The Samurai, the last tree and a miracle

By Maiyan Karidi

We were honoured to collaborate with a wonderful contemporary dance company in Mauritius.

They are unique and magical. They dance outside in nature, inside banyan trees, in the shallows of the lagoon and on volcanic rocks. This particular event was for the launching of their company. The location was perfect. All the elements at their finest.

My husband got the challenging task of doing the sound with his speaker innovation (another story for another time) and I created a mosaic on a kayak with a tree swaying in the middle like a mast, which was to be launched into the lagoon. Two mirrors among the mosaic caught the reflection of the azure sky. “The last tree”.

The theme was nature’s elements and the climax of the dance was timed exactly with the sunset and the music of Gladiator’s Now we are free by Hans Zimmer. When Mozart’s Requiem played, the fisherman near the coral reef in the far distance could hear it. The atmosphere was electric. During the rehearsal, a tropical storm warning didn’t stop us. We hoped for the best. Black clouds gathered. On the day of the performance, the trade winds arrived together with heavy rain from the east. We desperately covered the music system and speakers with umbrellas and tarpaulin. The show must go on.

The rain came down and the dancers, all in white, gave their everything. As they danced in the torrential rain the tree on the kayak swayed back and forth more and more vigorously and we held our breath. The sun was nowhere to be seen.

The performance was magnificent and everyone felt the power of nature. We were exhausted, happy and hungry. We would celebrate with pizza in the village, but first we needed to protect all the equipment piled up in an open shelter. Cecile, my favorite choreographer in the world decided to go and fetch her two dogs to guard the equipment. I offered to take her.

As we climbed into our little Samurai jeep, my husband warned, “It’s Shabbat Maiyan, be careful, you shouldn’t be driving.” This may sound like superstition, but he had his fair share of disasters happening when firing ceramics on Shabbat. We always tried to stay at home on Shabbat, it became a family tradition. A family day or ‘freedom day’ as we call it. I told him, “its ok, don’t worry, this is not work, this is dancing for the sky”.

So, off we went. A simple twenty-minute drive along the motorway, we collected the two black Labradors, loaded them into the jeep, left the back open for them and started the return journey in the dark and rain, slowly making our way along
the motorway.

The Samurai was slow, which suited the low visibility, the dark and the rain. We could only just see the tall sugar cane leaning into the road on our left.

Headlights appeared in my rear view mirror. It took three seconds to realise they were looming towards us at breakneck speed. We had nowhere to go, nowhere to pull over, it was too late. We screamed… and CRASH!

We were in the air. Everything turned to slow motion. Black and white, sugar cane, rain, stars, sugar cane, rain, stars. We were flipping in the air. My thoughts were that these are my last few seconds on this earth, when we land, its all over. Sadness washed over me together with a strange sense of acceptance that this was it. I was sad because my children would have to grow up without their mother and I would miss seeing them grow.

THUD! Darkness.

I opened my eyes. My mouth was filled with earth. The jeep was on it’s side. My torso was outside the side window frame of the car in the dirt, the window panes laid elsewhere, shattered. Cecile was on top of me. I felt my body and it was all there. I looked at her and she was crying. I said “We’re alive!”

She didn’t want to move. I convinced her to pull herself through the front window frame. We had to get out. She was worried about the dogs, they had vanished. She thought they were dead. She pulled herself out and put her hand on her phone, lying in the dirt. We had landed in a pit, surrounded by sugar cane and black rocks.

We were dazed and confused. We stumbled out of the car and started searching for the dogs. Nowhere to be seen. People has begun to gather around. The car that crashed into us was in the middle of the road, the front smashed in. The driver and the passengers had run off. The car was filled with empty beer bottles. Hit
and run.
I was still dazed and confused, walking around with my trembling friend, searching for the dogs in the dark of the sugar cane field. All I could think of was that this was a miracle. It didn’t make sense, being thrown a hundred and twenty meters, turning in the air and landing with such impact, and we were whole. Our family arrived to take us to hospital to check us out.

My tailbone was numb and badly bruised and her shoulder was out of alignment, but that was all.

I felt we had been spared by angels. We still had work to do on this earth. The following morning we found one dog in the field and the other had walked all the way home and was waiting there patiently. Not a scratch. They had jumped out of the open back seconds before impact. Another miracle.

I don’t question the reasons anymore. Superstition? Universal truth? We will never know. All I know is that Shabbat is a family day for us, a day of rest and freedom from the mundane every day struggle and as far as possible we try to keep it that way. The seventh day is sacred, whether we acknowledge it or not.

Maiyan is an artist and writer who has lived and worked on creative projects in Cape Town, Israel, Fiji and Mauritius. She recently returned to Cape Town and continues her quest for artistic collaborations.

Anyone interested in creating art projects with Maiyan can contact her at

• Published in the PDF edition of the June 2021 issue – Download here.

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