Big, fluffy, fleshy banana leaves gave way for Pato as he pierced through the garden with his bare feet. His shorts were not long enough to keep out the blackjacks from pocking his leg as he galloped up and down the dead broken branches on the earth. He clasped his hand like a ball because he had something in there. Something that Soni was chasing him for.
“You’ll kill it stupid!!” Soni shouted from behind him. Soni was Pato’s friend ever since their family moved here about a month ago. And ever since Soni found Pato digging up the soil in search of millipedes and worms, Soni had always been following him, because in the process, they found coins, and bottle tops, and strange pieces of broken things that they all piled up in their secret place. Soni, with her short dress, pushed the banana leaves away from her view as she tried to make sure that Soni was in her view. She knew where Pato was going.
Pato’s house was made of stone-stone and had a mabati roof. The garden just behind it was theirs but Pato’s mother didn’t care too much on maintaining it since she had naughty children like Pato and his two little twin brother and sister on her back. Just behind the house, Pato and Soni had found a space, where they could ‘hide’ themselves from the world and show each other what they had discovered, where they could tell each other things that they had seen and where they could divulge in things they overheard. It was their space, to share.
Soni found Pato waiting for her at that place. He was holding his clasped hand to his eye, peeping through the space between his thumbs.
“Let me see!!” Soni urged him.
“Don’t slap my hand again like you did the last time!”
I won’t. I promise.” Soni smiled at him
Pato lowered his hand and put it in between himself and Soni. Pato’s small hand struggled not to tremble as he let go of one hand to reveal it.
“It’s a ladybird.” Its red and black body walked up and down Pato’s palm from one corner to the other, making its way to the other side of Pato’s hand, as he moved his hand upside down to keep it upright.
“Can I hold it?”
Soni held out her two open palms under Pato’s hand, and Pato lowed his hand onto them. With the other hand, Pato pushed the ladybird off of his hand, but it spread its wings and spun into the air.
“It’s going away silly!” Soni shouted.
“Let’s follow it!!” Pato and Soni rushed after it… onto the road, jumping to grab it before it flew up and further up into the sky.
“Look now you made it go away again” Pato blurted out pissed off.
“It’s not my fault that it got away…” Soni justified herself.
“Let’s go play Allah…i… gate… a,” Pato suggested.
“It’s Alligator you dumb ass!” She chuckled, as she projected her superiority onto Pato, but Pato had already ran off to the river. He was always first to the river and thus got to play as the alligator, and Soni was the prey. They took their clothes off and jumped into the river splashing water all over the banks. They had all gone under water and now Pato would swim liking for Soni. If he caught her before she swam all the way downstream, he would win. Soni kept still. She didn’t know where she was exactly because she didn’t know how to open her eyes under water, unlike Pato who opened them like a real fish-fish. Even though his eyes would become red like blood-blood, he somehow bared the sting of water in his eyes. Pato saw her, like all other times before, he would sneak up on her, and grab her leg. Soni would kick and yelp and flap in the water like the hippos do when they know that they will be dinner for a crocodile. Soni kicked Pato and squirmed off of the water, panting like a fish out of water. Pato got his head outside the water, laughing and mocking Soni.
“I told you not to do that you cockroach!!” Soni always had stupid names for Pato when he did stupid things.
“If I’m a cockroach, then you are a cockroach! Because cockroaches only talk to cockroaches!”
“No I’m not!” Soni screamed. She turned away from Pato, as she put back her clothes and went some distance away from him, and lay flat on the ground. She closed her eyes.
Pato squeezed himself beside her.
“I’m sorry Soni…” Soni put her fingers in her ear. “I really am…” Pato continued.
“Blah blah blah…” Soni started singing.
Pato got up, leaned towards her mouth, and their lips touched.
“Argggg!! Don’t do that again you …. Ugly frog!” Pato laughed, and they lay there together. The sun was still up, but not so hot that they couldn’t bear.
They looked into the air for a while
“You know Pato, if you look hard enough you can see him.”
“Look where, see who??”
“In the sun.”
“Wewe ni fala,” Pato laughed, “You can’t see God!! He is colourless!”
“Yes you can, I saw him.
“You’re going kuku.”
“Believe me. You just have to look hard enough.
“Okay, let me try.”
“I’ll whisper in your ear.” Pato got up and looked at Soni as she smiled at him. Pato trusted her
“Tell me when you see him…” Pato look onto the sun.
He had now done it for a minute. “My eyes are getting all watery Soni.” Pato struggled to keep up
“Wait for the tears to go away… Wait for the tears to go away.” Soni urged him. Until all you can see is white.”
“Okay Soni,” Pato rubbed his eyes on his shirt, zooming in with his eyes as he looked on, determined
“Do you see him?? Do you see him??”