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Chanti Niven

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Member Since: Mar, 2003

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A flight of imagination
By Chanti Niven
Sunday, June 12, 2005

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Recent stories by Chanti Niven
· The Tokoloshe
· Nkosi Bayeti (a Zulu short story)
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           >> View all 23

A view of the world through the eyes of a child. Recalling some of my own childhood memories.



My imagination was my saving grace as a child but it was a double-edged sword. I could imagine I was divinely beautiful, famous and universally loved. I'd pretend the freckle-faced girl that stared back at me from a mirror was a poor orphan girl who lived in the world beyond the looking glass - fuelled by Lewis Carroll's fantasy children's story, 'Alice in Wonderland'. Except that I was no pretty, blonde Alice. This girl in the looking glass had such sad droopy eyes and her hair, the colour of copper, was perpetually in a state of disarray. She might have been quite pretty if it were not for the very prominent rash of freckles that painted her round face. Rupert, my younger brother had freckles but his were not nearly as prominent as mine and they only dusted over the bridge of his nose and the tops of his cheeks. In fact he was a bit of a caricature of Dennis the Menace. In spite of his naturally impish appearance, I was far more likely to get into trouble and indeed had a propensity for it. My endless curiosity and adventurous spirit, led me into many a difficult situation. I know that my brother and I flirted with danger quite a few times as a result of our explorations – expeditions I invariably initiated and launched. My brother, however, was not an altogether reluctant fellow explorer. We were constantly in search of adventure or some elusive treasure. Rupert was happy to follow my lead and eagerly lapped up the stories I told about enchanted utopian worlds that lay downriver or over the next hill. We explored burial sites and even plundered a grave during our adventures.

Our favourite place was atop a large rock, probably a good 100 feet in diameter, perched on top of other large rocks and virtually inaccessible unless one could climb like a monkey. We were both scrawny and agile and we soon learnt how to climb the rocks. By shimmying up the branch of a tree that peculiarly grew in the cleft between two rocks, we could leap onto a narrow ledge and then climb the face of the main rock. We were overjoyed when we first made it to the top and emitted great whoops of victory. It soon became our regular haunt. We could see right to the horizon from our vantage point and this opened up a whole new world to us. At times we'd surreptitiously watch the prisoners from Leeukop prison toiling in the fields. The grounds of the large prison bordered our own property and were kept immaculately by the low risk prisoners. Still I'd make up stories about mad murderers on the loose. We loved terrifying ourselves and on occasion would sneak out of our beds in the dead of night to test our bravery. Often it was that we dashed wildly back to the safety of our home convinced a legion of ghouls were in hot pursuit. I may have made the stories up but I believed them as fervently as my gullible brother.

Our rock became our castle and our fort. Nobody could hurt us while we were safely ensconced upon its comforting back. We were both sure the rock had a personality of its own and we'd often lie with our ears pressed to its surface to listen for a great rumbling voice – a voice I was quite sure I could hear, albeit somewhat quieter than what I'd imagine coming from a rock of such gigantic proportions. Rupert grimaced with frustration when in spite of straining really hard to hear the voice he was not able to. He agreed that girls must have superior hearing and accepted what the rock said as relayed through my lips. The rock was an amiable fellow and when we felt down, he tried his level best to console us. He was millions of years old and he told me that he was tired of being in the same spot even if it was a terribly interesting spot. He didn't complain often, however, and was a great friend to two needy love-starved children.

A mystery that begged to be solved was how a metal rod came to be buried deep within the surface of our friend Rock. The narrow rod projected out towards the sky like some kind of antenna but it was firmly lodged and no matter how hard we tried to pull at it, it would not come loose. We wiggled it, jiggled it and tried to bend it but it was set as firmly Rock himself. Eventually I asked Rock about the rod and Rupert listened round-eyed as the mystery was finally exposed. Apparently the rod was an antenna placed there by Garconians, inhabitants of the far off planet of Garconia. They'd visited earth a century before and set up their headquarters in a cave far beneath our great rock friend. Dassies or rock rabbits inhabited the caves created by spaces between the balancing rocks and Rupert and I had often tried to squeeze our little bodies into these spaces but with limited success. Rock told me that the dassies were actually an intelligent life form that originally came from Garconia. They were Garconian pets and could communicate telepathically with their alien owners. They'd been left back on earth to guard the headquarters and to send messages back to Garconia via the rod we had so enthusiastically tried to dislodge. It was no wonder that the dassies scattered at the first sign of our presence. We tried to befriend them but they were terribly shy and disappeared in the twinkling of an eye on our approach. Once the mystery of the antenna had been solved, Rupert and I determined that we'd wait until the Garconians came back to earth and hitch a ride back to their planet. Life on Garconia had to be better than what we'd experienced on earth. We were exceedingly excited about the prospect and waited patiently day after day for the space ship to land. Every falling star caused our hopes to rise and wane but in time our excitement diminished. In any case, Rock said that it could be another hundred years before the space ship came back to earth. Garconians, like Rock, lived for a very long time.

© Chanti

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Reviewed by Joey Lawsin 8/16/2008
The secret of life is in the childhood within us. It brings back the memories of laughters and more laughters and more laughters - a world without even knowing the meaning of the word - problem...AOUIE
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 6/21/2005
enjoyed the read
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 6/16/2005
excellent story, chanti; very well done! brava!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in america, karen lynn in texas. :(
Reviewed by Regis Auffray 6/12/2005
Dearest Chanti, As you can tell if you have read some of my latest "poems," I have made a bit of a trip back to childhood as well. You bring out the magic of childhood in your story; it's amazing to me how closely it is to the theme of my "Vacant Lot." Anyway, thank you for sharing this beauty. LOVE to you always.

Reviewed by Sassy Cat 6/12/2005
Entrancing tale of childhood and all the wonderful memories it envokes.
Sassy *S*
Reviewed by Felix Perry 6/12/2005
Wonderful light story and so good to hear a part of your childhood as well it is good to see you back in form. We have missed you Chanti.


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