Zambezi

6 Feb

Chapter 7

Sandy woke up slowly. She felt chilly and could scarcely feel her limbs. Water slapped against her body in a steady rhythm. From far away she could hear a faint roaring of a lot of water. She wondered if she could move and willed her body to respond to her thoughts. She opened her eyes wide to take in her surroundings. Everywhere seemed serene.

You have to get up girl’, she told herself firmly. Sandy tried to pick herself up and noticed something was caught between feet. It was her backpack. Excitement gripped her as she suddenly was energized to sit up. She tried flexing her numb hands and reached over to pull the bag up. Gradually she recalled her last experience. She had been tossed over the cliffs of Victoria Falls like a piece of candy wrapper. And like a candy wrapper she had seen the sunlight again for she had surfaced like unsinkable cellophane.

Who would have thunk? She thought to herself. This is so crazy, how could she have survived that fall? And where was Illuminada? It would be such a shame if the elderly woman did not make it because that would mean that she survived for nothing. There was no way she could survive this jungle on her own.

‘I would take you to her’.

Sandy gazed around her in search of the speaker. This was all so weird, was she hearing voices now?

‘Over here, I am over here’.

Sandy stood up cautiously, keeping a steady gaze on the water because she was convinced the voice was coming from there.

‘Don’t be scared’, said the voice. ‘I am here to help’.

It was then that Sandy saw a pair of eyes above the water. It was a pair of hippopotamus eyes.

You’ve got to be kidding me, muttered Sandy. She shook her head in order to clear it. ‘Aren’t hippos dangerous?’

‘Usually we are. But for you we would make an exception,’ said the hippo as it swam closer to her.

Sandy was mesmerized to a standstill. She could not move a muscle. How on earth could she understand a hippo? It is an animal for God’s sake!

‘Hop on’, it said as it turned its back to her. ‘I haven’t got all day you know’.

Sandy climbed up the hippos back and sat astride it. She was tense at first but as they moved further from the river bank she relaxed.

To sandy there were no words to describe the hippo ride across the Zambezi. It was like taking a ride in a speed boat with your feet in the water. Sandy wondered how Illuminada was faring and to her great surprise the hippo was apt with answers.

‘Your friend was carried to the Zambia side of the river. She is being cared for the Leya people in the Mukuni village.’

‘You read my thoughts don’t you?’ asked Sandy.

‘I try’, answered the hippo. ‘By the way my name is Tunya’.

‘I am Sandy’. Sandy smiled to herself. It was so easy communicating this way. Reading thoughts, no words.

‘Why do you smile?’ asked Tunya.

Sandy patted her back, ‘I really enjoy talking with you.’

‘Me too’, stated the hippo. ‘It is not always that I have the opportunity.’ Tunya paused for a while and then asked ‘Did you enjoy your leap over Mosi-oa-Tunya?’

‘Mosi-oa-Tunya?’ Sandy did not understand.

‘That is what we call Victoria around here’.

‘Oh’

‘So did you enjoy it…the leap into the Batoka gorge?’

Sandy considered for a moment. ‘It depends on how you look at it’, she finally answered. ‘I was not conscious while it lasted.’

Tunya chuckled, ‘No one ever took that leap…no one’.

Sandy was deposited at the bank of the river at the Mukuni village. She climbed off Tunya’s back clutching her backpack to her. Their sleeping bags were long lost now and she considered it a miracle that she still had her backpack with her.

‘Wait here’, Tunya said. ‘They would come for you.’ With that he retreated into the river and swam off.

Sandy waved Tunya goodbye and when she turned around, there was Illuminada walking towards her. She dropped her backpack and ran towards her flinging herself on her when she was close enough.

‘Take it easy’, said Illuminada shedding tears of joy. We just survived a terrifying ordeal.’

‘I know Illuminada’, sobbed Sandy. ‘But I am more than happy to see you.’

She stood back from Illuminada to examine her. ‘You didn’t break any bones? Are you okay?’

‘I am perfectly okay; it was nothing short of a miracle.’ She wiped the tears off Sandy’s face. ‘At least now we made it to Mukuni village. One of the servants of Be Dyango is here to take us.’

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