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EXCLUSIVE | Read a Fred Khumalo short story about life after Covid-19

29 March 2020 - 00:00 By Fred Khumalo
"The monkey, assured that crocodiles in this New World are different, emerges from his hideout."
"The monkey, assured that crocodiles in this New World are different, emerges from his hideout."
Image: Keith Tamkei

Fred Khumalo is the author of 'The Longest March', in addition to 10 other books.

In this short story, titled 'New World, Old Tricks', he wonders whether we will have learnt any lessons from the coronavirus pandemic:

Although Nyonyo the monkey has been told that animals in the New World are a far cry from the aggressive creatures they were in the Old World, he still does not trust anyone. So fearful is he that on his hunting and foraging adventures he goes out on his own, leaving his wife and two kids at home.

Here he is now, with food expertly tied around his waist, contemplating a fast-moving body of water. Just then, he hears the excited chatter of voices. Quickly, he hides behind a boulder.

When he peers from behind the boulder, he can see a crocodile talking to two cats and the biggest rat he's ever seen.

The big rat climbs on the back of the crocodile. The crocodile slides into the water, starts swimming. The crossing is uneventful. The crocodile comes back to fetch the cats.

The monkey, assured that crocodiles in this New World are different, emerges from his hideout.

The crocodile greets. The monkey says, "I'd be happy of your service."

"What do they call you?"

"Doctor Nyonyo."

"You're a doctor?"

"A celebrated one. In the Old World my patients included the likes of Mufasa, Scar and many prominent lions in a city called Pridelands."

"I'm going to tell my wife I'm now friends with an animal who's not scared of lions! Now, let's go."

The crocodile starts swimming. In the middle of the river, he starts laughing. "A smart monkey fell for my performance!"

"What performance?"

"I saw you walking up the river bank, looking for a safe place to cross. I hid and watched. When you heard the voices of cats approaching, you ran into hiding. For the benefit of your stupid eyes, I gave the cats a ride."

"Let me guess, you have an ailing parent underwater?" Nyonyo knows a monkey's heart is a cure for many crocodile diseases.

"How d'you know?"

"I'm a doctor, silly." He sighs. "Unfortunately, my heart, is not with me."

"What do you mean?"

"Monkeys in this New World are so technologically advanced that every day I leave for work, my wife takes my heart and keeps it in her closet. But I'd be happy to give my old heart to your mother. I can always manufacture a new one chop-chop."

When the crocodile arrives on the other side of the river, the monkey jumps off. "Wait here." The monkey disappears behind a tree. Returning, his hands are held at his back, hiding something.

"Crocodile, I've got the heart. Just open your mouth wide and I'll chuck it in."

The crocodile does as told. With all his might, the monkey hurls a rock as big as his head into the gaping mouth.

Blood explodes as the sharp rock hits the back of the crocodile's maw. The crocodile coughs. And lies still. Dead.

The monkey scoffs: "Stupid crocodile, you should have stayed in the Old World with those stupid humans and their greed-inspired diseases."