By Mugabe Victor
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.
The setting sun’s rays brushed across the savannah. Labongo, with a smile as wide as a valley, was blinded for an instant before he continued to tear through the wind. His target was in reach. She was of the tricky kind. Vanishing past the trees and appearing randomly between the shrubs. A little dance he had learnt to enjoy through their courtship. A high-pitched laughter echoed through the forest before he suddenly was pounced upon from the side and crushed onto the ground. “You have a lot of explaining to do,” she whispered as she weighed herself against his shoulders in an attempt to keep him down. “What did I do now?” he grumbled. “Don’t act like you don’t know, you let Anichan touch you,” A reply that caused him to burst into laughter. “What are you laughing at?, I am serious.”
Barely using any effort, Labongo thrust the girl in midair, throwing her upon his shoulder like a pound of antelope meat. “What’s funny is you claiming sole ownership over your future chief, what do you think? I will only have one wife?” Easily placing her on a fallen trunk, she continued to complain, “I can deal with any woman as a co-wife, but not Anichan,” she pouted. “Oh really, and who would you suggest for a co-wife?”
Pausing for a while she finally spoke up, “Your mother, I can only tolerate sharing you with your mother,” she cursed, causing him to fall further in laughter. “A man like me with one wife?” From a distance, the cries of the girl’s auntie and sisters echoed. A signal for the end of their encounter. “Well, that was shorter than it usually is,”
“It must be because of the beasts in the forest,” she whispered back, “Maybe this will motivate you to marry me faster; that way we shall be sleeping in the same compound,” She quickly got up, sprinting for the distance only to be tagged back like a little lamb. “One last thing before you leave,” he whispered before wrapping her in his embrace. For a brief second, the calling voices in the forest disappeared and they were alone, “I can’t wait to do this every morning,” she whispered before they parted ways, “Get home safe, and…be nice to your brother next time,”
“Are you telling me to throw my next fight?”
“No,” she called back, “Just let him hit you once,” She laughed as she disappeared behind the shrubs. The harsh echoes of her auntie’s scolding enveloped the air as Labongo waited for the coast to clear.
Finally, the sun sunk behind the horizon, filling the sky with a haunting magenta. Labongo dragged his feet in the dust as he made his way home. He had never felt this way for anyone. His heart danced like a monkey in the trees. Achola’s laughter replayed in his mind with every skip in his step. “What a glorious night,” he thought to himself before the sight of his compound derailed his train of thought.
A fire lit at the center with Gipiir training his thrusts through the darkness. His stance was off again. “How many times will I have to remind him?” Labongo mumbled as he approached the fire. Gipiir was quick to notice his brother’s presence, shoving the staff behind his back and standing stiff as a trunk. Labongo casually walked by, taking a seat as he warmed his hands. “You do know I can see the staff; it is longer than you are,” he mumbled. Gipiir, taking notice of the situation, furiously blushed with embarrassment. He gently hid the staff behind a log, taking a seat right at his brother’s side. “Where did you disappear to back there?” Gipiir asked.
“Looking for firewood,” he replied as a sly smile escaped his lips. The two of them burst into laughter, sending echoes through the night. “Where did you disappear to back there?” Labongo asked his brother. “Into the underworld looking for father’s approval, I only came back with dust”
“Oh, what a drama queen,” Labongo replied, “You were like fire my brother, I almost failed to get you that one time,”
“There was no such time,”
The crickets grew louder through that one moment of silence. A whisper from the wind startled the fire as the tense string of fate grew between the both of them.
“It hurts…I am so jealous of you,” Gipiir mumbled as he rolled a bead in his palm. A little behavior he had picked up as a child. “Father doubtlessly loves you, mother showers you with praises, the village girls cry out your name every day, Anichan wrapped her arms around you, and you will soon be getting married, eventually, you will become the chief and I will merely be the brother,”
A deep silence haunted them. Truths that they had once feared to utter in each other’s presence had been laid right before Labongo’s eyes. He hated seeing his brother like that. Sad and unwilling to see the light that shone from his own existence. “Brother…”
“No, you do not have to say anything. I know my place. But I swear that one day I will rise up, and make you, father and mother proud. I will be your right hand when the time comes, I will be your eyes and ears and I will not fail any of you ever again, I swear.”
Labongo was left speechless. He had never seen such intensity burn within his brother’s eyes.
“When father comes back, I will do away with the beads, I will focus on my training and be the man you all deserve,”
Words that could never have been truer in that moment. The night sky marked his every vowel, placing a scar upon that moment.
Once again, I say; once upon a time, there lived two brothers, Labongo and Gipiir. Both blessed in all ways, mind, body, and soul. However, one thing set one brother apart from the other. Fate, 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.
Their father did return; however, he did not live long enough to see Gipiir fulfill his promise. So began the story of Gipiir and Labongo.
TO BE CONTINUED
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