Words from the Wild: Oscar
In May 2018, our guest Jayantha traveled through Botswana with friends. The group enjoyed stays at Chobe Game Lodge and Savute Safari Lodge in the Chobe National Park, and Camp Xakanaxa in the Moremi Game Reserve. During their travels the group “experienced and saw everything they hoped for and more.” The trip sparked creativity amongst the travelers. During a stay at Camp Savute, a hippo wandered onto the campsite and staff shared the young hippo’s backstory with Jayantha. After hearing the tale, Jayantha was inspired to create this poem.
Words by Jayantha Perera
A wild young hippo roams the land and water in the vicinity of Camp Savute (Botswana). He is a loner, often harassed by his father - who is angry with him for something that he had done in the past. The camp staff called him Oscar. He entered the campsite and grazed grass while we all watched him. He was cute and young, and had shifting eyes. The staff told us that he could be very dangerous and has a bad temper. But I like it, and wanted to be his friend. I think he likes me; and I want to know what thoughts are flowing in his mind.
I saw a fresh face
Near the camp gate;
I know he loves me
But my looks dispel him.
I am homeless, my father
Expelled me from the fold.
I have no partner or friends.
How can I face the kin and kith?
Shame engulfs me, and your fear confirms it.
I am wandering aimlessly
Escaping my father’s wrath is my mainstay;
He bit me, scratched me, and
Tried to deface me.
What have done to face such a fate?
True, I hurt my minor sister
I thought it was an innocent prank
Father never forgave me, but the sister
Has come to terms with it,
She still loves me, my mom too, except him!
Now I have a friend at the camp
I will ask him to accompany me to the jungle,
Then to the lagoon without fear
I will teach him how to walk under water
And chase lions and wilder beasts.
If he trusts me I accompany him
Wherever he wants to roam on water and land
I love him and will not harm him;
He only has to say ‘I love you’ and ‘I promise
Not to speak to your nasty father’.”
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