Continued from #5
By Mugabe Victor
The three brothers took their places within the hut, separated by a small distance, gourd in hand, milk brushing the edge. Darkness fully embraced the room, with only the moonlight as solace. A smooth, silky carpet of dry grass caressed their skins as they each carefully watched their milk.
Kano the first could feel his hands shake as Jajja Kintu’s words haunted his mind. All three brothers were to stay in the hut,seated and holding up their gourds which were filled to the brim, none was to let their contents spill. It had been hours since he had looked up at his brothers. A deep shame enveloped him that evening. It was clear from his father’s expression that he had failed.
Out of the darkness, a deep, heartfelt laughter erupted,capturing his attention.
“Father has run mad,” Kano the second finally spoke, “How is this supposed to teach us anything? I bet that when his cow died, he changed all these tasks, modified them into punishments,”
The three looked at each other, those words sinking in. “I don’t see a cow anywhere, little brother, who do you think he is talking to?” Kano the first sneered. A sheepish smile grew on his face, it felt like the events of that day had not yet come to pass.
“He does have a point,though,” Kano the third agreed, “What is all this about?”
“There is no point in figuring this out,” Kano the first uttered, “What matters is that we finish it,”
“Well we have all night,” Kano the second drawled, “The only way any one of us will hold up our gourds is if we are awake, and personally watching you stare at your milk is not helping,” Getting no reaction from his brothers, he continued,“Fine then. I think it’s a test to determine his heir. After all, Walumbe will come for us eventually and we three have survived longest; these tests will probably determine who has the highest chance of survival.The race, the treasures all lined up, these were to determine our capabilities.”
“So, according to you, either big brother or you will die soon.” Kano the third surmised, causing a halt to that train of thought.
“What if it was a test to determine what is closest to our hearts?” Kano the first chimed in, “You remember his words, seek out my treasures. Father found all the items valuable, he just found some more valuable than others,”
“But I love potatoes,” Kano the third whined, “So, why would father seem so disappointed with such a gift?”
“Because potatoes are the food that belongs to the peasant, for the man that doesn’t yield the strength to raise cattle,” Kano the second replied.
“Says the fool who scrambles for it every dry season,” Kano the first scoffed.
“Then what do you think the test meant, almighty wise Kano?” Kano the second pointedly asked.
“Maybe it was a test to determine what was for supper, I do not know,” Kano the first barked, “All I do know is that father finds more pleasure in a dead ox’s skull and a rope than in actual food!”
The truth took a bite out of the room, leaving a sad silence, “That test was probably meant to prepare us for this one,” Kano the third said, “Matching me against either of you was a ludicrous idea, and so were the treasures, one set meant for the past, another the present and another for the future, all I can say is that out there, father saw each of our priorities,”
“Again with the riddles,” Kano the second grumbled, “What’s present, what’s past, what’s future?”
“The future was your rope, past was the skull and present…”
“He expected me to see this,” Kano the first choked out before the little brother continued, “I was so busy trying to get ahead of everyone, I forgot to acknowledge the past and consider the future,”
“That is merely my opinion brother,” Kano the third retorted, “It could also mean that father really wanted to have ox bone stew for supper,”
The three burst into laughter, covering up the fear that tore at their hearts. For a moment there, they even forgot that they had to mind their gourds of milk. Eventually, a heavy silence filled the hut once again until Kano the second whispered in the darkness,“What do you think will happen to the loser?”
None of them dared to answer his question.
To be continued