Friday, 30 November 2012

Chapter 8 The leopard and I

The first siding north of Bannockburn was Oreti where there was a quarry that produced the ballast stone for the tracks.

I was stationed there while ballast was loaded onto the trucks for relaying of the Somabula Rutenga line.

The station and house were temporary buildings made from board and corrugated iron covered with tarpaulin.

When trains had to cross or pass each other I had to cycle to the points and let the train into the loop, cycle back to the office, complete the paper orders for the approaching train, cycle to the opposite points, hand the orders up to the driver and guard, open the points, give orders to the train in the loop, close the points after the train had left and cycle back to the office all within about 8 minutes, whew!

One night the chain of the bicycle broke so I had to walk all the way to the points and back.

Going outside the office one night, I noticed something strange about 30 yards from me in the moonlight. I went and collected the torch from the office and shone it at the strange object. Was I surprised to see a leopard crouching and looking straight at me, when I switched the torch off it stood up again and crouched down as I shone the light.

No trains were going to cross at my station that night and I confirmed that with the control office in Bulawayo.

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