The bittersweet monologues : the finale…..


After all the pain and strain, the old man had a fitful night. He dreamt of sour orange trees popping up in the paths that he was walking on. In the dreams, the orchard owner was like a cloud floating above him and mocking him. In the dreams he had to keep his feet from being tripped by the sour trees and at the same time duck the floating cloud from swamping him. The cloud seemed to be steering him towards the orange tree that had given him sour fruit and he was fighting to steer in the opposite direction. But more and bigger stumps grew in the path that took him away from the sour tree and he found himself drifting towards the tree he did not want to go to.

In the last episode of his dream he was now close to the tree and the cloud was now even lower towards him. He increased his steps to try and outpace the cloud but it took the shape of the orchard owner’s face and let out a screeching sound and sort of flapped it’s cloudy sides at him. He screamed obscenities at it and the cloud shifted up.

Then he woke up.

He woke up to discover he had left his door open and an owl had flown into his hut and perched on the hole that served as a window only to be scared off by his groanings. He sat up quickly and got off his bed , rubbed his eyes and heard the owl now hooting at his back yard. His mind was now muddled. Had he been dreaming about the orchard owner or the owl had messed with his subconscious mind?

Sleep deserted him and a few hours later it was sunrise. He got out of the bed and went to sharpen his axe. He had a mission to accomplish that day and the earlier he did it the better.

Meanwhile, at the orchard owner’s compound, the son had never slept well since the old man had abruptly turned away near their threshold. He had wanted to run and beg the old man not to abort the trip because his father, the orchard owner wanted to tell him a secret that would have set him free and put him on the path to riches and happiness, but the old man had turned away before reaching the threshold mark and hence had forfeited the right to that knowledge.  But the orchard owner’s son had never been at peace with him failing to reach out to the old man.

When the morning came , the boy was wide awake and troubled and he boldly took a decision.  He sneaked out of the homestead , detoured via the ablutions and took the path to the old man’s home. He wanted to set the old man free. 

As morning dew sloshed on his feet he did not realise the ghostly shadow that tailed him.

He reached the old man’s homestead and as he was about to turn into the gateway he spotted a boobing movement in the direction of the sour tree. As he focused his sight, the sound of a thudding axe reached his ears and he immediately knew what was happening !!!! The old man was axing the tree. He broke into a run, shouting and waving his arms frantically . He took his eyes off the path way for a moment and tripped, flew headlong onto the hardened path and suddenly was enveloped by a dark realm. The last of his consciousness recorded firm arms trying to cradle him into a seating position.

Meanwhile the old man had slashed all the young saplings , shovelled away the carpet of rotten oranges and had dug a pit where he had wanted to throw the tree when his was done with axing, chopping it to pieces and burning it. He had proceeded to axe the tree and was about to land the last blow that would bring the tree toppling when he heard a shout. He shielded his eyes to see who it was and could only make out a running silhouette telling him to stop cutting the tree. Then the voice registered, it was the orchard owner’s son !!!

Another silhouetted appeared behind the boy… It was the orchard owner !!! The old man was enraged.  So the man and his boy had not enjoyed humiliating him that day? They had gleefully thought to come and torment him at his own home and turf? They had to come and mock him and this sour tree? They were never going to win, he told himself, he was going to fell the tree with the last blow and when they got to him there would be no more tree!!!. He raised the axe for one moe blow and hit the mark and the tree came toppling downtiwards him. He scrambled to get out of the way but the outer branches got him, swept him downwards and he landed in the pit followed by over ripe oranges from the toppling tree, some which split as they hit the ground.

Meanwhile the orchard owner brought his son to consciousness and upon realising that he had no major harm on him, he laid him on the side of the path and ran to try and stop the old man from felling the tree. When he got to the edge of the plantain he heard the thud of the falling tree and the swishing of the branches. It was too late. The tree was gone. He walked over to where the moaning was louder and he found the old man trapped by huge branches and overripe oranges smothering him and the branches pressure squeezing their juice into his mouth and nose. He had a deep gash on the forehead where the ricocheting axe had caught him after bouncing off the falling tree branches. There was no saving him.

The last thing the old man remembered was the gush of SWEET juice into his mouth and as darkness enveloped him more SWEET juice flowed up his nose and choked him and he heard the orchard owner telling him that if he had walked into the homestead he would he learnt that it was only the first YEAR fruit that was SOUR, the years next were all sublime sweet oranges !!! The old man tried to rise and swear but the branches held him down and the sweet juice choked him one last time. As he sneezed out he inhaled sweet citric aroma and his skull cracked open. He was dead.

The orchard owner shrugged his shoulders, clucked in sympathy and walked back to his son as  the birds of the air circled above and some distant grocer blared out a song by one Lovemore Majaivana and the lyrics that kept coming at him were:

Wath’uTshaka, lelilizweliyobuswa zinyoni”, (Tshaka said , this country will be ruled by the birds).

He pulled his son up and they trudged home as he composed his instruction  to his son:

Walking through the grind of the threshold bears more fruit than listening to the voices on the side and being distracted by shadows on your path that don’t know how close you are to catching gold.

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬


Bittersweet monologues : Sweet and sour rage


When the old man got to his home, he was fuming with rage. He had not even realised how quickly he had covered the distance between his home and the orchard owner’s  homestead. Fury blinded his eyes and he could feel rage humming like an enraged swarm of bees around him. He needed to vent. He needed to unwind to free up the fury and anger of so many years.

He sat on the carved stool and held his head betwixt his knees.  The swirl of emotions took him to the day he had eaten the sweetest orange of his life. The day he had chosen the biggest seed and planted it only for it to betray him . 

He remembered the lost time. The effort he had put on making sure the tree did not die or suffer being ravaged by urchins and prowlers , and the tree had let him down. 

He remembered the fruit. The sour fruit that had dashed an eight year dream and killed all his zeal for optimism. The fruit that had refused to reward him for his efforts.

He remembered the humiliation that had turned him into an recluse. He remembered how he felt comfortable spending more hours in his semi darkened hut such that he had to reduce his eyes to a serious squint every time he had to step outside. The fruit had stolen his vision, his happiness, his zeal and his quest for a productive life. The tree and the fruit had emasculated him.

He rembered the ‘taunt’ by the orchard owner, he felt the leering eyes of the whole village on him as he had walked to the orchard owner’s  homestead .

As all came together, he realised that he had been turned into a raging man. He rose to go to the tool shed. He had to do something. He had to get the root of this blatant stigma attached to him.

Tomorrow morning, he was going to cut down the cursed tree. Dig up the saplings around it, shovel the carpet of years of rotten fruit into a deep pit and burn all that remained . 

He had missed the lesson his father had always impressed upon him :

Sour rage blinds one to the reality and paves the path to destroying the fruit of good .

Tomorrow he was going to cut the sour umbilical cord. He was going to be finally free….

“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭7:9‬ ‭ASV‬‬

To be continued….

Bittersweet monologues : Hard call


When the morning came the old man had woken up light headed. He shook his head to recall the previous night. The dream of his first fruit still lingered and had taken him back to the day that he had eaten of the fruit that had given him the seed that had let him down.

Years had flown since he had eaten that fruit, more years had passed since he had planted the seed. More years had passed when he had been waiting for the seed to give him fruit. These had been the hope filled years. He had been happy to wait, until the fruit came forth sour . 

His mind came back to the events of yesterday, no, to the event of yesterday . For the first time in many years he had been called by the clan name that he had proudly loved to hear nuanced before the sour fruit. For the first time he had someone approach the gate to his home without mocking and being derisive. The orchard owner’s son had come to invite him to meet their hard owner at their homestead .

After as much ceremonial delay as decorum would allow, the old man had taken to the path that led to the orchard owner’s homestead . He averted his face when he passed his orange tree and steadfastly looked aside. Yet the image of the piles of rotting oranges and shoots that had grown around the radius of the tree vividly retained in his mind. In as much as he wanted to forget that legacy there was no getting rid of that image. Birds of the air, stray chickens and all forms of rodents had found free food at the layers of rotten fruit and for all he cared they could even eat the tree…

As the orchard owner’s homestead came into sight, the old man became aware of the presence of many other people in the sidelines.  It seemed the whole village was aware of his trip to the orchard owner’s homestead and they had positioned themselves to either cross his path at crossroads , pretending to be looking for  stray cattle or seemingly going the same direction as he was.

Some thought struck him. Why was very one seemingly aware of this trip? Was the orchard owner setting him up for a fall? Were the people that he was seeing loitering along the pathways part of the gallery that was going to see his embarrassment? Was that the reason why the son of the orchard  owner had been to courteous to him yesterday , so as to lull him to a sense of security? His pulse heightened, his anger welled and the bitterness inspired by the sour orange and his lemon nickname came flooding back.

He turned  back  and walked in anger to his home.

The orchard owner saw him turn away less than fifty  metres from him. The orchard owner’s  son wanted to run after him and stop him but the father gently and firmly held him back . He explained that the old man will have to step over the homestead threshold for the orchard owner to impart the long held secret to him. But it had to be another day as he watched the old man beat a hasty retreat. He remembered what his father , the original planter of the orchard had taught him:

To catch the sweet fruit means overcoming the sour threshold.

Pity the old man had turned away a few meters from that threshold and opted to walk kilometres back to the sour disposition.

Maybe another day would allow the old man to step over and learn the life changing secret.

To be continued……

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.””

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:7-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Bittersweet monologues : Sweet and sour counsel


Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:31-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

After the pain of disappointment in the fruit that never lived to expectations, the old man had taken more humiliation from the scorn by other villagers. Some mocked him for trying to outdo the orchard owner. Some ridiculed his obsession with the tree and some indicated that in the history of his family no one had ever planted a fruit tree.

It was true he had never sought counsel from the famed orchard owner. In his wisdom he had wondered why no one else had an orchard except the orchard owner who supplied the village with all the oranges it needed. Folklore spoke of oranges having been the sole source of life for the orchard family and for years no one had ever thought of orange trees beyond the famed orchard.

Some spoke to his challenging of tradition as the reason why his oranges were sour. Orchard loyalists laughed at his feeble competition effort , the village jesters composed songs of sour oranges and the village urchins called him the lemon man.

The more he listened to the village vibe , the more he became an angry man. He stopped watering the tree, stopped looking after the hedge and eventually stopped going to the tree. For the next years his disposition took the taste of his fruit. He became a sully man, grumpy and quick to take offence. He became the Lemon Man. The village had turned his disposition. Yes the fruit had come out sour but in his view no one saw his sweet aspirations anymore. 

No one understood that all he had wanted was a tree that would give him sweet oranges.

He became a hermit and spoke less and went out less. The communal ridicule became fear. Whispers spoke of dementia and lone rantings. The tree continued giving fruit that no one picked because the owner never cared anymore and the commune knew the tree as sour.

One morning he woke up to a voice at the gate that persistently called out his family name. Something struck him, ever since the sour a oranges no one had ever called him by his clan name. The sour product had become his name. He walked out of his hut into the blinding sunshine and shielded his face with his hand to see who was at the gate. It was the son of the orchard owner….. the last person he wanted to behold !!!

As he pondered stepping back into the hut the son called him by his clan name again. This triggered a long forgotten warmth in him. After an exchange , the son gave him a message: The orchard owner was asking to meet with him and again the son signed off by calling him by the clan name and totems.

As he walked back to the hut his step got a new spring and he suddenly remembered to whistle. He patted his forehead and muttered to himself:

Sour oranges should not alter your sweet disposition. 

Spoiled dreams must not destroy the vision of sweet oranges.

That night as the man slept, he dreamt of a clan orchard that gave only sweet oranges……..

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

To be continued….

The bittersweet monologues : sour oranges are not lemons


After the pain of disappointment the old man remembered how hard it had been to accept that the seed had betrayed him. In as far as he was concerned he had embellished all the love and care on the tree and it had jilted him. He felt spurned, scorned and rejected.

He had a hard decision to take. In the year past, based on how healthy the tree was and the promising bounty fruit, he had marketed his fruit as the best oranges that the village would ever taste. He had drawn allusions from the taste of the orange that had given him the seed and had tantalised fellow villages to salivate over the anticipation of the pending sweet oranges…

Worse still he had seduced the other village patrons not to consider biding for the fruit from the orchard that had produced the orange that had given him the seed. A rivalry had ensued and bets had been taken to see who would produce the best sweet fruit and as he remembered the taste of his product he knew he was a doomed man.

He could not sell the oranges for no one would buy them.

He couldn’t sell the oranges as lemons as they were not shaped and did not appear like lemons.

Sour oranges are not lemons.

He could not give them away for free for then his rival would hear of his failed product.

After a smooth flowing life he suddenly found himself saddled with a great disappointment. Despite fruitfulness he had no happiness. He had produce that he did not want, could not sell and could not give away.

His first dream , effort and pursuit had been shattered. Pain, disappointment , dissipation , disgruntlement and anger welled up. He believed earth and Mother Nature had dealt him an undeserved blow.

He took off the sign, threw it face down and walked away.

The sign read : First grade sweet oranges for sale.

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

To be continued…….

The bittersweet monologues ; “lemon tree”

The old man shuffled slowly towards the gate of his orchard. The gate was the most intact part of the perimeter but he always made great ceremony of entering the orchard via the gate than the yawning gaps on the once blooming gooseberry hedge. He painfully bent forward and retied the rusted wire on the steel pole to lock the gate into position and trudged towards the first tree. 

His first tree.

His gnarled hands rested against the tree trunk as he remembered the day he had planted this tree. He distinctly remembered that he had not planted a lemon tree. He clearly remembered eating the fruit that had given him the seed that he had planted. In fact he remembered peeling the fruit, taking in the citric scent and biting into the white flesh on the peels to recover as much edible stuff as possible. Sigh.

Out of the sweetness of the fruit he had embarked on a journey to have his own sweet tree and he had chosen the biggest pip as the seed.

He had dug a “good” pit and watered it from the day it was planted. Everyday he had walked to the pit and prayerfully hoped for a green bud. Fourteen days later he was rewarded with a three point bud that signalled the germination of the seed. 

For years as he grew, the old man had tended the tree.

In the seventh year  the tree flowered and showed promise of its first fruit.  The rains watered the tree and cleansed its leaves. The dark green blobs grew and started paling into a yellow colour. Then he had to go to the mountain of manhood. He left his promising tree an adolescent with the promise and hope to find the fruit ripe when he returned as a man.

When he came, for indeed he came, he had survived the initiation camp, he went to the sweet tree and harvested his first fruit. He chose the biggest and most shiny in memory of the tree that had given him the seed that he had planted.

Seated on a rock he replayed the scene of more than eight years ago, he peeled his fruit until all the peels were off. He then split it into half , quartered it and chose the most plump sole portion. His mouth watered as he remembered the orange that had given him that seed that had birthed this tree. Salivation.

He closed his eyes and went on time travel to the eight years past as he put the fruit into his mouth as he bit into the citric skin anticipating to be tantalised by sweet sugary senses spilling onto his tongue….

He remembers the jolting shock as he promptly spit the fruit and opened his eyes.

The fruit, no, the tree, no , the seed had disappointed him. 

The orange fruit was sour.

It had a vinegar taste……

It was a “lemon” tree.

The seed might give you the fruit, but it is more than the seed needed to get good fruit.

The transition  to manhood had gifted him the first fruit of disappointment.

“Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:17-19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The old man hobbled away from the tree. Shoulders sunken and eyes misted.

To be continued


You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?
Matthew 7:16 AMP

The old wizened man had travelled life’s journey.  As he sat on the carved stool and covered his walking stick with both hands he remembered :

He had always loved monologues.  The conversations with self had sharpened his perception and given him greater insight about himself. So he set out his first monologue.

It is the seed and not the water that determines the fruit.

It is not the water that determines what fruit a tree gives.

Neither is it the soil and compost that determines what fruit a tree gives.

It is the seed.

The seed as symbolised by the heart and mind.

The DNA of a fruit is in the  seed.

In as much as the environment around you might be toxic, acidic , hostile and barren, it is the unction in you that will turn you into an oasis in the desert.

Show me your seed and I will perceive your fruit.

You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?
Matthew 7:16 AMP

The old man stood painfully and hobbled to his garden….

The ministry of the ear

I have learnt a lesson.

I have learnt that listening carries very precious currency and empowers one. In the race to outspeak each other people tend to take leave of their senses and the one who restrains self from swimming those murky waters finds themselves in a vantage position to see, weigh, gauge and soberly steer away from raging issues.

I have learnt that to listen in the barrage of words gives one insight. 

Words said in anger tend not reflect the true characters of the people whose anger is being directed at but there is still a truth in the words of anger. In the words of anger is a true reflection of what the enraged person thinks of the person they are directing their anger at.

I have listened to leaders vent their anger at their perceived enemies. At worst insults that have nothing to do about the leadership skills of the persons who are being insulted will be used. Their wives will be demeaned and sexual mistakes profiled but their leadership acumen not mentioned. 

To those that listen it would simply mean the insulting party has chosen below the belt because they cannot afford the poker face dare me game. 

It is those who will listen that will hear the unspoken message.

The woman at the well had to listen to Jesus for her to know who she was, but most importantly , what she could be, she had had many husbands and was even staying with someone’s spouse but listening opened the avenue to an inner introspection that led her to cast off the societal scorn and go on to be the one who called the city to the Messiah.             John‬ ‭4:16-18, 20-21, 23-26, 39-40, 42‬ ‭NIV‬‬,20-21,23-26,39-40,42.niv

When Shimei threw dust and insulted the humiliated and fleeing King David , the body guards wanted to kill him but the King chose to listen to the regal spirit in him and restrained the aides from murdering the insulting man. Years later Shimei had to eat his words.  ‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭16:5-7, 9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬,9-10.niv

So, when the storms rage, accusations pile, afflictions assail and insults fly, listen to the unsaid words. They will give you a greater introspection, they will teach you more than the hurt of the insults. 

Listen and do not race to outdo the other party.

The ministry of the ear will see you through.

It is those who listen who will hear the unspoken message.