An entomologist walks into a bar…

A tiny rainbow, flitting across the Indian Ocean, like a teardrop fallen from God’s eye, a prism for the sun.

I’m awake. Thinking. It’s 2.30 am – or thereabouts. This afternoon, for the first time in a week I checked my emails. The reservoir of worry refilled. Shutting my business down after 14 years. Doing my accounts.

Will we finally make it to see the Minister for Chiefs and Traditional Affairs tomorrow? Are we stuck here, in sweltering Lusaka, forever waiting, forever being flexible?

I flutter around my mind seeking a tranquil place to land, a place of peace, if not quite inspiration.

I try ‘Hail Holy Queen’, but the Mother of Mercy can’t weave her hypnotic magic in my chaotic brain. Too many fragments, making no picture.

What’s that? Baboons? Baboon faeces?

No, I don’t think so. The young Asian American man has a lovely, almost bashful smile. He even – hoorah – downloaded my book (and read two chapters). But, fascinating though his research is – and much as I admire his fortitude, camping out in the bush for weeks on end, sleeping 10 hours a night, tracking through the day and picking up poo, it can’t do the slip-into-slumber trick.

Who else have I met tonight in this melting pot of a place, this intergalactic bar in its lush, boscy setting on the edge of Lusaka?

Ah yes, of course, the dragonfly man.

Morning after the night before

Morning after the night before

He walks slowly. He speaks slowly, a deep growl of a voice. His beard is grey verging on white. I thought at first he was a religious person from some interesting North American sect. But no. He’s an entomologist.

This growly voiced, bearded man studies dragonflies. Possibly slowly.

How beautiful.

They migrate, he tells me.

Puddles dry in the Maldives. Rain approaches India. There’s an ocean to cross for moisture.

That’s when I see it, in my mind’s amazing, wonderful, unpredictable eye. A tiny rainbow, bobbing across the sky. Unseen by all but – well, who knows? Maybe a celestial being, weeping at the beauty – of Nature.

I drift towards that happy state of rest and peace that precedes sleep.

A cock crows. Cattle low. The bicycle pump bird starts its whistling. The mourning dove voices her melancholy to the waking world.


Thanks. I’m wide awake as the dawn breaks.

But at least the song of the birds and complaint of the cattle is better than troublesome emails. And the thin Swiss man with the piercing eyes, the man who once bred horses, who speaks so many languages, who’s travelling alone.  He will be there at breakfast. Smoking. Looking enigmatic.

I wonder …

No sleep for the curious.

mary 408

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6 Responses to An entomologist walks into a bar…

  1. Elizabeth S Ferguson says:

    Glad to hear you are still in this world. Like your camping facilities and hope you’ve seen the important man !!  Will get into nitty gritty when you return  are you shutting down business as we speak sort of chat !



  2. lidipiri says:

    Beautifully written!
    Emails vs. the sound of nature? The sounds of nature are always so much better.
    Love the place and you make sound so enticing to meet the people that are with you.
    Wish I could visit.


  3. John Kemp says:

    I do like what you write. What’s this about closing down? You mean WAS Press? I know the mourning dove but what’s the bicycle pump bird otherwise known as?


  4. EllaDee says:

    Love the decription “this intergalactic bar in its lush, boscy setting on the edge of Lusaka”… nice spot to have cold one 😉


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