A question of reason
No one knew why he did it. To all, he is a bastion of physical
and mental health, a youth in possession of all one can ask for.
All, seeing his ready smile everyday as he walks down the street,
believed all is well with him, took sad tales to him, expecting
him to proffer solutions, and more times than none, he does. No
one stopped for a moment to consider his own problems and their
solutions, we just all assumed that all is well with him. Life,
in its peculiar way, went on.
I can't recall where I was when the news reached me, but I
vividly recall running off with great haste towards his house at
the village outskirts, swiftly overtaking others who on account
of age couldn't hope to match my speed.
Pursued by my haste I stopped not to reflect on the moment. It
was when I crested the little hill overlooking his inherited
shack, which gains more picturesque from the stream running
adjacent, that I began to have a deeper appreciation of the
sudden news. By now I was breathing heavily, oily sweat crept
down to sting my eyes and ran in greasy rivulets down my back. I
have no idea what poise I might have struck but I do feel that it
is a very absurd one, with my hair clinging tight to my body.
For the first time, I failed to appreciate the view from the
hilltop, a view that used to hold me captive for a long time on
more leisurely trips before. My admiration lost to the urgency
that ruled my moment. I still though, saluted the tall sentry
trees that bestrode the road that ran across the valley towards
lands that to my young mind are adventures in waiting.
Could it be true? Did he do it? Why did he do it?
Questions ran across my mind with the silent speed of an eyelids
flutter, calling deeper thoughts into being from my inner recess.
I felt then that answers could only come with the eyes seeing the
questioned, face-to-face or eye-to-eye. I therefore took off with
greater haste than I had employed towards the source of a single
shrill wail that had began to seep from the valley bottom a few
seconds before, "a relative must have reach the scene and could
not help breaking the taboo in such situations" I thought to my
self. But, I doubt if any one will remember convention in this
instance, no, not with the personality of the person involved.
I must have run very fast indeed for I got there as they were
cutting him loose. I bet they delayed the act until they can get
strangers to do the dirty job, but as of yet, no stranger appears
to be present. I wondered if more traditions are being broken
Initially I didn't see anything out of the ordinary as all
appeared just a little bit different, though a sense of grief
hung lick a shroud upon the atmosphere, which I adjudged to be on
account of the loud wailing from the direction of the out house.
I would have followed then into the house had not a harsh voice
inquired whose young keep was poking dirty noses where it was not
wanted. I was miffed to say the least, not for being called a
dirt nosed brat or a busy body but because the tone made me out
to be invisible or of no import.
Knowing the voice as well if not a little better than its trouble
making old hag owner, I forced my legs to disobey my hearts
desire and shuffled towards the sorrowful din. My curiosity paid
off as I almost ran smack into a large gathering of clearly
worried neighbors. They were clustered under the shadowy branches
of the large mango tree that rules that part of the compound,
around the wailing relative, whose face is effectively hidden
from the view by a combination of rheumatoid thighs and tall
bitter leaf plants, gesticulating and talking in low tones.
I tried to draw into my self as much as I can, making myself as
small as possible with the sole hope of escaping notice long
enough to catch the general gist. I was clearly wishing for
horses as my presence was already noted and soon some of the
women began to wrinkle their noses at me, voices got lower and
lower that I could only catch a whispered word or two, only
obviously my presence was construed a nuisance and I began to
suspect that I will soon be sent running homewards with my nosy
tail between my legs so I slunk away from their presence and
headed in the opposite direction. Chance it was, I believe, that
brought me face to face with the ill-fated young man as he was
being brought out. He was carried bundle-wise by two stout men
who clearly struggled with all of his six-foot dead weight. The
story told it self all too clearly, when they stopped to rest
briefly on the stairs, I saw the length of tight leather thong on
his neck, which was, resting on the top stair.
Either by design or by a stupid error the men who cut him down
from whatever high branch he had strung himself did not deem it
necessary to remove the cord from his neck.
His eyes were open and appeared to stare straight at me. With his
hands stretched on the top stairs, it appeared too that he was
reaching out to me, asking for my understanding in this trying
Uncanny as it seemed, I felt I couldn't judge him before I found
out his reason for taking this way out and for not confiding in
As they took him in, I turned away, heading back towards the
hurdled women who were at that moment narrating the presumed
reasons he did what he did. It pleased my heart that like me,
they tried to be fair to him and not judge him harshly,
especially when his reasons are taken into consideration.
Why judge a man who has battled to live where only death can
bring succor, why judge a man who lived for others to the extend
that he couldn't bear to share his pain, a man who lived as long
as he can with a wasting disease,
It was had but soon home called and I forced my legs
to carry me reluctantly, towards its warm welcome. My trot, I
know might be construed -wrongly- the convey happiness but my
limp tail carries all the grief that my kind is allowed to show.
My path home was marked by dim shadows cast by the twin peaks of
Enu Ejima, peaks I hear tell ruled over this hills way before
Ajali our ancestor crawled out of giant egg that bore him earth
wards from his celestial abode. It is said by the elders that it
will be here long after the last of the Ajali hill clan is dust
upon the hills. Constant pessimists, my people, quick always to
believe, that nothing animate lasts forever.
Attracted, I think, by an understanding of shared loneliness, I
turned to give them a warm-hearted wave to reassure them or
comfort myself, I can't exactly tell. I only know that at that
moment with the red sunset playing a colorful orchestra on the
half-moon-shaped heart of the hills, which is by way of direction
to the south of the peaks, my heart somehow caught hold of the
needed spirits to soar. How high, I didn't need to know.
Smiling, with a lighter bounce to my step, I turned once again
towards home, unmindful of the yelling that awaits me upon my
Another day in a dog's life one might say.