Oinkment proved best cure of all

I recently had the dubious privilege of spending a couple of nights in hospital as an unwilling guest - just when I thought I would never have that experience.

I recently had the dubious privilege of spending a couple of nights in hospital as an unwilling guest - just when I thought I would never have that experience.

It is not my hospitalisation that I want to chat about, but the hilarious discourse that went on in my ward, which I believe did more to heal me than the doctors' drugs.

There were four of us in the tiny ward. The old man in the bed next to me - call him Ntate Motsamai - lamented from day one about the theft of 26 of his 31 pigs.

In the bed across lay a youngish fellow who kept to himself, quietly staring out of the window as if contemplating suicide. Let's call him Zakes. I imagine he never even heard the old man's lamentations about the nicked swine.

The following morning I returned from the bathroom to find Zakes deep in conversation with Ntate Motsamai. The younger man was speaking with the authority of an anointed saint while the old buck nodded repeatedly like an excited kid getting a personal message from Father Christmas.

Zakes had heard the gripe about the pigs and had a lasting solution for next time ... "the problem is that you did not get someone to 'look after' your sty".

He then delved into what he claimed was his personal experience working in Marlboro, Johannesburg. The firm he worked for was near Alexandra township, and from time to time there were pigs on the property, making a nuisance of themselves as much as they whetted the appetites of the workers.

One day five of the workers pounced on one of the pigs, slaughtered it and had a pork feast.

The following day, while working, the leader of the five heard a noise coming from his stomach - a pig grunting. He dashed off to his friends and found that they all had a similar problem.

The noise was so loud they could not hide it so they confronted the boss and confessed.

A colleague advised them to find the owner of the pig they had killed, even if it meant time off work to scour the township looking for him. All the time the grunting was growing louder.

"I knew you would be coming," the owner told them. "I demand R1000 from each of you [to silence the pigs in their stomachs]."

They raised a loan from the boss, paid the pig owner and, abracadabra, there was silence.

"Jo-jo-jo-jo," Ntate Motsamai went, clapping his hands.

"So you see," said Zakes the sage, "these things are easy."

There are believers out there and Ntate Motsamai is one of them.

With that kind of amusement, I was bound to get well.

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