Sunteți pe pagina 1din 187

BESSIEHEAD

AQuestionofPower

BESSIEHEAD AQuestionofPower PENGUINBOOKS

PENGUINBOOKS

MessageFromChinuaAchebe

PartOne:Sello

PartTwo:Dan

Contents

MessageFromChinuaAchebe:

Africaisahugecontinentwithadiversityofculturesandlanguages.Africais

notsimple–oftenpeoplewanttosimplifyit,generaliseit,stereotypeitspeople,

butAfricaisverycomplex.TheworldisjuststartingtogettoknowAfrica.The

lastfivehundredyearsofEuropeancontactwithAfricaproducedabodyof

literaturethatpresentedAfricainaverybadlightandnowthetimehascomefor

Africanstotelltheirownstories.

ThePenguinAfricanWritersSerieswillbringanewenergytothepublication

ofAfricanliterature.PenguinBooks(SouthAfrica)iscommittedtopublishing

bothestablishedandnewvoicesfromallovertheAfricancontinenttoensure

Africanstoriesreachawiderglobalaudience.

ThisisreallywhatIpersonallywanttosee–writersfromalloverAfrica

contributingtoadefinitionofthemselves,writingourselvesandourstoriesinto

history.Oneofthegreatestthingsliteraturedoesisallowustoimagine;to

identifywithsituationsandpeoplewholiveincompletelydifferent

circumstances,incountriesallovertheworld.Throughthisseries,thecreative

explorationofthoseissuesandexperiencesthatareuniquetotheAfrican

consciousnesswillbegivenaplatform,notonlythroughoutAfrica,butalsoto

theworldbeyonditsshores.

Storytellingisacreativecomponentofhumanexperienceandinorderto

shareourexperienceswiththeworld,weasAfricansneedtorecognisethe

importanceofourownstories.Bystartingtheseriesonthesolidfoundations

laidbytherenownedHeinemannAfricanWritersSeries,Iamhonouredtojoin

Penguinininvitingyoungandupcomingwriterstoacceptthechallengepassed

downbycelebratedAfricanauthorsofearlierdecadesandtocontinueto

explore,confrontandquestiontherealitiesoflifeinAfricathroughtheirwork;

challengingAfrica’speopletolifthertoherrightfulplaceamongthenationsof

theworld.

challengingAfrica’speopletolifthertoherrightfulplaceamongthenationsof theworld.

For

RandolphVigneandChristineHawes

KenandMyrnaMackenzie

AndforBoseleSianana,

Withlove

OnlymancanfallfromGod

Onlyman.

Thatawfulandsickeningendless,sinking

sinkingthroughtheslow,corruptive

levelsofdisintegrativeknowledge…

theawfulkatabolismintotheabyss!

DHLAWRENCE:Fromapoem:‘God’

PARTONE

Sello

ItseemedalmostincidentalthathewasAfrican.Sovasthadhisinner

perceptionsgrownovertheyearsthathepreferredanidentificationwith

mankindtoanidentificationwithaparticularenvironment.Andyet,asan

African,heseemedtohavemadeoneofthemostperfectstatements:‘Iamjust

anyone.’Itwasasthoughhissoulwasajigsaw;onemorepiecebeingputinto

place.Howoftenwasalearnerdependentonhissocietyforhissoul-evolution?

Butthenhowoftenwasasocietyatfaultandconclusionsweredrawn,attheend

ofeachlifeinoppositiontosocialtrends.Itwasn’tasthoughhissocietywere

noteviltoo,butnowhereelsecouldhehaveacquiredthekindofhumilitythat

madehimfeel,within,totallyunimportant,totallyfreefromhisownpersonal

poisons–prideandarroganceandegoismofthesoul.Ithadalwaysbeenlike

this,forhim–ahungerafterthethingsofthesoul,inwhichother

preoccupationsweresubmerged;theywereintuitionsmostlyofwhatisright,but

theconfirmationwassostrongthistimethataquietandpermanentjoyfilledhis

heart.Amanmightlaughatintensesufferingonlyiftheevilthattorturedhim

becameirrelevantandifobsessivelove,whichwasalsooneofhisevils,became

irrelevanttoo.Hadit?Again,hecouldonlyapplyintuition.Everythingfeltright

withhim.Abarrierofsolitudeandbleak,aridbarrennessofsoulhadbroken

down.Helovedeachparticleoftheeartharoundhim,theeverydayeventof

sunrise,thepeopleandtheanimalsofthevillageofMotabeng;perhapshislove

includedthewholeuniverse.Hesaidtohimselfthatevening:‘Imighthavedied

beforeIfoundthisfreedomofheart.’Thatwasanotherperfectstatement,tohim

–lovewasfreedomofheart.

Theman’snamewasSello.AwomaninthevillageofMotabengparalleled

hisinnerdevelopment.MostofwhatappliedtoSelloappliedtoher,because

theyweretwinsoulswithcloselylinkeddestiniesandthesamecapacityto

submergeotherpreoccupationsinapursuitafterthethingsofthesoul.Itwasan

insanepursuitthistime.Itdidnotbearcomparingwiththeloftystatementsof

mankind’sgreatteachers.Hiddeninalltheirrealizationswereindistinct

statementsaboutevil.Theyneverpersonifiedit,invividdetail,within

themselves.Whattheydidsay,vaguely,wasthatitwasadvisabletoovercome

one’spassionsasthesourceofallevil.Itwashardertodisclosethesubtle

balancesofpowersbetweenpeople–howeasyitwasforpeoplewithsoft

shuffling,looselyknitpersonalitiestobepreyeduponbydominant,powerful

persons.Thewomanhadfirstpossessedthearroganceofinnocence,andhad

grownoveraperiodoffouryearstodespisethemanSello.Hehadfreely

disclosedsomeunpleasantandhorrificdetailsabouthisinnerlife,which

damnedhimasamonumentalsinnerinhereyes.Butonceherrelationshipwith

theman,DanMolomo,couldbelookedatwithclear,hardeyes,shehadagain

turnedtoSelloandheldoutherhandsandsaid:‘Thankyou!OhGod,thankyou

fortheleveroutofhell!’Hehadsaidsomethinginreplylike:‘Yousee,youare

justthesame.’Itseemedasthough,now,shespenthoursandhoursundoingthe

linksthatboundhertoDan,whereasatonetimeithadbeenafierce,forever

relationshipwithwonderfulmusicandfantasticthrillsandsensations.IfDan

hadn’tbeensuchahardspitter(hespatwithgloriouscontemptatthingshe

dominated)shemighthavepermanentlymadeexcusesfortheothersideofhis

song.Asitwas,shesaid:‘ImighthavediedundertheillusionthatIlovedhim.’

Thewoman’snamewasElizabeth.UnlikeSelloandElizabeth,themanDan

didnotholdconversationswithdeath.Onlyhedidnotlooksoprettythesedays,

andhewasanextremelyprettyman.Itwasarguablewhomhewantedtodestroy

most,ElizabethorSello.Thethreeofthemhadsharedthestrangejourneyinto

hellandkeptcloseemotionaltabsoneachother.Thereseemedtobeamutual

agreementinthebeginningthatanexaminationofinnerhellswasmeanttoend

allhellsforever.ThepivotoftheexaminationwasElizabeth.Bothmenflung

unpleasantdetailsatherinsustainedferocity.Shehadnotimetoexamineher

ownhell.Suddenly,inonesharp,shortleaptofreedom,shecalleditDan.He

wastakenoffguard.Hehadbeenstandinginfrontofher,hispantsdown,as

usual,flayinghispowerfulpenisintheairandsaying:‘Look,I’mgoingtoshow

youhowIsleepwithB…ShehasawombIcan’tforget.WhenIgowitha

womanIgoforonehour.Youcan’tdothat.Youhaven’tgotavagina…’He

wasgoingonlikethatwhenshehadlanded,afterfouryearsofit,onunvolcanic

ground.Shewasshakingherheadslowly,befuddledbythetabletsprescribedfor

amentalbreakdown,whensuddenlySellosaidsomething:‘Loveisn’tlikethat.

Loveistwopeoplemutuallyfeedingeachother,notonelivingonthesoulof

another,likeaghoul.’Thesewerethefirstwordsthatsankintoherpain-torn

consciousnessafteralongintervalofcontemptuoushatredofSello.Firstshe

repeatedthewordsoverandover.Next,shethrewthetabletsoutofthewindow.

Intheearlymorning,shespeddownadustyroad,greetinganypasser-bywithan

exuberantshoutofjoy.Soinfectiouswasherhappinessthattheyrespondedwith

spontaneoussmiles.Thepanic-strickenDanpulleduphispantstoolate.Hesaid:

‘Look,I’muplifted,I’mchanged.’Shenolongerheard.

WhenElizabethlookedbackshecouldseethatthewholestoryhadits

beginningswithSello.Thecourseanddirectionofitdidnotremaininhishands

forlong.ItwastakenoverbyDan,firstasasubtle,unseenshadowinthe

background,laterasawilddisplayofwreckageanddestruction.Admittedly,it

hadtakenherayearofslow,painfulthoughttosayattheendofit:‘Phew!What

aloadofrubbish!’Danunderstoodthemechanicsofpower.Fromhisgestures,

heclearlythoughthehadawiltingpuppetinhishands.Oncesureofthat,he

nevercaredadamnwhathethoughtanddid.Wasitadeliberaterusetoarouse

himtoatotalexposure?Becauseaftershecamebackfromthementalhospital

hedroppedanyposehehadformallyhadofthegreatromanticloverand

protector,andsaid:‘Youarenowgoingtohaveeightloveaffairs.Youaregoing

tobesolooseyourlegsaregoingtogolikethis.’Andhemovedhislarge,

splayinghandswithlewdgesturesinherface.Nothinghappened.Hetried

anotherprophecy:‘Youaregoingtocommitsuicideataquartertoone

tomorrow.’Shenearlydid,exceptthatasmallboyhadaskedhertobuyhima

footballandhecamedowntheroadwithagangofeagerfriends.Theysetupa

footballpitchoutsidethehouse.Hersonwassoeagertoimpresseveryonethat

hekeptkickingthefootballtoohighintheairandfallingflatonhisback.She

spentthewholeafternoonatthewindowwatchinghim,hewassocomical.So

Dantriedanotherprophecy.Hesaid:‘Ihavethepowertotakethelifeofyour

son.Hewillbedeadintwodays.’Thenextmorninghersonawokewithahigh

fever.Panicstricken,sherushedhimtohospital.Thedoctorsaid:‘Oh,he’llbe

allrightinafewdays.You’llbemorecarefulinfutureaboutthesoreshegets

whenhefallsdown.Theoneonhiskneehasfesteredbadlyandisthecauseof

thefever.’Thepropheciesbecameworseandworse.Nakedwomenwere

prancingwildlyinfrontofherandtherewasDan,gyratinghisawfulpenislike

mad.Sheswallowedsixbottlesofbeerandsixsleepingtabletstoinducea

blackout.Shehadaclearsensationoflivingrightinsideastinkingtoilet;she

wassobroken,soshattered;shehadn’teventheenergytoraiseonehand.How

hadshefalleninthere?Howhadshefallensolow?Itwasastatebelowanimal,

belowlivingandsodarkandforlornnolonelinessandmiserycouldbeits

equivalent.Shehalfraisedherselffromthebed,intendingtomakeacupoftea,

whenSellosaidquiteloudly:‘I’veneverseensuchsavagecruelty.’Sheturned

herheadtowardsthechairwherehehadalwayssat,wasitthreeyearsorfour

years,aghostly,persistentcommentatoronallherthoughts,perceptionsand

experiences.Thenheadded:‘Loveisn’tlikethat.Loveistwopeoplemutually

feedingeachother…’

Thenightmarewasover.Danwasnotover.Hehadnotyettoldthewholeof

mankindabouthisambitions,likeHitlerandNapoleon,toruletheworld.Hehad

toldhalfthestorytoElizabeth.Butwhowasshe?Againsheturnedforher

answerstoSello.Shewouldneverhaveearnedasecondglancefromamanlike

Dan.Shewasnothistype–MissGlamour,MissBeautyQueen,MissLegs,

MissButtockshesaidtherewereseventy-oneofthem–wereallhis.What

concernedherwasSelloandhisrelationshiptoSello.ItwasSelloandwhathe

sawinpeople.First,hehadintroducedhisownsoul,sosoftlylikeaheavenof

completenessandperfection.Elizabethhadputtentativequestionstomany

people,testinghersanityagainsttheirs.

‘WhatwouldyoudoonedayifyousawsomeonewholookedlikeGod?’she

hadasked.

‘Oh,’thepersonshespoketohadreplied.‘Ishouldlovetheperson,butthe

lovewouldbeofaspecialquality.’

‘Soyouthinkit’squiteallrighttostartanargumentfromGoddownwards?’

sheasked.

‘Ofcourseyoucan,’hesaid,smiling.

Ofcourseyoucan,he’dsaid.HewasayoungIVSvolunteerfromEngland.

HewasnotAfrican,andanargumenthadbeenworkedout,inElizabeth’smind,

inanentirelyAfricanway.PerhapsinIndiatheywouldhavestartedthe

argumentfromtheSupermanandhisaccompanimentofprophecies.Nothing

elseneedbesaid.Infact,theymightevenbehostiletoanycriticismsoftheir

godsorSupermen.IftherehadbeenaSelloinIndia,wouldthepoorofIndia

havehadthecouragetochallengehim?TypeslikeSellowerealwaysBrahmins

orRamathere.

Onemightproposeanargumentthen,withthebarriersofthenormal,

conventionalandsaneallbrokendown,likeaswimmertakingaroughjourney

onwildseas.ItwasinBotswanawhere,mentally,thenormalandtheabnormal

blendedcompletelyinElizabeth’smind.Itwasmanageabletoacertainpoint

becauseofElizabeth’sbackgroundandthefreedomandflexibilitywithwhich

shehadbroughtherselfup.Wasthestoryofhermothersheeraccidentor

design?Itseemedtoaddtohertemperamentandcapacitytoendurethe

excruciating.Theyhadkeptthestoryofherrealmothershroudedinsecrecy

untilshewasthirteen.Shehadlovedanotherwomanashermother,whowas

alsopartAfrican,partEnglish,likeElizabeth.Shehadbeenpaidtocarefor

Elizabeth,butonthedeathofherhusbandsheresortedtosellingbeerasameans

oflivelihood.Itwasduringthewar,andthebeer-housemainlycateredfor

soldiersoffduty.Theycamealongwiththeirprostitutesandtherewasanawful

roarandcommotiongoingonallday.ThoughElizabethlovedthewoman,she

wassecretlyrelivedtobetakenawayfromthebeer-houseandsenttoamission

school,ashoursandhoursofherchildhoodhadbeenspentsittingunderalamp-

postnearherhouse,cryingbecauseeveryonewasdrunkandtherewasnofood,

noonetothinkaboutchildren.

Theprincipalofthemissionwasatall,thin,gaunt,incrediblecruelwoman.

Shewasthelast,possibly,ofthekindwhohadheard‘thecall’fromJesusand

comeouttosavetheheathen.Theircallsseemedtomakethembitterattheend

ofit,andtheirprofessedloveforJesusneverawakenedloveandcompassionin

theirhearts.AssoonasElizabetharrivedatthemissionschool,shewascalledto

onesidebytheprincipalandgiventhemostastoundinginformation.Shesaid:

‘Wehaveafulldocketonyou.Youmustbeverycareful.Yourmotherwas

insane.Ifyou’renotcarefulyou’llgetinsanejustlikeyourmother.Yourmother

wasawhitewoman.Theyhadtolockherup,asshewashavingachildbythe

stableboy,whowasanative.’

Elizabethstartedtocry,throughsheernervousshock.Thedetailsoflifeand

oppressioninSouthAfricahadhardlytakenforminhermind.Theinformation

wasalmostmeaninglesstoher.Shehadalwaysthoughtofherselfasthechildof

thewomanwhohadbeenpaidtocareforher.Seeinghertears,thegaunt

missionaryunbentalittle,inherversionoftenderness.

‘Therenow,’shesaid.‘Don’tcry.Yourmotherwasagoodwomanwho

thoughtaboutyou.’Shestoppedandrummagedamongthepapers.Thenread:

‘Pleasesetasidesomemoneyformychild’seducation…’

ItwasaletterwrittenbyElizabeth’smotherfromamentalhospitalinSouth

Africa.Still,shecouldnotrelateittoherselfinanyway.Shereallybelonged

emotionallytoherfoster-mother,andthestorywasanimpositiononherlife.

Notsoforthemissionary.ShelivedonthealertforElizabeth’sinsanity.Once

Elizabethstruckachildduringaquarrel,andthemissionaryordered:

‘Isolateherfromtheotherchildrenforaweek.’

TheotherchildrensoonnoticedsomethingunusualaboutElizabeth’sisolation

periods.Theycouldfightandscratchandbiteeachother,butifshedidlikewise

shewaslockedup.Theytooktokickingatherwithdeliberatemaliceasshesat

inacornerreadingabook.Noneoftheprefectswouldlistentohersideofthe

story.

‘Comeon,’theysaid.‘Theprincipalsaidyoumustbelockedup.’

Atthetime,shehadmerelyhatedtheprincipalwithablack,deepbitterrage.

Butlater,whenshebecameawareofsubconsciousappealstosharelove,to

sharesuffering,shewonderedifthepersecutionhadbeensomuchtheoutcome

oftheprincipal’stwistedversionoflifeasthesilentappealofherdeadmother:

‘Nowyouknow.DoyouthinkIcanbearthestigmaofinsanityalone?Shareit

withme.’

Sevenyearslater,whenshehadbecomeaprimary-schoolteacher,she

returnedtothesmalltownwhereherfoster-motherlivedandsaid:‘Tellme

aboutmymother.’

Thefoster-motherlookedatElizabethforsometime,andthenabruptlyburst

intotears.

‘It’ssuchasadstory,’shesaid.‘Itcausedsomuchtroubleandthefamilywas

frightenedbythebehaviourofthegrandmother.Myhusbandworkedonthe

childwelfarecommittee,andyourcasecameupagainandagain.Firstthey

receivedyoufromthementalhospitalandsentyoutoanursinghome.Aday

lateryouwerereturnedbecauseyoudidnotlookwhite.TheysentyoutoaBoer

family.Aweeklateryouwerereturned.Thewomenonthecommitteesaid:

“Whatcanwedowiththischild?It’smotheriswhite.”Myhusbandcamehome

thatnightandaskedmetotakeyou.Iagreed.Thenextthingwas,thefamily

camedowninacarfromJohannesburgonthewaytotheracecourseinDurban.

Thebrotherofyourmothercamein.Hewasveryangryandsaid:“Wewantto

washourhandsofthisbusiness.Wewanttoforgetit,buttheoldladyinsistson

seeingthechild.Wehadtopleaseher.Wearegoingtoleaveherhereforawhile

andpickheruplater.”Theoldladycamedowneverytimetheyenteredhorsesin

theraces.Shewastheonlyonewhowantedtoseeyourmotherandyou.When

youweresixyearsoldweheardthatyourmotherhadsuddenlykilledherselfin

amentalhome.Thegrandmotherbroughtallhertoysanddollstoyou.’

Itwassuchabeautifulstory,thestoryofthegrandmother,herdefiance,her

insistenceonfilialtiesinacountrywherepeoplewerenotpeopleatall.Thelast

thingElizabethdidinthatsmalltownwhereshehadbeenbornwastowalkto

thementalhospitalandstareatit.Therewasaveryhighwallsurroundingthe

building,andtheatmospherewassosilentthattherehardlyseemedtobepeople

alivebehindit.PeoplehadnamedthebuildingtheRedHousebecauseitsroof

waspaintedred.Asasmallchildshehadoftenwalkedpastit.Itwasonthe

sameroadthatledtothebirdsanctuary,thefavouriteplaygroundofallthe

childrenofthetown.Sherememberedsaying:‘NowwearepassingtheRed

House,’neverdreamingthatherownlifewassocloselylinkedtoitslife.She

seemedtohavethatelementofthesudden,thestartling,theexplosivedetailin

herdestinyand,foralongtime,anaboundingsenseofhumourtogowithit.

ForafewyearsshequietlylivedontheedgeofSouthAfrica’slife.Itwas

interesting.ShespentsometimelivingwithAsianfamilies,whereshelearned

aboutIndiaanditsphilosophies,andsometimewithaGermanwomanfrom

whomshelearnedaboutHitlerandtheJewsandtheSecondWorldWar.Ayear

beforehermarriageshetentativelyjoinedapoliticalparty.Itwasbannedtwo

dayslater,andinthestateofemergencythatwasdeclaredshewassearched

alongwiththousandsofotherpeople,brieflyarrestedforhavingaletterabout

thebannedpartyinherhandbag,andinvolvedinacourtcasethatbewilderedthe

judge:‘Whydidyoubringthislettertocourt?’hesaidseverelytothepoliceman

inchargeofthecase.‘Can’tyoureadEnglish?Thetwopeopleinvolvedinthe

writingofthisletterareextremelycriticalofthebehaviourofpeoplebelonging

tothebannedparty.Theyarenotfurtheringtheaimsofcommunism.’Itmight

havebeenthecourtcasewhicheventuallymadeherastatelesspersonin

Botswana.

Shemarriedagangsterjustoutofjail.Hesaidhehadthoughtdeeplyabout

lifewhileinprison.Whatreallymadehertalktohimwasthathesaidhewas

interestedinBuddhism,andsheknewalittleaboutitfromherfriendshipswith

Asianpeople.Itseemedperfectlyallright,aweeklater,tomarrysomeone

interestedinphilosophies,especiallythoseofIndia.Amonthlateranext-door

neighbourapproachedherandsaid:‘Youhaveastrangehusband.Susiewas

standingoutsidethedoorandcalledtohim.Hewalkedstraightinandtheywent

tobed.He’sbeendoingthisnearlyeverydaywithSusie.Ioncegreetedhimand

hesaid:“Howaboutakiss?”AndIsaid:“Buggeroff.”Whatmadeyoumarry

thatthing?’

Womenarealwayscomplainingofbeingmolestedbyherhusband.Thenthere

wasalsoawhitemanwhowashisboyfriend.Afterayearshepickedupthe

smallboyandwalkedoutofthehouse,nevertoreturn.Shereadanewspaper

advertisementaboutteachersbeingneededinBotswana.Shewasforcedtotake

outanexitpermit,which,likehermarriage,heldthe‘neverreturn’clause.She

didnotcare.Shehatedthecountry.Inspiteofherinabilitytolikeorto

understandpoliticalideologies,shehadalsolivedtheback-breakinglifeofall

blackpeopleinSouthAfrica.Itwaslikelivingwithpermanentnervoustension,

becauseyoudidnotknowwhywhitepeopletherehadtogooutoftheirwayto

hateyouortoloatheyou.Theywerejustbornthatway,hatingpeople,anda

blackmanorwomanwasjustborntobehated.Therewasn’tanykindofsocial

evolutionbeyondthat,therewasn’tanylifttotheheart,justthisvehement

viciousstrugglebetweentwosetsofpeoplewithdifferentlooks;and,likeDan’s

brandoftorture,itwassomethingthatcouldgoonandonandon.Onceyou

staredtheimportantpower-maniacinthefaceyousawthatheneversawpeople,

humanity,compassion,tenderness.Itwasasthoughhehadatotalblankspotand

sawonlyhisownpower,hisinfluence,hisself.Itwasnotacreativefunction.It

wasdeath.Whatdidtheygain,thepowerpeople,whiletheylivedoffother

people’ssoulslikevultures?Didtheyseemtothemselvestobemostsupreme,

mostGod-like,mostwonderful,mostcherished?Elizabethfeltthatsomeofthe

answerslayinherexperiencesinBotswana.Thattheywereuncoveredthrough

anentirelyabnormalrelationshipwithtwomenmightnotbesomuchduetoher

dubioussanityastothestrangenessofthementhemselves.

Motabengmeanstheplaceofsand.Itwasavillageremotelyinland,perched

ontheedgeoftheKalahariDesert.Seemingly,theonlyreasonforpeople’s

settlementtherewasagoodsupplyofundergroundwater.Ittookastranger

sometimetofallinlovewithitsharshoutlinesandstark,blacktrees.Afellow-

passengeronthetraintoBotswanahadlaughinglyremarked:‘You’regoingto

Motabeng?It’sjustagreatbigvillageofmudhuts!’Thepreponderanceofmud

hutswiththeirsemi-greyroofsofgrassthatchinggaveitanashenlookduring

thedryseason.Duringtherainyseason,Motabengwassubjectedtoatypeof

desertrain.Itrainedinthesky,inlongstreakysheets,buttheraindriedup

beforeitreachedtheground.Peopleturnedtheirnosestowardsthewindand

sniffedtherain,butitwassooftennotlikelytoraininMotabeng.Elizabeth

privatelyrenamedit.TheVillageoftheRain-Wind,afterapoemshehadread

somewhere.Therhythmsofitslifewereslowpaced,likethequietstirringof

cattleturningpatient,thoughtlesseyesonanewday.ItseemedtoElizabeththat

ittookpeoplehalfanhourtogreeteachothereachday.Ittooksolong,they

said,becauseMotabengwasavillageofrelativeswhomarriedrelatives,and

nearlyeveryonehadaboutsixhundredrelatives.Elizabethhadatypicalgreeting

translatedforheronherarrival.Itwentlikethis:

‘Goodday,Mother.’

‘Goodday,Mother.’

‘Howareyou?’

‘Iamwell.Howareyou?’

‘Iamwell.’

(Herefollowsabriefpausetocatchthebreath.Everyoneknowsthisisnotthe

endofthestory.)

‘Thegrandmother’sthirddaughterisillinhospital.’

‘Goodnessme,areyouonyourwaythere?’

‘Yes.Theuncle’sforthcousinismarryingthepaternaluncle’sfifthdaughter.’

‘Dearme.WillIsmellsomeoftheweddingfood?’

‘That’sjustthetrouble.Thepaternaluncle’sfifthdaughtersaysyouwon’t

smellitbecauseyouneverinvitedhertoyourchild’swedding.Myfriend,Idid

notlikeherspeech…’

Well,itcouldgoonandonlikethis.PeopleoftenlookedatElizabethwitha

cheatedair.ShehadbeentaughtthegreetinginSetswanauptothefirstfivelines

andhadnodelicioustidbitsofgossiptooffer.Apersonwouldactuallyputout

herhandtostayher:‘Waitabit.Whereareyouhurryingto?’Itwassototally

new,soinconceivable;theextremeoppositeof‘Hey,Kaffir,getoutoftheway,’

thesortofgreetingoneusuallywasgiveninSouthAfrica.Surelytherewasa

flowoffeelingherefrompeopletopeople?Shemadeherhomeatfirstinthe

centralpartofaparticularvillageward.Theywereallrelatives,andshewas

amazedtouncoverapermanentadultgamethatshouldreallyhavebeen

relegatedtochildren:‘I’llbewitchyouandyou’llbewitchme.’Ateacher

explainedittoherthus:supposesomeonehatedhim.Thatpersonwouldcreep

intohisyardatnightandplaceabunchofdriedleaves,doctoredbya

witchdoctor,infrontofhisdoor.Beingeducated,hewouldmerelypickupthe

bunchofleavesandthrowthemaway.Buttheordinaryvillagerwouldstraight

awaymakeofftothewitchdoctorforacounter-medicine.Thereweresofew

secretsinthesociety–theguiltypartyalwaystoldsomeone–thatrevengewas

swift.Andyetpeopleseemedtosurviveallthoseleavesoutsidetheirdoor,but

notmalnutritionandotherailments.Assoonasthesestruck,theyremembered

thewitchery.ThisseemedtoElizabeththeonlysavagelycruelsidetoan

otherwisebeautifulsociety.Theywereterrortacticspeopleusedagainsteach

other.Suchaterrorwastofillhermindatalaterstagethatshewouldlookback

ontheearlypartofherlifeinBotswanaandthinkthatthepersonalitywhoheld

herlifeinadeath-gripmustreallybethemasterofpsychologybehind

witchcraft.

ItwasbarelythreemonthsafterherarrivalinthevillageofMotabengwhen

herlifebegantopitchoverfromanevenkeel,anditremainedfromthen

onwardsatapitched-overangle.Atfirst,shefoundthepitch-blackdarknessof

theMotabengnightterrifying.Shehadalwayslivedinatown,withastreetlight

shiningoutsidethewindow,sothefirstthingshehastenedtobuywasachairon

whichtoplaceacandle,besideherbed.Shekeptthecandleburningrightupto

thepointwhenshefeltdrowsy,thenblewitout.Oftenshefellasleepwiththe

candlestillalight.Thechair,abedandasmalltableweretheonlypiecesof

furnitureshehadinherhut.Afterawhileshebecamemoreaccustomedtothe

extremedarkandquiteenjoyedblowingoutthelightandbeingswallowedupby

thebillowingdarkness.Onenightshehadjustblownoutthelightwhenshehad

thesuddenfeelingthatsomeonehadenteredtheroom.Thefullimpactofit

seemedtocomefromtheroof,andwassostrongthatshejerkedupinbed.

Therewasaswiftflowofairthroughtheroom,andwhateveritwasmovedand

satdownonthechair.Thechaircreakedslightly.Alarmed,sheswungaround

andlitthecandle.Thechairwasempty.Shehadneverseenaghostinherlife.

Shewasnotgivento‘seeing’things.Theworldhadalwaysbeentwo-

dimensional,flatandstraightwiththingsshecouldseeandfeel.

Thisrecurredforseveralnights,andshesimplyreasonedthatwhateveritwas,

wasnotadangertoherlife.Letitsitifitwantedto.Oh,no;whateveritwas

wantedtointroduceitselfatsomestage,becauseonenightshewaslyingstaring

atthedarkwhenitseemedasthoughherheadsimplyfilledoutintoalarge

horizon.Itgaveherastrangefeelingofthingsbeingthererightinsideherand

yetprojectedatthesametimeadistanceawayfromher.Shewasnotsureifshe

wereawakeorasleep,andoftenafterthatthedividinglinebetweendream

perceptionsandwakingrealitywastobecomeconfused.

Theformofamantotallyfilledthelargehorizoninfrontofher.Hewas

sittingsideways.Hehadanalmightyairofcalmandassuranceabouthim.He

worethesoft,white,flowingrobesforamonk,butinapeculiarfashion,withhis

shouldersslightlyhunchedforward,asthoughitwereaprisongarment.He

staredstraightatElizabethinafriendlywayandsaid,inavoiceofquiet

affection:‘Myfriend.’

Shestaredback,notreplying.Thenhesaid:‘Willyoustayhereforsome

time?’

Asortofterrorgrippedherchest.Thewordswerealmostjerkedoutofher

mouth:‘No,’shesaid.‘I’mgoingtodiequitesoon.’Hekeptquiet,exceptthat

hislookchangedfromfriendlinesstoseriousness.Anameforthemonkhad

instinctivelyformeditselfinhermind.Hewas…Hewas…Butitwastoo

impossible.Awaveofpanicmadeherflingherarmsintotheairandtakeagreat

leapoutofthebed.Shepacedthefloorforawhile,violentlyagitated.The

abruptencounter,thestrangenessofhisquestionandtheequalstrangenessofher

unpremeditatedreplythrewhermindintoturmoil.Helookedlikeamanshehad

seenaboutthevillageofMotabengwhodroveagreentruck,butthenameshe

associatedinhermindwiththemonk-robedmanwasthatofanalmost

universallyadoredGod.Thennothingelseseemedabouttohappen,andshe

eventuallycalmeddownandwenttosleep.Shewastofindoutthatsomething

wouldstartleherlikethisandquietendowntoanapparentnormality,onlyto

findthatshehadreallybeenshakenupintoacceptinganentirelyunnatural

situationandadaptingitintotheflowofherlife.Therewasonlyonewayto

explainit.Theprincipalofaschoolhadateacheronhisstaffwhowasfondof

brandy.Hetookabottleofbrandyintothetoilet,intendingtohaveafewsips.

Well,hekeptontakingafewsipsandpeepingaroundthedoortospyoutthe

whereaboutsoftheprincipal.Soonhebecamequitedrunkandreversedthe

activity.He’dopenthedoor,takeafewsips,closethedoorandlookforthe

principalinthetoilet.Muchthesameappliedtoher.Shebeganbywakingupon

thetail-endofabsorbingconversationswiththewhiterobedmonkwhosaton

thechairbesidethebed,anditwasn’tlongbeforethediscussionsbecameafull

timeactivity.Thefaintsilvery-whiteoutlineofhisrobeandhisfacewereclearly

discernabletoheratalltimes,andsooverpoweringwastheexperienceatfirst

thatintheearlymorning,asshepouredoutacupoftea,shewouldpoura

secondcupandabsent-mindedlywalktowardsthechairandsay:‘Here’sacup

ofteaforyou,’andthenjoltbacktoreality,shakingherhead:‘Agh,Imustbe

mad!That’sjustanintangibleform.’

Yethewassovividlyalive!Itseemedalsoasthoughhehadcometostay.

Nothingfascinatedhermorethanhisinterestinandaffectionforpeople.Every

visitortoherhutearnedsomecomment.Itwasmoreoften:‘She’salovely

woman,isn’tshe?’or,‘Ilikehimforhisstrangeways,’andveryrarely:‘Idon’t

likehim,he’stoosmallminded.’Heneverhesitatedtoparticipateinevery

discussion,commentingaside,and,especiallywhensomethingpleasedhim,

noddinghishead.Elizabethwasavolubletalkerwhogesticulatedwildlywhen

shetalked.Ifsomeideaexcitedher,she’dspringtoherfeetandwaveherarms

about.She’doftenswingaroundtothechairandpointdirectlyatit,talkingall

thetimeandvigorouslyincludingitsoccupant.Shealwayssaid:‘Don’tsiton

thatchair.Ithasaslopethathurtstheback.Haveaseatonthebed.’Ifshewere

sounfortunateastoforgetandtotallyexcludetheoccupantofthechairfromthe

chatter,itwouldsoundoffwithaloud‘ting’.The‘ting’wentofftoowhen

particularlygoodpointshadbeenmade.Nooneeverseemedtonoticethe

clamourofthesidediscussion,except,ononeoccasion,ayoungPeace-Corps

volunteerfromAmerica,namedTom.(MotabengvillagewasfullofIVSand

PeaceCorps,astheyformedalmosttheentirestaffoftheMotabengSecondary

School.)Tomhadbeenapermanentfixtureinherlifesincethefirstdaythey’d

met.Theysoonbeganimaginingtheyweresolvingalltheproblemsofthe

universetogether,anditwastheirhabittositforhours,headsbent,working

awayatdeepphilosophicalproblems.ShewaslatertodependonTomheavily

forthereturnofhersanity,butthatnight,justashewasabouttoleave,he

laughedandturnedtowardsherandsaid:‘You’reastrangewoman,Elizabeth.

Thethingsyoudrawoutofaman!Youknow,mendon’treallydiscussthedeep

metaphysicalprofunditieswithwomen.Oh,theytalkaboutloveandthingslike

that,buttheirdeepestfeelingstheyreserveforothermen.’

AndSellosaid:‘Yes,that’sright,’andoffwentthechairwithaloud‘ting’.

Tomstaredandlookedabouttheroomwithwide,alerteyes.‘Didyouhear

something?’hesaidquickly.‘Idistinctlyheardsomeonesay“Yes,that’sright,”’

andhekeptverystill,hiseyesrovingcuriouslyaroundtheroom.Elizabethkept

veryquiet,too,incapableofexplainingthemadstateofaffairsinherhouse.

SuddenlyTomsaid:‘Hell,I’mtired,’andstoodupandwalkedout.Heleftan

echobehindhim–‘buttheirdeepestfeelingstheyreserveforothermen.’Why,

yes,shethought,thatwastheonlyreasonableexplanationoftherelationship

betweenSelloandher.Thebaseofitwasmasculine.Rightfromthestart,Sello

hadtheairofonewhowassimplypickingupthethreadsofalongfriendship

thathadbeenbrieflyinterruptedatsomestage.Itwasasifhewassaying:‘Do

yourecallthisoccasionwhenwemetandworkedtogether?’becausea

spectaculararrayofpersonalitiesmovedtowardsher,crowdedwithmemoriesof

thepast.TheywereallSelloinhiswork,astheprophetofmankind.Sheseemed tohavenodistinctfaceofherown,herfacealwaysturnedtowardsSello,whom shehadadored.Atleast,thatwasherstandinthefewperceptionswhich awakenedinher.SheseemedtohaveonlybeenasideattachmenttoSello.The nearestexampleshecouldgivetoit,wasthatofateacherandhisfavourite disciple,suchasmanyreligiousmenhadhad.Thereweresomanyimpressions ofSelloasthisreligiousmanthatshehadafeelingthathewassomewhatofa gymnastconcerningthesethings,thathispastlifehadpervadedthewhole world.Thebestwayshecouldpresentherargumentwasthis:sayEinstein,for instance,had,atsomedimbeginningofhissoul,decidedthatsciencewasthe bestprofessionforhim.Andoverthecenturies,throughoutallhisincarnations, hehadworkedatscience,tillhebecameexpertinhischosenfield.Thenthe sameprocessappliedtoSello.Hehadchosenreligion.Itprovidedaswell,a tentativesolutionforthepropheciesthatappearedtohaveaccompaniedhim, evenhere. AsDanwaslatertosaytoher:‘Henevergetsbornwithouttheprophecies. Theyincludedyoutoo.’Maybeshehadmadetoocloseanidentificationwith Selloforherowncomfortandsafety.Maybehewasusedtoallthehazardsthat gowiththeseproclamations;becausethefearfulthingwasthatDanhaddecided thathewasamuchbettermanageroftheuniversethanSello.Whatwaseating himwasthatnoprophecieshadprecededhim;andyetinsomewayhehad

gaineddirectorshipoftheuniversein1910.Hehadastaccatowayofputtingit:

‘Directorshipsince1910.’Hehadthepropheciesonhismindlikeamania,and

Elizabethcouldseethathismainintentwastomakethembackfireormakethem

thejokeofthecountry.HecaughtontotheideaofusingElizabethashistrigger

forblowingthemup,andoncehewassurethatshehatedSellohekepton

saying:‘He’sshakenup.Thepropheciesaren’tcomingtrue.’

Shecouldsee,atsomestage,allthepropheciesblowinguphighintotheair,

butwhatshecouldnotforeseewasthesubtlewayDanwasabouttoblowherup

withthemtoo.Shelivedsuchanabsentmindedlifeandhadsuchablindspotin

mattersofpublicorsocialawarenessthatittooktimetopiecethefragmentsof

informationtogether,insomecoherentform.Definitely,asfarasBotswana

societywasconcerned,shewasanout-and-outoutsiderandwouldneverbein

ontheirthings.Shehadtolookbackandsaytoherself:‘Hey,nowwhydidthey

saythat,andwhydidtheydothat?’

Because,onlookingback,sherememberedadaywhenthewholepopulation

ofMotabengturnedaroundandlookedather,quietly,withvaguecuriosity,

almostdisinterestedly:‘Well,now,something’sbeensaid.Letusexaminethis

cow.’Afewoftheboldertypesofvillagerssteppedforward,withcompressed

lips,andposedafewbluntquestions.Theyusuallydiditwhenshewasstanding

idleatthepostoffice,waitingforthemailtobesorted.Ayoungwomansaidto

heratthistime:‘Peopleherearewaitingforsomething,’smiled,bentherhead

andadded:‘Wouldyouliketobeanimportantperson?’

Sheansweredthesecondhalfquiteeasily:‘Ohno,I’mquiteallrightasIam.’

Theword‘important’couldmakeherhairriseup.Shewasn’tsureifitapplied

elsewhere,butshewasessentiallyaproductoftheslumsandhovelsofSouth

Africa.Peopletherehadanunwrittenlaw.Theyhatedanyblackpersonamong

themwhowas‘important’.Theywouldsay,behindtheperson’sback:‘Oh,he

thinkshe’simportant,’withsuchawfulscorn.Shehadseentoomanypeople

despisedforself-importance,anditwassomethingdrilledintoher:bethesame

asothersinheart;justbeaperson.

Thefirsthalfvaguelydisturbedher,andthenanoldwomanreallyshattered

her.Afterall,therewereallthoseweirdgoings-oninherownhouse.Theold

woman,too,lookedratherdisgusted.Shecompressedherlipstightly,lookedto

onesideandsaiddarkly:‘Nowtellmesomething.Iwanttoknow,whenareyou

goingtomarrySello?’

‘What?’Elizabethaskedloudly,pretendingnottohaveheard.‘Whatdidyou

say?’

SellowasmarriedtoalargeMotswanawomanwithstrangely

uncomprehendingeyes.Shelookedasthoughshewerejustcontenttodresswell

andeatwellandhadaheavy,stuffed-up-with-foodwayofwalking.

Justatthistime,too,amansidleduptoherandputthemostimpossiblequestion

ofall:‘CanyoutellmesomethingaboutSello?’hesaid.‘Hedoesn’tlikehis

ownnationatall.Helikesyourkindofnation.’Hesaid‘yourkindofnation’

withsupremecontempt.Shekeptsilent,pretendingnottoknowSelloatall.She

screwedupherfacewithapuzzledfrownandthemanwalkedoff.

ItbecamecleartoElizabeththattheyknewsomething,thattheywere

followingastorywithalogicaloutline,muchasshewas.Thisstorykepton

comingoutinbits,asSellofeltinclined,butofonethingshewassure.He

hadn’tstartedturningthewaterintowine.Ifhehad,itwouldhavearoused

considerablehysteria.Asitwas,peoplewerejustfollowingalong,beingshaken

upnowandthen,asshewas.Asforwhatthepropheciesactuallysaid,shehad

noidea.Sellokeptsilentaboutthem,buttalkedagreatdealonallkindsofother

subjects.IfDanhadn’thadamaniaaboutthem,shewouldn’thaveknown.

Atfirstshewasextremelycuriousaboutthelivingman,Sello,thinkingthatin

somewayhecorrespondedtothewhite-robedmonkwhosatonthechairinher

house.Tohersurprise,hewenttoelaboratelengthstosetupanimpassable

barrierbetweenherandhim.Sheonceturnedthecornerofabuildingandcame

facetofacewithSello,inconversationwithashortman.Shestoppedandstared

straightathim.Heslowlyavertedhisface.Sheglancedathiscompanion,

briefly.Hehadprettyeyes,large,luminous,black,withathickclusteroflashes.

Hiseyesgavehisfaceawonderfulexpressionofinnocenceandfriendliness.He

immediatelybowedhisheadtoElizabethinsilentgreeting.ItwasDan.

Distracted,shedidnotreturnthegreeting.Itwasonthetipofhertonguetosay

toSello:‘Whyareyousittinginmyhouse?’

Thatwashissetpatternfromthebeginning,theavertedhead.Itstoodoutasa

deliberategestureinasocietywhereitwasalmostcompulsoryforpeopleto

greeteachother.Perhapsshewasratherrelieved.Sellsaidsomestrangethings

aboutwomen.Hesaidhe‘killed’them.Wasitsheercoincidence?Therewasan

unpleasantsortofmanwhoconstantlywaylaidElizabethinthevillage,hiseyes

fullofmeaningfulglances.Healwaysbegan:‘Iwanttotellyousomethingabout

Sello,’thenhe’dlookoverhisshoulder.‘Icomefromthesameplaceasyou,and

theywanttotelluswecan’tfighttheirpeople.Idon’tcare.IfIfindamaninbed

withmywife,I’llfighthim.Ifyouwanttoknowsomethingsaboutthepeople

here,I’lltellyou.’Shedislikedtheheavysuggestivenessinhiseyes,butwas

laterveryastonishedwhenSelloreferredtothematterhimself:‘It’squitetrue.

Hefoundmeinbedwithhiswife.IfeltsorryforthemanbutIhadtokillhis

wife.Shewaslikearagingbeast.She’squiteharmlessnow.’

Shehadanoccasiontomeetthewoman.Shewasanunpleasantwoman,a

terriblesnobandasocialpusher.InavillagelikeMotabengwherenoonereally

caredhowtheydressed,shedressedtotheteethjustforthepurposeof

purchasingapieceofsoapfromtheshop.Inguardedmomentsshewasvery

muchthemadam,infullcontrolofallsituations.ShelookedatElizabethinan

unguardedmoment.Hereyesweredull,flat,exhausted.Sheraisedonehand

wearilyandsaid:‘Thisisaterriblecountrytolivein.Youjustdryupanddie

inside.IfeelasifIhaddiedalongtimeago.’

Sellowasneverexplicitaboutthis‘killing’business.Hesaidhehad‘killed’

severalwomen.Hesaiditinanaloof,detachedway,asthoughitwassimply

partofajobhewason.

VerylittledetailreachedheraboutSello,thelivingman,whodroveagreen

truckaboutthevillageofMotabeng.Peoplewerefondofremarking:‘Youwant

toknowaboutcattleandcrops?GotoSello.Heknowseverything.’Sellowasa

cropfarmerandcattlebreeder.

Nowandthenhisnamecroppedupinageneralconversation.AnIVS

volunteerwhoregularlyattendedpartiesathishouseonceturnedtoElizabeth

andsaid,enthusiastically:‘There’ssomethingsolovelyaboutSello.Idon’t

knowquitewhatitis.’

OnceshehadbeenstandingonapathwaytalkingtoayoungMotswananurse

oftheMotabenghospitalandSellopassedbyinhisgreentruck.Thegirl

remarked:‘Ilovethatman.’

‘Why?’Elizabethasked,interested.

‘Heisawonderfulfamilyman,’shesaidsimply.‘Hekeepsorderinhis

house.’

Thatwasthesumtotalofherknowledgeofthelivingman.Inmanyways,her

slowlyunfoldinginternaldramawasfarmoreabsorbinganddemandingthan

anydramashecouldencounterinMotabengvillage.Theinsights,perceptions,

fleetingimagesandimpressionsrequiredmoreconcentration,reflection,and

broodingthananyotherworkshehadeverundertaken.Dominatingand

directingthewholedramawasSello.Hewasafascinatingpersontoworkwith,

simplybecausehistemperamentwassoopposedtoElizabeth’s.Hermind

functionedinwildleapsandbounds,overlookingmanydetails.Healways

movedthreepacesbehind,calmly,unhurriedly,thecollectorofdetails.Evenhis

presentationofideasappealedtoher.Theywereexpressedinthelong-paced

sentencesofsolitarymeditation.Itwasasthoughhehadthoughtoutthewhole

storyaheadofmeetingher,becausehehadawayofunconsciouslynoddinghis

headwhiletalking,asmuchastosay:‘Iknowquitealot,butpeoplealwayslike

tocontradictme.’

Hispropositionwasthebeautifulworldofthefuture.Hewassittingata

switchboardplugginginthelinestoallthebeautifulpeoplehehadoncall.What

waspresentedtoElizabethasgoodnessremainedconsistentlyso,totheextent

thatshetoorapidlyacceptedSelloasacomfortablepropagainstwhichtolean.

Heturnedtoheronceandwarnedhertoretainherownmentalindependence:

‘Youhaveananalyticalmind.Youmustanalyseeverythingyousee.’Shefailed

toheedthewarning,andthedayheabruptlypulledawaythepropofgoodness

sheflounderedbadlyinstormyanddangerousseas.

‘YouhavesufferedalotinSouthAfrica,’hesaid,bywayofintroduction.‘But

youarenottohatewhitepeople.’

‘Why?’sheasked.

‘Mostofthegodsarebornamongthem,’hereplied,calmly.‘Someofthem

comehereforawhile,andthengoawayagain.’

HeturnedhisheadinthedirectionoftheMotabengSecondarySchooland

suddenlyputinoneofhisplugs.Atallbig-builtmanwearingonlyshortkhaki

pantsandbootscamewalkingalongthepathwaytoElizabeth’shouse.Hestood

foramomentatthedoor.Assheturnedtolookathim,shesprangtoherfeet

withanexclamationofsurpriseandwonder.Thesunhaddirectlytransferred

itselftohisfaceanditslightwasflyinginalldirections.SheheardSellosay:

‘HeistheFather,theFather.’

HesatdownonElizabeth’sbed,pickeduphisrightlegandflungitoverhis

leftkneeandlookedatSello.Hesaidnothing,andtheexpressioninhiseyeswas

difficulttodefine.Hewaslaughingandhappyatthesametime,asthoughhe

weresayingsilently:‘Fancymeetingyouhere,Comrade.’Therewasafeelingof

restlessenergyabouthim,andlikeSellohehadanunconscioushabit.Heflung

hisheadbacklikeawildhorsecareeringacrosstheplainswiththewindfullin

itsface,asthoughhecouldn’tendureanyrestraintsonhisfreedomofthought,

movement,feeling.Theyseemedtobeeasilyinterchangeablesouls,because

Sellostoodup,walkedstraightintohispersonandtotallydisappeared.‘The

Father’staredinfrontofhimforamoment,thinkingsomethingover,thenhe

turnedtoElizabethwithaslow,proudturnofhisheadandaddedtwomoretitles

tothetitlealreadygivenhimbySello:

‘IamthekingoftheUnderworld,’hesaid.‘MyothernameisWonderThere.’

HepausedamomentandhandedElizabethahugepileofpaperscoveredwith

small,neathandwriting.Atthetopofthefirstpagewastheword‘poverty’.

Thenheturnedroundandreachedforsomegarmentslyingatthefootof

Elizabeth’sbed.Theyweretheusualtattered,dirtyragswornbythepoormanin

Africa.Hestoodupandputthemon.Thenheturnedtothebedagainandfound

acrownthere,exceedinglybeautifulandglitteringwithanintensewhitelight.

Heheldthecrowninhishandsbriefly,lookedsidewaysatElizabethandsaid:

‘Wehaveworkedtogetherforalongtime.Thisismyearningswithyou.We’ll

worktogetheragain,butyoupreparetheway.’Hestooduptotakehisleave,

thenpausedatthedoorandsaidtoher,coldly,hostilely:‘Danisfoolingaround

withmyname.’

Hislastsentencewasmeaninglesstoher.ShehadnotyetencounteredDan,at

least,nothissoul.

ThenSelloseemedtoputintheplugsallatthesametime,andshefound

herselffacedwithavastcompanyofpeople.Theyhadstill,sad,fire-washed

faces.Themeaningofthestillness,sadnessandintensityofexpressiondidnot

reachhertillsometimelater,whenSelloexposedadetailofhispast.Itwas

death.Itwastheexpressionofpeoplewhohadbeenkilledandkilledandkilled

againinonecauseafteranotherfortheliberationofmankind.Shethoughtat

thattime:‘Why,anabsolutetitlehasbeenshared.Thereareseveralhundred

thousandpeoplewhoareGod.’

Itseemedtoherasthoughallsufferinggavepeopleandnationsapowerful

voiceforthefutureandacommonmeeting-ground,becausethetypesofpeople

Selloreferredtoas‘thegods’turnedoutonobservationtobeordinary,practical,

sanepeople,seeminglytheironlydistinctionbeingthattheyhadconsciously

concentratedonspiritualearnings.Allthepushanddirectionwastowardsthe

equalityofmaninhissoul,asthough,ifitwerenotfixedupthere,itnever

wouldbeanywhereelse;andhermostvividmemorieswerethememoriesof

thosesoulswhostatedthiswiththemostimpact.

OnenightshewasstartledtoseeanAsianmanwalktowardsherwiththe

fiercestexpressiononearth.Likeeveryoneelse,headdressedherasthoughhe

knewherquitewell.Hehadpitch-blackeyesandseemedhalfman,his

expressionwassoferocious.Hewassotautandtensewithenergythathe

walkedinjerkyspasms.Hehissedinherface:‘Youhaveneverreallymadean

identificationwiththepoorandhumble.Thistimeyou’regoingtoreallylearn

how.Theyaregoingtoteachyou,’andheflunghisarmdramaticallyintotheair.

Atthisgesture,agroupofpeoplewalkedquietlyintotheroom.Theywerethe

poorofAfrica.Eachplacedonebarefootonherbed,turnedsidewayssothat

shecouldseethattheirfeetwerecutandbleeding.Theysaidnothing,butanold

womanoutofthecrowdturnedtoElizabethandsaid:‘Willyouhelpus?Weare

apeoplewhohavesuffered.’Shenoddedherheadinsilentassent.

TheyallturnedandlookedatSello.LikeElizabeth,theyalsosawthedazzling

arrayofprophetsthatwasSello’sachievement.Theyturnedtheirbacksonhim,

thensuddenlyoneofthementurnedaroundandpointedintothedistanceand

said:

‘Youarenotyetready.Ourkingisstandingoverthere.Hehastakenoffhis

vesturegarments.’

SounexpectedwasthehostilitytheydisplayedtowardsSellothat,sensing

approachingupheaval,evendisaster,ElizabethturnedtowardsSelloandsaid:

‘Somethingterribleisgoingtohappen.’Itseemedasthoughherthoughtscame

toafullstoparoundtheman’swords.IfthepoorofIndiahadseenthatSello

wasalsotheirKrishnaandRama,wouldtheyhavetoldhimtotakeoffhis

vesturegarmentsandbecomethesameaseveryoneelse?Sello’sfavourite

huntinggroundhadbeenIndia,andsheprivatelyaccusedhimofbeingthe

originatorofthecastesystem,alongsidehisothertheoriesontheheavens.

TheynextturnedtoElizabethandpermanentlystrippedherofanyvesture

garmentsshemighthaveacquired.Theysaid:‘Thereisanevilinyour

relationshipwithSello.Heknows.Heiscontrollingyourlifeinthewrongway,

andhedoesnotwanttogiveitup.’

Shehadseenfromthebeginningthatshehadnodistinctpersonality,apart

fromSello.Forsometimeshehadbeenconsciousoftryingtomakeaneffortto

reachuptoagreatheight.Oneachoccasionshehadfallenbackhalfway.There

seemedtobenoendtotheupwardascent,butasthosepeoplespoketheyall

turnedtolookattheslowdescentofamaninamonk’srobe.Hehadhishands

claspedinfrontofhimandmovedstraightinthedirectionofElizabeth.Ashe

approachednearshestaredintentlyathisface.Hiseyelidscoveredhiseyes,and

theintensityofhisconcentrationinwardswassogreatthatsmallwave-like

vibrationsoflightcontinuallyemanatedfromhisface.Hemovedintoher

person,silently.ElizabethturnedandlookedatSello.Heavertedhisface.Itwas

Buddha,andtheonlyfaceshehadacquiredapartfromSello.Aseriesofpictures

unfoldedbeforeher.

Shefoundherselfsuddenlyinconversationwithatall,thinAsianmanwho

lookedlikeSello.HesaidofBuddha:‘Herefusedtoliveagain.Ihadtouseevil

todrawhimbacktolifeagain.Ihadworktodo,andtherewasnoonewhocould

workwithmelikeyoucan.Wesharedeverything.Hehadawife.Imadeafalse

promisetoher:“Ifyouhelpmetopullhimdown,hewillbeyours,forever.”She

agreed.’

Thescenesshifted.Elizabethstoodnexttoamanwhoslightlyresembledher.

Heheldaslinginhishand.Confrontingthemwasamonstrouswoman,looming

solargethatElizabethhadtostrainbacktoseeherface.Shelookedhideous,

withteethaboutsixinchesbig.ShesmiledwithherabnormalteethatElizabeth.

Shiningoutofhereyeswasthetender,blueglowofagreatlove.Elizabeth

turnedtothemanathersideandsaid:‘David,killher.’

Themanshookhishead:‘Ilovedher,’hesaid.

Suddenly,outofthemonstrouswoman,steppedaslenderlybuiltwoman.She

stoodalone,herheadbent.Shethrewhereyesintoherownheartwithsuch

intentconcentrationthatonlythewhitesofhereyeswerediscernible.Slowly,

sheturnedherheadandlookedatElizabeth.Sheinstantlycringedwithfear.

‘Whydidyoudoit?’Elizabethasked.

Like‘theFather’sheraisedaglitteringcrowntoherhead.Thenshesaid:

‘Thisismyearningswithyou.’ShepointedatElizabeth’sheart:‘Imadethat

heartofcompassion,’shesaid.ShewalkedintoElizabeth’sperson.

Thecrowdofpeoplewhohadwatchedeverythingpointedtothemonstrous

woman:‘Whatdoyousayaboutthebloodonyourhands?’

Elizabethsaid:‘Ikilled,yes,butfromthatdayshebecameafollowerofthe

Lord.’

TheyturnedtoSelloandsaid:‘Giveupyourcontrolofherlife.’

Heturnedtoawallwheretherewasasafe,openeditandtookoutasmallbox

thathehandedtoElizabeth.HelookedatElizabethwithintensesadnessand

said:‘Fromnowonwardsyourcomingsandgoingsareyourownaffair,’thenhe

turnedasideandsaidinavoicefulloftears:‘Icanstillcountmytreasures.’

Asthoughstrickenwithsorrowathissorrow,thecrowdofpeoplekneltdown

softlyandbowedtheirheadstotheground.Elizabethhadnovesturegarment

left.Itdidnotmatterwhohadplannedevil.Itwasalwaysthere,theplan.But

deeperstillwashumanpassion.Thereseemedtobenosafeguardagainstit,no

nobilitypowerfulenoughtocounterit,nodepthstowhichthesoulcouldnot

sink…DavidwrotealettertoJoab,andsentitbythehandofUriah.Andhe

wroteintheletter,stating:‘SetyeUriahintheforefrontofthehottestbattleand

retireyefromhimthathemaybesmitten,anddie.’

Hourspassedbyinbroodingreflection.Hehadapremonitionthathewasgoing

toturnthedayofjudgementonhimself.Hisstatementsbecamesadderand

sadder.

‘Willyouhelpme?’hesaidtoElizabeth.‘Wehavealwaysworkedoutour

developmenttogether.Ishalldieinfiveyears’time.’

Elizabethagreed,thoughshedidnotlikebeinghandedsomeoneelse’sdeath

date,butthenextnightheseemedtothinkhisdeathovermorecarefully,

becausehesaid:‘I’lllivemuchlongerthanthat.Iwanttobringupmychildren.’

HelookedatElizabeth,withasuddenflashofhumour.

‘I’mveryold,youknow,inmysoul.Ihavecompletedabillioncyclesinmy

destiny.Youareonlytwo.’

Hebenthishead.Therewasanoldmanwitharingofsparsewhitehair.The

hugebaldpatchshonelikepolishedmahogany.Shelookedattheprojectionof

herself.Itwasaminuteimageofasmallgirlwithpitch-blackhair.Shewobbled

unsteadilyonherfeet.

‘Thereareasetofpeopleinmyagegroupandasetofpeopleinyourage

group.Thefirstgroupbroughtaboutdarktimes.Wehadtodreamanobler

dream,andthepeopleofthatdreambelongtoyouragegroup.Everythingwas

wrong.EverythingwaseviluntilIbrokedownandcried.Itiswhenyoucry,in

theblackesthourofdespairthatyoustumbleonasourceofgoodness.There

wereafewofuswhocriedlikethat.Thenwesaid:“Sendusperfection.”They

sentyou.Thenweasked:“Whatisperfection?”andtheysaid:“Love.”’

‘Whoarethey?’sheaskedquickly.

‘There’salwayssomeoneholdingtheball,’hesaid.‘Ifyoulookoveryour

shoulderyouwillfindpeoplewithheartsmoregenerousthanyours.’

Itwasthekindoflanguagesheunderstood,thatnoonewasthebe-alland

end-allofcreation,thatnoonehadthepowerofassertionanddominancetothe

exclusionofotherlife.Itwasalmostasuppressedargumentshewastowork

withallthetime;thatpeople,intheirsouls,wereforces,energies,stars,planets,

universesandallkindsofswirlingmagicandmystery;thatatatimewhenthis

wasopenlyperceived,theinsightintotheirownpowershaddriventhemmad,

andtheyhadrobbedthemselvesofthenaturalgrandeuroflife.AsDarwinhad

perceivedinthepatternsofnature:‘Thereisgrandeurinthisviewoflife,with

itsseveralpowers,havingbeenoriginallybreathedintoafewformsorintoone;

andthat,whilstthisplanethasgonecyclingonaccordingtothefixedlawof

gravity,fromsosimpleabeginningendlessformsmostbeautifulandwonderful

havebeen,andarebeing,evolved.’

Shewastalkingtoamonkwhohadusedanunnaturalestablishmentto

expressathousand-and-onebasicprinciplesastheideallifebecause,intheheat

ofliving,noonehadcometotermswiththeirownpowersandatthesametime

madeallowanceforthepowersofothers.Itwasasthoughacrossroadhadbeen

reachedandthatpeoplewouldawakentoaknowledgeoftheirpowers,butthis

timeinasanerworld.Itwaslaterthatshewastodrawherownconclusions

aboutthissanerworldandassertthemunderdegradedcircumstances,because

othersearchesforeternalgoodnessnevertookintoaccountasituationwitha

totallackofcompassion;noneofmankind’sGod-likefigureheadsrecorded

seeingwhatshesawonthisnightmaresoul-journey.

Thereweremanybeautifulthingssaidatthattime,becauseanawakeningof

herownpowerscorrespondedtoanawakeningloveofmankind.Theywere

soonlostinthesubsequenttorment,butwhatshemostclearlyremembered

sayingwas:‘Oh,whataworldoflovecouldbecreated!’Shewasentirely

dependentonSellofordirectionandequallyhelpless,likeapatientonhisdoctor

forsurvival,assumingthatthedoctorknewhisjob.Forheturnedtowardsherat

somepointanddirectedatherasmall,clearriveroflight.

Ithadtheeffect,onreachingher,ofsettinglighttosomeenormouslyexplosive

material.Herwholeformseemedtoturnintochannelsthroughwhichraced

powerfulcurrentsofenergy.Hekeptonswitchingoffandadjustingthecurrents.

Itmusthavebeenforaboutamonth,workingsilently,untilonedayherhead

simplyexplodedintoaseaofpale,bluelight.Itwasthesensationthat

accompanieditthatwassofinalandabsolute:hereistheendofalllife.Hereis

nothing.Itdidnotcorrespondtotheenergiesneededforthetasksoflife;making

tea,cookingfoodforasmallboy,eating,washing,working.Shehadtostruggle

tolive,moveandbreathe.Itwasonlyforoneday.Asshelaydownthatnighta

widecorridoropenedupinhermind.Justasformsweretakingshape,Sello

reachedforwardandsilentlydrewbackathin,darkcurtainbetweenherandthe

explosionofactivitybehindit.Hekepthisthumbpressedagainsttheedgeofthe

curtain.Themostappallingroarburstforth.Theoverallsoundofitwaslikethe

hardpoundingofhorses’hoovesorlikethebumping,gratingfeelingofbeing

draggedalongastonyroadatawildpace.Piercing,blood-curdlingyellsrentthe

air.Thewholenightlongshelayawake,listeningtotheconfusionofsound.The

livesofcenturiesunfoldedbeforeSelloalone.Atdawn,theroarsubsided.He

removedhisthumbandthedarkcurtainflappedtoandfroinagentlebreeze.

Hebentforwardslightly,lostindeepthought.Eventuallyhesaid:‘Icannot

awakenyou,atthisstage,tothesethings.It’simpossibleanyway.Youjust

screaminterror.They’vekilledyouagainandagainunderthemosthorrible

circumstances.’

Thenhesaid,inasmallfrightenedvoice:‘Ithoughttoomuchofmyself.Iam

therootcauseofhumansuffering.’

Therewasnowarning.Therewasnoexplicitstatement–hereIam,witha

heightofgoodnessyoucannotname;thereIwas,atsomedimtimeinmankind’s

history,withadepthofevilyoucannotname.HereIam,abouttostripmyselfof

myspectaculararrayofvesturegarmentsastheysaidIoughtto,andtoshow

youmyownabyss.Therearesomanyterriblelessonsyouhavetolearnthis

time;thatthetitleGod,initsabsoluteall-powerfulform,isadisastertoits

holder,theall-seeingeyeisthegreatesttemptation.Itturnsamanintoawild

debaucher,amaddenedandwillfulpersecutorofhisfellowmen.Hesaidnoneof

this.Onlyattimeswhenawildterrorovercameherminddidhestepinwiththe

kindsofstatementsthatrestoredhermentalbalance.

Hequietlydrewtowardshimawoman.Shehadthesamesimpledress,a

loosely-flowingwhiteclothdrapedoverhershouldersandform.Herfacewas

upturned.Thoughhereyeswereopened,theywereabstractedlikethoseofone

wholivesinapermanenttrance.Herlongstraightblackhairclunglikeawet

mataroundhershouldersanddownherback.Itwasalmosttheextremeof

spirituality.Shewasfrighteninglyunapproachable.Hesaid,quietly:‘Mywife,’

walkedtowardsher,liftedalockofherblackhairandcutitoffwithapairof

scissors.Therewasnofurthercommunicationwiththisimageofholiness.Then

fromoutofhimselfheprojectedaman,hisreplica,exceptthatthemanwas

clothedinabrownsuit.Outofthefainting-awaywomansteppedapowerfully

builtwoman.Sheworeasimple,white,sleevelessdress.Shewasflatchested,

narrow-waistedwithbroadhips.Shewaspitch-blackincolourandherlong

blackhairflowedlooselyabouther.Herblackeyeswerelarge,full,powerful.

ShewalkedtowardsElizabeth.Shehadanexcitingwayofwalking.Herthighs

rubbedagainsteachotherliketherustleofsilkagainstsilk.Shestoppedafew

pacesfromElizabethandroseintotheair.Shesaid:‘Iamgreaterthanyouin

goodness.’

SheturnedherheadtoonesideandcarefullyexaminedElizabeth’sface,then

shesaid:‘Whatareyoubuyingthistime?’

Elizabethreplied:‘Buddha.’

ShepointedtoElizabeth’srighthand:‘What’sthat?’sheasked.Elizabeth

raisedherhand.Initwasapalebluerosette.Itwasmadeofawarmsatin

materialandhadtwostreamers.Elizabethsaid:‘It’stheprizeIhavetoearnin

thislife.Itissymbolicofthebrotherhoodofman.’

Thewomanbentherheadasthoughkeepingherthoughtstoherself.She

walkedtowardsElizabethandpasther.ShebrushedpastElizabethsoviolently,

thegesturesaid,loudly:‘Getoutoftheway.’Herfacehadassumedamean

expression.Sheswungaroundnearthemaninthebrownsuitwholookedlike

Sello,andlookedatElizabethlikeawild-eyedMedusa.Shestartedshoutingina

shrill,highvoice:‘Wedon’twantyouhere.Thisismyland.Thesearemy

people.Wekeepourthingstoourselves.Youkeepnosecrets.Icandomorefor

thepoorthanyoucouldeverdo.’

Elizabethlookedatthemaninthebrownsuitandsaid:‘Youaremakinga

mistake,Sello.I’mGodtoo.’Thewomanunsettledher.Shewasn’tthinkingof

herself.Shewasthinkingofthetitlethathadalreadybeenshared.Theman

baredhisteethinasnarl:‘You’renotGod,’hesaid.

Thesudden,unexpecteddevelopmentjoltedherfullyawake.Shehadbeenso

intenselydrawninwardsoveracertainperiodthatherminddweltentirelyatthis

intangiblelevelofshiftingimagesandstrangearguments.Shelayquietlystaring

inthedark.Whywaseverythingsopointed,soabsorbinglyprofound?Thewild-

eyedMedusawasexpressingthesurfacerealityofAfricansociety.Itwasshutin

andexclusive.Ithadastrongthemeofpower-worshiprunningthroughit,and

powerpeopleneededsmall,narrow,shut-inworlds.Theyneverfeltsecureinthe

big,wideflexibleuniversewherethereweretoomanycrosscurrentsof

opposingthought.Shewasdisturbedbytheawakeningconflict.Sellohad

introducedherdirectlytothesoul-realityoftheblackman.Theyhadstoodand

addressedherassoulequals.Othernations,harshclimates,highpeaksof

endeavourandsufferinghadshapedhersoul.Theirsoul-communicationtoher

andSellowasterriblyimportant–thatpeoplewhohavesufferedfromthe

wantoncrueltyofotherspreferthetruthatalltimes,nomatterwhatitmightcost

them.Therewasacertaindrillshehadbeenthroughoverthecenturies,inthe

strangehighwaysandbywaystakenbymonks,wherethosestatements

dominated:‘Youarenotyetready.Takeoffyourvesturegarments.’Hermind

hadclutchedatiteagerly,whileatthesametimeawareoftheprecariousbalance

–therewasalsothevillageleveloflife,witchcraftandallthehiddenterrorsof

darkness.Thesharpedgeofithadbecomeblurredoverinmostadvanced

societies.Peoplehadtheirinstitutions,whichtoacertainextentprotectedthem

frompower-lustingpresidentsforlifewiththe‘mypeople’cult.Africahad

nothing,andyet,tentatively,shehadbeenintroducedtooneofthemost

completestatementsforthefutureapeoplecouldevermake:beordinary.Any

assumptionofgreatnessleadstoadog-eat-dogfightandincursmassive

suffering.Shedidnotrealizeitthen,butthepossibilitiesofmassivesuffering

werebeingworkedoutinher.

Atsomepointinherreflectionsshestartedtodozeoff.Suddenly,aterrible

thunderboltstruckherheart.Shecouldfeelwaveafterwaveofitspowerspread

overherbodyandpassoutthroughherfeet.Asthelastwavedieddown,she

simplyshoutupintotheair.Therewasaquickmovementfromtheindistinct

formwhoforeversatonthechairbesideherbed.Hecaughtholdofherinmid-

airandbeganstuffingherbackintosomethingthatfeltlikeaheavydeadsack.It

wasparticularlypainfultopushherwayintothelowerhalfofthedeadsack,and

herchestareawassuffocatingwitharoaringpain.

‘OhGod,ohGod,’shethought,halfmadwithfear.‘What’shappeningto

me?’

TheMedusawasshouting,shrillandhigh:‘Youalwayswantedmypower.

Nowyouhavefeltit.’

Whatwasit?TheMedusawasworkingoutthingsatadifferentlevel,witha

SelloinabrownsuitwhohadnocontactwiththeSellointhemonk’srobewho

satonthechairnearby;becauseheturnedtoherandsaid:‘I’msorryyou’reso

badlyhurt.Icouldn’tpullthatpoweroutofher.Youhadtodoit.I’llshowyou

why.’

HeproducedabriefreconstructionofthestoryofOsirisandIsis.Hehadbeen

theOsiriswhohadbeenshatteredintoathousandfragmentsbythethunderbolt

oftheMedusa.ShehadbeentheIsiswhohadputthepiecestogetheragain.The

detailsdidnotunfold.Whatunfoldedfullywasthepictureofthereconstructed

man,withthestill,sad,fire-washedfaceofdeath.Itwasthenthatshewasable

tolinkupthatparticularexpressionwiththousandsandthousandsofother

peoplewhohaddiedterribleandviolentdeaths.

Hesatsohardandsocarefullyonthelongdramaofhumanhistory,especially

thedarknessofhorrors,thatitwasonlywhenherlifewasassaultedlikethatthat

peepsintotheboilingcauldronwereallowed.Shestruggledoverandoverto

linkthebriefsnapshots,thestatementshemadeandthetortureofcertainstates

ofmind,intosomecoherent,broad,overallpattern.Therewasastrangeparallel

inherobservationstomankind’smyths–theybegantoseemvividlytrue.

Nearlyeverynationhadthatbackgroundofmythology–looming,monstrous

personalitiestheycalled‘thegods’.Personalitieswhoformedthebaseoftheir

attitudestoroyaltyandclass;personalitieswhosedeedswerehideousandyet

whoassumedpowerfulpositions,presumablybecausetheywereinpossession

ofthunderbolts,liketheMedusa.Thenagainthestorywasshadeddowntoa

verypersonallevelofhowamanisoverwhelmedbyhisowninternaldarkness;

thatwhenhefindshimselfintheembraceofMedusasheisreallythedirectand

tangibleformofhisownevils,hispowerlusts,hisgreeds,hisself-importance,

andthesedominatehimtotallyandbringhimtothedeathofthesoul.

HisonlycommentontheOsiris/Isisstorywas:‘Itwasthefirstworkwedid

togetherandthefirstlifeyoulivedafteryoursoulhadbeencreated.Mydeathat

thattimebroketheholdshehadoverme.’

Itwastwo-handed,thiswork,afighttoliberateSellofromthedeath-gripof

themonstrousconcubinesalternatingwithafightagainstEgyptianpriesthood.

Nooneknewwhattheydidinthosecloisteredhallswheretheycultivatedtheir

powersandthepowersoftheirgodsorroyalty.Butashudderingmankind

recordedtheresults:‘Andshehathhissingserpentsforherhairandherface

turneththebeholderintostone…’Thethingsofthesoulhadinrealitybeen

reducedtoanAlCaponeshowofextremecruelty.Theywereapeoplegivento

‘seeing’thingsand,throughthepurposeandstructureofhersoul;shegained

easyaccesstotheinnertemplesofdarksecrets.Butshewasthenewdream.Her

chiefrolewasthatofblabbermouth,forwhenshesteppedoutintothesunlight

sheturnedroundandsaid:‘Well,folks,youwanttoknowwhatwedointhere?

I’llshowyou.It’squiteeasy.’Andhowimportanttheirsecretritualswereto

them!Theysaid:‘Whodunnit?Whospilledthebeans?’Andsomeonealways

said:‘Blabbermouth.’

Sellosaidtoheratthattime:‘Theytookyouandthrewyouintoadeeppitof

cockroachesandleftyoutodie.SoItookholdofoneofthemandthrewhim

alivetotheworms.’

Somethinghadbeenchurningoverinhismind.Thiswashisnatural

occupation,thethingsofthesoul,themoralordersofmankind.The

performanceofBlabbermouthinthecloisteredhallshadgivenhimthekeyto

thefuture:‘Blabbermouthisright.Religionoughttobeafunctioninwhichall

mankindmayparticipate.Ah,I’mgainingcontroloftheGodshowagain.’

Itwaslikealiberationfrommanyailments,theabruptrisefromtheghastly

deathbedofblack-magicrituals,miracleperforming,cloisteredhalls,theinsane,

ravingpower-maniacworldofthePharaohs.AsfarasElizabethwasconcerned,

hehadachoice.HehadseentheperformanceofthewifeIsis.Hepreferredthe

performanceofBlabbermouthintheEgyptiantemplesandmadethatthebaseof

thelongmonasticfriendship.Theimpressionsofthefriendwhohadwalked

towardsElizabethwerethoseofamanwhohadwalked,moved,thought,lived,

andworkedlikeaflameinthedarknight.Itwasasthoughintheverybeginning

hehadbeenhandedtheessentialsecrets,theessentialcluestotheevolutionof

thesoul,butthetheoriesthistimewereexpoundedagainstanewbackground;

thewaysideinn,thewaysidewell,shadytrees,andthecourtyardsofrichand

poorfriends.Therewasanewbandofmen,themonks,withbarefeetanda

simpleclothdrapedaroundtheirforms,whoaddressedeachotherinloving

termsandfurrowedtheirbrowsinSocraticdialoguesunderthestars.Itwasso

muchforfreethatthewaysidebeggarcouldpeerinwithanenquiringfaceand

joininthedialogues.Thephilosophieswerespunaroundtheeverydayeventsof

people’slivesandincludedtheanimals,theflowersandtheoccupationsof

mankind.Thenmankindsaid:‘Welikeit.’Theyrememberedandkeptrecordsof

philosophiessotentativeandflexiblethatpeoplecouldspeculateonthem

endlessly,andaddtothem.Theyforgottheterriblemonstrositiesofthepastthey

hadcalled‘thegods’,whohadhurledthunderboltsaroundwithsolittleregard

forthewelfareofothers,foranythingexcepttheirownprestige,thatcivilization

aftercivilizationhaddisappearedintheirholocausts.Nolongerdidthe

concubinesofman,likeSello,rampagethroughtownshissingthunderand

lightningoutoftheireyesandmouths.Theywerebeautifulwomenwhocried

andwipedhisfeetwiththeirlongblackhair.Theyseemedstrangelysoftand

docile,butithadtakenhelltobreaktheirpower.

Itwasthisperiodshewasfamiliarwith,thecompassionandtendernesswith

whichpeopleregardedeachother,theuncertaintiesofquestingwithin,thelack

ofassertionanddominance.Shecouldnotcomprehendthesuddenintroduction

ofMedusa,orthepictureheshowedherthenofaSellojustbeforethetimeof

thefallofmanfromgodliness.Shedoubtedhehadeverbeenagod.Hehad

lookedthenlikeaCaligulainlittlebootswiththinsticklegs.Hehadstrutted

aroundastheemperorofheaven.Awomanhewasafteratthetime–onthe

surface,adazzlinggoddess–precipitatedthefirstexplosion.Hewas

concentratingonherman,whodidnothavesticklegs.Shewasconcentratingon

theprestigeandpowertobeacquiredfromthepositionasGod.Theysplittwo

ways,wreakinghavocandwreckageonallsides.Shewasthefirstofthepower-

maniacswhoknewtheirbusiness,andknewwhattheycouldgetoutofbeing

God.Hewasmalicious.Hehaddeeperinsight.Hecouldsettrapsand

temptationstheyalltumbledinto.Therewasn’tanykindofperversionand

depravitytheydidnotpracticetilltodayitlingerslikeadarkpsychological

streamofhorrorsinthecourtsoflaw.Then,atthattime,itwasawayoflife,

publicly,openlylived.Hebrokedownandcriedatlastonlybecauseitwasan

opendisplayofthepowersofthesoul.Whatsheheardasheliftedthelidabit

was:‘I’mgreaterthanyoubecausemypowerisgreaterthanyours.Yap,Yap,

Yap.There,bam,yougo,intooblivion,bastard!’

Itwasthequalityofhissoulpowerthatplacedhimatadisadvantageinthese

circumstances.Sheknewitbecausebasicallyshewascomposedofthesame

material.Itwas,initsfinalstate,passive,inactive,impersonal.Itwaslinkedin

somewaytothecreativefunction,thedreamerofnewdreams;andtheessential

ingredientincreativityistocreateandletthedreamflyawaywithasofthand

andheart.Hewasopposedbypersonalitieswhosepowers,whenactivated,

rumbledacrosstheheavenslikethunder.Hehadnothingitsequivalentinthis

war.AtsomestageMedusaentered.Shecouldhurlathunderboltlikenothing

everseenbeforeandshatteravictimintoathousandfragments:‘Who’srunning

theshowaroundhere?Iam.Whoknowseverythingaroundhere?Ido.Who’s

wearingthepantsinthishouse?Iam.’Sheseemedtofillalltheirrequirements.

ThenheturnedandshowedElizabethasmall,round,deepopeningintheearth

fromwhichhersoulhademerged.Itwasablack,shapelessmasswithwings.

Severalcompanionsaccompaniedhersothatshewouldnotbelonely,oneof

whomwaseventuallytheBathshebawhosesoulhejoinedwiththatofBuddha’s

wifetopullhimoutofhiswithdrawnmeditationsonoblivionandeternity.

Itseemedallright.Hehadaprotector.Andthenitdidnotseemsorightafter

atime.Somedark,evilthingsetdownrootsdeepintohissoulandateandate

andate.Itwassmilingallthetimewhilehemovedfromonedepravityto

another.Itjustkeptonsmilingandwrigglingitsbroadhips.Depravityand

perversionofthemostbasedegreewasitsnaturalhabitat.Diditmatterthen

whatamansleptwith–acow,ahorse,achildoranything?Apersonwhocries

underconditionslikethathasretainedenoughsensitivitytolookonhisown

degradation,andthereisapointwherehebeginstofighthiswaytofreedom.It

tookashatteringdeathtopulloutthedeep,darkroots.Ittookcenturiesoftaut,

religiousdisciplinetogiveheranewkingdomandapeakofspiritualityso

intense,shewasfrighteningtoobserve.Therelationshiphadrunitsfullcourse.

Hewassayingapermanentgoodbye.Theclamourhesetupwaslikealow,

terriblemoanthroughoutawholeyear.HethrewtheburdenofitonElizabeth:

‘Youfirstliberatedmefrommydemon.Nowliberatemefrommygoddess.’

Elizabethhadneverseensuchaspineless,backbonelessman.Hewasterrible

aboutwomenwhenhehadanobsessionaboutthem.Atthattimehewasso

frightenedbythethunderboltMedusahadhurledatElizabeththathequickly

pulledoutaphotographofthefuture.Hewaswalkingdowntheroad,handin

hand,withanewgirl,andhissmilewasquitesomethingtosee.Howtogetover

thehurdleofthepresentintothehappinessofthefuture?Inthecomedyand

horrorthatunfolded,heseemedtobepushingforwardallthenightmaresofthe

past:‘IfIdon’tletgoofhershe’llruintheAfricancontinentthewayweruined

somanycivilizationstogether.’Elizabethwasgivennoopportunitytoobserve

themagnificenceoftherealdrama.Medusawasthetruemeasureofhis

greatnessastheprophetofmankind.Hehadtakensheerfilthandmuckand

turneditintoaglitteringmasterpieceofperfection.

Medusawassmiling.Shehadsometopsecretinformationtoimpartto

Elizabeth.Itwasabouthervagina.Withoutanybotherfordecenciesshe

sprawledherlongblacklegsintheair,andthemostexquisitesensationtravelled

outofhertowardsElizabeth.ItenvelopedElizabethfromheadtotoelikeaslow,

deep,sensuousbomb.Itwaslikefallingintodeep,warmwaters,lazilyraising

onehandandrestinginaheavenofbliss.ThenshelookedatElizabethand

smiled,amockingsuperiorsmile:

‘Youhaven’tgotanythingnearthat,haveyou?’

Themockingsmileremainedpermanentlyattachedtoherface.Itwas

maddeningbecauseitwaseventherewhenElizabethhadherfirstmental

breakdown,butitwasnotmaddeningtohertobetoldshehadn’tavagina.She

mighthavehadbutitwasnotsuchapleasantareaofthebodytoconcentrateon,

possiblyonlynowandthenifnecessary.ButMedusa’snextassaultpulledthe

groundrightfromunderElizabeth’sfeet.Shefellintoadeepholeofsuch

excruciatingtorturethat,briefly,shewentstark,ravingmad.

Medusasaid:‘Africaistroubledwaters,youknow.I’mapowerfulswimmer

introubledwaters.You’llonlydrownhere.You’renotlinkeduptothepeople.

Youdon’tknowanyAfricanlanguages.’

SheblamedSellointhebrownsuitforit.Theyplayedonherexperiencesin

SouthAfrica.InSouthAfricashehadbeenrigidlyclassifiedColoured.There

wasnoescapefromittothesimplejoyofbeingahumanbeingwitha

personality.Therewasn’tanyescapelikethatforanyoneinSouthAfrica.They

wereraces,notpeople.ShelivedforalongtimeinapartofSouthAfricawhere

nearlyalltheColouredmenwerehomosexualsandopenlyparadeddownthe

streetdressedinwomen’sclothes.Theytiedturbansroundtheirheads,wore

lipstick,flutteredtheireyesandhands,andtalkedinhigh,falsettovoices.Itwas

sowidespread,socommontosomanymeninthistownthattheyfeltnoshame

atall.Theyandpeopleingeneralaccepteditasadiseaseonehadtolivewith.

Noonecommentedatthesestrangemendressedinwomen’sclothes.Sometimes

peoplelaughedwhentheywerekissingeachotherinthestreet.

AnAfricanmangaveherthemostreasonableexplanation:‘Howcanaman

beamanwhenheiscalledaboy?Icanbarelyretainmyownmanhood.Iwas

walkingdowntheroadtheotherdaywithmygirl,andtheBoerpolicemansaid

tome:“Hey,boy,where’syourpass?”AmIamantomygirloraboy?Another

manaddressesmeasboy.HowdoyouthinkIfeel?’

Suddenlythenightsbecametorture.AssheclosedhereyesalltheseColoured

menlaydownontheirbacks,theirpenisesintheair,andbegantodieslowly.

Someofthemwhocouldnotenduretheseslowdeathssimplytoppledoverinto

riversanddrowned,Medusa’smockingsmiletoweringoverthemall.

‘Yousee,that’swhatyouarelike,’shesaid.‘That’syourpeople,notAfrican

people.You’retoofunnyforwords.Youhavetodielikethem.’

Therewasapressureturnedonher,sopowerfulElizabethcollapsedflaton

herback.Shejustlaytherenearlychokedtodeath.Itwaslikeawild,insistent

chantinherears:‘Die,die,die.’Butacurrentwasturnedon,chokingher.Atthe

peakofit,whenhermindwasariotofterror,thecurrentwassuddenlyswitched

off.Shesawthewhite-robedmonkleanforwardandsetlighttoastuffedeffigy

thatresembledMedusa.Aman’svoice,unseen,saidloudlyintheroom:‘Itold

himnottobringthedolltothealtar.’

Shefellintoadeep,exhaustedsleep,onlytoawakenthefollowingmorningto

agreaterterrorstill.Someonehadturnedonarecordinsideherhead.Itwenton

andoninthesame,stuckgroove:‘Dog,filth,theAfricanswilleatyoutodeath.

Dog,filth,theAfricanswilleatyoutodeath.’

Shewashedanddressed,thenhadtocombherhairinthemirror.Sheflinched

andlookedaway.Therewasanunnamablehorrorthere.Shecouldnotendureto

lookatit.Herhandswereshakingbadly.Howcouldsomeonerunawayfrom

theirownmind?Therecordwasrightinsideherhead:‘Dog,filth,theAfricans

willeatyoutodeath.Dog,filth,theAfricanswilleatyoutodeath.’

Danlateradmittedthathehadturnedontherecord.HeandSellowere

supposedtobefriendswhosharedeverything,includingvisions,andheclaimed

thathehadgainedaninsightintoeverythingatthesametimeasSello.Hehad

chosenthepositionofsilent,unseenobserver,butwassufferingterriblybecause

hewassupposedtobefranticallyinlovewithher.Hesaidsomethingabouttheir

soulsbeing‘joinedtogetherattheroots’,sowhenMedusaputherinthetorture

chamberhedecidedtoaddtoitwiththerecord.Hecouldnotendurethepainof

hissuppressedlove.Sheoughttosuffertoo.

AllElizabethcouldseewasMedusaandtheSellointhebrownsuit.Apart

fromthefirsttime,whenhehadsnarledthathewasGodbyhimself,heleftthe

managementofeverythingtoMedusa.Shewasenjoyingherself.Shekeptone

eyeonElizabethandengagedinwhisperingconsultationswithbrown-suit.They

seemedtobesaying:‘Ah,it’snearlytime.Shewon’tlastlong.’

TheGermanwomanshehadlivedwithinSouthAfricahadtoldherofhow

Jewishpeopleawokeonemorningtoanightmarelikethat.PriortoHitler’s

propagandatheyhadjustbeenlikeanyotherGermancitizens,withfamily,lives,

andoccupations.Shecamehomeoneeveningandremarkedonanincidentthat

hadtakenplaceintheofficewheresheworkedasatypist:‘IthoughtIwasback

inHitler’sGermanythismorning,’shesaid.‘Wehaveourteaservedbyayoung

Africanman.There’sasmallswingdoorattheentrancetoouroffice,andhe

alwayscomesinthatwaywiththetea-tray.Well,thismorningoneofthe

Afrikanersintheofficewalkeduptohimandkickedthetrayrightoutofhis

hands.Thecupsandsugarandmilkallwentflyingaroundtheplace.The

Afrikanerturnedaroundtohisfellowsandburstoutlaughing.Theyjoinedin.I

thoughtthemanwouldbeangry.Ohno,hecringedandlaughedtoo.Hesaid:

“Ha,ha,baas.”AndIthought:I’veseenthissomewhere.TheHitleryouthdid

thistotheJews.Theyweresodemoralizedbythepropaganda,theycringedlike

thisman.Theybegantobelievetheywereinferior,butoncetheliberationcame

andthewarwasoveritdisappearedovernight.Therewasnosignofitinthem.

ThenIthought,thesamewillhappenhere.Oncethesepeoplearefreeofthe

humiliation,therewillbenosignofitleft.’

SomanypeopleranawayfromSouthAfricatoforgetitorthrowitoff.It

seemedimpossiblethen,therecurring,monotonoussonginherhead:‘Dog,filth,

theAfricanswilleatyoutodeath…’Itbrokeherinstantly.Shecouldnothelp

butidentifywiththeweak,homosexualColouredmenwhoweredyingbefore

hereyes.Onedayofitsethernervoussystemscreaming.Aweekofitreduced

hertoatotalwreck.Shelayonthebedtrappedinmisery.Therewasnothingshe

couldthinkoftocounterit:‘I’mnotlikethat.I’veneverbeenaracialist.Of

courseIadmitI’maColoured.I’mnotdenyinganything.Maybepeoplewhoare

Colouredsarequitenicetoo,justlikeAfricans…’

Nothingturnedofftherecord.Shehadnotplannedit.Shehadnotbeen

thinkingalongthoselinesatall,andtheoptionofanysane,reasonablereplyhad

beentakenawayfromher.Wasthatwhythatkindofpropagandabrokewhole

racesofpeople?Someonejustassertedsomethinganddirecteditatavictim,

regardlessofwhetheritmadesenseornot:‘Youareinferior.Youarefilth.’Their

powerofassertionwassotremendousthewholeflowandinterchangeoflife

stoppedbeforeit.Andyet,inhercase,therehadbeenabeautifulintroductionto

thisunbelievablenightmare.Wherewasthewhite-robedmonkwhohad

capturedandrivetedherattentionwithhisquestion-and-answerapproachtolife?

Herewasaworld,now,wheretherewerenoquestions,onlypre-planned,

overpoweringstatementsthatchokedherandanincrediblymaliciousmanina

brownsuitwithawomantooshockingtocomprehend.Shecouldnotsay

whetherMedusawashumanoranimal.Medusahadhumanformand,regardless

ofanythingshesaidordid,sheremainedhercompetent,confident,smilingself.

BySundayevening,exhausted,shethoughtquietlytoherself:‘Sello,afterall,

isjustafool,andhelookslikeamonkey.’

Sheclosedhereyes,wearily.TherewasaninstantattackfromMedusa.She

stoodnexttobrownsuitandsaid,accusingly:‘Yousee,shesaysyoulooklikea

monkey.Whatareyougoingtodoaboutit?’

AsElizabethwatched,BrownSuit’sfaceslowlychangedtotheshapeofan

owl.Hesaid:‘Ohno,I’mnotamonkey.I’mawiseoldowl.’

Shejerkeduprightinbed.Whatwasthis?Diditmeanshehadnoprivacyleft?

Shehadonlybeenthinking,notsayinganythingoutloud.Sobrokenwasshe

thatsheimmediatelyfellintoadefensiveargument,mutteringoutloudto

herself:‘Ofcourseit’strue.Helookslikeamonkey.He’ssougly.I’mnotsaying

I’mnotuglymyself.Ishouldn’tmindifanyonetoldmeI’muglybecauseI

knowit’strue.Doesitmean,ifGodlooksuglyoneoughtnottosaysowithout

beingdreadfullypunishedforsayingso?Agh,Idon’treallycareifIlooklike

thebacksideofadonkey…’

Ahissing,insistentundertoneaccompaniedherthoughts:‘Yes,youthinklike

thatbecauseyouhateAfricans.Youdon’tliketheAfricanhair.Youdon’tlike

theAfricannose…’

Sheturnedherheadthiswayandthat,strugglingforanescapefromtorment.

Afaintglowoflightappearedinthesmallwindowofhermudhut.Itwasdawn.

Shesprangeagerlyoutofbed.Itwasanexcusetofetchsomewaterandmake

teaordoanything,exceptsuffocate.Shepickeduptheemptywater-bucket,

walkedtothedoor,openedit,thenstoodtransfixedtothespot,hereyeswidein

horror.Anowllaystonedeadonthedoorstep.

Shebackedintotheroomandclosedthedoor.Therewasaconfusedroarin

herhead.Sheimmediatelylinkedtheowl’sdeathtotheeventsofthenight,and

beganmutteringincoherentlytoherselfagain.Therewasanoverpoweringsense

ofevil,andshewasn’tsureifshehadorhadnotkilledtheowl.Butalongingfor

acupofteapushedthroughherterrifiedmutterings.

‘Ithinktheowlmusthavesuddenlydiedofoldage,’shethought,reasoning

withherself.‘Abranchofthetreeoutsidehangsrightovermyhut.Itmusthave

beensittingonthatbranchwhenitdied.’

Shepickedupthewater-bucket,openedthedoor,tookaflyingleapoverthe

deadowl.Itwaswinterandcoldoutside.Shewasshakingfromheadtofoot,so

badlythatthewater-bucketkeptbumpingagainstherlegandspillingitscontents

ontohernightdress,nordidherteethstopchatteringuntilshehadtakenthefirst

sipoftea.Peoplefunctionwellonlywhentheirinnerlivesaresecureand

peaceful.Shewaslikeapersondrivenoutofherownhousewhiledemons

rampagedwithin,turningeverythingupsidedown.Itwasthebeginningofthe

schoolholidays.Shehadnoworktodo,exceptgointothecentralpartof

Motabengvillageandmakeafewpurchases.Thesmallboyawokequietly.He

clutchedinonehandatoycar,tookintheotherabowlofporridgeandsatdown

onthemat.Thenhetotallydisregardedtheporridgeandconcentratedallhis

attentiononcirclingthecarroundthebowl.

‘Eatyourporridge,’shesaid,helplessly.

Helookedupatherwithapairofunconcernedblackeyes.Hewenton

circlingthecar.

‘I’mnotgoingtotakeyoushopping,’shesaid.

‘I’llfollowyou,’hesaid,firmly.

Shestoodupandstartedtodress.Heletoutaloudwail:‘Whydon’tyoudress

mefirst?Youwanttogoawayandleaveme.’

Herheadwasthrobbingwithpainfromasleeplessandfeverishnight.She

grabbedapileofhisclothesoffachairandsaidirritably:‘You’dliketobe

slaughtered,hey?Shutyourmouth,youdamnlittlenuisance.’

Hetookallhismoodsfromherandimitatedherineveryway.Adaythat

startedofflikethiscouldthrowhimoffbalancecompletely.Suddenly,he

seemedtosensesomethingfunnyintheairandmimickedinashrillvoice:

‘You’dliketobeslaughtered,hey?Shutyourmouth,youdamnlittlenuisance.’

‘Putyourcardown,’shesaid.‘Youcan’tdressholdingacarinyourhand.’

Awickedgleamshotintohiseyes.Heclutchedthecarinavice-grip.‘Put

yourcardown,’hemimicked.‘Youcan’tdressholdingacarinyourhand.’

‘You’reatdeath’sdoor,myson,’shesaid,murderously.

‘You’reatdeath’sdoor,myson,’heshrilled.

Shesatdownonthebedandburstintotears.Hestoodlookingatherfora

moment,hiseyesturnedbigandsolemn.Something’sreallywronghere,they

seemedtosay.Howoftenhadsomethingnotbeenwrongoverthelastfew

months?Therewereonlystormyseasinhishouse,andhewasfrequentlytossed

thiswayandthatinthestorm.Hismother’sconcentrationwasriveted

elsewhere.Hestraightenedhimselfwithaquaint,manlyair:

‘IcanshowyouIknowhowtodressmyself,’hesaid,haughtily.‘Icanputmy

ownshoeson.Icaneatmyporridge.’

Hesatdownontheflooragainandgrimlyconcentratedoneatinghis

porridge.Peoplewhohadmotherslikehehadwerelostiftheydidnotknow

howtocareforthemselves.Shelookedathiminasortofagonyandthought:

‘Journeysintothesoularenotforwomenwithchildren,notallthatdarkheaving

turmoil.Theyareformen,andthetoughestofthemtookoffintothesolitudeof

theforestsandfoughtouttheirbattleswithhellindeepseclusion.Nowonder

theyhidfromview,theinnerlifeisugly.’

Shewasbreakingunderthestrainofit.Shewalkedintothecentralpartofthe

villageholdingthesmallboybythehand,andtheuglinessoftheinnertorment

wasabruptlyrippedopenandexposedtopublicview.Sheturnedintoashopand

stoodabstractedlyatacounter,nothavinganyideaofwhatshewantedtobuy.

Infrontofherweresometransistorradios.Theshopassistantsaid:‘CanIhelp

you,madam?’

ShesaiditthreetimesbeforeElizabethlookedupatherandnoddeddumbly.

Sheblindlypickedupasmallradioandhandedittothegirlforwrappingup.

Thegirlsaid:‘Youmustfirstgointothatofficeoverthereandrecordthe

purchase.Theclerkhastoinformthepostofficeofeveryradiowesell,asyou

havetopayfortheradiolicence.

Sheenteredtheoffice.Fromthatmomenthereyesremainedrivetedtohis

faceandshebeganpitchingandheavingmentallyinacrescendooftorture.The

insistenthiss,hissofhorrorswampedhermind:‘Yousee,’itsaid.‘Youdon’t

reallylikeAfricans.Youseehisface?It’svacantandstupid.He’sslowmoving.

Ittakeshimagestofigureoutthebrandnameoftheradio.Youneverreally

likedAfricans.Youonlypretendedto.Youhavenoplacehere.Whydon’tyou

goaway…’

Shewaschokingforair.Theclerktoldhertositdownoppositehim.Aloud

wailofcounter-protestwasarisinginher.Theinsistenthissingwasmean,

stifling,vicious.Whomcouldsheaccuse,toendit?Shesprangtoherfeet,

slammingthechairbackagainstthewallandshouted:‘Oh,youbloodybastard

Batswana!Oh,youbloodybastardBatswana!’Thenshesimplyopenedher

mouthinonelong,high,piercingscream.

Peoplecamerunningfromalldirectionsandwereblockedinacrowdatthe

entrytotheoffice.Someonebrokethroughthecrowd,aheavilybuiltmanwitha

beard.Hisfacewasscrewedupwithanxiety.Hewastalkingandshakingherby

thearm.Shecouldnothear.Anice-coldsweatbathedherfromheadtotoe,and

everythingbecamedimmeranddimmeruntilshecouldn’tseeatall.

Itwassuchanimpossiblesituationforthesmallboy,hejustignoredit

completelyandwentoncirclinghiscaronthefloorwherehewasseated.People

lookedathimandshooktheirheadssadly.Themanwiththebeardwasholding

ontotheswayingform.Hesaidtotheclerk:‘Ringupfortheambulance.Let’s

gethertohospital.She’sveryill.’

SheopenedhereyesinabedoftheprivatewardoftheMotabenghospital.A

doctorstoodnearby.Hebentdownandsaidgently:‘What’swrongwithyou?’

Sheturnedherfaceawayandsaid,withextrememisery:‘Idon’tlikepeople.’

‘It’sallright,’hesaid.‘Youcanstayhereuntilyoufeelbetter.’

Shetriedtoraiseherleadenheadfromthepillow:‘Whathappenedtomyson?

Whereishe?’

‘He’sjustoutsidethedoor.He’swiththeprincipaloftheMotabengSecondary

School,whobroughtyoutohospital.Theprincipalwouldliketotalktoyou.

ShallItellhimtocomein?’

Theheavily-builtbeardedmanwalkedin,holdingthesmallboybythehand.

Heblinkedhisgreenish-browneyesuncertainlyandsatdownonthechairbeside

thebed.Heputtheboyonhisknee.Theboywasstilltightlyclutchinghistoy

car.ShehadseenthemanofteninthecentralpartofMotabengvillage,butapart

fromadistantgreetinghadneverhadoccasiontotalktohim.Hewasextremely

reserved,aloof,andmorosebytemperament,andoftenwalkedaroundwiththe

gloomofdoomsdayonhisface.HewasanAfrikanermanfromSouthAfrica

andthefounderoftheMotabengSecondarySchool.Hesaidsimply:‘Mywife

willtakecareofyoursonuntilyoucomeoutofhospital.Wearebothrefugees

andmusthelpeachother.’

Shewastoostunnedmentallytosayanythingbeyonda‘Thankyou.’

Hefurrowedhisbrowandofferedsomepersonalinformation:‘Isuffer,too,

becauseIhaven’tacountryandknowwhatit’slike.Alotofrefugeeshave

nervousbreakdowns.’

Shetriedtoraiseherleadenhead:‘Iwanttotellyousomething,’shesaid.

‘There’ssomethingtorturingme.Therearestrangeunder-currentsandevents

here…’

Heavertedhisfacequickly.Hedidnotwanttohearanddetailsaboutthe

countryoranythingelse,simplyacceptingthefactthatshehadhadanervous

breakdownoutoftheblue.Hestoodupandsettheboyontheground.Thechild

turnedroundonceandthrewheraquietlookofsympathy,asmuchastosay:‘I

knewtherewassomethingwrongwithyouthismorning.’Heraisedonehand

slightlyinasecretivegood-byegestureandwalkedoutwiththeman.Anurse

walkedinwithatrayandsetitdownonatablenearthebed.Shesmiledina

pretty,kindwayandsaid:

‘Turnover,I’mgoingtogiveyouashottoputyoutosleep.’

Theworldseemedstrangelypeaceful.Thestorminherheadhadsubsided.It

hadtakensuchdrasticclamourtosilencethehissingrecordinherhead,butit

hadleftaterriblewound.Shecouldfeelitbleedingandbleedingandbleeding,

quietly.Herso-calledanalyticalmindwasbeingshatteredtopieces.Itdepended

onquestionsandmorequestions,tentativepropositions,withallthetimeand

patienceineternitytosolvetheriddles,andthejoyoffriendlyandaffectionate

exchanges.Adarknessofimmensedimensionshadfallenuponherlife.She

couldonlyheartheyappingofpotentialexterminators.Sheturnedoverand

pressedherheadintothepillow.Peoplecriedoutsoofteninagonyagainstracial

hatredsandoppressionsofallkinds.Alltheirtearsseemedtobepilingupon

her,andthesourceorrootsfromwhichtheyhadsprungwerebeingexposed

withavehementviolence.Forshethoughtthatthenursehadlefttheroomsome

timeago,yettherewasstillawhiteformstandingbesideherbed.Sheraisedher

headalittle.ItwasSello.Therewasastill,remotelookinhisface.Hesaid:‘I

havetoshowyousomethings.Come.’

Shefoundherselffacedwithadeepcesspit.Itwasfilledalmosttothebrim

withexcreta.Itwasalive,anditscontentsrumbled.Hugeangryfliesbuzzed

overitssurfacewithaloudhumming.Hecaughtholdofherroughlybehindthe

neckandpushedherfacenearthestench.Itwassohigh,sopowerful,thather

necknearlysnappedoffherheadattheencounter.Shewhimperedinfright.She

heardhimsay,fiercely:‘Shemadeit.I’mcleaningitup.Come,I’llshowyou

whatyoumade.’

Hesuddenlyturnedintoanenormoussky-birdwithpowerful,soaringwings.

Wasthereeveramanwhoseheightsanddepthsweresoextremetheywere

totallydisassociatedfromeachother,asthoughtheyfacedeachotherwithblank

eyes,neitherrecognizingtheotherforcenturiesandcenturies?Forhehad

talked,eversinceshecouldrecall,onlyofthispaleblueheaventhathadshaped

itselfaroundthesoulsofmen.Andoutofithadthunderedthegreatdramasof

nobilityandsacrificethatbecametheblueprintsofperfectionformanynations.

Itwasabelonging-to-no-one-in-particularworld,wherekingshadearned

crownsandneverwornthemforcrowns,andoppressionandslaverywerethe

samename.Andtheysaidmenovercametheirpassionsthereandrosetothe

majesticstatureofgodswithflashingeyesandwild,freedom-lovingsouls.And

theycreatedanddreamtandsangonlyinthebywaysoflife,asthoughtherehad

beenamutualagreementallroundtoshunshamandpompandapplauseasthe

thingsthatledtothedeathofthesoul.Andlovewaslikeagirlwalkingdowna

roadonstaggeringlegswiththewindblowingthroughherhair.Andlovewas

likeagirlwithwonderinhereyes.Andlovewaslikeagirlwithaflamingheart

andimpulsivearms.Andlovewassomanythings,somanyvariationsonone

theme:humilityandequality–forwhenthosemensaid:‘Isitpossible?Could

youloveme?’,thronesandkingdomswereofnoaccountagainstthepowerof

love.

Theyprey,sofalsely:fromtheheartofGodletloveentertheheartsofmen,

thusremovingthethingsofthesoultosomeimpossiblyunseen,mystical

heaven.Ohno,aheavenhadbeenplanneddirectlyaroundtheheartsofmenand

as,bitbybit,itsplanunfoldedtheycalleditsomanynames:democracy,

freedomofthought,socialconsciousness,protest,humanrights,exploration,

moralorders,principles,andathousand-and-oneadditionsforthecontinual

expansionandevolutionofthehumansoul.

‘Anintelligenceisbehinditall,’peoplesaid.Itwasmankind’suniversal

knowingofthefallandthedarktimeswhencivilizationswereswallowedupin

holocausts;whenpowersofincreasingevilfoughttothedeathoverthesmall

bonesoftheirownself-importanceandlustsandgreed.

Andoutoftheshiftingpatternsoftendernessandco-operationbeforehergaze

sheformulatedherownbroaddefinitionofGod:Godisthetotalityofallgreat

soulsandtheirachievements;theachievementsarenotthatofonesingle,

individualsoul,butofmanysoulswhoallworkedtomakeupthesoulofGod,

andthismightbecalledGod,ortheGods.Shefloatedslowlybacktoeveryday

realityonthishugetidalwaveofpeace.

Someonewastouchingherarm.Itwasthenight-dutynurse.

‘I’vebroughtyousometea,’shesaid,smiling.‘Youmustbehungry.You’ve

beensleepingforfifteenhours.’

Elizabethsatupabruptly,flungoffthebedclothesandswungherlegsoffthe

bed.Herheadwasclearandsparkling.Thenursestartedbackinsurprise:‘Yo!’

shesaidinSetswana.‘Andwheredoyouthinkyou’regoingnow?’shepointed

toacardatthetopofthebed:Patientveryill.Donotdisturb.

‘I’mquitebetter,’Elizabethsaid.‘Iwanttogohome.’

Thenurseshookherhead:‘Youliketofrightenpeople,’shesaid.‘Day-duty

nurserecordedtotalcollapse.Shetoldmeshedidnotthinkyouwouldbealive

inthemorning.Youcan’tjumpaboutlikethat.Youmustgobacktobed.’

Elizabethlookedatthenurseandlaughed.Shehadbeenthrownapowerful

life-line,asthoughbyturninginwardsshehadfoundthatthecentreofherself

wasstillsaneandsecure,andthattheevilsthathadbeguntodominatehermind

hadasoaringparallelofgoodness.Itseemedtobeallthatmattered,a

reassuranceofagoodnessthatwaslikeastill,steady,deathlessflame.She

arguedvehemently.Therewasnoonetotakecareofherson.Shecouldn’tjust

liehereanddependonotherpeoplewhileshewasfeelingquitewell,inevery

way.Byteno’clockshewasswingingherwayoutofthehospitalgates.The

still,blueskyofwinter,withitssoftshimmeringhaze,correspondedtothehazy

warmthandpeaceinherownheart.Shestoodonadustyroad,waitingforataxi

totakeherthefivemilesoutofthevillagetoMotabengSecondarySchool.

ThebushbeganjustattheedgeofMotabengandcontrastedvividlyinbeauty

withthestarknessofcentralvillagewithitsendlesscirclesofmudhuts.The

bushwasawild,expansivelandscapedottedwithwind-bent,umbrella-shaped

thorntrees.Itstretchedformilesandmilesinalldirectionsandfaroffinthe

distancelowbluehillslaylikeslumberinggiantsinaneternalsleep.Motabeng

SecondarySchoolhadbeenbuiltrightamidstthiswildernessofsolitudeand

slumber.Thetaxistoppedoutsidetheschoolgates.Shehalfturnedtoenter,then

turnedagainandlookeddownalongbrownroadthatwoundandwounditsway

offintothedistance,linkingMotabengtoavillagethirty-sixmilesaway.She

hadnothadenoughofherownpeaceandlongedtoholdontoitaslongas

possible.

Shestartedwalkingdownthedustybrownroad.Theschoolfencecontinued

forabouthalfamile.Ontheothersideoftheroadasmallsettlementofmud

hutshadsprungupovernight.Someofthevillagewomenhadfound

employmentattheschoolashousekeepersandnursemaidsforthechildrenofthe

teachingstaff.Shestoppedattheendoftheschoolfenceandlookedup…A

birdsanginatreenearby;along,deep,trillingmelody,heightenedtoanintense

sweetnessbythesilence.Agrey-brownwildrabbitscamperedwithlong,

alarmed,flappingearsacrosstheroadandsomeinsectsintherough,brown,

wind-torngrasscommunedinplaintive,broodingsoliloquieswiththeirown

selves.

‘Oneday,I’mgoingtolivehere,’shethought,neverdreamingthatthree

monthslaterthiswastobethesituationofherfirsthome.

Sheturned,climbedoverthefenceandwalkedthroughtheschoolgroundsto

theprincipal’shome.Itwasbuiltonaslightriseoverlookingtheschool

buildings.Heusedhishomeasanofficeduringthedayandhiswife,aquiet

prettywoman,satatanearbytabletypingouthisenormouscorrespondenceand

endlesspamphletsoneducationalprogrammesfordevelopingcountries.He

lookedupastonishedatherentry:‘Ithoughtyou’dbeinhospitalforsometime,’

hesaid.‘Yoursonisn’there.He’soutplayinginthefieldsorsomewherewith

ourson.They’llbehomeabouttwelveandyoucanwaithereifyoulike.’

‘I’llmakesometea,Eugene,’hiswifesaid,rising.

Thebeardedman,Eugene,turnedbacktohiswriting.Hesatinachairnear

thewindow.Onlyashesippedhisteadidheturnaroundandspeaktoher

briefly.

‘Youdon’tseemtogetalongwiththelocalpeople,’heobserved.

‘It’snotthat,’Elizabethsaid,anxiously.‘Peopledon’tcareherewhether

foreignersgetalongwiththemornot.Theyaredeeplyabsorbedineachother.’

Shepausedandlaughed.‘TheyhaveasayingthatBatswanawitchcraftworks

onlyonaMotswana,notanoutsider.IlikethegeneralatmospherebecauseI

don’tcarewhetherpeoplelikemeornot.Iamusedtoisolation.’

‘Toomuchisolationisn’tagoodthingforanyone,’hesaid.

Heputdownhiscupandreturnedtohiswriting.Shelookedoutofthe

windowatthesprawlingarrangementoflow,whitewashedbuildings.Itwasa

vastempire,builtonalmostnothingbutvoluntarylabourofallkinds.Theyhad

dugoutthethornbushesandwildscrub-grassandreplacedthemwithfruittrees,

vegetablegardens,chickenhousesand,inthedistance,gentlyswayingfieldsof

corn.Itwasaschoolwhereinventionsandimprovisationsofallsortsappeared

becausesomeonefromanotherlandalwayshadanewsolutiontooffertoany

problemthatarose.Wordslikeskill,work,fullestdevelopmentofpersonality,

andintellectrecurredagainandagaininthepamphletsthemanEugenewrote,

butinthosefluid,swiftly-writtenpaperscirculatedamongallteachersthey

quiveredonthepageswithalifealltheirown.Theyconjuredupinthemindsof

thepoorandstarvingadaywheneverytablewouldoverflowwithgoodfood;

roastchicken,roastpotatoes,boiledcarrots,rice,andpuddings.Theyfeltin

everywaylikefoodandclothesandopportunitiesforeveryone.Itwasn’tlike

thatinhiscountry,SouthAfrica.Theretheysaidtheblackmanwasnaturally

dull,stupid,inferior,buttheymadesuretodeprivehimofthetypeofeducation

thatdevelopedpersonality,intellect,skill.Somanydeeperinsightshadbeen

unfoldingbeforeherthatprovidedcluesastowhatmovedmenlikeEugeneto

opposedeathandevilandgreed,andsurroundthemselveswithacreative

ferment.Itwasoutofdeathitselfthatagreatlighthadbeenfound.Sellohad

said:‘EverythingwaswronguntilIbrokedownandcried…’Hadthisman,too,

lookedonadeepevilorracialhatredandbrokendownandcried?Something

wasgoingdrasticallywrongwithherownlife.Justtheotherdayshehadbroken

downandcried.Herloudwailhadonlythelogicofherinnertorment,butitwas

thesamething;theevilsoverwhelmingherwerebeginningtosoundlikeSouth

Africafromwhichshehadfled.Thereasoning,theviciousnesswerethesame,

butthistimethefaceswereblackanditwasnotlocalpeople.Itwaslarge,

loomingsoulpersonalities.

Shecouldn’tevenbegintosay:‘Well,youknowSello,don’tyou?Heisn’tall

heseemstobeonthesurface–theprogressiveBotswanafarmer,eagerto

discussthelatestagriculturaltechniques.He’sreallyDrJekyllandMrHyde.

Andhasconfidedsomeextraordinarythingstome,soI’mnotsureI’mquite

normalanymore.Idon’tthinkpeoplewhoconducttelepathicrelationshipswith

otherpeoplearenormalanyway,butIneverthoughtitwouldhappentome.I

couldswearI’vebeendeadsaneallalong,forallmylife,tillnow.Infact,I’m

astonishedtoseetheblueskytoday.AndyouknowwhatsortofworldIlivein?

It’smidnightallthetime.I’dnottakennoteofit.I’dnottakennoteofrealliving

peoplebecausesomanyfantasticimagessurroundme,andtheytalkandmove

allthetime,andwhentheyaddressmeIjustburstoutwiththerightlinesoncue

asthoughIamlivingwithastrange“otherself”Idon’tknowsowell.Andyou

knowSello?HehasaterribleMedusahiddenawayinhissubconscious.She’sso

realtomethatIliveinterrorofherallmydays.That’swhyIbrokedown.It’s

Medusa.ShescaredmefromthefirstmomentIsawher.She’sunlikeanyother

womanI’veseeninmylifebefore.She’shaughty,arrogant,andthere’ssome

awfulthingsunfoldinghere…Ifeelfrightenedandlost…’

Shestartedalittle.Shehadsaidherlastthoughtsoutloud.Themanlookedup

quietlyandsaidinasimpleway:

‘I’llhelpyou.’

Itwastheonlywayherevealedhispassionateidentitywithhiscountry.He

hadsaidthattomanySouthAfricanrefugees.

Shehadtochokebackarushofwords.Whenhadshenotfacedallthe

sorrowsoflifealone?Therehadneverbeenanyonenearwhenshehadstood

aloneonstreetcornersinSouthAfricaandstaredforlornlyatalifewithoutlove.

Therewasn’tanyonenearherinthesolitary,unfoldingmentaldramaoftorture

inMotabengvillage.Theman’sinstinctivesympathyandofferofhelpwasthe

nearestanyhumanbeinghadapproachedherisolation,andshecouldseethathe

wasworkingonthesimpletheorythatSouthAfricansusuallysufferedfrom

someformofmentalaberration,sosheonlynoddedherheadinagreementtohis

offerofassistance.

Thetwosmallboyscamepantingandlaughingupthestairs.Hersonwalked

straightovertoherandbumpedhimselfagainstherknee.Helookedupwith

sparklingblackeyes–thebutterflieshehadchasedafter,thecaterpillarshehad

caughtandsquashed,thewildraceacrossthescrubgrasswereclearlyvisible

picturesinhiseyes.Heburstout,impulsively:‘Jimmyismybestfriend,’the

truthwasheusuallysaidthataboutanyonewhopalledupwithhim,onceeven

aboutanoldMotswanamanofsixtywhohadsatdownonthefloorwithhim

andchattedwithhimaboutthemysteryoftheanimallifeinthebush.Sheheard

theothersmallboysetupaloudargumentwithhismotherinthekitchen.He

wasverydomineering.Hemoaned:‘Youhaven’tanylunchforme,andI’mso

hungry.’

‘Lunchwillbereadyinafewminutes,Jimmy,’hismothersaid.

‘Well,hurryupaboutit,’Jimmysaid,offhandedly.

‘Don’tyoutalktomelikethat,Jimmy!’hismothersaid,crossly.

ThesmallboyJimmywanderedoutofthekitcheninahuff.Elizabethcould

seethatthislittleJimmy,likeherownson,wasanimitatorofsomeotheradult

inthathousehold.Hewalkedwiththerollinggaitofastockyseaman,scratched

hisheadabsent-mindedly,blinkedhiseyesuncertainlyandfloppeddownina

chairwithhislegssprawledoutlikeagrownman.HelookedatElizabethand

observedinaquaint,old-manvoice:‘Iheardyouwereill?’

‘Yes,’shesaid.

‘I’mverysorrytohearthat,’hesaid,noddinghishead,wisely.

Inthecorner,fromhisworkdesk,hisfatherletoutoneabruptsnortof

laughter.

ItwassunsetwhenshearrivedbackatherhutinthecentralpartofMotabeng.

Someonehadremovedthedeadowlfromthedoorstep;otherwisetheareain

whichshelivedwasdesertedatthistimeofyear.Thewomenofthevillagewere

awayattheirlands,gatheringinthesummerharvestofcorn.Theywouldbe

backtowardstheendofthemonth,andsheknewthatoneofherfriends,Thoko,

whousuallysuppliedherwithtit-bitsofvillagegossip,wouldbringoveragift

ofwatermelonandpumpkin.Elizabethhadlivedformorethantworainy

seasonsinMotabengandthebeginningoftherainyseasonalwaysseemeda

magicaltimetoher.Womengathereduptheirpossessionsinabigbundleof

cloth,heaveditontopoftheirheads,slungahoeovertheirshoulders,andset

outwithlong,firm,determinedstridestotheirlands.

‘Wearegoingtoplough,’theysaid.

Shecouldonlystareafterthem,wistfully.Itwasnotapartofherlife;somany

aspectsofvillagelifeescapedher.Andyet,itwasonethingtowalktothe

greengrocer’sshopinatownandpickupneatlywrappedparcelsofpotatoes,

tomatoesandonions;itwasanothertoholdThoko’spumpkin,whichshehad

producedwithherownhands.Whoevercaredaboutfarmersinatown?Why,if

vegetablescameoutofamachine,itwasoneandthesamethingtoatown

dweller.Theywerejustthere,readymade.Buthere,itwasThokoandthe

ploughingseasonandone-and-a-halfdozenhighdramasinabushlife,shrouded

inmystery.ShehadonceaskedThokoifshecouldaccompanyhertoherlands

duringtheschoolholidays,toplough,andThokohadlookedatherwithwide

shockedeyes.

‘Aforeignerlikeyouwoulddieinoneday,it’ssodangerous,’shehad

protested.‘DoyouknowwhathappenedtomewhenIwaspullingtheplough?A

greatbigmambasnakejumpedoutofthegroundandranovermybody;

tsweeee,likelightning!Idroppeddeadonthegroundwithshock.Thecattle

jumpedhighintheair!Inthenightthejackalscomeandcryaroundthehut.

Theywantthemeatthatwehangupinthetrees.Thenthereisagreatwildcat,

likealeopard.Weareafraidtorestandfallasleepunderthetrees.Hecomes

aroundsoftlyandwithonesmashofhispawcracksopenourskullsandeatsout

brains.Healwaysputstheskinbacknicelyovertheeatenpartandwhenwefind

deadpeoplelikethat,weknowthewildcatisabout…’

ThegruesomedetailsoflifeinthebushmadeElizabethshudderfromendto

end.Shecancelledtotallytheideaofbeingthatkindoffarmerwhoearnedher

year’ssupplyoffoodinbreakneckbattleswithdangerouswildanimals.Buta

greatwonderaboutthesoilandthefoodithadproducedhadbeenaroused.The

slowlydriftingclosenesstothesoilwasincreasedbylivinginamudhut.Itwas

likelivingwiththetreesandinsectsrightindoors,becausetherewasnosharp

distinctionbetweenthecirclingmudwallsofahutandtheearthoutside.And

theroofalwayssmeltofmouldygrass,andallkindsofinsectsmadetheirhomes

inthegrassroofandcalmlydepositedtheirdroppingsonthebed,chair,table

andfloor.

Soshespentmostoftheholidaysoftherainyseasontakinglongwalksacross

Motabengvillagewiththesmallboy,absorbedbytheskythathadturneditself

intoahugeback-dropfortheswaying,swirlingmovementsofthedesertrain.

Sometimestherainfellinsoft,glisteningstreamsoverthevillage,shotthrough

withsunlight,andalltheroofsofthemudhutschangedtopuregold.Sometimes

thehorizonraincamesweepingoverMotabenginoneenormouswhite-packed

cumulusclouddrivenbyhighwindsandsuddenlyemptieditselfinoneviolent,

terrificanddeafeningroaroverthevillage.Itseemedtoheightenanddeepenthe

ramblinglabyrinthofherinnerlife,which,liketheskyofMotabenginthe

summertime,swayedandswirledwithsubterraneanupheavals.Inmomentsof

vast,expansivepeacelikethatevening,shelikedtoimaginethatshewas

gatheringallthethreadsoflifetogetherandholdingtheminherhands.There

wasanaddedtouchofsound,solidsanitythroughthatone,almostday-long

contactwiththefamilylifeoftheman,Eugene.Sheputthesmallboytosleep

onhismattressonthefloorandsatonthebed,broodinglysippingacupoftea,

reflecting,shutinbriefly,onherownself.Therewasahalf-eagerstirringinher.

ThepracticalgeniusoftheEugenemanexcitedherinterest.Itwassobroadand

impersonal,sofreeandunconcernedandsuchasharpcontrasttothenightmare

thathadpropelledherownbreakdownthatsheranandre-rantheeventsofthe

dayoverandoverinhermind,withasimple,child-likejoy.

Butseeminglyhappinessofanykindwasnotherimmediateprogramme.The

hardconflictofgoodandevilinaridterraincrasheddownintoher

consciousnessassoonassheclosedhereyesinthedark.TherewasMedusa.She

wassmiling,mockingly.Sheheldaplateoffoodinherhandsand,offeringitto

Elizabeth,said:‘Areyousick?Eatthisfood.’

Elizabethacceptedtheplate.Assheraisedaspoonfulofthefoodtoher

mouth,Medusasnatchedawaytheplateandyapped:

‘Don’teattoomuch.You’retoofat.’

Hersecondincommand,Sellointhebrownsuit,noddedhishead.Therewas

ameanexpressioninhiseyes.DetachedfromitallsatSellothemonk.Itwas

againsthimthatshewastoslowlydevelopadeep,blackrage.Hewasclearly

usingherasafocusforhisobservationsofMedusaandSellointhebrownsuit.

Hesattherestaringatthemfixedly,un-movingly,withoutanycensure.There

wasnoonetocensureMedusathewaythepoorofAfricahadwalkedinand

censuredbothSelloandElizabeth.Yetsheclaimedthosepeopleasherpeople.

Whyweretheynottheretosortoutthemorallogicofherdeeds,tooffer

commentsonquestionsofgoodorevil?Medusawassimplygivenawide,free

fieldtodisplayhermajorpreoccupations,themainpriorityofwhichwasthe

eliminationofElizabeth.Shehadalotmorethunderboltsinreserve,noneas

painfulanddeadlyasherfirstblast,buteachtimetheyhither,Elizabethwould

toppleover,collapse,andremaininbedfortwodaysonend.Evenifshewanted

to,shecouldnotretaliateinanyway.Shehadnoflashesoflightning,bolts,

powersofthespiritoranythinglikethat.Therewasjustthislooselyknit,

shufflingambiguousmassthatwasherpersonality.Wasthatwhyshewasso

easytokillonalmostanyoccasion?ShefollowedSello’sreasoninguptoa

certainpoint,butlatercametotheconclusionthat,likeMedusa,hetoowanted

toeliminateher.Ofonethingshewassure,hisinitialpresentationof

constructivegoodnessinimagesandpictureshadbeenaputtogetherwholeof

observationsandtentativefeelershehadputouttowardsthesoulsofothers.He

hadpresentedittoElizabethasaformofteaching,deliberatelymanipulatingthe

wordsandgesturesofthepeoplewhohadapproachedher.AssoonasMedusa

enteredthepicture,hebecameoblivioustoeverythingbuttheargumentshe

conductedwithhisowntorturedheart.Hislineofreasoningwentsomethinglike

this:

‘Oh,she’smeanteverythingtome.Thefutureisunthinkablewithouther,and

yettherelationshiphasrunitsfullcourseandthisistheendofit.Theremightbe

aloopholesomewhere,somethingIcanlatchonto,tomaketherelationship

evolveintosomethingnewandsoperpetuateit.There’ssomethingdisturbing

me;apartofmypresentevolutionisAfrican,andIhearthebeginningsofa

greatsymphony,acompletestatementforthefutureaboutthedignityofman,

wherenoneishighandnoneislowbutallareequal.Thedifficultyhereisthatit

hasn’tyetswelleduptoaloudandconsciousdeclarationoftheAfricanfuture.

Wearearisingcivilization.Thesurfaceoflifehereisnarrow,stifling,andfullof

pettyprejudice.Itisaworldwiththepowertoturninonitselfandkeepitsown

secrets.Thatwasthekindofworldweoperatedininthedarktimes,sonarrow,

soexclusive,soshutinthatscavengersaroseandatewhateverwasinsight,

leavingnothingoverfortheordinaryman.DidIcareadamn?Iwastop-class

royaltyinthosedaysandsowasshe.Lettheordinarymanbemyteacherthis

timeandseewhathehastosay.Ah,yousee,it’smoreterribleinAfricathan

anywhereelse.Theydon’tgiveadamnformystatusasspiritualsuperman.

There’snosuchthingasthesupermanhere,thatis,ifI’mlivingasamanI’m

humanandfalliblelikeeveryoneelse.Peoplewhohavebeendespisedforso

longknowevilatitsroots.Letmeworkoutmytiestoheralonghumanand

falliblelines.AsformymysticalMadonna,IdarenotevenlookatherorelseI

amlost.Letmetakeaportionofthedarknessandaportionofthelightand

combineitintotheformofawomanImightstilllove…’

AndthroughoutthatwholeyearMedusarepliedonlyindespicableterms,the

wrongthingswerestressed.Whensomeonesays‘mypeople’withaspecific

stressontheblacknessofthosepeople,theyareafterkingdomsandpermanently

childlikeslaves.‘Thepeople’arenevergoingtoriseabovethestatusof‘the

people’.Theyaregoingtobetoldwhatisgoodforthembythe‘mother’andthe

‘father’.AndshemadethewrongkindsofattacksonElizabeth.Toomany

peopletheworldoverwerebecomingmixedbreedsandshadingthemselves

downtobrownsandyellowsandcreams.Andthen,shecouldhavechosenany

otherwomanbutElizabethtodeclaimhersexualsuperioritytoo.Sexhadnever

countedinthestrenuousturmoilofdestinybehindElizabeth,butlongtermsof

prisonconfinementshad,deathhad,loss,sufferingandsacrificehad,orelse

whatdidlovereallymean?

Sello,themonk,hadproclaimedthisveryroadinoppositiontohorrors–let

peoplebefreetoevolve,leteverythingaloneandre-createanewworldofsoft

texturesandundertones,fullofwildflowersandbirdsandchildren’splaytime

andwomenbakingbread.HekeptonlookinghopefullyatMedusa.Ohno,she

simplywantedtobethemanageroftheAfricancontinentwitheveryoneshe

founddisagreeable–out.Hefellbackonahaggardpose,shrinkingand

shrinkinginsizeuntilhismonk’sclothbegantoflaponhispersonlikea

scarecrow’srags.FromtheSellointhebrownsuitissuedalowmoanofanguish.

HeseemedtobedesperatelyattachedtothatthingMedusahadthatnoother

womanhad.Andeventhiswasamockery.Itwasabnormallyconstructed,like

seventhousandvaginasinone,turnedonandoperatingatwhiteheat.Andan

atmosphereofbrutaldesirepervadedeverything,stagnatedeverything,andthe

wrenching,miserablebattleoffiercetug-of-warstretchedonandonwithnoend

insight.Thecontentsofthecesspitleapthighintotheairlikeanerupting

volcano.

‘Ican’tthinkalongtheselines,’Elizabethmoaned,overandover.Ifsomeone

hadpromisedtohelpsomeonetherehadbeennowarningofajourneyright

throughhell.Theradiusofhellseemedendless.Thereweredancinggirlsonthe

roadinbluesilkpantswiththeconfusedroarofSodomandGomorrahand

Molochbehindthem,therewerepervertsofallkindswhohadjumpedonthe

bandwagonofwillfulevilwithglee,andoneweirdlittlegirlwhorolledher

eyeswithmockinnocenceandsaid:‘Iliketosleepwithmydaddy.’When

Elizabethpickedherupsheturnedroundandbitheronthehand.Shedidn’tlike

thepartyspoiltinanyway.Andthewayshesmiled!ThatwasallElizabeth

couldnotdo;otherwiseshewasimmersedinthefilthfromheadtotoe.Itwas

likeswallowingitwhole,andtheordinarypleasuresoflife,likeeatingfood,

becameanexcruciatingmisery.Itwasasifexcretawaseverywhere.Apanicto

concealthehorrorofherobservationsfurtherconfusedherthought-processes.

Shestraineduphillagainstthedownwardpull,buttheefforttocreatecounter-

themesofgoodnesstotheevilwassoimmense,itwaslikethefeebleflayingin

theairofabeetlehelplesslyonitsback.Herewasaworldofnoappeal.Here

onecouldcryandcryandcrywithoutanyanswertosuffering,Medusa

providingtheonlycontrastinthisinhumanworld.Nothingaffectedher

adversely.Shemovedpowerfully,busily,fearlesslyundercircumstancesthat

madeElizabethsicktothepointofdeath.Shehadreallyearnedthetitleofthe

protectorofCaligula,thestruttingemperorofheaveninthetimewhenevilhad

beentotallyassertiveandconsciencenonexistent.Tosubmittoevilandlearn

fromitwasnotsoeasyasthoseseeminglystraightforwardtruthfulstatements

Sellohadmadeinthebeginning.Evilisacomplexitysomonumentalthat

everythingbecomesatangleoflies.

Wheredidthegreatgapofblank,shut-eyegoodnessfitin?Forthat’swhat

monkswere,delicatelybufferedpillarsofprinciplesandplatitudes.Theysat

underBodhitreesandreviewedalltheirpastlives.Theysaidtheyhad

conversationswiththeforcesofevilbutthisdidnotscarethem.Somecounter-

majestyofthesoulmadetheevilonecowerandshudder.Thenafterfortydays

ofdisciplinedmeditation,theyaroseandgatheredaroundthemmenoflike-mind

andmajesticsoul-stature.Theysaid:

‘Brother,Ihaveseencertainthingsinhell(neverexplicitlydefined).These

thingsurgemetoadviseyoutoovercomepassion,pride,grasping,andgreed.I

haveovercomepassionmyselfandaminfullcontrolofmysenses…’

Theyweremenwithafantasticabilitytotakeaswivesmadonnaswhomet

themhalfwayintheirpursuitofGod.Ifsheacceptedastruethesmallchunksof

thepastthrownatherbySello,thenthemeditationsundertheBodhitreewere

asprecariousanduncertainasanyventureinlife.Godwasnosecurityforthe

soul.SheacceptedSello’shalf-concealedrevelationofthedescentfromBuddha

toDavidoftheJewsandbalanceditagainstwhatwasrecordedofthat

tumultuous,turbulentlife–theinnatenobility,thedeepGod-contact,the

peculiarAlCapone-likemurderofUriahandtheexplosiveexposure,an

exposureasruthlessandvehementasthemurder;thelongandtortuoussuffering

asatonementformurder;thecontinuousinterjectionsandadviceoftheprophets:

‘Godsaidithadtobethisway.NowGodsaidmurderisactuallyagrievous

crime.Itcreatesalongcycleofretribution.Well,David,eatupallyour

retributioninonelifethroughcalamityaftercalamity…’

Theconfusionoftheprophet’sinterjections,theordersfromGod,the

dubiousnessofthewomeninvolved,thepassionateattachmenttothewomanall

tookonthestrangelogicofdeliberateplanning.Soharshwasthepresentface-

to-faceviewofevilthatinasubconsciouswayElizabethfoundhermindturning

withrelieftoAfricanrealism:awomanwassimplyawomanwithlegs;aman

simplyamanwithlegs,andifgoodandnobletheyearnedacertaincourteous

respect,justasChristianityandGodwerecourteousformalitiespeoplehad

learnedtoenjoywithmentalandemotionaldetachment–therealbattlefrontwas

livingpeople,theirpersonalities,theirtreatmentofeachother.Areal,living

battleofjealousy,hate,andgreedwasmoreeasilyunderstoodandresolved

underpressurethansoaring,mysticalflightsofthesoul.

Herexteriorlifehadapainfulwayofcoincidingwithherinnertorment.Three

weekslater,assheenteredtheschoolgrounds,shelostherjob.Theprincipal,a

tall,thinMotswanaman,handedheraletterfromtheschoolboard.Hewas

grinning.Heknewitscontents:‘Wehavereceivedareportthatyouhavebeen

shoutingandswearingatpeopleinpublic.Suchbehaviourisunbecomingtoa

teacher.Wearedoubtfulofyoursanity,andrequestthatyousubmittousa

certificateofsanityfromamedicalofficerwithinfourteendaysofreceiptofthis

notice.’

Sheputtheletterinherbagandturnedtowalkaway.Theprincipalrushed

afterherandgrabbedherarm.Hewasstillgrinningbutdiscomforted,flustered.

‘Whereareyougoing?’hedemanded.

‘I’mnotworkinghereanymore,’shesaid,quietly.

‘Youcan’tdothat,’hesaid.‘Youcan’tjustwalkout.It’snotroubletogetthe

certificate.Whydon’tyougoandseethedoctor?’

Hewouldnotletgoofherarm.Therewasaconfusionofhatredandanxiety

onhisface.Ontheotherhand,someonelikeher,whowentaroundsaying

‘bloodybastardBatswana’,deservedtoloseherjob.Ontheother,therewasan

appallingsenseofscandalintheair.Theycouldnotpin-pointit.Theydidnot

knowwhatitwas,exceptthatshefrightenedthemdeeply.Agroupofteachers

descendedonthem.Hebecamequitehysterical,defendinghimselftothemin

Setswana.Shetriedtopullherarmfree,neartotears.Shewouldn’thavemadeit

anywayasateacherforlong.Theinnerstormwastoohigh,tooterrible.

Amaleteacherwhostoodalittleapartspokeupinavoiceofquietcommand:

‘Leaveher.Lethergo.’

Therewasamurmurofgeneralagreement.Theyreallydislikedherand

preferredtohavenothingtodowithher.Therehadbeenwhisperedsecrets

amongthemselves,afewalarmedopenremarksfollowedbyabewildering

silence.

Shewalkedalittlewaydownthepathwayfromtheschool.Theschoolbell

rang.Shestopped.Herclasswouldhavenoteacher.Thechildrenwerea

teacher’sheaven.Educationwassohardtocomeby.Theyconcentratedover-

intensely,over-eagerlyontheirlessons.Theypaidforaneducationinschoolsso

ill-equippedtheteachershadnoreferencebooksandhadtorakeupinformation

fromtheirownbrainsonthestructureoftheskinandthetropicalrainforestsof

Africa.Englishcompositionwasthestarkest,bleakestlessonoftheday.

Someonehadsetthepattern,anditremainedthefurthestreachofthechildren’s

imaginations:LifeinBotswana–‘Whentherainrainswegotothelandsto

plough.Weploughwithoxen.Thecowisaveryusefulanimal.Weuseevery

partofit.Wesellitsskinforleather.Wesellitsbones.Glueismadefromits

hooves…’Theytrustednothingelse.Itwassafeandthoroughlyknownby

heart.TopicslikePlay-timeinMotabeng,MyMotherandFather,TheWeather,

SunriseandSunset,BirdsofBotswanastartedoffwithafewstraggling

sentencesinincomprehensibleEnglishandstrayeddesperatelyinto:‘Whenthe

rainrains…’Itwastotallyimpossiblealsotochangetheformulato:‘Whenit

rains…’Childrenaregreatimitators,buttheradiusofimitationhadalready,by

thetimeshereceivedherclass,beenseverelyrestrictedtobarrenground.There

wasasmallbearofherchildhoodmemoriesnamedFuzzyWuzzy.Hewentfora

holidaybytheseasideandateanenormouspinkandwhiteice-cream.Shehad

notresteduntilshehadlivedout,tothelastdetail,allhisholidayadventures.

Children’sliteratureandwritingwasoftenthemostmagicalworld,andyetthere

wereharshenvironmentslikethiswhereallmagicwasdeadorhadnoteven

beguntolive,everythingwastouchedbythisharshness.Theyatenobreakfastin

theearlymorning,andbymiddaytheirmouthswerewhiteandpinchedwith

starvation.Otherchildrenhadsoftmoundsofbutterwheretheircheeksoughtto

be,anddimpledsmiles.Thechildrenshehadtaughtwerestark,gaunt,thin,like

thetwistedthornbush.So,ifshecriedaboutonething,shecriedaboutother

thingstoo.Painwasnotonlypain.Itwasablindingdazeofagonypilingupon

allsides.Theonlysanecentreofpurposeful,expandingandhopefulactivityin

thisdesolationwastheMotabengSecondarySchool.Shewalkedhome,

dismissedayounggirlwhowascaringforherson,andwithhimtookataxi

onceagaintothehomeoftheEugeneman.Hadn’thesaid:‘I’llhelpyou’?

Hedid.Hereadtheletterfromtheschoolboardwithoutcomment,thenturned

roundandasked:‘Doyouhaveanyplans?’Shehadnone.Hehadathousand

andonethingsgoingonatthesametime.Therewasthesecondaryschool

cateringforGCEstudents.Oncethathadbeensecurelyestablished,hehad

spreadoutthenetworkofhiseducationalprogrammetoincludeelementary-

schoolleaverswithnofuture.Theyformedtheyouth-developmentwork-groups

oftheschoolandacquiredskillsinbuilding,carpentry,electricity,printing,shoe

making,farming,andtextilework.Oncethishadbeensecurelyestablished,he

turnedhisattentiontothepoor,illiteratevillager.Inhimwerethebeginningsof

localindustry.Hishousewasalreadyaclutterofhand-madegoods;mats,

blankets,baskets,woodenbowlsandspoons,handbagsofroughwovenstring

and,inonecorneroftheroom,ahugeelementarylookforhand-madewoven

baskets.Hewalkedtoacupboardandtookoutacollectionofodd-looking

objects,amongwhichwereapieceofroughlymadecandle,abarofcrude

washingsoapandasmallerbaroflanoline,awhiterock,andabottleoflager

beerhe’dbrewedhimself.Heheldupthelanoline,proudly:

‘Wehaven’tfixedthelatheryet,’hesaid.‘Peoplelikealotmorelatherintheir

lanoline.Stanisworkingonitinthelab.He’salsousinganartificial,imported

perfumeatpresentbutwouldliketotryoutalocalperfumefromthetreesor

wildflowersofthebush.He’llgooutoneweekendwithagroupoflocalpeople

andhuntoutanewperfume.Wewanttoturnpeople’sattentiontotheirnatural

resources.Therearen’tanylocalindustriesexceptcornedbeef,andifpeople

onlyknewhowandwhattousefromtheirsurroundingswecouldbecome

independentofthegoodsoftherichmanufacturersinSouthAfricaand

Rhodesia.’Hepausedandheldupthewhiterock.‘ThisisManyapiristone.Itis

asourceoflimeforourbuildings.Wehavestartedexperimentsinstonemasonry.

Wewanttousetherocksofthebushforourprojectbuildings…’

Heblinkeduncertainly.Hiseyesightwasnotsogood.

‘Wouldyouliketojointhewool-spinningandweavinggroup?’heasked.‘My

wifeisorganizingit.’

Beforeshecouldreply,hiswifejumpedupeagerlyandfromatablenearby

pickedupaballofwoolandaballofrawsheep’swool.Elizabethhardly

listenedtothedetailsofteasing,spinninganddyeingwool.Twoconflicting

feelingsroseupinherwithasuppressedrushofwords.Shewantedtosay:‘I

mustgetoutofhere.Iampanic-stricken.Myinternallifeisallawry,andwhen

I’massaultedthereI’mbroken.I’vewithstoodalotofexternalhardships,but

I’mincapableofwithstandinginternalstress,nottheabnormalkindthat’s

afflictingme.’

ThentherewasThoko’spumpkin.Thokohadreturnedafewdaysagoandhad

givenheragiftofahuge,swollenyellowpumpkin.Shehadcookedaportionof

itandsatforsometimesimplyadmiringitsvividorangehue.

‘I’dpreferanykindofworkwithcrops,’shesaid.

Henodded:‘Wehaveanareaofaboutoneacreforavegetablegardentogo

alongwiththeproject,’hesaid.‘Weareclearingoutthethornbush,slowly,over

theweekends,butweneedsomeonetoconcentrateonduplicatingsomeofthe

newmethodswehaveintroducedatthefarm,inthevillagegarden.Wouldyou

liketodothat?’

Alotofotherthingsclickedintoplaceafterthat.Shehadsomesavings.There

wasthesmallpatchofunusedschoolgroundoutsidetheschoolfence.Asmall

whitewashedhousesprangintoexistencethere,overnight,builtbythebuilders’

work-groupofMotabengSecondarySchool.Adustybrownroadsweptpastthe

door.Thebushsleptallaround,andatnighttheinsectscommunedwiththeir

ownselvesinlong,brooding,plaintivesoliloquies.Thedeep,blackmidnight

skyvibratedwithabillionsoftbluelights,andatdawnthesunroselikea

majestickingthrustingonepowerfulgoldenarmabovetheflathorizon.Onlythe

bush,thebrownroad,theinsects,thestarsandtheyellow-golddawnremaineda

tender,backgroundsymphony.Therewasnobeautyortendernessinher

learning:

Whatislove?

WhoisGod?

IfIcry,whowillhavecompassiononmeasmysufferingisthesufferingof

others?

Thisisthenatureofevil.Thisisthenatureofgoodness.Thoko’spumpkinled

heralongaroughstonyroad,onemileintodeepbush.Leafy,spreadingtrees

shadedtheroad.Hiddeninthetangleoftreeswerethefarm-buildingsofthe

farmers’youth-developmentwork-group.Attheapproachtothefarmwasabig

whitewashed,grassroofed,dormitoryforthestudentsand,astone’s-throwaway,

therondavel-shapedhouseoftheEnglishfarmmanager.Hewassointensely

reservedandaloofthatnoconversationeverwentbeyondhisworkandcrops.

OveraperiodElizabethgatheredalittlemoreinformationabouthim.Itwas

ratherdull.HewasaQuaker.HetoldElizabeth,whenshewassmokinga

cigaretteinthedairy,thatshe’dspoilthemilkandcheese,andthatsmokingwas

oneofthevicesoflife.Hesaidhedidn’tlikethelagerbeerEugenebrewed

becausetherewereanawfullotofdrunkardsinBotswanaandhewas

encouragingit.Hedidn’tlikeanymusicbutthegreatchoralmusicofthe

cathedralchurchesofEnglandhehadontape.Infact,hewassooppressively

conservativeandgoody-goodythatitwasalmostananticlimaxtosaythathe

wasoneofthegreatestagriculturalmindsinthecountry.Hespentallhistime

adaptingagriculturetowater-conservationmethodsandhadacquiredsuch

tremendousfameasaBotswanaresearcherthathewasaformidablepersonality

tohavedealingswith.AsthoughheknewaboutThoko’spumpkinbeingthe

maincauseofElizabeth’sventureintoagriculture,hewasinthehabitof

replyingtohereveryquerywithrudeandsarcasticremarks.Hisattitudeclearly

said:‘Yes,insect,andwhatdoyouwantnow?Can’tyouseeI’maverybusy

man?’

Muchmorefascinating,weird,human,lavish,andentertainingwerethe

Danishfamilieswhomadeupthesmallgroupofdisgruntledfarm-instructors.

Thefarm-projectseemedtobetotallysupportedbytheDanishgovernmentand

wassetuponagrandscale.Theybuiltlarge,modernhousesforthepeoplethey

sentoverandtookcareofeverydetailoftheirlives,downtothelastounceof

petrol.Buttheyalsopaidforanelaboratewateringsysteminthevegetable

gardenandstockedthedairywithfancyFrieslandcattle.Thecauseofgeneral

gloomamongtheDaneswasthattheywerealluniversitygraduatesin

agriculturewhofoundthemselvesteachingbarelyortotallyilliterateBatswana

students.Theonlyrequirementforjoiningtheyouth-developmentwork-groups

wasaslightacquaintancewithEnglish.Otherwisegeniuswouldariseovernight.

Theydidnotbelievethis.Theyspentalltheirsunsethoursofleisuredenigrating

theirpupils.Apparentlytheyhadahighstandardofcultureandcivilizationin

Denmark.

YethereagaintheconservativeEnglishmanhadnaturallysolvedaproblem

theyperpetuallymoanedabout.Hehadselectedthemostbrilliantstudents,who

quicklygraspedscientifictermsandformulas,andplacedtheminpositionsof

responsibilityovertheothers.Theyformedasecondvanguardofteaching

instructors,communicatinginSetswanaalltheknowledgetheyhadgrasped

aheadoftheothers.Henevertalkedaboutthestupidityorilliteracyofthe

materialhehadtoworkwith.ThefirstdayElizabethapproachedhimhesaid:

‘Godowntothegarden.It’sanothermileawayfromhere.You’llfindSmall-

Boyincharge.He’lltellyoueverythingyouwanttoknowaboutthenew

methodswehaveintroducedhere.He’soneofthebesttraineeswehave.’

TheEnglishmandidalltherightthingsthroughanimpatienceforprogress.

HelackedthehumanityoftheEugenemanwhohadoriginatedtheprojects.In

hispamphletwriting,theEugenemantotallyblurredthedividinglinebetween

theelitewhohadthemeansforeducationandtheilliteratewhohadnone.

Educationwasforall.Healwaysturnedupwithsomethingforeveryone.Inthis

respect,hewasanAfrican,notawhiteman,andthesubtletyofitspreadtohis

conductineverydaylife.Shehadspentadayinhishouse.Atlunchtimeagroup

oflabourershadwalkedintohishouseandsatdownatthetablewithhim.They

wereBatswana.Theyhadpickeduptheirspoons,quietlybenttheirheadsand

eatentheirfoodinahumblemanner.Hewassoidenticalwiththemingesture

andposturethat,startled,Elizabeththought:‘Howisithismovementsand

gesturesaresoAfrican?There’ssuchadepthofknee-bendinginhim,it’san

unconscioushumility.’

Italwayshelped,too,whenpeoplefromotherlandstooknoteofthefuture

greatnessoftheAfricancontinent.AsitwasapartofthePeaceCorps

programmeforvolunteerstolivewithvillagefamiliesforthepurposesof

learningSetswana,onesuchyounggirlhadremarkedtoElizabeth:

‘Theymakeyoufeellikeaqueen.Youreveryneediscateredforand

attentivelywatchedover.Thereislittletosharebutitissharedbeautifully,so

thatevenanofferofaglassofwaterseemstobeanofferofthemostexpensive

champagne.Peopleherearekingsandqueenstoeachother…’

Thatmorningasshewalkeddowntherough,shadyroadtothevegetable

gardensitseemedtoElizabeththegreatestadventureshewasevertoundertake.

Itisimpossibletobecomeavegetablegardenerwithoutatthesametimecoming

intocontactwiththewonderfulstrangenessofhumannature.Everymanand

womanis,insomeway,anamateurgardeneratheartandvegetablesarereally

thecentralpartofthedailydiet.Evenindesertcountriestheyareobtainedby

hookorcrook.Everyonealsoknowssomethingaboutvegetablestheyareover-

eagertoimparttoaharassedgardener–iftheirgrandfatherdidn’tgrowa

vegetable,thentheirauntdid.Buthalfofitwasthejoyofwalkingaroundaplot

shimmeringwithbrightgreenleaves,anexpressionofwonderontheirfaces,

theirhandsabsent-mindedlyreachingintotheirpocketsandhandbagsforcoins.

HaditallreallystartedwithSmall-BoyandCamilla,theDane?Camillahadto

beincludedeventhoughshewasapainintheblessedneck.

Shepushedopenthesmallgateattheentrancetothegarden.Threestudents

tendedit,bentdown,silentlyabsorbedintheirwork.Theyworegreenoveralls.

‘Gooddaygentlemen,’shecalledfromthegate.‘WhoisSmall-Boy?’

Oneofthestudentsworkingatoverturningthesoilonaplotstraightenedup

andwavedhishand.Assheapproached,hisfacebrokeintoanenchanting,

Puck-likegrin.Hehadsmall,twinkling,friendlyeyesandasmallup-turned

nose.AswaspoliteSetswanacustom,greetingsandintroductionswerethemost

importantthing.

‘That’sKepotho,’hesaid,pointingtoayoungboy,bentover,andthinninga

carrotbed.‘That’sDintle,’hesaid,pointingtotheotheryoungboycrouched

nearashade-housewhereseedlingsweremade.Thenheadded,proudly‘Dintle

ismybestfriend.’

Theyallshoutedbackagreetingandcontinuedwiththeirwork.Elizabeth

said:‘MynameisElizabeth.MrGrahamesentmeheretotakenotes.Hesaid

youwouldtellmeeverything.Ishouldalsoliketodosomepracticalwork.

You’veheardaboutthelocal-industriesprojectEugeneisstartinginthevillage

neartheschool?Ithasavegetablegarden,andwewanttocopysomeofthenew

methodsyouareusinghereforthegarden.’

Henodded:‘I’lltalkwhileI’mworking,’hesaid,andcontinuedturningthe

lush,heavily-manuredsoilwithhisfork.Elizabethsatdownnexttotheplotand

spreadhernotebookopenonherknees.Theairwasalivewiththetinkleof

gently-seepingwater.Laiddownthecentreofeachbedwerelonglengthsof

perforatedpipes.Watertippledoutofeachlikeminutewaterfalls,ina

continuousstream.Amazeofpiping,likeajigsawpuzzle,linkedstreamto

streamthroughoutthegarden.Itwasagardenthatwatereditselfthewholeday

long,oncethecentraltapwasturnedon.NexttoElizabethwasabedofthemost

giganticcabbageshehadeverseeninherlifebefore.Shestaredinwonderatthe

nearest,full-moonface.

‘Whatvarietyofcabbageisthis?’sheaskedSmall-Boy.

‘GiantDrumheadEarly,’hesaid,importantly.

‘Buttheyaresobig!’shesaid,astounded.

‘Ofcourse,’hesaid.‘Wehaveeverythinghere,intherightproportions,for

vegetables.Ithinktheylikethisgarden,andourwateringsystem.Gunner

alwayssaysvegetablesdon’tlikebeingsplashedalloverwithwatereveryday.’

‘Dotheymindbeingeaten?’sheasked,stupidly.Small-Boymadethe

vegetablessoundhuman.Hesmiledbackather,asonewouldatanidiot.

‘Theydon’tmind,’hesaidpatronizingly.‘There’sthousandsofcabbageina

one-ouncepacketofseed.’

Shelikedthissortofconversation,butSmall-Boytookhisworkandposition

veryseriously.Hebenthisheadandstartedtalkingintheformal,severewayof

ateacher.

‘Onceabedhasbeenused,’hesaid,slowly,‘andallthecropsremoved,I

placethreewheel-barrowsofkraalmanureonitandthenbroadcastonepoundof

chemicalfertilizerintheproportionsoftwopartsnitrogen,threeparts

phosphorus,andfourpartspotash…’

Heturnedandpointedtotheplothewasworkingon,wherethesebasic

preparationswerecomplete.

‘Ineedthisbedagain,’hecontinued,‘soIturnthesoilonceanddeeplywitha

diggingfork.Iamcarefultopushthediggingforkdeepintothesoiltothehilt,

thenturn.ThiswayIensurethatenoughsoilmingleswithfertilizerandmanure,

andtheygetdownasdeepaspossible.’

Hepaused.

‘Thefoundationofourgarden,’hecontinued,‘isthedeeptrenchbed.Theuse

ofitpromotesquickgrowthandimprovesthequalityofthevegetables.The

followingadvantagesforplantsarealsoobtained;agoodcirculationofairinthe

bedandastrongrootsystem,andyoualsoconservewater…’

Therewasasudden,jarringinterruptionfromthegate.Awoman’shigh,shrill

voicesweptoverthegarden.ItwasCamilla.

‘Anyoneplayingdicearoundhere?’sheshrilled.

Shecamespeedingtowardsthem,hereyes,herhands,herwalkcreatinga

turmoilofdistraction,shatteringthesleepy,murmuringpeaceofthegarden.All

lifehadtostopandturntowardsher.Hervoicehadaninsistentcommandtoit,

yetitwasnocommandoflife.Itwasascatter-brainedassertionofself-

importance.ShestoppedaninstantatabedandshoutedtoSmall-Boy:

‘Small-Boy!Didn’tItellyounottoleavethemanureontopofthebed?You

mustturnitatonce!Thenitrogenevaporates.’

ShespedaroundtowhereElizabethwasseatedontheground.

‘Ah!’Sheexclaimed,brightly.‘YoumustbeElizabeth.GrahametoldmeI’d

findyouhere.’

ShebentdownandwhippedthenotebookoutofElizabeth’shand,ranher

eyesdownthepageofnotesandexclaimed:‘Ah,that,thedeeptrenchgarden,’

whippedapenciloutofapocketofherlooseshiftdressandrapidlybegan

sketchingsomething.ShethrustthenotebookbackatElizabeth.Therewere

threeparallellines:One,surface.Two,dig-out.Three,substitutesoilwith

manure.Thatdismissedthedeeptrenchgarden,irrespectiveofwhetheritwas

comprehensibletoElizabethornot.Sheracedon:

‘IassistGunnerwhoistheclassinstructor,’shesaid.‘Heisawayonholiday

atpresent.I’mreallyalandscapegardenerinmyowncountry,ifsomeone

doesn’tcomedownhereduringpracticalworktimethesetraineeswilljustsit

underthetreesandplaydice.Comeon,I’llshowyoutheseedlingpreparation.It

isoneofthebestmethodsoftransplantingyoucaneverfind.Grahame

introduceditfromSouthAfrica.Isn’theawonderfulman?Ah!’

Elizabethwasforcedtofollowafterher.Shecouldn’timmediatelycollecther

witsinthissituation.Thehalf-madCamillawomandescendedonDintle,who

hadallalongbeenfillingsmallplasticbagswithasoilpreparationforseedlings.

Undertheshade-housewererowsandrowsofcabbageandtomatoseedlingsin

plasticbags.Sheglancedatthemandbeganshouting:

‘Dintle!Whyhaven’tyouwateredtheseedlings?Tch!Idon’tunderstand

thesepeople!’SheswungaroundonElizabeth:‘Youmustbeabletofeelwhen

plantsneedwater.Youmustnotwaittobetold.’

Allofasudden,thevegetablegardenwasthemostmiserableplaceonearth.

Thestudentshadbecomehumiliatedlittleboysshovedaroundbyahysterical

whitewomanwhoneversawblackpeopleaspeoplebutasobjectsofpermanent

idiocy.Shecouldnotevenbegintoseetheextremedelicacyandprecariousness

oftheexperiment,thattheywereyoungmenwhohadnofutureandwere

suddenlybeinggivenone,andthattheytookEugene’sofferveryseriously.

KnowingthatElizabethwasmoreliteratethatthestudents,shethrustherdown

too.Sheflunginformationatherinsuchawayastomakeittotally

incomprehensibleandmeaningless,subtlydemonstratingthattoreachherlevel

ofeducationElizabethhadtobeabletograsptheincoherent.Shehadawayof

graspingthenotebookoutofElizabeth’shandsandscribblingherownnotes,

withsketches.Sherushedaboutfromonethingtoanother.Itwasreallyhatredat

firstsight,buttheblue-eyeschatteringwomanseemedentirelyunawareofit.

‘God,Iloatheher,’Elizabeththought,strugglingtofindawayoutofthe

gardenasshewasshoutingatSmall-Boyaboutapipethathadburstandwas

wastingwater.

‘Waitaminute!’Camillacalled,‘I’mgoinghometoo.’

Thensheproceededtodominatetheroughstoneroadwithitsshadytrees.

Elizabethwasnaturallyanimbecileaboutthewondersofnature,andthis

Camillahadtomakeamendsforontheonemilejourneytoherhome.

‘Ah!Thatismyfavouritetree!Justlookatitsbuds!Andtheshapeofit!

Look!Look!Didyouseethatsmallgreymousescamperingintothebush?Ah!

Isn’titwonderful!Look!Look!Didyouseethatbird?Grahamesaysit’scalled

theGoing-AwaybirdinSetswana.Don’tyouthinkthat’scharming?’

Elizabethstruggledtoswitchofftheendlessbatteryofchatterhittingherhead

andthoughtwithadoringlongingoftheyoungboy,Small-Boy,whohadstarted

impartinginformationwithanairofquiet,authoritative,manlycalm.Hehad

suchasuregraspofwhathewassayingandproceededsomethodicallythatshe

knewfromthestarthehadagreatteacherbehindhim.Itmustbetheabsent

Gunnerman.

‘WhenisGunnercomingback?’sheasked.

‘He’sawaywithhisfamilyinDenmarkforthreemonths,’saidRattle-tongue.

Elizabeth’sheartfelltoherboots.Threemonthswasherperiodoflearningin

thevegetablegarden.Wasitgoingtobelikethiseveryday?OnlyRattle-tongue?

Theyreachedtheturn-offpathwaytoherhome.

‘Comeandhavesometea,’saidRattle-tongue,withhereverbrightsmile.

‘Ohno,’saidElizabeth,hastily.‘Ihavetopickupmysonatthenursery

school.ThenIwanttocheckuponmyhouse.Thebuilders’work-grouphave

nearlycompletedit.ThenIhavetocatchataxiatoneo’clockbacktoMotabeng

village.’

Camillaspreadoutherhandsgrandly.Afterall,shewasheretohelpthe

nativesandshecouldn’tmissthiswonderfulopportunity.

‘Here’smyLandrover,’shesaid,pointingtothevehicleunderabigtree.‘I

candoallthatforyouinhalfanhour.’

Elizabethlookedatherwithanguish.Humanrelationshipswithherwere

starklyblackandwhite.Shehatedinafinalwayandlovedinafinalway.She

hadspentallherliferunningawayfromthetypeofwhitepersonlikeCamilla.

Theydrewallattentionoflifetothemselves,greedily,hungrily.Herinnerlife

wasverydependentontherightnessoftheinnerlifeofanother,andshehad

beenwiltingunderthestrainofCamilla’scompany.Halfblindly,drivenbythe

broilingheatofapproachingsummer,sheacceptedtheoffer.Thatclinchedthe

bargainasfarasCamillawasconcerned.Shethrewherselfwithfriendly

intensityintoanassociationwithoneofthenatives.Itwasalwaysthere.

Elizabeth’snativenessformedthebackgroundtoallhercomments.They

ascentedasteeppathwaytoahousebuiltintothesideofasmallrockyhill.A

stonestairwaypiecedtogetherfromthehillsiderocksledontoawideentrance

porch,thendroppedagainintoanotherflightofstairsthatledintoalargesunken

dining-room.ItwassobeautifulthatElizabethgasped.Camillahadbroughtall

hertreasuredhouseholdknick-knacksalongwithher.Thelightingsystemwas

shadedwithgracefulChineselanterns;downonelengthofthewallhunga

calendarprintedinbrightredclothwithinnumerabledetailonitsborderedges

abouteverydaylifeinaDanishvillage.Exquisitepalegoldcurtainsswayed

softlyinthebreeze.Shewasveryfondofthecolourred.Redcouches,cushions

andabrilliantcarpetonthefloorgaveitanappearanceofaflaminghouseof

light.

‘Welikedthehousesomuchthatweextendedourcontractforayear,’she

said.‘WeweresupposedtoleaveforDenmarklastmonth.’

Elizabethturnedandstaredatherincredulously.Houseswereloved,not

people.Assoonasshehadthrustaplateofrich,spicycakesatElizabeth,she

turnedonherfavouriterecord:

‘Idon’tunderstandthesepeople.Theydon’tknowanythingatall,andthey’re

solazy…’

Itdidn’trequireanycommentfromElizabeth.Itjustwentonandon.Asshe

finallystoppedtheLandroveroutsideElizabeth’smudhutinMotabengvillage

shesaid:‘Ah,Iknowwhereyoulivenow.OnSundayI’llcomeandfetchyouto

supper.’

Sojarringhadtheeventsofthepreviousdaybeenthatonthefollowing

morning,assheapproachedthetreeunderwhichwasparkedthewhite

Landrover,Elizabethstoppedandpeepedcarefullyaroundit.Therewasalittle

clearingahead,thentheprotectionoftheshadytrees.Shecouldn’tendurethe

naturewalkwithRattle-tongue.Thewholefrontareaofthehouseseemed

deserted.Shestartedacrosstheclearing.Halfwayacrosssheheardashrillcry:

‘Elizabeth!’

Camillacamerunningdownthestonestairway.Shewasstilltyingherhairup

intoabun,thebuttonsonherlooseshiftdresswereundone.

‘Elizabeth,’shepanted.‘Whydon’tyouwaitforme?I’vebeenkeepinga

look-outforyouthewholemorning.Ithought:“Ah,she’llbealonganytime

now.Ifshe’searlywecanhaveacupoftea,andthenwalkdowntothegarden

together.”’

Shelookedsocrazily,patheticallyhumanthatElizabethburstoutlaughing.

Camillanoddedherheadeagerlyandlaughedtoo.

‘Ihavesomanychildren,’shesaid.‘I’malwayslateinthemorningbecauseI

havetodressafterthey’vegonetoschool.There’snotroublewithmyhusband.

He’safarmerandupatfive-thirtyeverymorning.’

SheswungintostepbesideElizabethandimmediatelybeganexclaimingon

nature:‘Look!’

Thisveeringinfeeling–oneminuteshereallylovedthehalf-madwoman,the

next,sheloathedher–hadastrangeparallelinthenotesshemadeinher

notebook.Thenotescareeredwildlybetweenthecalm,steadystatementsof

Small-Boyandtheerratic,incompr