The Magic Rock (A tale from Africa)

               

 

Kajane’s grandmother had constantly reminded him not to play near the old ruins.  ‘It is dangerous, only those who are very brave go there.’

 

Kajane’s mind told him to listen to her, but it was his instincts that urged him, and one afternoon, as go-go slept in the shade of a great willow tree, he sneaked away.

 

The ruins lay under a vast canopy of monkey-thorn trees and thick bush.  Broken pieces of the slate walls lay scattered on the ground.  Orange rocks littered the entire area.  Kajane marvelled at the idea that people had lived here a long time ago. He glanced around, and discovered a shining object on the ground about twenty metres away from him.  Curious, he stooped to pick it up, and the moment his fingers touched it, it glowed brighter. He pulled his hand away and it stopped glowing.

 

A few moments later he reached down again, picked it up, carefully this time,  and examined it.  It was a rough, cube-shaped rock about as large as the palm of his hand.  He rubbed it against his skin and suddenly, out of nowhere, a message appeared on its surface.

 

You have three wishes,

all will come true.

Remember, you’re the only one

who can choose the best for you.

 

As suddenly as it appeared, the fancy handwriting dissolved.  Kajane tossed the rock onto the ground and stepped away. It glowed even brighter than before and he had to protect his eyes from its sharp glare.

 

When the glare settled, he built up enough courage to approach and when he picked it up, the message reappeared, in black cursive writing:

 

You have three wishes…

 

He sat on the hilltop overlooking the farm lands. Summer had been unusually hot without rain and most of the farmer’s crops had failed.  He remembered when his father said goodbye to hunt for food in greener pastures, beyond the mountains. He missed his father.  He would wish for rain and wait for his father to return.

 

Later that night the rain came down hard.  Go-go rushed to his room and held onto him.

 

‘I am scared, Kajane, the lightening is too close.  The thunder is like an angry lion.’

 

‘But go-go, are you not happy that it is raining?  We have had very little rain this year. The farmers have run away. Now they will come back.’ Kajane smiled at her.

 

Go-go hugged him tightly. They had a strong relationship and she was safe in his arms. She was a frail lady who had brought up several children, most of whom had left to earn money and help the miners dig for gold and diamonds.  Kajane knew she did not have long to live.

 

After two days of rain without relief, Kajane was filled with anxiety. After four days of rain, he knew he had made a mistake, the rain would not stop. A wall of water had broken several banks upstream and entire villages had disappeared in the floods. He had wished for rain not fully understanding how the magic worked.  He had caused the problem, he would have to resolve it.  On the morning of the fifth day, he rubbed the rock against his skin and made a wish.

 

‘I wish the rain will stop.’

 

Suddenly the clouds parted and allowed the sun to shine through.

 

The farmers returned to their fertile lands.  The people rejoiced, singing and dancing in the streets of the village.

 

One wish remained, but he had three choices. He could wish for the villages upstream to return to normal, as if nothing ever happened, they deserved a chance, or he could wish for his father to return. The land would yield a good harvest.  He watched and waited every day. He could wish for his go–go to get better. She was weakening by the day, refused to eat and turned away all of her visitors. She did not want people to see her illness.

 

The rhyme had said,

 

Remember, you’re the only one

Who can choose the best for you.

 

He heard go-go’s weak cry and rushed to her bedside. She breathed quickly, her face awash with perspiration. He squeezed her hand to comfort her.

 

‘My grandson, it is time. You must not mourn long.  I will keep you safe.’ She touched his face and her arm dropped. Kajane wept for three days, knowing that he could have used the magic to bring her back from the dead, but he didn’t, and the guilt was too strong.   He refused to eat and talk.

 

A weak later he emerged from his hut, looking frail and tired. His eyes had sagged into his face.  His hands trembled. He made for the cliffs surrounding the kraal and climbed the highest peak, where he sat, cross-legged, watching the sun move through the sky.  He removed the rock from his pocket and rubbed it against the palm of his hand.

 

‘I wish my father to return to me.’

 

The rock glowed brightly, then returned to normal.

 

Kajane monitored the horizon, sunset through sunrise. Then he saw it, a black speck, like an ant, approaching in the distance. The figure came closer, and he could just make out it was his father. He descended the cliff as fast as he could and ran into his arms.

 

‘Father, is it really you?  I thought you were with go-go.’

 

‘I was there, my son.  I was there.  But then I heard your voice in the wind and I knew I couldn’t abandon you.’ 

 


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