The hills were alive with the sound of music from an impressive country orchestra. The birds were singing their lullabies in diminuendo. The melodious symphony was coming from a band of field crickets. They were anticipating a night free of predators. The grasshopper followed suit, not with hop-hop but mellow hip-hop. The last on the list were frogs. They sang roughly for the lack of a choral conductor.
This was a wonderful land. It had transcendent attractions! And this was the time Thandeku left for the village shop.
Her mother had sent her to buy sugar. They called it ushukela.
It was around 7.00 pm. As she made the last turn before approaching their gate, someone called her name. She did not bother to turn and check who it was as she thought to herself, ‘perhaps it is my mind playing tricks on me.’
She heard the call again, as she made the third and the forth steps. This time she turned to check who it was. No one was in the vicinity. Nervousness set in, and her face turned as pale as a ghost. Her hair stood on end. She could feel the charge of adrenalin rush in her veins; it was either a fight or a flight. She mustered courage and continued to walk. Her home was only ten minutes away, and she was not the type to scare. Her dad did not christen her Ariele in vain.
Two minutes later, she heard the voice again, and at this time the caller added, ‘go straight and mind no distractions Thandeku’. The once courageous Thandeku was shaking like a leaf.
She took off so fast that none of the wild creatures could match her; not even the springboks. She approached their house door and knocked it intensively. Her father and mother had been waiting for her. She was the only child and therefore the joy of her parents. As the door was being pushed to open, she woke up!
Just a dream
This was an out of the ordinary dream. The first thing Thandeku did was to switch on the light; just to establish it was indeed a dream and not the fact of life. The shock on her face was palpable. She was to come to terms with the fact that it was just a dream.
Her moodiness reached the highest crescendo and wondered what would have happened if it was not a dream.
A few days ago, she had removed from the bedroom wall the big clock her aunt gifted her during the last birthday. She walked into the living room and hastily checked the clock to confirm if it was indeed 7.00 am. To her shock and dismay, she found out it was 2.00 am. She had been in bed for only 3 hours, having slept at 11.00 pm.
She sat on her bed as she tried to figure out what the dream meant.
The night had fallen silent, and the village seemed to be in an induced comatose. It will come back to life when the sun emerges from the East.
For the rest of the night, Thandeku could not sleep. She turned from left to right like clothes in Sir Kruger’s dry cleaner. Kruger was the only person with the dry cleaner in the whole Eastern region.
Finally, sleep came knocking at 5.30 am. She could not sleep at such a time. The night was almost waving a bye-bye. She, therefore, woke up again and knelt to pray.
She was supposed to be in the market as early as 8.00 am to buy grocery for their recently constructed shop. She prayed that God would reveal to her what the dream meant, for it had made her heart continuously hop like avid goats of Drakensberg Mountains.
Later she made breakfast. She then dressed for the market and hopped into an Old Morris.
Old Morris is the car that her father bought six years ago when she was just a teenager. She had just graduated from college with a degree in economics, and her ideal car was not an Old Morris. She adored the German Beetle. One day she would have to own it.
Thandeku had been brought up in a close-knit family. It was a place of love and peace. Her parents were staunch members of a local church, and Thandeku was already training to play the organ. She loved Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and hoped to one day play it before the assemblage.
Though her parents were such strong in faith, they still held to some form of mysticism that was passed on to Thandeku. Superstition was rife in this part of the world.
This was also a time when crime in the town of Good Hope was at an all-time high. No one could trust even the local security personnel to offer protection. The unemployment was high, and the youth who had fought and crushed the racist regime were now idle. This presented a significant challenge to the local leaders as they tried to ensure that tranquillity and peace are maintained.
As Thandeku drove on, she heard over the radio that the market she was driving towards was on fire. The youth wanted to send a message to the political aristocracies for ignoring their plight. They then decided to set the market ablaze. They wanted jobs, empowerment, functional health systems, security, education and training. But some of their leaders were busy politicking and stealing. Stealing from the sick. Stealing from widows. Stealing from orphans and vulnerable children. Stealing from their future. They were busy killing them too. Killing them with poisoned food. Killing them with drugs and substances. Using them as political pawns. The youth were sick and tired. Like pyromaniacs, they burnt down the market of their mothers. Their motherland was on fire, and the youth were indicted. But the market fire started with a blare! Was someone playing dirty tricks?
Thandeku had been a born-again Christian for ten years. She believed that God was working out something helpful for their country even though, in the meantime, things appeared dismal.
This was the year 1940, in the small country of Asiafrierica. The country was trying to curve a plan, but the patience of the people battered by racism, tribalism and nepotism was at its lowest. The promise of a paradise by the freedom fighters was not forthcoming. Hopes had either been gnashed at or dashed.
Just the reality
News flashed through the radio, ‘Trade Fair Market has been torched by youth, and the police are battling the strife.’
Thandeku thought of making an about-turn, but as she was contemplating, the voice in the dream came again, ‘Go straight and mind no distractions’.
She told herself, ‘let me go on and witness the scorching market for myself’. And with that, she floored the Old Morris’ gas pedal. She could smell smoke and fire as she approached the market. And within the vicinity, she could see a cloud of smoke and a ball of fire dance in the air to the music that probably could be a dirge. She told herself, ‘I should go back’.
It seemed that something was awry. She intuitively stopped at a gas station and filled the tank to the brim. Then as she was making a turn to go back to their dozy village, the voice in the dream came back again, ‘Go straight and mind no distractions Thandeku’. She wondered what could be happening to her. Was she still fine?
Back in college, she had a medical student friend who told her about mental health conditions. She questioned her mental soundness. Her roommate back in the college was a student of philosophy and would frequently say to her, “Thandeku, whenever you doubt your existence just know that non-existent being don’t ‘doubt.” And she would add, “Just pinch yourself awfully hard”.
Thandeku pinched herself to confirm that what she was experiencing wasn’t a continuation of the yesternight dream. She wanted to be cocksure that it wasn’t hallucination either. She paused for a minute at the side of the road. That minute seemed like a year. She then drove on and passed the burning market. The security guys were all over the place, with big guns dangling from their shoulders. Unrelenting in her driving, she suddenly came across a roadblock; it was now 9:30 am. About twenty fellows in military attire were at the barrier. Something was amiss!
They checked the car before allowing her to continue. They also examined her identification card. As she drove off, one of the officers told her, “you are a lucky young lady. Just drive on.”
She did not understand why this soldier said this. But she kept driving, without knowing where she was going.
There was another military checkpoint thirty kilometres down the road. A dozen officers, clad in combat gear stood there pensively. There was a stationary truck beside the road. Three Soviet-made machine guns had been mounted on it. Three soldiers with their faces concealed sat in the truck. As her purse was being inspected, a fighter jet whizzed over like lightning. This was followed by a deafening bang. It shook the whole area, and everyone was left in shock and awe save for the soldiers. As she turned to get a glimpse of what had happened, the soldier checking her car said, “That is your hometown. It has been levelled”. For a moment – at least ten minutes – Thandeku was not allowed to move, and five more blasts were heard. She would then ask the soldier, ‘” what is going on?” He replied, “There is a civil war, and your town, Good Hope has just been levelled by these jet fighters.” Thandeku was upset. “Why? What about my parents?”
The officer looked at her as if to mumble some words but did not say anything. He just motioned Thandeku to continue. It was now around 10.30 am, and the sun was still assembling her strength to deliver her strikes too. She thought of driving back to go check on her parents, but the voice in the dream came back again, ‘Go straight and mind no distractions.’
A refugee in one day
Thandeku, now confused, went straight on driving furiously for two more hours. By then, she had been stopped at two more checkpoints and told to drive on. She arrived at the border of her country and Malagar.
She went past the beacons before being stopped by Malagar’s border sheriffs. The border was jammed with refugees, and it was not a pleasant sight. “What happened to a peaceful life I had been enjoying just a day ago?” She wondered. She was now a refugee.
They were escorted by a contingent of guards to a church facility. The facility was a hundred kilometres from the border. When they arrived, Thandeku would quickly send out a message to the officials of the camp concerning her parents.
After one week, she was informed that her parents survived and are living fifty kilometres from their camp. A reunion arrangement was made by a relief organization.
Hope embraced again
One night, about three months down the line, Thandeku had another dream in which she saw herself and her parents speaking to a gathering of refugees.
She woke up the following day and shared the dream with her parents. They then went to the camp manager; a beefy gentleman with a solid handshake. He allowed them to speak to the refugees every morning and evening. Thandeku started the first day, “There is hope for a good future; for our children and us and the children of our children. There is hope in God that our expectations shall not be cut off……..” she would go on and on as the audience swelled and intently hearkened.
One month passed since she started doing this. A second and a third month passed, and soon it was one year.
By then the whole camp followed Thandeku keenly. They had listened to her every day. They decided to take their lives back to normal. They chose to weave a new pattern for their lives. They stopped pitying themselves and started income-generating activities. Some of them sought sponsorship and went back to school. Their lives changed with time, and the refugee stamp could not hold anymore. That is how Thandeku formed a movement of ‘The Dreams of Hopeful People’.
Home away from home
Thandeku has been living in a strange land for the past thirty years. Her movement ‘The Dreams of Hopeful People’ has grown and is now found in one hundred countries of the world. They help agonising people find hope and their lives back.
She still pinches herself as she narrates her stories to her children. She does it to make sure it is not a hallucination. All her three daughters are involved in this mission too. She has avoided destructions.
I do not have sufficient information about her tiny motherland country. But one thing I know, that Thandeku’s movement has swept across the globe.
One afternoon Thandeku was visited by school children, and this is what she told them, “Listen to the wind, pay attention to the storms, and learn from dreams. Sit and listen, children! For God will speak. In which manner does He speak? I don’t know. But you shall know when He does.”
The story of Thandeku continues.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.