Tuesday 27 October 2015
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An African Tale chapter eight

Lesedi woke up in a cold sweat. He was back in his bed with his siblings. It was a full moon and the room was bathed in its eerie light. He could clearly see all the familiar objects in the room. The cupboard, the table, and the four little boxes, everything seemed quite normal. Lesedi frantically went over events in his head, wondering if it were all a dream. He couldn’t remember how he had gotten from inside the fig tree to his bed. He looked down at himself, bringing his hands up to his face. They looked normal size. Then he looked over at the others. They didn’t look enormous as they should have done if he was still smaller than gecko size. He was starting to think that it must have been a dream when he remembered the ivory palm nut. His grandfather had given it to him and told him to hide it away carefully as he did not want Bosula to get hold of it. He had hidden it in Mrs. Noto’s nest, or had he? Everything was feeling a bit blurry and hazy at the moment. He would check in his box. If it was still there then he would know that it was all a dream.

Getting up carefully so as not to wake the others he tiptoed quietly over to his box. Opening the lid he felt down into the bottom left-hand corner where he had originally put the Nut. No Nut! He then proceeded to take everything out of the box—still no Nut. He sat back, now feeling very distressed. If it wasn’t in the box then he must have taken it and hidden it in Mrs. Noto’s nest. And if he had done that, then all the other events must have happened and the ivory palm nut was now in the snake’s belly and the snake was probably in The Hills with Legodu and Bosula. Now what was he going to do? How was he going to get the Nut back? His grandfather had said that Bosula must not get his hands on the Nut, and now Lesedi had practically given it to him. Suddenly he felt a tapping on his foot. He looked down and saw Kgatwe.

“Kgatwe! What are you doing here?” he said in a loud whisper. Kgatwe very seldom came to the village because if anyone saw him they would create such an enormous fuss that he would have to disappear. He didn’t like to do this too much as he was very forgetful and couldn’t always remember how to reappear again.

“Shh!” he said. “Don’t wake the others. Let’s go outside.”

Tshiamo was starting to stir in her sleep as they crept quietly to the door. Lesedi opened it, letting them out into the cool night air.

“What happened?” said Lesedi once they were safely outside under the sausage tree.

“It was all a bit of a mess,” said Kgatwe.

Lesedi sat down with his back against the fig tree and Kgatwe hopped onto his knee. “I know,” he said, trying not to smile, “you landed in the elephant poo.”

“Humph!” said Kgatwe. “Yes, well, I managed to get out of that and have a quick wash in a puddle and then I tried to get you back to normal size.”

“Inside the tree!?” exclaimed Lesedi.

“No! No! I’m not that foolish,” humphed Kgatwe. “But because of the fall I was a bit disorientated and kept getting it slightly wrong. I would get your head right and not your feet and then your feet right and not your head.”

Lesedi started to examine himself all over in alarm. He didn’t agree with Kgatwe that having a big head and tiny feet was “slightly” wrong.

“Don’t worry!” said Kgatwe impatiently. “You’re fine now. I got Mrs. Noto to take me over to your grandfather and he came back and sorted things out.”

“Grandfather!” said Lesedi in alarm. “He knows about the ivory palm nut!?”

“Well, he would have to know sometime. You don’t think you could go and get it back without his help, do you?”

“Get it back!?” The thought of getting the Nut back from Bosula was more frightening than having to deal with Aunt Matilda. Aunt Matilda! Oh my goodness! Had she arrived? Was she still here? He looked around, half expecting her to loom out of the darkness. “Why can’t I remember all this?” The last thing Lesedi could remember was Kgatwe falling in the elephant poo and Legodu flying off before waking up in his own bed. “Is Aunt Matilda here?”

“Well, when we were over on the Island your aunt Matilda arrived and your grandfather said she caused a huge fuss because you were nowhere to be found. She made your father promise to lock you up for a month and left in a huff, saying she would be back the next term to pick you up and that you had better be ready or else!”

“Oh dear!” Lesedi felt himself near to tears. “Now what? If I am locked up for a month I can’t help get the ivory palm nut back and then Grandfather will be mad at me as well!” Lesedi was beginning to feel very miserable and sorry for himself.

“Don’t worry,” said Kgatwe, patting him on the knee. “Your grandfather sorted things out. He made an enormous fire in the middle of the village. (Much to everyone’s annoyance at the time.) Then he threw on all sorts of herbs that make people forget things, so now the people of the village have lost a day and they don’t even remember Matilda being here.”

“Oh dear!” said Lesedi. “This is going to make her very angry next time she arrives!”

Kgatwe thought this was very funny and had a good gecko chuckle. “And you don’t have to worry. You can carry on as if nothing has happened,” he said. “Nobody will remember that you weren’t around for the day.”

“Well, I suppose that’s a good thing,” said Lesedi, “but it doesn’t get the Nut back. Do you think Legodu knows what the snake has in its belly?”

“I wouldn’t think so. He probably thinks it ate one of Mrs. Noto’s eggs. Only trouble, it’s not an egg and that snake is going to have a bad case of indigestion in a couple of days.”

“It is going to have to get it out of its tummy,” said Lesedi. “And we are going to have to be there when it does to make sure nobody gets hold of it and figures out how important it is. Wish I knew why it is so important as well,” he said half to himself.

“I don’t know about this ‘we’ stuff,” said Kgatwe. “I’m not too sure I want to go to The Hills with all those weird creatures that hang around there!”

“The Hills!” said Lesedi, a shiver running up his spine. He had never been there but he had heard all the stories.

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