His face turned serious. “Shh. Boy, you lose that accent and don’t speak of it. You want to be picked up as a terrorist?”
“Me? A terrorist?” Robbie was now amused. ”How long you been blind?”
Previous PALNet Post 095
“Four years now I think.”
“You must still have at least another twenty years of life in you. I’d like to know if you would like me if you could see me.”
“Can’t help you there mate.”
“I’ll come back a bit later - you can tell me then.” He put the empty bottle on the counter and walked out. The old man forgot to call him to collect his deposit.
As he was returning to the shop he saw a crowd and ducked back out of sight. He thought about it and decided it was not worth it. He cut across some empty land and walked along the tar road.
“What do you want me to do here - you want me to go around curing people? I’ll be very surprised to find any Cherinians in this country, so this trip probably has nothing to do with that. Okay, I’ll cure them. Now the question is who and why. You made me a black man. If I go around curing black people they will only see me as a witchdoctor.” He stopped walking and we felt his amusement. “Okay, what if a black man goes around curing white people? Does that create a situation for you?”
No vehicles stopped for him and he arrived at the next town two days later. Even with his healer he was staggering. The sun had been hot and there had been no food or water on the way. The closest he had come to food was when a car drove past and a child opened his window and threw a banana peel, trying to hit his face.
Politely he asked at a petrol station if he could drink some water from the tap. The attendant was about to send him away when he asked, “Where did you come from?” Robbie described the village.
“You walked? Did you not take food or water with you?”
“I did not know how far the next town was.”
He muttered something to him in his language and Robbie only stared at him.
“You do not speak Xhosa?”
“No. I was born in England and only know English.”
Nervously the attendant looked around. “Follow me.” He went to the back of the station and brought him a tin mug of water and a thick slice of brown bread. “Eat this quickly and then leave, I don’t want trouble.”
Obediently he did so and was soon walking down the one-street town. A police car drew up.
“Haven’t seen you around here before. Where you from.”
He pretended to search. “I’ve lost it sir. I had to walk through the bush and must have dropped it.”
The officer got out, his eyes showing his suspicion. Without warning he used a thick stick he carried, hitting Robbie about the shoulders. There was not much he could do and to stay in character he cowered. They threw him into the back of the car and went to the station.
As they entered, the cop spoke to his superior, “Caught this bugger without papers. He has a foreign accent. Must have slipped across the border.”
“You a terrorist kaffir?”
“Maybe he is a polite terrorist, sir.” They laughed as they manhandled him. Once in a back room they made him strip. He waited, naked.
# There was not one Cherinian who was not angry. We all watched, in our minds knowing, even in our innocence, that much worse is to come.
The officer entered alone. “So kaffir, you going to talk or do I have to send the men in?”
“Please sir, I will talk. You should give up smoking sir, you have cancer in your throat.”
The man stared at him in astonishment and suddenly swung, the rubber stick hitting him hard. It knocked Robbie down.
“That proves you are a terrorist, they got the information somehow and…was I the target?”
“I only wished to cure you sir. If you go to your doctor he will tell you the cancer is gone.”
He had been about to kick Robbie. He held back. “You telling me kaffir, that you healed me?”
He must have felt something in his throat. “I’ll check. If you are lying you are going to wish your mother died before she had you. You hear me kaffir?”
The officer left and Robbie was taken to a cell, his pants given back to him.
# None of us slept well, even when Robbie slept. Our hearts were too anxious. The hours before dawn found us sitting waiting, faces already drawn by anxiety.
They brought him a cup of water and a small lump of some white stuff to eat. He used his fingers and tried it, pulled a face, but decided he better eat while he can.
The door opened at about ten and a cop stuck his head around. “The baas will be returning soon and he is going to want to kill you. You can scream all you want, all of us have work to do elsewhere.” Laughing he closed the door.
Robbie sat with his back against the wall, contemplating the cockroaches that ran around. When the door opened he stood up.
“Damn you kaffir, I don’t know what to think. The doctor is sending a biopsy of some tissue just to confirm it, but he says my throat seems to be clean.”
“I’m pleased sir. You wish something more sir?”
“You being cheeky with me boy?”
“No sir, I feel something else bothers you, you want something.”
“Follow me.” In the next room he let Robbie put his shirt back on. Impatiently, or nervously, he gestured for Robbie to follow. They went to his office. A woman was sitting there.
“This is my sister. She has been paralysed for seventeen years now. Can you cure her?”
Robbie did not reply, he slid down against the wall and sat on his haunches, his eyes looking at her. The healer went into her and found the spine badly damaged. He ordered it to repair her.
“This will take many hours sir, the spine is badly damaged.” He grunted in reply and sat at his office doing paper work. Two hours later he looked up and saw Robbie apparently asleep. He took a whip and slashed him across the shoulders. He stood over Robbie in a rage.
“You stupid kaffir, you trying to make a fool of me?”
“Hermanus, leave him alone. I feel a tingling in my toes.”
He stared at her with his mouth hanging open. She looked up at him and her face was suffused with joy.
“Jesus!! You do this boy, you make her walk and I swear I’ll get you your papers myself - terrorist or not.”
“Thank you sir.” Insolently he leaned back and closed his eyes and this time there was no slash by whip - he thought Robbie was concentrating on healing his sister.
A while later his sister began to whimper. “Hermanus, it hurts!!”
“My back, my hips and legs. They are on fire!”
“Her nerves are coming alive sir. She must be brave for another half an hour.”
Her legs twitched from the pain and he stared at his sister.
“You moved! God damn, but you moved!!” The huge stupid hunk was crying. Robbie closed his eyes.
It was early evening when Robbie stood up. He went over to the woman. He gave her his hand. She looked at her brother and then took it. His face gentle, he helped her stand up.
“You will need to get used to walking again. May I suggest you do some swimming, it helps. Please exercise to strengthen your muscles.”
“You and your brother, sorry, I meant sir, you both have good hearts under everything. I cannot heal evil hearts. You are welcome.” He kept his attitude humble.
Her brother was holding her when she asked, “What about him Hermanus?”
He turned to Robbie. “You helped even though you must have known that you will go back to the cell and you will be interrogated by my men tomorrow. That means you will be beaten till you confess.”
“I am able to stand the pain I take from others. I will have to bear this too. My problem is that I have nothing to confess so that means they will beat me until I am dead?”
“Hermanus, you can’t. Please, not after what he did for us.”
“You ask that I break the law?”
“Sir, please do not. A man in your position with a good heart, your position must not be risked.”
“You hear him sis? This one is crazy!!” He picked up his phone, talked in Afrikaans, which we did not understand, and a man entered. Hermanus signed some papers and the other man left.
“I have signed that I am personally responsible for you. Come with us.”
“May I have my underclothes and shoes please?”
“Underclothes! You kaffirs getting civilised?” he chuckled. “Come, we will collect them on our way out.”
As they drove to his house Hermanus spoke to him. “If you run away you will cause me many problems. If you do, I promise I will find you and you will...”
“…wish my mother had died before I was born sir?”
“You getting cheeky with me?”
“No sir, you gave me that warning.”
The sister laughed. “I think he has a sense of humour!”
He did not answer, but glowered at Robbie through his mirror every now and then till they arrived home. He called his servant.
“Feed him and let him sleep in your room tonight.”
Servants are only supposed to eat after their masters, so Robbie walked around a while and then sat on the steps to the verandah. A young girl came out and was startled when she saw him. She is on the plump side and her features will obviously be coarse when she grows up, though she has lovely bright blue eyes.
“Are you the one who made my auntie better?”
“I helped. My name is Robert.”
“Mine is Sarah. How did you do it?”
“Your auntie has a good heart. When people have good hearts, it is easy for another good heart to enter and help their body repair itself.”
Next PALNet Post 097
I hope you enjoy reading this story of fantasy, adventure and love - and should some of it be true for our reality, I hope you will love our Cherine.
Αλέξανδρος Ζήνον Ευσταθίου(Alexander Zenon Eustace)
5th November, 2019
* posted : 5th November, 2019
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