In the land of scrumhalves, Zach was considered first choice. Dexterity and agility… the accolades were pouring in, again! King Sakkie was lording it over the crowds of admiring press photographers beaming up smiles… pointing long lenses up at his lofted perch.
Zach was sitting on high… atop the shoulders of his admiring team mates. There he sat, elevated, perched on the very broad frame of Big Koos Koekemoer, the 6 foot 8 giant wearing the number 4 jersey. Zach held aloft the magnificent gold vessel… the spoils of the win. Indeed, Zach had again scored the winning try… in true flying style… a style now becoming more and more his trademark.
The incessant murmur of the crowd seemed to ebb and flow. Every time Big Koos rotated so that Zach could face more of his adoring fans the hum from that sector would increase. The trophy was heavy but it mattered not. Adrenalin and the sweet joy of victory seemed sufficient to keep the glittering golden object afloat… aloft… elevated… as if it had a mind and will of it’s own.
Sakkie… Sakkie… Sakkie, the chant grew louder as Big Koos carried him in the direction of the main stand… Sakkie… Sakkie… the buzz continued. What a day, what a moment. Zach’s triumph was complete! To captain the winning team at the hallowed Newlands was the culmination of his life’s dream. This was even better that those cup victories when the Blue Bison’s took on the Roaring Forties. This was it!! The Springbok victory over the dreaded All Blacks is always sweet but when the victory is at Newlands and is the culmination of a 4 test clean sweep, then there can be no better joy!
The buzz seemed endless… as if it was meant to remain with him for the rest of his days. The buzz… the ceaseless buzz of sweet victory!
Zach stirred… slowly coming around from his sedative induced slumber. His daze lingered… it took a few minutes to realise he was slipping out of his utterly joyous dream. He thought he heard voices. Yes, Aunt Gertruida’s authoritative voice was clearly evident, even while whispering the voice oozed confidence. The other voices were by now familiar to him… Doctor and Sister.
Zach remained silent… feigning sleep while taking in their words. He should be discouraged from ever playing rugby. His small frame would never stand up to the rigours of the competitive, physical, contact sport that was rugby. Never. The injury to his leg, still suspended by the contraption attached to the rafters, was life changing, this fact Doctor reiterated a few times, as if Aunt Gertruida wasn’t capable of grasping the news first time.
Zach turned his head, slowly, very slowly. He opened his left eye a slither… peeping in the direction of the voices. He knew they were coming from outside… from the stoep. The double doors were wide open, allowing a semblance of a breeze into the rehabilitation room. He could sense the low sun in the sky… setting in the west. The strange glow he noticed soon had him taking another, longer… more intent look.
Never before had he seen the weird sight. The wispy clouds cast a thin curtain across the sun, creating an eerie luminescent effect. And the sound… above the barely audible voices of the three adults discussing his seemingly bleak future… the sound. He would, for the rest of his life, be reminded of how his dream turned into a nightmare… whenever he saw a sun dog or heard the incessant, infuriating buzz of the Christmas beetles…
For those new to Zach… his birth name is Isak, therefore his Afrikaans nickname is Sakkie. Later, after moving to Europe, Sakkie chose to be called Zach…
Zach’s only known relative lives in faraway Rolbos… an isolated community in the distant middle of almost nowhere…