Day Of The Serpent

By Drum Digital
28 April 2014

Deep down he was afraid of snakes but he would do anything to impress the beautiful Lesego.

Nothing much ever seems to happen in our village. Some people are lucky enough to have jobs, and their lives must be exciting and eventful. Especially if they have families.

But for an unemployed villager, a single man like myself, an orphan and poet, time passes slowly.

After matriculating I put myself through the trials of job-seeking for three years then finally reached the conclusion that I was not meant to be employed.

So I watered and weeded my veggies, read everything I could get my hands on and slept during the day.

Sometimes I dreamed that my dog-eared exercise book full of penciled poems in Setswana and English would be discovered by a Joburg publisher and I’d make my fortune.

Sometimes I dreamed about my child¬hood, when my mother and father were still alive. And invariably my dreams were about Lesego. Lovely Lesego, my recently widowed neighbour, with a young child on her back.

I had no illusions that Lesego would ever dream about me. I knew I was too young, too poor and too shy for a woman with a glow like Lesego. And then, one day in my sleep, I heard her call.

It was noon and the sun was doing what it does best – grilling the earth. Suddenly a scream pierced the intense heat, shouting my name and jolting me from my peaceful nap.

I stumbled to the door and saw her standing before me, her breasts heaving with emotion.

“There’s a snake! There’s a snake in my house!” she panted, clutching baby Tshegofatso to her bosom.

I was afraid of snakes but this was Lesego and I would do just about anything to help her. As I stood there at my door, blinking in the glare, I could see fear in her lovely eyes.

Naturally, panic ripped through me. I didn’t know what to say or do.

Hoping that I would think of something, I scurried to Lesego’s house. And indeed there was a snake on the porch.

Every fibre in my body cringed but I tried to look and act like a man who knew what he was doing.

“I’m the man here,” I muttered inwardly, trying to breathe some strength into my bones. I had to act in a manly manner. Men are not supposed to be anaemic. I looked at the snake again.

It had golden brown skin with dark speckles spattered over its metre-long body– poor camouflage against the grey cement floor of Lesego’s porch.

It was a truly beautiful reptile. The head was lying in a crack on the porch floor, but the body was plainly visible, making it an easy target.

I stole a glance at Lesego. She was clearly shaken and seemed to be depending on me. I loved that aspect of the situation.

But when I turned my gaze back to the serpent my wishy-washy knees started to reveal what I truly felt.

Not sure of what to say, I improvised, and to this day I don’t know what compelled me to blurt out, “I’m going to snatch it by the tail.”

-by Legodile Seganabeng

To be continued...

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