Archive for April, 2013

AFTER THE SHOT

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Many women had run off very far away from the place where the shot rang off. In fact, some of the adire stall owners had taken swift precaution and locked their rolls up, themselves inside too. 
A strange calmness covered the distance again. Total silence hung on the town side like night shadows. And when any other thing was to be heard, it was the slow frightened dragging of feet, tracing the spot from where the rifle-shot had shook the sky. The two hunters and three women who had thought out a plan soon had to drop their jaws wide apart in shock and puzzlement. The sight was an uncommon sight. More disturbing, it was a taboo.

There was a new crowd gathering in front of the town clinic, the only town clinic. Few yards from the clinic front, two shaded struggling figures stood away from the wary town people. 
A part of the crowd wailed at the two bodies of town-guards, lying lifeless on the nearby dump. Some men from the mob surged forward towards the covered figures but the slow appearance of a rifle mouth from the dark shade held them still. Everyone gave almost one gasp; they knew the two guards had fallen by the barrel of a gun––in fight or late flight
Like the voice of a roaming spirit, a depressed voice came from the dark too. It was impossible to place that voice, it was not heard too commonly but just those two words kept breaking the air- ‘my daughter, my daughter’

Slowly, a strapped doctor moved out into view but he was at the mercy of a rifle pointing down to the back of his head. At the end of the gun, another figure appeared––a farmer. ‘My daughter’ his voice was heated. 
‘Please save me!’ the white doctor begged the watching town…in tears.
The gun pressed against his neck
‘My daughter, you left her to die. Isn’t it, you white fowl’ the farmer raged visibly
‘Help me, he’s a lunatic’
‘SHUT UP NOW or I will rape your mouth with bullets…’ his voice had become to soften with sobs ‘like those Corper boys did to my precious girl’
Everyone was too hit to talk.

The doctor turned to make a fitting appeal but he was soon thrown to the ground. He groaned and pleaded favour with throaty sobs. He was still writhing in the mud when three hunters from the crowd pulled their own guns against the farmer. The confrontation was revealing, a symptom of bad fate but nothing more arose, only self-confession.

The farmer still held his rifle down. He seemed weak in the face but tears had begun to run down his cheeks. His following words were few: ‘I killed two rapists today’… ‘I killed a partial judge who dresses as your priest’… ‘I killed your crafty guards who protect the white fowl under my knee’

He faced the doctor and continued, ‘so tell me then, you white fowl, since my daughter was too poor and black to get saved; do you think you are too rich and white to see tomorrow?’ he stuttered in welling fury ‘ehn?! Answer me, you’

The guns were ready to pull off their death but the farmer was quicker, he fired a straight shot into the back of his ‘fowl’ and finished him off.
‘Ajoke, my daughter, I have not forgiven myself!’ He dropped his rifle amid the clearing smoke and looked up to the night sky. The first shot met him frozen; it shoved him away from the corpse and battered his knee. He closed his tears-smeared eyes ‘I own nothing!’ But other guns fired too– the shots of his ruin. 

It never mattered that a murderer was murdered or that a loner was unveiled in the instance of a blink or that a man with a black skin like theirs ended the life of a white man before their very eyes. No! In no too much thought, what gave precise meaning was that he died shedding his own tears. That night, he offered his tears in slow weary sacrifice and in blood and brine; he looked up to the sky.

BY: Samuel Oludipe

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BEFORE THE SHOT
There was a shivering in his heart that afternoon. The marine brought, with its wave, a lone music and riding upon it a callous breeze of heat but the lagoon and his hut had only become a mirror of hurt and strand, mirroring his fear and anger to his very eye. He walked out of his stead and stormed into his barn. He knew his matchet would be lying on some marked yam seeds by the corner, so he went straight for it. He stormed back out and closed the dwarf-door behind him.
Outside his farm, a shotgun had burrowed into shallow earth. He picked it too and dug it by the rim of his sagging trousers.
A petty farmer of petty contentment, he could have simply relished strength in the little he could own as he always ever did but today was a different mark, a different loss and the shivering had to calm. He had jumped the Corpers’ fence and successfully eluded the Hausa mayguard that dealt his whiplash on the tall walls now and again. Somnambulist, he held the matchet with precise fury; he walked a few yards round the short buildings.
One or two Youth Corpers would inspect him walking, eyes to the grass and pass flattening suspicion but nobody stopped to study this man, they only ruminated on their own uncertainties and passed it to friends in reticent voices.
He had walked round a bush of brown wildflowers and reached an open field where few friends still loved to lie under the sun before an evening drill; but in the cold gaze of the farmer, the next few hours was to pass away into a pulling feast of tears.
He pulled his matchet now and narrowed his eye from the dark eaves of his hat. He must have picked his prey from the little crowd and, mechanically, the blade swung away from his fingers…like floating jelly, and crept closer to a group of three in mid-air until it ate into one. The matchet pierced through his left chest.
A blood-bath. A woken scream. Chaos.
The confusion was a brief shock. The screaming still swelled but he had quickly walked off to another edge of the next building and waited for another face. A scattered crowd surged towards the open field. Another rifle-shot pulled off from nowhere but it fell upon the shouting pack. Now, there was a different wail from within, spellbinding and sore. Some people had flown into nearest buildings and hedges; the little remainder shook up in the trembling and searched for the wail. Another scream encircled the path but this one was better hoarse and miserable. A young man was in the dust, his head split by a bullet and flowing blood scattered the mob like chickens.
He had done it so quick, like an assassin. The youths were still scuttling like kites. Yet, no one stopped to look to his way and so again, he walked away, leaving behind a stench of horror. He broke out too easily. His shivering was fading; it soon took him to the town church.
The church was a bamboo house with small windows, a white flag fluttered in the frontage. The street was silent but the priest’s prayer was the only sound piercing the ear. He moved nearer to one window and, for a minute, inspected the kneeling priest. ‘Fowl!’ he thought
Still fuming, he caught glimpse of a matchet nudged halfway into a cassava in the mud. His eyes drew on the kneeling priest again but now, with large intention.
He went for the matchet and stormed into the church. Before the priest could turn back and pick a word, the matchet fell on his left shoulder and spurted warm blood. His bible slipped off his already-shaking hand; he squirmed gently in drifting horror as he fixed ghostly gaze on his slayer. But he could not sustain a breath any longer; he simply dropped dead upon the altar, without a word, one side of his face buried in blood and cassava sap.
‘Die, you hypocrite––fowl’, he spat on the lying corpse and wiped the edge of his blade with its white robe.
He walked out with reframed ease and enjoyed the new feeling spreading through his body like soapy water, a shivering sinking and it was subtler than a moment ago. He held the matchet like a child of his and stared to the yellow sun but his heart knew no ease, a sudden thirst defeated his mind.
That evening, 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.

BY: Samuel Oludipe