I opened my eyes. I had gone from a deep sleep to being wide awake in an instant. No traffic, no city lights … the silence was deafening. I was wide eyed, listening. Then I heard it – the huff huff huff of a jackal. His mate answered in the distance. Suddenly the night was filled with their loud mournful wails. I was spellbound.
I threw off the thin sheet covering me. It was a warm African night. I sat on the side of my bed, my feet not touching the floor – I was six years old. Bright moonlight was flooding through the window. The deafening silence was back. The floorboards creaked with every step as I approached the window. I went onto the small balcony overlooking the stretched out African landscape.
The red sand was a dark grey colour. The Acacia trees were painted silver. Dark shadows gathered under the trees – the moon almost blindingly bright. The scene was surreal. Sounds started to register. The occasional metallic ping of a bat. The African nightjar far away, calling “Good Lord deliver us”. The rustling of leaves in the gentle breeze – I could feel the welcome coolness on my skin.
The jackals started calling again. They were very close now. I strained my eyes for any movement – they were playing tricks on me. I thought that I could see fleeting movements in the shadows but when I looked intently they were gone again. The only real movement was a glimpse of a barn owl silently flying past.
Back to bed, at sunrise I will be out there…