Read online the short stories published in Ashvamegh issue VIII, September 2015.


The Bechuana Boy by Daniel Kokesto

The Bechuana Boy[i]     


                                       “And tears and toil have been my lot

                                        Since I the White Man’s thrall became,

                                        And sorer griefs I wish forgot —

                                        Harsh blows, and scorn, and shame!”        Thomas Pringle


Theirs was a silly but a peaceful way to end years of marriage. And totally intentional…at least on Brian’s part. All he’d really wanted was to be successful, functional and self-sustained.
The three uncles had gone to London to meet with Brian’s family over the wedding arrangements. Pre-nuptials were thrashed out and all that was left was for the English entourage to make its way to Africa for the wedding ceremony. Brian and
Bechu had decided to build a future together in Africa because of the continent’s shiny prospects. It was very common at the time that European beaus sailed to Africa in search of beautiful spinsters and in many instances the sea-farers had to wrestle for these beautiful black belles.Theirs was a silly but a peaceful way to end years of marriage. And totally intentional…at least on Brian’s part. All he’d really wanted was to be successful, functional and self-sustained.

‘I will protect you against all dangers, foreign or domestic’ Brian had declared during their exchange of vows.

In his eyes, Bechu looked ragged but he knew there was a gem in her that needed polishing before all men could ogle. Bechu, without doubt, found him alluring with his gold shimmering mane that faintly toyed with his neck. He was tall, athletic and his broad shoulders were an assurance to the damsel that she would be safe from uninvited conquest. He was her lion and very soon they would have their own pride to parade in the African savannah.

‘I will make you the happiest man alive Brian” She said looking deep in his eyes. She was black; he was white with blue eyes.

The exchange of vows was made many years ago and now they stood seething at each other. Brian had made up his mind; he was pulling the plug on the marriage. According to him, there was very little to stick around for. Besides his beloved was fast approaching that phase when she would grow quarrelsome. He also could not wrap his mind around his hasty marriage to this African woman.

He brusquely whispered to himself, ‘I am a union jerk! I really am a fool’ before wiping beads of sweat that had formed on his angular face.

As he stood there wondering why he had tied himself down to this woman he realised that it was the rush, not of blood to his crotch but of prospects to his pockets that had made him to commit prematurely. He was a treasure hunter but what was the treasure that he was after? Was it Bechu the chaste? Was it the belief in Europe that marrying an African woman would bring wealth that made him end his bachelorhood so soon?

These are the questions I should have cleared from the beginning, he thought bitterly.

His European compeers seemed prosperous in Africa but he was not so lucky. He privately confessed, for him part of the reason he married Bechu  was to get closer to this primitive landscape of the region, to tame and cleanse it of its darkness and bask in the adulation of redeeming it from poverty and sickness.

Fault lines started showing in their marriage when Brian became one with the beasts of the land, and learnt a few native words in exchange for naming some of the places in Africa after his monarch, Queen Elizabeth. There were plenty of them; Queen’s View; Queen Elizabeth II Street; Queen Elizabeth National Park; Queen’s Road; Queen Elizabeth this, Queen Elizabeth that.

‘I really could use a real man around here, you are hardly in the house and your commitment to the family, if any, is so pathetic, she fumed.

‘Look who is talking … I provide everything and this is how you thank me? I mean I provide almost everything around here. I am the breadwinner.

‘Did you just say everything? Everything doesn’t come out of nothing. Maybe you forget, or you are confusing me with a harem of other women that you have. Better call yourself a bed-winner,’ Bechu hissed curtly trying hard to maintain her composure.

Brian knew better not to shout back. The last time he did she threw such a feat he was almost thrown out of the house. He was, back then, not ready to pack his bags. London was very far, besides to bolt out of the house because of unflattering remarks from a wife would not help his case. But not this time, certainly not any more…

‘So are you just going to stand there and say nothing’

‘About what?”

‘About what? Is that even a question? I know there is Zamele, Zimzi and many such like trollops that you hoarding for… for…’

She could not bring herself to finish her barrage as streams of tears ran down her face and a proverbial lump choked her quivering voice before yielding a heart rending sob. Brian knew what it meant, so he kept his cool head. However, his silence was more infuriating to her than the deliberate amnesia about the other women that he played. Her lips were twitching and her palms were dripping wet, both a tell-tale of obdurate ire and anxiety that was mounting beneath the façade of composure.

‘I want a divorce Brian,’ she said with an air of finality punctuated by a sigh.

She had surprised herself by uttering the words and she could tell Brian was unperturbed. He has always looked the man ready to ditch her therefore, she could not feign surprise when he calmly sat her down.


‘You can start making the matrimonial order application; I have no problem with that. You can keep the estate and everything else including the children. All I need are my visitation rights!’

He pursed his lips before pacing to the bedroom where he paused and stared at the sepulchral wall, trying to digest what he had just said. The eldest of their children was at a military school in Britain. Those who were at home were still too young to understand what was going on.

His Son would one day come back home to take control of the house and care for the family, he reasoned.

The prospect of His Son coming back home to atone for his failures somehow took away part of the guilt he felt for abandoning his family because of his ways with other women and hunger for lucre.

Years had passed since their marriage had disintegrated irretrievably and Bechu, alone with so many children, at times wondered if she made a wise decision to end the marriage. But on a good day, her thoughts would yield a positive outlook to life.  She became a proud mother of beautiful children; a strong woman who was on a great expedition of self-discovery. And she found that when she played this latter script, life somehow changed. It became not only tolerable, but even, dare she say it, thrilling. Brian had packed his bags and left for London on the 30th September, 1966.

‘I believe it is civil peace for the children’s sake.’ He had said to Bechu who did not understand the words.

Their marriage had played itself out and so did the hurt and bitterness it caused in the family so Bechu and Brian could invite each other for important family events like celebrations and funerals. One such visit was arranged for Brian to come and be part of the festivities when His Son graduated at a military college. On the day of his visit, she scoured and cleaned the house. She made sure that the floors were without mess. All of the laundry was folded tidily and put away. The bathrooms were as spotlessly clean as they could be in a home inhabited by eight children over their teenage-hood, and the kitchen was tidier than it had been in months. Brian arrived and was ushered in. He was impressed with His Son’s vision for the household. He wanted to transform the place for the better.

‘What would you like me to give you? He had asked Him.

“His Son answered: ‘Oh father, you have let me succeed you as the head of the house, even though I am very young and don’t know how to lead. So give me the wisdom I need to care for my people and to know the difference between virtue and vice.I want my family to feel secure and my mother cared for the best way I know how. I want the family business in London to relocate home.’

Brian did not comment on the succession issue for he had long anticipated it. He was fascinated by the request about the business.

‘Did you have a thorough look at the market here? There is also the issue of security; business needs to be done in a stable secure environment.’ He advised looking His Son squarely.

He had a tan even in the winter, and His hair was dark and closely cropped, but not curly. Brian felt a pang of happiness. He had managed to achieve the one thing – to set the wheels-of-the-cleansing of the darkness in motion. His civilisation mission project was taking shape. One good turn deserves another; His Son will have to continue to rid the house of its darkness for the sake of posterity. It needed to be “enlightened.”

His Son assured him he has put the right measures in place to ensure the safe arrival and blossoming of the company on the native soil. His father gave him his blessings before he toured the familiar places in the neighborhood en route to London.

Now he was standing at the door of this magnificent house whose development His Son had kept him up to date about. He was on one of his rare visits from London. The house was now under the control of His Son since Bechu had gone through the pearly gates. The house had been modified and there were several other changes that rendered it almost a different structure altogether courtesy of Bechu’s boutique that  had relocated and established itself as one of Africa’s life lines. It was a money spinning venture. Brian had read the success stories about the boutique in the Financial Times. The house had always had dogs. This explained the sign that read ‘Tshaba ntsa’ (Beware the Dog) which was mounted on the gate. Bechu had told him about them, at least two, a greyhound and a boerboel. The beasts provided security and at times even entertainment for the whole family. However, after Bechu’s passing His Son had added another breed against the will of the rest of the family members.

It was clear that the dogs were very close to Him than any other member of the family. They obeyed Him and protected Him against any danger, real or perceived. The pets, who the rest of the family and indeed neighbors, were terrified of, were known to inflict fear on the family members some of whom began regretting the day He bought them from one American. They had heard about the ferocity of these breed of canines from neighbors who kept them to ward off uninvited intrusion. Some said their keepers and handlers could send them on difficult missions such as sniffing for danger in the house or even annihilating some members of the community who were bent on committing crime or endangering the lives of the keeper and the handler. There was also rumor in the house that the same dogs were responsible for the death of one or two people who were found mauled by some beast. However, no one in the house or even in the neighborhood wanted to be a witness in the case. His Son had hired a dog handler who was responsible for walking them every day. The handler trained them and could literally set them on the tracks of whoever dared to put the security of the man of the house at risk.


Brian realized that in spite of the increasing family fortunes, there was a growing uneasiness about the house. He could not tell the source of the ominous apprehension. His Son’s brothers, themselves old enough to be in control of the house, found it hard to express their misgivings about the dogs, especially the latest addition, lest the handler takes it for an attack against his person.


The house was enclosed by a whitewashed boundary wall that covered acres of land.  The house itself was also white with specks of light blue here and there. To the soaring kind, the roof of the house appeared like a montage of earth colours; grey, brown oxide and ochre brown. Inside the house there was a cosy lounge room with eight soft couches and many blankets. There were windows that look out to the street. Floorboards covered the whole house – they were light brown and well cared for. The several bedrooms were spacious – white coloured paint, a brown wooden door and beds with lots of pillows. In the family room, there was also a large bookshelf that spans the whole wall with lots of great reads; The No1 Ladies Detectives, History of Botswana; The Holy Bible etc. Besides the change to the house and its fortunes, and the additional dogs, everything else had not changed much. His Son’s brothers who lived in the backyard were struggling to make a living despite the life of opulence on the part of His Son. As he was shown around the house by Him, something familiar on the bookshelf caught his eye. It was a book that he wrote many years before he went separate ways with Bechu. He flipped a few pages and it gave out a smell of an old book. He read a few pages and smiled knowingly… it was a badly written book. However, the book had provided guidance and ensured peace in the family. But like his failed marriage it was rushed therefore, amateurish.

Brian browsed through the relic and he came across the names of the eight children in it. He read them out and could not help but feel guilty. He felt like a cheap cheat. Some of the children in the family were not mentioned in the book let alone the products of causal coitus that he had with the neighbors. Somehow his olfactory sense, responding to the book, made him close his eyes and his mind ran back to redolent of antiquity. He went as far back to the time he sat somewhere in this house to write the book. Part of it was written in London of course. The book, the dogs, the ominous uneasiness, the life of squalor and that of opulence… He finally got the answer to the question that had tormented him even when he was back in London. The book was a part of His Son. It was hi-s-tory that He did not want changed.

While still reading the book the dog, a bull terrier, curled up on the sofa not very far away. It was clear it could smell something in the air as it constantly sniffed around. He was a great dog, a typical security machine: robust, very terrifying to everyone except its keeper and handler and not a favorite of the rest of the family members. Sensing danger and realizing his unwelcome encroaching, Brian closed the book just in time and the beast stopped mid-way its dreadful snarling. His past life replayed itself in his mind. He remembered three uncles to London… a holy matrimony… the divorce…the dogs, the dogs, the dogs. History had come full circle and had judged him harshly. The history was in the course of judging His Son the same. ‘The house has gone to the dogs,’ he thought as he flew back to London.

Back in the house the brothers debated amongst themselves, in hushed voices in the backyard, if the latest addition which looked rabid was worth keeping than the serenity that it has obliterated. They could not help but worry that He too was rabid himself. They would reach the same old conclusion; a dog should be a pet to all family members and if it is not, it is an enemy of filial unity and a threat to familial piety. But what was the use of agreeing or disagreeing on the necessity of the creature or lack thereof, if its keeper and feeder is not involved? Will He, at any rate, like to be involved in this issue? All they had was hope, a stubborn optimism that their elder brother will one day come to his sense and see the value of strong family ties. Dogs or no dogs, a hope for change kept them going to see another day.






‘Such was Marossi’s touching tale.

     Our breasts they were not made of stone:

His words, his winning looks prevail —

                                     We took him for `our own.’                              ibid




[i] The title of the story comes from Thomas Pringle’s poem entitled “The Bechuana Boy” which is part fact and part fiction. The poem is about an orphaned Motswana (Bechuana) boy. Pringle and his wife took the orphaned boy to England and he became a devoted protégé but died later of lung infection.



Daniel KokestoDaniel Koketso, from Botswana was born on 3rd April 1981 in the village of Tumasera. He  is an academic at the University of Botswana where he graduated with a BA(English) and MA(English). He teaches undergraduate courses in English  literature and his research interest is the Elizabethan and Jacobean writers. He  resides in Gaborone, Botswana and writes poetry and short stories as a pastime.

The Transformation by Krishna Panda

The Transformation


She threw her pen in the air. Kept her notebook aside.  Closed the window. Rains no more attract her. At least not today! There were no more notes in her heart to which the rain shall play the flute. Perhaps she reached the twilight of her life. No, she hasn’t lost anything. Her life is well settled. She has reached the pinnacle of her career. Name, fame and everything crowns her. Then what was she missing?

The soft blowing breeze made way though the curtains to caress her, who had put a board on her- DO NOT TOUCH ME! The day was cloudy. Within the entire day she felt like she was missing the ultimate train of her life.  Last night she saw a dream where the world was absconding and she was just a mere witness standing still on the platform. But why? She has no right to feel so. Whom will she blame? After all, this was what she wanted in her life – Name, Fame, Money and happiness for her loved ones. Her happiness? Ah! She always knew her happiness was concealed in smiles of people. Then at the helm of affairs what was the reason for her nomadic life? The million dollar question to be answered was did she pay a huge price for her dreams!

“How was the day, Mayu?”

“Good,” she replied in a lost tone.

“I am free now. Can we talk?”

“I am at home, Di. Come home soon.”

“I am trying, darling. See you.”

There was pin drop silence in the room. Perhaps, the undetectable echoes of her breathe was the only companion. She glanced at the mirror. The sofas, gifts, bed, her paintings, the card she gave to her mom on her birthday…almost everything was visible through the mirror. A smile soon dazzled amidst the blue.

“Past days were pleasant. At least, I didn’t have to search a reason to smile,” she murmured.

Huh! Soon after she spotted one more in the room who was watching her all this while. Her reflection! The last time she saw her was in the days of yore, may be more than a decade, when she looked at the mirror and told to herself, “it’s time to walk alone.”

She waved her hand to her reflection wearing the costliest smile on her lips.

“Hi, I am Mayu. Isn’t it strange? We can only spot each other on mirrors. Looking at you makes me feel, I have come a long way. I have accomplished as much as I can. I have my own identity. They tell I am gorgeous!”

“Really?” A voice from other side of the mirror echoed.

“Yes,” Mayu confirmed with gumption.

“Then why don’t you love rains anymore? Why are you feeling lonely when you have the best of everything? Why? Why do you have to make efforts to smile?”


An air of sigh shackled her soul. How could she hide the deepest of her fears on her face? The face that once gloomed like moon has reached the eclipse. With pangs of worry of an uncertain tomorrow and roaring challenges of each day demanding her to win or just quit had made her the haggard retired old needing gratuity in form of liberation.

“I don’t know! I don’t know exactly!”

“But I know! It’s because you have lost your individuality. You are not ‘you’ anymore. The ‘I’,’ me’,’ myself’ has taken over ‘you’ and made you a solitaire. You are an alien in your own planet. You never needed a costliest smile for an occasion. You once had a priceless smile to win people’s heart!”

There was a lump in her throat. A shadow conquered her soul. Truth comes with its own bitterness. It’s sharp, blunt and makes you stand on life’s razor end.

“What should I do?” She pleaded with restlessness.

“The ball is on your court. Play it or leave it!” Giving a slight mystifying smile her reflection fainted.

“No, listen, you can’t go like this. I want to be happy. All this while I have been a loser of my individuality. I can’t go on like this.”

“Mayu, are you okay? What’s wrong with you? What are you bumbling?”

“Di, where did she go? She has to answer me!”


“Have I changed, Di?”

“Not really!”

Mayu rubbed her eyes to wake up from her reality- check twilight dream. She walked towards the window to look at the sky. The sky was clear with light drizzle tinkling the zephyr. Life is beautiful when seen from the eyes of one’s heart. Yes, it is! What one has to do is just to set free the realms of one’s thought to feel and relish the creator’s creations.

“Mayu, there is one change I have marked. You have grown faster. The child within you is no more alive.”

She hugged her sister tight. “Didi, I love you.”

“Look, this is what I was indicating. The child within you was a lover. That’s missing. You have forgotten to love, my dear.”

She looked deep into her sister’s eyes. Ah! Those eyes that showed her the world was beauteous, wondrous and oceanic.

Mayu zoomed to the terrace hopping like a baby. Perhaps a new world was embracing her. She couldn’t stop this time.


“Mayu, where are you going?”

“Di, to make love with rains! They tell rains bring your Prince Charming during such romantic effervescent nights!”








Krishna Panda

Krishna Panda is a Company Secretary by profession. Poetry is her first love. Apart from that she loves photography, writing short stories, creative writing. One of   her poem “Path of love” is published in a leading International Journal Rock Pebbles and many of her works are frequently published on online forums. Her recent e-book on photography “Beyond sight” is soon to be published.