Saturday, August 14, 2010

A flower grower's tale

I've dredged up a snippet I wrote some time back. Its based on the sort of thing that used to happen to me in the Lowveld which is pretty deep in the countryside by anyone's standards. The conversations were actually conducted in Swazi, and they didn't happen on the same day. Poetic license.

She walked the farm in the afternoon heat, checking this, checking that. All well. The boss wasn’t due to visit for days either, so it was just her and the staff. Nice farm, couldn’t understand the boss not wanting to live on it. She stopped suddenly. Something out of place. A plant. Ah, but here was Moffat, the section supervisor.

‘Hello, Moffat.’

‘Hello. How are you?’

‘I am well, Moffat, and you?’

‘I’m well too, thanks’

What is this?’

‘It’s a plant’

‘Yes I can see it’s a plant. Someone’s been looking after it too.’

‘Yes, I can see that someone’s trimmed it. Perhaps it is a nice flower?’

‘Moffat, I am not a fool.’

‘Erm. No.’

‘There will be trouble if the boss sees it. She is also not a fool. It must be gone when I pass here again.’

‘I’ll see to it.’

‘Stay well, Moffat’

‘Go well.’

The grower strolled on ignoring the giggles from the ladies on Moffat’s team. Nothing like maintaining discipline.

She passed by the compound: a collection of cottages for the live in workers. One of the families had a little shop too. What was this? Beside a rock, a flowerpot with the drainage holes plugged and filled with liquid. She picked it up and sniffed it. Sorghum beer. She strolled over to the shop and knocked on the window clients were served through.

‘Hello Nomsa!’


‘How are you today, Nomsa?’

‘Oh, I’m well, and you?’

‘Very well. Tell me, Nomsa, honestly. How many of these has Zita had?’

‘Its his second one.’

‘He drives the tractor, Nomsa, he mustn’t have more, it could be dangerous. Besides, last time he fell asleep under a tree.’

‘Yes, I remember.’

‘So you won’t sell him any more, will you?’

‘No, I won’t.’

‘Tell him I said so. I’ll have a Coke. Ah, thanks. Stay well’

‘Go well’

Sipping her Coke she turned her steps towards the largest of the greenhouses. She liked the mass of green palm trees, and she should stop by Ta’August while she was on her round.

‘Hello Ta’ August!’

‘Hello! How are you today?’

‘Oh, I’m well, and you?’

‘Very well’

‘Those are jolly nice palm trees you’re taking out’ she stepped back to admire them and jumped, skittering away a few steps. Something large and nasty underfoot: a dead iguana and a large one too.

‘Good Lord! It’s huge! Was it in the greenhouse?’

‘Yes, and there’s good eating on one of those.’

‘Stewed or on the grille?’

‘Stew. It tastes like chicken.’

‘Oh. You’ll need a big pot!’

‘I have a big pot.’

‘Oh well… stay well’

‘Go well.’

Just for safety's sake, she made sure her round included a chat with Zita. He didn’t seem any the worse for the sorghum beer, so it was onwards to the office, with a stop past Jacob.

‘Hello Jacob, how are you?’

‘Hello. I’m well, and you?’

‘Who is minding the plants this weekend, Jacob?’

‘Grace and Goodness will do it’

‘Goodness gracious, that sounds like a good plan! Stay well, then’

‘Go well’

And it went well.

*Today's pic: a flower of course!


  1. Iguana stew yum, I looked up Lowveld because I didn't know what it was but going by all the pics I saw on the internet it seems like the place to be

  2. What interesting snippets indeed! I like "Go well." It just sounds good. Somehow, I can see you having these conversations. I envy your language abilities! And I wonder, what was that plant? I can only imagine.
    If I ever make it to South Africa, we will meet for coffee! You'll have to teach me a few words in Swazi.