By: Stanford Chigaro
The African night sky is a wonder. It is the main reason I came to wish to fly. It is the most beautiful art in the history of this world, alive with its raw energy, a song for the eyes. At times I feel as if it’s vibrating somehow, whispering in a way the ears cannot hear. It feels friendly when the world of people is now so devoid of love. Sitting there on the balcony my soul was so in harmony with nature.
“Henry go to bed now, it’s late!” my mother echoed from her bedroom.
“Alright mum,” I replied almost involuntarily.
I ignored her, eyes up in the sky.
In every direction there was a star, should I fly into the universe any way would be the right way. I tilted my head, gazing upward, eyes more open than they could be in the fullness of day, not looking at one star, yet somehow seeing them all at once.
I was a lonely boy but over time I learnt how to lessen the pain. I was excelling at school, where I was mostly a secretive and solitary child, preferring to read, rather than playing sports or socializing with other children. I was taunted by many of the other children, who regarded me as a coward and a mother’s boy. Strictly speaking I had no friend.
Back home my father was a terrible person to say the least. How I wished to spend some time with him, hunting deer and pigeons in the nearby bushes just as my classmate Joe did with his father.
“I am a bad parent, I never meant to be. I wonder if it’s just what happens when you take a love that strong and mix it up with ambition and fear,” Dad said to me one evening.
He was in a bad relationship with mom. I overhead them quarrelling one day and the fight had some unholy words in it. Although both Mom and Dad tried to hide their resentment of each other, I could still feel the effects. However the gift he gave me on my birthday was something to go crazy about. It was a jewel as heavy as a common rock yet in the summer sunlight it glittered like the sun-kissed ocean lapping the sands; the brilliant red hue was so vivid it was how I imagined crystalline blood would appear if such a thing existed. It reign supreme amongst all jewels and gems, its perfect features scorning those of others. I however couldn’t tell how a common man like my Dad could afford such an expensive gift. Perhaps he had sacrificed for his dear son.
As I looked up into the sky, sitting on the balcony, the stars illuminated the darkness and my loneliness crumbled to dust. My fears, my hatred, and my family fights – they now lingered at a distance. A bright star shot across the sky, fiery and big. I was reminded that something beautiful still exist.
The shooting star didn’t fade away. It grew both in size and brightness as it lit the midnight sky, seemingly approaching my direction and yes it was coming down to earth, perhaps to console me. I watched with amusement and with an intense feeling of adventure. I was going to be an astronaut, everybody in our class and neighborhood knew that. My teacher would even call me Armstrong whenever he was trying to cheer me up. He was my father’s friend so I guess he was fully aware of my situation at home.
My excitement was soon magnified by the fast approaching star. It was like a fiery burning ball of fire. According to my calculation it was going to land a few yards from our home in the bushes, a stone throw away.
My mind raced. I remembered my teacher talking about asteroid the other day. He said it can hit the earth with enough force to send the oceans into space, leaving our home-world obliterated worse than we ever achieved. So what if it was an asteroid?
The fire ball was now a few meters from the ground and I was ready to welcome this guest when almost suddenly it stopped and dimmed. How strange? It was almost midnight and I am sure my mother was asleep now. She had spent the day in the garden and I know how exhausting garden work is. This is the main reason I avoid it.
I heard some light footsteps to the front of our house. This was not only scary but a danger sign. Robbers were roaming the village. I quickly withdrew from the balcony to my room. When I woke up, the sun was already high up in the sky.
I couldn’t tell mom about last night for the obvious reason that I had way passed my bedtime. I couldn’t tell Dad either because, well we were not that close. If there are words to capture what was going on in my mind at that moment, I do not know them. I had an unquenched thirst for answers.
The day at school was as usual, boring and the math too easy to challenge my brain. I couldn’t stand it when the teacher gave us a stupid test whose questions were wrongly structured. I was so relieved when I got home, especially when I watched the night crouching, sitting on the balcony again hoping the red fire ball will come again.
Time dragged like a prison sentence. I checked my wrist watch for the time. A minute had passed since I last checked an hour ago, or so it seemed. Sitting there with nothing to stare at but a dark sky was excruciatingly dull and there was no telling when something interesting would pop up.
The stars in the sky were nonexistent, beyond the cumulonimbus clouds. They blanketed the sky, hiding the full moon in its full glory behind them. But the moon fought, oh how it fought to shine its light on the earth. But the clouds stretched over the sky, giving it a hazy ominous feel.
The sky let a few drops of rain then almost immediately a heavy shower. Still lingering on the balcony, a small light appeared below the clouds, definitely not a star. I watched as it transformed into the familiar fire ball – my mysterious friend was back. I didn’t mind the rain but ran down the yard, towards the bush to the exact spot it hovered yesterday. The fire ball lit the sky. I felt exposed and sought shelter behind an indigenous Mupani tree.
As I had calculated, the fire ball made a sudden stop at the exact place it stopped yesterday, just a few meters from the ground I was hiding. Its brilliance was blinding, I had to cover my eyes, only to open them when the light slightly dimmed. I peeped from behind the tree to see what the fire ball really was. It was a strange sophisticated small aircraft from the future or science fiction movies. It was round and could only carry 2 or 3 people or perhaps 5 of my age.
There was mumbling from the aircraft, then footsteps from the direction of our house. When I heard them it was too late because my father had already seen me. He looked strangely astonished, clearly he didn’t expect me or perhaps he didn’t want me to be there. He stared as if I had just produced an elephant from my wallet.
At the same time a young boy of my age, jumped out of the aircraft. He was clearly extra-terrestrial. His face was completely flawless. He was wearing the same jewel Dad had gave me on my 8th birthday.
“Dad!” he screamed
Dad, who I soon realized was both our Dad held out his arms wide for a hug. It was so sweet that I felt jealousy. I don’t remember him doing the same to me. I was absorbed in this that I did not notice a perfect woman in her mid-thirties or whatever alien age, walking towards my Dad, smiling and hungry for a kiss. He gave Dad a noisy and clumsy kiss then caressed both his cheek romantically.
“I had missed you love,” she said in a melodious voice. “When are you going to finish the mission, we need you home?”
“General, how are you tonight? Your family insisted on coming,” this was the third person from the aircraft.