The Firstbones

 

I used to put up with my aunt who had a set of rules I considered Draconian. Reviewing them later, I realize that they were aimed at shaping my life for the better.

 

Though she was unable to read and write, she ensured I studied every evening.

I recall how she used to request me to read and write letters for her. She even made some neighbors who could not read and write to seek my assistance.

 That ignited my early writing fire. I grew up yearning to become a writer so I could write and read many letters for my people! 

 The point is – we are all indebted to society. Since a lot was invested in us, much is expected from us!!

 The village spent its resources on us. It took us in the education kiln so we could be baked on its behalf. Goats, chicken, dogs and other domestic animals were sold to secure a place for us in the academic kiln.

 Isukuti dancers swung their bottoms in response to the heat. Old men spat their blessings on our hands to wish us success. We made our parents to earn an early respect from the community.

 The children were trusted as future problem-solvers. They were being taken to Harvard so they could rebuild the falling huts and built better bridges.

 But upon graduation, the scholars vanished! The city is now their home. They own palatial bungalows and sleek cars. We only watch them on TV discussing about the progress of their businesses.

 They have forgotten their rural homes completely. The huts they used to live in are derelict. The path they followed on their way to school is bushy and thorny. Their people in the village are still using the old koroboi for light

 Poverty is a huge ugly picture down there. Kids are clad in shreds. There are jiggers in their toes. They yawn desperately. They beg for something to bite.

 Their parents are busy toiling on the farm. From dawn to dusk, they are busy digging and planting. But will the dwarfed yellow maize on the tiny farm feed the large and still enlarging family?

 Then there are graves. Big graves and small graves. Fresh graves and old graves. Most of the departing souls are victims of the deadly AIDS. But it is not AIDS in the village. It is witchcraft.

 The problem is glaring but the problem-solvers have turned into trouble makers.

I have interacted with many youngsters who have taken an oath never to step in the village after gaining some education and financial success.

 Sometimes I am puzzled whenever I pass near a deserted home only to be told much about the place: “Dr. So and So comes from the home.” Someone reveals. “It is also the home of a senior director in a certain company abroad.”

 Why ran away from the rural home? Greener pastures? Jobs in the city? May be. But is it the reason of hating the village altogether?

 Most of our people still believe in witchcraft. On arrival in the village, you are supposed to put a huge padlock on your plans or else you will end up giving an easy time to the village’s witchdoctors.

 In fact, some people arrive late at night and leave at dawn to avoid the witchdoctor’s evil eye. And for the relatives who floods in to request for sukari, one is advised to give them real sukari and not money!

 So we uproot ourselves from the rootstalk. Our people could be witches. They could be poor and ugly and uncivilized but they brought us forth!

 We belong to them, and furthermore, we bear their ugly mark! Something else – we never realized their witchcraft in our childhood! We loved and depended on them. We disclosed our ambitions and sought their blessings.

Now that we are on the highway to success, we are saying “Man for himself, God for us all.”  It is until now that we have realized the ugliness of our mother’s breast, the breast we suckled all our youth!

 Yes, it could be so sooty, so uncivilized a breast; now that we are guzzling beer and other intoxicating liquids in town. But has it occurred to us that mother’s milk remains the most nutritious food for our health?

 By de-linking ourselves from our umbilical chord, we are making a big dent in our identity. It is right here in the village where we played hide and seek. Right here where we hunted for squirrels and hares and porcupines for an evening stew.

 Sometimes there was little to bite. Sometimes nothing at all. Then mama could attend a wedding and bring home some leftovers which we ate happily and had sound sleep on smelly rags.

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One Comment on “The Firstbones”

  1. Macklower Abisai Says:

    Hope you will one day publish “The Knots On The String”, the book was rich in ideas!!!


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