My wanton cousin has flawed spirit of sharing for Christmas
One sunny Christmas morning at my grandmother's home, the sun didn't dance - it stood still to the shrieks of my aunt's shock.
This is the aunt who once prayed with such depth and spirit that the neighbour called the police on suspicion of domestic violence. So you best believe that when she let out that single scream at the centre of the kitchen, all
20-odd family members came to a standstill.
She hadn't been the first to go to the kitchen on this particular morning. I, too, had dragged myself into the pantry, hoping for a half-an-hour to escape the madness that is Christmas morning in that house. Everyone - except the two drunk uncles - woke up at 5am to prepare for the festivities.
My role was scrambling an entire tray of eggs, cooking a bucket-load of shatini and miraculously producing 25 cups of tea from six tea bags.
While shuffling around the kitchen, I noticed that the dishes from the previous night's cooking were washed and pots spanking clean.
The youngest of my aunts, who professes to be the family's best cook, had opted to prepare a delicious oxtail stew for the next day's lunch.
Strangely, none of us are sure whether this particular aunt can even cook to begin with. She knew the exact shape and size the onions for any stew should be, knew all spices off by heart, and could measure the water required by sight. Only, her best contribution to the actual cooking was telling me and my cousins how to do it.
Our cooking expedition had ended past midnight, and none of us had the energy to do the dishes. We all wondered how we would have to deal with our oldest aunt in the morning.
The one who had somehow anointed herself to the crown of matriarch and ascended to lead the family in every issue where her opinion and direction was not required - including our relationship status and child-bearing abilities. She never missed a moment to tell us girls that our lobolo's worth lies in our efforts in the kitchen too.
So you can imagine my delight in the early morning hours on my way to the lavatory when I saw my cousin busy paddling foam and silently washing the dishes. He had spent a good decade either high or drunk and washing dishes was probably one of only three good things he had ever done in that kitchen.
I was amazed that he found the patience for that particular chore but nonetheless pleased that he saved me from doing same in the morning. I imagined his enthusiasm in the kitchen would surely overshadow his last stunt where he sold his mother's curtains, and all the toilet paper in the house.
So I greeted him, and another unsavoury young lad in his company, and smiled.
Now, the screaming aunt was staring at the very magic created by my cousin and trembling. I was still in the pantry, cussing at how I was not able to get just five minutes of peace.
It took no time before the entire clan descended into the kitchen, in a panic, fearing that someone might be injured or dying. We all congregated behind her, eyes locked on the dish rack near the sink, trying to figure out what had brought such turmoil so early in the morning. "He ate our Christmas! The pots are clean. He ate our Christmas!"
That is how we discovered that my dear cousin had walked into the kitchen at around 2am and feasted on an entire pot of Christmas oxtail stew. In keeping with the spirit of Christmas of course, he shared it with his neighbourhood bestie and washed the dishes and pots!
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