead. She kept my feet warm like Dimpho said the ginger tea would, so her name is Ginger!”

And that was what they called her.

Umama kaDimpho noSello wayenengxaki. “Iinyawo zam bezivakala ngathi zizitena zomkhenkce phezolo!” watsho ebantwaneni bakhe ngenye intsasa yangoMvulo. “Bezibanda kangangokuba khange buhle tu ubuthongo. Ngoku ndidinwe kakhulu!”

“Ndiyazi!” watsho uSello. “Kutheni ungalali unxibe iikawusi ebusuku namhlanje?”

“Unyanisile!” watsho uMama. “Abakrelekrele ngako abantwana bam!”

Ngobo busuku wanxiba ezona kawusi zakhe zinoboya obuninzi. “UMakazi uThoko wandipha ezi kawusi njengesipho seKrisimesi,” watsho. “Zifudumele kakhulu! Ndiza kulala kakuhle kobu busuku banamhlanje!”

Kodwa uMama wayephosisile. Ngentsasa yangoLwesibini, wayediniwe kwakhona.

“Khange ndifumane nobuncinane ubuthongo,” wakhalaza. “Ukuba nje bendikwazile ukufudumeza ezi nyawo zam zigezayo zibandayo!”

“Mama,” watsho uDimpho, “kutheni ungaqali ufake iinyawo zakho emanzini ashushu phambi kokuya kulala namhlanje?”

“Ewe kuyavakala oko!” watsho uMama. “Ndiyabulela!”

Emva kwesidlo sobo busuku, uMama wagalela amanzi ashushu esityeni esikhulu esibomvu. “Mmmm, atsho kamnandi!” watsho, eswahlaza amanzi ngeenyawo ngapha nangapha. “Ndiqinisekile ndiza kulala kakuhle namhlanje.”

Kodwa ungaqashisela? Ngentsasa yangoLwesithathu, wayesadiniwe. “Kuqale kwalunga,” watsho, “kodwa emva kweeyure ezimbalwa, kuphinde kwabuya ibali elidala … iinyawo ezibanda, ceke! Kufuneka ndicinge ngenye indlela. Khawulezisa ugqibe ukutya, ngoku! Lifikile ixesha lokuya esikolweni!”

Uthe uMama xa efika ekhaya evela emsebenzini ngaloo ntshonalanga, uDimpho wabe eneendaba ezimnandi. “Utitshala uthi xa umntu ephunga iti yejinja ufudumala wonke umzimba,” uchaze watsho. “Iti yejinja iya kuzifudumeza iinyawo zakho!”

“Kulungile,” watsho uMama. Wayengavakali onwabile kwaphela. Emva kweenstuku ezininzi zobusuku bobuthongo obungehliyo, wayekhawuleza akruquke!

Phofu uMama akakulibalanga akuxelelwe nguDimpho. Kusasa ngoMgqibelo, phambi kokuba aye emsebenzini, uMama ucele abantwana ukuba baye kuthenga ijinja. “Akukho nto incedileyo,” watsho, elungiselela ukuya emsebenzini. “Mhlawumbi ijinja iya kuwenza umsebenzi!”

Bakhawuleza bahamba abantwana. “Ujonge ntoni, Sello? wabuza uDimpho bakuba befike ngasendleleni enkulu ecaleni kweevenkile. Zange amphendule uSello. Amehlo akhe ayethe ntsho-o kwinto ethile eyayikufutshane. “Sello!” wambiza kwakhona uDimpho. “Bamba isandla sam. Kufuneka sinqumle indlela ngoku.”

“Alikafiki ixesha!” watsho uSello. “Jonga phaya! Kufuneka sincede laa kati!” Uthe engekamnqandi uDimpho, wabe selemkile uSello.

Kwiplothi elithafa, amakhwenkwe amabini aphantse alingana noSello ngobudala ayentlonta ikati engwevu. Ayehleka. Ikati yona yayifuna ukubaleka.

Nangona wayeyinkwenkwana, uSello wayenelizwi elikhulu. “YEKANI LOO NTO NIYENZAYO!” wakhwaza. “Yekani loo kati!”

“Ewe, yiyekeni!” watsho uDimpho.

Amakhwenkwe aphakamisa iintloko. “Kutheni sifanele ukwenza njalo?” yatsho enye ijalile, kodwa enye inkwenkwe yayikhulula ikati eyayisoyika. “Ukhathazwa yintoni wena, phofu? Yikati nje enyabileyo engenakhaya le! Yiza sihambe Jabs!”

Akuba efikile umama kaDimpho noSello ekhaya ngaloo mva kwemini, zange awakholelwe amehlo akhe. Abantwana bakhe babembambazela ikati efukufuku engwevu. Yona ikati yayisenza izandi ezalatha ukonwaba futhi izikhotha. UMama wabona ukuba bayiphe inyama eyayisele kwisidlo sabo.

“Kanti kwenzeka ntoni ngoku?” wabuza esabucaphuka. “Nisizisele ntoni eso silwanyana apha ekhaya? Yikhupheni phandle ngoku!”

“Kodwa Mama, iyana imvula phandle,” watsho uSello. “UKitty uza kuba manzi! Nceda sivumele simgcine, nje ngobu busuku banamhlanje, andithi? UNGANCEDA TORHO?”

UMama wakroba phandle ngefesitile. Babenyanisile. Ngokuya ebesehla etekisini bekukho amafu angwevu esibhakabhakeni. Ngoku yayigalela imvula. “Kulungile,” watsho equthe imilebe, “kodwa ngomso, iyahamba loo kati.”

“Enkosi, Mama!” batsho bobabini abantwana.

“Hmmmph,” watsho uMama. Wahlala phantsi, wakhulula izihlangu zakhe, wahlikihla iinyawo zakhe. “Iphi ijinja enindithengele yona?” wabuza. “Eli lixesha lekomityi yam yokuqala yejinja!”

Abantwana bajongana bethe phuhlu amehlo amakhulu angqukuva. Babelibele ukuthenga ijinja! UMama waqumba kakhulu. Wahlala equmbe njalo ngobo busuku. Kwakuba kucocekile ekhitshini, waya ngqo ebhedini yakhe.

Kusasa ngeCawa xa uDimpho noSello bevuka, bafumanisa ukuba wayengekho umama wabo kungekho nomkhondo wakhe. Bamangaliswa – kaloku wayengumntu ovuka kwangoko. Kanti nekati babengayiboni.

“Masijonge ukuba unjani na uMama,” watsho uDimpho. Bavula umnyango wegumbi lakhe lokulala bengangxoli, bakroba phakathi. Ucinga ukuba babona ntoni? UMama wayengqengqe ebhedini, ebukeka ecubhukile. Ikati eyayizisonge ezinyaweni zakhe, yayisenza izandi ezibonisa ukonwaba futhi ingxola.

“Molweni,” wabulisa uMama. “Indlela endilele kamnandi ngayo! Ekugqibeleni iinyawo zam bezifudumele!” Wajonga ikati. “Ndicinga ukuba sifanele ukukugcina!” wayixelela watsho. “Masithi unguJinja!” Ikati engwevu, efukufuku yankwinizela phezulu nangakumbi.

Bahleka abantwana, beqhwaba izandla betakataka. USello wasuka wema. Wayefinge iintshiyi. “Kodwa, kutheni sisithi nguJinja?” wabuza.

“Kaloku,” watsho uMama, “beniye evenkileni niye kuthenga ijinja, kodwa endaweni yayo nibuye nale kati. Ifudumeze iinyawo zam ngendlela uDimpho ebethe ijinja iza kwenza ngayo, ngoko ke igama lakhe nguJinja!”

Bayithiya elo gama kanjalo.

This story was provided courtesy of the Nal’ibali national reading-for-enjoyment campaign which works with schools, partners, and community members to nurture a love for reading among children in the Western Cape and across the country. To read the story in another South African language, or for literacy activities, reading tips and more stories to enjoy with your children, visit

www.nalibali.org or nalibali.mobi. You can also find Nal’ibali on Facebook and Twitter: @nalibaliSA.

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