With independence coming up, The Freedom Fighter’s Diary has been on my mind. Its ironic that lockdown will end, the day after our independence; seems almost that in a strange way this too, is a battle in the war for survival, like that movie with Will Smith and the invading aliens.
Independence Day. I think to myself, as I rub the Zimbabwean flag brooch on my jacket pocket, it was calming and a way to keep my hands busy so I would not have to think about touching my face… The average person touches their face close to 30 times in an hour.
If the fate of the world lies in not touching our faces then we are doomed.
I had found the brooch tucked away in sleeve of The Freedom Fighter’s Diary‘s leather cover; a very interesting journal whose story I will leave for another time. I imagine that the diary’s owner had worn the brooch proudly declaring their patriotism. Their friends and allies must have worn matching pairs so you could tell who your friends were like members of a secret guild.
The day I had discovered the diary, I had been cleaning up the house trying to find a dead rat that was stinking up the house. I never did find the rodent it had probably crawled into a tight space in the walls and died there but I did find the diary and its story has since haunted me……
I have never been a superstitious man, but the diary turned up in the house around the same time the cat had made an entrance into my life. It could have been random coincidence but the cat’s appearance brought a firm end to the rodent problem.
I have never thought of myself as a cat person, growing up, I had a dog, a German Shepherd and his name was Bingo. They say we were an inseparable pair and I would share even an ice-cream cone with it. I would never have believed it had I not seen the pictures. I vaguely remember Bingo as a gentle giant looming around, watching and protecting until the day we found him, with a knife firmly lodged in his neck, dead. Hero to the end, died foiling a burglary.
Bingo was buried in the backyard, I imagine I cried, said a few words and into the hole Bingo went.
The rest have been a whirlwind of pets, barely remembered, Tex, Smokey, Ginger, Mandela, Blackie and Brownie. Wait, Mandela did stand out, he wasn’t really my dog. Mandela was my neighbour’s dog but spent so much time at our place that the owner had practically disowned him.
Later we would rechristen Mandela to Freedom, firstly because we felt the neighbour might have had dishonourable intentions naming the dog after the late South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela. Secondly our neighbour wasn’t a very nice person when he discovered his dog living with us, he had called animal services and told the SPCA to come put down his dog, which he claimed had gone rabid and was terrorising the neighbourhood. The SPCA had come and had a torrid time trying to get the animal into their truck.
It was only after I had opened the door and sat inside the SPCA truck that the dog had finally allowed himself to be bundled into a cage at the back. I had got out and watched as truck drove away with the dog to his death. I tried not to cry as I felt the hot tears sting my eyes.
A few nights later I woke up to scratching sounds coming from outside my bedroom window. They were sounds straight out from a horror movie. I imagined a hell hound outside, here to drag me to hell for my sins. I had peered out the window but the night was black as sin, a moonless night and not a twinkle of a star. I had prayed and prayed, then got up and sprinkled salt on the window sill. I covered my head with a pillow to muffle out the sound and eventually fell into a troubled sleep.
When morning came I would discover, it was the dog returned.
Can dogs become ghosts, do they haunt people? For a while I was afraid of the dog, you cant touch a ghost I would assure myself as I petted the dog. Finally a visit from the animal services had explained everything that the dog had escaped the animal shelter but I could keep him provided I made sure he was properly vaccined and kept him out of trouble.
I named him Freedom.
I remember his eyes, especially when he died, they had a silent promise, that almost said I will be back. I had half expected him to return from the dead, like he had returned from animal shelter.
We buried Freedom in the backyard, where we had buried the other pets and the endless puppies that had always died in pairs, a silent affair, no words and into the hole ye goes.
I never had another pet… until the cat which comes and goes as it pleases. The first time I saw it, I chased it away, I wanted to throw rocks at it but my aunt stopped me and said it was bad luck to kill a cat, besides we had a rat problem it could help take care off… and that’s how we got a cat.
Sometimes the cat disappears for days, weeks even; yesterday I watched it leap onto the perimeter wall in the back yard and balance gracefully on top of the wall and in defiance to the lockdown orders set off for destination unknown. But for a second just before it leapt off, it had looked at me with a strikingly familiar pair of eyes, past and present, that seemed to promise I’ll always return then glancing at the patch in the back yard where lies past pets. it had looked at me, and then at the brooch I had subconsciously been spinning between my fingers then back into my eyes, then leapt over to the other side.
I have been thinking… I think I will name the cat, Freedom.
A blogbattle story themed brooch