Malaika, pronounced Ma-lie-ka, found me in a dream. While in this “other universe,” I discovered a friendship that seemed to stretch back a thousand years—a friendship perhaps initiated long ago in some ancient Heaven. This friend of mine was not a person, but rather a graceful and magnificent black panther and no collar adorned her neck. In this strange and wonderful world we were equals.
While in the dream, we came upon an expanse of rolling hills that seemed as vast as the Sahara. However, in place of hot unforgiving sand, we found ourselves surrounded by plush high wheat that teased our eyes as far as we dared to imagine.
This next paragraph contains a spoiler so you may in fact want to skip it. But I propose you read on, as I give, arguably the essence of the book that followed this dream. For me it was Malaika’s kindhearted spirit that was her story, not the way in which she fell to her demise. Oops I let it slip.
As we crested a hill we came across a huge netted batting cage made of woven ropes as midnight as Malaika’s ebony coat. Within this massive woven cage were scores of batters practicing their batting. As I entered, Malaika followed. Instinctively I understood that she was unwelcome, but Malaika, headstrong as she was, and us being “equals,” it wasn’t my place to tell her what to do. Instead of tobacco farmers armed with machetes, like in the story I eventually wrote, it happened to be these batters with malice filled eyes, wielding wooden blows, causing the demise of this elegant black panther I called “friend.” I stood helpless to stop it.
Truly, upon waking I felt like I had lost a friend. While in the clutches of melancholy and a racked mind, my wife insisted that I note down this dream. As I began to write I felt something shift. As I recalled the dream, her essence was the same but the story I was to tell had altered. She was to be a lioness, from deep in the heart of the Serengeti. A year later Malaika was penned.
Malaika came to me from the heart of the universe—where dreams are born. The vividness and profound sadness I felt after the dream was the catalyst that inspired me to share her story.
And so, now, I share her story with you.