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