The truck rambled on for a long time. We left the tarmac road and took on the murram road. The truck kept getting stuck and everytime this happened, the older boys would quickly jump off and push the truck back on track. It was terrible road, one with lots of gullies and since we were packed like sardines, we kept bumping heads. I lost track of time. I kept drifting off to sleep and while asleep I dreamt of mama making pancakes in her open air kitchen, I dreamt of Jacinta plaiting Jane’s hair, I dreamt of papa driving to work in his old 404 Peugeot. I was seated with him and he was speaking to me but the road was so bumpy that I could not hear a single word.
“Sibo! Sibo! Wake up! Sibo!” Richard was shaking me.
“We are here” Jeff said. “Here? Where?” I asked.
“At the border. You slept all the way!” He replied.
I rubbed sleep out of my eyes and slowly but steadily heaved the heavy backpack onto my back and hastily jumped off the truck. It was slowly coming to light. ‘Genera’ told us to gather around.
“Men, we are now in enemy territory” He began, “The success of our mission now depends on you. You have now become men and your country will remember you and maybe thank you. Our base is across the border. Musa can not cross the border for obvious reasons. This is the end of the road for him. Musa, we slute you. You will always be our hero. Thank you for believing in this cause. We are going to cross through the forest. It has been raining and it is very slippery. You will be tied to the person infront and behind you. Incase you slip, the team will heave you back up in no time. Men, lets march!’
The chord was passed on as we moved. We were now wide awake thanks to the biting cold. I tightened the shoe strings of my brother’s boots. I had borrowed them without his permission because they looked military. They were ill-fiting but comfy. Jeff threw me the chord, I quickly fastened a knot on to my belt and passed it onto Richard. The forest was even colder than the raodside and the air was dumpy and it wieghed heavy on us. ‘Genera’ told us to watch us our steps since there were very many poisonous snakes. Somebody shrieked from the front and we laughed. I swallowed my fear of snakes and carefully walked on.
Slowly we picked a pace, forgot about the snakes and hummed one of the many snongs we had learnt.
Daylight was quickly approaching and as we neared the base camp we could already hear the voices.
To be continued….