After Thirty Years

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It was in the month of October on a Saturday evening. The rain had just stopped falling. The noon sun then released its final blaze. Then it appeared as if rain had not fallen for the whole day. Siaffa sharpened his cutlass and told his father, Obeto that he was going on the cassava patch to cut a palm bunch. His father warned: “The rain has just stopped falling; it’s not good to cut palm at this time. Wait on another day.” Not satisfied with his father’s warning, minutes later, when he observed that his father had forgotten about him, he took his cutlass and away he went.

Exactly ten minutes passed six; a chap about the age of Siaffa came running to Obeto and then burst out the news. “Siaffa had fallen from a palm tree. He fell on a sharp-edged-stump and his intestine came out.” Thunderstruck, tears misted Obeto’s eyes. Within minutes, the news had spread all over the village.

No hospital, no clinic, in fact, modern medicines were not available. Eighteein, an herbalist, was called in. He worked and worked very hard and managed to push back Siaffa’s intestine into his stomach. He used a calabash to block the intestine from coming out and he used palm leaf threads to stitch the wound. After about a month, the wound got healed and then the threads were removed but the calabash remained in place.

After thirty years since that fateful day Eighteein came to Obeto one morning to borrow his spear that he used for hunting. He had inherited it from his late father. He had managed with it from his youth, and surely, he clung to it very well. Obeto, a strong minded person, insisted to give the spear to Eighteein but he persuaded him that his farm was constantly eating by troops of chimpanzees which he intended to hunt down. Eighteein pleaded with him so much that he agreed and gave the spear to him.

Early the next morning before the first cock crowed Eighteein was already on the farm waiting to see what would happen. As the day got clear, a troop of chimpanzees was at the outskirts of the farm. At this moment, he was already positioned himself behind a wood at the farm’s entrance. It was well suited for his purpose. It lay right on the main path of the chimpanzees. He had designed this strategy in order to prevent them from entering the farm which would be too late for him to attack. As they approached the farm; they were all in single-filed with the big male at the front leading the troop. Eighteein, with braveness, all his strength, waited until he put his hands on the wood. He then struck the spear in the chimpanzee’s chest. It yelled as it dropped on the other side of the wood. The rest flew into the bushes. Their noise was so loud enough that they could make one ears bleed. Terrified with this, fear grasped Eighteein and he ran away never care to go on the scene.

The next day he went on the scene. The dead chimpanzee lay in a pool of blood, but the spear was not there. He looked and looked all over the farm and could not find the spear. Astonished with this development he returned home willy-nilly and told the story to Obeto. Obeto swaggered before him, then in a stumpy tone he said, “I want back my spear, it’s my ancestor’s property and more to that I want the identical spear that I gave you.” Eighteein attempted to persuade him, but he was very angry and was swaggering all over the place. So he left and went home. The following day Eighteein went back to Obeto’s house to appeal to him. He went with his wife. They pleaded with him, but Obeto remained defiant. Feeling disappointed, they went home to decide what to do next. Three days later, Eighteein collected all the elders in the village to talk on his behalf. They too, their efforts also failed to induce Obeto. Not to waste much of their time, he told the elders that he gave Eighteein one month ultimatum to produce his spear. Failure to comply he would have him in bondage. Not so surprised though, as this kind of attitude is not uncommon among the inhabitants of this village. So they decided to leave.

Early the next day Eighteein made up his mind and he went on his farm to search the bushes surrounding his farm. There, he found the trail of the chimpanzees. Cleverly, and bravely he quickly followed the trail until he discovered their cave. Fortunately, all of the chimpanzees had gone out in the woods for food. He found the spear standing in the middle of the cave. Without delay, he took it and made away with it.

When he got home, it was in the third week of the one month ultimatum. The ensuing morning he called all the men in the village to gather at the village square. As they were all seated, among them was Siaffa who had fathered seventh children and three grand children and about a week away to turn forty seven. At first it appeared like he had gathered them to make another appeal to Obeto as he had left the spear at his house. But not to take much time, he greeted everybody and told them the purpose of the gathering. Then he paused for a moment. There was complete silence in the assembly, including onlookers. He told his wife to bring the spear. In a very short while she brought it and handed it over to him. Eighteein woke up and walked directly to Obeto and gave the spear to him. Without shilly-shally, Obeto took it from him and both of them went back on their seats.

Now, the point of the story is this: Did Eighteein ask for his calabash to Obeto that kept Siaffa alive for the passed thirty years?

The more we think over this question, the harder it is to answer. It requires a difficult study of the human heart and the society in which he lives. Think of it, readers, as if the decision depends upon you, but not upon Eighteein.

Imagine the moonless nights he had travelled, the rivers and streams he had crossed, the wild games he had encountered along the way following the chimpanzee’s trail; and picture how he had slept days and nights, rain or shine, without food in the forest.

The grief-stricken face as he thought saving Siaffa’s life thirty years ago. His heart had burned in agony when he had pictured himself hastening for his calabash when the entire village was in disarray and then the cheerful shouts from the villagers when he had successfully completed his work. He cannot undo, he will not forget, and he should not ignore the pain he had undergone.

The question of his decision does not require straightforward answer, and it is not for me to venture to set myself up as the one who is capable of answering it correctly. So I leave it all with you: whether he asked for his calabash or not.

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