Continued from #3
By Mugabe Victor
“Shwenkuru, what is this?” the little boy asked. He stood at my feet, akimbo. His tiny eyes glaring up at mine, only to be interrupted by the bleating of a goat. We both turned our eyes to the creature. A deafening silence engulfed us; a brief reminder of the loud noise we made as a pair.
I couldn’t help myself. My chest bulged with so much air, I could barely keep it in. I burst into a deep laughter that very second as I felt my sense of humour peek from its grave“Goat, what goat, I do not see a goat,” I chuckled,
“Shwenkuru,” he sighed.
“All I see is a rope,”
“Shwenkuru, once again, you are not making sense,”
“All in good time boy, all in good time,”
“Shwenkuru!” the little boy continued with his eyes dancing, “Will you give me tasks one day?”
“If you prove to be as stubborn as this rope, maybe I will,” I laughed, “it just won’t let go of the goat,”
“What?” his little voice echoed
“Keep talking like that and you won’t hear the rest of the story,” I retorted
“Now where did I stop?” I teased as I continued the climb, “Once upon a time, there lived a man called Kintu, he had three sons with the same name…”
“No, Shwenkuru, you stopped right before the tasks,” Mutabani interrupted. A smile grew on my face, at least he was paying attention.
“Kintu’s heart was broken yet his mind unshaken,”
“Shwenkuru, you are rhyming again,” the little boy complained.
“Shush boy, we’ve gotten to the best part; for he knew one thing, a mosquito, a grasshopper and a weevil may fly but one thing is for sure, when it came to a prize neither would ever tell lies.
“Arrggh, the riddles,”the little boy cried, stamping one of his feet on the ground.
“Jajja Kintu set his sons upon one straight line. In front of them lay a path so long with miles of twists and miles of turns. The boys quivered and murmured amongst themselves as endless, senseless thoughts raced through their brains,”
“Father, why are we here,” Kano the second finally asked.
Jajja Kintu replied, “Kano my boy, you are broken, I am here to tend to my ails and mend your ways; on this path are items that I have placed, return to me the precious things that I have lost, and you will have favor once again, now go!”
The three stunned by their father’s declaration, hesitated. They stumbled over each other’s feet in haste, sampling the dust of the tasteless sands of fate. Kano the first was the luckiest of them all, his bonds didn’t last and he was on his way, followed by Kano the second, then the third. The ground shook with anticipation to know who would win their father’s heart.
Almost a mile from the starting point, Kano the third fell in a feat of wails. He moaned and rolled, calling and begging for his brothers’ help.
Kano the second thought, why should I bother with his grief?, my brother will always know troubles, but father today shall not stand for fumbles; he will not tolerate any more sorrows.
Kano the first thought, my brother is father’s treasure, his heart races when he hears his wails; maama stumbles when he makes his demands, surely he must be returned to father without a scratch. He turned back racing for his brother,picked his little body up and brought him to his side. “Please, take me forward,” the little thing cried. He took his brother and went for the finishing line.
Kano the second had left his brothers by miles. He finally found the treasures but something was not right. With the will of Gulu he tied the pile to his back, his chest and his thighs. They were too many, surely his brothers would soon arrive.
He pulled them down and finally thought to himself, “Alas, father knew the lot was too heavy, a few of these could have been his prize” he shoved and pulled, making a mess of the ground, finally he saw, what would definitely be the prize. And off he went, like the god Musisi, nothing would stop his unfailing might.
Kano the first had finally arrived, drenched in sweat and his face lit by a wide smile. “I am sure to win,” he thought to himself. Only to be shocked with what fell before his eyes, a treasure trove of items. “Look,” Kano the third cried, “It is father’s treasures, if we carried them together, we would surely make him smile,” But no, they were too many, and Kano the third’s hands were too feeble to carry any. Disappointed, Kano the first thought, “I guess there will have to be a sacrifice,” he dropped Kano the third and grasped as many prizes as he could find; there was no room for loss. Kano the third would have to run his mile.
Kintu stood proudly at the top of a hill, the sun warming his face. He could finally see his sons running to his side. At the front Kano the second, his prizes firmly held to his chest. Then Kano the first, and finally, a little dot at the back wailing his lungs out, “Oh, that must be Kano the third,” he also bore a prize. The three stood at Kintu’s feet, panting to no end. They all wore devilish smiles, their lessons had not been learnt. Kintu’s blood boiled, they clearly hadn’t changed.
Kano the first, his chest puffed , bore millet, potatoes, a grass head ring, “And father, that’s not all,” Kano the first said , his voice filled with glee. He pulled from his back an ax and a knife. Kintu’s eyes welled with tears that bore no light. This was supposed to be the one with sense. Kano the first saw no smile.
Kano the second, confidently stepped forward, only carrying a leather thong. It was used to tie up cattle when they went out to graze.Kano the second only saw half his father’s smile.
Then Kano the third, cocooned in deep regret, brought forward the skull of Kintu’s one and lonesome cow.
“Only Kano the third got to see his father’s smile,” I finally ended.
“Shwenkuru, Jajja Kintu sounds like a nutcase,” Katabani finally spoke.
“All in good time boy, we are almost there, you will finally understand.”
TO BE CONTINUED