Before Adamawa’s hand got stuck on a peach, he was a dusty farmer and herbalist.
When he left Congo, the political landscape of the country was unsettling, for him. He felt that the governance was leaning stealthily towards authoritarianism. And because of that Congo had no place for civilians of his kind – the kind who resolved challenges of any nature through rationalism and bi-directional communication.
But when his mother asked him to show the instances where the government showed any sign of irrationalism and unidirectional communication in its conduct, he retorted angrily, “You see? It is because of your kind of thinking that South Africa seems like a better place to live in.”
And from that response his mother deduced that her son wanted to explore new horizons but noticed that, because of his timidity, didn’t know how to let her know. And therefore he resorted, as the local village men were fond of, to a hostile approach. With an understanding smile Adamawa’s mother responded.
“Adamawa, language of our forefathers, hostility is not manhood. You have to learn to assertively express your desires and the motives behind them without intimidation. If you want go to South Africa there is nothing stopping you. But if I may ask what circumstances have led to your decision, other than the Congo’s unsettling political landscape of course?”
“Abundance of opportunity,” came, with relief, Adamawa’s response.
“I give you my blessing then,” said his mother.
That is how Adamawa ended up in Edenville Township, a township known with peach trees of different kinds.
Edenville was not without norms. They were not legally binding but they were substantial to keeping order, stability and, most importantly, peace. And through the help of Mr Godavari, who was named after a river in central India that is sacred to Hindus, he assimilated and was able to adapt.
The most important rule Mr Godavari had stressed to him was that he was allowed to eat any peach of any tree that grows in the street, but not the peaches of trees growing inside the yards of residents as that would lead him to being expelled from Edenville.
Adamawa had asked if that was possible. Mr Godavari had assured him that it was possible because when it came to issues of township importance, Edenville residents were a collective bunch. But other than that they still embraced their individuality when they were within the confines of their yards.
Edenville was not without rascals also. Sina, a wannabe rapper, who had christened himself Rap-Tile and made a living by stealing and selling electrical cables, was an epitome of a rascal. Rap-Tile delighted at putting lights out of people’s lives. He was a parishioner though.
Since arriving at Edenville, and under the advice of Mr Godavari, Adamawa had taken a liking to a young woman who was also a parishioner at the church where Mr Godavari was a minister. Adamawa had doubts about her but Mr Godavari vouched for her. Her name was Evelyn.
Adamawa and Evelyn had been dating for a while now. One day Rap-Tile wanted to steal a cable that was connected to a transformer that was close to where Adamawa and Evelyn were cohabiting. But first he had to study it and measure risks, yet he couldn’t risk being seen doing that. So he came up with an idea.
He decided that he would go and visit the couple. When he arrived at their house he roamed around the yard asking if they don’t have any repair jobs for him, all the while imperceptibly studying the transformer. They had said no they don’t.
When he was sure he had done his job with the transformer he looked around for the last time and he spotted a peach tree. He asked if he can pick a peach. Even though Adamawa realised that two thirds of the branches of the tree were in his yard he declined and told Rap-Tile that he didn’t recall owning a tree.
“Did you fall for that tree policy hogwash? The tree is yours and I am going to help myself. Sister, would you like to come with me?”
“Sure, why not?” Evelyn followed Rap-Tile to the tree while Adamawa went back into the house.
“They are so delicious,” said Evelyn to Adamawa when she had returned from the tree and Rap-Tile had left. “Here have a taste.”
Adamawa tentatively accepted the peach and suspiciously bit it. Indeed it was tasty. The following day it had started to slightly rain when Adamawa went to the outdoors toilet and saw the tree. When he got out of the toilet he was tempted to go and pick some peaches from it. And without ascertaining whether the tree belonged to his yard or not he started picking the peaches.
From the next-door yard a woman came out of the house. When she saw Adamawa she stopped and gazed at him.
“Hello ma’am!” greeted Adamawa. The woman didn’t respond. He already had two peaches in his hand, of which one was bitten while the other hand was holding a peach still on the tree. He kept quiet for a beat, expecting the woman to respond. He looked at the peach and then at the woman. And still his hand didn’t let go of the peach.
“I said hello! Ma’am?” he shouted. Still the woman didn’t respond but instead of an audible response the woman’s lips looked like they were mouthing a response against their will. Perhaps it was the rain playing tricks on him, he thought, the hand still on the peach on the tree. Although the woman didn’t respond, it unsettled him that her gaze was fixed at him. He kept quiet and stared back, and ultimately decided to enquire.
“Do you want to say something, ma’am?” with that he noticed that the gaze of the woman was not of solemnity but of anger. And still the woman was glaring at him not saying a word. Adamawa looked at his hand on the peach that was still attached to its twig on the tree, down the tree stem to the ground from which it sprouted.
Two-thirds of the tree’s branches were in Adamawa’s yard yet the stem of the three sprouted from the yard of his neighbour, the one he was forcing an improbable peaceful conversation with. But from the distance the tree seemed like it was wholly in his yard, an aspect which he’d overlooked until now in this situation. Now he noticed that the tree from which he was picking the peaches was not his and it was too late. He looked at the woman. A thought crossed his mind to let go of the peach, jump the fence and go and speak to the woman, which would be stupid.
“I was going to ask you if you would like some peaches but now that I realise they are actually yours, may I please have some peaches?”
“Had I not shown up what would you have done, rude neighbour?” said the woman.
“I would have picked them and left,” Adamawa answered timidly.
“Mr Godavari has to know about this. And when he finds out, rest assured that you will be kicked out of Edenville, for good,” the woman threatened.
“OVER A PEACH!” Adamawa shouted.
“Yes,” said the woman and then shouted, “HONEY!”
Just then Mr Godavari came out of the woman’s house.
“What is it hun?”
She pointed him to the sight of Adamawa holding peaches, one half bitten.
“What are you doing with my peaches, you son of a naked goat!”
“I am sorry sir I thought–”
“Plug them back in, NOW!”
Frightened, Adamawa tried to plug the peaches back on to the tree.
“I swear sir, I didn’t know. Evelyn and Rap-Tile are the one who tempted me into eating them. I thought the tree was in my yard,”
“I want you out of Edenville by the end of the day,”
“No sir, no!” Adamawa pleaded.
“Leave Edenville now and never come back!”
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