Home Opinion and Features OPINION: More than a Babylonian tragedy

OPINION: More than a Babylonian tragedy


If ever you have wondered how the mulberry got its dark red colour, read on.

Picture: Lance Fredericks

IT WAS bound to happen. I was expecting it to happen, I suppose that you cannot prevent it from happening, yet when it eventually happened I was crestfallen.

A bird pooped on my bicycle!

My brand new 29-inch mountain bike with disc brakes and a gazillion gears and rubbery knobs on the tyres will forevermore be the topic of conversation around the birdbath.

“The black mountain bike? Yes, I know it well … I was the first to poop on it, you know, it was under the mulberry tree. Best restroom EVER!”

I had parked my bike under the mulberry tree where a mossie with a sniper scope in his anus managed to hit a fork roughly two centimetres in diameter from a height of almost three metres, as he (or she) perched in the branches of the mulberry tree.

That’s impressive!

But let’s look on the bright side; I am just glad that mulberries are out of season. Imagine me finding a dark red bird-butt-blob on my shiny bike – that would have ticked me off because I am convinced that mulberry can stain chrome!

By the way, do you know how the mulberry got its red colour? You don’t? Well, allow me to regale you with this tale … who knows, we might learn something.

The Metamorphoses is an 8 AD Latin narrative poem by the Roman poet Ovid. And in this poem, Pyramus and Thisbe reside in the city of Babylon.

The two young lovers live in connected houses and are forbidden by their parents to be together, because the two families were in the midst of a bitter rivalry. However there is a wall between the two houses with a crack through which the two enamoured young lovers whisper their sweet nothings to each other.

One day the separation becomes too much for them and they arrange to meet under a nearby mulberry tree where they plan to declare their love for each other face-to-face and in person. However, on this particular day a lion had just killed and devoured an animal near this spot.

The young maiden Thisbe arrives at the tree first, and upon seeing the terrifying sight of a lion with a bloody mouth, she flees the scene and in her haste leaves behind her cloak. The lion, having just eaten, is not interested in Thisbe and lumbers off to take a nap elsewhere.

When Pyramus arrives not long after, the young man is horrified to see his beloved Thisbe’s cloak on the ground; he also sees traces of blood, as well as the beast’s tracks and Pyramus’s world falls apart. The thought of his beloved Thisbe being torn apart and eaten by a wild beast overwhelms him and in a fit of deep anguish he takes his own life by falling on his sword.

As the sword pierces his broken heart, blood spurts out of the wound and splashes on a bush of white mulberries. His blood stains the berries, turning them dark red.

A little while later, Thisbe returns, eager to tell her love the funny story of what had happened to her and how afraid she was, but tragically she finds Pyramus’s dead body under the mulberry tree.

Thisbe, shattered, stabs herself with Pyramus’s sword and falls down dead next to him. In the wake of this tragedy, the gods forever change the color of the mulberry fruits into the stained colour to honour their true, deep, but forbidden love.

What a tragedy! But so many of these ancient epics end on such tragic notes.

And now on top of that, as if poor Thisbe hasn’t suffered enough, I learned in this past week that people are dumping rubble and all sorts of rubbish, guess where? Yes, in Thisbe Lane in Herlear.

I listened to the person who had called me and thought to myself, “how bad could it be?”

And then someone sent me a video clip where I watched in absolute disbelief as three labourers brought three wheelbarrows of rubble down Achilles Street, through Ariadne Drive and without a second thought dumped it in Thisbe Lane.

Still in disbelief, I took a drive, and seeing as my bike had been pooped on, I took the car. I had to see for myself how much had been dumped. I was dumbfounded; the entire Thisbe Lane – the road itself – is now a dump site. And this is a place where a ‘No Dumping’ sign is clearly visible if you visit Google Street View.

If you go there today you will not see the sign.

So essentially the labourers who pushed the wheelbarrows – for a good few days in a row, I heard – and the people for whom they were working, showed the Sol Plaatje Municipality the middle finger, simply declaring “your signs are insignificant and we scoff at your so-called enforcement”.

And by the way, it’s not only Thisbe Lane. I have seen generous dumps growing and thriving all around ‘No Dumping signs’ all over Kimberley.

Now what irks me is that if only Pyramus had merely gone through the motions of killing himself, like the Sol Plaatje Municipality seems to be going through the motions of enforcing their no-dumping by-laws, then I wouldn’t live in fear, as I currently do, of finding a dark red blob of poop on my bicycle one day.

What an absolute tragedy!

A Google maps image of Thisbe Lane a few years back. Picture: Google maps
Previous articleCity family wants answers after burial fiasco
Next articleDFA moves forward with sale of building