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Gipiir and Labongo #1

By Mugabe Victor

It is said that the way of man is never a straight path. It is easier to find suffering than joy, poison than food; enemies than brothers. Yet, despite this we still go on to strive for an uncertain future. A fool’s errand if you were to ask me. A warrior’s bliss if you were to ask another. Subjective as this may seem, it calls us all to ask the question; are our lives meaningless? Would you say that about those that came before us? Were their lives meaningless? A question that would be tested in fire if we considered that we use their stories as examples to us all.

So, listen child; for once upon a time, there lived two brothers. Labongo and Gipiir. Though both were blessed in infinite ways, one thing set them apart. Fortune, gods, destiny, call it what you will, but we know one thing for sure; Gipiir the younger of the two had luck so foul even hell whispered mercy on his behalf.

It was the eve of a night just like this one. The two brothers circled an arena; inching in on each other as sweat trickled down each one’s forehead like the Nile. The roar from the crowd did not help Gipiir as the ground beneath him felt on the verge of swallowing him whole. Labongo lunged  forward; startled, Gipiir tripped over his own foot as he backed away. The ever-haunting laughter around him went on. He could not afford to lose this one, after all, his father was now watching.

 “Look at his feet!” an audience member hollered. A distraction that left the boy self-cautious as he took a quick glance at his brother’s feet. They seemed fine. “So, are they talking about mine?” he thought as he attempted to fix his stance.

A move that proved to be a tragic misstep. Gipiir’s opponent, his own brother, flashed forward, swinging at his staff. A hit, here and there that left the boy stumbling like a newborn. Pinned to the ground in an instant with a staff to his chest, the screams from the delirious crowds went off. The village girls sang praises for him once again. 

Standing over his victory, Anichan, the village belle rushed forward embracing Labongo in a hug. He awkwardly acknowledged her, wrapping his hand around her waist as he searched the crowds. Gipiir, from the corner of his eye, watched his father, whispering to the elders at his side. “Probably the soft disapproval of his progeny,” he thought to himself. 

Even in despair, the elders always seemed to look up to him. Their father, their chief, the conqueror of men. The man who hoarded cattle from the furthest lands and carried the weight of generations upon his shoulders blessing them with a bountiful land. The greatest warrior and leader that ever lived, they said. At this point, the crowds engulfed Gipiir, blocking his sight. Again, he had become a speck in the face of his brother’s glory. 

As Labongo started away, he suddenly fell into a limp, almost crashing onto the ground. “You got me too brother; I can barely walk,” he smirked, “how blessed our blood is, to house such mighty warriors.” Reaching down to Gipiir, he took his hand, pulling him onto his feet. The young man however seemed distracted; his eyes fixed upon their father at a distance. Labongo, sensing the tension in the air followed his brother’s glance, “Don’t worry about him, he saw the effort you put in to get here,” 

“And still I fear it was not enough,” Gipiir replied as the two looked over the  crowd. His gaze crossed those of the elders briefly in an attempt to find some form of approval. Nothing. The elders, though doing their best to come off as discreet, miserably failed as an infectious fear wrapped itself over their faces effortlessly.  

“What do you think is going on?” Gipiir whispered. The warriors could be seen from a distance, speeding off to the village. Something was about to happen. The two boys’ father marched up to them, his aura so strong that a path was formed as he walked by. Placing his hand upon both their shoulders, he nodded at Labongo, staring out into the crowd. “Men, let’s go!” he bellowed. A voice so loud, it sent ripples through their ears. “What is going on?” Gipiir stammered. “Nothing that you should be worried about, take your staff and go back home, I will be back before tomorrow’s sunset,” he replied dismissively before turning away. Gipiir, clasped at air as he choked on his own words, “Father,” he whispered. 

The crowd was a mess at this point. People scattered about as they tried to find their homes within the chaos. Gipiir could feel his brother’s hand slip away. Turning about in a careless survey, a terrifying moment of loneliness consumed his mind as his legs gave way to an unmanly tremble. “Breathe,” he whispered to himself, “Breathe” 

He was alone once again. 


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