The Diary (#2)

Sowa (Sua) Pan, Makgadikgadi

Sowa (Sua) Pan, Makgadikgadi, the last remnant of the superlake that once covered Botswana.

“My gosh!” Gertruida takes off her reading glasses to stare at the ceiling. “He’s had an out of body experience!”

“What? They took him to the abattoir?”

She glances at Vetfaan, sees the twinkle in his eyes and ignores him. “Let me read to you what he says here…”

***

The feeling I got was completely foreign to me. I’ve never used drugs or anything like that, so maybe it was just the smoking herbs on the embers. However, while a second before I still felt embarrassed and shy, I suddenly found myself relaxing. The night’s sounds faded away. The glowing coals of the fire seemed to enlarge and envelop me with a peculiar warmth – a sensation so comforting and relaxing that even the faces surrounding me disappeared.

Then, slowly, a new face stared at me. It took a second to realise it was me, looking at me. This didn’t bother me at all – in fact, it felt like the most natural thing ever. I could see myself smiling. Then I opened my mouth and spoke to myself.

“You are here for a specific reason, Koos. And these wonderful people saved you, because that’s the way it had to be. They have an important message for you.”

“What,” I asked myself?

“Listen to them….”

The face disappeared. The next thing I knew, was that I looked down at myself, sitting there under the karos next to the fire. Once again, this didn’t cause any problem – it simply felt…right. I went higher and higher up in the sky until I could look down on Earth. It was beautiful, peaceful. I saw seasons change, animals migrate, rivers flow. Somehow I realised I was looking into the past – until eventually the desert changed into a sea. I saw boats on the waters and an island where a harbour bustled with activity.

‘This is what was,’ I heard a voice say – it could have been my own. It sounded like me, anyway.

9[PHO]AMy view became sharper, clearer, as I neared the island. I could see men in long, purple robes strutting about. There were slaves attending the boats, while others patrolled the beach around it, armed with bows and arrows. Off to one side I saw a tented town, where women in white garments prepared meals and looked after children.

“This was the stronghold of Kubu. These men and women came from far away, worked hard and supplied the Kingdom,” my voice said. I sounded calm and in control.

“Which kingdom,” I asked.

My voice sounded tired when it answered. “It is far away. It no longer exists.”

“But why,” I eventually asked, “am I here?”

“To see, to observe, to learn.”

“What?” I asked.

“To know what you have to know.”

Suddenly I was elevated again to a high spot, from where I once again saw the Earth change. The sea disappeared and the desert formed. Seasons changed. 

And I woke up – or whatever one can call it – in the smoky haze next to my fire with my saviours staring at me.

***

“Man, he went on a proper trip, that guy. Shew! Drugged beyond recognition, I’ll say!” Vetfaan laughs at the idea. “I’d love Boggel to start serving that stuff!”

Tsodilo

Bushman geometric pattern, Tsodilo Hills.

“The herbs certainly had something to do with it, I’m sure. The old San shamans used herbs to put them in a trance. That’s the explanation for many of their weird paintings, according toe researchers. Those geometric patterns are similar to the ones the Incas did, as well. You get the same patterns repeated in Europe, Egypt and wherever ancient witchdoctors understood trance-like states.

“But then you get strange things, as well, like the whale at Tsodilo Hills – where no known sea existed.” Gertruida thinks for a moment before adding, “Except for Spook’s inland sea where only the salt plains remains – the Makgadikgadi Superlake, of course.”

“Yeah, right!” Vetfaan snorts and signals for a new round. “He was whacked out of his little mind, I tell you. Dehydration and disorientation does that. Add to that the death of his nephew and the obsession to find out what really had happened to cause the suicide, and you have the perfect example of stress aggravating a post-traumatic disorder. Spook had a post-suggestion hallucination, that’s all.”

“I don’t think so,” Gertruida says haughtily, “not if you read the rest of the diary, anyway. Something very, very unusual happened to Spook. And I’m not at all sure you’re going to understand half of it, Vetfaan. Listen…”

(To be continued…)

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