As I stared at the jar and the antique gun, I became even more curious, and pressed Jonas to tell me more about this giant bat.
“Not a giant bat,” he said, shaking his head and the wooden handled shotgun. I hoped it wasn’t loaded – the gun, that is – since he was waving it in my direction.
It turns out that while the Popobawa’s appearance may at times remind us of an overgrown bat, the truth is far less benign. The mature, adult Popobawa is a ferocious hunter and is renowned for three powers: 1) it can shape shift into a humanoid appearance, thus confusing its prey; 2) it can turn invisible for short lengths of time; 3) the third power is rather important and has quite slipped my mind for the moment, but I’m sure I’ll remember it when I need to.
The point being, you don’t want to make this beast angry, or even mildly miffed at you, unless you are in possession of one of the few items that can protect you: a thick lead suit, of all things, which unfortunately I don’t have. However, Jonas informed me helpfully that smearing our skin with old pig fat provides even better protection. I’m not sure what we’d be protecting, apart from the Popobawa’s culinary experience. I declined the suggestion. Jonas shrugged at my stupidity, opened the mysterious jar, and slathered his dark skin with the foul ointment.
And that’s when I decided, amidst the odour of rancid bacon, I would get proof of the existence of the Popobawa. But first I had to ask, “What’s the shotgun for, Jonas?” I couldn’t imagine the old relic stopping a bat-shaped demon.
He shrugged and returned it to the garden shed.
The next day, we set out on our quest, braving heat, dust and mosquito bites while marching across the Kenyan savannah. We were armed with nothing more than a hat (for me), a jar of pig fat (for Jonas), a camera (for taking photos) and the antique gun (for what purpose, I’m still unsure).
Will Jonas and I find the elusive but dangerous Popobawa? Will I get eaten or, even worse, sunburned? And most importantly, will we be back for afternoon tea?
On a side note: Christmas Lites II will be available on 26 November! This lovely collection of short stories will raise funds for the charity ‘National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’ (www.ncadv.org). For more details and to sign up for a great Giveaway, go to http://veredehsani.blogspot.com/p/christmas-lites-for-charity.html.