In Ignorant Bliss

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All God's Chillun' Need Mothers

Serenity is the stream at an odd hour. Then no human foot broached its nature-given peace, bequeathed upon creation, with animal petulance. Then is the time to hear the purl of the spring sprouting forth from its rock in song. As the waters of its stream welled up, it slowly transmuted to a pond at its hollow bed. From thence it overflowed to wet the swamps that lined its route to the river. In turn, the river flowed to a waiting ocean that swallows it up.

The swamp being a different kettle of fish had its own life to live. On this day, its ample dose of luxuriant ecosystem basked in effulgence. The numerous ferns about unlike ever waved their many-fingered hands to the quietude that abounded about. The frogs and toads, in turn, croaked like the choir of hell though to them this could be Eden all over again. Their tones, as it were, appeared to challenge each other in a leaping contest though a repeated refrain decipherable betwixt the cacophony reminded all that they were all rooted to a spot.

The snakes that habit the higher grounds closest to the swamp must have sensed this. The green types that always sought chlorophyll-tinted leaves for camouflage ventured the stream far to water their parched gullets. Casting furtive glances here and there in security, they slithered to the watering hole. Though there was quietness all about, they could not but be mindful of the usurpers of the universe who could just intrude and chop them in two for no just cause – even for the mere fun of it, perhaps.

Back to their more secluded cocoons later, they lay down, basking in the mild ambient sunshine – the young as well as the old. In puerile innocence their youngest veered to where their peers in the noisier kingdom joined them in a game of hide and seek. With the tail of their eyes, their parents saw them gamboling with same sentiments that saw even the lowly earthworm out of their holes and saunter.

Then a band of children came running in at full trot. Immediately the statusquo ante vanished; with no further warning snake, toad, frog – age notwithstanding – scurried back to their natural habitats before the batting of an eyelid. First to retreat were the snakes. Perhaps their early warning systems were the first to be triggered. It was not until the toads and frogs had lept their way to safety that the earthworms began their slow retreat into their underground abodes.

When the snakes had settled in their coves it was well past lunchtime.

“Mother, dearest mother,” the child snake went, “I am as hungry as a benighted wolf.”

“That you are what?” the mother replied, truly taken by the hyperbole.

“Dearest mother,” the child continued, encouraged no doubt by the invisible pangs that tugged at the rubrics of its stomach. “We've been out playing all afternoon and haven’t had a bite to swallow since breakfast.”

“As if I didn’t see you,” the mother said. “Who were you playing with that left you so famished?”

“Mama, baby toad was teaching me a new game. Those toads! They have by far better games than us.”

The mother said nothing to this. She just kept looking at the child as if it was out of its mind.

“O mother, I said that I’m hungry, very hungry.” The importunity in the tone of the last complaint was overwhelming.

“Don’t you know,” the mother opened up at last, “that those playmates of yours are food; better food than you can ever imagine?”

She then progressed to fetch her favorite child some food from their reserves. As the child ate away, her mother’s comments had it pensive. So much it was so withdrawn the rest of the day long that it took all the motherhood in her mother to get it to table for supper. Even as it curled up to pass the night in the loop of her mother’s tenderness, it hardly got a wink at all. On the wings of her mother’s advice, it awaited the break of day like it had never before. It tossed and turned so much that the mother had to wake it up, transferring it to continue its aerobics on bare ground.

The day broke in a flash to the baby snake. Just as it was to get its first wink for the night, it opened its eyes and the sun had broken into their lair so hidden that it never lightened till mid-morning. By then its mother was up and doing, busy with the new day’s profuse tasks. It subsequently traced her to the mouth of the inlet into the abode.

“Mother,” the young snake greeted. “I want to go and stretch out in the early morning sun.”

“Why this early?” she cautioned knowing full well that humans were yet about, especially those wine tappers that come equipped with all kinds of knives.

“I won’t venture far mum,” the kid snake insisted, “just far enough to get some vital vitamins.”

“O, well, you are old enough to know your left from your right,” the woman snake said, giving in.

Amnesty granted, the baby snake immediately took an indirect route to the side where it thought the toads come out from. Though they had played now and again, it had no knowledge yet as it concerns where they lived.

It was some time before it beheld the miniature toad in the frontage of their own section of the swamp. Perhaps both had hit the same brainwave about the importance of vitamins acquired naturally in the early hours this morning.

“Good friend of mine,” the young snake hailed from his distance. “Hide no more for I have sought you out!”

The young toad said nothing, only restrained from a quick retreat on account of the small dyke that formed a natural rampart between their two clans.

“Still asleep?” the young snake railed on. “Come on, I feel like playing games.”

“Games this early?” the young toad said as though just to prove that it was awake.

“What’s wrong with that?” the young snake argued. “Where I’m from games can be played at any time.”

“Thank you very much,” toad the younger said with finality, “I can see that your mother had been talking to you.”

“My mother?” the young snake countered with all the thespian ability it could muster. “I’m no such sissy.”

The young toad imbued by her mother’s stern words was adamant. It surveyed his retreat options anew and cast its counterpart that kind of look that froze the object of sight.

“Come on pal,” young snake lobbied on. “Get over, let’s venture downstream before the arrival of the infidels.”

“Pal, indeed,” toad the younger replied in no mood for trifles. “Whatever your mother told me was also said to me by my own mother.”

At that the young snake made for the young toad. It quickly jumped over the dyke in a rehearsed leap. From across the natural divide, the two former playmates eyed each other in like sentiments from then up till now.

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