It was last Sunday that I was asked to attend a small meeting with my trainees in a remote station regarding their safety courses. The time being a bit late for me to sum up my reports, I opted for a shortcut road, right through the woods. The roads being African , I drove slowly through the pot holes with sharp turn arounds. My Prado is old enough to send as scrap, has managed to escape two attempts by the head quarters to be sent for dismantling as scrap.
I have trusted it with my life on rainy seasons and while driving off the road. Oh! God it rattles like an old horse cart; the wind shield have cracks and the glass had scratches all over from the ancient wiper.
I wanted some water to pour on the front glasses to clear the thick dust which was affecting my view. The river being far away, I was looking for shepherd's huts where I know that our company provided potable water in old barrels.
I found two barrels beside the road from far away and slowed down; double parked beside a big tree. I found a two litre, used plastic bottle from the rear seats to fetch water and walked to the barrels.
Nearer to the barrels, I thought I saw a moment behind the water drums and alarms went up all over my brain as it was reported that cheetahs were seen romping that area recently.
I managed a crouched position on self defence…African style, with the hairs on the nape of my neck on full alert like a dog just before fight.
I resisted with much effort an urge to run for my life, as I was not sure if the Cheetah was injured and would chase me if I run. I managed to get hold of a large enough stone which I held in my right hand in attack position.
No movement at all. I peered again and now I saw it…a small black head, a boy's head and then another one smaller… and the last one much smaller than all.
Three small male shepherd kids…scared to death and scared to run too.
They peered at me, about to cry... seeing me in my crouched position with a stone in my hand.
I eased myself and managed a smile and the kids started to run. I called them in Arabic and told them to stop.
Well they stopped, not with the pleasure of seeing me but they were simply scared.
They don’t seem to be at ease and I showed them the water bottle that was still held in my left hand and said ‘moyya’ (meaning, water in Arabic).
They were not looking at my left hand; they were looking at my right hand which still held the stone in defensive position. I threw the stone away and smiled foolishly, which seem to relax them a bit.
I said ‘moyya’ again pointing at the bottle and I got a response. The eldest boy pointed at the barrel and I moved forward with the smiling face, as I suspected that the kids may shriek that will bring all the armed shepherds around that area.
They may not get time to listen to me. LOL
I dipped my bottle inside the drum and I heard the soft sound from the older ‘moyya mo mal sharab’ (meaning that water is not for drinking). I acknowledged with a shake of head.
When the water was full I turned around to them and asked if I can take a picture. From their faces, I think they did not understand what I was asking. I walked to my Prado and returned with a camera.
I asked them to smile but they were still scared and moved closer to each other but I got what I wanted. A picture of my three little unsmiling cheetahs.