It was as if the baboon news was only now sinking in on Bongi. She imagined telling Sasa about a talking baboon. This can’t be real, she thought, not in Mabona Township, Sasa will definitely laugh.
Bongi stood looking through the parted curtains of the kitchen window. Gazing at the trees she thought she saw a silhouette materializing and moving strangely over the ground. She couldn’t make it out in that darkness but the figure began to grow as it edged forward. It was still mysterious but suddenly two eyes glowed like soft lights and seized her gaze; and then she saw it.
The figure stood visible with a build of a ten-year-old child. It was a baboon. She sprinted off to the bedroom.
Sasa giggled at the story of a talking baboon as they walked to school. She laughed during lunch. She wasn’t one to waste a good giggle, not one about a talking baboon.
After dark the baboon was there almost the same time as the previous night. It must’ve owned some kind of clock, Bongi imagined. It stood shyly behind the tree trunk. Bongi could only see its face which was poked out. Its exhausted eyes darted around. Bongi also noticed that two fingers on the hand holding onto the tree were mutilated, leaving it with nasty stumps. Her heart sank at the sight.
“So, you came? I didn’t thought you would,” she said brightly, in an attempt to cheer the edgy baboon.
She thought she was the one who should be nervous, given that it was a wild animal she was talking to in a township, mind you.
The baboon studied her as if she were a puzzle to unravel. Bongi smiled, guessing that she could be the baboon’s first human interaction. She was so close to it she could see its nostrils move. She also thought it smelt horrible. And then without warning the baboon yawned and punched out a fowl breath that caught her face, but she did not act offended, it would’ve seemed rude because this was her quest now. She however thought the baboon could use some health lessons.
“Maybe had you stayed up there, we’d be talking,” she said, hopelessly.
“Where’s your book?” the baboon blurted.
Bongi was surprised. “Which book?”
“The one you carry around when you’re with that other girl. Your friend, is it?”
The baboon’s sudden sociable mood and good memory surprised her.
“It’s in my bedroom,” she said. “I use it to write down notes on how people feel about attacks on foreign nationals.”
This got the baboon interested. Bongi told it about her school assignment.
She’d been talking for a long while before she decided to get the baboon talking again. “Do you go to school?”
The baboon was about to laugh but then assumed that its squeaky laugh could scare Bongi.
“Baboons don’t need to go to school. Our parents teach us everything that we need to know about life,” the baboon said.
This fascinated Bongi, but what stood out was when it told Bongi that baboons respected any living creation. It added that animals wouldn’t attack another one only because it had come to seek food in a different territory, unless it brought danger. Not even humans were attacked, yet they went into the wild to destroy the vegetation and as a result displaced many species while others died.
Bongi thought the baboon was smart; it was relaxed now. It further told Bongi that humans did not value the privilege of being the supreme creation. Bongi noticed that the baboon became worried when it talked about the senseless wars humans engaged in. It then asked Bongi, “If people can harm one another without remorse then what chance does a mere baboon stand?”
Bongi did not answer because she understood that the question was rhetorical. She was awestruck by the baboon’s wisdom and wished she had brought her notepad. The baboon had since came out from behind the tree and was leaning against the trunk. Bongi saw that it was not any taller than she was.
Their chat was fascinating until Bongi’s mother shouted, ordering her back into the house. And for all this time she’d been deftly peeking down at the baboon in an attempt to see its sex but the atmosphere was dark and the animal’s coat was black. She felt disappointed not knowing but at the same time hated herself for spying, because it was something her mother had taught her not to do. She was also dying to ask the baboon about its savaged hand. She had a bagful of questions, only if they had time.
The harsh voice from the house had seemingly frightened the baboon. For it now stood in an alerted pose, as if ready to take off.
Bongi was also tense. “Will I see you again?”
“I don’t know, girl.”
The kitchen door flew open and brightness swooped down on the ground several paces behind her and at once, the baboon – as if lurched from a compressed spiral spring – pounced over to a tree branch hanging out just above Bongi’s head. The wave of the animal’s flung body pulled her gaze as it whooshed past her. It was a sight to behold, startling and exhilarating as the baboon crackled the leaves and the twigs, as it tore up the tree.
“Do you have a name?” Bongi screamed.
“Kop!” it replied loudly and its voice exploded throughout the atmosphere.
“Bongi,” she said, her tone, a silent cry. “My name is Bongi.”
But Kop was gone. Remaining were pieces of torn leaves drifting down from where the baboon had shoved its way out.
Tell us: Do you think that Bongi and Kop will become friends?