As the day progressed the villagers realized there was little they could do
to make things the way they were before the big wind. Sheets of roofing lay scattered. Uprooted trees covered paths, and bushes which once held food were stripped bare.
I looked at the sand outside my pen, which stretched into the distance, and wondered what on earth I could eat. I was desperate for a nibble of something.
It was not till afternoon that my owner realized that I had not eaten or drunk. He came to get me and together we walked along a sandy path. He explained he had forgotten the time as he had been so busy helping others who had lost everything. He was so sorry he had forgotten to care for me, and he rested his arm on my neck as we made our way out of the village. We had been walking for over an hour when I saw some trees up ahead. When we reached them I caught the scent of water. Looking around, I noticed seed pods on the bushes, and several green leaves. We sped up, and in minutes had reached a dry river bed.
We looked around and noticed some people had dug holes in it so that under ground water could seep up, and there at the bottom of the holes was the water I desperately needed. I wanted to dive in, but remembering the last time I had tried to go into a hole to drink I changed my mind and stood waiting for my owner to help. He found an old plastic bucket and lowered it into one of the larger holes so he could scoop up water for me. Once I had drunk, he left me to wander round the nearby bushes picking seedpods while he lay on the sand. It wasn’t long before he fell fast asleep.
Feeling energized by the seedpods, I grew bolder. There was lots of grass on the other side of the river bed and my mouth watered. As I contemplated eating it I saw another donkey was already there, head down munching. Surely it would be fine if I did the same?
What I didn’t know was that the river was a border between two countries, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and that I was not permitted to cross into Botswana without a permit, (whatever that was).
I couldn’t resist. The grass was thick and lush, and I was sure my owner wouldn’t wake while I was gone. So I trotted across the dry river bed. Boy oh boy did the grass taste good! I buried my nose in it and packed my mouth with as much as I could get in. My hooves sank into it’s softness – it was as though I were walking on a cloud! I ate and ate until my belly was so full it started to hurt. So I rested beneath a tree and closed my eyes.
“Lucky, Lucky!” The sound of my owners panicked call woke me. I shook my head and trotted towards the river bed, which was much further away than I realized. Just then I heard a loud crack, more like a bang, and something hot tore the skin on my right hind leg. It burnt so badly I broke into a gallop and sped through the tall grass till I reached the river bed. As I jumped into the sand there was another bang, and a whistling sound above my head. I struggled through the thick sand, desperate to get to my owner. With one final leap I made it to the other side.
My heart was pounding and I paused to catch my breath. But where was my owner? I couldn’t see him anywhere, though I could clearly hear his voice. I spun around trying to figure out which direction it was coming from.
I spotted a figure on the side of the bank I had come from – was that him? No, it wasn’t. It was someone else and this man was holding a long piece of wood. He put the piece of wood to his shoulder and yet another bang rang out. In a split second the other donkey which I’d seen earlier came flying out of some trees, then fell to it’s knees and didn’t move.
Just then my owner appeared at my side, grabbed my mane and pulled me behind some bushes. He stroked my neck and said how lucky I was to be alive. He spoke softly as he ran his hands over my hind leg, assessing the place where something hot had torn into me. Satisfied that it wasn’t too bad, he began to walk me to our village.
As we made our way back he told me the man with a long stick was a soldier
from Botswana and that soldiers didn’t like donkeys to go onto their land. They would shoot us dead if we were caught.
When we arrived back at our village my owner put something cold and wet on my bullet would. He told me how relieved he was that I was OK, unlike the other donkey.
It had been quite a day and as I settled myself for the night I felt so much gratitude for my owner whom I was so lucky to have.