Before you judge me let me explain myself. I’ve always believed in treating all equally. Even the people society has taught us not to treat equally. We have been told to treat certain people more gently than others, with kid gloves. Unfortunately this may be the primary reason I will never be nominated for, never mind win a Nobel Peace Prize. At least I didn’t bomb the moon.

Sometimes we need to go to war to secure the peace. In this case it was to prevent even more beatings and fights. In our overly politically correct society I know someone will a have huge problem with me using the word cripple. Whoever you are, I know you are out there, I just want you to know that I have a strong urge to pre-emptively insult you. But I shall not. Shall we move along now to the real story?

Actually, the real reason I wrote that last paragraph is because someone complained to me and said my blogs are too short. I just did that to fill up some space. The length (or lack there of) of my blogs can be blamed on Twitter. It’s amazing what one can say in 140 characters. I digress. I digress is a phrase that makes a number of appearances on my blog. I should find another word. Or phrase. Moving right along. (www.twitter.com/khayadlanga)

I grew up in the rural areas — I’m sure you can tell by my lack of sophistication in the ways of the world — in the deep Transkei, a tiny village that goes by the name of Dutyini, just outside Mount Ayliff. The event I’m about to narrate happened many years ago, when I was a snotty-nosed, barefoot, hand-me-down wearing fellow.

I had an altercation with a local village boy who was slightly older. This was my “I have to fight the war to win the peace moment”. I think he had polio because he wore leg braces. They were those crude black braces with metal rods running alongside the leg. Similar to the ones young Forrest Gump wore in the movie. His right leg was a whole lot shorter than the other. As a result his right shoe had a really thick and heavy sole. This was an attempt to make it the same length as the normal leg. He seemed to have gotten used to the discomfort of walking in his braces a very long time ago. We get used to anything. Whatever our lot, live with it we must.

The weight on the right shoe caused him to drag the leg around when he walked. I never understood why the weaker and shorter leg had all that extra work to do rather than the perfectly healthy one. It is a metaphor for life I guess, the less fortunate carry all the load. It seemed like it was being punished for not being strong enough, through no fault of its own.

When he walked, he sort of half dragged it. With every step he took, he looked as if he was on the verge of tripping and falling because of the severity of the limp. I have to describe what he was like so you know that this was not a fight that should have happened. It shouldn’t have happened but it did. Reminds me a little of what happened between Georgia and Russia. A war that shouldn’t have happened.

As I have said, I don’t recall what the fight was about. I remember him walking towards me with clenched fists, limping severely. There was a group of ten other boys my age. I kept saying to him: “Look, I can’t fight you and I don’t want to fight you.” But he kept coming after me. Well, I didn’t want to lose face in front of all these village boys, I knew that I would lose respect and I would be known as the boy who ran away from a cripple. The consequence of that is that every boy in the village would think he could take his chances with me. I was too cowardly to have to do that so I had to take on the weakling. I know what you’re thinking, you’re calling me what Obama called Kanye West.

So I stood my ground. He threw a fist at me, I pulled an Ali, he missed. It was easy to duck because, well, he was slow and his leg caused him to telegraph each swing of his fists. While I ducked I would say, “dude” (obviously in Xhosa) “I don’t want to fight you”. I got tired of ducking and diving. I decided to end this thing once and for all. I punched him in the face and he fell. The leg braces made a metal clang as he fell. I remember feeling so bad about it that I helped him up again. He got up and threw another punch again, I swung back and he fell down again. I helped him up and still threw a punch! The audacity! I punch him one more time and once again, he collapsed into a heap and this time I didn’t help him, I just walked away. Does this make me evil? Does this confession qualify me for a Nobel Peace Prize or a Nobel Ego Prize?

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Khaya Dlanga

Khaya Dlanga

Khaya Dlanga* By day he perpetuates the evils of capitalism by making consumers feel insecure (he makes ads). For this he has been rewarded with numerous Loerie awards, Cannes Gold, several Eagle awards...

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