By 6 am, Mr Mudeko would be sitting by the junction opposite the Methodist church. He would be wearing his trademark black “safety shoe”, ripped and grimy blue jeans; a threadbare “overall” as well as one of his many free t-shirts. On this day, his yellow t-shirt was emblazoned, in black, “Free The People.”
In front of him would be his tools of trade. Glue, nails, a knife, cotton wool, scissors, tape measure and a random assortment of leather scraps. As well as shoes. Lots and lots of shoes.
Mr Mudeko had been a cobbler for 28 years. For half that time, working at this very junction, opposite the Methodist Church in Rudhezo township. Down the road was Rudhezo primary school. Where most of his clients came from.
Mr Mudeko could fix anything. He could mend a broken pair of slippers. He could restore a torn pair of sneakers. He (often) repaired women’s heels. He breathed new life into the black shoes of the boys and girls at Rhudezo Primary School.
“Good morning. “
Mutsawashe would always greet him on her way to work. She didn’t have to, a lot of his regular clients never did. But, Mutsawashe, who had only fixed her shoes with him twice in the two years she had moved to a house in the neighborhood would always greet him on her way to work.
“Good morning Mutsa.”
Today, she was wearing black court shoes. They were sturdy. Functional, with a smidgen of comfort and exceptional durability. Today was a Thursday, so was wearing one of her 3 pairs of work shoes.
He knew them well enough by now. The black court shoes. The 3 inch black heels that had a steady “click, click” sound every time she walked up the road. The brown Court shoes. Made of genuine leather.
He had fixed them for her a few months before that. He had joined the scuffed front that had separated from the sole. Got to see the design, simple lines without any frills. The heel was padded, for additional comfort. The leather was pristine, she clearly polished these often. Conscientious. She would polish them all the way round. It’s hue of brown was a bit darker than it should be. This shade of brown was rare, getting the right hue in polish wouldn’t be easy.
Mutsawashe would greet Mr Mudeko on her way back from work. He had heard she worked on the other side of town. North of Samora, at one of those private schools as a teacher. How could she be back before 6 pm?
She had no husband to cook for. This was a township, everyone knew who is married to who, who is dating who. Mutsawashe had never brought a guy home. Not even once.
She had a little brother who would visit sometimes. He had once come to fix his sandals with Mr Mudeko. In actual fact, it was a Tyre which had been converted into a sandal. The type that would leave prints if it walked on a gravel road.
But, that was the only family anyone knew. Where does she come from? Where were her parents? Why did no one, except her little brother visit her?
No one knew. No one was brave enough to ask. For Mr Mudeko, it was none of his business. Mutsawashe was a client of his, and every time she fixed her shoes, she paid a little extra.
“Good evening Mutsa.”
This post is dedicated to Mr Mudeko (name changed) and his service to the community of Mabelreign, Harare. May his soul rest in peace.