By Mrinalini Sisodia Wadhwa
There is a magic in the forests of Africa.
It dances in the purple heavens, upon the settling sun;
It tiptoes around the delicate petals of the vernonia,
Nimbly dodging bolts of lightning once the rains have begun.
It signs with the frogs in the Linyanti River, near flower;
It illuminates thin blades of finger grass in the black night;
It climbs the brush and scales the trees that tower over the little bee-eater, hidden in plain sight;
I can still hear it now, for it sings to me:
It sings beautifully, mournfully, asking to be remembered – As if I could ever forget its indelible melody –
Woven into the star studded sky, for tonight and forever.
But, Africa, what are you saying,
In the crickets tune,
The frogs’ symphony,
The birds’ song?
Is it a lament?
Is it an elegy?
For I often wonder what went wrong –
How could man not believe in your magic?
How could they burn down your bush and carve your rhino?
How could they take your innocents across the ocean?
For, in your sparkling eyes,
I see, sometimes, the waters of the middle passage
That must have sparkled openly under the bright sun –
And how could they work them to their graves,
With the progress to be made and wars to be won?
Oh, when I think of those times,
Long gone but little forgotten,
You amaze me
Because your words are greater, I think, than what we – indeed, what I – might say if we were you:
We would dwell on old enemies and lost brothers and sisters,
Bitterly cursing the wicked past.
But you? You proudly sing of a better present,
Steadily praying that this peace would last.
To those who still question your magic,
I have little to say but this:
When your people’s smiles light up the sunrise,
And their ancestors’ stories colour the sunset,
What for centuries, defended their humanity?
And what, if not Magic, can bring such bliss?