Africa writing

The Iron Snake

Country Loving Nomad Boy

How lucky I am to have traveled by train as a child! School holidays were a great time to travel. I always anticipated the train journey with my aunt to my grandma’s country home. The window seat was my favorite spot. From there I could count palm trees or watch the sky travel above. I would have plenty of local snacks. Sometimes the dreamy train ride gets me, I doze off with the rhythm. My aunt and grandma were some of the most loving people I ever knew and played a great role in the man I turned out to become. (God rest their beautiful souls).

Chuchuchuu! goes the train motor. It would appear as a dot from the far horizon. Then slowly but steadily gets bigger as it approaches the station. Different sounds and melodies – bells, whistles, horns, and metal, accompany it. With all those instruments playing at the same time, a train voyage was music of its own. When the train stops and is no longer in motion, people start to scramble for space, hurling luggage and children into the coaches. Shortly the train will resume its journeytravellingng through hills and valleys, fields and towns, over bridges, and underground tracks.

As a kid, an approaching train represented a scary and monstrous figure. I have learned, to appreciate and welcome it whenever it drove through my village. I learned this from kids who lived in the countryside. It is common to see children line up along the railroad, to cheer the passing train from a safe distance. The train returns their greeting with bells and horns. It was loud enough, it scared even the pets.

Below is another muse of my childhood. I hope you enjoy it. Good night.

The Iron Snake

Oh, my once frightful friend,
Hearing you ride brings back my boyhood
Once the bells ring and engines pant
I become a small boy again!

I remember asking many questions,
Why you kept eating people,
Why they wave and cheer,
Why do they seem happy as you take them away?
I hear their screams far away
It evaporates with the chimney smoke

Now dear not-so-frightful friend,
I salute your majestic tread
Your strength when you struggle up those hills,
You are the iron snake that cockroach through the hamlet
Your arrival sends little children scampering
And memories reset to my happy childhood


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