A childhood episode haunts my dreams

I have a dream - and I don't like it.

I have a dream - and I don't like it.

Let's turn back the clock. When I was a laaitie at primary school I was my school's equivalent of a celeb, thanks to one Afrikaans poem titled Muskietejag.

My schoolteacher mother had drilled me thoroughly on how to present it. The climax was a one-liner that went "Pardoef!"

When I recited the line I slammed the wall pretty hard with the palm of my hand as if I were killing the mosquito (muskiet).

My recital got my teacher going, and soon I was reciting Muskietejag at assembly at every excuse the teachers could come up with. The assembly would roar with delight at that moment - something akin to an Obama rally, only on a miniscule scale.

That got me recognition, especially among the girls - one of whom eventually became my wife. The flipside, though, is that jealous boys began to call me Pardoef - and that hurt me badly.

They were much bigger boys and the only way to fend any one of them off , I thought, was to tell him Pardoef was his mother.

When you say that - "it's your mother" - in an African language, it is an extremely sore insult. But it is also effective.

Once or twice I got breathtakingly close to being detoothed for hurling the insult.

I got the fright of my life when one of the school bullies stabbed someone to death outside the school. Not long before then, I had told the killer that "Pardoef is your mother", and he had threatened to "get" me.

Lately, with the wisdom of age, I have come to accept fun being made of me. In fact (my mother's lesson), to neutralise nasty jokes made at your expense, the best route is to make those jokes about yourself.

But lately I dream of the schoolyard killer bully "getting" me, and catching me defenceless.

The nightmare competes for my nights only with one of another well-known bank robber who came to my neighbourhood in Evaton driving a swanky Volvo. Looking back, I think he had come to lie low to escape arrest.

His car was the talk of the area and I decided I wanted to be like him one day, not knowing he was a bank robber.

My friend Rooi told me the man "works with banks". I thought he was a chartered accountant or something, and innocently approached him one day for a chat: "I hear you work with banks. What subject should I take up because I also want ..."

He did not wait for me to finish. He sneered at me, said Nx, and walked away quietly.

He told Rooi he did not want to see me again.

"That boy speeds. He flies," he told Rooi. I just laughed it off.

It was only when the man was caught and sentenced to death a few years later that I realised my faux pas ... I dream of him too now, and I don't like it.