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Chapter 01 – The Strange Writing

It’s a lovely, clear summer’s day in 2018 and Billy is walking through the lower entrance of Settler’s Park. He is on his way to home after a tough session with his Kung Fu friend Danny. He likes to take a shortcut through the tranquil park. He lives at the higher end of Central Hill in Park Avenue that circles the historic St. Georges Park with its sports clubs and cultural institutions amongst beautiful vegetation, gardens and monuments. He is a fit, seventeen-year-old scholar and could not have wished for a better place to stay. Nearly every evening he runs five kilometers, twice around the park, before he showers and goes to sleep. He also regularly swims a few kilometers in the public swimming pool and also plays squash for the Crusaders that have courts at the back of the cricket stadium’s main stand.

He has almost reached the steep footpath between the lush growths of plants that extends all the way up to the upper end of the park where the main entrance is near his own home. He notices people in the picnic cove between the bushes near to the rock face. There are a giant tree and a picnic table that people can use. This is a remote part of the park and seldom will you find people here. He glances quickly in their direction. It looks like a grandfather and his granddaughter at the table under the tree.

Between them sits a man in black clothes and next to them there are two sturdy men standing. They look like wrestlers and they are looking away from the party at the table. They are scrutinizing him as he passes them. It’s a strange picture and Billy wonders whether they are bodyguards. They look menacing. Well, it could be stinking rich people that need to be protected. These bodyguards look professional and highly ready for any eventuality.

As Billy enters the bend before the path becomes steep against the hill, he realizes that nature is calling. It must have been all the water he drank during the practice session with Danny. Quickly he dashes into an opening in the bushes and relieves himself leisurely.

Then, a sudden scream from the direction of the people he has passed just yet. Then he hears a flood of words from different men’s voices and harsh words that are directed to someone. It sounds like a heated argument. Billy is startled when he hears the girls anxious yelling. What the heck is going on! He finishes and slowly and cautiously walks back and peeks to see whatever on earth is going on.

The man that was at the table is now holding the kicking girl tightly, whilst the other two are busy with the old man. It looks as if he is desperately trying to fight them off with his left arm while keeping something away from them in his right hand. Suddenly he tosses it away from him. It looks like a desperate attempt and it lands in front of Billy’s feet. Instinctively he picks it up.

He is still studying the small notebook he picked up when he hears the sickening noise of someone’s wind been hitting out. He looks up and sees how the old man is heavily assaulted by the two men as he falls down on the grass. They are kicking him deliberately with unnecessary brutal force while the girl screams hysterically and wrestles the grip the man has on her. Billy stands paralyzed and it is if he is living a dream. Then suddenly there is a knife in one man’s hand near the old man. As if in a dream Billy hears himself yelling: “No, don’t stab him, please …!”

The men’s heads jerk in his direction and they hostilely glance at him, still with the notebook in his hand. The one with the knife yells: “Give it here, lad. Drop it now and go!” He has an outlandish accent and his voice definitely indicates that he is not a South African.

Billy turns around and starts running away like a madman at high speed with the book in his hand. At this stage, he only wants to put as much distance between him and them as possible. There is no time to contemplate or process what is happening. He hears how they shout after him. He recognizes the original speaker’s voice: “Just drop the damn thing and we’ll leave you alone! Damn, we gonna hunt your little ass fellow. We gonna find you and …” But then Billy can’t hear the voice anymore. He has left them too far behind. Billy is at full speed running up the path.

A family is leisurely sitting on a duvet on a lawn under a giant tree at the top end of Settler’s Park. Rene usually keeps this duvet ready for the first opportunity when Jack takes off from his long hours of work and then the family come over here to picnic. It is so peaceful here with the birds singing away in the trees. Sometimes they stroll through the park and again appreciate the beauty and tranquility. The park has three main entrances and stretches over 54 hectares on both sides of the Baaken’s River. You can enter the park through the How Lane entrance from Park Drive, or the Chelmsford Lane entrance from Target Kloof where the Guinea fowl trail starts from the third avenue in the Walmer area. It is a huge park and they feel privileged when they are able to enjoy it on a Sunday. There are many little footpaths between the botanic flora with many nice patches of lawn and picnic spots. The park has a rich variety of indigenous plants and shrubs with pools of water and rocks over streamlets. Along the footpaths, you will encounter all sorts of small animals including small antelopes.

Jack feels satisfied with himself while he smiles at his beautiful wife and daughter opposite him on the duvet. “What a wonderful Sunday in this tranquil park! I’ve been looking forward so much to be with my two lovies today. It was a strenuous week at work.”

Kadin, his beautiful sixteen-year-old daughter is flat on her stomach and is writing in her notebook. She stops, puts the pencil in his special place in the booklet and pushes the booklet at her back in the waist of her short denim trousers. She turns on her back and stares into the azure heaven lost in dreams of her own. Jack wonders what is ticking in her brain right now. She has the talent to frequently sniff out interesting historical facts from all over and writes it down in sharp, unique ways. Her head is always full of ideas. She is quizzical and busy. Her booklet is always with her and she notices people and her environment much better than does the ordinary man.

Rene stops scratching through the picnic basket and looks up: “Yes, my dear husband, it’s simply wonderful to be with you. Usually, you sleep and work.”

“What can I do when we need every cent of my overtime and I am so thankful for the opportunities?”
Kadin is shaking her head. She turns to her dad and gives him a nice frown: “It’s true, dad. Mother is right. You are working yourself to the ground and we seldom see you.”

Jack smiles with love in his eyes. “Times are tight, Kadin, and even if you are always first in your class at school and your marks optimum, it doesn’t mean that you will get a bursary. The political situation in South Africa is bad as far as this is concerned. We don’t even know whether you will be admitted to one of the universities in South Africa. Maybe you’ll have to be enrolled at an overseas university due to the discrimination in our land. We simply have to put money away for your future, my dear daughter, even your mother works hard when she has the opportunity. It’s not me only.”

Kadin stands up and with determination scolds them: “Please! You are sacrificing too much of your lives for me. You really don’t need to save for my university fees. I am going to get a job and can study part-time and graduate just a little later. What must I do that my darlings just will understand?”

Jack waves his forefinger from side to side while he argues against her point: “Never, my dear child. You have so many talents and you do brilliantly in everything you tackle. We are doing the world an enormous favor to invest in you. When we are somewhere in the future down and out, you can repay us. Okay, lovey. Just leave it.”

Rene takes her hand and smiles towards her: “Kadin, you are the light of our lives and you will understand when you one day have children of your own. We must make the most of your talents. You are simply the best with everything in your school.”

Kadin gets nature’s calling: “Excuse me, please. I have to go to the public toilet. You can have alone-time while I am gone.” She gives them a naughty wink.

Jack returns her wink and explains: “Just make sure the real you comes back from the toilet.”

“That’s a meek one this, dad …” She sticks her tongue out before she turns and disappears in the path that leads to the toilets.

Jack’s eyes follow her when she leaves with her brown hair hanging over her shoulder and once again he realize how beautiful she is. His eyes are still following her while he says: “Rene. She is becoming an adult and can easily be passed off as a model and I shudder when I think of the day that she sheds her tomboy bravado and starts to be interested in boys.”

Kadin enjoys walking under the vegetation that grows like a green roof over her head. She listens to the unique singing of a little bird somewhere nearby that fascinates her. She decides to look for him.
Cautiously she enters an opening between plants and trees. Then she sees the beautiful, colorful species and in wonder admires the way in which he turns his little head erect when he sings his song with the puff of his neck. How exquisite is this little fellow!

Suddenly the little bird is startled and quickly flies away. The sound of heavy footsteps comes from downwards as someone is running up from the lower part of the park. She opens the plants to peek through inquisitively and looks down on a part of the path that with a stiff gradient leads to the lower part of Settler Park. She is just in time to see a young man suddenly halts his frantic flight and quickly hides something between the shrubs. He looks familiar and she wonders where she had seen him before. He then jumps to his feet quickly and runs along the footpath to the top and disappears from her sight.

She now hears heavier footsteps like soldiers that run with boots. Two hefty men in black, built like locks in a rugby team, run past her and also vanish along the footpath. The expressions on their faces are something between brutal anger and urgency. Did the boy hide something valuable that belongs to them between the bushes?

She steps out of the bushes and walks towards the connection between two footpaths and further on to where the boy hid something. She looks back along the footpath and listens. They are all gone and it is dead quiet. She bends over and scratches between the bushes. She finds the notebook that looks very much like her own. She doesn’t know why, but suddenly her heart starts to beat faster. She puts the booklet in her front pocket and hastens to the toilets.

The place is quiet. There is no one. She goes into the nearest toilet and locks the door. Inquisitively she takes the booklet out of her pocket. She pulls her pants down and sits down on the toilet. She smiles happily. There is toilet paper. She forgot to bring her own.

She opens the booklet and frowns amazed. What is this? Someone had written, probably with a pencil; in the book but it makes no sense at all. It’s strange writing that she hasn’t encountered during her life. It’s not an alphabet. She turns the pages and sees three are writings on different pages. What on earth is this? She is flabbergasted.

Suddenly guilt overwhelms her when she thinks about the boy. Her inquisitiveness caused her to transgress because it is not her property. She will have to find a way to return it to the owner. She doesn’t know what is going on or why the men chased the boy, but they are looking dangerous. What will happen if they catch him and they all return and they don’t find the booklet? She realizes she made a mistake. What if the boy returns and looks for the book? She only knows that she is yearning to know what is going on.
She thinks of a way out, gets her own book out, writes a message, and tears the page from the book. “My name is Kadin and I have your booklet. Meet me downstairs in the reference section of the city library on Monday at four-o’-clock p.m. I dearly want to give it back to you if I may.” She will put the note where she found the booklet and hopefully he will return and find her message.

When she returns to her parents, she shows the booklet to her dad. “Watch dad, someone lost this booklet in the park. What is this funny scribbling? Have you ever seen something like this before?” She doesn’t relate to them the full story. She doesn’t want to upset them.

Jack takes it from her and studies it. His eyes mirror his surprise. “What dad, do you know what it is?”
Jack tries to explain what is bothering him. “I could have sworn that it is Sanskrit but it is weird that someone should have scribbled with a pencil in such a booklet. This is really strange. Must be a student in philosophy from the University of Port Elizabeth that tried to memorize or decipher it. That’s all that makes sense to me. Although it doesn’t make complete sense because Sanskrit is difficult and they don’t teach it here. It is usually taught on a man to man basis from a theological master. One word frequently contains a rich history that must be fully explained before you can fully comprehend the meaning of it.”

“Sanskrit? What is it really and how on earth do you recognize it? It’s so strange.”

Her father smiles. She is always so inquisitive. “Well, there was a time in my life when I was very interested in philosophy, Kadin. I studied many different religions and tried to understand their philosophies to find the one that make the most sense to me. I was looking to find Truth.”

Kadin can’t hide the surprise. “Dad, you never told me about this. You don’t even believe in any god so far as I know and we don’t adhere to any religion. You don’t even discuss these things; what happened, dad? I am flabbergasted!”

“Kadin, there comes a time when you stop looking for answers because answers bring more questions. Just know that to know is to know that you don’t know …”

“It doesn’t make sense to me at all, but tell me more about Sanskrit. Where did it come from and who is speaking it?”

“Maybe it’s the oldest language on earth. Although religious people in India transferred their traditions orally for many centuries through Sanskrit before it was written down, some of them believed it was not from this earth. They believe all human knowledge is based on deductions but much of the Sanskrit knowledge from the old texts came from another dimension and is transferred to us as true knowledge that we must accept as coming from our creators that know how everything fit together.”

Surprised Kadin slaps her father on his shoulder. “What dad, and you only tell us now, you scoundrel …”

Jack bursts out in laughter and must contain himself before he can speak. “That’s only what they believe, Kadin. People believe different kind of funny things and most of the wars and misery all over the world started with the rubbish they believe. If you believe everything and take it seriously then you will easily become as mad as they are. Take everything with a pinch of salt, my child.”

Rene leans forward and lands an unsuspected kiss on his cheek.

“Mother, why don’t we adhere to a religion? Most of my classmates are Christians and attend church, but we don’t, why?”

“It is not important what we believe in, Kadin. It’s important what you believe and we don’t want to influence you. You are welcome and you can ask us anything any time, but the questions must come from you. We will support you in any direction you may choose and try to lead you as far as we are able to.”

Kadin sighs, places her hands on her hips and stands in front of them like the headmaster of a school that reprimands two naughty children. “Really you two lovies, I don’t know. You are always full of surprises that don’t make any sense and you are also damn stubborn! What are you now telling me, damn!”

Jack simply adores her feigned threatening posture. “You want to know what I believe in and I am going to tell you. I believe all that matters in life are moments like this together with you two. The here and now is important and this is all that matters.”

Kadin bends forward and whispers softly in his ear while she cuddles him warmly. “I love you, dad, so much I can scream!”

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