Long time ago there happened something fabulous.
It took place in a country in which the sun meant it nearly too well with the animals. The soil could keep the sparse water only with great difficulties, if at all. It parched, got chaps and on its glittering surface it formed a crust as hard as stone.
The animals who lived there were true survivors. During the greatest heat they slept in the cool shade of a crippled tree. And in the late afternoon when the glowing fireball slowly sank at the horizon, the inhabitants of this world awoke.
Also Laila and her family belonged to them.
It was still silent under the big olive tree, the habitual place of the lions. A snake twisted soundless through the sugared sand. As a precaution she gave the olive tree a wide berth. [You really do not know when these big cats wake up] thought Susan.
The snake, lovingly called Susi by Laila, was already very old. And concerning her reflexes she was not the fastest any longer. In former times she was called “Susan the Flash” and she was faster than the lightning. But this had been more than 2,000 suns ago.
Suddenly something stirred under the olive tree. Susan stayed lying rooted to the ground. In this wilderness, someone cannot be cautious enough. And no-one else knew to estimate this better than Susan. She had not grown so old for nothing. One of the lions stretched and while yawning he exposed his enormous fangs. It was Laila’s uncle. All animals had to be on their guard for the king and his family were awake. Little Laila blinked sleepy and looked at Susan with dreamy eyes. As Susan noticed that she was not endangered, she relaxed a little and greeted her best friend Laila: “Hi, sleepyhead. I already thought that you did not want to get up at all.”
“Ah, Susi, I am sure you know that you should not disturb a sleeping lioness. And never when she has such a beautiful dream like I had.”
“Yes, it is wonderful when you still can dream. I hope it was a good dream, Laila. Tell me!”
“Oh, it was heavenly. We went for a walk. The air was so fresh. I could not get enough of it into my lungs. And suddenly the sky opened and water fell out of it. So much, that we could bath in it. It was just fabulous.”
Susan laughed and said with tears in her eyes: “That was rain which fell out of the clouds, my little Lily.”
“Rain?” Laila looked startled at her.
“Yes, little water drops which fall on our old Mother Earth now and then. In other regions it is raining so often that small pools develop and become to little lakes in which you can bath.”
Laila listened to Susan attentively with eyes and mouth wide open. She wanted to hear more about this land of fairy-tales.
„There the soil is so humid that a lot of trees can grow. They have sappy green leaves and some of them even bear big yellow tasty fruits that are so deliciously sweet. When you have once eaten them you will never forgot again, Laila.”
”I would like to see this place. Where is it to be found?”
“It is far away from here in a land called Italy. The town is very prosperous and splendidly build. Everywhere are gardens and fruit trees and art and beauty … and that fertile humidity. The inhabitants of that town, called Pompeji, conserve the water in great vessels, the amphoras. They look like immense vases or bottles.”
“Oh, that Pompeji must be a wonderful spot. Tell me more!”
“It will never be as hot as here in Central Africa and has always a moderate climate.”
Meanwhile all lions under the olive tree woke up and were yawning collectively. A cold shudder seized Laila and she was trembling and the soil under her paws? – Was it trembling too? No, never the earth in Central Africa had been shaking.
“Susi, what has happened. The earth was ….!”
“The paradise is lost, Laila. That was the eruption of the Vesuvius that killed our beautiful spot – Pompeji. There was fire raining from the sky and no bottle nor vessel nor amphoras of water could help to save that place.”
”Now they had our heat and it killed them. Would their water makes us live?”
Laila looked up at the sky. Nothing happened there except the radiation of the burning sun. It was getting darker. The little lioness saw that the sun was not yellow anymore but turned into a reddish brown. It was as if the sun was sad and out of her face fell tears of sorrow. Now, the water spread on the soil and the crippling olive tree – the water that had once fallen over Pompeji. Thinking about that, a tear was running out of Laila’s eye.
“Thanks for your gift, my unknown friends. May you rest in peace. You deserve it.”