You wanted me to be your Valentine but what is a Valentine?
I hope you do not wish me to write you a farewell note and sign it from your Valentine then my head gets chopped off, for you see I am rather attached to my head; and that, according to some legends, is what happened to the first person to send a note signed from your Valentine.
History and legend have various martyrdom stories of people named Valentine killed rather violently on the 14th of February, so when you ask me to be your Valentine and I go silent, I really trying to figure out if you want me dead.
Dear Heart if you are asking me to count how many ways I love you I would need more thanone day, I would need each morning of everyday; every sunset, every sunrise, each breath and every sigh……..
Dear Heart…. If you love flowers I would help you grow a lil garden or maybe gift you a pot plant or show you how to grow flowers in teabags. I find it a touch disturbing how people give each other flowers essentially demonstrating that I killed these beautiful flowers for you, now watch them fade and wilt because I love you
Dear Heart if you were a flower in my garden, I would never pick you, I would be the sun and in the warmth of my love you would bloom. ♥♥♥
Dear Heart, I find Valentine’s Day a commercialised scam and the only people who actually gain from it, are the people who sell love’s paraphernalia and I hope you dont think I am saying that but because I could not afford to get you something nice nor is it because the post office people would not let me dress in wrapping paper; tie a ribbon around myself and affix a postage stamp marked Special Delivery.
Dear Heart, did you know that way before Valentine’s Day came to be in honour of slain Saints, the period used to be a weird fertility festival involving the ritual sacrifice of goats and dogs and whippings
Dear Heart I hope you are not I mad at me for making you rethink what Valentine means but if you are, I would tie a cape around your neck and say “Now you are Super Mad“
Dear heart; I am not saying anything by it but have you noticed that
The Legend of the Zambezi River God, the Nyami Nyami, is a story known and shared by locals of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Visitors to Kariba Dam are greeted by an imposing statue that is supposed to depict the famed River God.
An enterprising dealer may try to sell you a Nyami Nyami walking stick which is not a walking aid but rather an artistic impression of the Tonga lifestyle, but be careful not to confuse the “historical stick” with the actual Tonga cultural and religious beliefs.
On an episode of River Monsters, Jeremy Wade speculated that this invisible executioner of the Zambezi River might be a vundu catfish but whatever it may be to survive the surging might of the Zambezi river it would definitely be formidable…….
I have never given much thought to this legend, even though around my neck I wear an ivory carved Nyami Nyami pendant neck piece, an old gift.
I had been gifted the pendant by an elderly lady, old enough to be someone’s great mother, “for luck” she had said. She also insisted I wear it always. Wearing it always was easy to do since, it was very light and the fine leather thong that secured it around my neck, had been bonded together and the only way I could remove it was by cutting it off.
I met the lady during
a school field trip to Kariba Dam, she was selling pricey but beautiful curios
and oddities at a market stall. I had desperately wanted to buy a souvenir but
I had nothing left to spare since I had bought a rare flower. A valentine gift
to bring my crush back at school.
“Mlilo, she must be something special” she remarked
I was momentarily caught off-guard as she had addressed me by my clan name, then I remembered I was wearing a name tag, all the students wore them. I smiled politely and shrugged.
“I last had someone give me a flower a lifetime ago” she said, as she sighed wistfully.
Again I shrugged as I turned to walk back to the school bus, I took a step then paused, a random voice in my heard whispered “Why not”
I faced her again and
without much in the way of ceremony placed the flower into her calloused hands.
“Danke” said thanking me in my mother language and proceeded to chant my clan praise which I am ashamed to admit I hardly knew, then added an unfamiliar blessing but it sounded like it roughly translated to “May your fire never go out in the storm”
That’s when she handed me the ivory pendant “For luck” she said.
I ran to catch up with
the other students going back to the bus which was already hooting as the
driver signaled we hurry up. I don’t remember what happened with the crush for
valentine but this was a high school crush, those came and went with school
terms. I totally forgot about the incident and never thought much about the
Years later, I still never thought of the Nyami Nyami even as I absentmindedly fingered the pendant around my neck wondering, why all of a sudden it was quiet and hot. The noisy desk fan had stopped rattling shakily about, the metal blades that threatened to pop off and decapitate the nearest person had stopped rotating, it did that sometimes for no reason, but this time it was because the power had gone out; again. The power utility company called it load shedding, when they scheduled electricity blackouts.
Of late, the electricity
was like an errant spouse, who left the house early in the morning while you
were sleeping and returned well after you had gone to bed. Today however this
was an unscheduled blackout, so picked up the mobile phone to call the fault
section. That’s when I noticed the mobile phone had no network I tried the landline
handset and it had no dialing tone either. For as a second, it felt like those
alien invasion type of movies, but then from watching Hollywood movies, aliens
never come to Africa.
I went to bed in darkness, it was a moonless night, the kinda that gives one night terrors, and I had strange troubled sleep. I dreamt of two ancient souls separated by a vast dam wall and connected by a deep empty yearning and a storm raged as one formed a fist and pounded the wall in frustration, thunder crashed as cracks appeared and darkness swallowed the world while the wall crumbled down. I woke up with a start, my hand clutched tightly around the Nyami Nyami pendant and the dying tremors of an earthquake; apparently we had just experienced a seismic event.
Later much later, I would learn that the power outage had hit both Zambia and Zimbabwe. The authorities would say that “an event” which had occurred at Kariba South Hydroelectric Station had triggered the total shutdown of electricity. They blamed the drought for low water levels, which caused low electricity generation and the crack in the wall was as a result of tremors caused by shifting tensions. Strangely enough, they were gathering local elders in both Zambia and Zimbabwe to do an appeasement ceremony so that it would rain, after all it would not hurt to practise our customs.
Something must have worked because eventually it rained, breaking the drought; although no official statement was ever given, repairs to the Kariba Dam had to be suspended for a year, in some circles the word is this is in deference to the wishes of the Nyami Nyami……
Some nights on a moonless night I have the stormy dream again, I see the lady who gave me the Nyami Nyami pendant, she still has the flower I gave her, pinned to her hair,
“Tell them to remember our story” she whispers and she dives into the churning water, as the crack in the dam wall widens and water spills out to swallow everything…
That’s when I wake up.
The above is a work of speculative fiction inspired by some true events. You could read more on the Nyami Nyami on this postZambezi River God
He rather liked his garden, it was calming, to sit in the leafy shade, watching the breeze sway tree branches, it was calming, in exactly the way a storm calmed just before. This, he imagined is how it must have felt for the pilots who flew high in the skies and had the vantage point to see the earth in all its glory and then drop nuclear bombs on it. The swaying branches dropped leaves as if in commiseration;
“Wounded by the wind the trees wept dead leaves”
Yes, a storm was coming and he was brewing it. He plugged in a pair of headphones, they fit snugly over his ears and music trickled into his head as if he had sub-woofers directly in his brain. Rock music no less, no wonder they called it the devil’s own, the beat seemed to invade your very chore and take over you. He closed his eyes and gave himself to the music, nodding to the infectious rhythm. Everybody wants to be a rock star, or at least live like one.
He must have dozed off, because when he opened his eyes the sun was much lower in the sky and the temperature had noticeably dropped. Were he a lesser mortal he would have shivered but he was cut from a different cloth, and there had been no left over fabric. It could be said they had broken the loom, and executed the seamstress after he had been sewn. He chuckled silently to himself as he visualized himself as an all-encompassing fabric cloaking the entire world in darkness. He had never been one to be moderate, he operated in the realm of the extreme, because otherwise what was the point.
He got up from his reverie and carelessly brushed away the leaves from his coat, with hands that left smudges of dirt; gardening was dirty business one really had to get down to earth and dig deep; from the dirt you were born to the dirt you will return, to bloom again. He looked at the freshly covered patches he had dug earlier, he had dug twelve, but two were still yet to be filled; he would leave it a task for another day. At this rate he would need a bigger backyard soon, he had already helped himself to his neighbour’s dog and garden plot, after all his neighbour no longer needed it. What’s his name, the neighbour, could not even remember his name, had been like that pesky ubiquitous mosquito, buzzing in your ear;
“Oh you want to sleep let me sing you a lullaby, oh, you want to just relax let me sing you a soothing symphony, are you just gazing at the moon, let me serenade you with the beautiful fruit of my vocals; Oh you are gardening let me____”
And that was how he had become the first to be planted, the first to sprout and soon he would be the first to bloom. That was the thing with mortals they were resilient, they bloomed where they were planted, even in the harshest environment you would find a plant blooming; defying all reason and logic; it was beautiful. Its pity a flower’s beauty is lost on it, it has no eyes, it cannot see itself and no one is kind enough to hold a mirror next to their favourite flowers, nothing blooms faster than a flower admired.
Mortals have such a toxic admiration they see a beautiful flower and they pluck it so they could admire it in a favourite vase and yet just succeed in watching it wither and die. Couldn’t they have just admired it from the garden, or a pot plant? Some things he could never understand, just like their need to possess things in order to be happy.
The possession he understood was of a different sort though, he had possessed a few souls careless enough to dabble in realms they did not understand. Would you reduce your lifespan for possessions and status? The answer should be a clear no, because life is precious, but believe it or not, quite the number are willing to trade their life for fortune and fame, to be rock stars.
He had recruited a number of people to help him distribute flyers for his business, he called himself; The Doctor.
The front part of his house had been converted into a waiting area like a doctor’s waiting room and there would be a receptionist soon, business was booming; he could not keep up with the increased volume of calls and consultations. His latest recruit X had been quite the catch, he was influential and came from a royal lineage, a shame they had paid more heed to wealth than to their heritage and now X was indebted to him; when he would have been one to save the world; he would help brew the storm that was coming. After the storm, all this world would be a beautiful garden once again like it had been, in the beginning.
Without realizing it he had walked round to the front of the house and was now gazing at the street, watching a young couple arms linked; walking past his gate, he marveled at the purity of young love, and was about to turn back and walk into his house; until that is, he noticed that the young man’s lady friend; in her left hand, she held a single red rose delicately by the stem…
He waved at them and cheerfully accosted the young lad;
“Hi there young man, what a rare beauty you have there; if you would like I can show you a flower that’s more worthy of her radiance, a purple rose, it’s in my garden…”
The young lad hesitated, although his lady had taken a step towards the gate.
“Oh do come in and I will even give you a vase for your rose you don’t want it wilting before you get home now do you?..”
He opened the gate for them and they hesitantly followed him down the path to the garden, again like sheep; to where two new garden patches lay; dug open____
That would make today 12, the magic number, a wizard’s dozen, not a bad day’s gardening……
He whistled to himself a nursery rhyme he once heard from an old friend;
Reaper Reaper Quite the creeper How does your garden grow?
With neighbors, strangers stopping by And pea pods all in a row
There’s a flower in my garden,
more special than a rose,
with sweet beauty it grows,
from where my happiness looms,
in the light of my smile it blooms,
breathtaking to see it from above,
entrancing like a waking dove,
wings of petals unfolding, rising in the warmth of my love,
in perfect blossom,
cheerful and buxom,
I am its Sun,
nourishing its growth,
appreciating its worth,
in a dreamy haze,
it basks in my rays,
delighting in the attention of my affection,
dancing to the breeze of my motion,
I blow it a gentle kiss to lightly caress each leaf,
shyly waves back at me with a touch of mischief,
a little gesture but enough,
to make me smile and laugh, my love my flower, my joy, the flower in my garden,
it may not be the most beautiful flower,
but it is mine to cherish and shower,
praises and treasure,
watching it grow in my garden,
if I am not near,
somewhere far not here,
dew shaped teardrops appear,
shedding a silent tear,
wilting with each passing moment of my absence,
only to be revitalised by my presence,
soòn as I lavish my attention,
melting away the tension,
the teardrops disappear just like dew vanishes in the morning light,
mist in the departing night,
leaving wet sparkling spots,
inkblots on colorful thoughts,
it seems to glow with a shimmering radiance,
scenting the air with a lingering radaiance,
its supple stem bends to the breeze
but never breaks ,
proudly holding up its petals in quiet dignity,
tribute to its gentle beauty,
I reach out and with caution,
hold it as i would a droplet from the ocean ,
the delicate stem rests snuggly in my hand in complete trust and abandon,
of the innocent maiden,
I could pluck it from the ground,
twist it around
or snap its stem just as a child can snap a blade of grass,
fragile like shard of glass,
without a thought,
but I would never do the sort,
to the treasure in my garden,
it grows just for me,
just as I live to see,
the color it adds to my life.