By KUHLEKONKE DLADLA
If I am to tell you this tale, I should start by stating that upon coming to Makhanda for university, I had no prior knowledge of this small, very fulfilling, and beautiful town of Grahamstown, Makhanda.
You’d think I would have wanted to do a little research into the place I would be living in for the next four years. Nope, not me. Instead, I indulged in a few great fantasies about what I thought Makhanda would offer me. Great food filled with my favourite restaurants, namely Ocean Basket and McDonald’s. This dream quickly vaporised upon my arrival here.
A chance to become the best fashion star through the vast selection of clothing stores such as The Fix and H&M, obviously. Wrong. A fast-paced and industrialised community. Not even close. Access to the best healthcare facilities and basic services. Guaranteed, right? Please be serious. But somehow, amid all the shattering of my naïve fantasies of Makhanda, nothing could have prepared me for… the animals.
What do you mean by animals? You can’t possibly be scared of some cows, goats, donkeys, stray cats, and dogs. Okay, little Ms Judgment, I am just as shocked as you by this discovery.
I had never planned to be one of those who found themselves screaming at the hills when an overly excited dog would make its way towards me. Or, when an unassuming, uninterested cat grew attached to me, find myself whispering my yet-to-be-written will. Or worse, I’d imagine myself plummeting to my death when a herd of goats stood between me and my safe passage into town. None of these animals has ever personally attacked me, but in my mind, I see them plotting my demise, trying to find new ways to consume my nightmares. ‘Mooo,’ they taunt me.
I’ve created a whole world where the people seem to be at the mercy of the ever-powerful animals of Makhanda. It’s judgment day done wrong.
Can you imagine it? Can you see it from my perspective? A herd of cows as the panel, a group of stray dogs and cats as the jury, donkeys as witnesses and a goat as the judge.
‘Plead your case, mere mortal,’ states M’lud the Goat. ‘Ummm, I find myself needing to get to Peppergrove, but the road leading there has been blocked by a herd of cows. I understand that the cows have claimed all roads leading to Peppergrove, but it is my hope that they can let it slide just this once?’ I hear the laughter.
But still, our presiding Judge would ask: “According to my records, you have on multiple occasions run for your dear life when you were in the presence of any of the animals, have mumbled a very meek voetsek to any dogs that might find you appealing, and have successfully thrown your friends to the mercy of any animals you encountered. Does this look like the case of someone who is innocent?”
As would naturally happen, I would begin fumbling my words, and Justice Goat would righteously proclaim, “GUILTY. You are sentenced to four years of perpetual servitude to the animals of Makhanda!” and no one will even hear my weeping over the sounds of elation and joy escaping from all the animals. My fate would be sealed; my crippling anxiety would render me at their mercy.
I have not once considered myself someone who is deathly scared of animals, but in my four years here, I’ve discovered that not only am I afraid of animals, but I might be the poster child for it. And, somehow, I have found myself in the middle of the ‘I ♥ animals’ fan club. Welcome to Makhanda, animal central.
It feels like a crime to express this fear when all your friends seem to flock to take pictures of them. For a while, I wondered if I would have to conceal my identity as a person who suffers from zoophobia which is the extreme fear of animals. But there was one glorious day when I was making my way back up to Hilltop 8, an upper campus residence, when I encountered a fellow scaredy cat.
The dread! The excitement!
This guy was hiding in the bushes, screaming for someone to rescue him from the dog that wished to play with him. No one can describe the camaraderie I felt at that moment. Of course, I’m not crazy enough to run into the line of fire for my comrade. Although I would have loved to assist my fellow zoophobe, I instead thanked the heavens that he had provided me with a warning so that I could go in the opposite direction. Don’t judge me.
The one rule we fellow zoophobes have is that everyone is for themselves. I’m sure he understood that I needed to save myself. I still had so much life to live. It was too late for him. His sacrifice will be greatly remembered.
I’ve tried and failed abysmally to overcome this fear. It’s my understanding that, in Makhanda, the animals have superiority. It’s their town, and the rest of us are just living in it.
See also: https://athousandinfinities323270839.wordpress.com/