A child’s sweet burden

 

Sugar cane Robert Chisanga

 

Maize

There were many incidences when life should have told me that I had no leading role to play, and yet as you will see from my story, there hardly ever was another player under the spotlight. I was singularly different. Being different was like owning an empty space, a kind of internal bush clearing that defined me, that separated me from the common forest pulse. Being a child in that lonely metaphorical bush clearing of obscurity and self-assumed alienation, I was forced to find my own drum to beat. In a strange way, I was happy – in the end familiarity breeds comfortability.

Children carry a lot of the adult burden: rules, restrictions, societal likes and dislikes; all shifting cargoes that tax their free-spirited little shoulders, and for which they are given little credit or respect. I know this: Acclaim was not given for my great mythological battles singlehandedly lost and won.

This book is as a result of a swelling urge within me to question the realness of that bush clearing within me, and my never-ending awareness of it throughout my childhood. It was my quirk, my tic; a pang of hidden knowingness; an urgency of spaced being within me.

Allan Taylor, author, Luanshya musings

Pod mahogany

Pod mahogany

 

I thought it strange that I had never before seen what was in his garden, the biggest anthill I had ever seen. Surely I would have noticed it before. It took up most of his front garden. Maybe it wasn’t there before, maybe it was somewhere else, but it was certainly there now. Could anthills shift their shape? It also had the largest pod mahogany tree that I had ever seen growing out of its crown. Were both the anthill and the pod mahogany apparitions in incarnate form?

My second postulation was that a pod mahogany seed had been brought to both anthills in a traditional necklace as part of a burial ritual. I had always felt lucky that I had a pod mahogany growing on my anthill, double lucky because the pod mahogany is also known as the inkehli lucky bean tree. It produces hard, black seeds with a bright red wattle like the ground hornbill. The Ndebele women of Matabeleland used lucky beans in tribal necklaces, especially for the unbetrothed. Maybe an Ndebele woman had died young, and had been buried in my anthill, whereupon a pod mahogany seed from her funeral adornment had grown in honour of her spirit. This would make this magnificent tree on my anthill all the more special, but surely this romantic story couldn’t be applied to both our anthills and both our trees?

Allan Taylor, author Luanshya musings

     Picture. Jenny Hisin

Victoria Falls

The boat train chugged through a microcosmic rain forest permanently buffeted by the clouds of rain and hot air that were forced out of the bowels of the Zambezi River. It was a strange oasis sitting in the middle of a leafless grey African bush, suffering yet again from a taxing dry season… a Utopian world perched on the edge of basalt cliffs and ravines that hurtled your senses down into the waters of an angry river below.

Allan Taylor, author, Luanshya musings.

Chris Mclennan

                                   Chris Mclennan

The Kasankas

Bats

The same old water diviner told me about a swampy area ‘not a 100 miles from here as the crow flies’. It was called the Kasankas. Every year thousands of fruit bats arrived from as far away as Central Congo and Tanganyika to feed off wild fruits that grew there. Large crocodiles lay under wild fruit trees fertilised for centuries by drips of stinking bat guano. Spattered with dung, they took advantage of causalities, as the young, old, injured, dead and bickering fell out of the trees. A soft nerve impulse in a membranous wing in another land had caused these debauched reptilian monsters to haul themselves from their riverine habitats to become forest creatures during bat feeding frenzies. The bats came for the fruit, and the crocs came for the bats. Life and death were welcomed to the same dinner table: both invited by Lady Consequence, their gracious host.

Allan Taylor, author, Luanshya musings