A snake story.
It was all long, long time ago, when I decided to step into that mysterious realm of holy matrimony.
The ceremony took place in Africa, where rough and rented roads led guests around rolling green hills, past the reed and adobe villages of the Xhosa, down to the edge of the African Wild Coast, where ships founder and waves thunder, onto beaches pristine pure and empty.
Here in a huddle of small holiday camps friends gathered under the shade of scarlet flowering trees, sipping champagne and beer . Xhosa villagers gathered silently, uninvited but welcome, filling a steep rolling embankment with color and smiles, then, like an unexpected thunder-storm, burst into Xhosa song as I walked across white cloth, past ululating woman who brushed the bad spirits from my path with the swish of cow tail switches.
Under a flower landed canopy we said the vows we had agreed on before, virile young Xhosa men leapt, dancing in the air, their feet beating wild tattoos on the hot African soil until, in the dark of night, a mist of rain fell between us and the full moon, building a violet and magenta rainbow across the sea and sky.
The next morning each guest awoke to deal with the business of their own hangover and groaned their way across head jarring roads, back to the far-flung corners of the land. While we were left with the mess to clear.
Yes yes, I am getting there.
In an ablution block, I reached out to turn off the gas. But there was a snake, a slash of emerald against the rough white wall, under its chin a smudge of saffron. A child’s toy forgotten, left behind – thought I – but reaching out the tongue flicked , just once. I was in awe, in front of me a juvenile green mamba, its geometry perfection, its color sublime.
And then being a real girl I just HAD to share.
Calling my man I said, look…isn’t it wonderful.
But he didn’t see the beauty, only the possibility of danger.
Action needed to be taken, men were called, pangas found , and the beauty of the green geometry was reduced to a pulp-red pile of destruction on the bathroom floor.
The moral of my African wedding story?
The failure of our species is the constant need to try to control that which we fear, instead of trying to control our fear. Did destroying the beauty of the snake solve the problem?
There will always be another snake.