Parents hold key to future of their children

One silly remark I remember from years back was made by an old lady whose only son was the local thug.

One silly remark I remember from years back was made by an old lady whose only son was the local thug.

He carried a knife and needed very little prodding to use it.

Near my home, there was a bus stop curiously named "Crook's Corner". That is where he operated, and though I could not prove it, I thought the spot was named after him.

His mother, to complete the picture, was probably the fattest woman in the township and the most untidy.

We christened her Mmamafura (Fatty Mama), but could only whisper the name a safe distance from her and her notorious son. She sold "Barberton" - a home-made concoction allegedly spiked with toxic stuff such as battery acid and brake fluid - and her equally filthy house was the scene of weekly drunken fights.

Good parents forbade their children from venturing anywhere near that house, probably because of the loud and frequent swearing.

We would watch the stick and fist fights from a safe distance.

Back to the silly remark: The details are hazy after all the years, but Mmamafura was in conversation with one of her patrons, who apparently wanted to know her son's whereabouts.

"He is going to fend for himself (O ilo izamela)."

Now, "fending" for himself meant plunging an O'kapi in a few chests and probably leaving one or two people dead.

If you are wondering why I am badgering you with my adventures of Mmamafura and her offspring, it's because just this week I was standing in a stagnant queue in a butchery, when a little unwashed urchin drew my attention.

The blighter, no more than six years or so, was making a nuisance of himself, running up and down the butchery and trying to clamber onto the counter.

He held a toy gun in his hand, which he pointed intermittently at the customers.

His mother, a weighty blob of unwashed fat with a greasy stub of a neck, yelled at him to stop.

"O tlo ny**la!" (You are going to sh*t.) The young one stopped fooling around, tugged at the old woman's filthy dress, and she smiled lovingly as she looked around to see if the other customers were impressed.

Mother and son's apparent abhorrence of hygiene aside, I was startled at the language, used in public. Images of Mmamafura flashed in my mind.

Secondly, in this age - when parents the world over are teaching their children what makes aeroplanes fly and computers work - how could any parent continue to buy a toy gun for a child?

A voice in me said I should go to the woman and tell her she was raising a thug.

That boy would grow up to love real guns ... what with our world infamous crime situation!