The year was 1949, more or less. According to my brother it was before I went off to boarding school and that never-to-be-forgotten event took place when I was six or seven. (Another story.)
So picture a happy and chubby five to six year old farm kid running around surrounded by dogs cats, pet lamb and pet calves and everything a little girl could want. But livestock farming always has a dark side and ours was the necessity to trap and kill marauding African baboons. These creatures would rip open the bellies of young lamb; only eat what is known as the “milk tummy”, and take their leave. (FYI, nowadays small livestock farming is done on a limited scale and the ewes are brought into pastures to have their babies.)
The farmers constructed cages with trap doors and a corn on the cob on the far side to entice the baboon into the cage. Pull at the corn, the trap door falls and the consequences are obvious.
But one day, having shot a huge baboon, my dad found a tiny baby clinging to the dead mother and brought it home. Love at first sight was an understatement. I named the small creature “Doonsie” after a popular cartoon strip called “Adoons” wherein this baboon family got into all kinds of trouble. I bathed it, fed it, dressed it, pushed it around in my doll carriage and it didn’t take long for Doonsie and I to become inseparable.
But cute baby baboons grow big in a short space of time. Doonsie became protective and the story goes that if my mother raised her voice to me, he would bare his teeth.
So with adult wisdom I got bribed. Yes, bribed. A brand new bike if I agreed to give Doonsie to a neighbor. And that should’ve been the end of it. But it was not.
My mother ran a little country store where you buy a little bit of everything. Sugar, flour, coffee, beans etc. And one day Doonsie’s new family came to shop and yup, you guessed correctly, brought Doonsie along for a visit.
It was, of course, a terrible idea.
I have a clear memory of that “bakkie” (small truck) coming to a stop below a “doringboom” (thorn tree) next to Mum’s little shop. And Doonsie in the back. I fetched my new bike, determined to trade it for Doonsie. Needless to say it wasn’t an option and I guess they had to tear us apart. And very sad little girl learnt a hard lesson.
You can’t always have what you want.