It was afternoon when they came in a large cloud of dust swirling to the rumbling of unfeeling engines. In frenzied disarray, the market was left bereft of business and in haste women herded their children to safety like grazing animals. The men with their machetes and hunting guns confronted the settling cloud of dust and wailing went up like a tidal wave.
As we hurdled deep in the bushes, Mother clutched me to her bosom. I could hear her agitated heart beating louder than the village drums at the great festival of harvest. Mutterings of prayers to God and our ancestors filled the air. Fear burned the hearth and she was rocking to its crackling. Maybe if I steadied my own, she could draw some courage from it.
‘But why is everyone so afraid?’
‘A beast that the eye should never pray to see has set its sight on our village.’
‘Then why do the men run to it?’
‘Because it must be stared back in the eye or it will savage us and make us destitutes.’
‘What animal can do such a thing?’
‘The worst kind!’
‘Then we should call the police! Maybe they can help us.’
‘Those ones are worse! They would rather we meet death than put themselves between us and the thing that has come to kill us. Remember Nimbo and Agatu! Remember Ogor!’
Yes! I remember these places. Father said they are now places where only cows, men with big guns, and spirits dare tread.
They say the nature of a man-eating beast is to kill, eat the flesh and drink the blood of other animals. That you cannot tame it. But aren’t these people! Surely we can reason with them. But mother says these ones that lead their animals from place to place looking for grass have even less compassion than their animals that trample on the villagers’ backs and graze on their sweat. Wherever their hooves have marked, blood and tears have surely followed.
I am a child and naive as should be expected but mother brought me into this world which I have grown to like very much. She has never lied to me, never deceived me and has always cared for me. I know few things; many more confuse me. But one thing of which I am certain: I do not want to see my village trampled into the dirt and our fields drowned in blood. I do not want to see my father die or my mother cry. I do not want the lot of the orphan… but who will save us?
Photo credit: The Whistle
Uzezi Ologe writes poetry, flash fiction and short stories. He is from Delta state and passionate about the arts. One thing he likes almost as much as writing and seeing movies is eating eba with banga soup.