Sly as a Crocodile – Part 2
Eddie was born six months after his father’s unfortunate death, to the sad Mrs Morgan-White who mourned her husband daily since his parting. From the house which sat on a green mound of thick African grass, and looked through the baobab leaves to the banks of the thundering Zambezi, the penetrating cry of a small baby came. Eddie howled his way into the world, and despite her long suffering desire for her child, Mrs Morgan-White could not console the wailing boy, and often found herself crying with him, the tears pouring down her face, whilst she watched his small red face crunch up into an angry ball, his mouth stretch wide, as he hollered his lungs out.
Perhaps he too was crying for the father he would never meet, for that is certainly what Mrs Morgan-White cried for – her gentle and kind husband. Yet she couldn’t bring herself to leave the good pastors flock to fend for themselves and return to England, to her family. The work her husband had done and achieved, in bringing their faith to the indigenous peoples of Rhodesia could not be left uncared for. She had decided, she would stay on the banks of the Zambezi and continue his work, and so she continued to cry with her child through the long nights of his infanthood.
During the days, Mrs Morgan-White would hand Eddie over to a local woman, Rachel – one of the many who had been converted and baptized by the good Pastor. A kind woman who loved the child like her own, Rachel felt indebted to the Morgan-Whites. The Pastor had come to her village a few years previously and encouraged her to come and join him for his next service. Rachel had agreed to visit the makeshift chapel, curious to understand why this white man had come to her village. Using a translator, the Pastor had explained in his sermon about Jesus, and his love and kindness for humanity. Rachel had only felt the backswing of her drunk husband’s hand, a man ruined since he had returned from the mines in South Africa. The Pastor had also explained that Rachel could pray for anything she wanted and so Rachel had prayed for the death of her husband. She had promised the loving Jesus that if he took her husband away, then she would dedicate herself to the white man’s God. It was her way of testing if this God did indeed listen to everyone. In only three days, her prayer was answered, and Rachels abusive husband fell into a ditch on his way home from another drinking binge. It had been raining and the man had drowned unceremoniously in a puddle of muddy water.
After her prayer was answered, Rachel believed, and dedicated herself to the Morgan-Whites and their God. When the kind Pastor had passed, Rachel had been distraught. However, her merciful God had blessed Mrs Morgan-White with Eddie and Rachel knew that Eddie needed her, and this was her calling.
That was how Eddie came to be a rather indulged and free-spirited boy. Spoilt by his nanny Rachel, loved by his mother – yet mostly ignored as she worked from sunrise to sunset to continue the good work of her late husband. Without a father to crack the back of Eddie’s head when he stepped out of line, young Eddie grew into an irresponsible young man – adept at getting his way with women, doing no work, and enjoying the freedom of being able to grab his shotgun and ride out into the bushveld with other reckless men. Eddie’s life was carefree and everything he needed was provided for.
It saddened Mrs Morgan-White that darling Eddie had not felt his father’s calling to continue their work amongst the people of their congregation, and so she worked diligently and deliberately to claim a piece of land in the town of Victoria Falls on which to build a small church. A young man from a nearby village, christened Josiah, was groomed as the next Pastor and soon took her place at the pulpit to lead her flock. Once the church was built and she felt reassured that her flock were indeed safe in the hands of Pastor Josiah, Mrs Morgan-White lay on her bed, and never rose again. Young Eddie, a man of twenty years old found himself left with a house on a green mound of African grass that looked down between the baobabs towards the mighty Zambezi, and not a penny more.
This was first published in the Billboard Magazine in March 2020
Part 1 of Sly as a crocodile can be found here
Part 3 and 4 will be released in April and May 2020.