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Gipiir and Labongo #9

By Mugabe Victor

“It is only when the dog bites that one knows how sharp its teeth really are,” 

Gipiir stood at the edge of glory and shame. His legs trembled like straw and  his heart like drums.

The effortless glow of the savannah grass and the uneasy sprout of dead staring bushes of the undergrowth all flashed before his eyes as Labongo’s words echoed in his ears. Over the outstretched land that he called home, the ground grew bare as the desert. His bladder was on the verge of bursting. 

An iris as grey as the waters of the Nile, distant yet unwilling to die, gazed straight into Gipiir’s.  The expression that a corpse bore in her last moments of anguish. One that screamed for another chance at life yet sad at the primal realisation that it would not be possible. The walls that once stretched from one ethos to another lay crushed upon the ground in defeat. Screams of agony cut through his ears in that very moment. 

Achola and Adeke burst forth from behind, hesitantly settling at Gipiir’s side. The stubborn expression that always rested upon Adeke’s face suddenly vanished the moment she saw the hell that awaited them. “We are all done for,” she muttered, “They left us in the hands of an imbecile,” 

Dropping to her knees, she burst into wails. The village was in shambles as crowds of women and children ran about in unbound chaos. At their back was a rampaging elephant. Its eyes deadshot with rage. Its tusks, long as a tree trunk. With every step it took,  the ground shook a thousand times over, sending more and more sweat drops streaming down Gipiir’s side. 

“Gipiir!” a muffled voice echoed in the back of his mind, “Gipiir!”

Like a child awakened from a  deep, sweaty dream, he gasped for air, as he finally collapsed onto the ground. His knees; anchoring him to what was to become his grave. People rushed by them in a sporadic race thrusting Adeke to the side, face down as she continued to wail. In the distance, the elephant continued to approach. An unstoppable force of nature thrust upon the unprepared bunch.  “Gipiir!” Achola cried as she tried to shake him back to reality. Her face turned blue with terror. “Gipiir!” she screamed, launching an earth shuttering slap right across his face. 

His pupils finally lit up. A sign of life in his useless body. “We have to get out of here!” she screamed once again; her eyes fixed upon the beast at a distance. “We have to leave!”

Adeke, scrambling to her feet, exploded into a dash, leaving the two to their own accord. 

“Gipiir!” Achola cried as she tried to grab his attention. Stuck as a rock in the depths of the earth, the man turned boy swayed with the wind. Following his stare, her heart fell with unease. A tremor caused by a conflict of conscience. Not far from them was a child wailing to no avail; trapped in the embrace of a dead mother.

“Save the child or this statue that was once a friend,” her mind wrestled with itself over and over again. 

Watching him for a brief moment, a cold shudder raced across her spine as she slowly came to a solemn realisation. His eyes were frozen; inseparable from the dead. There was nothing she could do for a man that would not fight for himself. 

“There is nothing I can do,” Gipiir mumbled, sending a shock through Achola that closed those once trusting eyes from him. Standing up, Achola glared at him. Grinding her teeth to no halt, she spat. “You disappoint me”

Dust rose as the beast fiercely marched towards them 

“I have failed,” Gipiir mumbled, only for his view to be blocked by Achola as she pulled up her skirt in a fierce stance. “What is she doing?” His thoughts rushed.  

She burst forward and towards the beast.  “Why?”

“Why would she be doing that?”

Gipiir’s mind raced; only for the ageless words of his brother to creep into his thoughts. “Courage, omego!”

His eyes fixed on the dead mother; he watched Achola as she struggled to pull the child out of her hands. 

The dust rose upon the two like a curtain on a long-awaited stage act; concealing what could only be a disaster waiting to happen.  

Gipiir mumbled as the dead mother’s judgmental stare tore through the mental  fiasco. He growled in pain, tears streaming from his eyes as a rage fused with fear in his soul. In an explosive feat, he shot forward, tearing through the fabric of the dust like his life depended on it. With every muscle in his body snapping at the tension, his mind stayed fixed. “The beast will fall,” he declared

Achola could barely see anything. Obstructed by the veal of dust, her senses were on high alert. She knew she would not be able to live with herself if she did not at least save the little one. Yanking over and over again the selfish corpse basically spit in the face of its only saviour. “Why won’t you let go!” she screamed, her eyes fixed upon those of the dead. She could hear the approaching doom. Barely able to hold on to the ground as its tremors kept her desperately reaching for her knees. With one final roar, she held on tighter to the child, pulling like a bull in a slaughterhouse, finally reaping it from its confinement. 

Holding the child to her chest, all she could think about doing was running. Denounced by the hands of fate, her eyes betrayed her in that very moment. The dust had fully enveloped the air. What was right, left, east or west? Only the gods could tell. Dashing into one direction, she could almost feel the beast at her side, dashing towards another, she could feel the hair on her back stand at the sheer size of what was supposedly lurking by. Dropping to her knees, she held the child. It would have to kill her first before erasing any of her efforts.

Mumbling prayer after prayer, Achola closed her eyes. With every second that went by, her body jumped with the tremors that wrecked the village. Only for a deep silence to encroach on the moment of terror. Tears streamed from her eyes as she finally accepted what could only be the most plausible explanation, “Am dead, aren’t I?” she squeaked as her eyes finally gave way. The tremors were gone and the dust was slowly fading. A glistening ray streamed through her tears as the village members raced back in great excitement. 

In the distance, Achola could barely make out  the trembling body of Gipiir as the village members rushed to his side. Blood was splattered all over him and the ground. A red trail led back to the forests. As the child cried louder and louder into her ears, the vision of a broken Gipiir was slowly consumed by the crowds as they finally sang his name. “The Conqueror of beasts,” they roared as Achola finally got to her feet. Making her way across the field, Achola sensed fate was beckoning for  further tragedy. 

Only the dead mother’s eyes watched the saviour with a distant “thank you” from the afterlife.

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEDNESDAY

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Written by The Muchwezi (4)

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