An extract from Mark Roper's inspiring novella, TWO FEET -- now also available as an audio book on +Amazon.com and +Audible as well as +iTunes.
IS GOD A MECHANIC?
Meneer Gerber, our teacher, once said we were all marching forward on God’s road. (I have seen Meneer Gerber smile once when he was talking with the headmaster’s wife. His teeth were very white).
He said that God was our engine that was driving us on.
God was our petrol fuelling us around the bends and up the hills and down the hills.
God was a powerful motor vehicle and we were his passengers.
I wanted to put my hand up and ask if God wore a crash helmet, as the racing car drivers do that I had seen pictures of. But I did not.
I wanted to put my hand up and ask if God’s car, as it zoomed along, also left behind clouds of red dust that asphyxiated bird and insect as it travelled. But I did not.
I wanted to put up my hand and ask if God’s car had any gears, especially a reverse gear. I was thinking that a reverse gear would be a good idea for God’s car because if there were any mistakes to be fixed, God could just reverse over the mistakes and then drive forward again. This way He could repair the mistakes and make certain they never occurred again. But I did not ask.
I wanted to put my hand up and ask if God’s engine ever broke down. But I did not.
But I should.
Was a submersible borehole-pump not a part of God’s engine?
I won’t ask.
But if God was in control of an engine, any engine, then He would know how to repair it?
But I should ask.
A borehole was an engine. It had an engine, a pump. It was buried deep down in the shaft after the drilling machine – Clunk! Clunk! Clunk! -- had driven away leaving mounds of red clay and diesel and black oil stains on the grass. Yes, a pump engine that sucked the water from down there where it was quiet and still and dark. Immersed in the bowels of the earth, where the sun didn't shine and where the water was sweet.
I won’t ask.
I raised my hand.
Meneer Gerber had his feet up on the desk. He twisted his feet and separated them so he could get a view of me. He remained lounging back in the wooden chair that often creaked with the sound of a timid fart. He looked at me between his polished shoes.
“I did not ask a question, boy.”
“Then what the bloody Hell do you want?”
“You are in deep kak (shit), Rooinek!”That was Pisskop’s whispering voice. He sat at the rear of the class, but his words were like rifle shots in my burning ears.
Stand up, Feet. Make me stand. Please!
I stood on shaking knees trying to focus on Meneer Gerber’s shoes that partly hid his face. I was deeply flushed. I felt as if I was rolling in a field of stinging nettles. The soles of Meneer Gerber’s shoes were worn thin, and there was a patch on the left shoe. I spoke to the patch.
“Dust, Meneer. There is only dust now because the borehole engine has broken. In the vegetable garden where my mother is growing radishes, beetroot, cabbage and carrots so we can sell them at the road shop. (Breathe, chest in and out) Mister Kelly, he says the pump is old and worn, and he showed us the remains of some rusty pieces (cheeks hot, so hot)...so... so now there is no water, Meneer because of the pump so we...we are carrying water now from the dam in Mister Kelly’s jerry cans. (Bare-feet now sweating on the wooden floorboards and toes curling) We use a pole, Meneer, so we can carry the water on our shoulders, you see? But the grass on the hill is dry Meneer, and we are often falling and (hearing a dry chuckle from Pisskop)...and Mabuza is helping with some rope to pull the jerry cans up the hill, and my mother, she is really trying to show the water the way to find the vegetables. (No breath any more. Sucking in air) Meneer, but it is not enough water without the borehole engine so...so...I...the plants are dying in the dust so I...so I...was thinking that maybe God because he knows engines, Meneer, can fix the submersible pump?”
Meneer Gerber abruptly swings his feet off the desk. He sits slowly upright in the wooden chair that makes a farting sound. He does not lose focus of me.
I remained standing. Sweaty, naked feet glued to wooden floorboards. A strong smell of chalk suddenly, a waft of Pisskop’s sour body odour. I sense movement from Max, the baker’s son, seated behind his desk. It is more of a nervous squirm, like someone waiting for a film to be projected.
“You are in deep, deep kak (shit), Rooinek,” whispers Pisskop from out there amongst the blurred faces.
Think: mother on hands and knees in dust whispering to rivulet of tepid water. Solution: God repairs pump. Result: mother not necessary to be on hands and knees in dust whispering to tepid water.
“Are you...”His voice is shrill with pain, like the sound a rugby player makes when he is kicked between the legs. He coughs then again speaks.
“Are you are asking me if God is a bloody mechanic, boy?”
I am I suppose, so I nod, and my head feels heavy, and I know the gesture makes me look like a dumb child with his bare feet glued to a wooden floor.
I am soon bent over with my head in the corner. Above my head, just a few inches away, is a small book shelf. It carries two heavy books – the A-Z of African Wildlife and Fauna and the A-Z of Places of the World. There is a layer of chalk dust on the books. They are not a part of the curriculum so are never read and are left to gather chalk dust.
When a child is bent over in a corner of a room, and he is given a caning, his first reaction is to recoil, is to lift up his head. That is what the bookshelf is for. When you recoil, you slam your head into the bookshelf. This way Meneer Gerber gets you twice with one blow. This way the A-Z of African Wildlife and Fauna and the A-Z of Places in the World also have some use.
I look down at my two, bare feet as Meneer Gerber lands the first of six strokes. He will land the second stroke half an inch above the first, and then the third will strike where the first landed. He is a master of his craft.
I wonder if God will try the reverse gear for me.
A question I never asked:
“Daddy, how do I switch this on?”
A question I never asked:
“Daddy, how do I switch this off?”
...for the conclusion of this chapter and to read the full Novella, please visit http://www.amazon.com/Two-Feet-Haggis-Mark-Roper-ebook/dp/B00UVUQRH4/