by Jakki Moore
It was only after I had had an alarm system installed in my little, pink cottage that I realised I needn’t have bothered, with a watchful neighbour like 97-year-old Baba Trepka to keep an eye on things. Like most of the other babas in the village, she took great pride in keeping a vigilant eye on her family, neighbours, and anything that happened to move within 20 metres of her home.
With only a few words of Bulgarian at my disposal, I had no idea what she was talking about as she clutched at my arm with fear in her eyes and warned me to ‘beware of the Rano.’
I tried my best to communicate to her that I was going for a walk after working in my garden for most of the day, but she continued to wave her stick and call after me as I turned the corner and headed down the path that led to the outskirts of the village.
As I passed two more babas sitting on a bench, they gestured to me to come over. With eyes as wide as saucers, they told me to return ‘because of the Rano.’ Again, I gestured that I was only going for a walk, and continued on my way.
What on earth was the Rano anyway, I wondered. Perhaps it was a bear or a wild dog? Maybe it was a pack of wild dogs… or wolves?
My thoughts were soon interrupted as I passed a shepherd and his goats, returning from the fields beyond. Shaking his head and pointing at his stick, he muttered something which included ‘the Rano,’ indicating that if I was foolish enough to face the Rano, I should at least have a big stick with me.
The sun was setting by the time I reached the edge of the village. My mind raced. Could the Rano be a snake? A venomous spider? A wild boar? A rabid bat? As dusk approached, I began to doubt whether or not I really needed a walk at all. Besides, I didn’t have a big stick… nor even a small one.
I decided to go for a walk the following morning instead.
Only when I was sitting and sipping coffee in the local café, safely in the sunshine, did I discover that ‘Rano’ was the colloquial word for ‘night.’
Perhaps there are rabid packs of crazed wolves roaming around the outskirts of the village after all?