One cold, wet Saturday afternoon nearly eight years ago, little Norman Thokoane went to the movies. Norman was a lonely, sad kid. He had problems at home. His father ran out on his mother. He left her with four kids to feed.
Norman sat in the movie-house. And he waited for the movie to take his worries away. The movie was called ‘Kung Fu versus the Yoga Man’.
The lights went off. And the movie began. Norman sat up suddenly. His body went hot and cold. His eyeballs jumped up and down. And his tongue felt dry. Norman had just seen the ‘Yoga Man’.
‘Yoga Man’ was sitting in a bundle under a tree. He scratched his ear with his toe. Then he quickly flicked himself inside out. ‘Yoga Man’ was having a nice day. Then about 15 Kung Fu guys arrived. These guys weren’t on their way to church. They wanted some fun. They meant business.
‘Yoga Man’ gave them a smile. They didn’t smile back. They licked their lips and started playing football. ‘Yoga Man’ was the ball. ‘Yoga Man’ was not happy. These guys were spoiling his day.
‘Yoga Man’ gave a big yawn. Then he flicked into action. The Kung Fu guys didn’t see anything. But they felt something. A few seconds later ‘Yoga Man’ was resting peacefully under the tree again.
Little Norman felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. He turned around quickly. But nobody was there. Then a hot flash shot through his body. He felt the flash again and again. The power was with him. Norman felt loose – very, very loose. Rubberman was born.
The lights came on. The movie was finished. Rubberman untied his feet from round his neck. And he walked out on his hands with his toes in his pocket.
At first Mrs Thokoane worried a bit. “Oh Norman, please stop that, ” she cried. “You will break your bones. Oh Norman, what will the neighbours think?”
When his mother nagged, Rubberman went to the park. He sat under a tree and tied himself into a knot. And then he felt better.
The other kids at school were a bit scared of Rubberman in the beginning. Then they began to like him. They found out that Rubberman was a nice guy. He had a friendly smile. And he didn’t hurt anybody.
The teachers also liked him. But they all agreed that he was a bit strange. I mean, what other kid puts his leg up when he wants the teacher?
Rubberman left school in form two. He spent a lot of time at the Nhlazane Station. He liked to sit upside down and watch the people go by.
The people liked Rubberman. They thought he was nice and different. Sometimes they threw a few cents his way. Rubberman was like a good medicine. Even the most unhappy people smiled when they saw him.
Then this sharp guy walked past. He stopped and looked. Then he went up to Rubberman and said: “Hey kid, come to the big city. I think you are ready for the big time.”
So Rubberman followed this guy to the big city. And he went into business. His shows did very well. People loved him. They threw a lot of money his way. Rubberman began to help his mother with the rent and the school fees. She stopped worrying about him breaking his bones.
Now Rubberman gives many shows everyday. You can see him at Joubert Park or Hoek Street or Diagonal Street. When you see a crowd, you have found Rubberman. You will see him hard at work. He makes even unhappy people happy .