Chapter 8: Jealousy Philosophy
Our ancestors continued to bless us abundantly. The underground prison was finalized. Raids were now successful, the community was happy and more importantly, everyone was healthy. One thing that still nagged us though was childbirth. It now requires my presence for a pregnant mother who is due to get to the local district hospital faster and safer. Sometimes, these events occur when my troops and I are outside the village on our escapades. Other times they happen when I am serving at the chief’s court, while in some instances I would be relaxing in my hut. Anytime I am around the village and I am called for to attend to our women, I do not hesitate to assist. I do it gladly knowing that my mum is smiling from wherever she is watching.
Chief Rimbrok was now a very happy man. In fact, he became fond of me and proposed to offer his daughter Enaan to me in marriage. I tried so much to avoid this topic whenever it was brought up despite my father welcoming it with open arms. He even proposed the wedding day and started negotiations on the bride price. Enaan meanwhile, continued to blossom and many suitors had been turned down by the chief, some very wealthy and coming from neighbouring friendly communities’ royalties.
While the whole community was jovial and moving forward in development, the chief’s brother Mzee Ayan was a very troubled man. In fact, his troubles seemed to grow as each day unfolded. First, his dislike for us was now even more evident! One thing you have to give credit to Mzee Ayan was his shenanigans. He was very sly and knew how to pretend especially when in the presence of Chief Rimbrok. Wepesi all the while would confront him whenever they happened to meet when going about their businesses in the village. My dad often would ask Mzee Ayan where his loyalty lied. He would answer back sarcastically, “you wait until the chief dies, I am the next in line.” He wished for his brother’s death knowing that he would automatically succeed Chief Rimbrok because he lacks a son. “Why didn’t the chief sire more children?” I asked myself. “Is Atol scared of the makeshift ambulance?” I wondered. “Hodi, hod-d-dii,” a loud voice preceded a sharp knock on my door to interrupt my soliloquy. Moti was at my door and this time he did not wait for me to usher him in. He pushed the door and looked kind of surprised to see me resting in bed. “Ngao, why are you st-til in bed at this ha-ha- hour?” “You mean it is a crime for me to lie in my bed?” I asked Moti. He was speechless for a moment, then he asked another question without answering mine. “When are we, I mean you and your t-troo-oops plan to invade the southerners?” I wondered why anyone who is not part of our troop would ask such a question. That’s supposed to be a top secret! “We are waiting for the full moon, hopefully tonight or the end of this week, depending on the clarity of the sky then we can ambush,” I answered him back. To my amusement, he left without saying a word. This was dumbness of the highest caliber! The person Moti works for does not take them through some induction. This is a very casual way of soliciting for information, at least he should have stayed a little longer and pretend to engage me in random conversation. Immediately Moti left my compound, I woke up and washed my face then grabbed my brushing stick. I went out to meet my troops. Thereafter, I assigned Nyundo, the task of finding out if the southerners had returned to their village. I cautioned him to move stealthily and gallantly so that he could relay this critical information ASAP! The good thing about him was that he was very short, well built and relatively fast. Nyundo was the soldier who would always put up a stout defense in the battlefield and his heroics would never go unnoticed amongst fellow soldiers considering his stature. We regarded him in high esteem and therefore, he was equal to the task. I psyched him up as he was dashing off, “go bring us that information, Prison Baridi is yearning for occupants.” “Afande, yes Afande!” He answered me back.
Minutes turned to hours, hours to days but there was no sign of Nyundo! All this time, my troops and I were camping at our favourite rendezvous, the mountainside. I suggested that I should venture south and find out what the situation down there was and also try to find out what had happened to Nyundo. As I was trodding down the path Nyundo presumably took, so many things went through my mind. “Was Nyundo ambushed and abducted or killed by the snitches? Worse still, was he really on our side or he was their best snitch?” I wondered. By the time I arrived at the southern villages, the place was still deserted. “For how long were they going to stay away from their land?” I tried to figure out. This is not our ancestoral land but the more I keep visiting it, the more I get attracted to it not forgetting it’s proximity to River Rakido. I always pity our women whenever they have to travel long distances to fetch water. Sometimes along the way they get attacked, raped or even abducted never to be seen again! It is because of this that we needed to expand our territory. After waiting for quite some time without seeing anyone appearing at the deserted southern villages, I decided to go back to the village at the break of dawn to share my thoughts with Chief Rimbrok.
On entering the chief’s yard, I noticed Moti looking at me from afar. I pretended not to have seen him. A few minutes later, Mzee Ayan was entering his brother’s compound with a lot of urgency. The chief’s servant had requested me to wait a little bit for Chief Rimbrok was still bathing. Suddenly, Atol came from the kitchen with a plate of goat meat and said cheerfully, “my son-in-law, if you had paid the bride price, Enaan would have been the one gladly serving you. But you know it is against traditions for her to be anywhere near you right now. So until the first instalment is paid, you are not allowed to see her.” She remarked. Mzee Ayan was not amused, he in fact insisted by telling Atol that there were better suitors from well to do backgrounds who deserved Enaan. Not a good for nothing blood thirsty vampire like me. Atol just ignored his words and went ahead and placed the sumptuous plate at my feet and said, “eat to your satisfaction, my son.” She then left for the kitchen without saying a single word again. Having been brought up in the right manner, I thanked Atol and even asked Mzee Ayan to join me for the meal to which he declined.
Chief Rimbrok finally emerged from the bathroom and was surprised to see me and his brother at his court. He inquired about what pressing issue had brought us so early in the morning at his place. Mzee Ayan must have been given the heads-up by Moti and was here to know our next move regarding the southerners. He therefore craftily avoided the question and instead directed it to me. I told him that I just wanted to honour my lord by paying him a surprise visit very early in the morning. Chief Rimbrok laughed off and said insisted that the main motive of my visit was to lay eyes on Enaan. He then continued by reiterating that, “you young men of today are very lethargic when it comes to family matters, issues that concern courtship to be precise!” I laughed lightly and managed to say a few words in the middle of my sumptuous goat meat. I assured him that the matter was at a very advanced stage and that my dad Wepesi would soon be calling for him with a few elders one of these fine days. Mzee Ayan on seeing that this conversation was heading nowhere and that it was not what he had anticipated, stood up slowly and excused himself.
Chief Rimbrok then opened up. He confided in me and told me why his brother, Mzee Ayan never eats anything at his court. Their father Chief Tong had fought gallantly and managed together with his troops to run down the enemy fortress. This though was not easy as their enemies put up a vicious fight and their father Chief Tong sustained fatal injuries. He became very ill and the wounds were infected. He eventually was bedridden for months and was on his deathbed. Ayan meanwhile tried to kill Rimbrok. This was because Rimbrok had gained favour before their father Tong. Rimbrok despite being younger than Ayan was anointed by Tong as the person fit to unite and rule the people of Rapid Rescue Area (RRA) – as outsiders would refer to them. Enraged and infuriated, Ayan could not wait for his father to die naturally and instead he poisoned him! He then set out and ambushed Rimbrok who at that time was sleeping in his hut with his wife and infant daughter Enaan. It was very dark and Ayaan could not tell on which side of the bed his brother Rimbrok lay. He therefore just groped in the dark and struck his spear. It pinned Rimbrok on the cow’s hide that acted as the lower surface of their bed. Rimbrok woke up because of the excruciating pain that was inflicted in his middle section area. Before he could tell what was going on, Ayan landed another heavy blow onto his forehead. This time he used a club carved from one of the hard woods available from the tree species around. Rimbrok passed out and Ayan mistook him for dead. Meanwhile, Atol had picked Enaan panickingly and dashed out screaming loudly not knowing who the invader was and why was he attacking her husband. Ayan now decided to persue Atol and finish the business. If Atol accepts his advances now that her husband was dead, he would spare her together with Enaan. But if she refuses, then that would signal her end. “What is it my sister-in-law?” Ayan asked Atol, pretending not to know what had transpired. At this moment, screams also started coming from the court of their father, Chief Tong. His main servant had just discovered that the old man was no more! Confusion engulfed the chief’s courtyard. People ran allover not knowing where they were going. Women were now screaming. Village elders, the royal guards and those within the vicinity were all dashing towards Chief Tong’s yard. Screams and wails are peculiar to disasters whereas ululation symbolize celebrations. Chief Tong’s demise was therefore announced instantly through the screaming and wailings. Atol immediately understood what had happened and she was completely vanquished both physically and emotionally. How could she lose both her husband and father-in-law simultaneously, she thought! She now stopped running and confused, she only held her daughter tightly to her chest.
“What is it my sister-in-law?” Ayan asked again. Atol was confused and speechless. Ayan got closer and held her by the shoulder and drew her closer then whispered… “it shall be well my dear, trust me.” At this moment, Atol was staring at Ayan because it was very unusual of him to go around without a cloth covering his torso. He always wrapped up a chequered cloth around his shoulders down his chest and covering his stomach as well as his back. Atol then thought that may be the screams got him unaware and he left the hut hastily. The wailings were deafening and the entire village was now subdued by the screams. Meanwhile, Rimbrok gained consciousness and he tried to wake up but noticed that the spear had thrust through his manhood. “Oh no!” He said to himself. He then continued and lifted it carefully, screaming loudly in the process. His manhood had been severely damaged. He finally stood up and staggered towards the door. Being a brave warrior, Rimbrok was determined to get outside and find out the wellbeing of his family. So despite the pain and dizziness, he soldiered on. He took more steps then suddenly stumbled upon something on the floor. “What’s this?” He wondered. This is a robe and it is quite heavy, definitely it does not belong to his wife. With the spear used on him in one hand, he kneeled down gently and picked the robe knowing very well that it might have belonged to his attacker. When he stepped out, he noticed that the robe was familiar and that it belonged to his brother Ayan! He looked at the spear in his hand, surely, this is not an enemy weapon. This is their spear. “Could it be Ayan who had just attacked him?” He asked himself. He looked around and tried to figure out what was going on. He saw their servants crying and definitely knew their father had passed on. Suddenly, he felt someone touching him then said, “my husband, you are hurt and bleeding badly.” He recognized Atol clutching onto Enaan. Next to her, Ayan, bare chest was also mumbling some words but he was filled with fury that whatever he was saying did not matter. He just asked him, “why was your robe in my hut?” Ayan, cornered and speechless just stood still without uttering a single word. In that instance, Rimbrok thrust the spear towards his legs. He was also aiming for Ayan’s manhood but because he was weak and dizzy, his target was inaccurate. He missed by a whisker and the spear went through Ayan’s right thigh just above his knee. I concluded that this is why Ayan always walks with a limp and uses a walking stick everywhere. Ayan fell to the ground, Rimbrok then descended on him but the royal guards were quick and swift and intercepted saving him from the wrath of his younger brother. The guards informed the elders and they tried to persuade them to put their differences aside. Rimbrok obliged and said he is ready to forgive his brother because their father deserved a good send off, one befitting a hero and tribal chief. Little did he know that the chief died from a poison chalice served by Ayan! The injuries Chief Tong sustained at the battlefield were infected because he did not believe in western medicine. He relied heavily on traditional healers. But before Chief Tong was laid to rest, Ayan disappeared and sought exile among the southerners on learning that the local medicine man emphasized that Chief Tong had been poisoned. The chief’s body had swelled abnormally. The medicine man was to peruse his hut and inspect all the things he used in his final hours. Later, he was to examine the body. Ayan feared that his brother might kill him on finding out that he had poisoned their dad. “Do you hear what I am saying my son,” Chief Rimbrok, for the first time since he started telling me this story inquired. I said ’yes, my lord, I am following every bit of it.” Surely, what was puzzling me was beginning to unravel. From the snitches aiding the southerners to the limp and walking stick used by Mzee Ayan. Also, Rimbrok and his family including why he has not sired more children.
Rimbrok, then after so many years sent emissaries to persuade his brother to return back home. He, being the chief promised to bury the hatchet and allowed his brother back to the ruling circle. In fact, he recently made him his chief advisor. Ayan on his part though still had unfinished business. He has not forgiven his brother completely. He is really good at pretence. The only shortfall being the inability to pretend that he is eating food served at the chief’s court. He is very suspicious and always thinks that his brother might poison him to avenge for their father Chief Tong. But Chief Rimbrok assured me that he is not after him. All he wants is to have Enaan and I get married and continue his generation. For him, this is the only way out and he is ready to go the extent of anointing me as his successor knowing that in me, the people of RRA would be on safe hands. According to Chief Rimbrok, I was the only one who could secure the entire community.
What Chief Rimbrok does not know and I was not ready to tell him was the vow I took before the ancestors regarding women. “Without the powers I have, would he still see me as his worthy successor? Well, that is a question for another day…”