By Mohezin Tejani
Special to Simerg
I: New Hampshire Twilight
“What! You’ve never seen the fall leaves peaking? We can’t have that!” my four Michigan dorm mates insist. I think to myself…Uganda has more trees than Michigan but only one dry and one rainy season all year round. What could be so great about seeing a bunch of leaves falling?
We drive to New Hampshire for the weekend anyway…
It’s twilight at the foot of the White Mountains, when the five figures clad in duck down parkas gaze at the tapestry of colors down below, mouths agape. Spanning all the way to the horizon, deciduous trees show off shades of regal purples, blood reds, yellows, and crimson everywhere, with the occasional evergreen pine adding contrast. It’s almost as if a festival of painters are competing for space on a huge landscape canvas, each desperate to out do the other.
Up above, the open blue is pierced with flaming arrows of pinks and oranges as the sun sets over the mountain. Again, another galactic painter is bent on showing the forest artists who is ultimately the boss of beauty. A breezy chill makes us wrap the parka hoods tightly over our faces.
As darkness approaches and the panorama of leaves are left behind in silhouettes, an iridescent moon rises over the crest—a ball of bright white light, kissing the silver forehead of an undulating cloud below, shimmering moon drops into a nearby stream trickling past us.
When the moon floats behind the clouds, the wind picks up and the night chill descends. Fiercely howling, it pierces through our parkas down to the bone—a sign we need to move on.
The five figures move away… shunned into silence.
Copyright: M. Tejani 2012
Centuries ago… the Guarani tribe in Paraguay named the sacred falls Iguazu… the meeting of the Big Waters… the confluence of three mountain rivers winding its way through three Latino countries… relieved to end their long journeys by gushing into the gorge known as ‘El Garganta del Diablo’… the devil’s throat… ejecting a vaporous mist so powerful as to prevent the camera-clad onlooker – three thousand feet above who is peering into the gorge – from taking snapshots of the majestic miracle of Nature below him.
“Come, drown yourself in my power…bathe in my rainbows arching through the foggy mist of the blue skies… but never dare to take away my soul with a snapshot for the ones who didn’t earn the right to witness my miracle by being elsewhere,” says Iguazu.
As the cameraman looks beyond the gorge… a thousand smaller waterfalls spanning to the horizon for some four kilometers, meet his eyes. Piled upon one mesa after another, like the steppes of a Tibetan plateau, these waters seep through the craggy rocks shaped into submission by geological time.
In the national park below, the man grabs at his safari hat as a Colobus monkey swings from a tree to swipe it off his head… too late it’s gone into the thick undergrowth where the other flora and fauna blend together… toucans, begonias, swifts, ferns, beaver-like squirrels with furry tails as big as their bodies and palms—all joining in to create a jungle symphony conducted by the Colobus using his newfound safari hat as a baton.
The man thrilled to be clicking away shots in rapid fire succession has forgotten all about his lost hat.
“Let go of all your man-made possessions when you kneel before me,” roars Iguazu, as the thunder of its mighty waters, spouts yet another shimmering rainbow… silencing the man and his camera into sheer gratitude.
Copyright: M. Tejani 2012
Date posted: January 26, 2012
The writer: Mohezin Tejani developed a passion for books and travels during his early life in Africa. Born in Tanzania to Ismaili parents of Indian ancestry, he grew up in Uganda where he spent his childhood and early adult life. Then in 1972, along with 80,000 other fellow Asians, he was expelled during Idi Amin’s reign of terror, and first fled to England and then to America of the late sixties and early seventies. He spent the next four decades on the road as a political refugee and a humanitarian aid worker. The above pieces are part of a collection of essays, poems, and letters written over four decades of travel across five continents. Tejani’s latest book Thank You Idi Amin: A Memoir of the Asian Exodus was published by Global Vision Press and has received critical acclaim. Excerpts and links to his other writings can be found on his website: www.motejani.com.
Tejani’s other essays on this website:
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