On The Banks Of The Dusi

Photo by Clive Reid

Photo by Clive Reid

The Dusi is the river that with its brown water lazily flows through Pietermaritzburg. Its wide banks are crossed by many foot paths that intertwine with each other. These paths are made by the constant use of the natives who go to their houses or to the bus stops or what have you. They were supposed to be short-cuts from one place to another.

I liked to ride on these foot paths with my bicycle, not only because there were steep ups and downs, but also because they were so numerous that I often got lost and it was a great bet to get out of that labyrinth.

One sunny afternoon under a blue sky, like you can only find in that part of the world, I took my bicycle for a ride on the peaceful banks of the Dusi.

I felt energized. I wanted to ride fast and I took the corners, the down hills and the bumps at full speed, lifting the front wheel as often as possible, running not only the risk of getting myself hurt, but also the risk of running down somebody who was walking on the same path.

Suddenly, after taking a corner I had to brake hard because of a big tree trunk that went over a small creek, which gushed into the Dusi further on.

The croaking of the frogs was deafening in the stillness of the tall grass. I realized that it was impossible to ride over that huge tree trunk and I didn’t feel like walking through the muddy water. So I decided to turn around and go back the same way I had come.

As the sun was setting, long shadows of trees and rocks were cast across the paths. As it was soon to be dark I hurried to get out of the bush to avoid being stuck there when it was complete darkness or I would never get out again.

As I rode away leaving the tree trunk behind me, I heard a loud “Psss…! Psss!…”, as if somebody was calling me. I stopped and turned my head, but saw nobody. So I started again, only to hear the “pssss” sound once more. I got off the bike to have a better look and then saw where the “psss” came from. Looking carefully at the ground I saw a big green lizard. It was standing on its hind-legs using its long tail for support. The front-legs were spread open like only a priest does when he is preaching. While it looked straight at me its tongue moved from side to side very quickly, hissing as though it was a steam engine.

I tried to find out whether I had trespassed its territory and it was warning me not go get near but to go away. I slowly got closer to look at it better but it quickly turned around and vanished in the tall reeds near the water.

I got back on my bike leaving behind me the sun that was now low on the horizon and that invited me to get a move on and get out very quickly or else be caught in the darkness of the bush.

As I was pedaling as fast as I could I saw a long shadow that looked like a dragon. I stopped and at a closer inspection I saw that it was a small chameleon, almost invisible due to its color very similar to the ground. If the sun had not cast the animal’s shadow, it’s sure that I would never have seen it.

I picked up the little beast, placed it on a tree and with great speed I looked for my way out. I rode very fast through many paths looking for the one which led to the tarred road with some lampposts.

During my escape I came across other shadows but I did not stop again. Then the darkness stole the place of light and rapidly covered everything with its black blanket.

It was a real gamble to reach the tarred road and I don’t know how I got there and found myself under a bright lamppost.

Finally I could take a sigh of relief and relax again.

About Mauro

I am a scribbler of my far away memories. I am Italian and when I was little I landed up with my family in South Africa, where I remained until I was 22 years old. Then I came back to Italy, where I live. Writing life stories about myself and to share them with who desires to read them, helps me to tackle the hardships of life! [Read More]


  1. Priscilla says

    I would have loved to see that lizard stand on it’s back feet! And chameleons are so amazing – I only saw one once in my life, when we found one in our garden in Dundee. It was so cute!

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