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Stilts, Part 1

Not based on true events

It was a day of cloud and sun, sun and cloud, in the waving grasslands of Sudan. It was a day of the shadow races, and already the shade cast by the clouds rushed across the ground. Birds and beasts, full of life, roamed here and there, creating roads through the parched vegetation. Some led left, some led right, but these do not concern us. It is the straight trampled routes leading to the Chari river that we must follow. Soon, the creators of these ruts are in sight, and we see that two immense Black Rhinoceros’. It is a mother wading through grasses which reached to her bulging flanks and leading her obedient calf who trotted behind her.

The little one seemed immensely fascinated with all but the trip, and often halted to gaze down at a beetle or view a soaring eagle. After each of these numerous hesitations, the calf would run up to his mother and pepper her with questions. She might have very well been an unsavoury part of a meal he shot so much of this spice at her. “How did the beetle get its shell? How did the Situnga curl its horns? Did it drink some sour milk? Can I curl my horns? How did the Bubbling Kassina get it’s name?  It’s a funny name, isn’t it?” And so on and on the calf babbled until at last his mother lost patience, halted in her tracks, and let a powerful draft of air out of her nostrils.

“Peace, my little one! I can not answer these mountains of questions, so do not ask me.” Her son too stopped and now looked sheepishly up at her wise face.

“Please, answer but one.” He implored. His mother hung her head wearily, then, lifting it again, said that yes, she could answer one. The calf lost not a single second.

“Why do so many animals have stilts?” He piped up promptly.

“Which animals?” asked his mother.

“Well,” he replied, “creatures like the Giraffes and the Western Tessebes. Insects like the Mantids and birds like the Secretary Bird. Why do they all have such long legs?” 

The venerable female gazed over the sea of gold in which they were centred, pondering the questions slowly.

To be continued...

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Wednesday October 28, 2020