“Thomas, Thomas, wake up,” said a deep voice. My eyes were very heavy when I tried to open them. Then I woke up. I saw my friends laughing at me. “I think you must go and see a herbalist to help you with your problem,” said one of them. “You like sleeping and you snore very loudly. We cannot even listen to the radio because of your snores.”
My friends thought that a herbalist was a great idea. I did not listen to them. But they would not leave me alone. So, in the end, I agreed to go and see one.
They said they knew of a herbalist right near my offices. They had read about her in the newspaper. The people in her building chased her out because they did not like the smells that came out of her rooms.
My friends said they wanted to come with me to visit the herbalist. But when we got to the herbalist’s offices, I made my friends wait outside. I did not like the smiles on their faces.
Inside the herbalist’s office I found a good looking, fat woman. She told me to take off my shoes. I took off my shoes very slowly. I was thinking about the holes in my socks.
Then the herbalist asked me to follow her into another small room. In that room there were bottles full of dark medicines. Grass mats and animal skins covered the floor.
And there was a funny smell in the office. It was the first time I had smelt such a smell. I asked the herbalist about it and she said: “It is the smell of my ‘lucky charm’. It gives me luck and brings me customers.”
The herbalist asked me what my problem was. I did not want to tell her about my loud snores. So I just said I do not know but I have problems. “We must ‘bhola’ (throw bones),” she said to me. I was surprised to hear that herbalists use bones — I thought only ‘sangomas’ used bones.
“O.K., let’s start,” she said. “Have you seen the bones before?” “Yes,” I thought to myself, “I give bones to my dogs every day.” But I knew she was not talking about those bones. So I just kept quiet.
The herbalist threw her bones on the floor. Then she pointed at each and every bone. She said: “This bone is your father, this bone is your mother. That bone says you are having problems with your wife. And this bone says you are fighting with your friends.”
I listened very carefully but I did not hear the bones say anything. But the old lady was right about one thing. I was having problems with my friends who won’t let me sleep in peace. I decided to tell her why I was there.
“I’m here because my friends say I snore. Can you do anything to help?” The herbalist laughed — just like my friends. “Why didn’t you tell me that when you arrived?” she asked me.
She fetched a bottle from the cupboard. Then she took some grass (and I do not mean dagga). She mixed it with some dark ‘muti’ in a bottle. She shook it for a few minutes and said: “Here is your ‘muti’. Drink it and you will stop snoring.”
My time was now up. I put on my shoes and I met my friends on the way out. One of them held his nose and said: “Hey Thomas, you smell funny. What were you doing inside there?” My friend was right. I did smell funny. I smelt of the herbalist’s ‘lucky charm’. What could I say? Nothing — so I kept quiet.
We all took a taxi home. We went by taxi because there is a bus boycott in Johannesburg. I was tired of my friends laughing at me. So I started to read my newspaper as soon as we got into the taxi.
The first thing I saw when I opened the newspaper was an advert for Alibaba, the herbalist. In the advert Alibaba promises to fix everything and any- thing. He says he will send you ‘muti’ in the post. “How can a herbalist help someone through the post?” I asked myself.
Suddenly I heard laughing. I looked over my newspaper and I saw that everyone in the taxi was laughing and holding their noses. But more than that, everyone was looking and pointing at me. And my friends were laughing more than anybody.
If I go to a herbalist again, I will not tell my friends, that’s for sure. And I willnot catch a taxi home. If the boycott is still on, I will not catch a bus either. I think next time I go to a herbalist, I will walk home to the township — even if it takes me a week.
Now it is time for my sleep. I will drink my ‘muti’ and I will see if it works. I just hope no-one is listening to their radio.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that herbalists are no good, no. I think herbalists are good for some people and bad for others. But I do not think that a herbalist can help someone through the post.
Before I forget, I received a letter from one of our readers. He told us that the story I wrote about “abomantshingelani” is like the story of his life. I was very sorry to hear about this man’s story. But I was happy to see that some people read what Thomas writes. I will be very happy to hear what other readers think of my column.
Ek se, keep healthy. Till next time. Heyta daar.