- In the space between the beginning of time and the end of days, there will take place an incident in the land on the southern side of the African continent. A voice will speak to a woman in her late 40s whose name is not yet known, and whether that voice will belong to a higher entity or her, it is not known. Yet, it is certain that a voice will speak, and when it speaks, it will demand to be heard.
- The voice, hoarse and commanding, will give the woman the duty to build a boat large enough to carry two towns, high enough to mingle with the clouds, and strong enough to sail for three moons. This boat, the voice will say, will be given a name, and for generations to come, this boat will be known as Her Ark.
- Its entirety will be made of wood, recycled wood, and abandoned wood scattered around mother earth, naked and without roots. She will build beds from this wood, bunks for the children, and singles for the adults. She will divide its interior like an architect and build a kitchen to store all kinds of fruit, vegetables, and maize to last three moons.
- How she chooses to decorate the interior will be up to her. Being the lover of flowers that she is, she will adorn every corner and open space with roses and sunflowers, lilies, and zinnias; all kinds of flora.
- She will build the ark for 60 days and 60 nights, and on those days, the people will wonder what sort of demon has possessed her. “She has gone insane,” they will say. “It was only a matter of time,” they will continue. “One doesn’t simply go this long without a man and remain sane,” they will joke.
- But she will suck the blood from her wounded hands, pull splinters out of her tiny fingers, until on the last day of the building. She will complete the ark. Yes, she will be pleased with what she’s done. And no: on that day, she will not yet rest.
- Then the voice will return and command her yet again. She shall bring in every woman and child who wish to escape this scathing earth, every woman and child who feel like prey in the eyes of men, who has encountered scars through the hands of men, the scathing men.
- On the last day, every woman and child in the land on the southern side of the African continent will board Her Ark with whatever they can fit into bags; they’ll set their sights on a destination to an unknown place, away from the flood of violence, away from this scathing place.
- Their departure will be no short of witnesses and wonder. “This is preposterous,” the witnesses will say. “It is only a matter of time till they return; how long can they possibly survive without us?” they will cackle and snort at the sounds of their own voices.
- But the doors of Her Ark will shut in their very eyes, and before they do, she will take one last look at the damaged souls she’s leaving behind, their eyes hungry for the day she and the other women and the children will return. Thinking of all the lessons they will teach them for thinking they could leave them behind, the lessons they will learn for trying to survive. When Her Ark’s doors close, she will look at the community she has birthed, and all her fears will be cast aside because, for the first time in a long time, the feeling of safety will linger in her surroundings.
- They will sail for three moons, giving rise to a community, one not certain where the journey ends, but a happy community, nonetheless. They will land in an unfamiliar place with a scorching sun and an abundance of flora and fauna, a dove or two will dance past their eyes, and the ground on which they stand will feel warm on the soles of their feet. The children will scatter into the unfamiliar place, happy to be no longer confined in Her Ark, and the women will begin to build shelter and prepare to get acquainted with the new land and her offerings.
- She will stand in awe at what she sees, exhale an unfamiliar breath, and then the voice will come to her again, telling her that this is only the beginning, the beginning of a rebellion, the beginning of the future. It will inform her that perhaps one day, when the flood has passed – if the flood ever passes, in the land on the southern side of Africa – they will go back home. But until then, they will build and create on this land, odd as it might be at first. Many more shall find their voices because of these women, and many more will build their arks.
About the Author:
Lerato Mahlangu is a 25-year-old emerging writer born and raised in Witbank, Mpumalanga, but now resides in Springs. She graduated with a Diploma in Media Practices from Boston Media House with a specialty in Journalism. She has been an avid reader since her primary school days, and although always in love with writing, she has always considered it a hobby and never knew that it could one day become a chosen career path. She began by publishing her early stories in the Fundza Literacy organization, and has taken part in writing competitions such as the SA Writers College, with her short story ‘The Holy Ones Live Forever “and won 3rd place at the Polofields writing competition for her short piece “The keeper of Legends.” She is yet to extend her writing journey and works on having published work behind her name, to set her writing career in stone.
Feature image by doungtepro / Pixabay