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 today.
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 barely.
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 me.
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 masters’ threshold.
Another day in a dog’s life one might say.
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