Novel in progress: The River Seshakai
This is something I come back to from time to time. It’s the concept of a river personified. What if a river could see and feel everything that was happening around it? And, if it could, would it choose to intervene?
After hundreds of years watching the cycle of peace and petty conflicts between the tribes who live along its banks, the River Seshakai learns of a greater trouble coming to the people – an influx of explorers, loggers, and fortune-hunters ready to plunder the land in any way they can.
A heron, adorned with a crisp white headdress, is visiting its favourite nooks along the banks of the mighty Seshakai. Plunging an eager beak beneath the water it soon swallows a delicious morsel, and steps with all grace, slow and sure, further up the river. Under its feet the smooth pebbles gladly rest. In the reeds the smaller waders watch their offspring and call to them reassuringly, and to be reassured. In the shallows, where the heron probes, the fingerlings scatter and seek refuge in imperfect shadows where the bright morning licks.
Another prod into the depths by the majestic bird, again the fish dart away. This time they find greater protection. The current has brought some floating mass and beneath this they shelter, ignorant of what it is. But the heron knows to stay away from mankind, so it stands statuesque till the body is swept further along. Soon even the fishes dart away—The water there is thick, and clouding with crimson.
The body is swept along, until it washes against the coarse sand and gravel of a bend in the riverbank. A feathered arrow-shaft stands proudly from its back. A hunter’s arrow. The blood begins to paint the stones, to cover them. The heron remains still. All is silent but for the mighty river’s never-failing flow. The gentle current hums over the stones and sighs through the reeds. Everything has changed today, except the river. The river is always constant.