Where the Water Flows – Chapter 2

by Irene Iris

Chapter 2: The Learning

“Water is everywhere…”

Teacher Kabilibili lectures to a group of children aged 4 to 6 sitting on hand-woven banana stem rugs in the all-embracing, refreshing shadow of a gigantic tree.

“…It runs through all the things, living and inanimate, bearing their information traces. The river remembers where it was born. The blood in your body has water that remembers who you are. Water is everywhere, like a universal language. That is how we can read water and communicate via it. Abeba, please proceed reading your sample…”

“I see the reflections of people who stand in a circle around this water, like we sit in a circle right now. And they are calm and happy. So is the water…This is Holy Water,” states a five-year-old child, opening her amber eyes and taking her little fingers off the water tablet.

“Correct,” confirms the teacher, smiling.

“But… Isn’t all water – holy?” suddenly requests a boy sitting nearby.

“That is a good question!” says the teacher. “Yes, it is. Perhaps then, one should use different words. Such as, ‘temple water’ or ‘preached-upon water’… Alright, who’s next to tell their water story?”

Children start speaking out the visions water gives them. Japanese pond. Coral reef. Running mountain rivulet…

After an hour-long class, the teacher checks his water powered wrist watch.

“Ok, I think the time has come for a little lunch break. What do your biological clocks say?”

All children put down the water tablets, jump to their feet, and run to the permaculture garden encircling the open-air classroom.

A boy with red hair snatches a black plum fruit off the tree branch and starts eating it. Doing so, he sees the little girl Abeba expose her face and arms to the sunrays. He snorts.

“How can one eat the sun?” he asks, sceptically. “Don’t you feel hungry in the stomach?”

The teacher has to interfere:

“Ok, ok, we are in an inclusive classroom. Don’t fall victim to eatism, please. There are various kinds of people: vegetarians, vegans, raw-eaters, and sun-eaters. They are all good people. Now, Lwazi, what did we learn yesterday from the visit to the Garden?”

“The CO2-to-O2 Story? But it was about the trees and veggies!” says Lwazi, confused.

“Not only. Just imagine,” the teacher comes closer to Lwazi, “plants use water and sunlight in magical, transformative ways! Water molecules lose electrons, while carbon dioxide gains electrons. Water becomes the oxygen we breathe, and carbon dioxide becomes the glucose that we eat. The tree procures by transforming light into carbon fuel. By eating its fruit, we turn it into energy that runs our bodies… But we can also eat the sun just like we are drinking water! Our bodies are big trees. So, Lwazi, why don’t you ask a less biased question on what really interests you?”

The boy frowns for a second, then looks at the little girl sitting in the orb of nutritious light.

“What does the sun taste like?”Lwazi asks, modestly this time.

“It’s warm,” simply responds the girl, opening just one eye and smiling crookedly.

The boy smiles back, finishing the last bit of his plum. Next thing he does is dig a little hole in the soil with his bare hands and put the fruit core there.

After a fresh, fruity and sunny break, the kids one by one come to “Mister Dew” – a unit that collects water from the humidity in the air. All fill their coconut shell cups and take a fulfilling, life-giving gulp.

Kabilibili sits down resting his back against the mighty tree trunk and smiles to himself. He is proud – of his students, of this place. He is also proud of being the follower of Yacouba Sawadogo, scientifically referred to as one of the agroforestry pioneers but more commonly known as the man who stopped the desert. Initially considered a lunatic, this man managed to turn the African desert into a forest, literally. He was among the first to speak the language of water. He knew how to use water to turn dust and sand into a paradise. All he used was a stick to make holes, some manure, the seeds, and termite labor. The termites made the soil porous, so that it could absorb the rare rainfall water much better. More water meant better growth of the trees from the seeds. The bigger the trees, the more the shadow. The more the shadow, the less evaporation and soil degradation. 

In the first forty years of his effort alone, Yacouba Sawadogo planted 25 hectares of trees. One of them is said to be still alive. It is in its shadow that these children have their classes. The smaller, integrated fruit forest is still young – the one planted by their teacher whose name means “green vegetation”. Kabilibili was an adept of Yacouba’s tree-planting religion, where the knowledge of water played a crucial role. Someday in the future, his trees will also be big enough to give shadow. If there will be the future, that is.

Copyright ©️ 2024 Iryna Dihtiarova-Deslypper.  All rights reserved.

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