General or Other

BITE YOUR TONGUE

Been writing a lot of thematically complex stuff, heavy on the descriptions and mood and all that. So here is a short story I wrote to clear the palate as it were – light writing and light reading. Definitely not ever going to publish this so enjoy. All rights reserved. 

“You see, at the time Kosiya came to Nyakashekye, he came with a dog.”

Kosiya you mean this Kosiya of ours who normally digs in Kaka’s shamba?

“Yes, which other Kosiya do you think I mean?

“Kosiya had a dog. A very well trained dog. In all of Nyakashekye, there was no better-trained dog. That was a dog! It wasn’t just that he would tell it where to sit, where to ease itself, where to sleep and so on. He had taught this dog how to greet people, how to fetch things for him, how to babysit children… all kinds of things. This dog was like a human being, in fact, it was like a brother to him. It used to sleep with him and everything.

Kosiya had one very strange command he used to give this dog. For instance, if there was a full moon or something else that was over exciting the dog, causing it to bark or growl too much, he used to command it ‘Bite your tongue.’ And the dog would stick its tongue out and press down on it with its teeth for a few seconds, and then thereafter stay completely quiet for an hour or so. Every. Single. Time.

It was such a peculiar and yet catchy phrase that soon the kids from the preparatory started using it against each other – and out of fun, would also stick their tongues out and bite on them with their teeth. Soon even the teachers were using it, then the market women… till one day the archdeacon even used it in a sermon to great applause from his congregation. Probably the most applause he had ever received.

Bite your tongue was a hit.

Kosiya stopped doing odd jobs in people’s shambas, leveling anthills and digging up tree stumps. Since he and his dog were now celebrities, he decided to milk the situation for all it was worth. He would travel around, visiting different sub-counties on their market days carrying his dog and a megaphone. He was quite the showman actually, and he put on a good show with all the tricks he had taught his dog; ending of course with the command to ‘Bite your tongue’. People would almost pee their shorts with excitement just waiting for the bite your tongue part. Kosiya and his dog were a roaring success.

It is a peculiar thing about this world we live in, but nothing very good ever stays very good for very long. There was a woman, her name is Katherine but everyone called her Matron; who used to teach at Little Flowers Primary and Daycare. In fact, I think she is still there. She teaches English or something.

Now Matron liked neither Kosiya, nor his dog. Above all, she hated that phrase ‘Bite your tongue’. And we used to wonder about it you know? She’d get very edgy when anyone used it around her and the kids in her school were to be punished every time they used it, which of course, made them use it even more.

One Friday, Matron had left for a funeral or something. So the Entertainment Prefect at the school decided to bring Kosiya and his dog for a show at the school pitch. I really don’t know what that kid was thinking, he must have been either very reckless or slightly slow in the head. Anyway, Kosiya came. With his dog. Everyone knew Matron to be away so the kids came in droves. By now Kosiya had become a consummate performer. In addition to the megaphone, he’d wear a bright yellow costume with a straw hat and face-paint. The dog would wear a small yellow skirt with a bright yellow ribbon on its tail. Unfortunately for him; that day was to be the end of Kosiya’s career as a showman. We don’t know if Matron had set the whole thing up, or perhaps if she’d forgotten something at the school and had to come back… really it’s all open to speculation. All we know is that at the highlight of the show, just before his big coup de grace or whatever it is called; Kosiya looked up to see the school-kids fleeing for dear life. Next thing, Matron was standing before him, a big stick in her hand, massive bosoms heaving, face flushed with anger.

‘Don’t you know that these are kids?’ She shouted, pointing to the kids who had all fled the scene and were watching the proceedings from a safe distance. ‘Don’t you know that these kids can even bite their own tongues and blood flows? My son Patrick once fell and bit his tongue off and the ka-thing went dancing-dancing in the middle of the school compound! Do you know that a kitten came and snatched it up and run off with it! Do you know that when we found it; the kittens were fighting for it? Don’t tell me about biting tongues! Don’t… Mtshchewwww!!!!’

“You man! I tell you, there and then, the woman grabbed the dog and bit it!”

Bit it you say?

“Bit it! On the nose! The howling! We could hear it from over here.”

You guy!!

“It was quite something! She bit the dog’s nose and dropped it. Kosiya howled like a dog himself and run away. The dog followed him apparently. Doesn’t matter, he and the dog quickly broke up soon after.”

Why did they break up?

“Trauma I guess. The dog couldn’t perform a single trick or obey a single command after that. So in case, you were asking; that’s the reason why no one says ‘Bite your tongue’ in these parts anymore.

It’s because of the Matron.

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