by Sophie on 28 February 2013
A few things helped me through my teenage years. Last week, I immersed myself in the music that brought light to these dark years or the melodies that darkened them even more. I have also been tempted, like then, of shaving my head. A hat seems the most appropriate coiffe in this weather and why have hair underneath. With 10% humidity, you don’t need anti-frizz, and no shampoos or hair products can prevent the flatness and evaporation. No creams can fill the lines going deeper in my skin. Even the moist white chocolate macadamia nut cookies I baked yesterday dried out.
All that to say, last week Sinead O’Connor, my teenage bald-head saviour, was playing in the house, all songs from her first album The Lion and The Cobra.
Today, Amelia and I were at our monthly Book club meeting, our only social outing here in Mahalapye. Needless to say I was taking my time to return home, knowing Liam was safe with Kgomotso and playing with Wame. When I turned left on our little dirt road from the right side of the road, a large unknown van was at our gate.
A strange man was holding a stick, Kgomotso was tightly holding a rock and both their faces were struck with fear. Wame and Liam were kept at a far distance from them. My heart skipped a beat and digestion of my wonderful Indian lunch stopped instantly.
Shortly after the New moon, on February 10th, the year of the black snake started.
This 2013 year of the Snake is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create. It is the enigmatic, intuitive, introspective, refined and collected of the Animals Signs. Ancient Chinese wisdom says a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means that your family will not starve.
The man holding the stick was terrified. He moved forward to attack but all his energy was pulling him back, fearing defeat. Kgomotso, our fearless help was armed, her eyes had not left the predator for a second. How could we have lived or slept knowing it had run away, never far enough. I got Amelia to height and shade and then Liam preceded his father, armed with a stick, I want to go closer, closer, I want to see it, I want to squish it he was shouting as I nervously held him back. It was a cobra, the spitting kind, a Mfesi or Mozambique Spitting Cobra to be exact, considered one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa.
Its bite causes severe local tissue destruction. Venom to the eyes can also cause impaired vision or blindness. This snake is nervous and highly strung. When confronted at close quarters this snake can rear up to as much as two-thirds of its length, spread its long narrow hood and will readily “spit” in defence, usually from a reared-up position. By doing this the venom can be ejected at a distance of 2-3 metres, with remarkable accuracy. When in a confined area like a tube the reptile will bite instead of spit.
It had flared its hood at Kgomotso and the kids earlier. Our guard dog Scobi was barking to protect them but was forced to retreat. Zulu walked away for a nap. Kgomotso had alerted this kind man to stop and help, our neighbour 3 rondavels down. The cobra was now hiding and we had to make a plan. Geoff drove in from work with Ismat & Cecilia, two WSC volunteers, Aroan and Temo, their translators.
Aroan is Kgomotso’s husband and believes that a witchcraft spell was put on him by someone from his home village to put snakes in his path. He was cleaning this area of our yard yesterday, could the spell be true?
Temo came just for the show.
It was 52 degrees in the sun, 7 % humidity.
Geoff had called Richard & Liz at their farm to get their expert advice on dealing with a cobra. Every braii dinner we shared at their farm was spiced with venomous stories of life in Botswana. Ready to do anything to protect his family (excluding choosing a home where mosquitoes, spiders, ticks and snakes can kill you) Geoff pulled a MacGiver manoeuvre and pinned the cobra to the ground now furious and spitting in his direction. Geoff forgot his glasses and turned his head just in time to get a drop of venom on his cheek. The black audience partially froze in fear until Geoff repeated enough time someone kill it!!! The white audience was busy trying to capture the scene with cameras, iphones, ipads and keeping the kids far away from the action.
Will a dead snake bring as good an omen as a live one?
Will the spell be broken?
Should I shave my head?