Monday 16 March 2015
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An African Tale chapter four ontinued

Word that Ledimo was looking for a wife went around like wildfire. Chiefs and important men came from far and wide bringing their daughters for the appraisal of the famous rainmaker. They came in all shapes and sizes. Everyone was scrubbed and groomed to perfection, trying to outdo the others. Ledimo rejected them all. He was looking for one face…Bontle. He knew she was dead, but the longing in his heart was still there and he felt that somewhere there must be someone who looked like her.

One day he went for a walk away from the village. He needed to get away from the constant pestering of the chiefs and headmen to marry their daughters. These dignitaries had camped around the village, bringing with them servants and lesser individuals to look after their needs. As he walked he was thinking that it might be a good idea to give up this whole idea of marrying; he had been on his own for so many hundreds of years now he wouldn’t know what to say to someone he woke up next to every morning. Then he saw her. She was walking gracefully down the pathway with a bundle of firewood on her head. Her feet were bare and she had a colourful cloth draped around her body. He ran towards her. She turned, dropping the bundle of wood and fled.

“Bontle! Stop!” he shouted.

She hesitated and then stopped looking around in amazement. “How do you know my name?” Her voice trembled.

“It is the name of my wife!” he cried in great excitement.

“Your wife? I have the same name as your wife?” Being a mere servant girl she had not been allowed to see Ledimo and did not know who this pushy stranger was.

“You are my wife!” he shouted, grabbing her by the hand and pulling her towards the village.

“I have found her, I have found her!” he cried as people started to gather around.

Suddenly she pulled away from him. “What do you mean?” she said, stamping her foot. “Found me? I am not lost. And I am not and will not be your wife!”

He stared at her in disbelief. More and more people started to gather around. Suddenly he felt very sheepish and somewhat idiotic. He would have been very happy if the earth had opened up and swallowed him at that point. So this was what it was like to be mortal!

Ledimo did not give up. He tried every trick in the human and god book to get Bontle to change her mind. The chiefs and headmen were furious. Here they had brought all their beautiful well-bred daughters to Ledimo and he had chosen a mere servant girl. Everyone packed up in disgust and moved back to their respective villages. The chief who employed Bontle was so angry that she had been chosen instead of his daughter that he threw her out of his household there and then, telling her to find her own way home. Ledimo heard about this and went to find Bontle, begging her to come and work for him. She was reluctant but knew that she had little choice. She would never survive the ten-day journey to her village on her own, and if she did get there she would have no one to turn to as she was an orphan, so reluctantly she relented.

Ledimo put his best foot forward, showing Bontle only the nice, gentle, caring side of his nature. There were no nasty storms or tantrums. Things went along so pleasantly in the village that the elders secretly hoped that she would never agree to marry him. However, after many months she did.

A big celebration was planned. All the important people in the land were invited, and although they were still somewhat angry with Ledimo for his choice of bride, they came. He was still important and needed to be humoured. Since he had been with Bontle they had noticed that the weather had been absolutely magnificent and they were hoping it would stay this way.

The night before the wedding the voice made another visit, this time to Bontle. She did not feel frightened or intimidated by it but sat quietly listening.

“Ledimo is now mortal and will become old and die as do all mortals.”

Bontle nodded. She had never quite understood this living forever business; she couldn’t get her head around it. Having a mortal husband made a lot more sense.

“Ledimo has two sides to him,” the voice continued. “One soft and gentle and the other hard and angry.”

Bontle had only experienced the soft and gentle side and she frowned, feeling apprehensive about what might lie in the future.

“These two sides need to be balanced for harmony to prevail. If he is always soft and gentle he will keep the weather in a perfect state and things will be too easy—people will become complacent, turning to corrupt and mischievous things to fill their time.”

Bontle couldn’t see how having nice weather all the time would be a bad thing but she kept quiet and carried on listening.

“If he is always hard and angry he will create a great deal of destruction and the people will have to spend most of their time rebuilding, leaving little over for development.”

Bontle nodded, hoping that she would never have to deal with this side of his nature.

“You need to help Ledimo keep a balance as he does not always see things clearly,” said the voice and then it was gone.

Bontle sat motionless for a long time. She felt a great heaviness come over her. The voice had given her so much responsibility. What did she know of such things? She was just a peasant girl. Well, it was too late to do anything now. Her path had been chosen. She would just have to muddle through as best she could.

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