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by kzn
Rated: E · Short Story · Emotional · #2207283
A beaten child leaves home to find his own way in the world.
How Gentle Is The Rain

A beaten child leaves home to find his own way in the world

How gentle is the rain that clouds the eyes of a child when all tears of pain and anguish are spent, yet the tiny heart remains wide open, in search of love and forgiveness?

This short story takes place in the late eighteen-hundreds on the East Coast of Africa. The farm
Whispering Palms is situated in Mozambique, fifteen miles inland off the coastal port of Beira.

*Bird* *Bird* *Bird*

The old African, Samson, cocked his head, scratching his scalp through greying woolly hair; his eyes screwed up in a slant in a dark wrinkled face - as the eyes of a man do when his sight begins to fade from old age - staring out across the countryside that was so familiar to him in every line and contour; stretching away into the distance until obscured by the entangled African bush, where no white man had cause to make his way.

         From where he stood, the ground fell away in a gentle slope, and the tall yellow grass, now dry and brittle from the lack of rain, stood motionless beneath the scorching sun, dotted here and there with the red-heaped piles of the earth of the anthills. And the little creak that made its meandering way down from the hills had been dry for so long that the thirsty soil had cracked in long and wide fissures, gaping like parched mouths in silence, pleading to the unheeding heavens.

         The old man lifted his head sniffing the air, hopefully, but there was no smell of rain only the faint scent of out-of-season blossoms drifting languidly in the still evening air mingled with the various odors of the vegetation and the very earth itself.

         To his right and standing out against the evening sky like rigid soldiers silently waiting for the cry of battle were the long even lines of the Blue-Gum trees. Before them, but a half-mile away lay Whispering Palms, the large whitewashed farmhouse with its multiple angled roof and a wide porch that seemed to shrink away into the shadows of the trees grateful for their protection from the blistering summer heat.

         Soon the sun would bow its head behind those tall blue gantries, taking with it its light and heat to the far distant lands to the west, but the humidity would remain lingering on late into the night, adding to the discomfort of the young, white child.

         The old man shook his greying head in a sorrowful manner and sighed deep and long. Many times he had heard the brutal beatings; the rise and fall of the dried horsehide strap that cracked and whistled with every devastating lash; driven with such force and fury, without control, or mind, for the pitiful cries of the naked child that rolled and crawled through the dirt.

         The hand of the father was unrelenting. As the young white child rolled, through his back, shielding the punctured and swollen welts across his lower back and buttocks, the broad horsehide strap would crackdown into his lower belly, striking the soft, sensitive skin of his small white penis and instantly he would lose all control. The fluid of his body spouting into the air like the twisting funnels of a water sprinkler, drenching himself, so as he rolled the loose grit and dirt would cling to his flesh in dark, brown distorted patches. To those cries, the old man would close his eyes and hide his face in the palms of his hands, but the shrieks and yelps of pain were brutal, painful to the old man’s ears, penetrating the skull and they seemed to numb and crush his brain.

         “Go clean yourself!” his father would bellow, and the small boy would stumble painfully back to his feet with the horsehide strap hanging limply from his hand. At the water-well, he would wash it clean of his blood and urine, and there he would discover that at a time unknown to himself, his bowels had opened and the waste of his body, mixed with the soil of the earth, clung to his back and inner thighs like that of the red-brown clay of the mighty Zambezi River.

         With much difficulty, the young child would take the strain against the rope that looped the large steel pulley-wheel, drawing from the well the water he needed to wash and wipe himself. But only with the strength of a child half his age, for his skin burnt like that of a thousand hot needles, and the swollen flesh of his lower belly ached and cramped his groin, drawing his tender little body forward in a deviant and abnormal manner. Then he would bundle his clothing in his arms, pressed tightly against his chest, and stagger naked like a newly born calf - yet to find the strength of its tiny legs - across the open courtyard to the farmhouse; entering through the kitchen where the African staff would turn away in silence, hiding the tears that flowed freely from their large, dark and swollen eyes.

         He stopped only once, the following morning at the top of the ridge to look back at the old white farmhouse that was once a place of joy and laughter, and he could not hold back the tears that rolled freely down his cheeks.

         “If only you had not left —” he sobbed. “Why ... why did you have to go away?” Then kneeling beside the large tombstone, he gently caressed the stony grave with the palms of his hands – for there were no bright and colorful flowers to leave – and in a softly whispered breath, he made a solemn promise. “I’ll be back someday, Mom. I promise I will.”

*RainbowL* *RainbowR*
© Copyright 2019 kzn (mervyn at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2207283