‘You may not like to hear this,’ my grandmother said as she lay on her bed. ‘but you have English blood in you.’
I was taken aback. At my age! To learn this. I didn’t want to know and turned to leave, but she grabbed my hand and made me sit next to her, saying, ‘You have to know.’
The night was awash with raining moonlight. The burning winds of the day, had been replaced by a beautiful cool breeze, and judging by the smile on grandmother’s wrinkled face, she was enjoying every atom of it.
She looked up into a sky crammed with stars and said, ‘The English ruled us then. We were in our jungle getting firewood. There were two of us, Janto, may god bless her soul and me. We were young. We had collected all we could carry when I heard them coming.’
She stopped and took a deep breath and continued, ‘There were hundreds of English soldiers. We could see them through the branches. We hid behind some bushes but they were marching straight towards us. So we ran down towards the caves, where we knew they could not find us. But we were seen. A soldier ran after us. We ran like the wind, but he was a man and much faster than us.Thorns ripped our clothes. But we still ran and ran. He was getting closer. I could hear him laugh and say things in a tongue I couldn’t understand but in a language I could.’
Grandmother stopped. She was almost out of breath. I lowered my head and put my hands to my ears. She sat up, moved my hands away from my ears and said laying back down, ‘We made it a little way into the cave and hid behind a rock. He stood in the mouth of the cave, his shadow ran past us, into its heart. He laughed. I was trembling and inside my head, calling the Almighty to protect us when Janto said, “There are two of us.”
‘”Shh, he will hear us,” I whispered.
‘”He can’t have us both,” Janto replied.
‘And unlike me, she was still not married. So I stood up. The soldier went quiet. He stepped towards me. I felt the earth burn under my feet. He was getting closer. I could smell him. Just then Janto came screaming out of the shadows and hit him across his head with a stone. He fell forward. I picked up a bolder and dropped it on his face.’
She slapped me on the back and said, ‘And then we ate the bastard.’
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