Candid conversation with childhood river
- February 22, 2018
Dearest River, I am seated here, on your bare bank because I must have a conversation with you. I have to because you and the rest of the natural world have been heard describing my species in such disparaging terms as; ‘catastrophic creation’, ‘God’s biggest blunder’ and ‘self-centred suicidals’.
First of all, I don’t even think there is a word like ‘suicidals’. Second, you’ve gotten it all wrong. Because God bade us custodians doesn’t mean we take care of you. He intended for us to use you. And our end of the bargain we are keeping. Perhaps too well.
What? Why I am sweating?
Well, in case you aren’t feeling it, this February is hotter than Satan’s bedroom. Just leave the poor weatherman out of this. I know, he predicted floods. He wasn’t wrong. He is never wrong. The weather always is. I hear the government has bought him more sophisticated equipment to help him explain in more detail why it rained when he said it wouldn’t.
Anyway, let’s get back to you. Remember how as a kid you scared the daylights out of me? Gosh! You were such a mighty sight then, all strong, rolling and roaring like you owned the world. Remember that day you took off with our pants?
…you took our shorts with you and Ma caught us shivering butt-naked behind the kitchen as we tried to sneak into the house
It was a Sunday during the long holidays and my cousin and I had gone for a tumble after Sunday school. Ma had warned us against playing in you but we thought she would never find out. But you were in a particularly raging mood because you had been rained on the entire week.
First, you took hold of my cousin, unclothed him and started off with him downstream. I jumped in to assist him and you un-panted me as well. Yes, you let go of us, eventually, but you took our shorts with you and Ma caught us shivering butt-naked behind the kitchen as we tried to sneak into the house.
What we told her? Oh, you don’t want to know. My cousin blurted out that Kiremu chewed the pants off us. Kiremu was our grandfather’s he-goat, notorious for bullying little kids with his curved horns. But he was mostly known for an insatiable libido. He was always making out with something, not necessarily a goat girl.
Anyways, chewing pants off us sounded like something Kiremu could happily do. Blaming him for our nakedness sounded extremely clever. But ma didn’t think so. She ran her fingers through our hair and by jingo, you, Mr River, had left all the evidence she needed there. She gave us a licking on our naked behinds that she might go to hell for some day.
‘Good old days’, you say, but look at you now. You are all frail and aged. Can’t even drown a fly if it had a broken wing. Gosh! You look pathetic. And guess what, it took us fifteen years to reduce you to this, but I predict that we will be done with you in the next five. Yeah, we’ve been learning the ropes and at the rate we are going, five is the number.
I can see through your nudity upward to the saw-mill in the next location and downwards to the smoldering charcoal dunes in the chief’s shamba
The future? Why worry about what’s yet to happen? Besides, between the bomb and pollution, there may not be any future. And in any case, it is more fun looking to where we’ve been. Talking of which, I could barely see over you to the other side back then.
The vegetation along your bank in most parts was so thick it looked like a carpet. But look at you now. Indeed, karma is female dog. This is you, naked as you left us that Sunday afternoon. I can see through your nudity upward to the saw-mill in the next location and downwards to the smoldering charcoal dunes in the chief’s shamba.
Now that the vegetation cover is gone, you have nowhere to hide from the hostile bulb above. But I see some folks replacing the natural vegetation with food crop. Doesn’t seem to be working out very well though. Hope you are not eroding your bank intentionally to sabotage them.
What? Statistics? My teacher mentioned them, thank you very much. Said that of the total earth’s surface, 70 per cent is covered with water. That of this water, only three per cent is fresh and suitable for human consumption. Added that 79 per cent of this fresh water is held in icecaps and glaciers and thus not easily accessible. Another 21 per cent is held in deep, underground reservoirs called aquifers and that too is almost impossible to get to, he said. That the remaining one per cent is what fresh water we have in water bodies like lakes, wells and flowing in rivers like yourself.
To put it into better perspective, he said that if the water on earth was one litre or 1,000ml, then the accessible fresh water will be about 0.3ml or slightly smaller than a drop of dew. I think he was trying to scare us. Didn’t work because it all sounded so far removed.
Oh, the future again! All I know is that the fear of the future is a waste of the present. I’ll leave you now because I have to go help load the timber in the truck but I promise to come visit again. I only wish this heat would go down a bit.
Gosh, it’s hot!