Memoirs Of A Faithful Friend…Contd.

I woke up and couldn’t tell if I was out for minutes or hours. But it was still peach black, I was still lost, it was still raining heavily, and above all, Rex was still missing. I couldn’t care less about the time. I didn’t know if it was my heart beating too fast, or the severe hunger I felt that caused my black out. But it didn’t matter. I heard the sound again, and this time, closer than before…coupled with movement in the bushes. It was certain, there was a stalker on my tail. Man or beast…I couldn’t tell, and I definitely wasn’t eager to find out. I began to run as fast as my legs could carry me. But the sound didn’t seem to fade away, it was still as clear as the first time.

As I ran, the rain drops flooded my eyes like a thousand bees. The bushes kept resisting me, but my will to live was stronger. Then I came to a halt when I noticed the rain had seized. I had lost the growling sound, but the damage had already been done. I was totally drenched. I knew for sure I would go down with a fever. Then I sat on the ground, helpless, ready for anything that was coming. My mind wondered back home. I could imagine Mama’s eyes all red and bulgy with tears. She had barely recovered from the death of Sizwe Banzi*, her younger brother. She just couldn’t take another loss, especially not her baby girl. It would totally break her. The community chief must have been alerted. Papa and Uncle Akachi would most likely be out with a search party. He must have rallied up the neighbors to join in the search. He never really liked Mr. Danladi. But due to the recent events at hand, he wouldn’t have had much of a choice. Mr. Danladi would prove a very useful help, especially with his two grown up sons and numerous dogs. I was sure Mama would have said a thousand prayers on my behalf. She always made me say my prayers every night before bed. She told me stories about a man called Jesus who died for the whole world. It didn’t make any sense to me why someone would do that, but she seemed to like this man a lot, and so I did too. Papa was really not one to pray, so he would likely….

PRAYER! It donned on me. In all this, I hadn’t for once thought of praying. The thought excited me a lot, and I got on my knees very quickly. Just as I closed my eyes, a voice spoke in my head, “you ran off this morning without praying. What makes you think he’ll answer you now”? I hesitated a bit, but then I felt a tug in my chest compelling me to pray. So I thought, “It wouldn’t hurt to try. After all, what do I have to lose? I’m going to die here anyway”. As I got up after praying, I heard that sound again. This time it was really close and even drawing closer. I felt a chill run down my spine. My heart rate increased rapidly again. I became dizzy. I knew I was going to pass out again. The sound was now right beside me, but I couldn’t see through the bushes to know what or who it was. I couldn’t get myself to run again. I just laid down in silence and waited patiently for death to take its course. As the lights went dim in my head, I could sense something….or someone in the bushes. Suddenly I could make out the source of the sound. Could it be?

“Rex”, I called out softly. There he was, my knight in shining armor, here to rescue me. He stood over me, calling out to me. As my eyes closed, I knew this time I could rest, assured I was safe. Help had come. Somehow Jesus heard me. Maybe he was in the area and heard my prayers, I couldn’t tell. But this I knew, ‘I was safe’.

I tell this story to Munayo and Osarume, my babies, as a bed time story every other night. I even have a framed portrait of my hero, Rex, hanging on the wall in the hall way. Now I realize that his purpose in my life was to find me that night. People often ask why I have a large picture of a dog in my house. But I tell them, “I didn’t find him, he found me”.

*Disclaimer: ‘Sinzwe Banzi Is Dead’ is the title of a South African play by Athol Fugard, and this story is in no way related to the play. The use of the phrase, “the death of Sizwe Banzi”, in paragraph two of the above story is merely a play on the existing title, ‘Sizwe Banzi Is Dead’.

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