Thursday, June 05, 2014

The Gokwe Kid and Funny Money

The Gokwe Kid and Funny Money

The sun came out today and just for a change I slipped on a pair of shorts. They are rather old. I bought them at Vic Falls. They are nylon with plastic pocket zips and a cool logo of a white water raft and the words 'The Mighty Zambezi, Zimbabwe'.

They are still in good knick considering where they have been. I put a hand in a pocket and there I felt and heard a rustle that sounded familiar... money! Lo and behold... 15 Euros. My lucky day. I did work out where the dosh came from, but it made me recall a Gokwe story. It goes like this -

It was one of those days. Stinking hot and I am reduced to weeping over my rotten luck of ever joining the BSAP as five off us stumbled over rocks and dodged thorn bushes whilst weighed down in weapons of gook destruction. Yet again I was walking cannon fodder, when suddenly Point hollers out -
“Gooks- run for you lives!” And legs it asap past the bloke called 'up the rear'.

That was me. Awful job. In theory it meant that should you bump into any of the mad bastards, as last in the stick, you would be last to be taken out. The problem was that as part of the miserable way to claim an extra $3.75 tax free a day allowance towards a set of your own wheels, was that it made you dizzy. This was because you had stop walking forwards every 30 seconds and walk backwards to see if any gooks were snickering up that maybe were interested in your rear.

So. Actually, the exited constable at Point had called out something in Shona and ran over to a small bushy like tree. He was immediately followed by our other two black coppers who oohed and aahed and each broke a small branch off and put it in a pocket of their combat jackets.

With lunch time approaching, what the hell, take a break and ask what was going on.
“This, PO Greenberg,” said Point, pointing to some obscure green and brown thing growing out the ground, “IS A MONEY TREE.”

Hardly. I might being going blind from the sunlight and self indulgence but wasn't exactly seeing currency of any denomination dripping of its bedraggled arms. Okay. Us whiteys know this as kids from when we first got our pocket money. Every year you asked Daddy for a pay rise and every year received the same answer – 'money doesn't grow on trees'. A simple 'no' would have sufficed.

“Well, as I can't see any money on this tree, either you and your fellow companions are on some serious illegal drugs, or I am.”

“PO Greenberg. It works like this. You take a twig and bring it home. Then with your eyes closed, place it any pocket in your clothes cupboard and forget about it for a long time. A time will come when you need to go out but have no money. You then go through all the pockets and you will find some money!”

Ahh, I was starting to twig -”How much money?”, I blurted out with over excited half Jewish genes.

“Sometimes, just one dollar. Sometimes ten, I myself once found twenty.”

Now this was very interesting indeed. Last time I searched all my pockets in desperation I found five cents. It had been enough to phone my bank and ask for an overdraft – refused. So I immediately went to work hacking off branches with my sheaf knife and stuffing them in every pocket till not even a Selous Scout would have spotted me.

This was watched with bemusement of my black colleagues. After I realised I could barely walk...

“Ah, PO Greenberg , Sah. It will not work. You can only take one twig from one money tree.”

Rather disappointed I did as I was instructed.

Months go by, and I am stationed in Gwelo. I have a date. Unfortunately I am flat broke once again. Then I remembered and with great enthusiasm went through every pocket of every piece of clothing I had in the room. AND – Bingo! I found a dried out twig.

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