On the Heels of the Hill

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Chapter 4: The Big Red Moon

It wasn’t a rare case to hear poisonous abusive words flying in the village of Buzina. Children and adults alike used heavy pregnant abusive words that sometimes when spoken to an over sensitive person would leave a permanent mark on someone’s face. Twiine, the ever best known gambler was one person who found market everywhere. He started calling a few people, mostly children who didn’t have the patience to search the grasses for nsenene and wanted easy nsenene. Others were the greedy type that really wanted to taste the fried nsenene. So Twiine was there ready with his two big tins one with fried nsenene and another with raw live nsenene. He had popularized a game called wakareeba which literary means “Have you seen it.” So Twiine called out to the crowds to come and play as he shouted, “Wakareeba Wakareeba Wakareeba”

Wakareba was a gambling game in which one would put an item in either his right or left hand with the opponent watching, put his hands behind him and play around with the hands, sometimes transferring the contents of one hand into the other or keep them in one hand, and on bringing forth both hands, the opponent was supposed to pick either the empty hand of the hand with contents depending on what was asked of them. So Twiine started his tricks and he would put one nsenene in his hand, closed both hands and tease the people infront of him by the way he moved his hands behind him. He brought forth both hands and asked, “Which hand is empty?” Joram picked the right hand. For this, the winner was supposed to be rewarded with a tea spoonful of fried nsenene, and the reward was awarded. Joram felt happy and he accepted to play some more as he savoured his win. The rules of the game were simple. The winner wins and loser loses. If you lost you had to give Twiine 10 live nsenene. The game continued for the rest of the day and so many people won and others lost. Kyankazi was one of the biggest losers in Wakareeba. She had come 5 miles away to come pick nsenene, then she wanted easy nsenene and left empty handed of course plus shame and tears all crowding her face.

Twiine started abusing a girl in her teens that she smelled like sh*t. The girl looked so weak, so tired and confused and fed up. She had been seated on a rock with her buttocks protruded back, making herself sit on the behind of her thighs. She bent forward and leaned her elbows onto her knees. The girl looked so ill but she had made it to Buzina to pick nsenene. With her big kavera of nsenene hanging in her hands across her knees she had been looking far in the distance, her thoughts very distant. She had been there seated on the rocks for about half an hour. Her left arm kept coming to her stomach to feel the rumbling pain on her inside. She looked pale and confused. She had never experience the kind of pain in her life. She had remembered how one nsenene season day when she had eaten too much nsenene and her stomach had gone on strike, but the feeling she had this time was way more resolute.

She had just been hit by a full red moon, the very first in her life. It had come from the skies and came crashing at her like a meteor storm. It had cause wolves running in her stomach. She had not known what had hit her and she was too scared to talk about with anyone. She wanted to fight it alone but what she had forgotten was that he who never talks to other people always brews the worst beer.

Twiine had come to her to play Wakareeba game, and she was turning his request down, telling him to leave her alone. Twiine had then pulled the girl by her arms to stand up and join the game. Twiine had done it playfully. Twiine being another center of attraction for the lazy handed nsenene pickers was surrounded by lazy young girls and boys. When she was pulled up, the girl’s dress was glued to her buttocks, all wet and revealing her fears, the episodes of the red tent to the public. The young boys started pushing her here and there throwing their most hurting abusive words at the young girl. She was called wanderer bitch, and so on. Twiine started saying she had aborted and everyone started calling her “Nyina womugyenzi” meaning mother of the deceased. They hadn’t any proof to declare her Nyina Womugyenzi but they did anyway. She was like a gazelle surrounded by a pride of lions, each tearing off a piece of flesh from her.

Vangi got up very fast and ran from where she sat with her friends and ran to the wild crowd to rescue the victim of the rowdy nsenene pickers. She ran straight through to the young woman, covered her with her lesso that she had unwrapped from her waist. The young woman had been heckled at and was feeling so ashamed. Vangi walked the girl out of the crowds leaving them laughing and heckling at her. A number of sympathetic souls was also there standing and watching on the side but had been outnumbered by the masochists. Vangi walked the girl down the hill, passed by her friends still seated as they talked about everything, as usual. She then told her friends that she was taking the injured young girl to Nalongos to get the wounds treated, her dress mended and to get her some painkillers for the stomach pains.

“Is that really necessary? Why don’t you take her to Bakira’s and she gets her some herbs? Why has Nalongo become so important” Rooza objected with disgust. Before Nalongo came to Buzina, people had used herbs for medicine, women had not hotcombed or plaited their hair, delivery and all other matters of the red tent had been performed by traditional herbalist. Nalongo had changed all that and more. Vangi had stuffed cotton into her ears and didn’t want to listen to her friend anymore. She just walked on and helped the young woman to Nalongo’s. Rooza turned and looked at her other friends who were looking at her with very questioning looks. Rooza felt betrayal from her own enslaved friends and she got even more terrified that she could end up alone since they had started liberating themselves one after another. So Rooza accepted to end up alone, but one thing she would never agree to go down alone. She looked at the women, her sinister eyes pointed at the pregnant woman and then she said,

“You should go for a maternity checkup at Nalongo’s. You could kill that bastard inside of you.”

“Oh really?” the woman suddenly said, her voice full of fear, anger and shame all intertwined and tangled up like gomborora chief’s wife’s jewelry.

“Why are you carrying that baby anyway?” Rooza asked, this time her own voice sounding smiley. She knew she had come to the end of her game. She looked at Maria, one of the other women in her group, then again quickly at the pregnant woman and added,

“Muriisa is not your husband. What will happen when you give birth to a baby with his sleepy eyes, and big head?” Rooza then rubbed her left shoulder with her right hand slightly smiled slyly, busied herself and bent to pick nsenene.

When Maria heard this, she immediately charged at the pregnant woman. Her eyes turned red and within no seconds her chest heaved like she had had an asthma attack. The pregnant woman stood behind Rooza looking at her and questioning herself why she could ever had had to confide in such an evil back stubbing bitch. Maria was questioning herself what a fool she had been made all along. She was she looked at the pregnant woman, then at Rooza and then at herself and realized she had been the dumbest. A series of strong overlapping emotional changes happened in a few seconds. The women that had been happily laughing out loud as they talked about everything and everyone had gone through fast deep thinking, confusion, betrayal, anger, and so on and Maria had poised like a snake about to strike. Maria jumped up leopard style and grabbed her prey by the maternity. In a flash, an action movie had been premiered and the crowds were invited by noises made by the first few audience of mostly children and women. Muriisa heard a fight was going on and saw everybody running to watch. He came to the audience running only to find out it was his beloved wife involved in a leopard fight. The two women fighters had torn each others’ dresses and scratched each other’s bodies with their dirty talons. Rooza had majestically walked away on the very first few signs of the fight of the year. She had always had a saying that no one ever wanted to be close when there is a fight between leopards, they could turn take you victim intentionally or unintentionally. Muriisa dismissed the spectators and tried to separate the fighting lionesses that were still tearing each other. Maria was so angry that she started tearing her husband’s shirt as she yelled out all the vulgar abusive words that she thought of. And it wasn’t too hard for her to get all those abuses out since she had lived in Buzina all her life. She had been born on one end of the village and married on the other end of the same village. She was able to throw enough abuses at Muriisa and his alleged mistress. Muriisa pushed her aside and she immediately ran home cursing “Nimukakyengyere mukaffa mutyo…” meaning they could rot and die in agony. She spat down a number of times as she cursed. She even used the worst curse in the kinyankole culture. She bent down, pulled up her layered dress and showed her husband and his alleged mistress her womanhood. That day, a number of young children that witnessed that particular scene of the fight were sure they would be forced to take “Omwetango” a special herb that controls every curse according to the kinyankole culture at the end of the day if their mothers found out what they had fed their eyes on. Maria then held her skirt, ran and disappeared into a thick garden of maize as she went back home.

“Oh My God”’s covered the air and a number of nitwits started laughing at her unkempt sacred place. The fight had come to a sudden halt but still people were asking what had sparked off those gladiators to invite an audience. The pregnant woman had been left in tatters, her face and body all bruised. She was trembling and sweating. Muriisa asked her to go to Nalongo’s to have her tested for any damages to her unborn baby.

Muriisa was torn into pieces, not only his clothes but also in his thoughts. He wanted to run after Maria and make sure she didn’t kill the next person or domestic animal she met. He was sure she was going home to ruin something of his that he loved most. Muriisa had lost his new bicycle like that when news knocked on Maria’s kitchen door that Muriisa had fathered a baby boy from across the village where he herded his cattle. He didn’t want anything like that to happen again. But he was still confused why the women were fighting. He wanted to run after the pregnant woman and ask her what had caused the fight. It always becomes hard for a hyena to perform two tasks. He decided to first save his property by running after Maria.

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