The sun was heading towards the horizon, maybe another 2 hours of daylight left, so the boy had to get a move on. He wanted to go down to the river, about a 15 minute walk down the hill through a settlement where the kids always came running out to tell him what they had learned at school, some even took his hand and walked with him for a bit until the mothers called them back. It was nearly dinner time and cooking was happening all along the lane under the thatched cooking spaces, smoke billowing out, happy smiles and laughter everywhere. These folk had little in terms of the world where the boy came from, he loved the simplicity and happiness of these folk; unfortunately, the boy would not stay long and he hoped to come back again one day, this place was now a part of him.
The boy kept walking, looking at the plants and trees, he was on the lookout for birds and butterflies as he had seen some amazing specimens on his previous walks, the kind of butterflies he usually only saw in books, far away where he lived. His walk took him down to the river and the rice paddies, where the locals grew rice. He chatted with the old lady with the one-tooth smile and the little kids trying to avoid chores. He had a laugh with all, smilingly chastised the kids while their mothers had a quiet laugh in the background. Nearing the river, he whistled a tune, in case someone was having a wash, he did not want to frighten them, especially the young women. The river was cool, a relief in the heat, and wading through the knee-depth water was one of those simple pleasures.
The school teacher, who lived in a hut across the river, was busy planting rice a little upstream. “The kids were naughty today”, he said, “It was too hot. Where are you off too?Not the ants!” They had a good laugh, two days previously the boy had walked into a colony of ants. It was a painful lesson, he had the bite marks to show.
“Today you will keep your eyes on the ground”, asks the teacher.
“Well, maybe”, replies the boy, “I am looking for butterflies!”
The boy decides to take the path along the river and bumbles along, quietly humming to himself and looking around. He sees plenty of small white flutter byes, he is looking for the big blue butterfly, nearly the size of his palm, he has seen it once before. He crosses wobbly log pontoons, every now-and-then he hears laughter in the distance, a dog barking. Life is serene, there is no rush, he is guided by the sunset and eventually he heads back to camp, this day would not be one with a blue butterfly.
The boy walks up the path, quietly contemplating life and nearly forgets the girl in the garden. She is beautiful, flowing blonde curls, he is enamoured by her beauty and just a little bit shy when talking to her. The first time they met, she was watering plants in the garden and waved at him with a cheeky “Hi!”
The boy could not get a word out; she was bubbly, prodding him: “The cat catch your tongue?” Without a pause, she continued: “We are off for the weekend, leaving tonight. Big family gathering, I am looking forward to seeing everybody! Not to worry, I will be back and hope you have found your tongue by then”, she smiled.
The boy coyly smiled back: “See you tomorrow” or sooner, he had hoped quietly.
The boy still had a while to go today before he got to her garden, he was already looking to see that that no one else was there talking to her, she was quite popular with the boys. Then he saw her, looking as beautiful as always, picking flowers in the garden.
She looked up: “Hi A!”, bubbly as always.
“Hi Clara”, the boy responded, a little more subdued.
“How is Indiana Jones today?” The boy had to laugh, she liked to tease him.
“Oh, I just went across the river to look for butterflies, gets me out of camp.”
“I love butterflies! Watch them all day, the garden is busy with the small white ones, sometimes a red or orange one flies by. Stunning, absolutely marvellous. They remind me of beautiful summer days”.
“Nice flowers”, the best reply the boy could come up with.
“Aren’t they just, my mom wants them for her bedroom. Smell them, absolutely gorgeous”. They were, as was she. Without a pause: “Could you please take me with you when you next go chasing butterflies?”
“Of course”, replied the boy, “How about Monday evening, around 5?”
“Perfect”, she responded, “I best go. Nearly dinner time”.
“See you on Monday, Clara. Enjoy the weekend”. The boy walked off, trying not to skip with joy.
Monday comes around, too slow for the boy. Clara is waiting for him, takes his hand: “Let’s go!” and they skip and dance down the road. This girls is crazy, he likes her kind of crazy, it’s a good fit.
The boy smiles to himself, he has the butterflies.