Two in a Row

Reads: 24  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs

You never know how the day's going to pan out.

Two in a Row

I don’t think I have an actual favourite tree, but high in my list of besties is our indigenous Marble Leaf, a tree that in my part of the world is scarce, but in other parts of our fair country, it is quite common. The reason? It prefers moist soils. I like its shiny, dappled leaves, fragrant white flowers and its white trunk, but in reality it isn’t a useful tree… even for firewood, because of the copious amounts of sap that pours from it when it’s cut. Hence an alternative name, Bucket-of-water Tree, given by the early settlers. The Maori people gave it a name, placing it in the natural world, as the home of the weta, Putaputaweta. It’s no surprise that the early bushmen soon morphed the name to Motorbike Tree.

When modernity comes into a language, suitable new words have to be made up and the Swahili word for motorbike is one that has and appropriate sound to it, reminding me of the Maori name for Marble Leaf. Pikipiki seems to me to be the perfect word… The most common motorbike around Arusha was the Honda 110, the step-through bike that had no clutch. They are deceptively easy to ride, but people do get caught out by taking them too lightly. Nobody’s taught how to ride them safely. Just like Skip from my old forestry days. Skip missed the transport to bring him up to the logging site, so later, he rode my old Yamaha motorbike. I had changed the rear sprocket, which slowed the bike down on the hills but  gave it more power! He didn’t let on what challenges he experienced getting up to the logging site, but going back down the hill, we had a grandstand view from the cab of the truck as we followed him. He had us in fits of laughter… but it was bloody dangerous! First, he opened the throttle and took off like a rocket, the surge forced his feet off their rests so his legs were flailing behind him! He was stretched along the seat, holding on grimly but with the throttle wide open unable to close it! Once seated, he didn’t want… or couldn’t stop because we were right behind him. It was steeply downhill nearly all the way and most of the time the bike was hardly upright! He was going faster than he should have been and how he didn’t fall off and injure himself, I don’t really know. It might have looked funny, but demonstrated the dangers inexperience.

A Pastor I knew arrived at the Makumira nursery on his pikipiki, to choose some tree seedlings for his personal home place, but he couldn’t take them with him because he had a pillion-passenger. I knew the woman too, who happened to be on the large side. I had the passing thought that the bike might be difficult to handle with her on board… I’d had many an experience on my own step-through Honda 90 when carrying sick sheep… and ended arse-up with care! Anyway, the Pastor promised to return later in the day to pick up his trees. He didn’t arrive, but news did… he had been killed on the road, not far from where I’d been hit by that bus! It was somewhat miraculous that his pillion-passenger survived with barely a scratch. Goes to show, you just never know how a day’s going to pan out.

After Upendo had finished her secondary school studies, I sent her to a new college where I’d enrolled her for secretarial studies and bookkeeping. I thought it would give her a better chance at finding a job in a fairly competitive environment. The college was handy, about a mile down the main road.  Upendo and I met nearly every day and we were both concerned that she hadn’t opened her text books. The lecturer seemed to be a tomorrow-person, he would come tomorrow! In the end, the students in her group sent three months working in the college grounds with no studies whatsoever! I didn’t mind her doing physical work, physical work harms nobody, but paying a substantial fee to do so, didn’t seem quite right to me, so I called at the college to talk to the head. My intention was to tell him I was going to withdraw her from the college, but he wasn’t there, so I spoke to his deputy who assured me that his boss would call at my house that very evening. He didn’t arrive, but again, the news did! He’d ridden out of the college’s driveway on his pikipiki, onto the main road, and into the path of an on-coming heavy vehicle! 

These two events happened in the same week! And y’know, in a third world country, there’s no way of making cosmetic changes to people who have met accidental, or indeed, any death, and always the casket is open for mourners to pay their respects by viewing the body. I paid my respects to both men and even now, after more than two decades, as I type, I look out at the blue sky and wonder about fate… about what to say. Both pikipikis had been donated by overseas church groups and both men, at the time they received them, thought they were incredibly lucky!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: November 10, 2020

© Copyright 2020 moa rider. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Memoir Short Stories

Boosted Content from Other Authors

Book / Action and Adventure

Short Story / Historical Fiction

Other Content by moa rider

Short Story / Romance

Short Story / Romance

Short Story / Fantasy