This place

It is not easy to describe my childhood. Remote and strange, concern with the landscape of an alien world.

It is not raining though it rains frequently, most of the year. I remember fat raindrops lashing the rooftops, muddying the paths and cascading down murky windowpanes. How rapidly the grass grows, open fields of dense lush greenery and the great towering trees with sprawling canopies darkening the ground below. The sound of birds from every direction, sometimes shrill, at other times soft and comforting and the sound of the soft patter of dying rain on young leaves.

The family move along the path to the gentle swaying of tall grasses. It is leading them to a house, some fifty feet away, perched on a plateau. They do not see what lies ahead of them. The sweet smell of damp earth mingling with the sharp tang of woodsmoke rises from the bushes catching their attention for a moment. Then they see it, a small snake laying across their path, thin and green, alert but frozen, twisting its head in their direction,. They stop in their tracks, in shock at first, then two of the children move closer to the woman and grasp her by the arm, uttering cries of fear and disgust. A third child stands apart gazing silently at the snake. The woman quietens the children but remains standing unsure what to do. It is then that the quiet child steps forward, lifts her small leg and bring it down hard on the animal’s head. The woman and the other children jump back screaming in horror. Blood and ribbons of flesh falls from her shoes as she lifts her leg once more and grinds it into the dirt. ‘You devil,’ cries the woman, ‘what is the matter with you?’ The child’s face darkens but she does not look up at the woman, her eyes are fixed on the sight of her headless victim in its dying throes.