- My Grandfather's Griffin
- June 24th, 2011
Young man, suffering through law school, finds a faded picture in his attic of is grandfather standing over the body of a sphinx with a spear in his hand.
On the back of the photo is written: Kalaharo Valley, 1942
The man asks his mother about it, she tells him that her father worked for British Intelligence and was constantly being sent off to strange parts of the world. When he shows her the photograph she tells him that that was the journey his grandfather had never returned from. Everyone had assumed he had been killed by Germans. She had never seen the picture before.
The man decided to drop out of law school and go to Africa to find the location the picture was taken and find out what happened to his grandfather.
He arrives in Cairo and hires a plucky female guide to take him to where the photo was taken. She refuses at first, but when he offers lots of money she reluctantly agrees but makes him buy a lot of expensive equipment.
They set out on the journey.
They are attacked by bandits in the desert, but manage to fight them off but not before losing a lot of valuable equipment and having their gas tank ruptured, leaving them stranded.
They go on on foot, since the way back is even longer and they hope to find a small village, road, or military outpost (even though the guide knows there aren't any). Also they dont want to run into the bandits again, who returned in the direction that the two came from.
They travel on. Eventually they reach a huge mountain range. In the foothills they encounter a family living around a small oasis. They show the picture to the grandfather of the family who remembers meeting the man's grandfather and sketches them a map of how to reach the site the photo was taken. The guide wants to go back - the family has a radio they can use to call for help - but the man wants to go on. After a while she is convinced and agrees to go on with him.
They travel through an ancient tunnel that the father of the family shows them, leading underneath the mountains, and emerge in a valley geographically situated so as to be invisible to overflying aircraft despite its relatively large size. They find the bones of the sphinx, preserved by the dry air, just as in the picture. They stay until sunset and are about to go back when they see a live sphinx come out from one of the many caves. They watch as it spreads it's wings and sings mournfully by the bones of the dead sphinx. They leave before it sees them.
They make it back to Cairo safely and the man returns home. He doesn't return to law school. Instead he goes to work for National Geographic.
The man's name - Carter. The guide - Ayana.