The years passed. Ledimo had no idea how many; he was immortal now, so it didn’t really matter. He wandered about in a dry and parched land, the stone lying wrapped in a torn off piece of the ceremonial cloth, deep in his leather pouch. He did not use his powers. Even though at times he was desperate for water himself, he would go about finding it as he had in the old days, digging down with his bare hands until they bled, a tremendous feeling of guilt weighing down on him.
Starting with Bontle and then progressing to the other members of his village, he would conjure up their images in front of him and then try and apologise to them. Without exception they all turned away from him, leaving him feeling more depressed than ever. Eventually he came to his father. This guilt he had buried deep inside himself for so long that he found it difficult to bring his image back. Finally when he did manage to conjure up his image his father’s reaction was not at all what he had been expecting. Moaki shouted at Ledimo as he always had done in the past, but he was not angry as Ledimo would have expected because he had killed him; he was angry because Ledimo was wandering about doing nothing!
“What wastefulness is this?” he yelled.
“I…but…” stammered Ledimo, not sure what his father meant.
“You have an amazing gift. Stop wandering about like a useless, good-for-nothing goat feeling sorry for yourself. Get out there and do something! Use this gift.”
Ledimo stared at the image of his father in disbelief. “But I have caused all this terrible destruction. How can I ever face the human race again?” he whined.
“The human race has a very short memory. The ones around today have no idea what you did. These people need water, and you can do well for yourself. One of these days mankind will not believe in semi-gods and your powers will disappear. What a waste of a few hundred years lifetime.”
With that he vanished, and no matter how hard he tried, Ledimo could not conjure up his image again.
Ledimo carried on wandering about, his father’s words going over and over in his head. Then one day he wandered into a village. It was a very poor village; they had very little water and only just enough food to keep from starving. As he had not been around people for some time he had allowed his appearance to deteriorate. He had long, unkempt hair and a scraggly beard; he was also very dusty and his clothes came from another era. He was tired and sat down under a tree, using its trunk to rest against. A young girl saw him and thinking he was a stranger in need of help came over to him with a cup of water.
“Here, old man, drink some water,” she said gently, kneeling down next to him. “It will make you feel better.”
He looked up and jumped in fright. He was looking at Bontle. But this couldn’t be Bontle; even if she had lived through that terrible storm she would be dead by now—it was many lifetimes ago. Tears welled up in his eyes and he took the water without saying anything. She had called him “old man.” He had thought this immortal stuff meant he didn’t age, but not having looked at his image for so long he wouldn’t know.
“Where do you come from?” she asked, sitting down next to him. “Have you been wandering long in the desert?”
“I come from another time,” he said, and she looked at him curiously. “Do you have a place where I could lie for the night?”
“I will call my father,” she said, jumping up and running off.
Ledimo ran his hand through his matted hair and felt his bushy beard. This was the first time he had thought about his appearance. He looked down at the tattered rags on his body and realized he must look a mess. He still had part of the ceremonial cloth wrapped around his waist. The girl’s father appeared. He was the chief of the village and a very kindly old man.
“You look as though you need some help, stranger,” he said, sitting down in front of Ledimo with his daughter hovering in the background.
“I was wondering if you would allow me to spend the night in your village.”
“I am afraid our village is very poor and we have very little water, but you may share with us what we have.”
“You will be well rewarded,” said Ledimo, noticing the slight raising of the old man’s eyebrows. Obviously he did not look as if he would be able to do much rewarding.
“My daughter will show you where you can sleep,” he said, getting up to go. As he did so he noticed the ceremonial cloth wrapped around Ledimo’s waist. “Where did you get that cloth, old man?” he said. “Is that not the ceremonial wedding cloth used in ancient times before the great storm?”
“I…I…” stammered Ledimo, not knowing quite what to say. “I found it whilst wandering in the desert,” he lied.
The chief nodded, but Ledimo felt that he wasn’t totally convinced by his explanation.
The girl took him to a small hut and laid out a sleeping mat for him. She brought him a small bowl of water and some crushed mealies and then left him to rest. When she had gone Ledimo opened his leather pouch and took out the stone still wrapped in the cloth. He slowly unwrapped it and fell backwards as it started to flash, lighting up the small hut. He had forgotten how bright it was. Quickly he cupped his hands over it, not wanting to attract the attention of the villagers. Holding it to his chest he lay down on the mat and as he lay there he felt his old strength returning. His father was right. The time for guilt and whining was over. These people needed help. He would do it, but first he must sleep. Holding the stone, he slept the most refreshing sleep he had had since the storm.
to be continued…………
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