The news flashed in snippets with the usual identity of a truthful lie. It breezed through our nonchalant ears like a hasty wind. The story jumbled from one narrator to the other and soon, wore a regalia that matched the inner perspective of each narrator. It was a long tale of a ruthless animal. It had a thirsty urge for not leaving any carcass behind. It fed virtually on everything. Its bloodthirsty spree had no match. It is easier to say nothing satisfied it.
It was difficult to tell the height of its ruthlessness because only the younger generation spoke of it. You would think their young imaginations presented clearer images of the horrors of this beast. The old folks in our village only sighed. The sigh left you puzzled as though a rhetorical question had pricked your countenance. You could see in their reluctance the very irritation that shaded their memories. It seemed like a lost cause telling of this impending doom. You could almost think they are scared of this beast. But truly, they only betrayed our naive and curious imaginations. It was such that you couldn’t see beyond the scrambled details your little box of memory carried. Only the horror caused you to wonder.
The news soon faded into rumours. It hardly sounded more than whispers when spoken of. Some simply joked about it while others carried its condensed suspense about their daily lives. It came to pass when on a certain night, my bosom friend Aklo, scared the ghost out of me. It was on a night mama sent me to get some malaria drugs from Banda. I walked briskly under a clutter of breezing mango trees. The heavy December winds made the trees restless. It was as though they were roaring. They simply were, as it was difficult for my terrified nerves to think otherwise. Rotten mango fruits also conspired against me. They kept dropping from all angles. It was then that the image of this terrific beast became more real than ever. It made me shiver at punctuated intervals. My eyes wouldn’t stop flickering around to catch any monster coming upon me.
As though a divine eyes watched me ridiculed in my sympathetic state, the trees gradually calmed down momentarily. I could see the end of the trees open into the mild rays of the moonlight. My fears grew lighter as my legs became almost steady in their steps.
My boldness was itself consumed and short-lived. As I walked past the passage which formed a gate out of the dark trees, Aklo simply killed me. He dashed out of the bush like a disgruntled idiot. I hardly had the chance to analyse the form of danger. It was all about saving the last piece of life left in me. Amazingly, my legs were steadier in their speed through the opposite direction. I ran through the dry grassy plains, finding the least passage to safety possible. Every part of my body sought to save my dying breath. While my panting breath parted my widening mouth, my voice called out to my aged mother: “Mama Yo…Mama yo!”. My hands only responded to the orders of my legs.
I had not run more than a distance of about four hundred metres before Baba Akandi called out to Aklo . “Aklo! Aklo!, you little rascal, where is the pack of cigarettes I sent you to buy?” It was then I stopped abruptly, paralysed in disappointment. Breathing heavily, I could not do more than stare at him on a bended back with my hands glued to my knees. I was mad to fury but had no strength to chase him. The mockery from his laughter forced me to laugh too as I forced my weight on our corrugated metal door. “Why are you panting like a dog” mama queried?” I still had no strength to answer. I simply passed her the malaria drugs for Tamen, my youngest sister….
Alpha E. Y. 2019©