The Mother Angle

Never forget about the mother…even in nature. It’s an angle to be considered whenever the bully tries to show off.

an 1

“Oh, we’re all covered with ticks,” Mother said, rumbling noisily. “Come and join us for a dust bath.” Little Bull, feeling a bit independent, didn’t want to bath with the rest of the family. Grumbling that he was old enough to do his own thing, he wandered off a little while to have some privacy. Puberty is such a difficult time!.

an 2But Bully Bull  thought this was the time to show off. Interrupting Little Bull’s ablutions, he tried to intimidate him.

an 5Poor Little Bull. He was no match!

an 4“Mom! Mom! Bully is at it again!”

an 6“Come on, Mom, I’ll show you who did it. Whaaaaa!” And Mom singled out Bully Bull to give him a piece of her mind.

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Telling her son that not all elephants were created equal, she led her son off into the thicket. “Those young bulls from that herd? They simply have to impress others with their short tempers. It doesn’t work like that, Little Bull. Come, lets finish that bath.”

an 8And that’s what the whole family did.

The angle? Listen to your parents, they know best (even if you are a teenager!). And never, never forget that a mother will always put a bully to shame.

Letting go of Sixteen.

“When I turned sixteen, I received my call-up instructions for the army.” Vetfaan sips his beer, smiling at the memory. “Man, was I proud! I had barely started shaving and my country needed me already! I still had to finish school, though. Couldn’t wait to go.”

“Ja, I remember those days.The war had just started and the newspapers bombarded us with bad news. Terrorism this and unrest that. They really did a good job of deceiving an entire nation, especially later when the media painted such a rosy future in the 90’s. First they told us how bad majority rule would be, then they switched around completely and convinced everybody that our troubles were over.”

“Just goes to show, Gertruida, that public opinion is a fickle thing. Today’s heroes are tomorrow’s villains.” Shrugging as if to get rid of an unwanted weight off his shoulders, Servaas continues: “Whatever happened to common sense? Look at us today: some still believe everything will be fine.”

“But that’s the magic of being sixteen, Servaas. You’re old enough to start thinking for yourself, but far too young to understand. It’s a sort-of inbetween age when it’s still possible to believe in miracles. Kids have more hopes than fears while they can still dream reality away.” Gertruida closes her eyes to imagine that time of her life. “Oh, I dreamed big, didn’t I? The perfect picture: a handsome husband, a pair of kids, the Labrador and the white picket fence…the picture of utopia. I imagined what it would be like to be a pretty student with a wardrobe of sexy dresses – and how I’d pick and choose amongst a troupe of would-be suitors to go on exciting dates in the big city. Yes, and busses! Remember those old red doubledeckers? That was my fantasy. We had nothing like that in the small town I grew up in…”

“We all had dreams.” Servaas knits his brows together. “That’s what you do at sixteen. You dream, because you have no idea of reality. Up till then you were a child, cared for by parents.” He stops suddenly, remembering Boggel’s early years in the orphanage.”Except you, Boggel, of course. You had it much harder.”

“Oh, I dreamed a lot, as well. Remember Mary Mitchell? Oh, I adored that girl! She made me dream of much more than a Labrador.” He flashes a shy, wobbly smile at the group at the counter; knowing they had such thoughts too, when they were that age. Boggel remembers Mary’s sad eyes, the way she smiled…and the shapely legs peeking from under the school uniform (which was always a size too small). “But, despite everything that happened during the intervening years, I still remember those days as the happiest in my life.”

They fall silent at that. Yes, sixteen is a sweet, sweet age. How they all cherish the memory of the uncomplicated time when nothing was ever serious enough to keep you awake at night. Nothing, of course, except the first fluttering awareness of love? In the real world, adults struggled with politics, the economy and war – but at sixteen this didn’t concern them in the least. Those issues were just too abstract to worry about. But that strange attraction, the allure, of finding somebody to love? Now that was a goal worth pursuing! And then…oh, the bliss!…of being loved! To belong… Ah yes, at sixteen they all dreamed; they all believed that love would find its way and that they’d live happily ever after.

“But it didn’t happen, did it?” Servaas breaks the reverie, voicing the unsaid thoughts of the group in the bar. “I mean, Life happened, didn’t it? The dreams of sixteen turned into the nightmare of reality. We all loved…and lost. The war came to an end and it only changed things for the worse. And we still don’t understand politics…or the economy.”

“Ja, if I were to meet a genie, I’d ask that life stays the way we saw it at sixteen.” Vetfaan’s wry smile underlines the irony in his voice. He starts humming To Dream the Impossible Dream.

“No, thank you.” Gertruida shakes her head. “That would be stupid. At sixteen we didn’t have the tools to understand love or life. My gosh, even at twenty – no, thirty – people like to think they’re grown-ups! And we all know that’s not true.” She raises an inquiring eyebrow. “When do we make the most disastrous mistakes in life? Hey? Come on, think about it. It’s in the time we want it all – the dog, the picket fence and the perfect life.” She pauses to allow the idea to sink in. “Life is a funny old thing: when you think you have all the answers, you end up with broken dreams. No, my friends, Life demands more than dreams – that’s why we make less and less mistakes as we get older. It’s called experience. And you know what that is? Experience is the mistakes you made in the past. And that, unfortunately, means you have to let go of sixteen and reach for fifty.”

“And in the meantime? Between sixteen and fifty? What do you do with those years?”

“You grow up, Servaas. You make mistakes. You believe what the media tells you. You go about trusting people. You desperately cling to the concept of an ideal family. You try to convince yourself that your children won’t make the same mistakes you did. You invest money and effort in silly stuff that never works out. You try to keep the dream alive…and then, finally, you let go. You reach the point – at last – where you have enough experience of failure to start understanding what success means.”

“And what, dear Gertruida, is your definition of success?” The sarcasm drips from Servaas’ wrds.

“Oh, that’s simple, really. Success is acceptance. You are who you are. Life is unfair. Love is rare. Trust is mostly an illusion.And, above all, success is the ability to use your mistakes as hard-earned fertiliser to grow a meagre crop of happiness – not too much, but enough to be content.”

“Still, I’d like to be sixteen again.” Precilla sighs at the thought. “But only if I knew what I know now.”

“That,” Vetfaan says is a moment of clarity, “would take away the magic. No, you have to experience the naivety of sixteen to understand what life is not about…”

Sometimes Vetfaan surprises Gertruida with remarks like these. Even she, the wisest of them all, has no return on his statement. She ends the conversation with a decisive nod, gets up and walks to her home. The lines on her face is more pronounced as she sits down on her porch, enjoying the solitude of the midday silence. Yes, sixteen was good. It is a milestone on a long, long path to understanding that the candles on the cake must be blown out before one can embrace the darkness of reality.

Such a pity.

But, then again, that’s life

Freedom’s just another word…

Credit: timeslive

Credit: timeslive

“So, after waiting until the very last minute, they’re cancelling his parole? I mean, did somebody wake up suddenly a few days ago, realised that there was some political gain to this emotional issue and then started up the merry-go-round again? Is this about justice, or are they playing to a political audience?”

“It’s complicated, Servaas.” Gertruida toys with her empty glass while she waits for a refill. “The man did murder his girlfriend. There are many questions, and too few answers. In the end: being jailed for ten months for murder is about as lenient as you can get. Is the life of a vivacious young lady only worth that? Oh, sure – he’ll serve out his sentence of five years as a parolee, but still… I simply cannot balance the sentence with the crime, that’s all. But, even though that is the judicial outcome, I think the emotional damage is far worse. There’s no parole for that.”

Even in the far-flung little community of Rolbos, the apparently imminent release of Oscar Pistorius has been a subject of discussion over the last few days. Like in the rest of the country, opinions are sharply divided as to the fairness of it all.

“Ja, and the State’s appeal against the sentence must still be heard. That’s a strange way of going about it: postponing that appeal until after he’s eligible for parole, isn’t it? It’s like one of those real-life soapies the Americans love so much: you simply can’t second-guess the outcome. It is entirely possible that he’d be released from prison, have to sit through the appeal case, and then return to his new mates in prison for an extended period of time. That doesn’t sound very nice to me.”

“Shooting your girlfriend isn’t nice, either.” Vetfaan glances over at Servaas, shrugging. “It’s a question of accountability, my friend. We live in a society where accountability has gone out of the window. Look at the corrupt nature of senior politicians and leaders. Do you think they are held accountable for what’s happening in the country? Or do they continue to receive huge annual bonuses while Rome is burning?”

Credit: George Herald

Credit: George Herald

“They’ve torched Rome now?” Servaas knows about the busses in George, but this is news to him.

“It’s a figure of speech, Servaas.”

“Oh.”  The old man tries to figure it out, fails, and pulls a face. “But they are burning stuff in almost every other town and city in the country, so I take your point.”

“Look,” Oudoom says, “we can argue about this for ages, and still not convince each other. The point is this: Oscar killed the girl. He was found guilty and sentenced. Now there’s a question of parole – whether it happens tomorrow of in a year’s time, it’s of little consequence. In the end, his sentence is a life-long affair.”

“Ag, come on, Oudoom! When his five years are done, he’s a free man.” Servaas draws his thick eyebrows together in protest.

Gertruida gets up to pace the length of the counter – a sure sign she’s about to deliver one of her famous speeches again.

“Not so, Servaas. Have you ever read The Prisoner of Chillon, by Lord Byron? In the final portion, where the unnamed prisoner finally is freed, he says:

At last men came to set me free;
I ask’d not why, and reck’d not where;
It was at length the same to me,
Fetter’d or fetterless to be,
I learn’d to love despair.
And thus when they appear’d at last,
And all my bonds aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage—and all my own!
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:
With spiders I had friendship made
And watch’d them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill—yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learn’d to dwell;
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends
To make us what we are:—even I
Regain’d my freedom with a sigh.

“The point I’m making, is a simple one: Oscar Pistorius will never be free again. His sentence and his prison are not confined to the real world we live in – it is part of his very soul and his every second of living. He’ll never be able to enjoy a quiet dinner with a loved one in a romantic restaurant or sneak away to a secluded little hotel for a quiet break. He’ll carry the burden of his actions on that fateful morning for the rest of his life – and possibly even after that. His celebrity status, his Olympic achievements, the time when he was an example to everybody faced with insurmountable problems – well, that will all fade away and he won’t be remembered for that. No, wherever he show his face, people will whisper and point fingers. 

“His prison will be the memory of the 14th February 2013 – not just by society, but by himself as well. He’ll never be free. In the state’s prison he was shielded from the public; I can imagine there’ll be many a day he’ll long for that protection in the future.

“But his mind’s prison? There’s no parole for that.”

As usual, Gertruida has the last word. Yes, they all know she’s right – no matter what the law or the authorities decide, Oscar will never be a free man again…

“….But I’d trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday…”

When height poses a problem

CMvm3O4UEAASNFq“So they got the wrong trains for the right tracks?” Vetfaan arches a lazy eyebrow.

“No.” Servaas shakes his head. “They got the right trains. The tracks are wrong.”

“You’re both wrong: the trains are too high for our system – you know? They’ve not maintained the electric wires above the tracks, and now it’s a dangerous situation. Instead of having electric trains, we’ll have electrocuted tourists. Not good for tourism, especially in the wake of the Visa fiasco.”

“Yup.” Kleinpiet sits down next to Gertruida. “Our esteemed chief engineer – the one without qualifications – made a small mistake. At least they thought of using smaller wheels to lower the locomotive. That was quite clever, I’d say.”

“Big deal. A locomotive that’s too high, is too high. The center of gravity changes. It becomes unstable, and prone to wobbling around when it shouldn’t. Eventually the tracks become an incidental thing: the loco just doesn’t need them any more.”

They fall silent for a while before Gertruida goes harrumph! again, signalling her intention to switch tracks.

“It’s rather symbolic, don’t you think?”

They stare at her blankly, like they usually do when she changes the subject so abruptly.

“”Look, it’s the story of Icarus. You fly too high, you crash and burn. It’s inevitable. A law of nature.”

“Come on, Gertruida! What’s this about?”

Jacob Peter Gowy's The Flight of Icarus.

Jacob Peter Gowy’s The Flight of Icarus.

“Servaas, my friend, it’s the story of our government.” Gertruida’s voice is suddenly tired. “Look, Icarus wasn’t a bad chap. He had good intentions at first. His father had shown him the way to escape the labyrinth.” She proceeds to tell them of the wise Daedalus, Icarus’s father, who devised a way to escape from their imprisonment. “King Minos had Daedalus and Icarus thrown into the labyrinthine jail for insubordination, where they were supposed to be killed by the Minotaur.

“Well, Daedalus fashioned wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son – and flew off, warning Icarus about flying too high. The sun’s heat would melt the wax, his father said.

“Of course you know what happened. Icarus flew higher and higher, melted the wax, found out that his flapping arms wouldn’t sustain flight…and he plunged to his death. It’s a sad, sad story…”

“And now you want to tell us it is still relevant today?”

“Yes, Servaas. We had a great leader, one who was imprisoned for many years – but he figured out a way to escape that labyrinth. In jail, he met many others, and he warned them about pride. Hubris, is the old word. So, when the time came, that leader flew neither too high nor too low, and he became the darling of the world.

“But those who followed him – not all of them, but some – forgot his warning and tried to fly higher and higher. And now they’re crashing, one after the other. ESCOM, education, labour unions, police services, postal services, our national airlines, mines, roads, water supply, municipalities, provinces….the list makes shocking reading. If only the government had listened to the advice of their father, things would have been better. But no! Icarus insisted on doing his own thing.Officials are constantly caught with their hands in the cookie jar, simply because they think they can get away with it. Some claim qualifications and degrees they never obtained, because it’ll let them fly higher. Their lifestyles reflect their inability to grasp the importance of good governance.

“And so they melt away the flimsy wings that gave them flight – slowly but surely. The unfortunate thing is this: as the Icarus-followers plunge into obscurity (some of them with handsome parting gifts, it must be admitted) they cause the entire system to fail. And with that, they bring down the fragile fabric of society with them. Crime, the common man in the street realises, pays…for a while, at least.

“So, in order to stay in flight, a new set of wings have to be devised. Otherwise the bit of credibility they still have left, will melt away as well. Desperate times call for desperate measure. Now they play the name-and-blame game. No, it’s not the president; it is this official and that employee. No, it’s not the lack of proper management by people unqualified for the job, it is the legacy of Apartheid. No, it’s not the absence of planning, it’s the aging infrastructure.

“The wax is melting. Icarus is on his way down…”

“The trains are too high for the tracks?” Kleinpiet is still trying to connect the dots.

“Yes, Kleinpiet. The gravy train is derailing..”

‘God forgive his fall from grace
The sea conceals his resting place
Can we learn to stay behind the line
If we have the means to fly
Some of us will surely die
Being reckless was his only crime..’

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Creepy African Fairytale.

They knew it would happen one day – the old people had been warning them of the danger for years by then.

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“There’s a bogeyman in the woods. He watches us all, day and night. If you show any signs of life, he’ll come and get us all.”

IMG_5544a But you know how it is. Young love will not be denied…it’ll find a way, somehow. And it did. Wanting to get married, they invited their families to join in celebrating their joy.

IMG_5590bIt was a real dandy occasion. They whooped it up till late in the night, forgetting all about the bogeyman.

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And the bogeyman came, ravishingly hungry and ready to cook them all in his big pot.

IMG_4997aBut the slewed elephant, the king of the forest, would not allow it. He stomped out of the trees in rage, rushing to the rescue of the family.

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Then, using the magic only slewed elephants know, he turned the ugly bogeyman into a colourful guard at his palace door.

And yes, you know the rest…they lived happily ever after.

The Contrary President

556999104aa21852660039b9“The difference between just another story and a very good story,” Vetfaan says, “is what you don’t tell. I mean, telling everything takes away the fun, doesn’t it?”

Gertruida eyes him suspiciously, wondering what he’s up to now. Ever since they stopped speculating about The Diary, Vetfaan seems determined to stop talking in mid-sentence, letting them guess what he was about to say. Although never mentioning the curious case of Spook Visage, it does appear that the gaps in that story fascinated the burly farmer so much that he wants to copy the technique.

“Look, it’s like our best story-teller ever, our beloved president. Man, he must be the chairman of the Half-truth Society! He can dance around the obvious things he has to say and leave you to piece together what he actually wasn’t telling you. And – mostly – he’ll allow you to get to the wrong conclusion, go heh-heh-heh while he pushes his glasses higher on his noble nose and then say he never said something you’re sure you heard.”

“Nah, Vetfan. You wouldn’t like his job. As an esteemed leader of one of Africa’s foremost countries, he has huge responsibilities. He can’t be bothered by mere trivia all day, every day?  And, let me remind you, when a man has many wives and more than 20 kids, it surely leaves very little time for affairs of state. Add to that the dancing lessons, the extensive livestock he has to take care of at Nkandla and cleaning that pool, and what do you get?” Kleinpiet pauses dramatically, waiting for the answer. With none forthcoming, he sighs and continues: “You get an overburdened and underfunded chap who simply doesn’t have the time to spell out every little detail about every little thing that happens in his life. No, there can be no more dangerous a president than one who takes his time with explanations. That’d mean he’s hiding something.”

“That’s the Presidential Corollary,  Kleinpiet. The quantity of words is inversely related to the quality of truths. That leads you to the Parliamentary Conundrum, which states that the quality of truth is again indirectly related to the number of protest actions.” Gertruida arches a cynical eyebrow, challenging the group to disagree. They don’t, of course. “That implies that a president who is frugal with words, is generous with the truth.  I think that puts us in the pound seats.”

“Come on!” Servaas gets up suddenly. “You guys are just pulling my socks! What is this? The, er, um, Support His Integrity Troupe?  Everybody’s clamouring for his head these days, and you guys are singing his praises?”

“That’s Rule Number One they teach in Presidential School, Servaas, and it’s a worldwide inevitability. You hold an election. Somebody has to win – usually the chap that made the most promises. He gets sworn in and everybody jumps around, cheering their new champion. Now, of course, he has to deliver on his promises…which he can’t. Logically, he then starts ducking and diving, but by the time his term nears the end, everybody’s fed up with him. It happens with all presidents, even Obama.” As usual, when Gertruida gets going, it’s hard to stop her. “Except, of course, José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano of Uruguay.”

“Never heard of him.” Vetfaan isn’t really interested, but he can’t help raising a questioning eyebrow.

“Pepe, my friend, is seven years older than Zuma. He was jailed longer than Zuma for fighting against an unjust government. And like Zuma, he became president in 2009. That’s where the similarities stop.”

She paces up and down the counter as she lectures them on the man dubbed the ‘Humblest president in the world’. “He addressed the United Nations in a memorable speech in 2013, calling for  ‘a return to simplicity, with lives founded on human relationships, love, friendship, adventure, solidarity and family, instead of lives shackled to the economy and the markets’. He received a modest salary, of which he donated 90% to charity. Oh, his only possession, apparently, is the 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.

“Strangely, he is married – very happily – to only one woman and he has no children. When offered a million dollars for his car, he said he’d donate the money to the needy.

“Then in March this year, his term in office ended. He refused the use of the luxurious presidential palace or even just its attending staff and retired to the small farm his wife owns – where they grow chrysanthemums which they sell for a living. His security arrangements? A three-legged dog called Manuela.

“There’s a quote – one of many – I love from this man. He said: ‘I’m not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live… My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I’m the son of my history. There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress.’ No wonder he’s such a loved and revered man in his country.”

Vetfaan sighs, nods, and takes a sip of peach brandy. “He’s lucky to have been born in Uruguay. His style wouldn’t have worked here…not at all. Any politician around here driving about in an old Beetle would have been as successful as that American dentist trying to sell conservation. No, we won’t be fooled by poverty; being currently disadvantaged isn’t in fashion.”

The discussion peters out and the group falls silent. They refrain from saying the obvious, which is the point of a very good story, not so?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Underfoot

In this challenge, I want to get away from the act and leave the Stage of Life where where we stomp feet and laugh where the script calls for it. No longer a puppet to the playwrights of the world, I need to escape; I need to  get back on solid ground…

Woordfees 013a For:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,                                                              W. Shakespeare

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But wait….

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.                                                                                             R. Frost

IMG_2453aAnd so…

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.                                                                                      R Frost

IMG_4817No more crowds for me, No more pretence. Because:

From childhood’s hour I have not been

As others were; I have not seen

As others saw; I could not bring

My passions from a common spring.                                                                        Edgar Allen Poe

x15The answer is in the dream of quiet solitude …

For this is where the mind is content

This is where the Soul leaves its print…                                                                 Scott Mcintire

The Diary (#7)

images (16) copyI am dreadfully tired. However exhilarating my experiences are, they do seem to tap every ounce of energy I ever had. The family looks after me well, though, feeding me strange concoctions – but I can see they are worried, especially the old man. 

Still, I followed the woman to the shelter, smoked the pipe and had a journey to an area deep beneath Kubu Island. Afterwards I came to the realisation that what I saw there was somehow of great importance. Well, only a fool would see diamonds of that size and not be impressed. 

However, the sheer size of the crystals is overwhelming. I know very little about diamonds – especially how they’re formed… But… I  seem to remember that you need two major components to change carbon into these gems: heat and pressure. Immense quantities of that. I suppose a meteor could do that as easily as the Earth can by moving its crust about.

That left me with the cigar-tube – quite a long and slender object (maybe twice as long as I am tall). It hummed. It even seemed to glow. I have no doubt that it is ‘alive’ somehow, I mean, it didn’t look like a crashed craft of sorts – it seemed brand new…

***

Tonight. I’ll have to go tonight. I’m getting progressively weaker. Don’t know if I’ll be up to it later. Not getting stronger. 

I have to. Somehow I know I have to.

Why?

I’m so tired…

***

“I think those journeys were too much for him. His handwriting is completely erratic towards the end – hardly more than a scrawl…”

“Gee, Gertruida, is that the end? No more?” For the first time, a note of concern creeps in to Vetfaan’s voice. “Turn the page, go on!”

Gertruida turns the page…

“Yep, that was the last…in his writing.” She scans the page before whispering: “I don’t believe this…”

“What?” Even Boggel is now perched on top of the counter, straining to see if he can read the following page.

***

My name is Jakobus Visage, also known as Spook or Koos. But…I’m not the Jakobus in the diary. I’m one of the many others – those that your Koos saw when he scanned the sea of faces around Kubu.  Mnay of me, just like there are many of you on the many Earths Koos mentioned.

Koos can’t come back. He went in too deep. His life has now shifted to a level you won’t understand – but that’s what happens when knowledge becomes wisdom. It is inevitably irreversible.

My mission had been to remove his (my) diary from Kubu Island on this Earth. The reason is simple – and it’s the same reason why Koos’ nephew – Chris – was sent back to lead Gavin Lamont to the diamonds at Jwaneng and Orapa. Had Lamont found the cave beneath Kubu Island, the results would have been catastrophic. Not only are the diamonds down there massive, but the world is not yet ready for the craft contained in that chamber – especially not its contents.

The problem was alignment. If the levels are not synchronised, it is impossible to step from the one to the other. Koos did his journey during one of these alignments, now I am able too, because of it. These alignments occur at irregular intervals – this is the first one since Koos met the custodians of Kubu Island.

But the diary had to be destroyed. And here’s the problem: one cannot move from one level (you call it dimensions) to another in a physical form strong enough to influence events. Yes, I can talk and move about…but my physical presence is weak. In short- you can only influence circumstances in the level you occupy.

My mission is a simple one: get the diary, find somebody to destroy it, and return to my level. After considering many individuals, the choice fell on the population of your town. You are naive enough to follow instructions without trying to understand too much. And you are trusted to keep the contents of the diary secret. That’s it.

Be well. Strive to be happy.

***

omag_200701_burnt_letter_220x312“Now I’ve heard everything. Shew! It’s too complicated to understand and too simple to explain.” Vetfaan signals for another peach brandy – a large one!

Then, as Gertruida gets up to stand next to the fire in the hearth, she hesitates for just a second. She lets her gaze travel over the little group at the bar, receiving a nod from each of her friends. The flames touch the pages – almost hesitantly as if aware of the contents of the book – sending thin tendrils of smoke up the chimney.

No, they won’t talk about this again. Some things are best left unsaid…

Take care, it’s such a lonely sky,
They’ll trap your wings my love and hold your flight,
They’ll build a cage and steal your only sky,
Fly away, fly to me, fly when the wind is high,
I’m sailing beside you in your lonely sky

The Diary (#6)

aragonThe woman sat me down in the shelter, held out her hand for the bag containing the last, remaining herbs, and then seated herself – cross-legged – in front of me. Her eyes never left mine while she hummed a monotonous tune.  Still staring at me intently, she slowly undid a small pouch attached to the leather belt that held up her short skirt, to produce a bone pipe. This she started filling with some of the herbal mixture.

I understood immediately. Throwing the herbs on the embers produced the smoke that made me experience amazing things, but that was wasteful. Smoking the herbs through the pipe would save quite a bit of the stuff. She called out softly and the man (her husband?) appeared in the doorway with a burning twig. She lit the pipe, inhaling deeply, before passing it to me.

The effect was immediate and much more pronounced than when I was sitting next to the fire. Only…this time I was very much aware that she was travelling beside me. 

“Come,” she said, “it’s not far.”

The fact that I could suddenly understand her, somehow did not surprise me. I also realised that we weren’t ‘speaking’ in the normal manner. Don’t ask me to explain this – but ‘communicating’ with her was as simple as thinking. How? I don’t know.

“Where are we going?” I had to know.

“Deep,” she answered without words.

And we did. Instead of flying off into ‘space’ like before, she led me down into Earth. The going was much slower than my previous excursions, but there was no mistaking our surroundings. I was aware of a layer of sand and roots, then coal-like rocks before finally arriving in a huge cavern of blue. Light emanated from the walls and bathed the interior of the huge cave of hues of blue.

I suppose I gaped, as I became aware of her giggling. Yes, I agreed, this is quite amazing. She nodded. Then she showed me the rest.

The walls of the cave were formed by huge crystals, some of them as large as myself and completely transparent. The surface of these objects felt cold to the touch. These ‘crystals’, I understood, were…diamonds? Again the woman agreed.

Single-Cigar-Holder-for-Groomsmen-_-141-1109_av1But then I saw the object in the middle of the cave, This was no crystal, nor any other naturally-occurring thing. It was oblong and shiny, like a cigar holder, and it hummed softly.

“Whaa…” I didn’t understand.

“This is The Beginning,” her eyes still didn’t leave mine. Then she drew closer to place her fingers on my eyes.

And suddenly I saw….

There was Kubu again, surrounded by rivers and water, covered with grass and trees and animals of every description. And I saw a man and a woman, completely naked…

“Eden?” I mused.

Then, unexpectedly, I felt myself pulled back to the shelter at an amazing speed. When I opened my eyes, she was there, holding the pipe.

“What was that? Did you just show me Paradise?”

But she only smiled and shrugged before saying something in her native clicking language… I once again couldn’t understand a word she said…

***

536.2L“Yup, that’s it! He showed his hand! As mad as our president…or even worse. Completely bonkers. Off the rails. Nuts.” Vetfaan’s brow shoots up. “Talking of which…Nuts? Any left, Boggel?” He points at the empty Voortrekker Monument bowl on the counter.

“It is a bit farfetched,” Gertruida concedes reluctantly. “Although the Makgadikgadi used to be a huge lake with vegetation and forests and south-africa-1982-karoo-fossils-prehistoric-animals-set-fine-mint-9332-panimals around it.  And don’t forget the fossils they found in the Karoo. I tell you, things were a lot different a few millenia ago.” She goes on to describe, in some detail, what the Karoo looked like –  reminding them that a set of stamps was issued to depict the prehistory of the region.

“Give that women more nuts,” Vetfaan growls, “she needs them to keep up this balderdash.”

“You can believe what you want, Vetfaan. But, however hard you try, you cannot wish away the fact that the Karoo and the Kalahari once held much more water and life. In fact, scientists agree that life may very well have originated at the southern tip of Africa. Why not here?”

“Let’s stretch our imagination and say you’re right. How do you explain the chamber full of diamonds and the cigar-thing…which sounds terribly much like a spaceship to me?  Or are you jumping from Paradise to Star Wars now? Wait until Oudoom hears this.”

“Oh, I won’t mind.” Gertruida shrugs as she helps herself to more nuts – just to irk Vetfaan. “I once asked him about Genesis 6. You know, where some extraterrestrials are mentioned? How did they get here, Vetfaan? By floating down a rainbow? No, there are only two ways: either by interdimensional travel – which you ridicule with such enthusiasm…or with some craft or vehicle that made the journey.” She arches a cynical eyebrow. “Which do you prefer, anyway?”

Vetfaan mumbles something about ‘going too far with this nonsense’ without answering her. No, he doesn’t want to even contemplate the question.

“There are more things in heaven and Earth, Vetfaan, than were dreamt of in your philosophy.” Gertruida pats his shoulder affectionately. “Look, only a few pages left. Let’s read to the end, shall we?”

She’s almost pleading.