Saturday 13 June 2015
Posted by

An African tale chapter five continued

On that fateful night a huge storm spread over the whole of the country. Lightning struck in the city and in the village far away. In the city it knocked out all the electricity. The hospital staff rushed in all directions trying to get the emergency supply going. When they returned to the delivery room they found Naledi dead, apparently struck by the lightning, and the baby lying next to her, not looking like a newborn baby at all. It was clean and perfect-looking, the eyes staring knowingly up at them. Kilo named the child Lotobo.

In the village, hundreds of kilometers away, at exactly the same time as Lotobo was born, Lorato’s grandchild, Lesedi, was born. His mother, Loeto’s wife, died from a lightning strike and Lesedi lay next to her. Only Kilo and Lorato knew what had happened. Ledimo had died and these were the two long-awaited grandchildren.


Ledimo’s body was never found. Lorato went to the island where he stayed; he had been there many times before. Ledimo lived in a simple hut with no comforts and very few possessions. He slept on a grass mat with a jackal skin for covering; he ate fish from the river, and wild fruits, berries, and plants from the bush. Ledimo had taught Lorato about the plants and how they could be used to treat all sorts of ailments. Sometimes when Lorato visited he would find Ledimo in a reflective mood staring into the fire. These were the times he liked the best, because then Ledimo would start relating some of the old stories and legends and Lorato would listen intently, trying to imagine what it was like long, long ago. Some of the stories were very frightening and secretly he hoped that they were just legends and not real events.

Lorato walked up the pathway to Ledimo’s hut feeling sad, knowing that he would not be welcomed by the little fire that was always burning on which sat the pot of boiling water for tea. He had only walked a couple of feet up the path when he noticed something strange. The path was very overgrown and the bushes seemed to be growing over it as he walked. It was as if no one had been down here for months but he knew that he had visited only the week before. He started to doubt himself, thinking that somehow he had taken the wrong path. Then he came out into the clearing where he was sure Ledimo’s hut had been. He felt a creepy feeling run down his spine. There was no hut there! Not only that, it looked as if there had never been any hut there! The bush was thick and where Ledimo’s hut had once stood there was a large candle pod acacia bush, its candle-like seeds pointing up at the sky. Lorato stared at it in disbelief. How could this have happened so quickly? He knew now that this was the right place as all the trees around the clearing were the same ones he remembered.

As he stood there trying to comprehend what had happened he felt a strong desire to be inside the acacia bush. The sensible part of his brain told him that this was defiantly not a good idea, as everyone knows acacias are thorn bushes and trees and the thorns on them can be quite nasty. However, Lorato found he was unable to resist the pull and moved forward. He got to the edge of the bush and still he couldn’t stop himself. Slowly he started to walk into it, closing his eyes and waiting for the thorns to start tearing at his flesh and clothes. But it didn’t happen and he opened his eyes, which widened in amazement. The bush seemed to be moving its branches aside so that he could pass. Then he looked back and a tingle of fear ran through his body. The bush was closing up behind him, intertwining its branches—how was he to get out? Now he had reached what he presumed to be the middle of the bush but the odd thing was that there was no main stem, and now that he looked down at the earth, the bush didn’t seem to be attached to it at all. Then it started, a great whirling noise, and the bush started to spin around him. He collapsed onto his knees, putting his hands over his head and curling up into a ball. This was the great whirling wind Ledimo had told him about. Now that Ledimo was gone it had come to destroy him and everything else around him. Then as suddenly as it had started the whirling stopped. It was still and quiet. Lorato couldn’t even hear an insect or a bird. He uncurled himself cautiously, opening his eyes. What he saw made him shut them again quickly, bringing his hands up to his face to shield himself. There was something in the sand in front of him throwing out spirals of such intense light that he felt it would blind him. Then the voice spoke, making him tremble all over.

“Do not be afraid.” It sounded gentle and somewhat tired. “Take the stone. Hide it. It must wait for the children.”

Lorato slowly took his hands away from his face and cautiously opened his eyes. The stone lay before him. It was unimaginably beautiful, and the light it threw out was every colour of the rainbow. Lorato hesitated. How could he touch this magnificent object?

“Take the stone,” repeated the voice. “When the time is right the children will be its keepers.”

Then the bush started to whirl again and Lorato instinctively put out his hand to grab it. He felt it cold in his palm; the light seemed to have gone. He placed it carefully in the pouch around his waist. He was so absorbed with this that he didn’t see the bush disappear. He was sitting in the middle of the clearing where the hut had been, but now there was no candle pod acacia, just grass and ants, and they were starting to bite his bottom. He leapt up and ran to the river, half expecting his mokoro to have gone, but it was there and he gratefully got into it and poled for home.

Categorised in: