Pap With Amanda
By Baker Street
Pap is the Afrikaans name for maize porridge, which is a staple food in Africa. It was one of my favorite foods as a child, along with any dish made out of potatoes. (My CB handle was; 'The Potato King.' later I changed it to; 'Hotdog.') But to come back to pap; I loved it. Out on the farm on holidays, I awoke before dawn, and before anyone else in the house was awake. I would then
mission on my two little bare feet, to the nearby kraal of Sam, the black laborer/tenant, and his family. Here I ate sour pap with them for breakfast and watched as they milked their cows. It was the same milk we added to our porridge. Afterward I would go back to the house with a container of fresh milk.
Once there, I would again eat pap with my family. We ate it with a sugar and a generous amount of peanut butter stirred in, and then finished off the meal with coffee and rusks. Then it was off to play with the local kids at whatever game our imaginations and surroundings could come up with. Swimming in green pools, playing in the veldt, secretly smoking old Fernandez's tobacco we stole from his field in our little reed pipes, and late in the evening; climbing hills after stray cattle.
Amanda's folks were very rich, mine were not. We were archenemies right from the start, which is almost as far back as I can remember. We were thrown together by fate, and rich relatives. She was friends with my cousin, whose parents were wealthy. We fought and bickered about everything, and if there was nothing to fight about, we invented something. We were always at one another's throats, and she had the age, and resulting size, advantage.
One day we were playing 'shark!' in their swimming pool and she chipped one of my front teeth by bashing my head against the side in overzealous play. She loved horses and played the games us boys played. It took quite a long time before she allowed me to play with her expensive toys, that her dad brought her from overseas.
One day I went to watch 'King Kong' with an aunt of mine. On my return I found Amanda by the trampoline. It was a ground unit with sharp, unprotected corners against which many a child had cut his head open while playing on the trampoline, myself several times. I commenced to relate to Amanda the scene in the movie, which made the biggest impression on me, Kong's fall from the Empire State as he is gunned down by attack helicopters. I made my narration more plausible and entertaining by imitating Kong's fall. This I did by jumping into the air on the trampoline coming down on my back shouting "Aaaaargggh!!!" (Kong falling from the skyscraper screaming in agony
as he is being shot to pieces.)
Unfortunately my head hit the sharp side iron of the base of the trampoline again and my tormented cries continued, but this time in earnest, as I ran into the house with blood gushing from a gash on my head. I think Amanda found the live version much more authentic than the cinematic rendition.
Amanda and me were fierce competitors in everything, apart from being sworn enemies. And, as I have mentioned, she was older and bigger than me and as such she usually beat me at physical exercises and games. I had to put a stop to it so a plan was conceived. I challenged her to a pap-eating contest, which I had no intention of losing, and with an appetite like mine I knew the odds were on my side.
Wilhelmina made us a big pot of 'stywe pap' and we climbed in. Bowl after bowl of white maize porridge we consumed, still the pot did not get empty. We ate and ate. Amanda made a commendable and valiant effort to try and save face, by forcing the pap down her throat into her bulging little tummy. But it was all to no avail. I ate her under the table, and eventually she
gave up and conceded my superiority in the pap-eating department. We grew apart in age and social class soon after and I have not seen her once in my adult life. I am glad to say that I know she is rich and successful, which is as it should be.
And I remember little kids chasing swarms of flying ants in the dim glow of streetlights after the rain on a warm summer evening, and I wonder if she remembers.