Temba to the Rescue
Story of the Day #88
by Terrie Hope
Threatening black clouds moved ever-faster overhead, rolling in like a rough sea to announce the start of the rainy season. Following a blinding flash of lightening, the rumbling thunder vibrated the earth underfoot as though a great underground dragon had been disturbed. The wind whistled through the nearby trees. The light was fading fast.
Temba stood in the doorway of the family’s sleeping hut as he watched the approaching storm, a pang of fear shooting through his stomach. He knew that if it rained now the river would fill and his mother would be stranded on the other side.
His sister Tulu was cooking the evening meal, while their younger siblings chased each other and wrestled nearby in the family’s cooking hut. Temba could hear pretend growling and roaring, then the shrieks of laughter from Nonde and Sulu.
Suddenly, the rain fell cold and painful on Temba’s skin.
Temba wondered what he would do if his mother did not get back, but knew that Zulu men are warriors and do not show fear. I must go out and look for her, he decided.
He walked into the rain, leaving his young charges in the warmth and dryness of the cook hut. Temba found the path to the village deserted, the ground packed hard from the many feet that had worn the ground smooth. Even the huts that he passed were empty. Fear tied knots in his stomach now. With no one around, he knew that all he could do was return to the village, and hope that their mother would be back soon.
As he trotted back through the village, he heard screams from the cooking hut.
“Temba, help us!”
While he was gone, the pounding rain had triggered a flash flood that poured down the mountain hard enough to knock down part of the mud wall in the cook hut, letting the roof fall on Temba’s siblings, trapping them. Temba ran to the hut.
“Tulu, Nonde, Sulu, are you all right?” Temba shouted over the rain. He ran around the hut, looking for a way to reach the others.
How can I help them? I must get them out of there, he thought frantically. Oh, if only Father was here. He would know what to do. However, Temba knew that he had to be the man of the family while his father was away.
Temba looked around until he spotted a thin tree trunk that had been collected for the fire. He lifted the trunk and carried it across to the cooking hut.
“Go in there, please, go in there!” He pushed the trunk as hard as he could under the roof. The thin trunk was heavy and hard to push through the debris but once it was far enough under, he leaned hard on it, trying to lift the roof. At first nothing moved. He leaned harder, willing himself to be stronger and heavier.
“I will get you out of there – somehow!” he shouted over the howling wind.
“Hurry, Temba, please!” Tulu begged “The water is rising fast in here.”
Temba’s muscles ached. He put all his weight into the push and barely felt the roof shift. He was beginning to think that he had failed his parents. Even so, he refused to give up.
With all his strength, he pushed again, and suddenly the load was lighter. Temba realized other hands had joined him in pushing down on the trunk. God has heard my prayers.
“Push Temba,” a strong voice said beside him. “We can lift it.”
Temba’s knees shook from relief. “Mother, you’re back.”
Slowly Temba and his mother lifted the roof, until they had made enough space for his siblings to crawl out.
“Tulu, come quick!” Temba called to his sister. “Bring your brother and sister out here.”
One by one, the children crawled out from under the roof. Once they were all safely clear of the fallen debris, Temba and his mother let the roof settle down again. Temba turned to the younger children.
“I’m glad you’re okay, and I’m sorry I left you when I did.”
“You’re the best,” Tulu replied wrapping her thin arms around him. “If it wasn’t for your fast thinking, we’d still be trapped.”
“Temba, you have just proven that you are a man,” his mother added, laying her hand on his shoulder. “Your father will be proud.”
“But, Mother,” he said. “I should not have left them. It was my mistake that put them in danger.”
His mother smiled at him. “Everyone makes mistakes, but a man makes them right again. Trust me your father will be proud.”
The knot unclenched in Temba’s chest and he smiled. “Thank you, Mother.”
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