X-files From The Village
The days are now of the first weeding of millet and people are busy in the gardens. For those who do it well, they only weed once. It is during this weeding that our communalism is exhibited at its best. All men and women must participate and one garden at ago.
“Natsya putu-putu, nakobola pata pata”
“noo, pay me to solve for you the riddle”
“I have given you a cow”
“Having given me a cow, I feed it, it conceives, gives me more cows and milk; I drink the milk, grow strong while you grow thin”
“The riddle is, “natsya putu-putu, nakobola pata-pata”. It means that I went on foot (putu-putu) and returned wearing slippers (patat-pata)”. The riddles went on as the elders carried on with the weeding.
The young children are brought along, not only for them to appreciate that a good harvest comes out of hard work but also to help in light garden tasks such as collecting uprooted weeds for burning.
Weeds such as litseketse are always buried into the ground since they do not dry easily but makowe, nabululu and most especially lulumbuku are uprooted and left to dry then burnt to kill the seeds. Napungulu and naasambu are dried and later used to lit fire. When put on fire, napungulu burns like kerosene. For Naasambu, we normally don’t want to destroy much of it because when practicing the imbalu dance, the children use naasambu to make a replica of dancing sticks, “kyimishinga”.
The children therefore spend much of their time in the gardens having fun. But what makes communal gardening interesting are the stories told as we do the work. These conversations in fact make the work easier and interesting. “Bari kali atwela niko kaluma inyama.”
“Wanda, why did you quit school? We hear that it is because teacher Walwanyi told you to sit with girls on the same desk and yet you’re shy”
“That is not the case. Who doesn’t know that only P.7 class sit on desks? For us we used to carry our own chairs; in fact I left there my musesa chair.
I went to school that day and at lunch time, just like all my colleagues decided to go and steal Madeni’s mangoes. I had on that day gone to school with mother’s atlas and she knew it. When Madeni came and found us on the tree, I jumped off and ran leaving the atlas behind. You also know how tough that old man Madeni is; he carried the atlas and took it to school saying the owner was stealing his mangoes.
Mr Walwanyi summoned a parade and caned me in front of the whole school.”
“He caned you and you just swallowed your pride like that?”
“Wait, am the one telling the story, not you Wandwasi. The next day he was teaching us and you know that Walwanyi got shipongo (missing teeth) after losing some teeth in a fight with his wife.
He asked a question
“4 minus 2 equals to what?”
He pointed to Wangamati who replied
“Stupid boy, wama you tell us; 4 minus 2″
I rose up because I was very intelligent. I wanted to get back at him for the previous day’s beating.
I folded my other fingers as well as the thumb and only left my index finger and little finger to form a symbol of what resembles shipongo. But I also accompanied it with the right answer “2” and the two risen fingers were to illustrate to those who may have not heard.
This sent the whole class into a frenzy of laughter to the annoyance of Walwanyi.
The rage with which I saw Walwanyi come to me, him jumping over the other children who were seated infront told me he was coming for murder.
I jumped through the window and left school.
Mother here remembers how they took me back and caned me yet again. Actually worse than the previous day. I gathered my squad for revenge and after a short discussion we came up with a plan. Walwanyi used to bathe from the veranda since the last time we had burnt his banana leaves bathroom while his wife was inside bathing. He never go to know that we did it.
On this particular evening, his wife brought the water while we were watching from the banana plantation with our pilipili (grinded pepper) well tacked in a bottle. She always did this and her husband always took some time before coming to bathe. We had planned to wait for this lull to pour the pepper in his bathing water. Unfortunately, tonight they came together but the wife left him and went back to kitchen. It was dark and we knew that a person just from the candle light could not see that we were hidden in the matooke.
Our plan seemed to have failed and my friends walked off while I stayed in the same place contemplating how to shoulder this humiliation. Then something came to mind; after pouring water on oneself, you close eyes as you spread soap in your hair. Confidently but stealthily I tiptoed toward the bathing man who was engrossed in spreading soap in his head. I removed the basin and put it at the next corner of the house then ran off as fast as I could back to where I was hiding to watch his reaction.
With soap in his eyes, Walwanyi while running missed a step and fall in the doorway, naked!
Of course the next morning I was the first to tell it off while bragging to have pulled off the best revenge and for that I did not last an hour in the school. Since then I have never gone back”
“Do you know that your stupid story has distracted everyone from digging as they are all listening to your nonsense? What did you gain from being kicked out of school?”
“Mother, I feel very weak, I think there is a snake in this garden”
It is a strong belief that when you feel lazy and tire so fast, it means that in that garden there is a snake; and unless you kill it, you feel the same. I went to the anthill and behold, a “mamba leo” was peeking through.
I summoned the others and we killed it then went back to digging like never before, with the usual vigor!
Till then, we shall keep you posted!