By Some Susan
Continued from #1
cee *pronunciation: che*, *meaning: to be silent*
Nyinarimi *maternal uncle*
“What do you want now?” the phrase that always welcomed Kintu to Ruhanga’s great hall rang out.
“Great and kind ruler of…” Kintu started as he bowed.
“Cee cee cee cee, get straight to the point. Favours, questions and more favours – that’s all you earth dwellers ever care for. Where’s that girl Nambi? When will you bring my grandchildren to see me?”
“Gulu sounds a lot like you, grandpa,” the rascal laughed out, calling for a silencing slap at the back of his head.
Despite Gulu’s complaining, he always had an answer. “Your sons have one problem; they are exactly like you –whiny and weak he coughed.
“Teach them to embrace their gifts. Their talents, rather than obligation should dictate their role in that home.”
A smile shot across Kintu’s face. The old man’s hints always sent ideas running through his mind. He was sure he had a full proof plan to set in motion. He turned, excited to embark on a long journey but hesitated to continue with his retreat ,when he heard a familiar bark.
He looked back at the god, with his knees trembling like a leaf in a gale.
“It’s a beautiful home,” Gulu mumbled.
Kintu hadn’t gotten much approval over the years, but that statement was all he needed to drive him forward.
Nightfall found him back at his family’s side – his face brightened by the dancing flames, similar to those by which he’d stared at each of his sons’ faces at the time of their birth. When had life gotten so complicated again, he wondered. After his tasks with Gulu and the rift with Walumbe, he’d felt so victorious; his bright future, a trophy to hold.
“Tasks!” he gasped, laughing at the irony of the matter: how he dreaded that time.
His thoughts were disturbed by the commotion between his sons and Nambi and for a moment there, he allowed himself to take in his surroundings.
“Kano, stop it!” Nambi yelled.
“I’ll talk to him, mother,” the eldest muttered.
“He’s always throwing tantrums,let him stay mad tonight!” the second uttered.
“You people never treat me right!” the youngest whined.
“Another scuffle, I see. What’s going on now?” Kintu pitched in, while Nambi, frustrated, wiped the sweat off her forehead; still as beautiful as ever.
“He spilled the beans; thinks he should eat a beast’s flesh every day. Perhaps you should join your nyinarimi and devour us all!” the second erupted.
“That’s enough!” Kintu yelled, standing tall to cast a shadow over the three.
Solemn faces turned to face Nambi, whose eyes welled up with tears. She’d lost so many already. She suddenly groaned in pain, releasing the hot pot she’d held on to for too long, in a daze.
Kano, the first rushed to her side, blowing frantically at her hands. The second looked aside, embarrassed. The third stood up to flee the scene of the despair he’d caused, with a little of the loin cloth arched between his buttocks.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you, mother,” the second sighed.
“I think I’m done for the night,” Nambi muttered, gracefully taking her leave. She’d been left in tatters after so much loss and fleeing. She’d named and buried so many of her children that none of this made sense anymore. It was only a matter of time before Walumbe came for these three. They’d only survived this long because Kintu found a safe cave by the lake shore. The waters were a gift from the heavens.
“I’m done too,” the second groaned, rushing away, before he received the lecture he was sure awaited him.
Kintu settled on the rock behind him, staring at the flames again, his ears picking up the sound of Kano picking up the broken pot pieces.
“Why didn’t you speak?” he asked his son, Kano the first.
“Why should I? We all know this family lives by a thread.”
“You know what I meant, mutabani. They both listen to you. This scuffle could have ended earlier.”
“Hmmph,” he sighed, “Kano is just spoilt. He needs some sense pumped into that thick little skull – if it could fit anyway.” They laughed. “Spoilt and stubborn is just a lot for him to outgrow at this age.”
“Perhaps he needs a goddess to open his mind up, like you father,” he mocked the old man’s repetitive stories.
“The other one’s rage can only be subdued by a grass stem sagging between his teeth, while he watches the sunset over the cattle – also like you. Or is it that cow dung that soothes you people.” he laughed again.
Kintu grinned at the realization of his son’s immense insight. “Kano, you really are the first. I want you to know something,” he bent to rest his hand on the boy’s shoulder.
“I have seen so many lands, gods and people; even the heavens. This life has taught me something today: the most effective kind of leader – he leads from the back, changing the dynamics from the shadows.”
“Father, that sounds more like a coward than a leader,” Kano interrupted.
“What does the word service sound like to you?” Kintu asked.
“Like enslavement to a cause that despises you; bonded by obedience and pathetic hope. That’s what happened to Kayikuzi, right? Who knows where he is now?”
“You remind me so much of him. Remember that he too avoided his destiny for a while; but when you exist to maintain order, you can never hide far enough from the chaos.”
“Tell your brothers to meet me here as soon as the sun pours over this very spot”, he grunted, departing to meet his distraught wife.
“This story is too depressing Shwenkuru,” the boy groaned. “How can one family be so sad?”
“That’s what happens, son, when man does not live up to his own expectations; when a boy forgets to define his purpose for living. Even the rivers flow toward a destination.”
“Ah, ah! Your stories are usually funnier than this. Next time, I’ll just follow Nessi to fetch water.” He stretched. At least the girls always sing songs and let me show them a few of my dance moves.” He hopped around while shaking a leg in the air.
“Eeh!” I raised my hand toward him , making him fall back and stagger.
“So you won’t escort me tomorrow. I guess I’ll just tell my stories to the nomads as they pass,” I grinned.
“Yes, nomads. With so many varieties of cattle that you can’t tell each one’s story. Longhorned, rumped, some with horns bent to touch the ground.”
“But Shwenkuru; why take everything so personal,” the boy laughed. You know your back is weak. Who would carry a pot for your water on such a long walk besides me? Come, come. I’ll escort you to mother, and you will tell her that I’m excused from tomorrow’s chores.”
“Some tricks never get old,” I laughed to myself.
TO BE CONTINUED