… He was slow. His matchet swung lazily in his taut right hand. In the market, the roaring horde of angry women, he was just in his own sleeping world, minutes falling apart in the flap-flap-flap of wearied mud-spattered feet. Every hour was the romance of the yellow sun but he seemed, in more technical terms, to live as a living ghost, to whisper to himself as a living ghost, to swing his matchet as a living ghost.
With him; no meaning, no verve, no start of something new, something fine; his constant unhurried walk around the market square had passed shrewdly into a drama of no sense and no one knew why an adept farmer like him should waste hours under the warm clouds in aimless walk ––but the rest was a stillborn story, a rude joke in his past. Still, he walks.
The local rifle slashed to the back of his arm was still as it was in the last three passing days, firm and cold. But in these recent times, the rifle distended too boldly, clanged against his matchet too boldly; sometimes in the drifting dusk, it would be noticed of his right shoulder to hiss tiny streaks of stiff blood. His rifle mouth would have dealt a fresh smear of hot gunpowder on his cloth and on his skin. In the case of this wanderer-farmer, not too many indigenes could boast a fair amount of knowing and none particularly crossed his way or even thought to…market and time moved too quick. In fact, the most revealing and loquacious of market women had been cut short of reputation when something was asked of the aging man-they would simply shrug in witlessness and go on to whisper to the next buyer.
‘What has become of this man?’ one man had commented; one time, he may have watched like others, stricken, but now he questioned rather placidly, ‘Does he not have a land and a hoe?’
‘Even if he does have a hoe and a land but fears the heat, at least, that hat of his still bears good fibers’ said the next woman. Short laughter. More questions than answers.
So a decision was made. A group of two hunters and three women would quietly shuffle by the back of this man one night and see to it that they concluded something about him; his pathway, his hut and perchance, his barn if he did built one. But the experience would be more intense than it would grow in words. That night, they waited to see the coming of his measured spirit, his first recoiling across their path but no such figure appeared now. Brusquely, their own anticipations only broke in a distant rifle-shot defeating the noise in anonymous peril.
In this season of plenty, it was curious toil that made each man scurry like a restive hen but in the sudden strike of such deadly shot, riding sky-high in the dark, a different horror probed the air.
BY: Samuel Oludipe