OF HEAVEN AND STUFF
It was a beautiful day and both Owongo and Mirumda were down by the river's edge, dangling their legs over the bank so that the water swept over their feet. The sun beat down relentlessly from a blue sky unmarked by even the fleetest of clouds.
â€œWhat I need to know,â€ murmured Owongo's almost disfigured wife, â€œwhat I want to know is where we go when we die? I mean, we are taken to the Mourn mountains and left as foodstuff for wild creatures when they go hungry, but is that all? Do our eyes see no more? Do our ears hear only silence? Are we lost to the fragrance of sweet spring flowers...?â€
â€œMirumda almost poetic!â€ exclaimed Owongo. â€œBut Mirumda knows eyes pecked out by eagles can't see!â€
â€œBut where do we go when we die?â€ mused Mirumda, who was getting on in years, being a month short of thirty and therefore close to the death she was beginning to fear.
Owongo sighed, and thought for a moment. â€œWe go beyond the stars...â€ he began, knowing he was making it up but needing to comfort the woman he was sure he loved. â€œThere is a great light up there, where the stars shine, and if we are good we go up there. So it is said.â€
â€œBy whom?â€ enquired Mirumda.
Owongo looked at her a little savagely. â€œOwongo say,â€ he insisted, â€œOwongo a man and so cleverer than any woman, even Mirumda.â€
He often said things like that and Mirumda knew it was no more than nonsense, said because he needed reassurance. Mirumda was a wise women even back then, at the dawn of time, before humanity had walked beyond the plains of central Africa.
â€œSo where will Mirumda go?â€ she asked, tentatively.
Owongo sighed. â€œMirumda will go above the stars,â€ he said, gravely, â€œbut not yet, because Owongo loves his Mirumda. He loves her very much and needs her here, by his side.â€
â€œBut when my time comes...â€ insisted Mirumda, â€œwhen the gods take me like you told me they would, when I am dead â€¦ where will those gods of yours take me?â€
Owongo sighed again. â€œThere are gardens,â€ he said, â€œand pastures on the sun where foodstuff runs freely for a man or his woman to easily catch. That's where we go, to live on the pastures on the sun!â€
Mirumda shivered, not from cold but from fear. â€œIt's hot enough here, with never a cloud in the sky,â€ she murmured, â€œand Mirumda needs a river to splash with her hot and sweaty feet. Are there rivers on the sun?â€
Owongo was stumped for a while, then his eyes lit up. â€œYou know when the morning sunlight shines on the river and turns it to the colour of buttercups?â€ he asked.
â€œThat is what the rivers on the sun are like: flowing streams of yellow, like buttercups.â€
â€œAnd will they cool my feet, Owongo?â€
â€œThey will cool anything, for they are powerful rivers! There is magic in them, magic enough to make Mirumda's feet cool and clean!â€
â€œThen that is good,â€ sighed his wife. Then: â€œis there air on the sun, to breathe?â€ she asked.
Owongo looked at her, his eyebrows raised.
â€œOf course there is!â€ he exclaimed, â€œelse how would the gods breathe?â€
â€œDo the gods need to breathe? I mean, you said the gods were magic,â€ she pointed out, â€œand magic can do anything, even go without breathing!â€
â€œNo, it still needs to breathe,â€ snorted Owongo.
â€œSo when I die I will be with yellow rivers and have air to breathe?â€ asked Mirumda. â€œHow you know all this, Owongo?â€
â€œOwongo a man and men know everything,â€ retorted her man.
â€œAnd it will always be true,â€ she sighed, â€œAlways, always, always!â€
â€œThen, man of mine, I can die in peace,â€ she whispered, â€œand I feel inside me that it may come soon. Now you tell me stuff I want it even sooner!â€
Owongo shook his head. â€œBut Owongo need Mirumda,â€ he said, quietly. â€œOwongo ...â€ he struggled for the right word, â€œOwongo love Mirumda.â€
Â© Peter Rogerson 08.05.12