“Why are you lying on your stomach on bare floor?” He asked his son. Sluggishly, he raised h...
“Why are you lying on your stomach on bare floor?” He asked his son. Sluggishly, he raised his head and looked up at his father. “It is the coolest spot in the hut Papa,” he answered in a low, tepid tone. “On your stomach? You will soon be stung by an ant,” Zungu warned his young son. “Papa I am very hungry. Lying on my stomach appears to stave off hunger…at least momentarily,” said Kariga. He wore a pair of ragged brown shorts, whose color had been conferred on it by thick brown dust. He had no shirt on. Streaks of dust had left maps across his face, belly and back. Zungu stared at him helplessly. What use is a man if he cannot provide for his children, he wondered in frustration. A raging famine was sweeping perilously across the land following severe droughts. “And where is your brother?” He asked Kariga. “I think he is lying down in Mama’s hut,” Kariga answered in a feeble tone.
Zungu stormed out of the hut and headed straight for his wife’s hut. There, he found his younger son, Matami lying prostrate on bare floor. Just like Kariga, Matami was lying on his stomach as though in a deep prayer to mother earth to bring forth food that would fill his starving stomach. “I need something to eat Papa,” he pleaded as soon as he saw his father. Zungu stared at him for moment. He was bereft of words. A blend of anger and pain stabbed at him with pitiless liberality. “I will find something for us to eat my child. I will go find us some food my son,” he said fighting back a storm of tears that had gathered behind the door of his eyes, pushing persistently at the door with the force of a dam crashing into turbines. “Will you Papa?” Matami asked. His eyes were dull and his voice weak. “Yes my child. Yes, I will find us some food,” Zungu assured him. Matami’s eyes begged for succor as he looked up at his father.
Zungu stepped back outside, picked up a machete, arrows and bow and headed into the forest. Not even the forest trees had been spared by the cruel grip of the drought. The vast majority of them had lost most of their leaves as the drought squeezed every bit of moisture out of them. He meandered his way through fallen leaves and forest trees. His eyes were razor-sharp. He stopped every few minutes to listen. There has to be an animal somewhere. God please send me victual…anything that will end the biting hunger that is terrorizing the lives of my poor children, he prayed silently.
He search came up empty, but he kept going heading deeper into the forest. Soon, darkness began to mask the sun. He began to think of returning to the village, but the thought of staring his children in the eye and telling them that supper would have to wait yet again left a stinging pain in his heart. He crouched down and peered around. He used to hunt for monkey with his father in this area when he was a child. He had an arrow on the bow ready to fire at the slightest movement. Soon he found an old drinking hole. The water was almost completely gone. Government conservation workers had come in to fill it up of late to keep animals in the area from dying of thirst. There was no sign of antelope or monkeys.
He heard mosquitoes whining by his ears. The fast-fading pond was a perfect breeding ground for them. The sun was fast receding behind the clouds. Sullenly, he began to head back to the village increasing his pace as he tried to beat darkness. It was not safe to linger in the forest beyond dark. He caught sight of something nearby. From a distance, it looked like a dead animal; an antelope calf or maybe a monkey. He paced up towards it. His heart was pounding so fast that he was worried it might jump out and chase after the figure by itself. As he got closer, he could tell that it was indeed an animal; a monkey. His heart was beating even faster. He readied his bow and arrow, ready to strike in case the money scurried up and made a jump for the trees.
He walked stealthily towards it. When he felt he was close enough, he ducked behind a tree and aimed at the monkey. The look of it suggested that it was lifeless; nonetheless, he did not want to take any chances. This would last his family for quite some time. Apart from his children and wife, his aging mother who lived in the hut next to his was equally being ravaged by hunger. A monkey this size would supply them much needed protein for weeks. He shut his right eye and aimed with his left. Bingo!!! He hit the bull’s eye. There was no movement from though. He hurried towards it and took hold of it. It was a big one! He could tell that there was something odd about it. Even though he had hit it in the head, there was no blood in the supposed kill spot. The monkey had been dead for some time. God has answered my prayer, he thought. It has been dead for a while, and thankfully, no one spotted it ahead of me.
He briskly walked back to the village. Delight and relief were scribbled all over his face. He thought of the imminent smiles on the faces of his boys as he hurried back to the village. Soon, a giant fire was burning in his compound. His boys hovered around the fire as their parents and grandmother roasted the monkey. Matami ran to his grandmother’s backyard, picked up a log of wood and dashed for the fire. With childish exuberance, he dumped the log in the fire. Boom!!! It dropped with a bang. The monkey was sitting over the fire, losing its fur rapidly. Kariga could not take his eyes of the big primate.
A few hours later, they were plucking meat off bones with their teeth. “It tastes so good Papa!” Matami remarked as he munched on a large chunk of meat. “Yes it does my boy,” Zungu answered. Delight was visibly scribbled on his face as he watched his wife, sons and mother enjoy the roasted meat pleasantly. “I think we should send some meat to Makonga and his family,” Zungu’s mother suggested. “They too are struggling after the terrible harvest. I know his sons and daughters need all the help they can.” “I have that in mind Mama. I will send some meat over to them once I am done eating,” Zungu replied. “Good…good my son. We must never forget that other people are going through hard times too,” his mother emphasized. Zungu nodded his head in agreement as he chewed on a mouthful of meat. “My friend Jinda and his brother Diambo told me that they barely got anything from their farm this harvest Papa,” Kariga said. “I know they barely have any food of late. Can we send them a piece of meat each Papa?” He asked his father.
“We would love to offer a piece to everyone Kariga, but it is impossible. I will give you some meat to send over to them after you are done eating. I know other people who could use some meat too, but what we have can’t go round. Besides, we still have to eat tomorrow and the days after.” “Okay Papa. Thanks for agreeing to help my friends.” “It is okay my son. Helping one another is the way of our ancestors. We have always looked after one another here. Someday, I will be gone and so will grandma and your Mom. You two should continue in the same way. Share the little you have with others, okay?” “Yes Papa,” Kariga and Matami echoed.
Poster source: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk
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KEY WORDS: EBOLA, FAMILY, HUNGER, POVERTY, HUNTING, CHILDREN
KEY WORDS: EBOLA, FAMILY, HUNGER, POVERTY, HUNTING, CHILDREN