In Ignorant Bliss

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The Gods Are To Blame

The gathered crowd stood apart, each as bemused as the latest entrant to their mass. As each lower lip lowered the more in consternation, and another head shook in disbelief, all of them there, as though transfixed, pondered in wonderment.

“Who could have had the temerity to try such a thing as this?” The first person to find his voice asked the air about. Only just arrived on account of the long distance he had to trek to the venue, he is the oldest man in the town to have made the trip to the venue that was fast turning to pilgrimage site. Though bogged down by arthritic joints and rheumy eyes, he had insisted on the arduous journey at first hearing. No doubt, the atrocity shocked him to the very marrows.

“Could such an animal as perpetrated this have been born in this land?” he managed to ask before signalling the young men that had escorted to the venue to lead him away.

The silence that followed his question was even more perplexing. Nobody said anything else either in support or opposition. They all trouped and fro speechless like mummified idols. It was to them all a sacrifice too many. They had no qualms about sacrificing twins, albinos and grown humans to their gods but this that they all trouped to see was just way out.

Tongues did not take long to begin to wag.

“It must be these outsiders who made the union by default,” an elder explained to his children who gathered round him in his obi as nightfall enclosed the town once more. “It must be them and no one else.”

His conclusion was emphatic.

“How do you mean papa,” his youngest son queried in innocence. “That a true born of the land cannot try this?”

“Exactly,” the old man who had taken a liking to the youngster’s intelligence continued. “Because they would have grown up chewing the sands of her earth at teething time and would not dare try such a barbarity for personal gain.”

He progressed to tell them the story of how the youngest village to be admitted to the union came about.

“You see,” he expatiated at the end of the salient tale, “they were never one of us. They are from a town far away from here. Like I said, their forefather had stolen a totem crop from a man in the place who had barns of it aplenty. As a result, he was driven away with ignominy, only for our brothers in the north to accept them ostensibly to form a shield for them from invaders from that porous boundary.

“Now tell me,” he asked no one in particular, “is it possible for the snake to begat that which is not long? Look no further than their shores for the author of this sacrilege.”

“But father,” a grownup son of his who happened about cut in, “why did they have to come down to our side of the town to do this? I thought it would have been easier for them to do it in their place.”

“That is the first and foremost pointer to their complicity in this. No one could have done this in his place of origin. All such crimes in time are committed outside the abode of the criminal in a dumb attempt to claim alibi. But this is easily seen through.”

The boys asked no more questions. Quietly, however, the juxtaposed their father’s revelations with all the other stories they had heard about the people in question. For instance, the sobriquet to the name of the village in question translated in the vernacular willy-nilly amounted to the possession of abilities that gravitated towards thievery. It has not been long since the news settled that certain never-do-wells from that quarter had sometime in the past constituted themselves into a kind of mafia that extracted homage from the frightened townsfolk whom they subdued with might.

The children were later to creep with trepidation to their mothers’ huts. Of all of them, however, it was the youngest that had the tethers of his reasoning capacity stretched to its tautest. He wondered in his heart how a god would make such demands from his creations. He had seen many a procession to the evil forest with clay pots that never returned. He had seen many a pregnant mother that ended up without child on account of the complexion of the delivered child.

Like a sage upon a time yet to dawn, who thought it was the slovenliness of language that made impious thought possible, the young man ended up surmising that it was the gods who demanded such inexplicable sacrificial condiments who were to blame for the horrendous sacrifices.

However, in line with his precocious sagacity, he also knew well enough that he dared not say it out. Or the men would have taken care of him before the gods can.

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