Friday, December 3, 2010

Tomorrow's Leopard!

On my MatadorU assignment site - Resoled Holes In My Soles, I have posted my latest article for a Transition exercise. I hope you like it. It's an article about facing fear, even though that word is never used, and instead the 'leopard' signifies fear. He is very real. I 'saw' him in my dream that night, a very large animal, and a very dark coloured cat, possibly so because of the pale moonlight, or else a dark mutant colouring. When Hendrick came down from exploring the kopjie and told us about finding the paw tracks, a big shiver went up my spine. This story I'd like to expand a little from the basic two stage transition, 400-600 word article asked for in the assignment, and take you as a reader through to another level where we all get caught up in Hendrick's story. He held our attention that night. I hope I do also in the retelling of him telling his story, but he was a greater story teller than I, because story telling is part of their culture.

Tomorrow's Leopard.

Tomorrow is my big day.
”James. ” (Kay always calls me James when she demands attention) ” You can put the bathroom cabinet up tomorrow morning before you go off to hospital.” That’ll finish the new bathroom off in the morning…while I’ll be finished off in the afternoon!
“That’ll probably be the last thing going up in this house.” I reply.
The new bathroom was Kay’s birthday present….my Christmas present is- Tomorrow!

Our late breakfast together, on this warm, sunny morning and ‘Tomorrow’ intrudes upon my thoughts of the tuis calling outside. The leopard stirs…

How I wish this tomorrow never comes. I’m trying not to think about tomorrow – every man does not want to think about ‘Tomorrow’. But for 30-40% of men it draws near inexorably, as we age. Tomorrow is a Trans-Urethral Resection of the Prostate, .. a TURPS, ..a Rebore, and we men do not talk about it, let alone think about it. But tomorrow it is the reality. Got to face up to it, got to be staunch. Get into it, get over it, get on with it. Just like any problem in life really, I suppose. And the leopard stirs again….

Sure, I could go on drugs, Beta-blockers that help you pee, but hey, at my age I do not take any drugs and do not want to start. Just staves off the day when it has to be done, so I elected to have the re-bore now while I’m young and healthy and so nothing interferes with going back to Africa. When there is an elephant crashing around your campsite, you need to be able to get out and and have a pee quickly.

It was the leopard.
The image of that leopard above me in the rocky kopjie that made me think my time had come. Hendrick started it all off. Hendrik and his tales of surviving a leopard attack as a village kid. Around the campfire that night, on our Elephant-Human Relations Aid volunteer project in Namibia, he related his tale of his desperate struggle with and finally killing a leopard, and storytelling for Herero is an art, a tradition, a long, evocative and masterful affair.

"As a young kid all the village boys looked after the cattle, and flocks of sheep and goats taking them out from the kraals to graze surrounding hills and valleys wherever their was any grass.In dry seasons when grass is scarce, all the wild antelope would leave the area and the leopard would come in looking for food, our flocks. We had to guard them. Sometimes we would hear a leopard come into the kraal at night and take a goat or young lamb. We would be too frightened to stop it.But if we were to prove ourselves as men and no longer boys, we could not fail to look after the animals. That was manhood.
"So we made a plan. We would get all the boys, and all seven dogs and find the leopard and kill him ,and we made a pact to all stick together. The dogs tracked and treed this leopard, and all the dogs kept it there. We were all frightened as now we had to get it down and kill it. We would do it all together, I with my father's sword that I carry now. The other boys had sticks and clubs. We threw rocks at the leopard and it jumped down into the dogs. It killed and wounded 4 dogs and chased the others off and then turned on us, all in a matter of seconds.  I was afraid but there were many of us boys,,,,, until  I looked behind me ....and there was no one else! Just me. I am very afraid now.
"But  I also have learned about leopards. Leopards to attack always leap on to you, usually from in front so they can grasp your face in their teeth, and put a paw over your head and rake your scalp off and down over your face to blind you. At the same time their hind legs come up to your chest then jerk down into your belly to rip out your intestines to the ground. This is the way of killing baboons and why baboons are so afraid of them at night because a leopard hunts at night.
"So I run behind a bush to keep the bush between me and that leopard and it is too high for him to leap over. He runs around one way, I run the other way, and he goes other, I go this way. This goes on a long time. We are both getting tired. Then I see some boys coming back looking for their dead friend. I am not dead, just tired, but I must keep running around the bush or leopard will leap on me.
"Soon all the boys see I am alive, and they must help especially as I have done the hard part of tiring the leopard. So we all attack him and we kill him and I got some gashes from his claws."

Hendrick had us spellbound, each of us held by the images drawn in our imagination by that master storyteller with his sword hanging in his scabbard, and the leopard scars on his bare scalp.

Later I would struggle up from deep sleep busting for a pee, and in the darkness wander off to attempt to hose down a rock. If only….
Standing there hopefully, the realisation dawns to how vulnerable I was, of taking so long that a leopard could slowly steal up and launch itself at me in the dark from the rocks above. Yes, I was going to have to get to grips with this and get something done!

In the wee hours of the morning I dream - of a dark spotted cat looking down at a man while he is peeing. I am seeing the scene from above, just enough light to make out that leopard looking down on that man - me - each figure just visible between the shadows cast from the rocky outcrops by the half moon. Just a dream....

Morning’s coffee and Hendrick comes down from the kopjie, armed with his 2 foot long Damara sword: asking him about why he was armed with it had set off the story telling the evening before.
“Hi Hendrik. What did you see from up top?”
“Leopard country. There was a leopard up there last night. I see his tracks. He was watching us last night."
A shiver went up my spine as that leopard stalked into the shadows of my mind and settled there.
Tomorrow can’t come soon enough. Re-bores do not phase me, as long as I don't think about it, but that leopard scares the shit out of me! And I’m going back there.

If you ever read this story Hendrick, know that I tried to recapture the tension you yourself conveyed that night beside the campfire, but it is your story...only you could tell it better.

For anyone reading this story, concerned about benign prostate  enlargement, which affects 30-40% percent of men as we age, or if you're concerned about prostate cancer, the most informative site I have found written from actual experience is here- I hope spreading this information helps others.

The following are comments upon the condensed story at Resoled Holes In My Soles.
 20 Responses to Tomorrow’s Leopard.

Kelly says:
01/12/2010 at 11:28 pm (Edit)
This really amazing Jim! I love the story almost as much as I love the way you wrote it. You took a somber topic and parlayed it into a tale of adventure, travel and lust for life. Bravo, my friend! I was hooked on this from the first few words.
I now also share in your fear of leopards. Eek! Good luck with everything.
nev says:
01/12/2010 at 11:43 pm (Edit)
I’m not thinking about it….LOL.
Thanks for your encouragement, nice to read. There’s hardly anything on the net about this condition, so I wondered whether I should even talk about it, but after a while I got my head around it and thought” Well why not? Might help another guy .”
But yeah, everytime I do think about it, that leopard crouches… I fear him more than tomorrow. Thanks.

Jools Stone says:
02/12/2010 at 12:31 am (Edit)
Good luck Jim, long may you leap ahead of the leopard!
nev says:
02/12/2010 at 12:44 am (Edit)
Thanks Jools, hold that train for me. I’ll be right on board.

John in France says:
02/12/2010 at 12:39 am (Edit)
Ten out of ten for this assignment Jim! Absolutely fabulous article. Good luck with the bathroom cabinet and the re-bore! You’ll be too quick for the leopard!
nev says:
02/12/2010 at 12:46 am (Edit)
Hiya John, yeah well the assignment called for a ‘transitions’ article , so they get a trans- resection one!
Flowers greatfully accepted!

Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:
02/12/2010 at 12:59 am (Edit)
What a lovely story, Jim. Good luck tomorrow!
nev says:
02/12/2010 at 1:53 am (Edit)
You think so Christy, that’s so nice of you. Thanks and we’ll be up and around soon as .

Matt Hope says:
02/12/2010 at 1:25 am (Edit)
good luck Jim, I’ll be thinking of you!
nev says:
02/12/2010 at 1:39 am (Edit)
Don’t worry Matt, we’ll be up and at it again in no time. May be able to catch up with more blogging and following while taking it easy. Hey and thanks!

Cathy Sweeney says:
02/12/2010 at 4:33 am (Edit)
Good luck, Jim! Thanks so much for sharing this with us in such a wonderfully-written post.
nev says:
02/12/2010 at 5:51 am (Edit)
For you to say it’s wonderfully written is just so encouraging Cathy.

inka says:
02/12/2010 at 7:10 am (Edit)
You couldn’t have tackled a serious matter in a braver and – yes- more staunch way than with this great stroy. Good luck, you’ll be good as new in no time and elephants and leopards will have to look elsewhere for a morsel!!
nev says:
02/12/2010 at 4:57 pm (Edit)
Thanks Inka, counting down the hours….


Amy says:
03/12/2010 at 7:38 am (Edit)
I’ll echo the others here Jim – excellent post!

nev says:
03/12/2010 at 5:35 pm (Edit)
Thanks Amy. Gone better than I expected.Lots of inspiration for writing now!

taminchina says:
03/12/2010 at 8:33 am (Edit)
Hi Nev,
I read this with a view to commenting on “assignment 2″ stuff, but that seems just a little bit trite. I think you’ve tackled the tricky subject with humour and honesty that someone experiencing a similar “ordeal” will surely empathise with and take comfort from.
Good Luck with the leopard. Tam
PS: Great title, and great image on your blog header!

nev says:
03/12/2010 at 5:34 pm (Edit)
Hi Taminchina, Nice of you to show up from the ‘U’. Did the writing deliver though? Could it have n
been done better?
I may tweak a couple of things. I want the multi transitions a bit sharper.

Robin says:
03/12/2010 at 11:39 am (Edit)
Really engagingly written! An you have provided something to squirm about for any men of a certain age reading this…

nev says:
03/12/2010 at 7:03 pm (Edit)
It’s gone surprisingly well Robin. And for all those other guys out there heading down this track, it’s OK so far and any problems then I’ll blog them. But sweet as so far. No pain.
Just wanna get up and moving as soon as they unhook all the pipes.



Red Nomad OZ said...

Congratulations on conquering both real and metaphoric leopards!! Taking us with you on your journey will help me conquer future leopards - hope it's helped you too!

Happy travels!!

Jim said...

Hiya Red, getting over it. Nothing to fear really afterall. But now I'll be able to pee faster than a leopard can leap....hopefully.

Andrea said...

Beautiful storytelling, Jim. John and I wish you a very speedy recovery =)

Jim said...

Thanks Andrea.Home now and taking things easy. See you both next month.

zablon said...

Hendrick fought of a leopard? that is something. i hope your trip to the doctor went ok

Jim said...

Hi Zablon, he fought and finally killed it. Yeah, and I'm fine. Healing up pretty good. Feel great and things work OK ;-)

Unknown said...

ey yeah! I'm happy you did it, nd I enjoyed reading the story too.
The story teller is also the important source of many communities history if I'm not saying the story itself is one of society conventions to spread a certain aspect as its civilization etc

Jim said...

True Aznzar that communities history is reliant on stories told by them. I was thinking this as we listened to Hendrick and I was wondering how he would have told this story so many times in his own village. He's a very intelligent and educated guy and has become one of his communities leaders.

Anonymous said...

Wow Jim, now I know why you connected with Rocky! My husband Les just had the same procedure done back in August, but he opted for the Beta-blockers. Hope you are feeling better.

Loved the story, I need to hang out in here a little longer, catch up on my armchair travel, its been a while. (;

Jim said...

Hiya Wanda, been thinking about you so I took a wander over on your site today. Your husband OK?

Fernando said...

Hi ya Jim, popped on over as was curious about the title. Wow excellent piece, so well done on a subject most men don't mention.
Glad to hear you're improving. Don't wander to far from base when needing to pee next time, hehe

Jim said...

Thanks Alejandro, glad you liked the expanded version.
I'll be able to pee so fast that leopard won't catch me!

Ron said...

Great story Jim. Perhaps we [men] should think to take our health seriously with the sense of urgency of a potential leopard attack ;)

Thanks for this.