‘Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow, in a wide world after all!’ -Gandalf
The Hobbit, J.R.R Tolkien
There are two Bethlehem’s in my life. The one could be pronounced ‘Bayt Lahm’ and the second ‘Betleeeehim.’ Both towns have significant power in my story. The second one is incorrectly spelt, but that’s how a five-year-old would say it. Sometimes, the locals of the Free State town would pronounce it that way too – with their thick provincial accents. Bayt Lahm (from the Arabic) is more commonly pronounced as Bethlehem (from the Hebrew and Aramaic) and means ‘house of bread.’ Two vastly different towns, both home to a boy with dusty feet and a story to tell.
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‘Bayt Lahm’ watercolour on paper by Jo Gernetzky