The Ban Me River

Xubachu scanned the banks of the river while his horse slurped noisily, its belly splashing damp as it stood in the cool flowing water. The water felt good on Xubachu’s feet and seemed to cool his whole body as his legs dangled into the river. But he never shifted his grip on the bow, nor did his knees twitch as they rested on the horse’s sides ready to give command.

The banks of the river were quiet save for the singing of the birds. Greenery hung from the trees, seeming to kiss the life-giving river as it flowed lazily by. The air had a clean scent that only an open stretch of river can impart. It was beautiful.

Five other riders were watering their horses while the other warriors remained atop the bank alert for danger. When this final group of horses was watered, the job would be done and they could be on their way. But Xubachu did not want it to end quite yet. He could feel the contractions as the horse swallowed greedily.

It had been a long, hot ride. He could see no person, only an occasional animal, and it seemed that he and his scouts had this delightful spot all to themselves. He could imagine a yurt sitting on a flat spot above the bank right by him. A couple of trees provided plenty of places to hang things on, and the grassy bank was clean and clear of brambles and thorns. If his children were young, they would have loved to play on that bank. A steep shelf nearby would be perfect for playing at the rivers edge, diving in. In his mind he could hear their laughter as they cavorted in the river, little ones once again.

A horse’s snicker brought him back. Foolish old man! He shouldn’t be daydreaming.

The jungle pressed close enough to the river, but here they had found a delightful open spot. A small band could easily pitch their yurts here. The woods were far enough away that they did not crowd or rob the sunlight, but they were still close enough for easy wood and game. He could see a small herd of deer in at the forest’s edge eyeing them warily. A bird flapped into the sky, rising from the river. He liked this spot.

Climbing back up the bank, his horse moved slowly, but was obviously more comfortable. Soon all the men were assembled and the pack animals tethered to a pair of riders. A few spears glinted in the sun.

“Does this river have a name? Anyone know?” he asked the group. Maybe someone had heard of it, or had spoken to a local. Head shakes and shrugs.

“I’m going to name it then,” he said. “I’ll name it, the Ban Me River.” With that he took a small charm out of his pocket and rubbed it with his thumb. Then, saying, “Ban Me,” he tossed it into the river. The charm disappeared with a tiny splash, followed quickly by another as a startled fish jumped free. Ban Me was appropriate. It was a simple name. It meant ‘A Thing of Beauty’.

Without another word Xubachu turned toward the east and began to lead his band of warriors toward the Big Water he knew lay beyond. As the horses walked away, the gentle sounds of the Ban Me filled the space left by the scouts.

Soon there was nothing but the singing of the birds and the hushed flow of the river.