Of The Lady Of The Creek

Genre: Mystery?

There’s this little creek that just starts abruptly on the other side of the road. Some say it is an enchanted spring and interesting tales have been told about it, ranging from the mysterious to the downright absurd. I have never believed anything I cant prove but one thing is certain, that little creek never runs dry, not even during the drought seasons, when the riverbeds look like sandy deserts, water flows in the creek, it might reduce to a trickle but it wont run dry.

Culvert

There’s nothing extra-ordinary about it, just a little creek that starts across the road flows beneath the tarmac via an unremarkable culvert bridge. If you can believe the mutterings of the old folk, a long time ago they tried to tame the spring put pumps and taps on it but the water would simply start coming out somewhere else. They tried several more times and after a discrete word from the local elders they stopped entirely, lest the spring stop all together.

I am city kid, I believe in the power of the internet, some things man was meant to know and for everything else, that’s why there’s Google. After a few days visiting the grandparents, away from the city, I was going stir crazy. I missed the internet, I missed electricity, I missed that irritating high pitched hum the TV made which gave me a headache, I am surprised I even missed that, just thinking about it gave me a headache.

A walk seemed like a good idea.

I was sauntering leisurely going nowhere slowly, thinking “Yeah, I had spent enough time visiting, that I could safely take my leave without seeming like I was a spoiled city kid who could survive a day in the country.” That’s when I heard a voice, singing, a strangely haunting melody, something a mother would absent-mindedly hum to her baby, long after the child had fallen asleep.

They say you can fall in love with a voice…..

I do not know about falling in love, but this one demanded all of my attention, reached deep into my chest and squeezed; my heart skipped a bit. Searching for the body behind the voice, I came face to face with a strikingly beautiful visage, looking right back at me.

I froze.

The Earth might as well as have stood still and stopped turning on its axis, as time itself stopped; not until that is, she crossed her arms protectively around her bosom, did the realisation dawn that she was bathing in the creek and I was staring.

mermaid-bath.jpg

Oh I.. I.. hadn’t realised” I stammered an apology “I am, so, so sorry.” I said averting my eyes.

I tried to take a step back and walk away but my feet had a mind of their own, they might as well as have been roots.

You are new to these parts aren’t you?” she asked in that musical voice

Yes, I am at my grandparents’ kwaMakaki” I said pointing in the direction of home.

I could tell, I know everyone who lives here. So you are a grandchild of the Madyiras’?” she asked, referring to my grandparents by their clan name.

Yes. I am sorry again for intruding. Well let me best be going” I said as I took my leave. She had settled in the creek and only her head was visible. Talking was a lot easier.

Wait a bit, I know who you, are aren’t you going to ask me, who I am? Besides If you sit over there you can watch the road for me and let me know if anyone is approaching

It wasn’t quite a request neither was it an order, what could I do, but mutely nod my head, as I ambled over and settled on the boulder she had pointed out. I sat facing away from her, and I could hear splashing sounds; as I imagined her frolicking about in the creek. I tried hard not to peek though I could see movement in my peripheral vision, remembering the old fable of why the owl’s neck turns almost 360 degrees, it spied on mother nature while she was changing and she cursed it so it could not move its eyes.

You can call me The lady of the lake” She spoke suddenly and her voice near, that I turned around and she was an arm’s length away and her trilling laughter filled the day, as she splashed a handful of water at me.

water-mermaid.jpg

Naughty naughty” she said with the ghost of a smile twitching at the corners of her mouth.

I am queen of this creek” she said scooping a palm full of water and raising her hand in a regal move that made the water spiral down the length of her arm. With the sun behind her head like a crown of sunshine, she did look like a picturesque silhouette royalty.

You can stop gawking like a common cow herder and help me scrub my back, its not everyday I see royalty walks these paths.” She said throwing a sponge at me, followed by a fresh leaf blade of the aloe vera  plant “Lather the sponge with this” rosing out of the water and turning her back to me, water sparkling in the sun as it dripped down the contours of her undulating figure.

I squeezed the juice out of the aloe plant and on to the sponge “What do you mean by royalty walking these paths” I asked as I sponged her back.

You, silly boy” she laughed, even though she did not seem that much older than me. “You have forgotten the old ways, forgotten me….” she added with a faint trace of sadness in her voice but suddenly, brightened as she exclaimed;

Fire and water! Who would have thought it?

Huh!?” I exclaimed, confused.

Isn’t your totem, fire, is it not?” she teased.

Yes__” I started to reply.

What happens when an inextinguishable fire meets an unquenchable lake?” She quizzed, a playful edge creeping into a her voice.

When a wha____

The rest of my sentence drowned out, as I splashed into the water; she had suddenly turned and pulled my hand; dragging me, clothes and all, into the creek.

We floated inches from each other, water streaming down my face, from my drenched locks, she reached up and pushed back a few strands of hair. Her touch was warm and yet I felt goosebumps up and down my spine.

“I love your hair” she whispered “Though, its not as long as mine” she said flicking her thick locks which flowed  from her head down past her waist disappearing in the water.

mermaid tales

She drew closer still.

Hey!” A voice boomed from the road, I turned to see uncle Jay, waving frantically at me. “Hey wena!” his voice boomed again “What are you doing?

I felt like a child, caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing, like when you steal a spoonful of peanut butter and you are caught, you cant answer because the peanut butter is stuck to the roof your mouth, I felt heat rise to my face.

I turned to see how my newly met lay acquaintance, was taking all this and she was nowhere to be seen. I was in the creek, alone.

She had vanished without a trace.

Uncle Jay had got close enough to offer a hand to pull me out “Did you fall in?” he asked a little too calmly, as he pulled me out.

I…I…I was, I mean there was someone here, a lady, didn’t you see her?

I saw no one” he answered tersely his eyes not meeting mine.

Talk to me uncle” I pressed for an answer.

I saw no one but you.” he begun “But there’s an old story, the Elders say there’s a mermaid that lives in this creek. Every once in a while, someone sees a lady in the creek and soon after gets taken and either never seen or heard from again or they become great healers and an oracle from the Gods

As we walked back home I mulled over his reply, I had not expected that answer, but I could not explain where the mysterious had vanished to, I shivered a little, and stifled a sneeze, the sun was almost setting, I was cold and my clothes were wet, how long had I been in the water? I had laughed it off when she called herself The Queen of the creek maybe the was more to her than I had thought, but a mermaid?  Her body from the navel down thanks to the water had not been visible.

What happens when an inextinguishable fire meets an unquenchable lake?” a voice echoed in the back of my head like a voice from a dream, I turned to look back down at the creek, it could have been a trick of the light but in its murky depth, I could see a figure there, waving; at me……………

WavingTHE END

~B

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Of Nyami Nyami: A Zambezi River God

victoria falls

Bound not only by history and the majestic Victoria Falls; Zimbabwe and Zambia share the Zambezi river as a border between them including the common legend of a River God fabled to patron it, the Nyami Nyami.

nyami nyami

The Nyami Nyami  is a River God said to look something like a cross between a snake and a fish with varying accounts as to its actual size and appearance, I am surprised that no one has added being a shape-shifter to its list of abilities.

clip art nyami nyami

As legend would have it told, the Nyami Nyami lived under a large boulder that jutted out from the Kariwa gorge where the present day Kariba Dam wall was built, and any mortal foolish enough to venture close to there got trapped and dragged under water never to be seen again. This is how Kariba Dam got its name from the word Kariwa/Kariva which means trap. The Dam construction project might also have been explained to the locals as being a “Water Trap” to hold water from the river.

The Tonga people used to live a simple life sheltered from the outside world on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. In drought times the Nyaminyami would let the people cut off pieces of itself to eat, and no matter how much they cut, would never get finished. The name Nyaminyami could be from the Tonga phrase meaning pieces of meat: nyama yamaninganinga.

Then civilisation invaded in the 1940s. Shattering their simple lifestyle, as they were relocated from areas that would flood upon the building of the Kariba Dam and its Hydroelectric Power Station to supply electricity to Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Tonga folk let themselves be relocated but they held the belief that the Nyaminyami would never let the dam project be completed.

building kariba dam

Almost true to the Tonga’s expectations the Kariba dam project was plagued with unparalleled flooding of the sort that is supposed to be witnessed only once in a thousand years, but yet happened consecutively for three years

Eventually they would turn to the Tonga tribal elders and spirit mediums to intercede on their behalf…..

lake-kariba-dam-pic

The dam was completed in 1958 and started generating hydroelectric power in 1960.

Kariba Dam Opening

Sir Duncan, Queen Elizabeth at the official opening of the Kariba Dam on Tuesday 17th May 1960

its still generating power for Zambia and Zimbabwe today.

kariba electricity

The End?

 No, not quite. See when they completed the dam wall, they separated the Nyami Nyami from his mate. The earth tremors that are frequent in the area are a result of the River God trying to break down the dam wall and reunite with his mate. The Tonga people believe that one  day Nyaminyami will break down the wall and they will return to their ancestral homes on the banks of the Zambezi River.

Update: Someone shared an interesting theory with me that: IF the Nyaminyami is there we might be mistaken about its appearance (well, personally I think it shapeshifts) See, the dam was built by an Italian consortium Impresit and its highly likely they drove their Italian made Alfa Romeo vehicles. Take a look at the logo of the Alfa Romeo vehicle and tell me it does not remind you of some legend?:

alfa romeo logo

What do I think? I think that deep in the murky waters of the Zambezi there is some creature there, something,ancient, uncommon and unknown. I heard an interesting story about how separating the Nyaminyami from its mate was actually a calculated move, they did not want these creatures breeding, dealing with only two is trouble enough……

The Nyami Nyami River God myth or real, what do you think?

 

~B

Day 14 of my blog everyday challenge Africa: Stories from home

Photocredit www.victoriafalls-guide.net

Of The Summoning

Genre: mystery/crime 

The view

They would find me, they always did, this is the first place they would look; the quiet before the storm.
Sitting at the edge I watched the world below, it’s so easy to imagine I was the only person alive. That is why I came here, for the solitude and the view, it was a bit of a steep climb but not impossible. Having grown up in the city, mountains were fascinating, well this wasn’t a mountain really it was just some granite outcrop jutting out of the ground.

The view

They have secrets these mountains, they had watched over our ancestors long before us, and long after we are gone they would watch over our descendants and they would not miss us. Zanje, the one looming in the horizon, is shaped suspiciously like a textbook volcano, geologists say we can’t possibly have those here, but there it stands. In the dry season, it smoulders, wisps of smoke come out and as if on cue that’s when the rains come dousing the flames, and so it has always been; according to my grandfather.

I heard voices behind me, they had found me, the storm, it starts. Sighing I turned to face them,

yes it was all my fault

Preemptive admission of guilt, I hoped that would count in my favour.

“The head wants to see you”

Being summoned by the head was a big to-do. Jimmy was the headman of the village, he answered only to the chief and I had let the cattle I was supposed to be herding, graze in his fields. It was never intentional, the fact that it was he, who tasked me with herding duty and I sort of disliked him for it, that was merely coincidence.

Jimmy the headman had said that living in the city, had made me forget the way of my people and challenged me to prove it by herding the cattle for a day. I accepted the challenge, “How hard could it be?” I asked myself, after all my mobile phone had signal and I had Google on my side.

It was easy enough, at first, all you did was whistle and wave your hands about; the cows knew where to go, most of the time. Just make sure they do not eat from anyone’s fields, that was the only rule that mattered, well that and the one about not losing a single cow from the royal herd. I herded them to the pastures and I found a nice shady spot to sit, taking out my phone, I saw that had good reception and decided to log into my twitterbook. Social media is like the Hotel California, you can log in anytime but you can never ever leave, I thought I would only be moments but I only looked up when a figure appeared. I was shocked to find that it was much much later during the day. “Malume, the cows are having a feast in the headman’s fields”
With a calmness belaying the turmoil, I felt within I said “Quickly, go and drive them out, then herd them into the kraal then come and fetch me. “

I walked a long way and then climbed, that is how I got to be where they found me, to tell me the headman had summoned me. I knew what he would say too, “Crime and punishment.”
My grandfather had been the chief and before him his father, my father would have been chief but instead, he had preferred to live in the city in what he called the civilized world; I could be the next chief but what sort of chief would I make barely able to herd cattle, how would I lead the village flock, I could barely speak in the language of my fathers and Jimmy the headman he wanted to be the next chief, he was ambitious.

In the distance there was a rumble and turned round to that; the mountain, Zanje, had begun to smoulder, it would rain today, it always rained when the mountain smouldered.

~The End

the view

~~~~~

this week’s entry #blogbattle

*This may or may not be purely work of fiction partly or totally based on events which may or may not have happened*

~B